Description

I went about planning and building this PC to replace my now almost 6 year old Gateway FX laptop that I bought from Newegg. Since I was coming from a laptop and had not really done much PC gaming in years I had no keyboard, no decent mouse, no headphones, no mic, and no monitor, so I had to factor all of that into my build as far as staying within a decent budget. Original budget goal was around $2000... I of course exceeded this by a few hundred dollars... Oops.

The last PC I built was back in 2004.. So it's been a while! I wanted to do some 1080p gaming at high refresh rate (144hz) for a nice overall experience... Nothing super crazy. I also will be using the PC for various work related tasks.

I went with the z97 platform instead of the newer z99 simply for cost versus performance reasons for what I wanted to be able to do. z97 is still a great platform and viable for most anything thrown at it.

Part Breakdown:

  • i5 4690k - Getting "older" but still pretty standard choice for gaming as it offers great price for performance and overclocks fairly easily. I plan to OC uo to 4.7Ghz or 4.8Ghz if this CPU allows.

  • Swiftech H220-X - Great cooling solution. Looks awesome and has great performance. H240-X was out of stock everywhere I looked and even the H220-X seems hard to find. Saw a few of these come in and grabbed it (actually was the first part I ordered lol). Being able to expand the loop will be nice down the road.

  • Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme - Great performing TIM that's relatively easy to use. I couldn't get it to spread with the stupid scraper thing so I just put a thin strip on the CPU in alignment with the actual CPU under the lid and let the water-block compression to the CPU do the spreading for me.

  • Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming 7 - Great motherboard... Looks good.. Performs good.. Allows pretty solid overclocking. I didn't need the ability to ever go 4-way sli so this board worked great. Got it in a package deal with my case for a discount and an additional $40 in rebates.

  • G.Skill Trident X Series DDR-2400 (16GB) - Fast RAM that tests well and the price wasn't bad. Looks good and matches the MB.

  • Samsung 850-EVO Series 500GB SSD - Super fast SSD that I split into a 60GB OS partition and a 440GB gaming partition for a few primary games I'll be playing.

  • Western Digital BLACK SERIES 1TB - Fast mechanical HD that I store everything else onto. Plan to add another one (2TB+) down the road as needed.

  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 (g1) - Awesome performance for the money even with the VRAM-gate scandal. Eventually I'll go with another for sli. Will be overclocking this soon as well. Only issue... I wish the WINDFORCE LED could be RED instead of blue lol.

  • Thermaltake Core V51 ATX Mid Tower - Super high quality and premium looking case. Got it for a few dollars over $80 shipped and for that I think it's hard to beat. Super easy to work with, tons of room, tons of expandability, and just nice.

  • EVGA 850W ATX12V "SuperNova" PSU - Great reviews... Solid performance for the money (my overall theme... Top performance for the dollar). Looks great and fully modular. Got it for about $100 and even though it offers much more power than I currently need it will give me some room to grow and I got it for the same price as the 750W version and only a few more dollars than a 650W.

  • Pioneer BDC-207DBK Blu-Ray Reader/DVD/CD Writer - Black front panel Blu-ray player... Solid reviews and affordable. Only issue with this is the SIDES are white/beige colored... Normally can't see but in a clear sided case with short 5.25 drive bay mounts you can see some of the beige poking out the backside of the mount... Need to blacken it up or something.

  • Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64bit) - Gaming.. Will also run a Linux VM for work.

  • Coolers Master JetFlo 95 CFM 120mm (7) - I like the look and performance of these.. Went with white LED so it highlights parts instead of colorizing everything (plus usually a dollar or two cheaper than red it seemed at the time I bought these). Expensive but a good investment for what you get IMO. I took out all of the v51 fans (3) and re-worked the cooling solution. I put in 2 front mounted push configured fans, 1 bottom mounted push configured fan, 1 rear mounted pull fan (exhaust), and then took off the 2 Swiftech radiator mounted push fans and made them into pull fans (exhaust) and added an additional bottom radiator mounted push fan (only room for one with how the reservoir is mounted) for a push-pull config (looks good.. I'm sure minimal difference in performance). Thus the front and bottom are air inlets and the back and top are air outlets.

  • NZXT Sentry 3 Fan Controller - All case fans are ran by the fan controller. The 3 radiator fans and liquid cooling pump run off the MB CPU fan headers (CPU fan and CPU fan opt).

  • BenQ XL2430T 24" - Was not planning on getting this monitor but saw a deal on a factory refurbished unit direct from BenQ for a pretty solid price so jumped on it. Reviews all rave about this monitor and it's color accuracy, gaming performance, and blur reduction technology.

  • Redragon Mammoth Wired Laser - Looks good and everyone seems to think it is a very nice mouse for the $20ish range. I have another higher end mouse in mind but I'll see how this thing runs for now!

  • Superlux HD668B - Amazing sound for the money. I didn't want a "gaming" headset as they often sacrifice sound quality and cost more. These sound amazing. Wow. No built in mic so added a wire clip on mic that hooks right to the headphone wire.

  • Zalman Zm-​Mic1 High ​Sensitivit​y Headphon​e Micropho​ne - Cheap. Works great.

  • Monoprice ​Backlit Mechan​ical Gamin​g Keyboard​ w/2 Port ​USB Hub Ch​erry MX Re​d - Amazing keyboard. Looks great. Feels great. Backlighting is very nice. Typing on this is a dream. Looks and feels like a keyboard twice this price.

  • Cables - Had to buy a 25' display port cable and a few 14AWG power cables as my PC case is sitting up on a solid steel file cabinet and my monitor/keyboard/etc are all a good distance away.

UPDATE OLD

Have been working on overclocking the CPU & GPU... So far running very stable at 4.8GHz on the CPU with around 33C idle temps and a max of 77C running Prime for 20-30 minutes. GPU isn't as overclock friendly as what some sites have shown they could get it up to (+150MHz clock/+500MHz mem). I could get those numbers and complete a 3dMark test but had periodic artifacts during testing and it would hang up and die running the Furmark 1080p full-screen stress test.

I dialed in a +125MHz clock and +250MHz memory and 3dMark runs perfectly with no artifacts and Furmark 1080p full-screen stress test ran for 30+ minutes without a hitch. Only had time to play some Crysis 2 and Star Citizen for a few hours and had zero problems. Temps are solid at mid 30s idle on the GPU and mid to low 30s on the CPU and in 15+ min stress testing (Prime for CPU and Furmark stress for GPU) I saw around 77C max on the CPU and 71/72C on the GPU (fans getting up to 75% in auto).

UPDATE 1/19/2017

The PC has been pretty much flawless since I had built it. No issues at all. Upgraded to Windows 10. Playing anything I want at a solid fps on my 24" 1080p monitor. Liquid cooling reservoir shows a little lower coolant level from evaporation and I plan to top it off when I install my new HDD and GPU. I just added another 16GB of G.Skill trident X Series DDR3-2400 memory to the machine and have a new 2TB hdd and Nvidia gtx1070 extreme GPU on the way. I plan to add a quality gaming 1440p monitor within a few months.

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Comments

  • 62 months ago
  • 2 points

I think the led on the gpu is just white with a piece of plastic in front of it and if you take it off you can put a different color in but don't quote me on that.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Interesting... I will have to check that out.. That would be awesome! :D The Swiftech water-block is like that.. An LED with removable colored plastic pieces (blue, white, red) that can be swapped into place. Thanks for the tip! :D

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Ok.. Found a sweet how-to on changing the LED color... Sadly it's not a piece of plastic... You need to unsolder the LEDs and then solder in new LEDs of the color you wish. Not hard if you know how to solder, which thankfully I do, so perhaps this will be a future project for me to do! :D

  • 62 months ago
  • 2 points

Some one on this site has a build where he changed the leds from blue to a red/orange. Even posted instruction how he did it. Looks amazing.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah.. I found a guide on the process. Looks simple enough. Already ordered the LEDs I need (going with white)... They shipping from China so it'll be a few weeks before I get them though! Lol.

  • 62 months ago
  • 2 points

oh sorry i might be thinking on the reference card

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Since you included a Blu-Ray burner in your build why did you not mention that the design prevents a flush mounting of the drive face aligned with with front of the case... short of boring new holes in the optical drive to fix the problem you otherwise end up with the drive's face plate at least 1/4 in inside the front plate. I'm amazed at how many reviews missed this flaw and more importantly how could Thermaltake have produced such a poor mounting design for optical drives.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Wow... 4 posts of the same thing, lol, oops.

As for the mounting.. I like how the drives mounted into the case... They are recessed only about 1/8 of an inch and like how it looks. I guess if someone wants it flush then yes.. Don't get this case. For someone who likes drives/controllers a bit recessed (or whom don't care), then the case works great :)

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