I had some parts laying around from various things, so I set out to build a perfectly capable budget minded gaming computer. I filled in the gaps with quality components and even wound up swapping out a couple, considering better performance over price.
I started out with 2 motherboards on hand: an Asus M5A99x Evo and a Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3. Note that the moterboard in the parts list is listed as the M5A99x Pro 2.0, this is because the EVO was not listed as an option. I chose the Asus because I was concerned about heat and the vram when overclocking on the Gigabyte. It turns out that this issue only plagued versions before Rev 4.0, so I will be swapping motherboards soon to test it out.
I had a couple AMD processors that would have fit the bill, but nothing that was totally appropriate for gaming. So, I splurged and bought the FX-9590 Black at Microcenter ($180). I could have gone with an 8350 and overclocked it like crazy, but the 9590 was on sale for about the same price, so I figured, "why not?" At a whopping 220W, it needs some serious cooling. None of the cheap air coolers and heatsinks I owned would suffice, so while I was purchasing stuff, I got a Kraken x61 to go with it ($130). Microcenter also had the NZXT s340 case on sale for $50 so I snagged one of those too. It was a beautiful case; slightly smaller than the h440 and clean looking enough to hide in plain sight in the living room, if need-be.
The video card was an easy choice, I already had 2 R9-290x's in my parts bin, so I plucked one of those. I considered using both, but I already can't handle even one of those fans SCREAMING in my ear. Not to mention the power requirements for running both in crossfire would send my electric bill into orbit. Besides, I don't think it would be reasonable to cram 2 of them into the s340 case. You'd have to take out the visible HDD holders and even then the intake fan would be sitting right on the bottom of the case.
I also had an array of PSU's on hand already: Corsair RM-650, HX-750, and a Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 1200w. I chose the HX-750 because I've tested it's limits before and I know that it can crank out close to 800w before the fan even becomes audible. It's an amazing PSU. IT was certainly the most appropriate. Toughpower Grand was just overkill for one video card, the RM-650 would be strained to the max during gaming, but the HX-750 was the Goldilocks of the bunch.
tldr; Everything is working well so far. Overclocks are stable at 5.0 ghz with no voltage bump. The case accommodates everything very well in its current configuration. Case temps are amazingly low. And overall it's very easy on the eyes.
The good: Kraken x61 fits well in the front of the s340 case, despite the fact that it is 140mm wide. 20mm wider than most other closed loop radiators. Requires no special brackets or customization. The fans provided with the Kraken are high static pressure optimized for a radiator. They work well right out of the box The fans in the s340 are nice for stock case fans. I feel no need to change them at this time, but I may in the future for purely cosmetic reasons.
The Kraken fits perfectly in the front of the s340 case. However it has to be set up in push mode [ |Radiator < Fans < |Case front] in order to clear the USB 3.0 ports and power button.
This is not much of a problem if you have a relatively dust free home. The removable filter in the front of the s340 case makes cleaning a breeze, so I do not anticipate having to remove the rad to clean it any time soon. There are no drive-bays in this case and only room for two 3.5" HDDs and two 2.5" HDD/SSDs While I really like the PSU heat shield on the case bottom, I would also like to see my beautiful PSU.
The bad: There really is no room for expansion in this case. I will not be able to set up another video card in crossfire. There is also no room to install a smaller radiator in the top of the case. I was considering a Kraken x31/41 to liquid cool the R9-290x but it simply will not clear the proc/heatsink if installed. You MIGHT be able to fit a 120mm radiator in the rear, but this rules out the Kraken x41 as a possibility. It's disappointing seeing as this case and radiator are both made by NZXT and accommodating 140mm holes into the back of the case would have a very simple design consideration.
This is my biggest gripe, because it would have been very simple to build an almost silent computer in this case with a Kraken x41 and x61 as cooling solutions because they are variable speed pumps. You COULD put two x41's in the front of the case, but I think that the x41 would struggle to cool my processor enough.
The wire management bar must be removed in order to do a push+pull fan setup on your radiator. There are no other rubber grommet-ed holes to run wires through, so removing the bar in favor of a push+pull fan setup could lead to messy wires or difficult wire management. The reference design R9-290x is ridiculously loud. To the point where I have to use closed-back headphones to play games. I also cannot hear my fiancee over the sound of the fan (but maybe that should go in the 'good' section?)