This is my first build. It hasn't been without its hickups. I would love to say this only took me an hour or two, but it didn't. I am confident that any future builds would be a breeze though. It was a great learning experience full of ups and downs, hope, disappointment, joy, and now a sense of accomplishment. But I digress..
First and foremost, I didn't set out to build a powerhouse gaming rig. I will consider playing a couple games just to see what kind of performance my machine is capable of, but for the most part this is serving as a (quiet) media hub and photo editing tool. I was tired of hooking up my notebook to my DAC (Tubedac-11) and monitor (Dell U2713H) every time I wanted to listen to my HD650's/ATH-M50's or edit some photos. First-world problems, I know, but I had "invested" heavily in some great equipment that I wasn't utilizing due to the inconvenience of hooking up my lappy, not to mention the loud wine of my notebook CPU fan when under load or even when falling asleep to music or YouTube videos. Additionaly, this PC should absolutely scream compared to my capable-but-aging Arrandale i3 ASUS notebook for not only photo editing but every other day-to-day task.
I feel I've hit a decent level of performance for the price. I patiently waited for sales on every component (except the motherboard) and diligently sent in my MIR's. I'm confident I could have attained a similar level of performance for less scratch but I had made the decision I wanted to future proof by opting for pricier Haswell parts. I was waiting for a deal on the i5-4570, but when the 4670k went on sale I couldn't resist; which then meant I might as well go for a Z87 motherboard since I have the unlocked CPU.
As for the build, despite the ups and downs I have really enjoyed the process. During the many, many times I assembled and reassembled this build I came up with some strategies in regards to cable management, which was almost therapeutic seeing what was once cramped and cluttered turn expansive and tidy. Given my inexperience I think I did well.
All in all, I am very satisfied. The Node 304 fit my concept perfectly: compact yet versatile, quiet, and cool. I also find the design and finish to be very classy. All the components are performing as I'd expect and it is a joy having all of my nice things hooked up to one machine that is ready to go at a moments notice.
As for the price tally below, it is certainly distorted since this includes many accessories, including a pricey Dell monitor. Looking at just the component cost of this machine it was roughly $860, including the operating system. I'm happy with that considering my Node should wipe the floor with a comparably priced Alienware X51 which I was previously admiring.
Comments, questions, and suggestions are all welcome.