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I decided to put together this build towards the end of 2015 to replace a powerhouse build that I did with my brother in 2009. This build, like it's older counterpart, will be used mostly for gaming but also some linux virtualization and development.
I recently changed cases and had a major fallout of problems arrising from this. Figured while I was rooting around in my computer I might as well make a completed build guide for my friends here on PCPP :)
Also no fancy name for the computer, as in my own head I just call it "My computer"!
|CPU||Intel Core i5-4690K|
|CPU Cooler||NZXT Kraken X61|
|Thermal Compound||Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme|
|RAM||Mushkin Stealth 16GB DDR3-1600|
|OS Drive||Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB M.2-2280|
|Game Drive 1||Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB 2.5"|
|Game Drive 2||Samsung 830 Series 128 GB 2.5"|
|Storage Drive||WesternDigital Caviar Green 2TB|
|GPU||GIGABYTE Windforce 2x R9-390x|
|Case||Fractal Design Node 804|
|PSU||Corsair RMx 650 Watt|
|OS||Windows 10 Pro|
|Main Monitor||BenQ XL2730Z 144Hz 27" FreeSync Monitor|
|Second Monitor||Asus VS247H-P 23.6" Monitor|
|Fan Controller||NZXT Grid v2|
|Braided Cables||Corsiar Power Cable Kit CP-8920045|
|Wireless Card||TP-Link T9E|
I originally moved my GIGABYTE z97mx Gaming motherboard over to this build but it tragically did not make it due to a short. I think it was the way the stock PSU CPU power cable was crimped behind the Kraken x61 across the two chambers. I looked around for a replacement and finally settled on this h97 board from MSI.
I can honestly say that I'm happy with this upgrade. First and foremost the software on the GIGABYTE board was horrible. Fan control and overclocking was just unplesant. Also the fact that my GPU's LED is blue meant that the GIGABYTE board's red theme clashed with the overall asthetic of my build so switching to the Blue/Black of the MSI g43 was a welcome change. I wish there was a z97 board with this color theme, but oh well. I'll make due.
One major gripe with this motherboard and one that keeps me from recommending this to other builders is this - The RAM clips intefere with the PCIe x16 slot. My GPU has a backplate on it and I couldn't install the GPU because the holding clips were in the way! I had to rip out the 1st and 3rd channel clips and shave down the 2nd and 4th channel clips to fit my GPU in. I cannot fathom why that made it through MSI QC.
This is likely to be the first thing I change with the new motherboard. Without the z97 chipset I would have to get creative in order to overclock my i5. I am thinking of switching to either an i7-4790K or an E3-1231. The higher boost clock of the unlocked multipliers might make enough of a difference if the price is right, otherwise I'll go with the locked mulitpliers. I really could use the extra cores at this point (FFMPEG mostly atm)...
This i5 is a pretty good performer though. I've had no issues doing any of the multi-threaded development work on this CPU and it runs just find in gaming applications. I wouldn't neccesarily recommend this processor to streamers, but I really have no interest in that so it doesn't matter much to me.
I really like this NZXT Kraken x61. Very very cool temperatures coming off my i5. I was so impressed with the volume of air that the stock fans pushed that I picked up a couple of extras when I picked up my NZXT fan controller. NZXT's CAM software works well and I have no complaints. The fans can get a little loud, but given the volume that they can push I am able to keep them at low RPM and still get good performance.
Having come from a Hyper 212 EVO I am glad that I took the plunge into the AIO water cooling world. I really like this part.
This Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme compound really works well. I got a 5 degree drop between this paste and an old Artic Silver paste I had been using. I even repasted my GPU cooler and got a 10 degree drop under load. Don't bother with the stupid applicator though, pea method works just fine.
My linux addiction means I am more often than not running a VM to play with something. The extra 8 GB of RAM really comes in handy. I usually leave CAM up and running on my second monitor and I have noticed my RAM Utilization creeping past 8GB sometimes. 16 GB of RAM is starting to become my recommendation for new builders for this reason.
This kit from Mushkin works pretty well and the black heatsink matches my color asthetic. I wish the PCB was black as well but for the price I paid for this kit I really can't complain. That's good I suppose because since I had to rip the clips off of the other slots I won't be able to upgrade this any time soon :(
Nothing here of note really. I carried over the 830 Series SSD and HDD from my older build and picked up a couple of 850 EVO series SSDs for gaming/OS drives. I can honestly say that I don't notice a difference between the M.2 OS drive and an SSD drive. I could have saved money there and just bought another 250 GB 2.5" drive. My GPU covers up the green PCB on the M.2 drive so I wasn't too worried about that.
First and foremost I hate the OC Guru software from GIGABYTE. Feels old and clunky compared to some of the other offerings that I have used. This 390x can go into a no fan/stop mode if the temperatures reach 60 degrees Celsius (effectively the idle speed for the 390x), but in order to get this to work I had to download and run OC Guru at startup. Also you can't change the LED color which really messed with the Red/Black look of the old GIGABYTE motherboard. This is the major reason why I chose the MSI h97 board despite the lack of overclocking support.
The card runs super hot too. I moved this build over from a Corsair 350D case and I noticed a significant increase in temperature right under the GPU compared to the rest of the case. It was the purchase of this card that facilitated my migration from that case, a Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler, and fewer case fans because it was just so much hotter than my old 270x. But its an AMD card so it really wasn't that much of a surprise.
Given the choice I probably would have gone with the MSI 390x though if you plan on designing a custom loop for your rig you need to check if your particular card has full block support. This card does not as they used a custom PCB layout (jerks) so you're pretty much stuck with the Windforce cooler as I don't really trust a universal block on a card whose idle temperature is higher than many NVIDIA load temperatures.
That being said I am very happy with this card. 1440p was the best upgrade I have had in my gaming experience in years and the 8GB VRAM on this card allows me to play any game I want without significant quality issues. The drivers suck *** but AMD's moves in the open source world made my support of them a no brainer. Yes it uses more power, yes it runs hotter, yes the drivers aren't as good, but a world where NVIDIA is the ONLY option is bad for all of us.
Ah the Node 804, the whole reason for this build guide. The two chamber design allowed me to maximize the air flow around my GPU and hopefully help with the insane temperatures (and by insane I mean mostly that it's uncomfortable in my small office). I did notice a drop in noise compaired to my 350D and the hot air pocket is gone. The PSU being in the other compartment also rarely spins up the fan so that helps my peace of mind too.
Building in this case was somewhat of a pain though. The braided cables I picked up for my PSU really helped but routing all of the fans so that they aren't visible was a major pain. Since I had my 280 mm radiator from the 350D I wasn't able to use the drive caddys that the case came with so I was forced to put the two SSDs in the front pannel and my 3.5" storage drive in the bed of the GPU chamber. I'm not happy with how that looks but it works and routing the cables for that wasn't too difficult. The PSU chamber turned into a spaghetti monster but since I can't see that side of the case I'm not too worried about it.
If you are considering a mATX build this is a great case for the money. It's not easy to build in and the front panel connectors could be damaged if you aren't careful, but the overall outcome makes it all worth it.
Corsairs RMx series seems to be fairly good and at Gold 80+ and fully modular this seemed like a good choice. Got it on sale but I can't remember how much I paid for it.
The stock cables are okay I guess. I picked up a kit of braided cables for this build and I have to say it made the experience so much better. Like fully modular PSUs, once you experience braided cables you won't go back! That being said aparently Corsair doesn't make a 24 pin connector that is compatible with this PSU so I had to use the stock one. Wasn't happy to find that out after ordering the part :(
1440p 144Hz FreeSync has been the single best upgrade that I have done since starting this whole upgrade process. Having upgraded from 60Hz 24" monitor the larger size, greater resolution, and higher refresh rate has made every game I play more immersive and just more of a pleasure to experience. I've had the BenQ XL2730Z for a while now and I am extremely satisfied with my purchase. If you have a 390x or 980 or higher card you should upgrade.
FreeSync seems to have helped with tearing. Admittedly I never really paid that much attention to the tearing before so that could be misleading. The TN panel looks good (I've never had an IPS display so take that for what it is) and the high refresh rate truly (read this again TRULY) makes a difference in games. If you don't think it would you're wrong.
That being said this monitor was expensive and it is very heavy. I was worried about mounting it on my VESA desk clamp but so far I haven't had any issues. No dead pixels or significant bleeding present either.
The Asus monitor was my old secondary monitor. No frills but gets the job done.
TP-Link makes pretty good products and the black heatsink matched my build. A lot of bad reviews out there due to windows 10 compatibility but the latest drivers worked fine. Download them before building your computer. Great speeds, no drop out.
This is a pretty good fan controller for the price. No there aren't any hardware switches, but since I already needed CAM for my Kraken x61 this fan controller made sense. I have five case fans hooked into this and using the software I was able to set the fans to performance mode which ramps based on the GPU temperature. This is huge in the Node 804 because the GPU chamber is really what drives fan need, not the CPU temperature and this feature is very much appreciated. Monitoring and control is very easy which easily beat my old GIGABYTE mobo easily! Pretty happy with this product, despite the spaghetti cabling required to make it work.
So I bought this kit of custom cables on Amazon for a hiked up price so that I could have them in time for this build. I originally bought the kit along with a 24 pin connector but when the cables arrived I founnd out that it was incompatible with the RMx series. When I contacted Corsair's customer support they told me that this kit was also incompatible with my PSU. Not sure what that's about because I checked the specs and everything works okay. No braided 24 pin connector available though...
That being said I fully recommend everyone get a kit of braided cables if they can. Makes building a lot easier for sure!
I picked up some PWM fans to help with the temperatures before I came over to this case so those were carried over from the Corsair 350D case. I did pick up a couple of extra NZXT F2 fans so that I could do push/pull on the x61 and despite the fact that they can be very very loud I couldn't be happier. You could kill a man with these fans, they are seriously very sturdy fans compared to some that I've used in the past. So that's five fans for the GPU compartment and four fans for the "CPU" compartment with the x61 radiator on that side. Very very cool air coming from that side even under load and I am very happy with the results.
I'm really glad that I have headphones to use while doing all these benchmarks as they kicked my fans up higher than I have ever heard them! Despite this I was able to get some really good results and I'm pleased by the results I got from the case change.
So my GPU idles at 60 degrees Celsius which is exactly where this GPU should. At that temperature the fans turn off and it goes into a silent mode. Since I put my case fans to ramp up with the GPU though this system is far from silent, but that's okay with me. Living in a hot climate I'm more concerned with heat than I am with noise.
My CPU idles around 30 degrees Celsius with the push-pull configuration on the kraken with the fan speed around 25% which is great considering how loud these NZXT F2 fans are. Lot's of staic preasure means loud fans though so I can't complain too much.
Using prime95 I pegged my CPU utilization at 100% after placing the Kraken into "Performance Mode" in CAM. My CPU reached a maximum of 62 degrees Celsius and the fans kicked up to 80% of their maximum RPM. The CPU stayed here for about half an hour so I think I can safely say that is my max. Ambient temperature in the room is roughly 75 degrees Farhenheit or roughly 23 degrees Celsius for reference.
I ran a few benchmarks in Metro: Last Light and got an average of about 100 fps under the High preset in 1440p. During this my GPU was at 100% load and around 78 degrees celsius with the fan at about 75%.
I ran all of the 3DMARK tests and got a score of 10329. My CPU reached a maximum of 47 degrees celsius during the test and my GPU reached a max of 79 degrees Celsius.
I will be the first to say that I have an obsession with linux. I run it on every computer in my house except this gaming rig. AMD graphics in linux just aren't there and gaming on linux doesn't offer the same experience. It's getting there but it just not there yet. I will be the first to bail on Micro$oft given that I can enjoy my games without having too bad of a drop in experience. Today though, Windows 10 :(
Thanks for reading through all this nonsense. I will likely update this build when I get a hold of a new CPU. Going to move the i5 to my wife's rig and use her i5 in a computer I'm throwing together out of all my spare parts for her brother. Thanks for being the best place for me to waste my time at work PCPP!
Very nice CPU for gaming.
I actually really like the capabilities of the CAM software needed for this AIO cooler. Really cool temperatures though the stock fans are very loud. Didn't stop me from picked up two more for a push/pull configuration though! Very good performance.
10 degree drop on my GPU under load after repasting the cooler with this. Enough for many applications too. Don't bother with the stupid applicator it comes with, just use the pea method.
The one thing that mars this otherwise great product is the RAM clips. They stick out and get in the way of the top x16 PCIe slot. If you intend to use a GPU with this mobo, I would move on.
I wish the PCB was black, but it looks good and performs well.
Expensive for what you get really. I can't tell the difference in everyday use compared to a 2.5" boot drive. Green PCB is ugly but my GPU covers this up so I don't really see it through my case's window.
Good storage drive for games, no complaints thus far.
Oh Gigabyte, when will you improve your crappy software? OC Guru II just feels outdated and it is required for stop and silent modes. The stock thermal paste was thin and this card running so freaking hot was the reason why I went through this case change. Runs hot and loud and you can't change the LED on the cooler which is disappointing. Locked voltage on the card since this sucker is pushing the architecture about as hard as it can go.
BUT for the price you get a card that is capable at 1440p. I have a FreeSync monitor so I will likely be upgrading to polaris when they come out, but this card has been very good gaming wise. Just wish it ran cooler!
EDIT: Do not buy this card, even used, even cheap. I cannot update my drivers past 16.11 as the memory gets underclocked to 150 Mhz and even then it artifacts like crazy. A 480 in a build I recently did scored better than this card. Either pick up a 480 or wait for VEGA to hit.
Building in this was a lot easier than an Air 240 case as cable routing was a lot easier overall. Couldn't use the drive caddies since I have a 280nm AIO cooler in push/pull over where they would be mounted, so I had to use the two 2.5" SSD mounts in the front cover and mount my 3.5" storage drive below my GPU. Really helped with my air flow issue coming from a Corsair 350D and I'm pretty happy with it.
Took a star off because it's hard to find braided cables that are compatible with this PSU. That being said it runs fanless when not under load which is very nice. Included cables are a little stiff.
Works well under windows 10 with a driver update. Make sure you download it before hand.
Works. Good colors and VESA compatible.
1440p is the best upgrade you can make for high end rigs. 390x drives it well and FreeSync feels great. 144 Hz is a huge plus as well. VESA compatible!
Best mouse I've ever owned.
Surprised by how good the mic is and the software allows you to change the lighting which is nice. Gets hot since its closed.