So... back when I was in high school I wanted a gaming pc and at the time was too nervous/clueless to build my own and I purchased one from Ibuypower and had a wonderful experience with it. With my trusty nvidia 6800gt I was basically able to play any game I wanted for the next 5 or so years, unfortunately wear and tear happen and lack of upgrades finally led to me getting rid of this computer and I finished college with a decent laptop. As I entered into professional life my laptop worked well enough and the couple of games I really enjoyed ran fine on it. After 6ish years though I began having problems running even the simplest of games and I knew it was time once again to get a true gaming pc!
And so my quest began, the only piece of equipment I had leftover was my Logitech G5 mouse and the internet! (The G5 is really an amazing mouse, and still works great!) I figured this put me at about 5% complete :)
Here is my thought process for each part...
So one of the biggest/hardest choices I had to make was whether to go for a new skylake (6000 series) processor from intel or if I would stick with the older chipset. This decision affected the CPU, the MOBO, and the RAM. Even though the old chipset, mobo, and ddr3 ram would have saved me lots of money, and it still would have worked just fine, I decided to go with the newer versions a) because its nice to get the newest and best stuff and b) upgrading now is much easier for future work on this pc
Personally I think color schemes are pretty stupid, I am definitely a function over fashion person, and was looking for a case with no side panel so I didn't have to worry about it. That being said I actually ended up with a pretty good black/white color scheme, which is serendipitous :)
For the CPU I decided to go with the i5 6600K for 2 reasons. Since the primary purpose of this computer is video games the i5 has all the speed I need and I didn't feel the need to step up to an i7 (would recommend it though if you like streaming/video/photography). I also went with the k (unlocked version) because I wanted to try my hand at overclocking even though all I wanted to do was a very slight OC.
Since I had decided on a k - processor and wanted to overclock I needed some CPU cooling. Watercooling seems like the hip new thing to do but honestly I am terrified of putting water near electronics (I know its safe and probably pretty easy but still a terrifying thought). So I stuck with good old fashioned fans. Looked at a bunch of coolers and was going to use the 212 evo (cheap and effective fan) when I stumbled onto Cryorig. The only reason I went with the H5 universal and not the H7 (which came highly recommended) was that I liked that the H5 had no ram clearance issues. One thing to be wary of, and I totally lucked out here, is the SIZE of this thing. It's freaking huge! It fit fine in my case but even in my cavernous Define S it comes within 1" of the side panel.
Went with a Z- branded motherboard because I wanted to take advantage of the unlocked processor by overclocking it and the Z- branded motherboards allow you to do that. Went with Asus mainly due to their BIOS (which is pretty great) and even more importantly for me as a pretty new builder was their AI Suite 3. Asus makes some great motherboards I went with the Z170-a mainly because it had all the features I needed and didn't feel like paying for the ROG line. (AI Suite 3 is a piece of software that will auto-overclock, control and auto-calibrate fans, and a few other things. While this is software it effects your pc like you would if you were in the BIOS screen. Using this it got my 6600k up to 4.7ghz and stressed it to test for stability.) Not such a slight oc after all :P
For gaming 8 gigs is really all you need for gaming atm, went with Crucial Sport because of price, DDR4, and had 2400 which matched with my motherboard.
SSD: You cant really go wrong with the Samsung 850 Evo and it comes recommended by basically everyone. Went with 250gigs as this will primarily only hold my OS and other things I use often. It does have enough space so that if I do fall in love with a large game/modding I can put it on there to benefit from the speed.
HDD: 1 TB of space. Never have to worry if I have enough space and can even store movies, pictures, and songs on this too. While I would've loved to have all SSD for the price its hard to beat.
This was definitely one of the most researched parts of this build and honestly the reasons I ended up with the GTX 970 are probably a little silly. The big debate I was looking into was the GTX 970 and the R9 390, and I'm still not really sure which one is the "best" though I think objectively the R9 390 is probably better. However subjectively I liked the 970 better and ended up going for it. I like nvidia better than amd, but more importantly I got it on sale for about $40 and it came with a free $60 game which I was going to buy anyway, so for savings of $100 it won out. After I decided on the 970 I then had to pick the brand and ended up with the Gigabyte G1 because it seemed like all the 970's were pretty much the same but this one came with 3 fans and it hit my accidental color scheme. Warning this card is freaking huge! Most cases will require you to remove some cages to use it.
I was not planning on buying the Define S. I was all set to buy the Define R5 when I noticed that the Define S was on sale from its normal $90 (same as R5) down to $50... so yeah changed plans pretty fast. The great thing is that the differences between these two cases were minimal, in fact the only difference is the drive cages. The R5 has a bunch that you can move around while the Define S has NONE! It has a unique mounting position for both 3.5" and 2.5", all of them are behind the motherboard tray, which leaves the interior completely open, which appeals a lot to water cooling people I'm sure but it also works just fine for air cooling too. The only real change I had to make to my build was get an external cd/dvd drive rather than an internal one. (It only comes with 2 fans which is probably enough but I ended up buying another fan for 2 intakes and 1 exhaust)
The reason I chose this was because it was highly recommended to me on this forum. I knew I wanted fully modular but honestly I know next to nothing about Power Supplies and didn't do much research. I did look up this particular model and it has fantastic reviews and overall has been great. It also gives me enough overhead that if I wanted to SLI in the future I could.
After researching a lot I decided to go for an IPS monitor mainly because I am not a professional gamer nor do I want to be. I want to have a good size, good refresh rate, and a low response time. This monitor does all of that, and is probably better for netflix/picture viewing. PLUS it was $100 with black friday/cyber monday sales!
Mechanical keyboards are all the rage and to be honest I wasn't really sold on it. However I saw this on sale from its normal $100 to $60 so I went for it. It's a great keyboard but still not completely sold on mechanical (honestly I can't tell the difference even though I still use the membrane keyboard on my laptop often) edit although I'm not sure if it helps at all with gaming for general typing tasks the mechanical keyboard is really nice!
This was not originally a part of my list however while looking at sales I found a great one on the SteelSeries Siberia V3 headphones so I pulled the trigger and got them for $50. I actually really like these headphones as they are super comfortable and deliver really good sound, and while the mic isn't streaming quality I don't stream and everyone can hear me in game so its perfect!
Not everyone likes speakers but there are just some games where I don't need to hear every small detail. I love strategy games (both real time and turn based) and these games along with others don't really need the high quality audio that you can get from more expensive speakers/headphones. These Cyber Acoustics speakers came highly recommended on the internet and for ~$40 its hard not to like them.
THE ACTUAL BUILD
I had upgraded some parts in old PC's and taken a few apart before this but as far as buying all the components and wiring it all myself this was a first. I am telling you this to give you an idea of my personal background with PC build and all I have to say is that it was lots of fun building a PC! Overall it went very smoothly, I only had to troubleshoot 3 things, the first was getting power to the CPU (I did the large 24 pin connector to the motherboard but forgot the other one that give power to the cpu... whoops), I had an issue with the RAM where only 1 stick registered, taking them out and putting them firmly back in fixed that, the last one was a stupid mistake on my part where I didn't plug in the front headphone/mic jack into the sound card so my headphones didn't work for like a day... doh.
I started by adding an extra intake fan into the front of the case, I positioned it so that both intakes were pointing directly at internal parts. One pointed to the CPU the other pointed to the GPU. After getting the fan in place came the motherboard where I did a dry test and plugged everything into the PSU before putting it in the case (that is where all but the last error were discovered). Installing the CPU cooler was fairly simple due to its very intelligent design but BOY is that thing big! My friends kept asking me "Why did you get one that big", well I honestly never checked the dimensions... :) After getting the motherboard screwed down came the graphics card which was simple and slotting in the PSU. The drives were then added which went smoothly as the case has very nice spots for them. And that was it! What followed was like 3 hours of cable management which still could be improved. I then went through the process of benchmarking and overclocking, and of course hours and hours of updating and downloading.
From going to just a mouse to a full fledged system has been wonderful. Been about a month now and everything has been going really well. No errors or bugs to speak of, and I am able to run anything on Ultra (or Very High). The only thing that needs to get better is my internet and hopefully google fiber will be here soon! If you are considering building a PC I cannot recommend it enough. One of my friends was skeptical but after helping me build it he quickly followed suit and built his own rig. It's fun and really rewarding to build something that you use daily, and it helps you play video games so it can't be too bad right :)
Cheers and happy building!