To put it simply; My reliable rig I built almost a decade ago was finally starting to really show its age and my kid spilling a full cup of water directly on top of my case (which was an open air Antec Skeleton rip) was basically the nail in the coffin... so it was time for something new.
Quick Pics: http://imgur.com/a/YNkV9
I set out with three main goals when compiling parts for this PC: I wanted an i7 6700k CPU, a 980ti GPU and I wanted to try and get this build as close to 1500 bucks as possible. I think I did pretty good, the CPU and GPU are mostly overkill considering I'm still using a 1920x1200 monitor but I do plan to move to a 2kish display sometime in the near future, but for now the current games maxed out at 1080p look great. Much, much better results then my old rig could have ever hoped to produce. I spent literally over 12 hours sifting through deals online looking for the absolute best prices for all the components in my list, I also took advantage of any coupons or discount codes I could find on sites like retailmenot.
The whole process was a pain in the *** but I figure it saved me around 150-200 dollars at least (if I had just ordered everything from Amazon and Newegg.)
I'll give a quick run down and try to quickly explain my thought process for each part.
The CPU; Intel Core i7 6700k
I wanted a modern i7 and one that was unlocked for easy overclocking, basically something very future proof that I wouldn't have to worry about ever being outdated too soon. Originally I was gonna go with the higher end K series i5 but thanks to some great deals on other parts I found a little more room in my budget and sprung for the i7. I can't find one fault in this processor, it runs pretty damn cool even under high load thanks to the AIO water cooling from the Kraken and like many things in this build, I managed to get it for a great price from NCIX with a discount code from retailmenot.
Note: I haven't yet overclocked the i7 but plan too after I get bored of it as is, which might be awhile lol.
The CPU Cooler; NZXT Kraken x61
I went back and forth, back and forth and back and forth again and again with whether to use a traditional fan and heatsink or to go with an AIO water cooler. In the end I settled on the Kraken x61 after reading many positive reviews and finding a sweat deal on an open box on eBay. The cooler works really well as far as keeping the temps down. After a nice 2 hour stress test with Aida64 the i7 peaked at 58c with the Kraken settings all on 100%. One of the drawbacks to this cooler is that the stock fans are somewhat noisy when at 100% but to be honest they get lost in the noise of the GPU and exhaust fans when gaming. (and what fans aren't noisy at 100%?) If it really bothered me enough I could always swap them out for a set of Noctuas or any other more premium PWM 140mm fan.
EDIT: Well one of the stock NZXT kraken fans started making an annoying buzzing noise after about a week of use so I swapped in some nice PWM phantek static pressure fans and now my computer is nearly silent.
I was also initially concerned about this thing fitting in my case and clearing everything on the motherboard but it just barely fits with a few millimeters to spare after installing the exhaust fan and two 140mm intakes. One last thing is that the CAM software that is used to run the Kraken and control the Fan profiles still seems really really buggy, it works fine as long as you leave it alone but sometimes if you go to change a setting such as the LED color on the pump or something as simple as updating the name of the rig will cause it to freeze or crash. I sincerely hope they continue to update this software and polish out more of the kinks in the near future
Thermal Compound; Innovation Cooling Diamond 7 Carrot
Not much to say here, all personal preference.
Motherboard; Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 Mini ITX LGA1151
The motherboard was a rather easy choice for me. There aren't a ton of gaming oriented boards for mini ITX out there, this board seemed to me to have the best bang for the buck and the color scheme (although very common nowadays with the red and the black) I think looks great. (I'm so used to full size ATX boards, I still can't believe how tiny this thing is!) It also has built in wifi and bluetooth and has a single M2 slot which I really wanted so that was that.
Memory; Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200
This was another fairly easy choice. I wanted 16gigs of ram and with two slots available on my mobo this was the kit with the best bang for the buck IMO. It has pretty tight timings and has about as fast of a frequency as the motherboard can use (after XMP is enabled in the BIOS of course) It also has the benfit of being very low profile which isn't much of a concern when usign an AIO water cooler like I did, still makes for one less thing to get in the way when tinkering around inside your fairly small ITX build. Honestly I wouldn't mind maybe going for 32gigs in the future but I doubt I could ever use all that.
Storage; Samsung 850 EVO 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive
I initially was going to go with the regular Samsung 850 evo 500gb but then I remembered about M.2. Basically once I realized I could have one less set of cables running around in my case I was sold on the M.2. Its really cool to me to be able just to plug your hard drive into the motherboard directly. Wouldn't mind upgrading to a larger one someday. And of course it provides super fast cold boots and file transfers... this was probably the single best upgrade over my old PC running only traditional platter drives.
GPU; MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB
In the early stages of planning this build I had a regular 980 on the list, but after finding a really good deal on Jet.com with a first time customer coupon I was able to nab the ti for really cheap (compared to regular prices at least). This card is great, it performs great and its pretty quiet even at 100% fan speed. It also looks killer IMO and matches the mobo well. I've only played BF4 and League basically so far and with BF4 Maxed at 1080p I am averaging 179FPS. I have seen it get as hot as 81c when playing BF4 with the card completely loaded up but average load temps are 76c and it rarely spikes over 79c. With Furmark it gets an average of 45FPS in 4k mode with 4xmsaa and after an hour it maxed out at 78c. This card could really run much cooler but my case choice does sacrifice on airflow for the GPU, but it still does fine overall.
Case; Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ITX Mini ITX Tower
I saw this case early on in the build after I decided on going for the mini ITX form factor and it basically remained my favorite case. And thats after I'm pretty sure I looked over 95% of the ITX cases out there. Really the only thing I can fault it on is the lack of airflow for the GPU. But things like this tend to come with going to a smaller sized case, its just the proximity of the GPU to the PSU basement really makes it hard to cool the card even with 140mm fans for intake and exhaust. Oh BTW I swapped out the stock 200mm intake fan for two Phantek 140mm PWM fans and put the same in the rear for exhaust. This case is also somewhat large for a mini ITX but I think it finds a sweet spot because it was really pretty easy to work in even though it is smaller than a traditional case and I think it looks great. Plus the 280mm radiator of the Kraken fits!!!
PSU; EVGA SuperNOVA P2 650W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
Not much to say here, after being out of the current PC loop for some time I was quite surprised to see EVGA making PSUs and being so popular at that. I found another good price for this PSU on Newegg, its modular and its really quiet. Nothing I can find wrong with it.
OS; Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) Its crazy how cheap you can find CD keys for windows online lol.
Misc; Phanteks Case Fans front and rear, they're PWM which is nice and they move a decent amount of air without being overly loud.
The evercool splitter gives more than enough points to plug in more fans, its got nice sleeving to match the rest of the wiring.
The bitfenix strip is pretty bright and awesome because its magnetic.
This guide will be updated with pictures etc, this is just a preliminary review since I've only had this thing going for a few days. More to come, thanks for looking.