The goal of this build was to make a Tier 2 gaming rig - somewhere in the middle ground. The other primary purpose of this machine is use as a Plex server, but that had little influence on part choice.
TL;DR: Used to game on PC back in 95, sold some MTG cards to enter back into the PC race.
I have never considered myself a PC gamer or enthusiast, but that may be changing. My earliest experience with PC gaming was playing DOOM II on an old Hewlett-Packard running Windows 95. My gaming style had since evolved to console systems as it was the most economic way for me to keep up to date with current titles. Building a PC just seemed too intimidating to me, but as I have found out it is easier than putting a bag of Legos together.
Before building this system, my main computer was a Dell Studio XPS 16 laptop from 2009. I knew that my laptop was probably nearing the end of its life, and I had both my internal hard drive and external hard drive filled to the max - a good push towards a new system. I had actually never used my laptop as a laptop; it remained powered on for 75% of the 7 years I owned it and plugged into my 32" TV and used as a psuedo desktop. For this reason it was obvious that the more sensical system for me would be a desktop.
I had originally planned on just buying a desktop and Alienware was in my sights because I had always found their aesthetics appealing, but my fiancee asked, "Why don't you just build your own?" and for that I am forever thankful.
Being a design engineer, building a PC just fits my personality. I enjoy getting totally enthralled in a project and researching every angle of it for hours before feeling confident in the outcome. For anyone who has ever been on the fence about building their own system, I highly encourage it.
The decision was made, so I sold some of my Magic: the Gathering cards to pay for this build and I haven't looked back since!
Now to the nuts and bolts. As a brief top down, I wanted something that could actually play current games but I also knew before I began that I wasn't going to go top of the line for anything. Therefore I targeted a mid to upper ground for my components (i5, gtx 970, etc.). I also wanted my build to be a showpiece that I could be proud of, so without further ado I will go through my part choices below.
Case: In Win 805 Black
This was the first thing I decided on for my first build. I knew that once I found a case that spoke to me I could then work with motherboard form factor, cooling options, storage options, etc. I must have literally looked at every case offered on the market today (we are talking months of research here) before I settled on the In Win 805. The look was exactly what I had dreamed of, and the build quality nothing less than what I would accept. Tempered glass was important to me after viewing other options because if I was going to have a window I wanted it be a a beauty that wouldn't scratch while cleaning it. Once I had the case in my possession I could inspect it and plan accordingly for the rest of the build.
CPU: Skylake i5 6600K
At first I was hesitant to go for the latest and greatest, but after reviewing all the key differences and advantages over previous generations of processors I knew it had to be Skylake. However, at this point in the build I was also very carefully considering aesthetics because literally every component of my build was going to be visible in the skeleton case. What I mean by that is this: each generation of processor has it's own generation of motherboards (which all look different). Therefore I went through many different iterations of different generations before settling on Skylake.
Motherboard: ASUS MAXIMUS HERO VIII
This was the next hardest part of my build. I wanted a color neutral board in the worst way because I had already planned on having configurable LEDs in my build and didn't want to feel tied to a certain color. Obviously color isn't everything when deciding on components, and I was more than pleased with the aesthetics and performance of the HERO. This decision also influenced other aesthetic decisions in my build because this board has more angled/aggressive lines in contrast to the case's bold, square lines. This impacted CPU cooler and RAM decisions.
CPU Cooler: NZXT KRAKEN X61
It was hard for me to make an informed decision on this part of the build because of all the contrasting research and opinions on the matter. I loved the look of a water cooled system, and for a while I had priced out the parts for a custom loop. At the end of the day went with an AIO cooler for simplicity sake. The NZXT was chosen for a couple reasons: the lines matched the motherboard more closely, the software would work alongside my HUE+, and the performance was highly reviewed.
RAM: Corsair Vengeance DDR4 2666 MHz
RAM is RAM right? That's what I had to tell myself in order to steer myself away from cracking $200 on some Dominators with light bars because they just looked cool. This RAM looks wonderful and better yet it works wonderful.
GPU: Gigabyte XTREME GAMING GeForce GTX 970 4GB
I knew that this just had to be the most expensive part of the build. It is a good rule of thumb for a gaming build. I also knew that I wasn't going for tier 1 and I quickly settled on a GTX 970. I dug through the heaps of cards and read reviews like crazy until I stumbled on this new release. It was meant to be. Full spectrum LEDs and performance that has been said to match some GTX 980s. Better yet it is very quiet.
Storage: 2X Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB SSD in RAID0
The In Win 805 does have a slight limitation depending on the type of build you are targeting. I myself decided to add intake fans and a 280mm radiator which removes the included option for a HDD. I'm glad that my case made the decision for me to go to solid state because WOW. I have never felt so spoiled with fast boots and overall performance.
PSU: EVGA 750W SuperNova G2
I read many reviews here as well, and at the end of the day I just went for the unit that was highly recommended and better yet was neutral for the most part. I was blown away by the presentation of the product and everything worked flawlessly.
Fans: Thermaltake Riing RGBs
Once I found these fans I was dead set on them. Beautiful. Really fit my theme as well. My only wish is that there was an option for the LEDs to be software controlled, but I have found that I just mainly leave the fans on white anyways.
Operating System: Windows 10
Before this build I was using Windows Vista, so I was ready for whatever. It just seemed like the obvious choice here.
What an elusive accessory. I wanted one in the worst way, but was almost ready to give up on it because they were impossible to find! Well I'm glad I was persistent, because this is the accessory that really gives that something to my system. I will say it took some love to get all the diodes to work properly, but now they all are functioning as they should. I had to use the 3M tape instead of the magnets because the 805 is aluminum. I also had to modify the plastic In Win logo a bit with the hack saw in order to allow the RGB to pass through it.
NZXT IU01 USB INTERNAL EXPANSION
It was near the end of my research that I realized I wasn't going to have enough USB headers to support my AIO, HUE+, and case ports. I considered PCI-E cards, but couldn't really find a desirable one, so I went with this hub. Can't complain one bit - it works without a hiccup and tucks away nicely behind my radiator plate.
Monitor: ACER H236HLbid
I know that 4K is a thing now, but I couldn't convince myself to spend that much for a monitor. My plan is to upgrade graphics in 3 years or so, and then I will make the move to 4K when it is more economical. As for this particular monitor, I knew I wanted a thin bezel and a glossy screen to match the appearance of the case. It is also my experience that glossy screens produce crisper images and truer colors, but that just may be me. I haven't noticed a single glare when my monitor is on. A nice bonus of this monitor is that it has a brushed base which matches the brushed aluminum on the 805 perfectly.
Keyboard: Corsair K65 RGB
In the spirit of saying goodbye to a drive bay and HDD I also said goodbye to a number pad. Glad I did. I was already RGB everything else, so why not on the keyboard as well? Also, double points for this having a brushed aluminum frame. All of my components now match.
External Storage: Buffalo USB3.0 4TB
Amazing how much the price on things have come down since the last time I bought an external hard drive. This one had a good price to capacity rating and also very high reviews. Simply plug and play. I use this for media storage. Currently holding 600GB of music and 1TB of movies.
And there you have it! This was a a very rewarding experience for my first build and I am definitely hooked on it! Can't wait to build again in 6 or so years. Please feel free to leave feedback or questions and I will be happy to answer.