So, a few weeks ago, my wife says to me, “We should get a computer for the kids (8 and 9).” I figured that provided me a good opportunity to build a new machine and pass off my last build to my kids, an i5 3570k with a AMD 3GB 7950 (think R9 290).
So what started as trying to responsibly (under $1500) build a gaming machine for me (my kids will get the 3570) quickly spiraled into spending an obscene amount of money (don't tell my wife) on a machine that is a mix of restraint in some areas (no need for the i7 chip, hence the i5) and splurging (the ASUS Matrix 980 Ti is certainly overkill, but it has orange/bronze accents) in others. I also had no intent on buying a monitor, but decided to get one to take better advantage of the gpu.
Overall, I am very proud of this build. I think I accumulated some good components that should work well together and should be a pretty big step up from what I have been gaming on the past 3 years.
Benchmarking has gone well. Pulled a 16050 on Fire Strike, which feels pretty good for this build. Got the CPU to 4.7 GHz without much effort, and will be trying for 4.8/4.9 shortly.
May add a custom liquid loop in a year or so, once my wallet has recovered.
I did not, strictly speaking, need an i7. I did debate for a while, though. Ultimately, the ~$130 premium was too much. I figured that savings would flow to the GPU (that and then some). Skylake was a requirement, and at only $20 more than the Haswell-E, how could I choose otherwise?
I did a lot of research on cooling solutions. My previous rig has the Cooler Master 212 and that works great (and at a great price), but I wanted to explore liquid cooling. I thought a while about going for a custom solution, but was scared off by horror stories about leaks, algae, maintenance (changing water every 6 mos) and parts not fitting together. The final straw though was the estimated cost of putting in a custom system being prohibitive at $500+. This machine is expensive enough. Maybe in a year or so that will make a fun project. So, instead, I opted for a middle-of-the-road solution. The Kraken seemed to be one of the best-regarded AIO units, and came with the color-changing LED. I am embarrassed to say that factored into my decision, but I figured if I am spending this much coin on a machine, I was going to make it look cool.
I know that the TIM included with the X61 is fine, but I read that TIM should be replaced every 2-3 years on machines, so I will be using this to “freshen up” the 3570 before handing off to kids. Chose over the X-4 because it seemed to test better, and at only ~$4 price difference on amazon, I figured “what’s $4 more?”
Did a TON of research on mobos as well. Ultimately settled on this one as a mid-high range board with good components and features and attractive looks. Again, the color-change LED was a fun extra. I have an ASUS board in my 3570, and so am experienced with their software and like it. Reviews all seemed very positive, so I went with it. Happy with my decision - overclocking has been delightfully easy. I have a stable 4.7GHz and barely broke a sweat. Going to go after 4.8 soon.
Wanted a good mix of speed vs latency and at a reasonable price. Got this on sale and in a bundle from Newegg (bundles and sale codes stack - who knew?) with Win10, so all together, I got both for $157.48. Pretty good price. The mobo will support 4 DIMM, so I can add a 16gb kit later.
This was on sale at Amazon for $125. A review I read said this drive was FIRE (due to the flaming tiger on the drive), and I am still cracking up about that. The review also said this drive had very high read/write speeds. I also considered an M.2 drive, but could not justify the cost for the perceived benefit. Maybe I will change my mind and get one in a few months.
This drive was also highly rated. Was going to skip it originally, but at this price, I had to have it. Is slightly faster than the other SSD I have, and at 1TB, makes a great main/boot drive.
Yeah, so here’s where all my money went. Yikes. As close to 1/3 of total spend as makes no difference. I tried to justify to myself that it was on “sale” for like $20 off MSRP. But I wanted the best card I could get, and the ASUS rated very highly. Also, this card follows the color scheme of my build with gray and orange. So there’s that. The “stock” overclock it came with is great. This card is a beast. It hangs off the end of the mobo.
Performance is amazing. 16050 on Fire Strike....
I have been partial to Fractal since my last build. That case was an Arc 3000, which I loved. Loved the modularity and I hated other cases that scream “I’m a gamer!!” The Define S gets great reviews for air flow, noise, and ability to install liquid cooling. I also considered the NZXT H440, as it’s similarly understated, but I eventually went with a known quantity. I liked having a window this time, and the ARC 3000 did not have one. I picked this up at Micro Center and was able to get hands-on before purchasing. The price looks high because I bought the CPU, mobo, and case on site. I parked the tax here. With tax and shipping costs, price is similar to what I would have paid elsewhere. The build was smooth - with plenty of room in the front of the case to do a push-pull config on the Kraken and keep the dust filter on the front of the case.
LOVE this case. One of my favorite parts of the build
Plenty of power for this build at a great price. The P2 is built with SuperFlower as OEM, and the PSU performs very well in testing. I did a TON of research on this also, and ultimately decided this would fit my needs nicely. Gets high ratings for sound, power stability, and efficiency.
I have yet to hear the PSU kick on
Not the quietest, and the "orange" is definitely more of a gold/yellow. It's ok, but not my favorite and not what I was hoping to get color-wise.
These fans are pretty good - the orange color is pretty good, and the ring is cool looking. Sound is not too high, and airflow is good.
Face-melting picture. I know this is a FreeSync monitor and I have a Nvidia card, but really, I wanted 1440p and 144z on an IPS or VA panel, and this is it in a package that was ~$200 less than a G-Sync. In the end, I couldn't justify spending much over $500, much less $750+. I am stepping up from a 32” 720p Samsung TV, so gaming on this has blown my socks off. I had no idea textures could look so rich.