So this is my first pc build. I did console gaming for quite a while but wanted a decent gaming rig along with all of the other features I need for everyday use (web, Word, Excel, and VMs). I focused on having a fairly quiet and power efficient build while trying to keep the price fairly reasonable. My performance needs were to be able to play Borderlands, Borderlands 2 and other similar games at 1080p 60 fps at maximum quality settings. Fortunately for me, my friend has built four other machines before and helped guide me in the part selection and building process. It was a combined effort but I have to give major kudos to him for helping me with the build (including the delicate cable installation on the motherboard after the CPU cooler was mounted). It’s nice to have friends do a collaborative build process.
CPU: The i7 4790k was on sale at a pretty decent price. Most people say it's overkill but I like the extra performance and should keep me from having to replace the CPU for a long time. I also wanted to run it at stock speeds and the newer chip comes in at 4.0 Ghz for the base clock, so no overclocking needed.
CPU Cooler: The Noctua NH-D14 is a beast in both performance, weight, and size. I picked it over the newer D15 because it offered roughly the same performance but was 30% cheaper. I checked Noctua compatibility charts on their website and my motherboard and RAM had no issues. Performance wise, it’s really quiet and keeps my CPU below 40 degrees while gaming with FPSs. Be sure to check your case for clearance before you buy it. My case fit fine but I had to move the center fan down to get it inside and then raised it back up once the motherboard and cooler were mounted to the motherboard tray.
Motherboard: The Z97I-PLUS has a great layout the allowed me to fit a giant CPU cooler even with tall RAM. The bios (UEFI) is pretty straight forward and allowed for the XMP overclocking profile for my RAM with one click. Any changes that you make are detailed before you save and exit, so that is a big plus to verify you didn’t accidentally change something while you were in there. The built-in WiFi is also very fast, has excellent range, and a great antenna that can be magnetically attached to your case (It’s on the top of my case in the photos). I do have a few minor cons for the board. The wifi connections to the board when you install it are a bit of a pain to snap down and you have to punch out two holes to screw the antenna connectors (did it with a small pair of pliers). The IO shield is also padded, which you think would be a plus but is a pain because the board would not fit completely flush with the case. I managed to get it to fit and the connections are solid but they should have not padded the shield. Last con is that it did not come with motherboard mounting screws (luckily my friend who helped me build it had some in his toolkit).
Memory: The Ripjaws X were on sale and I picked this version because I liked the overclocked 2400 Mhz memory. When I first installed it, the bios had it at 1600 Mhz but I just used the XMP setting and in one click and a reboot it changed over to 2400 Mhz. It’s tall RAM but it fit even underneath my huge cooler.
Storage: The 730 Intel was on sale for the same price or cheaper than Crucial or Samsung SSDs so I purchased it for my primary drive. I also like that they added capacitors to help prevent write errors during a sudden power loss. I also threw in my old 120 GB Intel 520 series SSD to store my music and some videos (goodbye mechanical hard drives).
Video Card: I realize that the 750Ti is on the low end of GPUs but its power efficient, quiet, doesn’t produce a lot of heat, and does not need a 6 pin power connector (one less cable in the case). The most important thing for me is that it meets my performance needs to be able to play Borderlands, Borderlands 2 and other similar games at 1080p 60 fps at maximum quality settings. I would have bought the MSI 750Ti Twin Frozr card, but the EVGA Super Clock had higher clock speeds and was $30 cheaper. This will meet my needs for now and allow me to bump up to a 960 or equivalent in the next couple years.
Case: The Colossus is a great case (and was a steal at $30). I think it’s a good looking case and one fancy light is enough for me plus I didn’t need to see the inside of my case (I’m using the ugly but awesome Noctua CPU Cooler and a case fan). Plenty of clearance for all of my parts but it’s also pretty tall for a mini itx. The light on the outside of the case is really nice and can be switched to a variety of colors or just plain off (for when the wife is using it). I removed the optical drive cage and the top hdd cage for better airflow and that was super easy. I kept the bottom hdd cage to mount the SSDs. You can mount the SSDs directly to the case but I didn’t have the right “flat” sata cables and using the hdd cage was much simpler.
Power Supply: The Cosair was on sale, was 80+ gold rated for effiency, met my power supply requirements, and had good editor reviews. The semi modular cabling was also a nice plus. It still leaves plenty of room to step up to a GTX 960, 970, or similar card in the future (I’m assuming the 960 will be below the 970’s 140ish watt TDP).
Operating System: I refused to purchase Windows 8 and Windows 10 SP1 won’t be out for probably two years. Therefore, I went with the trusty Windows 7.
Monitor: It’s my previous monitor but 1080p 60hz and an IPS panel is exactly what I wanted for my build.
Case Fan: I swapped out my factory front case fan for the NF-F12. I probably didn’t need it but already ordered it to use with a different cooler, so I thought it would be a good front fan replacement. Super ugly and super quiet.
Keyboard: I wanted Cherry MX blue switches and the G710 was on sale. Very solid keyboard and the lights are easily dimmable with several levels. The mouse usb pass-through was also a plus for cable management.
Mouse: The mouse is great and the color scheme also matches the keyboard (which is a side bonus). The software also works for the keyboard as well (only a single software install needed for both devices).
Speakers: The T20 speakers provide decent bass without needing a subwoofer. I don’t have the space for a subwoofer where the computer is located, so these fit the bill for gaming speakers.
Optical Drive: I rarely use an optical drive and didn’t want it in my case. This Asus external DVD burner was $12.24 and works just fine. I put it away in a cabinet when not in use, so no issues on it taking up any space or getting in the way.