I have been mainly a console gamer since my first console, the Atari 2600.. (Yes, I'm that "old"). Played PC games on several occasions (Doom 3, System Shock 2 etc) but mostly stayed on the console scene and owned every major console ever released (now PS4 and Xbox One).
This is one of my first PC build (I actually have two "first" build.. read on to learn why). Though I have been tinkering PCs and servers before, this is the first time I assembled a PC from scratch.
I built the "Dark Soul" for TWO reasons:
Since both Xbox One and PS4 architectures are very much PC based, I'm expecting most multiplatform games will look better than their console counterparts. Yes, I'm pretty much into graphics performance on games. So the PS4 and Xbox One games will be limited to console exclusive titles while my PC shall play multiplatform titles. Its a good time to be a PC gamer..
I WANT TO PLAY DARK SOULS 3 AT 60FPS. I am a big fan of the "Souls" series (including Bloodborne). Hence the name of my build. I finally decided to build my first gaming PC, knowing how much improvement in terms of performance I can possibly achieve with a well spec PC based on Bloodborne's PS4 visuals.
Details of my parts' specification selection:
PC CASE : The Fractal Design Node 202 was a love at first sight. And since I was planning to put my build side by side with the consoles, the Node 202 was the best looking ITX case in comparison to other similar models (Silverstone RVZ02 and Phanteks Evolv ITX).
CPU : The Intel Core i5-6500 is a great CPU with great price / performance package. In theory, the i5-6500 could easily outperforms the consoles' Jaguar CPU.
CPU COOLER : Stumbled upon this cool looking CPU cooler, which complied with the minimum cooler height requirement of the Node 202 (56mm).
MOTHERBOARD : I didn't do much selection or research on the motherboard specs actually. It's the first motherboard I selected on the part list and basically fills my performance target and budget nicely.
RAM : Same with the motherboard. Picked what was available within budget and target (minimum 8GB of DDR4 RAM)
HDD : Also same again, picked whatever I saw in the parts list. SSD hard drive is a must and I only need one for my build.
PSU : The Node 202 with the built in Integra PSU is not available in my region. I was recommended to choose either Silverstone 500W SFX-L or the 600W for the PSU unit. Without checking out the specs, I selected the 500W version because its cheaper and 600W sounded like overkill for my build. Later on, I learned that the 600W has smaller dimensions, which COULD have made my built process way easier (read on for details). Also Corsair is also coming out with their own SFX PSU. Oh well.. Proceed with the 500W.
GPU : Since the consoles are utilizing AMD GPUs, the Radeon R9 380 4GB was my choice of visual power generator. But here's the thing; I initially I bought Sapphire Nitro Radeon R9 380 4GB but due to case fitment issue, I had to buy ANOTHER R9 380, this time from Gigabyte. It was frustrating. I'll explain in the build process below.
THE BUILD PROCESS :
NOTE TO BUILDERS WITH CRYORIG C7 AND ASUS Z170I PRO GAMING MOTHERBOARD IN THEIR PART LIST : The backplate will NOT PROPERLY flush fit with your motherboard. This has been acknowledge by Cryorig and you need to contact them the get the free replacement washers. I've seen several builders here doing some workarounds with the C7's backplate but the thing really doesn't fit well with the motherboard. See my pics to see how the washers work. I have to wait almost a week to get the washers. It was agonizing.
CABLE MANAGEMENT : You REALLY need to plan out how are you going to manage the cables when building your rig with the Node 202. Space for cabling is VERY limited once you put the PSU in. It COULD have been easier if I have chosen the 600W version, where there will be much needed space between the PSU and hard drive cage. Having the maximum length of 130mm, some of the cables need to be routed to the GPU chamber and force folded into tight sections of the case. I really recommended if you have the cash, go with the 600W SFX model from Silverstone and Corsair to save yourself from cable management complexity.
GPU : Now here's the real issue : Take note that the backplate of the Sapphire Nitro R9 380 will block one of the screw holes of the GPU mounting bracket, near the GPU output right beside the place where you will screw the GPU in the PCI slots. I have tried several times, ensuring I have properly mounted the GPU on the bracket but the Sapphire Nitro Radeon's backplate is either too tall or too wide that it blocks one of the screw holes of the bracket. Ironically, there are few builders here that managed to fit in the R9 390 version from Sapphire. Further checking showed that the 390 version has a tapered backplate while the 380 version has a vertical or rectangular backplate. Frustrated and disappointed, I immediately ditched the card and went out to buy the Gigabyte Radeon R9 380 G1 Pro Gaming, which has a shorter / narrower backplate. Now this one fit within the GPU bracket as intended.
OTHER NOTES : - Initially I did not put any additional fans on the GPU chamber but after seeing the temperature readings on GPU reached almost 90C with Witcher 3 and Unigene Heaven benchmark, I installed the Cooler Master XtraFlo 120mm Slim to cool things off. Due to my bad cable management, I was only able to install one fan in the GPU chamber. After further configuration to the GPU fan profile via Gigabyte OC Guru software, I managed to get the temperature down significantly, within acceptable noise level.
Challenging building process it was, overall I was quite satisfied and proud of what the final rig looks like. And as for that Sapphire Nitro Radeon R9 380 that I ditched? I used it for another rig, placed in my office for some off duty gaming. ;)