I realize that skies and lakes are typically blue, not red. However, I've never heard of a lake in the sky (except maybe in Minecraft). Anyways, I needed a better title than "Skylake Geforce 970" or "Asus mobo with i7-6700K" or an old PCPP standby: "third gaming pc build" :D It also references the fact that I have red lights shining on already red components.
This build just sort of happened, I was looking to upgrade a 3 year old Ivy Bridge i5 build. I realized that getting a new processor for it was going to be a little harder and if I upgraded the MB and the CPU, I might as well upgrade to M.2 and DDR4 RAM. My old Gigabyte 660OC needed to be upgraded and I might as well go with a smaller build/case, because the Antec Eleven Hundred takes up more space than necessary in our small house. Factored all together, I figured I would skip the upgrading and start over. I started buying components back in April as I saw decent deals appear on what I needed/wanted.
This wasn't going to be a typical gaming build, I plug a lot of stuff into my builds that some people wouldn't. This is a family PC as well as my gaming PC and as such requires a few more things. I have a few hard drives in it, a need for a memory card reader, optical drive, and excessive USB's on the front.
That concludes my quick description of my build. Below follows a more in depth look at each component and the why's, likes and dislikes. Don't worry, I won't be offended if you stop reading here, I tend to write a bit more than most people. :) These are kind of listed in the order I selected things. Everything listed as $0 are parts that I already had from my last build(s).
MB: Asus Z170M-PLUS Micro ATX LGA1151 I wanted to go smaller, hence the micro ATX. I've always been an ASUS fan and this motherboard fit my needs as far as I could tell. I wanted M.2, and needed 2 USB 3.0 headers, 4 slots of RAM gives me room to upgrade if I choose. Z170 chipset as I wanted to overclock. Only problem I saw for this build was the gold heatsinks, but I didn't mind. If I get some sleeved cables, I will likely get a touch of gold on them to tie it in a bit better. I am not completely impressed with this motherboard, its POST time was extremely slow OOB and it just seems very un-polished, the splash screen pops up twice during POST and there is a lot of black screen with a blinking cursor. Had trouble with a Windows update conflicting with ASUS' secure boot and causing me to have to reload Windows. Had driver issues with the USB controllers that caused me to have to reboot Windows 2 times as well, even then I have to wait up to 10 seconds at Windows login screen waiting for them to start working, but not often. Took some doing but got BIOS updated to the latest and quartered my POST time to about 11 seconds, which is acceptable.
Case: Fractal Design Arc Mini R2 I spent a lot of time going through case specs and details as I'm pretty picky about my case requirements. This one had to have 2 front 5.25 slots, dust filters, a window, and had to meet certain dimensions. Power button on the top is preferred to prevent inadvertent powering down especially with small children around (now all they can likely do is get the blu-ray tray to slide out). The simple fan controller was an added bonus and gives me a quick and easy way to control noise or temperature. The white accents were OK, but I wanted to go mostly red components, So I painted them red. I removed the top drive bays and all the mounting hardware for them to give my GPU some space and promote air flow. 20 mm of space on the backside is OK, but my mass of cables barely fit back there, but more space would make it wider.
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K I probably could have gone with the i5-6600K, but I do a bit of streaming while playing and play a few more CPU intensive games and have a few things going on in the background while gaming (though nothing to truly justify an i7). But, who knows what the future holds, I wanted to be future proof. My last build had an i5-3350P in it and while it works fine, it was a bit of a weak point and I've regretted not putting in some version of an i7-3770 or an i5-3570. I just wanted to make sure I didn't have any regrets with this build.
CPU cooler: CRYORIG H7 I wanted a smaller, well performing air cooler with good clearance for the RAM and MB. Had to source this H7 out of the US as it is not available in Canada at this time.
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2666 I need more than 8GB on my PC's due to having 2 users always logged in and leaving memory intensive browsers up. 16GB was the sweet spot with 2X8, giving me the option to upgrade (not likely) to 32GB. Corsair just because I have always had good results with them, Red as that's the common theme. I went with 2666mhz as that looked like the sweet spot for performance, price, and the Skylake chip's abilities.
Hard Drives The main thing on this build for hard drives is obviously the 950 Pro which I am booting Windows 10 from. The other 3 are all recycled from my last PC. The WD Red are from a Raid setup that I did a couple years ago. I use my drives in the following configuration: 950 Pro: OS and major programs and games. 850 Pro is for games only, The 1 WD Red is for any other games as well as documents, pictures, etc. The other WD Red is used as a backup for windows as well as pictures and documents. I then also backup up routinely with a portable hard drive that is kept away from our house. Loading Windows 7 to the 950 Pro was actually a lot easier than expected, I grabbed the driver I needed for (950 pro NVMe for Windows 7) and burnt it to a DVD and then inserted that dvd when Windows install could not find the 950 Pro and gave the option to load a driver. After driver installation, Windows installation was quite smooth, all 4 times...
GPU: Asus Geforce 970 Strix I was holding off to see the price point for the Pascal's but realized as they are releasing that they are more than I want to spend for now, never mind their availability in Canada. I may look at a 1070 in a year or so once I've gotten a new monitor, but I decided that a 970 would be more than good enough at 1080P and opted for the Strix due to its noise level and price point. I'll let the market settle down on Pascal.
PSU: EVGA SuperNOVA P2 650W 80+ Platinum This platinum PSU was on sale and in the same range as a similar gold. I wanted fully modular, but after getting it and installing it, I have only 2 of the cables unplugged due my excessive need for sata and molex in various areas of the case. I could have easily foregone modular, but then I wouldn't have an easy option for sleeved cables.
Optical drive: Asus BW-12B1ST/BLK/G/AS Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer Another part recycled from my last build. I don't use it for much Blu-ray, but I have the software to play them, so it makes it nice.
Windows 7 I was able to use my previously purchased retail Windows 7 for this new PC. I had to jump through the driver hoop to install it to the 950 Pro as detailed above.
Wireless adapter: Rosewill RNX-N150PCe Nice to be able to move my desktop wherever and never have to worry about hooking up an ethernet cable or contemplate wiring in more phone jacks.
Case fans and meteor light kit I wanted Red LED fans and got ones on the lower edge of the decibel range to hopefully keep things a little quieter. I am running positive case pressure for now to try and keep things a little cleaner inside. The lights on the fans are a little dimmer than I would have liked, but they are good enough. The meteor light kit was not something I planned, but it was so cheap I threw it in with an order, plus it uses up the back PCI slot on the case that isn't associated with the MB. The wires are just about not long enough and the button has to be shaved down to fit it in a PCI slot. The cyan box was promptly painted red.
Monitor: Asus VK248H-CSM 24.0" The screen I have been using for the past couple years. I want to look into upgrading it in the near future, but need to do some research. I don't know enough about monitors and their specs right now.
Peripherals: The Kraken headset was a fortunate mixup at work. We ordered a bunch of office supplies and we received 2 of these in place of 2 staplers. We notified them and they said the staplers were backordered and they would refund us and give us an RMA for the headsets. We never got the refund or the RMA, so I decided it was to my advantage not to press the issue, so my buddy and I reimbursed the company for the missing staplers (about $25) and claimed the headset's. I have a wireless Sennheiser that I have hardly used since then despite it being better on the audio side, just because this one has a mic and I never have to worry about the batteries being dead when I go to use it.
I wasn't going to upgrade the mouse and keyboard, but my logitech mouse gave out while I was in the middle of the build and I was getting sick of wireless mice, so I decided it was time to get an actual gaming mouse. The keyboard has seen better days, so I decided to get a new one at the same time.
Memory card reader: Enermax ECR501 I can sometimes have up to 5 usb's plugged in at one time on the front of my PC; (4 now that I have a wired mouse) controllers, USB drives, phone charging, etc. I wanted to get an all in one memory card reader with USB's so that It would only take up 1 drive bay. I wanted at least 1 to be 3.0 and 1 to be charging. This unit has it all.
Extras I wanted to make this build run a little quieter, so added rubber fan mounts and case foam where able. Grabbed some carbon fibre like sticker material to add some extra color in a few places. I don't mind case badges in moderation so applied the main ones to the front. As the majority of my components are ASUS, I added the nice looking, theme matching, red ROG sticker on the side of the case that sticks out on the desk and made the one on the front out of the carbon fibre material. Even though there is quite a bit of ASUS under the hood, technically none of it is ROG, not even the Strix GPU. But as I said before, I like ASUS (except for this mobo), I really like the look of ROG and the color matched my build. I put the carbon fibre material on the front half portion of the GPU fan shroud, it's a little rough as I put it on without taking it off the card. The desk is a flat box special that I picked up for $50 secondhand especially for this computer. I then beefed it up with wood screws to strengthen it and modified it a bit to keep the majority of my cables hidden. My Back-UPS is mounted on the back with a shelf to tie all the excess cables to and keep them from hanging down. Had to add a few holes in places to route them nicely. Took off the one shelf to allow the monitor to sit up above the desktop. Still room around it to fit a bigger monitor. I would like to get sleeved cables, but can't justify them at this time, I may look at sleeving these ones myself, at least maybe the 3 motherboard and GPU connectors.
I first used this computer with the stock cooler from my last i5. The poor thing was running up to 84C on stock settings on benchmarks, luckily only had to use that cooler for for a week or 2 until the H7 came. On stock settings the H7 brought it down to the mid 50's during stress testing. I put a 4.4 OC on it and it was running fine up to the high 60's for several minutes and while I was watching it it spiked to 99C, which caused quite a bit of scurrying to turn prime95 off. Luckily it was while I was watching it and it only went up there for a second or 2 before I turned it off. Not sure what happened there, so I put it back to stock settings for now. Any ideas anyone? I think the cooler is seated good and it had run for about 4 or 5 minutes at high 60's and then spiked, it wasn't a gradual climb up into the 90's.
Anyways, it does what I want and I'm happy with it. I'll dig into the OC issues in the future.