Description

This is my first build, primarily used for gaming and some light streaming/content creation. Coming from a Digital Storm Eclipse (Silverstone RVZ-01) that I got on sale many years ago and has been treating me well ever since. That computer had a 4690k overclocked to a stable 4.1Ghz, with memory overclocked to 2133Mhz. Originally had a GTX 970, but upgraded that to a GTX 1080 two years ago. That card is still going strong, so I decided it was time to build a new home for it. After what seemed like years of planning and waiting for product releases (Crosshair Impact, I'm looking at you), it finally all came together last weekend. The new rig is multiples better in nearly every way: CPU: from 4 cores/threads to 8 cores/16 threads; Memory: from DDR3 1866Mhz (O.C. 2133Mhz) to DDR4 3600Mhz; Storage: from 500GB SSD+1TB HDD (total 1.5TB) to 1TB M.2 SSD + 2TB SSD (Total 3TB). After being stuck in Devil's Canyon for years, I decided I wanted this new rig to be upgrade-able as much as possible. I expect over time to upgrade the CPU, GPU, cooling and storage (PCIE Gen4 M.2). For now, the stock cooling and old GPU seem to work fine.

Here's the improved results of going from my old computer to my new computer (with the same GPU):

Userbenchmarks: Gaming 93 to 109 Desktop 88 to 149 Workstation 52 to 131

Time spy: 6024 to 7503 GPU 6895 to 7273 Avg FPS: 44.4fps-39.96fps to 47.03-41.99fps CPU 3512 to 10363 Avg FPS: 11.8fps to 34.82fps

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Load time: 28:28 to 26:89 Highest setting Rendered 7589 frames to 7697 frames Avg FPS: 48 to 49 GPU Bound: 7% to 100%

Watch Dogs 2 Load time: 1:16:85 to 48:65 Avg FPS (Ultra): 42-46 to 60-70

Assassins Creed Odyssey Ultra 3440x1440 Load time: 1:04:37 to 52:84 Avg FPS (Ultra): 41fps (25min 72max) to 40 (26min 62max) Total 2591 to 2586

Obviously I was very disappointed by Assassins Creed results, but encouraged by Watch Dogs results (amazed, really). It also looks like I'm getting about 10-15 fps better in Battlefield V.

Part Reviews

CPU

Thought I would get a 9700k originally, but when Zen 2 hit and 9000 series seems to be end of road for LGA1151 socket I turned to team red. I really wanted to join the 5ghz club, but with Mini-ITX form factor and limited cooling options, I decided Zen 2 was the way to go. I can also upgrade to a 3900x, 3950x or 4000 series in the future. I was able to overclock to all-core 4.225Ghz with stock cooler but it wasn't really stable. Pulled it back to 4.175Ghz, but then realized performance was actually worse than just letting PBO do its thing (since it will hit clocks of 4.4Ghz).

Motherboard

What can I say? This drool worthy motherboard is overkill but I love it. As soon as I confirmed A1 could fit the Mini-DTX (maybe even before) I knew I had to have it. I love the M.2 solution that allows me to swap out both sticks without pulling out the MB from the case. I also knew how important memory overclock would be so I didn't want to skimp on that side of things. Through overclocking trials, having the reset buttons on the I/O shield was also a godsend. Overall, the only thing to complain about is the price. However, in my view the MB is the one thing that doesn't tend to get upgraded in a rig and stretching on quality is probably money well spent.

Memory

I knew AMD infinity fabric required good memory and optimal speed is 3600. Given I has spent up for the motherboard, I thought I could save a bit of money to get the CL18 timing Dominators. This seems to be a good bet, as I was able to tighten my timings and achieve a CL15 on these sticks. This made a HUGE difference with gaming fps and smoothness.

Storage

Best bang for buck M.2 on the market, but was disappointed when my MB didn't recognize it at first and I stupidly loaded Windows onto WD Blue drive. I later tried to correct this, but the MB just doesn't want to load on the M.2 stick and constantly looks for the WD drive to boot. After much trial and error I gave up and my boot drive is still the WD drive. Real word difference is not noticeable so I can live with this for now.

Storage

Great SSD for a great price. Very happy so far.

Video Card

I picked this card up for $500 two years ago and it's still going strong. I could upgrade to a 1080 Ti or a 2080 Super, but really not sure it's worth the cost. I'll likely wait for the next gen to think about upgrading. Considering putting NZXT G12 and AIO cooler combo onto GPU to help with overclocking, but not sure it's worth the $100 or if it would even fit in the case.

Case

Beautiful case with a lot of great features. I wanted a window on my Mini-ITX, but wanted to keep size to minimal. Wireless phone charging feature is "cherry" on top. Included fans are a bit loud (comparing them to Noctua), but look good in the case and serve their function. Would prefer modular PSU, but cable management wasn't too bad considering. I ended up flipping the rear fan to an intake to blow cooler air on the CPU. Side fan serves as primary exhaust (other than blower cooler on GPU going out the back). This seems to improve CPU temps and help with positive pressure.

Case Fan

Simply the best (especially when you can't really see them) and you want a ton of airflow without much noise.

Monitor

My old monitor from many years ago is still looking great. Only issues are no G/Free Sync and lower refresh rate for gaming. Considering the resolution and my preference to play in High/Ultra settings, going above 60 fps was never really a consideration. I am eyeing the new ROG PG35VQ, but $2500 is a bit crazy. We'll see how nice Santa is this Christmas...

Keyboard

Such glorious RGB.

Much clickity-clack.

Mouse

No better mouse at this price point. Glorious indeed.

Headphones

Best wireless gaming features but not the best sound quality (though certainly not bad at this price point).

Comments

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

This is a great minimalistic and very clean build. Also there is a lego Thanos!? +1

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you! On Thanos, TBH I borrowed the legos from my son (hands in pic 8) as they were the only figures that would fit inside the case. He was bummed because he lost Star Lord and didn't have all the right infinity stones for Thanos, but I figured they would work well for the pics with the massive amounts of RGB in the case.

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

That motherboard is stunning

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

Surprised it took this long for Mini-DTX to become a thing, but I guess it limits the number of ITX cases it can fit into. It sure is pretty though, too bad it's mostly hidden in the tiny A1.

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

The unicorn barf though, please, just pick a color scheme.

  • 3 months ago
  • 2 points

Lol, fair. I was avoiding downloading the RGB software since it's bloatware that just slows down my benchmarks, but I'll pick a color and post a photo.

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

At least you have reason in the rainbow.

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

Very Pretty.

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  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks. I've been eyeing it since it was announced, but was really expecting price to be $300-$350. The $430 price tag made me balk a bit, but I don't regret a thing, especially after getting my RAM to CL15.