Built for mainly gaming but general day-to-day use, photo/video editing, coding etc.
As far as a build goes it was quite straightforward and the combination of parts worked well together with some minor niggles. The main niggle being that I only intended to spend about £1000-1200 for an 8400K system with a GTX1060 or 1070 at a push and I ended up just going all-in.....too easy to just get carried away right?
I managed to get the Gigabyte 1080 in the Black Friday sale for £499 which was a bit of a result, I was originally considering an EVGA 1080 blower version which was the same price (the day before) and I noticed this when I went to order so checked a few reviews and went for it.
Get good air flow through the case and I was please with how easy it was to build using the Focus G. Normally I would spend upwards of £150 on a case but as it now lives under my desk rather than in view all the time my priorities have changed somewhat.
I will attempt to mildly overclock it as soon as the new PSU arrives as I've RMA'd it dues to a fan problem however I suspect the AIO cooler might not be able to handle much in the way of overclocking without running the fans constantly at full speed but I will update when I make progress. I may end up making up a custom loop for it when funds are available as I'd quite like to do both the GPU and CPU and have my first attempt at using rigid pipe. With that case I reckon that a small DDC pump and res would sit on top of the drive bays at the bottom of the case and I could go with a 280 rad in front and a 120 rad in the rear.....it might then end up on top of my desk again for the looks.
I know in the grand scheme of things COD isnt much of a test but considering my old system (overclocked 3570k with 2x GTX660) wouldnt even run WWII at the lowest res with all options set to minimal/least GPU intensive I was amazed by how this smashes along with everything maxxed out....well up until the point the PSU started to sound like a lawnmower.
THe RMA'd PSU failed so now has an EVGA 750GQ hybrid modular fitted.
Having not upgraded since my i5 3570k Ivybridge this is a HUGE jump in performance compared to what I have been used to.
Only reason I rated as a 4 is due to the poor TIM that Intel use and if you want to overclock then (controversial subject alert) de-lidding may help which would obviously invalidate your warranty. Now i know that you can get reasonable overclocks without de-lidding and some people are luckier than others. I pushed for 5ghz but just cannot get it stable and have dropped to 4.9 @ 3.35V. This might be subject to change though with better cooling or a more solid PSU which I have just added. The disappointing factor is that I would expect the thermal transfer solution to be bang-on and not some cheapo solution especially if you are paying £400 for a CPU. If AMD can do it (and Ryzen is cheaper) why cant Intel?
Typically I am seeing an idle temp of around 27-30degC using a 240mm AIO cooler and full load temperatures of 68-70degC. Overclocked to 4.9 I am peaking at 77-79degC.
I am still fairly inexperienced as a builder but one thing I think worth mentioning is that its worth setting your CPU voltage manually and not just leaving the BIOS to do its thing in Auto. On stock clock settings I managed to drop the full load temperatures by nearly 10degC as the CPU as being given around 3.3V at 100% load but it could run stably at around 2.7V. If you are running on air cooling this could make a BIG difference to your case temps.
On i7 8700K keeping idle temperature at around 30C and load at 60C on stock speeds.
Installation of the radiator and fans was straightforward and it comes with 2x 120mm Silencio PWM fans which are very quiet at low speeds (~400-600RPM), obviously they get louder at higher speeds which is to be expected but nothing unbearable. It was a nice touch to include a PWM fan cable splitter with the cooler to allow you to plug both fans into one header and have PWM control over both of them.
Instructions were unclear regarding LGA1151 bracket installation resulting in requirement to ask on their forum, basically if you installed the bracket in the orientation shown on the instructions it hit on a screw on the CPU socket. I didnt get anything resembling a useful answer and as far as I could tell nobody from Cooler Master seemed interested in offering any support.
The underside of the copper heatspreader/waterblock (not sure what to define it as) is a very rough almost linished finish which may have an impact on its ability to make a good contact on the CPU heat spreader.
Following on (around 4 weeks of use). I noticed my temperatures were spiking quite a lot, only for a slipt second which I assume is normal for a Coffee Lake CPU however I wasnt overly convinced that as the retaining screws didnt seem to tighten too much during installation perhaps the cooler was making poor contact. When checking I was able to wobble the cooler on top of the CPU with the screws fully tighened and bottomed out at the ends of the threads. I have subsequently removed the cooler, cleaned the Cooler Master TIM off, had to bend the top mounting bracket lugs to get a good solid mounting (obviously hand-tightened only) and applied Artic Silver 5 before refitting, this seems to have improved things a lot.
I have always used custom loops and I thought this would be a reasonably close alternative but to be honest I was quite disappointed with the temperatures and given that along with the installation headache and the support (or lack of) and the fact that I have had to remove it and modify the brackets to actually get a good amount of contact I would avoid this like the plague, perhaps my one was just a bad example but I feel that this was a complete waste of money and I could have had better results from a reasonable quality air-cooling solution. I was going to recycle this into my Son's build later and put a custom loop in this build however given how awfully bad this thing is I will look at a custom loop as a matter of urgency and the only recycling of this part will be in the waste bin.
Considering this is the entry level ROG Z370 board it was packed with features. Has a header for an AIO/Water pump, 2x CPU fans and ample chassis fans. Quite a nice touch that you can 3d print various bits for it (SLI bridge cover, ATX connector cover etc) as well and Asus have made the designs available. The large heatsing/spreader at the top may cause an issue with some cases if you are planning on top-mounting a radiator.
The BIOS is quite intuitive and feature packed, my only downside was that if you use the Asus overclock tuner and select XMP then you dont seem to able to change back to the non overclocked settings without restoring everything back to default...obviously you can do it manually provided you know what all your setting were beforehand. There is an option to save 8 profiles and these can also be exported/imported from USB so in the event of having to clear the CMOS you can reload your lost settings.
In the advanced mode I had some difficulty finding things such as LLC and the help text descriptions at the bottom of the screen arnt always that descriptive as some settings are explained in detail (say for example BCLK) however LLC just gives a number range with no explanation of what the numbers relate to.
The motherboard had built-in LED lighting that shows as a thin strip from just below the CPU socket towards the bottom edge of the board and the LED animation can be changed.
A bracket is supplied to allow you to fit an additional cooling fan over the VRMs which accepts a 40mm or 50mm fan...the only problem is you are not spoilt for choice on fans out there that size.
Flashing the BIOS on this board is quite straightforward as well, with the option to use either a USB drive or download it online.
The documentation is quite detailed and would be quite easy to follow for a first time builder although as a board (albeit lower-end) that should be good for overclocking I found the documentation to be somewhat lacking in that area.
Fast RAM, runs at the XMP settings without problems and performed well.
Performs well and so far seems reliable, using mainly as a boot drive gives good performance and fast boot times.
No downsides to report so far other than it runs a little warm (60degC) sitting below the GFX card so might consider an M2 fan (option on my board) or heat spreader.
A solid little good performance hard drive, not the quickest but it works well and so far seems reliable and gives a good improvement in performance when compared to a conventional HDD such as the equivalent Barracuda 1TB.
I have always previously had reservations about buying Gigabyte products due to bad experiences of their early motherboards years ago and thankfully those reservations are now unfounded.
The build quality looks superb, everything is solid and it was well packaged. The card has 3xHDMI ports, 1 DVI and 3 display ports. It weighs a ton though
It has 2x 8 pin power connectors, overall length just short of 300mm which makes it approximately 25mm-30mm longer (due to heatpipes/heatsink) when installed than where the side of a normal ATX motherboard would be in case this would cause anyone clearance issues with front drive bays/radiators.
The LED lighting looks good, quite like that if you use their software you can customise the lighting and colour, it can also work on card temperature (i.e. cold = green, hot = red).
I have been looking to see if I can find a full-cover waterblock that will fit this card and so far using the configurator on EK website says they have no plans to make a block for this card so I suspect there may be issues finding a waterblock to fit if you plan to water cool further down the line.
Overall very good quality for a budget case
Motherboard standoff holes had been filled with powdercoat which required attention before being able to install motherboard but that is not a major issue and no reason to put anyone off purchasing.
With an ASUS ROG ATX board fitted the front panel audio connector cable is too short (by about 3") to reach the front audio port on the motherboard if you run it t othe botton of the case and along, it will fit if you tie it diagnoanally across the back of the motherboard tray so be sure to check the motherboard header location before deciding on this case.
On the plus side, its easy to work on, good amount and location of cable management holes and tie-down points to keep things neat. Front panel fans are silent. Fitted 240 AIO into front panel and it reached the CPU socket with plenty of reach left, a 280 rad/AIO would fit easily too. If you wanted to go smaller you could easily fit a 120 AIO in the front or rear. One thing to be wary of is that all the front fan mounting points are threaded (looks like M3 threads), this can make it difficult to mount a fan/rad as I did with the fans behind the front grill of the case and the rad mounted behind the bracket, in this instance I had to drill clearance holes and use the screws supplied with the AIO.
Potentially this could also make an excellent budget case if you are using custom loops too. If you were to leave the top 3 1/2" bay empty it looks like a small res/pump combo could sit on top offset to one side slightly and be able to clear past a 300mm long GPU
I wouldnt recommend fitting a rad in the top as motherboard clearance would be an issue on most boards that have a large heat spreader at the top, also on my Asus board the DIMM slots look like they would conflict with a top rad as well.
Pros: Cheap and it works, power delivery seems quite stable, plenty of SATA connectors and a few Molex's
Cons: Had to RMA it as the cooling fan started failing with excess vibration and grinding noises after only a week of use.
Had to RMA the RMA'd one for the same problem as above. I know these are the cheapest in the Corsair range but I would have expected a bit better quality from such a big name. I have been doing some stress testing but IMO a PSU should be able to run somewhere near to its rated power output without dying especially as some headroom was allowed when selecting the PSU.
Now changed to a different brand PSU