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Build

Atomium

by wirclickwir

5
0 Comments

Part List View full price breakdown

Details

Date Published

Dec. 15, 2016

Date Built

Jan. 5, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

4 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

30.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

65.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

2 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

8 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

35.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

70.0° C

Description

This is my first PC build and the first computer I've ever given a name (but don't anthropomorphize your inanimate objects - they hate it!). I saved up and bought the initial components during sales over the course of 2015 and completed it on January 5, 2016. Since then, I've expanded on it as I could afford to, doubling the memory to 32GB (quad-channel), upgrading the video card from an R9 390 to a GTX 1070, and adding a 4TB drive. I consider it foundationally complete, though I have plans for future additions including an M.2 SSD and higher-end GPU & monitor (probably in a couple generations). I use this as a workstation & gaming PC and as an all-around media hub in place of a television, including running various music production and image & video editing software and videogames. It is also my main writing tool in conjunction with a mechanical keyboard. This build performs great, with stable overclocks, low temperatures, and very fast, near-silent operation.

To get an idea of my computing experience prior to this, my first PC was a late '90s desktop with a half gig of memory and 6GB hard drive. My next one had an AMD Phenom CPU, 6GB DDR2 memory, and a Radeon 6750 (1GB VRAM) video card a friend gifted me along with some Steam games; this was my first venture into PC gaming beyond Solitaire & Minesweeper. I am grateful and still a bit awed to now have such a great build and thankful for the friends who've helped me along the way.

Part Reviews

CPU

Excellent CPU. Mine holds a stable 4.5GHz overclock, though for the sake of longevity and because of the negligible difference in performance, I keep it at 4GHz (1.1v and 65C stressed). The extra cores & threads don't have a noticeable impact on gaming over an i7 quad-core, but they make a difference in multimedia editing (in my case, audio and images & video), making this a great workstation and gaming processor.

CPU Cooler

While this doesn't have the muscle for extreme overclocking, it handles my 500MHz overclock with ease. At the 3.5GHz core clock, the CPU idles at 25C and lingers around 50C stressed; overclocked to 4GHz, it idles at 30C and lingers around 65C stressed. I have the radiator mounted as an exhaust between the rear case fan and a Corsair HD120, and it has a discreet, low profile and is barely audible.

Motherboard

Not merely a good budget-conscious X99 motherboard (if there is such a thing), but a good motherboard in its own right. Where it lacks in bells & whistles (no built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, no RGB lighting), it makes up for with sleek, solid construction, excellent BIOS (intuitive overclock presets as well as more in-depth control across five customizable profiles), and a massive amount of inputs (four PCIe & eight DDR4 DIMM slots and piles of USB ports including 3.1).

Memory

I got these primarily for their low profile, which works great in a tight-fitting setup like mine (two of the four modules are seated behind my rear-mounted liquid CPU cooler radiator). I have them running in quad-channel at 2666MHz (15 CAS latency), and while a 2800MHz XMP overclock runs stable at 1.35v and 127 BCLK, the difference is negligible and I prefer not to raise the CPU base clock. I was lucky enough to decide to get this 4x8GB set in late 2016 before the huge spike in DDR4 RAM prices; today, what I paid for this would only get me half the amount of memory.

Storage

The best 2.5" SSD I've ever used. I have Windows 10 Pro 64-bit and all my programs installed on this, and the OS boot-up time is a few seconds faster than the average SSD. Everything loads & runs remarkably fast, and the read/write speeds are phenomenal. Ideally, I'd use a M.2 NVMe SSD as my C drive and a higher capacity 2.5" SSD as a secondary drive, but I am very happy with the 850 EVO.

Storage

I use this drive exclusively for games, and even at 5900rpm, there is a noticeable increase in speed over a fully mechanical 7200rpm drive. This is also very roomy as I have over 350 games installed - many of which exceed 20GB - and over 1TB of space remaining. With many newer triple-A titles being as large as 100GB or more, the 4TB capacity is great for keeping many games installed. At $150, this drive cost me roughly four cents per gigabyte, making it a great value for its performance.

Storage

My secondary drive on which I have my extensive collection of music, cinema, literature, and images as well as my own music recordings, visual artwork, and writing documents. I lost much of my work when my sole drive died in 2011, and I intend to not repeat the same mistake; most of the files on this are backed up to an external drive and the most important ones a second time to flash drives and/or cloud storage. This drive is a winner, with very speedy 7200rpm read/write speeds and a roomy 3TB storage capacity at $90 - a great accompaniment to a smaller solid state drive.

Video Card

I moved up to this GTX 1070 from the R9 390 in my original build, and it was an enormous upgrade. It's perfect for high frame rates with high graphics settings at 1080p and 1440p (4K usually requires dialing down to hit 60FPS). MSI has outdone themselves with the Twin Frozr VI cooling system and heatsink design, as this GPU is near-silent even when the dual fans automatically activate when the unit hits 65C (which only happens when it's pushed). The included Gaming APP software features a one-click factory overclock setting that increases the 1582MHz core clock to 2000MHz barely breaking a sweat, and I've also manually overclocked this with MSI Afterburner to 2100MHz core clock and 9000MHz effective memory clock speeds while maintaining temperatures in the 70s.

Case

Though a bit more compact than other mid-tower cases, the V31 has enough space for a large ATX motherboard, five storage drives (three up to 3.5"), two 5.25" optical drives or devices, and a liquid CPU cooler up to 360mm. The exterior has an attractive black mesh chassis with a removable hexagonal-patterned front panel and magnetic filters covering the top and bottom which have an open design that promotes good airflow. Though cable management requires a bit of wrangling, this is a solid, intuitively designed case; simple, stylish, and flexible.

Power Supply

Solid 80+ Bronze rated PSU with a good value for the amount of wattage; in addition to the primary hard-wired cables, there are a wide variety of extra cables included should you need to go modular. My single, very minor complaint is that the sky blue LED lighting is difficult to see when this is seated with the fan facing down. Though I didn't buy it for that feature, the official photos of it are misleading for those who are going for a blue-themed aesthetic with their PC build.

Optical Drive

In addition to watching DVDs and listening to CDs on this, I use it to burn audio CDs and data DVDs, and it is extremely fast. CD/DVD-RW drives are now ludicrously cheap (even good ones like this only ever get up to $40), and most PC cases don't even have a 5.25" drive bay for them anymore. While I'm a bit nostalgic over the format dying out, it's allowed me to pick up this very nice piece of hardware for only 20 bucks.

Case Fan

Very nice case fans. These plug into a SATA-powered hub which supports up to six fans; I have one in the rear of my ATX mid-tower as an exhaust (mounted to a 120mm CPU cooler radiator) and two mounted vertically in the front of my case as intakes which really brings out the front panel's hexagonal mesh design. In addition to solid colors (which is what I primarily use), the HD120s have an array of psychedelic color shifting patterns to choose from. I'm not a big fan of RGB, but these illuminate the interior of my case very brightly and are aesthetically pleasing without looking excessive or overly flashy. My only complaint is that these are controlled with a physical controller and not the Corsair Utility Engine software and the RGB lighting cannot be tuned to custom colors or turned off.

Monitor

A great monitor for gaming with a native 1080p resolution, 144hz refresh rate, and 1ms response time. Though it's an TN panel with color reproduction not quite as good as IPS and it lacks G-Sync or FreeSync, it is still a very nice display and a big step up from your average 60hz monitor. I use NVIDIA DSR to set this at 1440p in Windows 10 and in certain games which can still hit high frame rates at high graphics settings at that resolution, and the display is still quite sharp with the upscaling.

Keyboard

My first mechanical keyboard and an enormous upgrade from a membrane keyboard both for typing and gaming. Once acclimated to using it, my typing speed & accuracy are higher than ever; the keys have a very nice tactile feel and gentle touch to them with a satisfying "click" when depressed. Gaming is also very fluid & precise. Apart from dedicated media keys, this is a full-featured keyboard with individual RGB lighting on each key, a variety of lighting settings (controlled with Corsair Utility Engine), and an on-board USB port. It comes with sets of textured WASD and QWERDF keys and a very comfortable removable, rubber-gripped wrist rest.

Mouse

This is one of the most highly programmable, precise, fully featured, and comfortable mouses I have ever used. The software is excellent as well; there is on-the-fly DPI speed adjustment across three separate customizable profiles, a dedicated button to switch all other buttons to secondary functions or to use a custom DPI speed when depressed, a scroll wheel that can use incremental "click" scrolling or be unlocked to glide indefinitely, and weights that can be added to tune the heaviness of the mouse (I use all five 3.6 gram weights). The optical sensors adapt to various surfaces, so this mouse feels great on both cloth & hard pads or a desk surface.

Headphones

A mid-range headset with some high-end features and solid build quality; the 7.1 channel digital surround sound (using a stand-alone USB sound card) has very good spatial clarity across a wide range of frequencies, and the built-in mic sounds great. The cloth ear cups & head padding is durable and comfortable for long periods of wear - I prefer it to the leather padding on my Sennheiser HD280 Pro stereo headphones as it is far more resistant to water & tearing. The cord has a panel with a volume wheel and mic on/off switch; the unit doesn't automatically turn the mic on & off when you reposition it, which some people prefer, but I think having a dedicated switch is more reliable. While I prefer my Sennheisers for working with audio and listening to music, I use this set for everything else and love it, especially for gaming.

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