UPDATE: 3/8/16 Added some RGB LEDs to the main case compartment.
I'm excited to share my very first PC build with you all. I've had laptops since college and now that I have a full time engineering job I figured it was time to upgrade. I did quite a bit of research before picking out all of these parts and decided that for my budget of about $1.8k (not including the monitor) this was a great way to go. I completed this build about two weeks ago (mid Feb 2016) and I love the 10-25 second boot times. My out of pocket for all of the components (including the monitor) was $2.5K. Let me know what you think!
P.S. I apologize in advance for the poor lighting and quality of the pictures (taken with an iPhone). I also forgot to take a picture of all the component boxes before the build, so the RAM is missing from the plastic case in that pic. ;)
Chassis: Cooler Master Storm Stryker
The Stryker is Cooler Master's white version of the CM Storm Trooper which has a black exterior. This case is a full size tower that comes with 4 case fans, extra screws/zip ties, and a great ergonomic handle which comes in handy because this is a heavier case. I love that this tower has tons of room for future expansions (SLI GPUs, more fans, etc.). The case comes with eight 3.5" HDD slots as well as a 2.5" HDD rack that can hold up to four 2.5" drives. This case has 2 USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and a "X-Dock" hot-swap 2.5" drive port. There are plenty of air intake and exhaust vents in this case which all have their own filters so ventilation is not an issue. The case sits 11/16ths of an inch (~2cm) above the working surface on four circular metal feet with rubber bottoms. Since the case sits a less than an inch above the rubber bottomed feet, I would highly recommend that this case be placed on a desk or another flat surface. Do not place this case on high carpeting; this just turns your PC into an expensive vacuum cleaner. Both side panels have 10mm pop outs to make a little more room for GPUs (L side) and wiring (R side) even though the case already has plenty of room. The left side panel has a large plexiglas window for you to admire your hardware and each of the side panels are mounted with two thumb screws. This makes it very simple to remove and replace the side panels. The case comes with the two front 120mm fans facing the intake vent on the left side panel with the eight 3.5” HDD drive bays facing the right side panel. I reinstalled the fans so that they pull air in through the front of the case which allows for much better airflow into the main compartment. There is a 200mm fan mounted above the motherboard tray (I removed this so that I could install the CM 280L liquid cooler’s dual 140mm fan radiator).
The only cons to this case are that it is heavy, has a lack of internal lighting, and the instruction manual is poor. The only lighting inside the case consists of the LEDs on the front two 120mm fans.
For more info on this case see this review; http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/4927/cooler_master_storm_stryker_full_tower_chassis_review/index5.html
MOBO: EVGA FTW Z170
The EVGA For The Win Z170 motherboard is a newer model from EVGA that is meant to go with Z170 chipset processors. This motherboard features a new BIOS GUI interface designed to be fast and have the best overclocking support and functionality. It has a highly efficient VRM provides the cleanest power to the CPU possible, fed through a CPU socket that has 1.5X the amount of gold content as older models for improved signal quality. There are 4 DIMM slots support up to 64GB of DDR4 memory and the PCI Express layout is optimized for improved lane distribution and better performance with native support for NVIDIA SLI technology.
Specifications • Intel® Z170 Chipset • SLI – Up to 2 Way SLI + PhysX • 8 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0 • 4 DIMMs, dual channel DDR4, 3200 MHz+, up to 64GB • Solid State capacitors • Form Factor – ATX • Intel NIC (i219 PHY) • Realtek 8 channel audio + optical out • M.2 Key M up to 32GB/s • Replaceable BIOS Chip • PCI-E Lanes – 16
Features • 5 Phase PWM • 6 Layer PCB • Onboard Power, Reset, and CMOS Reset buttons • Isolated Audio traces for better sound clarity • Onboard POST Code Indicator/CPU Temp Monitor • Black Nickel CPU ILM • 150% Increased Gold Content
External I/O • 2x USB 2.0 • 6x USB 3.0 • Intel NIC (i219 PHY) • HDMI 1.4 • Display Port 1.2 • Realtek 8 channel audio + optical out • CMOS reset switch
Internal I/O • 1x USB 3.0 header (2 ports) • 6 SATA 6G • M.2 Key M
The only cons for this mother board; • The I/O cover guard did not fit with my GPU. • This MOBO does not have a USB 2.0 header so the two USB 2.0 ports on the front of my Stryker case are not connected.
CPU: Intel i5-6600K Skylake Quad Core 3.5 GHz
In the hunt for a good CPU I completed some very comprehensive research on the differences between the i5-6600K (3.5GHz Quad Core/4 threads), i7-6700K (4.0 GHz Quad Core/8 threads), and i7-5820K (3.3GHz 6-Core/12 threads) and decided that even though the i5-6600K is the worst of these three CPUs it provides the most value for the cost point it is at (~$250). So far I am very impressed with this CPU and am satisfied with my decision. It probably would have been worth it to spend the extra $150 for the i7-6700K 4.0 GHz CPU, but I figured I could save the money since the i5-6600K can easily overclock to 4.0 GHz and it has the capability to overclock to speeds as high as 4.6 GHz.
Here is a brief spec comparison of these CPUs; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?CompareItemList=-1%7C19-117-402%5E19-117-402%2C19-117-561%5E19-117-561%2C19-117-559%5E19-117-559
Here is a brief benchmark comparison of these CPUs; https://youtu.be/Kw-qyZB8qtk
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Nepton 280L
The Nepton 280L is one of the best liquid CPU coolers from Cooler Master. I decided to go with a cooler that I knew was reliable and had a low cost point (~$135). My best friend has used this cooler in his PC for a couple years and has nothing but good things to say about it. I am impressed with this coolers performance thus far. It keeps my CPU at an average of 26°C (78.8°F), even while gaming.
GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB FTW ACX 2.0+ Video Card
I really decided to go all out on the GPU. The EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW GPU with attached 2.0 cooler can perform amazingly. I downloaded and played Tom Clancy’s The Division Beta last weekend and it was great. Smooth performance, astonishing graphics, no lag, no tearing, just an all in all an amazing experience. (BTW if you haven’t pre-ordered The Division yet, I would highly recommend it).
Specifications • VR Ready • DirectX 12 Ready • Great for 4K • GameStream to NVIDIA SHIELD • 6GB 384-Bit GDDR5 • Core Clock 1190 MHz • Boost Clock 1291 MHz • 1 x Dual-link DVI-I 1 x HDMI 2.0 3 x DisplayPort 1.2 • 2816 CUDA Cores • PCI Express 3.0 x16
Here is a review of this GPU; http://www.tomshardware.com/news/geforce-gtx-980-ti-ftw,30065.html
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200
I didn’t spend too much time researching RAM, but this was DDR4 memory with a good brand at a good cost point with good reviews. Speed has not been an issue with this PC.
PSU: Cooler Master 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
This 750W PSU from Cooler Master is a breeze to use. Its fully modular design makes wiring flexible, neat, and on an as needed basis. 750W is enough power supply for my build as is but if I get another GTX 980 Ti GPU in the future I will need to get a larger PSU.
SSD: Samsung 850 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive
This is a great SSD. I downloaded my OS onto this drive and I have boot times of 10-25sec from off and wake from sleep is essentially instantaneous.
SSHD: Seagate SuperSpeed HDD 1TB 2.5" 5400RPM Hybrid Internal Hard Drive (SSHD)
I wanted to get a 1TB HDD but as I researched I found that Seagate has developed a new storage solution that they call a Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD). This new storage solution provides the form factors and storage capacity of HDDs while also providing the speed of SSDs. I have had good experiences with Seagate in the past so I gave this drive a try. I have to say that I am impressed so far with this drive’s performance. I downloaded my entire Steam library of games onto this drive and they all load quickly. More information on Seagate’s SSHD tech can be found here; http://www.seagate.com/solutions/solid-state-hybrid/.
Optical Drive: LG Blue-ray Disk Drive SATA Model UH12NS30
I bought the OEM version of this drive and it still came with a driver loaded disk which was nice. Newegg had it on sale for only $35 so I figured it was definitely worth the extra $10-$20 to get a Blu-ray drive.
OS: Windows 10 Home 64-bit
I have used Windows 7 since the end of 2009 so this is my first time seeing the new Windows 8/10 architecture. I like the change. Windows 10 has a lot of the same architecture that Windows 7 had (Control Panel, Network & Sharing Center, Etc.) while having some nice new aesthetic features.
Monitor: Dell S2716DG 144Hz 27.0" Monitor
I spent a lot of time looking into a monitor and finally landed on this new 144Hz, 1ms response time, g sync gaming monitor from Dell. $550 is extremely expensive for a monitor in my opinion but I really wanted a monitor that was at least 2K since my GPU can handle 4K resolutions. Quite frankly, after reading so many poor reviews of TN and IPS products produced by Dell’s competitors, I decided that it was worth the money to go with a product from a company that I know has great customer service, great QA/QC procedures, and great products. Like most reviews you will read about this monitor, I will state that the out-of-the-box settings on this monitor are bad. The brightness is set at a blinding 50% and the contrast is set to 75%. After reducing the brightness to a mere 15% and increasing the refresh rate to the maximum 144Hz, I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised with this monitor. The colors are not that much worse than an IPS monitor and the resolution and refresh time are great. The 1ms response time is excellent for online gaming as well. The 27” screen is nice and has a very thin bezel. The monitor base swivels, tilts and pivots which gives a lot of flexibility for viewing purposes. The monitor itself has two USB 3.0 slots, one HDMI port, one Display Port, an audio jack, and a headset jack. A DP cable is included with the monitor. This monitor does not have internal speakers.