Coming from laptops and consoles, this was the first computer that I've ever built.. And I was surprised how smoothly the whole process went! As someone who didn't even know what a motherboard really was prior to being infected with the desire to build a PC, I've definitely learnt a tremendous amount about gaming computer hardware in the past two months or so. The communities around here, Reddit and youtube were truly an invaluable resource during this learning period.
A little bit about the computer
This slightly overkill rig will be used for a mix of games (1440p and Oculus Rift in the near future) and engineering school work (3D CAD, rendering, coding, etc), and so far I'm amazed at how everything feels. I've been able to hit 60+ fps at 1440p on games like BF4 and Crysis 3, and 1080/60 at beyond ultra on the Witcher 3. I do plan on overclocking the CPU and the GPU sometime in the near future, but for now stock clock speeds still provide plenty of performance. On Firestrike, stock clocks achieve an overall score of 15926 (18997 Graphics, 14420 Physics).
After a bit of research, I knew that I wanted to go with the X99 platform, as the platform seemed to have more longevity than the Z97 alternative (with DDR4 inevitably being the next standard). The extra CPU cores should prove to be beneficial for CAD and rendering purposes, and could potentially even provide a performance improvement in future games with DX12 looking to utilize CPU cores more efficiently. And, unlike the Z97 path, there is also room to upgrade the CPU down the line, when prices on Xeons drop. Also, from an aesthetic standpoint, I enjoy the look of the 8 DIMM slots. (The upgrade to the X99 platform was easier to justify as a friend of mine at Intel was able to get me a significant discount on the CPU.)
While selecting my parts, I tried to maintain a 'stealthy' aesthetic: primarily black with some grey/silver thrown in here and there.
CPU: The i7 5820k was chosen as it offered the best price to performance of Intel's current enthusiast line-up.
Cooler: The H110i GT seems to be the current AIO king when it comes to performance benchmarks (beating out the CM Nepton 280L and the NZXT Kraken X61), and in my opinion is the reigning king when it comes to aesthetics, with ridiculously sleek, braided tubing. At first I had the Cooler Master Nepton 280L, however - the pump unit on that cooler was defective (it made clicking noises), and so that was RMA'd.
Mobo: The MSI X99S SLI Plus was one of the cheaper options of motherboards sporting the X99 chipset, and it offered all of the features and connections that I looked for, while sporting a sexy black aesthetic. Several reviews of the board on Newegg stated that the DIMM slots were faulty (as it won't boot with a quad channel arrangement of RAM), however - flashing the latest version of the BIOS seems to resolve that issue.
RAM: 16 Gigs of G.Skill DDR4 RAM should last me quite a long time, and the angular, symmetric aesthetic of the four RAM sticks goes quite nicely with the aesthetic of the MOBO.
GPU: The 980 Ti was conveniently announced/released while I was still researching CPU components, and after seeing JayzTwoCents' benchmarks of the G1 Gaming Edition, I knew that this was the GPU for me. It outperforms the Titan X at stock clocks. Beast.
Case: The Fractal Design S. A nice, no-nonsense mid ATX build, with sturdy construction, good room for airflow, nice silence optimizing panels, and a minimalist exterior. Just perfect.
PSU: The EVGA G2 850W PSU. It outputs 850 watts of reliability, providing room to spare for SLI in the future.
The total build time was a bit longer than I had expected at about 6 hours: 3 hours for the actual assembly (I was super cautious about every little thing), and 3 more hours for cable management. However, having the computer POST successfully for the first time (at around 3 am) was simply one of the greatest feelings in the world.
Anyways, thanks for reading!