My Inspiron 14R (N4010) laptop from 4 years ago wasn't cutting it anymore, so I was eventually due for an upgrade. I started researching on the summer of last year but never had the opportunity to build my personal rig until now.
I wanted the build to look aesthetically pleasing while providing the performance I needed today and the performance I wanted in the future. This was the end result.
Philisophical Mumbo-Jumbo: The main goal was to hit the sweet spot in gaming performance, even if I bottlenecked. The R9 290 was dropping in price and the really sweet-looking XFX R9 290 was on sale for $250 after MIR. I considered the GTX 970, but my budget wasn't in range.
While future-proofing is not a word I want to use, I wanted to upgrade into the next generation with the latest hardware. I don't do any massive projects now, but I want to expand from web design and programming to maybe video editing and 3D rendering later on. I decided starting with the i3 with a Z97 board would pave the way for an overclockable i5/i7 Broadwell processor and a free i3 for my brother to use when he builds his own later.
The form-factor was the hardest to decide when trying to form my final build, but with the announcement of the new Fractal Design Core series, I jumped on the mATX train. I initially wanted to go for an mITX build, but there were no elegant solutions for cases. I chose the Core 1500 for the simple-aggressive look and front panel USB 3.0 with fan controller in the back.
I also wanted a high-quality power supply that would last as long as I want it to, so the Seasonic G based XTR 550W with fully-modular cables and black-sleeving was perfect with a 5-year warranty.
Build Process: Having built and taken apart few computers for some friends and family in the past, the build process was not foreign to me. I just took the extra step because it was my first personal build. The only difficult parts were mounting the motherboard without a magnetic screwdriver and the aligning of the GPU bracket not perfectly in line with the hole of the case. Cable management was improvised and took a long time, but it was worth it and I'm happy with my cable management job.
Thoughts: I'm overall very satisfied with the build, and hasn't disappointed me especially in games and Photoshop. While there is small bottlenecks in performance with CPU heavy/heavily modded games, performance is pleasing and its shocking how the change was from a laptop that's losing its wheels that can't run anything if not slowly to a very capable desktop.
Temperatures are decent for the hot climate I live in. The 290 gets insanely hot though during MSI Kombuster though, hitting 90 degrees after several minutes. In more meaningful tasks, it never goes above 75 and stays at ~40 at idle with a more conservative fan-curve with a mediocre overclock. While the build is silent at idle, noise becomes noticeable in intensive games, but not overpowering. For some reason, I hear crazy coil-whine in loading screens of certain games and medium coil-whine in modded Skyrim. It bothers me a little bit, but I don't mind it that much.
Upgrade Path: i5 "5670k" > 240GB+ SSD > 16GB RAM > Aftermarket CPU Cooler >> GPU upgrade
Benchmarks: Soon™ (Still trying to get maximum stable overclock on memory clock while in Unigine Heaven)
Thanks for the support guys! Hope you liked the build.