Greetings all! It is my pleasure to introduce you to White Lightning, my custom-built compact gaming PC. The original White Lightning was completed back in August of 2015, but since then many parts have been replaced to bring the system to it's current iteration, White Lightning v.1.2.
The whole project began as a pipe dream in early 2015, as I became more and more frustrated with the underwhelming speed and lethargic gaming performance of my 2010 15" MacBook Pro, with it's dual-core i5, 4GB of RAM and NVIDIA GT330M. I planned initially to buy a gaming laptop, but upon reading around I learned that the best value-for-money was a custom-built gaming desktop. Given that I already harboured a passion for technology and an affinity for building things, assembling my very own computer was the way to go. I proceeded to binge-watch tech YouTube channels and scour forums for about four months, and this was the result.
My needs for this system were quite straight forward. First and foremost, it had to pack some serious power. More specifically, I wanted to be able to crank up the graphical settings in games whilst still maintaining a framerate between 60 and 75fps on my 2560x1080 Freesync display. Also, it had to be compact and WiFi-capable, as I'm limited on desk space and running an Ethernet cable to my desk is near-impossible. It had to be capable of moderate multitasking, and it had to look the part.
I'm in no way disappointed. Gaming performance is amazing. Every game I've tried stays north of 60fps at 2560x1080, with graphical quality dialled up to eleven and some anti-aliasing thrown in to boot. Favourites of mine include Skyrim, Dishonored 2, Elite Dangerous, DOOM, Shadow of Mordor, DiRT Rally and Fallout 4, and this machines runs them effortlessly.
Additionally, Freesync is awesome. I'm glad I picked an AMD card over an NVIDIA one because of it. Multitasking is a dream thanks to the 16GB of RAM and strong CPU, and everything loads super-fast thanks to the SSD. Temperatures are warm but not unsafe, the CPU doesn't top 70 degrees and the GPU tends to hover in the high 70s and low 80s. As for noise, it's very quiet at idle and tolerable under full load, I wear headphones whilst gaming anyway so load noise levels aren't a massive issue for me. I think it looks awesome too, really sleek white/black/red theme going on.
So that's it, that's my rig. Read on for my opinions on the individual parts, feel free to offer opinions, questions or constructive criticism in the comments. Otherwise, thank you for reading :)
Can't fault it. Even though it's a generation old as I write this, it's still a fantastic CPU for those who want to game and do some multitasking on the side. Four strong cores, lots of cache, unlocked multiplier, runs cool, affordable - what's not to love?
Severely underrated cooler IMO. For it's price, it cools very well, keeping my 4690K under 65 degrees under gaming load. Fan is inaudible over other case fans, and it looks really sleek. CRYORIG really deserves more attention.
Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Yes. The most premium Z97 ITX board there is, with features galore. The QCode display has been worth it's weight in diamond, and the UEFI is among the best I've ever used.
There's not really much to say here. It's RAM, it's fast and there's lots of it. Very pretty heatspreader.
Among the fastest and cheapest SSDs on the market. 250GB is enough for my OS and most-used applications, and my PC boots in less than ten seconds now. SSDs really do totally transform the user experience, everything feels snappier.
Excellent drive. Blisteringly fast, even by HDD standards, and a terabyte is plenty for my Steam library, photos, videos and documents. Only caveats are the price and the fact that it's definitely not the quitest HDD around.
The crowning jewel of this PC. I went back and forth between a 1060 and a 480, but the 480 won out because of NVIDIA's stupid decision to restrict their adaptive frame sync technology to high-end monitors. The RX 480 performs admirably at 2560x1080 at 75fps with Freesync, and this Sapphire NITRO+ model is among the best AIB 480s around. Strong factory OC, quiet cooler, doesn't get too hot and swappable fans. One of the best GPUs on the market today IMO, and with the rise of next-gen APIs like DX12 and Vulkan things can only get better for Team Red.
Much better than the Corsair 380T I used to have. Lots of metal construction, unusual on such an inexpensive case. It feels really premium and solid. While it's definitely not the smallest ITX case out there, it makes up for it's larger size with increase cooling capacity, full-sized hardware support and aesthetics. Would recommend to anyone planning an ITX rig.
Overkill power supply, no doubt about it, but I don't really care. It's silent because the fan never has to spin up, it's got enough wattage to last me years and it's built like a nuclear bunker. One of the highest-quality units around.
Windows 8.1 is my favourite Windows and I'm sticking to it.
29 inches of IPS, 2560x1080, 75Hz, Freesync loveliness. A great pair with the RX 480, which can take full advantage of it's refresh rate and adaptive sync technology. Colours are on point, and trust me: once you go ultrawide, you will never go back.
Simple, inexpensive mechanical keyboard. Built like a tank, weighs about as much as one too. MX Blues are my personal favourite switch, and LED backlighting is useful for typing in the dark and for matching my setup.
Excellent build quality with a reassuring weight and heft to it. Accurate sensor, no tracking issues to speak of. Lots of buttons, all fully reprogrammable and in good places on the mouse. Nice lighting and easy-to-use, aesthetically pleasing software. Supremely comfortable for my palm/fingertip grip. An exemplary mouse in every regard.
Gaming headsets tend to have too much bass and terrible sound. This is the exception to that rule. For it's price, and it's type, it sounds exceptional. They're comfortable and very solidly built. 7.1 surround sound is nice for playing shooters.
Not audiophile-grade by any means, but they're good enough for me. Highs and mids are pretty clear, and bass is strong thanks to the included sub.