Welcome to my build: "YARBB" - Yet Another Red & Black Build
First off, a little bit of background about my PC building experience and what brought this build about. I've been building PC's since my college days back with the first AMD Athlon CPU's. Since then, I've had countless of builds over the years - upgrading PC parts here and there, sometimes a full build - as well as put together rigs for close friends and relatives.
For this recent build, this was more of an "evolution" of my previous i5 3570K CPU rig downsized into a mini-ITX form factor paired with a 660 GTX. System was housed in a Corsair 250D case. I wanted to upgrade my aging GPU and sprung for the GTX 1070. This particular one was the only one that was in stock in my city at a fairly reasonable price. Unfortunately, it did not fit my case at all. It was either go back to the store and return with nothing on hand or do a full rebuild altogether. I decided on the latter considering I wasn't really feeling it with a Mini ITX build.
Most of the parts here were carried over from my previous build. The new ones are the motherboard, CPU, DDR4 RAM, the GTX 1070 and the gorgeous Enthoo Pro M case. I'll give some of my opinions / thoughts on some of my component choices below.
I went for a core Republic of Gamers (ROG) build once again. The first one I had was was with a Crosshair IV formula paired with an X4 955 BE CPU. The last one was my 3570K paired with a Maximus V Gene (before downsizing it to a Mini ITX). I was hesitant to go back to ROG due to the price but then I remember just how solid the build quality was with a ROG motherboard. This Maximus VIII Hero board is just absolutely stunning to look at and a joy to work with considering the excellent placement of its connectors and a superb BIOS for overclocking and tweaking your system. The great amount of fan headers throughout the board easily accomodated my 3 AF140 case fans and the 2 SP120 radiator fans. There are 3 fan headers right at the top of the CPU socket specifically for a pumps and radiator fans. Well suited for my H100i cooler setup! This board also gives you plenty of control for your overclocking needs... though I'm not much of a "Hardcore" overclocker myself. I have my CPU at a modest 4.2 GHz. I'm sure I can push it up to 4.5 GHz stable. My RAM is set to an XMP profile at DDR4-2400.
My choice of a graphics card was surprising to say the least in terms of size. I've seen many reviews of the GTX 1070 on YouTube and read a lot of reviews on it, but I never imagined this particular brand of a GTX 1070 from Asus to be this long. It's an absolute beast in terms of performance, looks and size. The build quality of it is worthy of the Asus Strix / ROG branding. The fans are quiet and only spins during intense gaming. The heatsink is hefty and dissipates heat very well. Using the NZXT CAM monitoring software, my GPU peaks at around 60C and idles at 30C. Average temp. when gaming is usually in the low to mid 50C. The added RGB lighting is a plus and suits my ROG build-style pretty well. It's too bad I can't see the video card's fans while looking at my side window but what little lighting I can see from the side and backplate is more than enough. Performance wise, it has handled anything I can throw at it. I've been playing Witcher 3 a ton and this card has no problem running it in Ultra settings (though Hairworks is off) and rendering the game past 60 FPS (avg. 80 FPS). With my current monitor limited to 60Hz, I'm fine with a constant 60 FPS. But with this card, I think I'm ready to upgrade my monitor in the near future to an Ultrawide or a G-Sync 144 Hz.
Of course, with all this stunning hardware, I needed a case to show them off (or at least something I can look at once in a while). Now, I've had many windowed cases in the past. I've just been a fan of them since they started showing up in the market - from the old Thermaltake Xaser II case, to a couple of Corsair cases. I've been keeping tabs on what Phanteks has to offer ever since I've seen a review of the first Enthoo Primo a couple years back. It's an awesome case based on reviews but I figured it'd be too big and too expensive. Fortunately, they now offer a budget friendly case in the Enthoo Pro M. Even more amazing is the full acrylic window panel version of it. After seeing that a couple months back, I knew that was the case for me. Not only does the Phanteks case look amazing but building a PC in it leaves no compromises. You cannot screw up making a clean build in this case. There's plenty of room in the back to keep the cables tucked and hidden. Velcro tie downs are included to bundle the cables neatly. The shroud covering the PSU and the hard drives hides the cable clutter at the bottom. Absolutely one of the most pleasant and clean looking builds I've ever had.
Note: The case is actually the "Anthracite Gray" colored one. I wanted the black one but didn't have it in stock online. It turns out, the gray perfectly matches the motherboard's color scheme.
And so that's it for now. I'll keep this updated for future upgrades and more pics, especially when I get my new monitor.
UPDATES: 2017-01-03 - Added 2TB HDD for additional storage. Used for backups of files and Steam games.
2019-11-25 - Upgraded mouse to Logitech G502. Sold the old 27" Predator monitor, which paid for half of my new Asus PG348Q 34" 3440x1440 Ultrawide G-Sync. Also added 500 GB Samsung SSD. Found all on sale during Black Friday season.
2019-12-10 - H100i AIO cooler died. Was getting idle temps at 60C and couldn't fix it. Tried reapplying paste, reseating the pump, cleaning the rad. Nothing work. Went back to a fan/heatsink air cooler combo. Got the Hyper 212 Black Edition which is keeping my temps at 29C on idle / small tasks like web browsing. Happy with it. I have to update my pics with the new cooler.
Every time I shop for a motherboard when its time for a new build, the price on Asus' Republic of Gamers (ROG) mobos always catches me off guard. Yes, the price seems expensive at first (especially the high tiered "Extreme" ROG motherboards) but then I remember how well these are built: from the capacitors and layout of connectors... it screams high quality. Until you actually experience building in one, you'd never know how much the price on some of these ROG boards are justified.
This is my third ROG board now having built systems using a Crosshair IV and a Maximus V Gene. The ROG brand boards seems to step up their quality every generation of chipsets it's manufactured around.
The fan headers alone on this particular board compared to the others I looked at was enough to put it as my choice for this build. 3 fan headers right at the top of the CPU to accommodate a pump and 2 radiator fans, while the rest are around the perimeter of the circuit board.
The rest of the headers (USB, front panel connectors) are just as easily well thought out and placed. PCI express connectors are spaced evenly to accommodate SLI setups and other peripherals. SATA connectors are angled so it doesn't interfere with your video card(s).
The onboard audio - while not as the same quality as the Creative chip found in the Gigabyte Z170X Gaming 7 is enough for me.
It handles overclocking my 6600K to a meager 4.2 GHz easily with plenty of other options / tools in the BIOS (BCLK ratio, DDR timings, etc.)
Overall looks of the board will make your build eye-pleasing. It's certainly worthy of being placed in a case with a full acrylic side panel window.
The card is an absolute "beast" when it comes to performance and looks. It has easily taken care of any games I've thrown at it, with the most intensive being The Witcher 3 at Ultra settings. Easily averaged around 80 FPS (though with Hairworks off) even with the HD Reworked Mod thrown in there. Can constantly keep 60 FPS (which I'm limited to with my 60 Hz monitor). I haven't tried overclocking it yet though.
The cooler on this thing is massive and dissipates heat very well. The three fans are quiet and only runs during intense gaming sessions. Even with all three running, they are barely audible. The RGB lighting and backplate with a carved ROG logo on it as an added bonus makes the card a great value. It's $599 here in Canada but I can easily see this card lasting me a very long time.
Do note of the size of the card itself. I was surprised at how long it was. It wouldn't fit in a Mini ITX Corsair 250D case. I have seen a build that managed to do it but it didn't work for me (hence, why I ended up with this current build).
Phanteks cases should really be at the top of most builders' list when it comes to picking a case. The interior layouts of their cases are fantastic. They make cleaning up cable clutter looks sooooo easy. You cannot mess up a clean build using one of their cases.
The Enthoo Pro M is no exception as it aims to bring the same building experience to budget friendly builds you'd find in their more high end cases such as the full Enthoo Pro and Evolv. Cabling is a breeze in the back with the included velcro tie downs and plenty of space to tuck them in. The PSU shroud hides the power cable clutter at the bottom which I think most case manufacturers should start including with their future offerings. The full side acrylic window is the icing on top of your build if you do decide to go for this model.
This PSU has served me well counting on 3 builds now, one of which was in a cramped Mini ITX case. I got this when the Canadian dollar was still on par with the USD. Best PSU you can get at such great value in terms of it being fully modular and quality (I read it was a Seasonic OEM).
My only tiny complaint is that the modular cables included are a bit stiff but not a big deal.
Corsair mechanical gaming keyboards are the real deal. If you can get one of the original "Vengeance" K70 (the first iteration of these keyboards) at a reasonable price go ahead and do so. The keyboard feels sturdy, the keys are "raised" and sits on top of the frame rather than recessed in, which makes cleaning it a whole lot easier. The multimedia keys, particularly the volume wheel, is very convenient to use. There's also a USB pass through on the keyboard itself.
I have the MX Blue switches on mine which gives a tactile bump feedback and a rather loud "click" sound, which is a personal preference. For mostly gaming, I'd suggest go for quieter keys such as the MX Red's or the new Rapidfire ones.
I'm knocking it down one star mainly due to the price of the K70's these days (nearly 200 CAD) and with this being non-RGB (got this model a couple years back). I would've gone for the cheaper Corsair Strafe line if I were to buy another mechanical gaming keyboard today.
I'm not an audiophile so I can't really comment on the technical aspects of this headset. All I know is the sound - for me - coming out of these drivers are clear, especially when playing games. There were clearer, ambient sounds in my Overwatch games coming thru the headset that were not present in my old Logitech speakers.
The build quality also feels sturdy and refined. The headset feels very comfy on my ears and head overall. I don't feel anything being pinched or cramped as with my old Razer Banshee StarCraft II headset. It also drowns out a lot of background noise. The black and red scheme fits my theme well and at a sale price of $99.99 CAD, it was a good value for me.