Wireless Network Adapter
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This is a gaming, photo editing, music production and personal PC. This computer was completed in November of 2016 but I did not have a good camera to use until recently, so here it is. It does not have the latest and greatest parts, but a lot of thought and passion went into it.
I guess I'll go through my process. This is not my first computer, but it is the first one I built just for myself, rather than something work-related - hence why I went all out with the colors and everything. I wanted something fun to both look at and use.
The case was the core of this build. I immediately fell in love with it after seeing a few videos of it on YouTube. I liked the simplicity yet the options for 10 different colors. Back when I got it (May 2016), it definitely had the most color options (at least that I was aware of), as full-RGB support on cases and fans was not as widespread as it is today. The fans in the pictures are all stock. It came with 2 140mm fans, one mounted in the rear, and one in the top rear - both exhaust. It also came with 1 huge 200mm intake at the front. I removed the two HDD cages as I did not need them, as well as the cage for 5.25" drive bays. I liked having all that extra space. One thing that bugs me is how I cannot change the brightness of the lights. At night, it is way too bright and I turn them off altogether while playing games. Also, no full RGB, so I may update the case in the future or at least get RGB fans and an LED strip that can be controlled via software (including brightness) and just not use the built in case lights.
The power supply is major overkill, but it was on sale for the same price as the rm750x, so I grabbed the 850x instead. Great, modular, power supply, 80+ Gold efficiency, quiet, what more can I ask for? Also, got me some white CableMod cables, because white.
Motherboard is an Asus Z170 Pro. I picked this one over other brands that had the same specs I wanted due to the white accents. It has plenty of fan headers and an M.2 slot, occupied by a 256GB Samsung 950 Pro. Other storage is provided by a Samsung 850 EVO 500GB, not shown, as it is in an SSD bracket behind the motherboard tray.
RAM is RAM. But more importantly, white heatspreaders are white heatspreaders. In all seriousness, I could have bought 2666 or 3000 MHz RAM and it would not have made an appreciable difference. LPX was a good choice, as I am not sure anything bigger would have cleared the big cooler.
CPU and Cooler
The CPU is really nice. I really don't have much to say about the performance. It overclocks well, it stays cool. It's just really good. It is cooled by a beefy Phanteks heatsink/dual-fan cooler. It's quiet and comes with a color-matched Y-splitter. Mounting was a pain but the instructions were sufficient (but a tiny bit confusing). Took about 20 minutes to mount. Do not try to mount it inside the case. I would have gone crazy trying to do that.
Ah, the graphics card. This is an EVGA GTX 1070 FTW. The performance is what I expected, but a few AAA games will not run at constant 60 FPS at 1440p ultra settings, but that is expected. Turning down some of the more extreme settings just slightly fixes that. One frustrating thing is that setting the LED color to white gives off blue tones rather than white and the lighting effects offered through EVGA's Precision OC are pretty lackluster.
Wireless Network Card
The Asus Wi-Fi card made me more happy than any wireless network card should. I first tried a TP-link only to find out that I had no idea what 802.11ac was and how it was different from .11b or n. Well, I did my homework and settled on this guy, as it supported ac and was connected via pcie. I tried one other pcie wireless card that supported ac, but I was only getting 15 mbps out of the 65 offered on my home network. I thought this had to do with the distance my computer was from the router (as it is pretty far) but I had a gut feeling it had to do with the wireless card. I shelled out the dough for this bad boy and lo and behold, 65 mbps, across my entire house. It came with a nifty magnetic hub to attach to the card itself so I have some flexibility in the placement of the antennas.
My Wireless Network Card Painting Memoirs
The only issue, IT WAS RED. When I finished the build, it was bothering me so much since it was so prominently displayed inside the window. I decided that this will not stand. I got a little adventurous and removed the heatsink. I soaked it in Easy-Off, which removed the red anodized layer after some aggressive shaking in a bag and constant reapplying of the stuff. Afterwards, I washed it clean and sanded it down with some rough sandpaper and washed it off again. I then painted it with white spray paint in thin layers. The result came out great. I did NOT paint the RED PCB, which is actually not too visible in the case, nor did I paint the backside of the heatsink for fear of interfering with the heat transfer at the contact point where the thermal pad on the PCB touches the metal - not that a ton of heat is actually created by the thing... it's a wireless card after all... I was just paranoid. One thing I would have done differently is that I would have used plasti-dip instead of regular spray paint to avoid any potential issues regarding paint conductivity, especially if it was a more crucial part than a wifi card heat-spreader.
The monitor was tough. I wanted 1440p, 27", IPS display and as high of a refresh rate I can afford. I regret not saving more money and getting these same specs with a 144 Hz refresh rate. That will be my first upgrade. That being said, this is a beautiful monitor and was well worth the price. It has a thin bezel and sleek brushed metal with a sexy round base.
Keyboard is cool and lights up n s***. Same with the mouse and mousepad. Mousepad was a gift. I generally don't buy razer products, especially after reading the creepy letter that came inside the packaging "WELCOME TO THE CULT OF RAZER." I never cringed so hard. However, the light effects are cool and fit the theme.
Sennheiser HD598's are a pleasure to listen to, but the bass is noticeably anemic. Maybe my young mind has become accustomed to the bass-heavy music of today's world but it still stands out to me. Some software helped remedy that. These things are powered by a Schiit Magni 2 speaker amp. The amp looks good, is built in the USA and is priced super well for what it is.
My main audio set up that I use much more often is the Micca MB42X with a s***ty Lepai amp. The speakers are great, and the amp works... fine. It's just ugly as sin and it feels really cheap - because it is. I would seriously recommend these speakers though. They're truly phenomenal for what they cost. You won't find much better bookshelf speakers for around $100 USD.
The Xbox controller... I was using a PS3 controller for certain games like Devil May Cry 3/4 and Assassin's Creed Unity/Syndicate and by god was it a nightmare. I always preferred Sony controllers but it was so frustrating getting it to work. I used Motioninjoy drivers for the longest time before it stopped working altogether. Then I tried SCP and that went to utter s*** after working for a month. Then I bit the bullet and bought this thing with a Windows 10 wireless adapter and BOOM works RIGHT AWAY and I was so happy slaying demons and stabbing Templars in their generic faces. Even the rumble worked and I'm pretty sure the plug in audio function in the controller works if you use the official Microsoft wireless adapter for windows like I did. No more fiddling with drivers and all that nonsense. Though I do still prefer the ergonomics of the PS3 and PS4 controllers, the Xbox one controller is by no means bad. Just get a rechargeable battery and a cable if you plan to go this route. Buying AAs constantly is both expensive and bad for the environment.
Things I would change.
-Snazzy LED RAM -144 Hz, 1440p, 27", IPS, <5 ms display -second GTX 1070 or upgrade to a single GTX 1080
Hope you enjoy the pictures. This is my first time with a new camera so any insults regarding photo quality or composition will be politely ignored. Constructive criticism always welcome; I'm always trying to improve my skills. :-)