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Return to College

by FlynHawn



Date Published

April 2, 2017

Date Built

March 5, 2017

CPU Clock Rate

4.5 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

31.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

42.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.1 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

1.75 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

41.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

51.0° C


So I needed a computer ASAP since I was returning to school after a number of years and couldn't wait for Ryzen/Vega to debut. The parts listed as $0.00 I already owned. I got the monitor on sale and bought the speakers used. I've wanted the Air 540 since forever and nothing would dissuade me from building in it this time around, however after having done so, the H100i would not mount in the front - which is where I wanted it - even though Corsair states a 360 rad can be front mounted. I ended up installing it in the top.

The H100i itself was a bit of a letdown as the included fans are not blue LEDs. Perhaps this was a mistake on my part. Did they change the fans from the original version to the v2? My plan was to utilize the one blue LED fan I bought in conjunction with - I thought - the 2 blue LED fans included with the cooler on the front of the case. I have yet to buy 2 more blue LED fans, so the front is not what I wanted. Additionally, I've had problems getting the Link software to work. It's a royal PITA.

I actually finished this build a month ago or so and have been using my old HD7850, but just bought the ASUS RX480. It won't get here till Friday, so the pictures are with the HD7850. I got the CPU to 4.5 at stock voltage and have not tried to push it beyond that. I did try to OC the card, but the few added FPS just weren't worth it in the games that I play - Civ5, Neverwinter, Rift, Smite to name a few - so I backed it down to stock. I ended up buying the OC version of the ASUS RX480, so we'll see how it performs; although I have no doubts that it will exceed my expectations in the games that I play.

Part Reviews


Getting a 1GHz OC with no bump in voltage. What else can I say?

CPU Cooler

Temps are stellar, but fans not as advertised and Link software is a PITA.

Thermal Compound

I love Thermal Grizzly in general and their Hydronaut paste - designed for water cooling - does not disappoint.


The Creative sound chip was one of the selling points of this board for me, but the sound from games and music seems on par with older builds using a Realtek chip, so I can't say it's a definite plus. Other selling points for me were the color scheme, USB 3.0/3.1 and M.2 connections. The board looks great in my white Air 540 and I'm loving the speed of the USB.


I knew going in that this RAM wasn't the best timing-wise, but with timings more or less a thing of the past I went for 2 sticks of red LED and 2 sticks of blue. They alternate on and off and look good with the rest of the build. They made the SPD just fine, but I'm taking 2 stars off for a command rate of 2T.


Yeah, it's SATA; but how much speed do you really need? Makes my system nice and snappy.


Took a star since it's just 500GB, but I already owned it so didn't have the expense of buying a data HDD. I'm not even close to filling it (yet).


This case is a cube design, so the PSU and drives are behind the motherboard. Nevertheless I mounted my HDD in front to use the hot swap connection - simply because it was easy, not because I'll be hot swapping my drives. So, since it's a cube there's no reason for a PSU shroud, only now you can see my ugly HDD. Also took a star due to being unable to mount a 240 rad in front even though Corsair states you can mount a 360 rad in front. The airflow is outstanding though.

Power Supply

Fully modular, 80+ gold, 80 bucks. 'Nuff said.

Case Fan

Bought these mainly for the color scheme. I knew they weren't the best fans, but I expected them to be quieter than they are. Even at idle they make a significant amount of noise unless I am focused on gaming and/or game sounds or music is playing.


I was torn between this and a 1440p monitor. Ultimately decided on more screen real estate at a lower resolution. All the reviews I've read are right - gaming on an ultra-wide, curved monitor is extremely immersive.


I've always loved Logitech products and this is the first mechanical keyboard I've ever owned; but I am not impressed. The keys and overall feel is very plasticky. Yes, the keys make noise when I press them; but the feel of the keys don't feel any different to me than the membrane keys of old.


This is the best feeling mouse to my hand that I've ever owned. I had one prior to this one that had the left button die prematurely. I've read that this is a problem with this mouse. Here's hoping this one lasts longer.


Comfortable for hours at a time without making my ears/head overly warm. Sound great, but I find myself using my speakers most of the time. Color scheme matches my build.


I absolutely LOVE these speakers. The bass is just a bit muddy, but can be cleared up to a point. I took a star off for that, but really, these are the best computer speakers I've ever owned.


Battery backup. It works. Bought it because I saw it on a Paul's Hardware video. LOL

Comments Sorted by:

cbjunior94 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

4.5 at stock is an awesome OC! You should see how high you can get it if you bump the voltage a bit. You might be able to hit 5 with good temps.

Nice build, +1.

FlynHawn submitter 1 Build 2 points 19 months ago

I hit 4.5 and was satisfied while running my HD7850. Once my RX480 gets here I'll push the CPU some more.

cbjunior94 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

Fair enough. You probably don't even need 4.5 to bottleneck the 7850. The RX 480 should see much better improvements from those speeds.

FlynHawn submitter 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

480 got here today. Added some pics. Have yet to OC further as I'm trying to figure out FreeSync and I ended up playing games for 10 hours lol. I went ahead & switched out the 3 120s in the front for the stock 140s that came with the case as they are blue LEDs. Closer to perfection. Thinking of adding a white LED strip, but don't want to illuminate my HDD..

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cbjunior94 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

That's true. I'm mostly just jealous. I lost the lottery and my FX-8350 won't take any OC at all. If I change the voltage or multiplier even the tiniest bit the computer will freeze after ~30 seconds of Prime95 and my temps skyrocket. It is five years old though, so it might be on the tail end of its lifespan.

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cbjunior94 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

I know right? It has served me well, and I will mourn its loss when it finally takes the fiery road to silicon heaven.

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FlynHawn submitter 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

I need to make a correction to my earlier comment on the Air 540. You can mount the H100i in the front, only in doing so, 2 of the mounting holes for the third 120mm fan are blocked. That's why I ended up mounting the rad up top. I switched the fans that came with the cooler for 2 of the red AF120s and put the cooler fans in front along with the one blue AF120. Still, Corsair stating that you can mount a 360 rad in front leads one to believe there is room for 3 120s in front - whether that's 1 fan and a 240 rad or 3 120s.

RoopDawg 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

Really nice build. I'm looking at something similar: can the RX480 run the monitor at full 144Hz ok?

FlynHawn submitter 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago

Depends on the game, but I've not seen it hit 144 fps. I have seen it hit in the low 120s.

RoopDawg 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago

Thanks for the reply! cheers

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