This was my first build in quite some time (and the first one I'd researched thoroughly at that)
Despite a few bumps along the road, I now have a smooth-running rig!
// The Build //
I started off with the motherboard. I went straight to the standoff screws and followed along the trail inside the case for a 3 x 3 pattern which would eventually support my ASRock B150. Once these were in I clung the CPU into it's spot, inserted the 2 x 4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM sticks into their respective slots (note: I went for the two slots furthest away from the CPU and other main slots to avoid congestion), and placed the board in it's rightful place atop the standoff screws.
First problem identified: the motherboard is slightly smaller than most - therefor three of my screws were too far from the edge of the board. No harm done - it just meant I had to screw down the board with 6 screws instead of 9 (smaller size meant it wasn't too lopsided)
The PSU was next. No issues here. The screws fell into place with ease, and the main cable running from the unit to the mobo easily threaded it's way through the Fractal Define S's rubber cable holes.
Next was the HDD. Unlike most cases, the Fractal S has no HDD bays which wasn't what I was expecting (I must have missed that during my reading up on this particular case) Both 2.5" and 3.5" HDD's are mounted on the case itself (on the opposite side of the mobo) Installing them to these mounts proved to be no hassle - however plugging in their respective power and SATA cables was super tricky on account of pesky right angle cable heads (which are usually welcomed, in the event of mobo's with right-angled slots) Shout out to Samwise who had some handy tips at this point in the game re. power cable selection.
The video card was next in the queue. The Radeon R9 380 only required 1 x 8-pin power cable (not two - like most GTX video cards I've seen installed) Due to the cables provided with the Corsair 600W ATX12V unit, I had to use a 6-pin cable along with a 2-pin extender cable in order to satisfy the power demands.
The final step was hooking up front-panel USB/LED features to the mobo. Thanks to the well-design cable management system of the Define S (and well placed rubber pass-through gaps for longer cables) I found this to be a reasonably straightforward process :)
// Plugging In //
The first power up didn't work. I've been told this isn't too uncommon, so that's good ;) the problem was the video card. It's power cable wasn't quite all the way in. A quick wiggle did the trick, and the PC booted up on second attempt!
I had a Windows 8.1 bootable USB on me - so I went ahead and completed the installation process followed by an immediate upgrade to Windows 10 (for obvious reasons ;)) In theory this should have been a seamless process, however I had some major issues with my TP-Link wireless card.
For some unknown reason TP-Link haven't picked up their game when it comes to recent drivers. Cutting an extremely long and painful story short, this particular roadblock resulted in: i) re-installing Windows 8.1, ii) installing the wireless drivers before upgrading to Windows 10, iii) re-upgrading to Windows 10.
Sure - this seems straightforward , but the amount of troubleshooting it took to come to this conclusion was a hefty 6-hour journey. Painful is an understatement. But I digress.
It's now fully functional! Shout out to my man (and colleague) Brett for his assistance along the way.
// Lessons Learnt & Ramblings //
For one; check drivers and make sure they're currently up to speed with current OS environments (in this case, Windows 10) I just assumed modern parts would have up-to-date drivers and utilities on hand to download. Wrong.
Fractal Define S: aesthetically it's a brilliant thing. The cable management is fantastic and comes in handy when you're initially putting all the parts inside the case. The only thing I haven't been impressed with is the out-of-the-box fans. They aren't as quiet as Fractal boast (a company known for pushing their ability to deliver quiet computing experiences) This may have something to do with the window model, but regardless - I was expecting a less ‘audible’ performance. Some non-stock fans may be the solution here (I hear good things about BeQuiet! fans)
The Corsair Strafe RGB keyboard is a pleasure to type on. The mechanical keys aren't too noisy or 'clicky', and the back-lighting adds a cool fun element. Likewise, the Razer DeathAdder Chroma is super comfortable in the hand, and has delivered an extremely smooth experience thus far. I'd totally recommend both of them. I'm very impressed with the Acer XG27HU. Assembly was a sinch, and tweaking the colour profiles was a simple process. I've only spent an hour or so gaming on it so far but it hasn't missed a beat. I also plugged in my MacBook pro via DisplayPort to do some design work, and I found the colour profiles to be on-par with those found in iMac's/MBP's and other Apple-esque screens.
All in all this was a great build. The wireless card debacle tainted the 'excitement' factor slightly - but once the problem was solved it was all smiles! :)
// Updates July/August 2016 //
Okay, so long story short - the R9 is gone, as is the Acer XG270HU. It was a mixture of average performance by the R9 (and a store clerk who wasn't overly transparent when he sold it to me, by forgetting to mention how close to the end of the life cycle the card was)
The monitor had to be refunded due to some major issues with one of the side panels. The store I purchased it from (online) didn't go into much detail, beyond offering either a replacement or a straight refund. Considering I was planning to switch to the GTX camp, I decided on a refund and went for a G-Sync monitor. Enter: Acer XB270HU This...thing...rocks. Unreal performance, beautiful colours, and an adjustable height. The glossy finish is a bit of a bummer but I can live :)
Next was the graphics card. I was entertaining the GTX1060 but decided "well, if I'm upgrading, I may as well take a decent step up" The 1080 cards are impressive but a bit OP for someone like me who has no interest in VR or loco games like ARK. The 1070 looked like a great fit. My heart was set on a MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X 8GB card but beyond the 'sometimes a tad quieter than other after-market options' I found that reviews tended to swing towards ASUS or even EVGA. I landed a great deal with another local shop on an ASUS GTX1070 Strix 8GB card and I've never looked back. It's rather quiet and the three fans do their job well. The adjustable LED lighting is a treat as well.