I built a fair bit of this rig about a year an a half ago after my Dell XPS 420 finally kicked the bucket. It has been upgraded and modified over the past 6 months to the current state of the machine.
The build started it life off in a Fractal Core 1000 3.0 case with an MSI 7770 GHZ Edition video card. Being my first build, I didn't even consider cable management and build quality of the case, I really just wanted to get a build completed for "Cheap." The MSI 7770 GHZ Edition had some horrible driver issues and I would get BSOD's randomly when gaming, and I finally got frustrated enough to just buy an NVidia card and haven't had a single issue with it yet.
The machine is used pretty much strictly for Counter Strike : Global Offensive. I play on 1080p at the highest image quality settings with MSAA 2x and still manage between 175-200 FPS under almost every single situation.
Why I chose some upgrades
The H80i was a good solution for me to really feel comfortable about finally overclocking my CPU. I realize I could have picked up an Evo 212 for half the cost but I really just didn't like the way it looked and I originally bought the H80i with the intent to fit it into the Core 1000 at the bottom (would have been very tight but had been done before). I have not had a single problem with the H80i aside from the stock fans being STUPID loud at anything other than "Quiet Mode."
I got a screaming deal on the ACER 144 hz monitor during Black Friday through NewEgg. After a Visa Checkout bonus, I paid $135 shipped for it and I had to jump on it.
I also got a really good deal on a bundle including the Corsair 350D and 3 of the Cougar LED Fans through Tiger Direct and a bonus from Bank of America. After all said and done, after MIRs and the BOA bonus, I paid around $65 for the case AND 3 fans shipped to my door. I liked the look of the fans so much that I decided to fill out the rest of the case (top 2 fan mounts) with 140 mm versions of the same fan. They are VERY silent and move a decent amount of air. They also match well with the LEDs from the H80i and the sound card.
I had originally started off with some Patriot Signature DDR3-1600 memory but it was bright blue, and with the newly acquired windowed case, it just didn't look right to me. I waited for a decent deal on some RAM and was teetering between some Corsair Vengeance and the G.Skill Ripjaws, and the 2133 CL9 version just so happened to go on sale for like $63 shipped so I pulled the trigger. I did not notice a single bit of performance difference between the 1600 and 2133 mhz memory but it sure does look better :)
The only thing I can see myself doing in the near future is picking up a fully modular power supply to better control cable management, but this is surely not a priority. I will wait till something goes on an epic sale and pick up a high quality, fully modular PS.
I can also see myself saving my pennies and picking up a GTX 970 at some point. I dont need the GPU power at all and I am getting plenty of frames for what I use the machine for, but I am a tinkerer and tinkerers gonna tinker :P
I will be getting some nice pictures up soon! I just have to get my DSLR camera out, because my cell phone just doesn't do the machine justice.
If I had to go back and do anything differently, I would probably have gotten a different Z87M MoBo that supported SLI just for the ability in the future to have an SLI setup (that I probably would never use the full capacity of!) If i find myself with a spare $100, I will probably grab an MSI Z87M Gaming. I also would have gotten a fully modular power supply for an extra $20-30 especially with the Fractal Core 1000 case. I never fully considered how cumbersome a giant bundle of wires is when you dont want them there! I will avoid AMD-based GPUs going forward; I was fully disappointed with the support (or lack there-of) that I got from both AMD and MSI regarding their driver stability. I fully wiped the drivers multiple times and tried many different versions with the same result, so I have a pretty sour taste in my mouth about AMD cards currently.
Please feel free to make comments, ask questions or anything! I will be happy to respond to anything and everything.
Well... I just pulled the trigger on an ASUS Strix GTX 970... I didn't need it by any means, but the heart wants what the heart wants! The backplate looks great and the silent fans are going to be pretty sweet. Not to mention the heat pipes look awesome too.
I ended up getting a slightly better-than-average chip and it overclocks really easily. With a little extra voltage, i was able to get a pretty stable 4.6 GHZ @ 1.36V but saw spikes of 92+C under AIDA64 loads.
Very easy to assemble and mount. I had absolutely zero issues with Corsair Link. With a little bit of reading, i got a few of the quirks worked out (Getting it to stay 1 color needs a setting of 1 in Green and 1 in Blue, not 0 in each). The only thing is the stock fans can be LOOUUUDDD. I replaced them with some better looking LED fans.
Great paste. Dropped my temps by about 3C on average on max load. No curing time and good and thick.
For the money, probably the best ratio of MHZ and CL that you can get (CL9 and 2133 mhz is pretty unheard of under $125 in 2x4gb states). Clocked up just fine and ran perfect.
I was able to get this monitor for ~$139usd shipped right after Black Friday. I previously had an ASUS VE247H (2ms 60hz) and I didnt see a massive difference aside from the brightness. If i didn't get the monitor for less than a normal 60hz monitor goes for, I would personally say its not really worth the extra cash.
Brown keys are GREAT! Good solid feel, great anti-slip rubber feet and the replacement WASD and 1-6 keys actually feel really good once you get used to them.
Excellent mouse. Good ergonomics, great UI for customization and seems to be of pretty high quality (compared to my Logitech G100s).