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Phoenix (First Build)

by Killerpenguin



Date Published

March 28, 2017

Date Built

March 21, 2017

CPU Clock Rate

3.8 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

34.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

64.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.375 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

8.5 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

49.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

76.0° C


In fall 2015, after spending 5 years playing all my games on a pre-built HP Pavilion PC (the only thing it had going for it was an i7-2600) with an ancient Radeon HD 5700 GPU, my 14-year-old self decided to start saving up for a rig good enough to satisfy my performance and aesthetic needs. Fast forward to March 2017, and here we are! I'm 16 now so I'm around 14.3% older, but I think I achieved my goal.

I went for a clean, minimalist design in line with my taste, although the build ended up with a red & black colour scheme when I decided to grab a Ryzen CPU (for photo editing + productivity). The MSI B350 Tomahawk motherboard I decided to pair with it has red accent LEDs, so I just went with it and configured the Wraith Spire's RGB ring accordingly. Forcing myself to save up for so long was probably the most challenging task :)

CPU - When I read the price tag on AMD's R7 1700 and saw that when overclocked, it would be comparable to an i7-6900k, it was a no-brainer. The stock cooler and fairly cheap OC capable motherboard actually made this setup cheaper than the i7-6700k setup I was originally planning on building, and this CPU's performance in everything from productivity work to heavy load in video games (GTA V, launching rockets in KSP with lots of parts) is all I could ever ask for. Benchmarks are at the bottom if you're interested.

CPU Cooler - Seeing as it came bundled with the Ryzen CPU, the Wraith Spire cooler is pretty impressive. My R7 1700 is overclocked to 3.8GHz @1.275v and temps range from the mid-30s idle to the mid-60s under load in games (low-70s in synthetic CPU benchmarks). Installation was fairly simple and the RGB ring is a nice feature.

Motherboard - I bought this board when the other board I ordered failed to ship for two weeks, and things have played out pretty nicely given the fact that I ended up spending a fair amount less on this board while still being able to achieve a stable overclock. It has a few USB 3.1 type A ports, and the USB 3.1 type C support is also a nice addition.

GPU - Ever since it came out last June, I've been planning on buying the RX 480. After doing some research, I decided to buy the XFX custom card, and although it isn't the Black edition I still managed to get it to 1375MHz @1150mV for benchmarking. For stability reasons, I've lowered the clock speed to 1350MHz during daily use. It runs fairly quiet (worlds quieter than the constant jet engine noise emitted by the old HP Pavilion) and stays cool under load, running my games well at 1440p (in a few games I turned some settings down to achieve a constant 60+ fps).

Monitor - The old 21.5" 1080p LG monitor (60hz TN panel) hooked up to the old PC cannot compare to the beautiful, crisp picture my Acer G257HU displays on my new rig. I have it overclocked to 80hz (using Crimson ReLive display settings) and it is very smooth for gaming, plus the IPS panel is great as it displays vibrant colours in games (with an unnoticeable response time). A major reason why I went for the IPS panel is because I'm also using my rig for photo-editing; the aforementioned features and the added screen real estate make it a great monitor for productivity.

RAM - It's good quality RAM and I love the low profile design, my only issue right now is that it can't run at its rated speeds with the motherboard's current BIOS. I don't see it as a big issue as I've already heard BIOS updates are on the way.

SSD - Coming from a crappy old 5400 RPM HDD, the difference is night and day. Booting up my PC, launching programs and starting up the handful of games I have installed on it is all blazing fast. My mass storage (RAW files from my DSLR, games I don't play as often and the plethora of ReLive recordings I'm building up) is all on the 1TB WD Blue HDD.

Case fans - I added one Fractal X2 GP-12 fan at the front of my case for personal (symmetrical) reasons, it's the exact same model as the two case fans that come with the case and they all run nice and quiet.

Case - I chose the Define C because I wanted all the features of the ATX form factor in a case as compact and sleek as possible. Building in it wasn't too hard, although cable management was a bit challenging with the thick sleeved cables from my PSU and the relatively small space I had to work with at the back of the case. I love the look of the case, and I'm happy that Fractal released it before I finished saving up because I was originally planning on buying the Define S, and the Define C added all the features I wanted that were missing from the Define S (more compact, PSU shroud).

First time build experience

As a first time builder, I was pretty nervous I'd screw up the whole thing, and while it did take me a solid few hours to build the computer, it posted right away without issues. My only real problem was some instability that I faced when I first tried out overclocking my GPU, but I've ironed out those issues and now the system is running nice and stable.

Early adoption

My only problem so far has been the RAM speed, because the current BIOS on the MSI B350 Tomahawk can't run my Corsair Vengeance LPX RAM at its rated speed of 3000MHz. I tried messing with BIOS settings and I did some research, but I can't get it past 2133MHz. Oh well, I'll just wait for BIOS updates.


Although my RAM isn't running at 3000MHz, I thought it would be a good idea to include some benchmarks. With my Ryzen 7 1700 running at 3.8GHz (1.275v) stable on all cores and my RX 480 running at 1375MHz (1.15v), I'm really happy with the results.

3DMark Firestrike

Score: 12360 | Graphics score: 14267 | Physics score: 19193 | Combined score: 4873


Single Thread: 2220 | Multi Thread: 19625 | Validation


Score: 1661 cb

Unigine Heaven

FPS: 71.8 | Score: 1808 | Min FPS: 26.8 | Max FPS: 154.9

End note In the future, the first part I plan on upgrading is the GPU, as modern AAA games at Ultra settings can cripple this card at 1440p. If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

Comments Sorted by:

relco 6 Builds 4 points 22 months ago

Minimalist-clean build. Love the cable management and the color scheme. +1 Feature?

Killerpenguin submitter 1 Build 1 point 22 months ago

Thanks! Cable management didn't take too long thankfully :)

garethccc 3 Builds 3 points 21 months ago

That is a seriously black computer. Looks awesome.

NuclearKing 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

Nice job. I'm the same age and that new Ryzen puts my i5-6600l to shame. I guess I have consolation that Intel is still better for gaming (for a little while at least before developers optimize for games). +1 from me.

atcolem 1 Build -3 points 22 months ago

I like how this is the typical Ryzen excuse. I doubt optimizing would put them above Intel.

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LatamirDigital 3 Builds 2 points 22 months ago

I guess you can say this build has RYZEN FROM THE ASHES!.....

yeah no

Blacksm1le 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

Construction very clean and in addition with Ryzen I like +1

Firewalp 20 Builds 2 points 22 months ago

I'm a sucker for neat blacked-out builds. Looks fantastic! +1

MyHappyPorcupine 2 points 21 months ago

Hey I'm building pretty much the same build too! I almost want to change mine so that it's exactly like yours.

If you could do it again would you get another GPU? Which one?

Killerpenguin submitter 1 Build 3 points 21 months ago

Probably the rx 580 that just came out, because it can overclock better and it's around the same budget. Or a GTX 1070/the vega equivalent when it comes out. Honestly I can run all my games on whatever settings I want with my RX 480 and it's smooth and beautiful so I can't complain.

Teeson1000 2 points 20 months ago

Nice background! SpaceX IS AWESOME

rogdog56 2 points 5 months ago

Are you able to turn lights off on the b350 tomahawk mobo?

Killerpenguin submitter 1 Build 1 point 5 months ago


Adrew24 1 Build 1 point 22 months ago

It just looks smooth. Clean but not too clean.

SoranIbrahim 1 point 21 months ago

is the gpu becoming the bottleneck?

Minerfantasyy 1 point 21 months ago

I'm 13 and I'm really close to saving up for my first PC, I plan for it to have similar specs to this one. Is there anything you wished you knew before you built?

Killerpenguin submitter 1 Build 1 point 21 months ago

The cables for my PSU are sleeved so they were really thick, I didn't think much about cable management before I started my build so it was a bit of a pain to deal with those cables after. My case in particular has little space in the back for cable management, presumably due to the form factor.

Longov 1 point 21 months ago

The quality of parts you chose, color scheme match and cable management is not expected of a first-time builder. Good job dude, the only downfall is how high up you are on mostly everything, so until you go for a top end GPU, you won't be upgrading much. Still good work. :)

Xertot 1 point 21 months ago

Awesome build! I thought it was funny because this is almost exactly what I plan on building with a few differences. I have one question about the motherboard. Are you able to turn off the LEDs completely? Thanks.

Ordinarily_great 1 point 21 months ago

I really like how the Silver and Black blends, amazing! +1

Alexi5 1 Build 1 point 20 months ago

I am building with the same Mobo and I was wondering if you had any problems with you gpu when I first tried to post mine the GPU light lit up which meant that there were no onboard graphics on the cpu which I knew there were not but it also meant that I needed to install a gpu which I had and the light that said I had was not lit up meaning that the GPU was good I had the vga cable plugged into the port on the Mobo and not the card I was just wondering if you had had a similar problem and if you thought that there might be any way to fix it

alsanabani 1 point 20 months ago

I'm building the same build too! If you could do it again what parts you may upgrade ? And why

Killerpenguin submitter 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

I'd probably get a 580 for better overclocking, that's about it. I don't really worry about graphics settings in games anymore and I don't mind playing high/very high instead of ultra in super demanding games, and my CPU is more than enough for photo/video editing and CPU-intensive games. So yeah, I wouldn't change much!

ElectricPotato 1 point 15 months ago

great to see more people feeling the Ryzen feel!

KermitBerry 1 point 6 months ago

Great build, it looks awesome. Also just curious if you have a flickr/instagram account for your photography? Would love to check out your work (:

SCARYCRAZYMANN 0 points 22 months ago

If you can save up some more money and sell your Rx 480, buy Vega. It will be high end for much cheaper. You can bet it will be around 400 dollars or more for the flagship GPU.

AdamTheMan26 3 Builds 0 points 22 months ago

My only suggestion is to maybe add a brace for the GPU as it appears to sag a little bit. Otherwise nice build and nice pictures. +1

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