I'd like to start off by saying that this is my very first build. I'd been an avid pc gamer from the very early 90s right up until about 10 years ago. I'd switched to a laptop when heading off to college and after 5 or 6 years it just couldn't hack it anymore. That's when I fell into console gaming but I always yearned to get back to pc gaming at some stage. Building my own pc was always on my bucket list but it just seemed so daunting that it felt more like a pipe dream. A few months back I stumbled onto a couple of blogs on rockpapapershotgun and kotaku which described the build process in a way that made it seem pretty straightforward, and I started putting together build lists on pcpartpicker. The flame was lit!
I started saving for the black friday sales and gave myself until then to try to soak up as much info as I could from youtube channels such as bitwit, Pauls Hardware and Gamers Nexus - they were invaluable and I don't think I'd have been able to complete the build without them.
Long story short, I still can't believe I actually managed to build my own pc, and it works! Aside from a minor issue with the case fans initially (see fan controller below) it actually went pretty smoothly. And to anyone who's considering their first build - if I can do it, you definitely can!
Processor I wanted the build to be fairly future proof (as much as a pc can be) so I was looking to go top of the line with a lot of the parts. As I'll be mostly using the build for gaming I figured the 8700K would hit the sweet spot - shelling out extra for 9th gen was unnecessary. Unfortunately, thanks to the Intel cpu shortage, this was one of the few parts which actually cost more come the black friday sales than it had back in august when I first decided to build.
Motherboard When I first drew up my list of parts I wanted a middling to decent MB that wouldn't break the bank and the Z370 E-gaming ticked all the boxes. Then the Z390 boards started coming out and as there was virtually no difference in price it made sense to go with this.
RAM Went with 16GB Corsair LPX 3200Mhz. Contemplated 32GB but I reckon 16GB is more than enough for now and these were low profile with the Noctua cooler in mind and the white goes well with the build (not that you can see them).
Cooler No matter where I looked, the Noctua-d15 was always sitting there at the top of the class and at the head of most recommended lists. I wanted to go with an air cooler as I'm a complete rookie and I have to say it's incredibly silent. I swapped out the grim brown fans for the chromax cousins and added the white chromax heat sink covers just to make it look extra bad ***. Wasn't as difficult to install as I feared but it is quite tricky to get in at some of the fan headers and stuff on the motherboard when it's in place so maybe get as much done as possible before fitting it.
Storage I went with a 500GB Samsung 970 Evo as the boot drive and the 2TB Samsung 860 Evo as my main HD for steam library etc. Got a really good price on both in the sales and had no issues with getting windows installed and getting them up and running etc.
Case Fell in love with the NZXT H700i when I saw it but after seeing some less than glowing reports regarding the 'smart controller' I opted for the H700 version instead. Got another good deal on this in the sales and as I was also going with the Aer RGB fans from NZXT I grabbed a Hue+ controller too. The pack with 2 120mm fans plus a Hue+ was actually really good value and the route I went worked out cheaper than buying the H700i plus the 2 fans without the Hue+. The one gripe I have with the case is that although the bar is adjustable, one of the screws holding it in place was really over tightened and I actually ended up stripping the thread in my efforts to unscrew it. I could really have done with the extra bit of wiggle room which would have come from adjusting it to the right slightly as in it's default position I was unable to fit my custom 24 pin connector cable past the bar and into the motherboard. At least the stock one from EVGA is plain black and not ketchup/mustard.
GPU I had fully intended to go with the 1080 Ti and foolishly thought that once the RTX cards came out, these would see a significant drop in price. Instead, they became as rare as hens teeth and their prices skyrocketed. When faced with the choice between going for an older gen card or going with the new gen I couldn't resist going for the 2080 and the decision was sealed when i saw a half decent deal on the gigabyte gaming OC in the sales. The fact that it was white and matched the build perfectly was an added bonus!
Fan Controller As there were 6 case fans I quickly realised that a fan controller would be the easiest solution to powering these and I stuck with NZXT for this and went with the Grid+ Version 3. This was where I encountered the only hiccup of the build. As I held my breath and booted up for the first time, everything came to life with the exception of the 6 case fans which sort of started to spin, and then sputtered back down to a stop. After some troubleshooting (and online research from a friend - cheers Jin!) I discovered the issue. Although I had each of the 3 AER RGB fans connected to their own channel, I had connected the 3 front case fans to one channel via the 3 way splitter they had come pre-installed with. If any one channel in the Grid+ is overloaded it shuts everything down immediately. After some tinkering I discovered that it wasn't even possible to have 2 of the front fans connected to one channel or the controller would shut down. With all 6 routed to their own individual channels it works like a dream. Seems really odd that NZXT would even include two 3 way splitters with the controller when I couldn't even connect 2 fans via a splitter!
Cables Definitely my least favorite part of the build was the cable management and I think that shows! It's not the worst but there's definitely a bit of a nest situation going on under the shroud. I got some custom cables from cablemod but found that I couldn't actually fit the modmesh 24pin connector past the bar (see case above) and into the MB. I was really happy with the overall finish on the custom cables though and think they fit the scheme really well.