Description

Since I don't have the money to straight up build computers from scratch anymore, this computer has been and will be my daily driver and constant source of upgrades. I usually update it here from time to time, but after the upgrade to twin SSDs and more RAM, I felt that it would be acceptable to post it here once again. I have had little problems overall with the system and the upgrade from Windows 8 to 8.1 to 10.

Part Reviews

CPU

Intel has really outdone themselves with this Haswell i5, although it is not the slightly cooler 4690k, it still has a great power/heat output and delivers the performance that Intel is known for. Since this is "just an i5", I will keep this limited to saying that I have a stable overclock of 4.4GHz at about 1.3V, but the voltage can go lower if needed. I keep it higher because my cooler supports the extra heat output. Overall a great purchase without the need for an upgrade for a LONG time.

CPU Cooler

I always wanted a nice looking cooler, not just to keep my system cool, but to add a little bit of extra style and class to the computer. This cooler delivers on both parts by providing an awesome form and completely black finish. It seems to be the optimal size for cooling and space restrictions, as well as being small enough to just barely fit in my case.

The 135mm fan is specially designed for this cooler, so unfortunately it requires the same fan as a replacement or as an additional fan. It is special in the fact that it is a 6 poll fan, which means it has 6 magnets instead of the usual 4 for increased smoothness and quietness. It is honestly the best fan I have ever used. The clip mounting system could be a little better, and I have to subtract .5 stars for it feeling awkward and almost painful to remove and install, especially in a tight space. The fan also covers my first RAM slot.

It's been a while since I needed to remove it from the motherboard, but I remember the mounting being fairly easy, but not as easy as a smaller cooler. On the bright side, it is VERY solid once installed compared to a CM Hyper 212, which tends to be "loose" once installed. This mount handles car travel with a breeze (no pun intended).

For around 70 dollars, its not worth the money in cooling potential. But it does look great and makes a good addition to any system. Too bad I don't have a windowed case, because I love to stare at how amazing it looks. Cools good too.

Motherboard

I thought it would be a good idea to purchase a high end motherboard to match the aesthetics of my system, and also provide a solid base for upgrades. While it is very high quality and does have the looks to match, it is just a motherboard that connects components together in the end and doesn't add much else to the system.

Looks: The black and red color scheme looks VERY nice and has just enough accents to make the system look great. The top heatsink is exposed nicely out back of the CPU cooler, and the lower heatsink is large enough to be noticeable under the GPU in the first slot. Since the RAM slots are hidden, those heatsinks and the viable PCIe slot are the only red on a nearly black motherboard.

Connectors: All the wires connect where you would expect them to for the most part. The top 8pin connector DOES interfere with adding a 140mm fan to the top of my fairly small case, but larger cases should support this feature, especially water cooling ready ones. My Corsair cables kinda suck and are very tight, so I can't vouch for the quality of those. The SATA ports are sideways so that they finally don't get in the way of my GPU. There are plently of fan headers and a total of 3 fully controllable ones though software.

Software: The ASRock software keeps changing from motherboard to motherboard that I own, and this version has worked as expected. It has all the features that I need like fan speed graphs, overclocking, firmware updating, and the usual for such a motherboard.

Performance: It's a motherboard. I haven't noticed any bottlenecking or problems. Thats all I have to say.

Overall, its a good motherboard, but comes at a price premium that other motherboards can deliver for a lower price. And at this time anyways there is a new socket so this review is fairly pointless.

Memory

Ram is Ram. Bought used and has been my daily driver for many years. The cooler looks cool. I don't know what else to say.

Memory

Ram is Ram. Bought used and has been my daily driver for many years. The cooler looks cool. I don't know what else to say. This one is blue.

Storage

This is the best SSD I have used so far, since it combines speed with software controls very nicely. I have never been a fan of Samsung devices like phones and such, but I gave them a chance and made a good decision.

Video Card

Oh, the dreaded 3.5 scandal card. This is in my option the best 970 out there for the price, but let down by Nvidia. We seemed to have forgotten that the RAM limitation in this card is still present, and has been improperly addressed. Enough of that though.

Looks: I love what they did for the design on the 5th revision of the cooler, and the red/black design matches my system quite well. IT DOESN'T HAVE A BACKPLATE, which is really my only criticism of the design itself, considering other cards (EVGA) have one for the same price, and it looks very good with one. But considering the card is mainly for performance, I can let the backplate slide. The card HAS bent under the weight of the cooler and probably a combination of transporting it a few times a month. It still seems to work though...

Performance: Well, it's a 970. I can overclock it to 1500MHz without a problem, and it scores fairly well in benchmarks.

Case

I bought this case because I wanted something similar to an N200 form factor, and this case is exactly so but doesn't have the discussing front panel. It does introduce some "silence" features that don't seem to do very much since I leave the side panel off most of the time.

Cable management is a little tight but looks very good once finished.

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