It's been over a decade since I've built my last PC. I've been a daily Mac user and an Xbox player for a long time now, but want to get back into PC gaming. This was my chance to build my dream rig.
1) To run games on ultra settings in 1440p.
3) Built for non-gaming tasks such as some casual photo and video editing.
4) Aesthetically pleasing. Something I would enjoy looking at. Matching components.
5) Be able to run games on the Oculus Rift.
I hope to have achieved all of these points with this PC.
While researching cases, I wanted something with a window, quiet, would fit an ATX mobo, and yet be as small as I could get with room for everything else. I found NZXT's website and read many good things about them. So, I ended up ordering a white S340 since it was a "compact mid-tower" with reasonable dimensions and a larger window-to-case ratio. Why the color white? I was actually going to initially order a black and red S340, but after seeing a lot of black case builds, I thought, screw it, let's go for something less purchased, and bought the white case.
To be honest, the main reason why I bought the Gigabyte Gaming 7 was because of how great it looked. A white and red mobo would look great inside the white case. And I prefer red over blue as the accent color, as it would match my other planned components. Having all the connections I could ever need, highly reviewed on-board sound, and Hard OCP's Editor's Choice Gold Award cemented this as my motherboard choice.
Build note: The BIOS needed to be updated first before it would recognize the Windows 10 installation USB drive.
After much back and forth between the i5-6600K and the i7-6700K, i went with the i7. One of my PC gaming buddies gave me some advice while I was shopping around. He told me that his 3-year old i5 was starting to feel "slow" while 2 mutual friends who both had i7's from the same generation were doing just fine. That stuck with me, and a bundle deal from Microcenter sealed the deal.
Build note: Locking in the CPU feels scary as hell (like it's going to break), if you're not used to it!
I'm new to water cooling, so initially, my choice was a BeQuiet heat sink. But after reading more about how easy water cooling is nowadays, and how easily they keep temps very low, got me to try it. It runs pretty damn quiet and even under load while playing The Division on maxed out settings, temps never get high. The more costly X61 with the larger radiator would've been overkill. I'm really happy with this decision.
Build note: I was originally going to mount the radiator and fan on the top of the case, but due to the shielding on the motherboard, both the radiator and fan would not fit. So, this is why the radiator is mounted to the front of the case.
Everyone I asked told me that RAM speed didn't matter too much, so I just went with a deal online for these DDR4 Kingston HyperX sticks one day. They had great reviews and even came with a download code for Rainbow Six Siege, so it was a nice deal.
I wanted something better than the minimum Oculus Rift requirement of a GTX 970. And I wanted something quiet and was referred by a few friends to check out the ASUS STRIX 980 Ti. Researched it and saw that it had good reviews which noted how quiet this card generally was. The OC variant was only slightly more in cost than the standard STRIX so I went for it.
I didn't really want to mess with spinning disks at all, so I just went with the largest capacity SSD I was comfortable paying for, and ended up with the highly rated Samsung 850 EVO 1TB drive. I could not justify the GB/$ cost of an M.2 drive. The 850 EVO's speed is plenty fast for most of my usage, and the 1TB should be enough for all my games for awhile. I already have an external 2TB USB drive for backups.
Build note: I needed to get a straight SATA cable because of the way the SSD is mounted. It sits so close to the top of the basement that a non-straight SATA cable will push the entire drive and mount up, looking like it will bend or break.
I read that Corsair high-end PSUs were higher quality, quieter, fully-modular, and that the company had excellent customer service. I do not have plans to ever do SLI, as I would probably just upgrade the card to something newer, rather than buying another of the same 980 Ti years from now when it's older, so I felt that a 750W was more than enough. Found one on sale for about half off.
Monitor - The Dell Ultrasharp is a highly rated monitor with a beautiful panel and makes it easy for me to switch between displaying my PC and my Macbook Air. It doesn't have the highest refresh rate for gaming, but it's good enough where I still think it looks great.
Keyboard - I got this on sale at a local brick and mortar store for an unbelievable price. Great reviews, MX browns, and all the LED color you could possibly want.
Mouse - My friend let me try his Logitech G502 Proteus Core and I really liked the feel of it in my hand. I wanted more LED colors so I got the Spectrum version.
Headphones - I'm not a huge audiophile, but I can appreciate a certain level of audio quality. But I wanted something wireless without going to the $200+ range. The Corsairs were on sale for under $100, and came with RGB capabilities, so I ordered it. It's not the most comfortable headset out there, nor the best sounding, but it was easy to setup, sounds good enough for me, and didn't break the bank.
Wireless Network Adapter - I didn't have any preexisting network cabling to my room, and I did not want to run a really long cable or drill holes in the wall so I went with this card. Great reviews, and speed-wise, with the right router, is the 2nd best thing to a wired connection. Plus, the red heat sink looks great!
Extra Fan - Since the Kraken X31 radiator only takes up one fan spot on the front, I bought an extra fan (the same kind that the case comes with) to pull in air below it, running outside air over the GPU.
I'm really happy with how the build turned out. It looks great on my desk. I also have my fingers crossed that this build will last me many years to come. When it starts to feel sluggish, I'll just overclock the CPU. And when my Oculus Rift arrives, I'll be ready! ;)