I built this primarily as a replacement gaming PC. I wanted something that was a good gaming PC, but not overkill. I also didn't want something that was noisy, inefficient or large.
Overall I think it turned out well. It's very capable, pretty small, pretty quiet, and should last a good long while. It's not perfect though:
- The case was slightly wider that I was expecting, but it's ok.
- It's a bit noisier at idle than I would like, but that's mainly down to one fan that I will replace.
- It cost a little more than I would have liked. I could have made it a little cheaper in a couple of ways. Firstly I could have shopped around a bit more and chosen slightly different parts that were cheaper. Secondly, I was impatient, and ended up spending a fair bit on shipping, which could definitely be reduced.
Now for some more detail:
- CPU: i5, not a lot to say. I got what is apparently a below-average overclock, but it's still pretty good. It's currently running at 4.4GHz.
- CPU cooler: the h55, it's probably the weakest point of the build, but cooling performance is ok:
- The stock fan is really loud. Unbearably so. It's not PWM either, so needs a voltage-control header on the mobo, which for me is a case fan slot. Even at 50% the fan is noisy though. I replaced it with a Noctua N12 PWM, which is much much better.
- There is a bit of pump noise, which is the loudest thing in the PC at idle. A heatsink wouldn't have that.
- The radiator is a real pain to screw to a fan and the case.
- If I was doing this over I would take a long look at a Noctua NH-U12S.
- Motherboard: MSI z97M. Happy with this. Looks good, good features, good UEFI, ok Windows utility. The OC Genie does a pretty good job for no effort. Another case fan header would be nice.
- Memory: Looks good, and performance seems ok. It's actually DDR3-1600 unless you enable XMP, so if your mobo doesn't support XMP then only expect 1600. I overclocked it to DDR3 2400 with 11-13-14-30-1 timings (the XMP is 9-10-11-27-2 I think).
- SSD: MX100, seems fine. I don't need a lot of storage, so SSD-only.
- GPU: ASUS Strix GTX 970: I like it. Very nice build quality. Overclocked out of the box, with room for some improvement. I have the boost clock up to 1378MHz, and the memory clock to 7360MHz. There may be a little bit more room there, but it seems to be throttling on its max power draw setting. The fans don't spin a idle, so it's silent a lot of the time, and it's not that loud at full load either.
- Case: Phenom M. I like it. Good quality construction. The included fans are nice. I swapped the side panels. It's a bit of a tight squeeze, but there's just enough room for what I have.
- PSU: Corsair RM650. It seems pretty nice. Good efficiency rating, and silent at idle. Also seems quiet at load.
- Noctua fan: really nice. Quiet, and you can really feel the build quality improvement.