I commute back and forth between university and home alot and needed to downsize my NZXT Full Tower Phantom to a smaller size. I took the opportunity to upgrade my pc at the same time.

CPU: I chose this CPU as I wanted to have a Skylake processor (for various reasons). I was debating between the i5, 6500k and 6700 i7 however the price bump at the time of purchase was an additional £80 from the i5 and £30 from the i7. I may of gone for the 6700 if the price was lower, however at the time of purchase it was £250. I used the built in overclocking utility with the Gigabyte motherboard, this brings the CPU up to 4.4GHz base frequency, I've had no stability issues with this setup.

CPU Cooler: Within my last build I used a water cooler, however being concerned with pipes breaking when transporting the case back and forth I decided on a Noctua U12S. I would of gone for a Noctua 14D or 15D however when looking up other builds that had used this CPU cooler there was next to no space for air to flow around inside the case (around a 1cm gap at the front and pack of the cooler). The Noctua U14 was also ruled out because it would too tall to fit inside the case. I've been very happy with the cpu cooler. The under load temperatures may look quite high, however that is due to another issue I will get onto in a moment.

MOTHERBOARD: This was an easy choice when looking at the Z170 motherboards that were available. Within my last build I used a MSI motherboard which died just after 1 year of use and the RMA department was no help. I decided to go with Gigabyte as they had a much longer warranty and better build quality (in my personal experience). The access to a M.2 drive is also a huge bonus and I may use it in the future, (when I've got more savings)

MEMORY: I wasn't too sure what to get here, however after some research and deciding that the speed wasn't a huge factor in performance I went with one of the highest rated on pc part picker.

STORAGE: SSD: This SSD was carried over from my old build, I previously had a Sandisk SSD in my old build that died on me, however their customer support (after some nagging) sent out a replacement drive. It's not the fastest in speeds and I may upgrade it in the future. For the moment it holds my OS and essential programs (word, powerpoint, adobe suite, etc.)

SEAGATE: This HDD was also carried over from my previous build, it serves as my main drive for document storage and games. It performs reasonably well, however I believe it's on its way out and has large vibration issues. (I've got all my data backed up if it decides to kick the bucket)

WD: This drive was also carried across from an old build, and was a bit of a mistake purchase all those years ago. It's mainly used for video storage of large AVI and Mp4 files. I would of preferred to of got a Blue or Black drive instead. However for the moment, it does the job.

GPU: Once again this was carried across from my old build. This card has served me well, however it really isn't that suitable for this case. The windforce cooler design heats up the case to some very hot temperatures when trying to cool the GPU under full load. A quick test of removing the side panel of my case and putting the GPU and CPU under load wielded these results. CPU: 63C, GPU: 76C. And with the case door on: CPU: 71C and GPU: 83C.

This is a clear indication that the air is not getting pushed out the back of the case and is instead getting pulled through the cpu cooler and reducing the efficiency. I'd like to upgrade the card to a rear exhaust in the future to help prevent this issue and allow my CPU to run cooler.

CASE: I'd had my eye on this case for a long time, however I was not aware that there was an MATX version that existed. When researching cases this was the one to go for, the handles on the top allows me to easily transport it between locations (even if they cut into my hands due to their sharp design).

To get my GPU to fit I had to remove the front drive holder due to the long length of the card. I also removed the side HDD mount as I was not using it within this build. Overall it was a pleasant experience, however I wish I'd plugged the cables in before fitting the board due to the space constraints.

PSU: Once again carried over from an old build. I went for this PSU because, at the time I wanted to make sure that I got something with a long warranty from a reputable company. A previous PSU in my old system died and took out the GTX 670 I had with it leading to a costly repair. The modular design makes this quite a long unit and blocks one of the bottom PCI slots for long graphics cards. This shouldn't be an issue in the future as long as I make sure that in any SLI configurations that the cards are the correct length.

CASE FANS: As suggested from pc part picker I went with a Noctua A14 PWM for an exhaust at the back of my case, I then fitted the two default bitfenix case fans at the top blowing air down into the case. I tried a configuration with a fan in the bottom left next to the PSU dragging air in from the bottom, however this did minimal difference to the cooling of the CPU. I originally planned to use a push pull configuration on the U12S, however I returned the 2nd fan because the performance (in my scenario) was a mere 1-2C (not worth the £15 price tag).

In the future the cooling of the system should not be such an issue with a GPU with a rear-exhaust to get the air out the back of the case.

And that's it. If you have any suggestions on what would be the next best thing to upgrade within my PC or have any questions please ask!


  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh my, you should throw a better video card in there down the road, it's pretty much the only thing holding back this build. You probably could have saved a few bucks by getting a lower watt power supply, 850 is overkill. Maybe even one that's fully modular for better cable management.

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