All my previous builds have been black or beige boxes under my desk. After 7 years of running a tiny IT-company of my own I decided I could finally reward myself with something more colorful.
Aurora Borealis is first and foremost my most important business tool. That being said, after a hard day working in front of a computer, it's nice to relax exactly in the same place by spinning up the GPU fans a bit.
I started planning the build in early autumn 2017. I wanted something that is virtually silent next to my head during typical office workloads and can also handle occasional 3D rendering and gaming without sweating.
Case, cooling & motherboard I was really tempted to build a custom watercooling loop, but after much research I realized it would give me slightly increased risk of failure without any additional performance. Luckily the NZXT Kraken X62 is an absolutely stunning AIO-cooler in both aesthetics and performance, so it was a great middle road. White sleeving kit from Cablemod is used as a finishing touch for the liquid tubes.
Beautiful S340 Elite in white from the same brand was a logical choice for the case, though I admit googling through 98% of all cases in the world, including some custom engineered ones. I eventually chose a full ATX size because cute mini-ITX motherboards simply had too few PCI-E slots and mATX cases were hardly smaller than the S340 Elite. Believe me, this is still a huge reduction in size from my previous Nexus Edge ultratower.
After choosing the ATX form factor it was much easier job to decide the board itself, since I had already decided what CPU to use. The new Coffee Lakes only work on Z370 chipset, so I picked up the high quality (and WHITEish) Asus Prime.
CPU I've been an Intel guy for a long time but I naturally inspected the new AMDs very closely. In the end I couldn't rationalize a ton of extra cores for a ton of extra cost (despite 3D rendering), so I gave up on Threadrippers and i9:s. Luckily the new Intel Coffee Lakes had just been released, so I went straight for the 6 core 12 thread i7. This lovely piece of rock seems to have no trouble with 3D rendering and other graphic workloads.
RAM I know this is ridiculous, but memory was one of the most troubling components in my build. As I'm sure you're aware, DDR prices are crazy right now and I wanted something around 100 euros per 8 GB, because I needed more than 16 GB total. It also needed to be white, naturally, and I had this weird obsession how it needed to be in the motherboard qualified vendors list.
GPU My previous graphics cards have been sub-150 euros, but I felt such cards wouldn't be a good fit for a build like this. I was in no hurry, but I didn't want to wait for the consumer Nvidia Voltas. Therefore I picked up a new GTX1070Ti from (black friday?) sale. Despite crypto currency madness, the price was somewhat reasonable. Thanks to the massive heatsink, it can run passive on light use.
Since it's hard to hide such a gigantic card like the Asus ROG STRIX, I covered it with an absolutely stunning laser cut 2-layer acrylic backplate with RGB lighting. I can't take any credit for building it though, you can get yours from V1 tech. Non-RGB versions are also great. The same company is responsible for the GPU support bracket and NZXT fan grill with mirror-blue sublayer.
SSDs I've been buying almost solely SSDs since 2009, but the Samsung 960 Pro was my first M.2 NVMe drive. What can I say, it's crazy fast and hides under one of the motherboard heatsinks. Two other drives are traditional Samsung SSDs from my previous computer.
Sound card I love my old Sound Blaster Zx because it lets me change between speakers and headset from the software and it sounds great. I really have to do something about the RED shielding though, it's simply the wrong color! Oh, and I literally cut away the awful red leds in it, because you can't shut them down or change color.
5" information screen Perhaps my favourite part! It is a 5" HDMI display meant for Raspberry Pi, installed on the third SSD slot, running some customized but simple Rainmeter apps. The 800x480 resolution is more than enough for the purpose and the display gets the power through HDMI.
PSU Titanium certified and usually runs passive, Will save some money in the long run.
Misc comments Everything marked 0 euros is from my old build, except the Win 10 Pro, which is free through the Microsoft BizSpark program. If you're a software entrepreneur or similiar, check it out.
I planned on installing white SSD covers as well, but the GPU bracket forced me to install the sound card so low there was no room for the covers anymore. Doesn't matter though, the drives look good enough.
Future plans include connecting the RGB strip behind my desk into the motherboard Aura Sync and perhaps replacing the fan cables with something white/black. All other cables are already custom white from Cablemod or quite well hidden.
Oh, and the headphones don't originally have a microphone. It's Antlion Modmic, so you can add a high quality microphone into your existing headphones without needing to replace them with a headset. Recommended!