Background + Requirements
After building my previous pc (a Bitfenix ProdigyM i5 4690k) a few years ago, I had been using this PC for my living room gaming on my TV as well as media consumption. This was fine and I upgraded it a few times but after setting up a media server on it and the components becoming more and more dated the PC was struggling to keep up with all of these tasks and 1440p gaming. For this reason I finally decided to bite the bullet and build a second PC purely for gaming. I wanted a console feel by default (Steam Big Picture, Xbox Controllers) with the option to switch to Keyboard and mouse as and when I wanted. The PC also had to be small, not ridiculously small, but enough so that it was semi-portable. I also had an Oculus Rift, that I never fully got to utilise on my previous build (high CPU spikes from serving media would ruin the experience) so I wanted to be able to play in VR with little effort too.
I started by stripping my 1080Ti from the previous PC, replacing it with a more modest 1060 6GB (enough to transcode video with ease and could still handle light gaming if required). With both this build and my previous pc I like to buy components slowly over time (like a year) buying one or two items a month or saving a few months for something bigger. For this reason I got all my parts shipped to work and progressively built it piece by piece before taking it home.
The build was very straight forward, the time in between purchases allowed me to really think about part choice. I used old laptop HDDs as boot and storage until my SSDs were purchased to allow me to test parts as they arrived. Overall I was very happy with all the parts I selected, there were a few exceptions but nothing really too severe.
GPU I probably would have avoided a blower card and opted for a dual fan card (although having a top clamp on the card because of the height of the reference card was nice as it locked the card in place during movement) as this card was pulled from my old PC and purchased just as the mining craze kicked off. My only real issue with the blower is that its louder than it could be, but still not horrendously loud so I can live with it. But the 1080TI is definitely at its full potential now and is doing a superb job in game.
Motherboard I initially planned on getting the i7 8700 (non K) due to price constraints, so opted for a Hxxx board to match, however I unexpectedly got the K version and not having voltage controls does suck, but its definitely something I'll come back to and upgrade to a Zxxx board (especially if I upgrade the CPU in the future too). But overall this board does the job fine, no complaints so far.
CPU I initially planned on the i7 8700 (non K) as mentioned above, but managed to get this pre-owned on eBay for way below what the retail versions were selling for and even below what the non K versions were selling pre-owned, so it was a no brainer. I'd like to explore overclocking with this CPU in the future but currently its doing a great job even on stock clocks so it's just a bit of head room for the future.
Cooling This case has only fans on the GPU and CPU. Overall temps seem fine, idle CPU around 35-40(c) and around 70(c) under gaming load. I managed to get it up to 82-83 under sustained synthetic load, but I don't see my usage really pushing it that high any time soon. The GPU hits around 70(c) under heavy load but again because of it's separate chamber its pretty much open to the air due to the side vents. The blower is fairly loud under load and the same to the CPU fan, which was very limiting due to clearance, but after messing with fan curves it's practically silent at idle and only really gets audible after entering game but the audio from the soundbar is enough to easily drown it out even at moderate volume.
Case Really like this case, was a challenge at times with the cabling but I did the best I could. The RGB was totally not needed but I wanted to add a little flair in and it looks great when its up and running. I opted for a spinning blue pattern during boot (to mimic the old Xbox 360 spinning circle) and then mapped the GPU temperature to the lighting colour, this results in a white glow at idle, green when gaming and a gradual fade through yellow into red when hitting 75(c) which is heavy stress gaming, looks kind of cool but I'll probably mess with it more in the future.
Overall This build was super fun to do, glad I stuck with it. The guys in my office didn't think I'd last the full year and either impulse buy or scrap the project. But it's finally done, very happy and already taken it a few places to play VR with friends and family.
Bootup lights video if anyone's interested - here
For low clearance this does a great job, not the most quiet but definitely keeps the CPU cool. Adjusting the fan curves has some impact on the noise. Would still recommend though.
Just super fast
Really enjoyed building in this case. It's definitely challenging but thin and pretty small.