My first PC in about 12 years. This PC is primarily used for gaming, Lightroom and some occasional Premiere. I initially had this all powering a 4K Monitor, but eventually "upgraded" to an 1440p ultra-wide for a better Windows scaling.
Why z170? The first reason I picked z170 over X99 was that it was a newer platform. The naming convention for Skylake was very easy to understand for someone who has not kept up with what was happening in the intel world. I very quickly learned that with a z170 motherboard I could get a latest-gen Skylake CPU with the PCIe lanes bound to it, DDR4 RAM, USB 3, 3.1 and Thunderbolt and the option of dropping in NVMe/M.2 drives. While a well put together X99 platform may have been a wiser choice if I was predominantly using this machine for video editing and rendering, the appeal of the z170s ease of understanding and feature set lead me towards that choice.
z170-ARRRRRR ME HARTIESS A lot of people seem to be using the MAXIMUS boards which seem to have the best feature set, but I wanted a black and white colour scheme for this build. The Asus z170-Deluxe didn't really sing to me for the ~$200AUD price difference, so I went with the entry level z170-AR. I would love some extra USB ports but I will probably fix this by getting a PCIe USB card.
Going The Full 6700(K) Miles I went with the 6700k because I had the cash! No seriously, this was apparently the best CPU I could buy for the z170 platform. Compared to 6-core CPUs with equivalent juice for gaming it looked like a bargain, but in hindsight I believe I would have been just has happy with a 6600K. I have not done any overclocking as of yet but will update this build guide when I eventually get around to it.
Cool Runnings the Corsair h100i won my heart over instantly. The shape and design of the faceplate, the thickness of the hoses and even the styling of the radiator made it an insta-buy for me. This love affair did not last long as my fans became very noisy and the pump started grinding only a couple of weeks after installation. My friends advised me that the Kraken x61 is the better product but I could not (and still to this day cannot) get over how damn ugly the thing is. After seeing it installed in an NZXT s340 at my local computer store I decided I could give in and live with the ugliness in exchange for a much cooler and quieter system due to the larger 280mm radiator and quite frankly the better quality control of NZXT.
RAM-a-lam-a-ding-dong Short and sweet, the Kingston Hyper X sticks that I wanted were NOT on the QVL for my chosen motherboard. The next best thing available in terms of performance:price:aesthetic were the Corsair Vengeance LPX modules. I got them in 2666 because....they were the cheapest at the time I bought them. I quietly wish that I had bought 4x8GB for the days I'm editing video but in all honestly I'm quite happy with 16GB at this speed. I have not carried out any other overclocking on my memory other than enabling XMP in the bios.
GTX 980 TI - The Windforce Cooled Muse I'm very thankful that both NVIDIA and AMD have made the naming convention of their offerings easy to understand in 2015/2016. At the time of purchase, I decided that the GTX 980 was too expensive for what it offered, so weirdly enough decided to make the jump up to a 980 TI as I was going to be playing at 4K resolutions to begin with.
From UHD to U-Wide I was a little disappointed with how windows handled scaling with 4K screens, but the sharpness you get when gaming is unmatched (obviously). I was completely content with running games at medium settings to hit 60fps, with CS:GO and HoTS a little easier to run at ultra. That is until I went into the local computer store (the same one I mentioned above) and mucked around with one of those ROG panels. I felt like I needed to get onboard this high refresh rate bandwagon but I knew everything would be a step down from the Dell 2715Q in regards to sharpness and pixel pitch. So I did the dirty and picked up the only Acer x34 in the shop. With the help of my good friend and the majority of the space in his car, I was now running what most people can only dream of in terms of screens.
Now it isn't exactly the happiest ending and I'm sure I am supposed to right a product review elsewhere but let me tell you a few things about this screen:
- G-SYNC is amazing, but finnicky | If you are one of those people who are used to running all your games in borderless windowed mode, think again. Full screen all the way to take advantage of those higher refresh rates
- G-SYNC feels kinda normal | that is, when you use it, it feels like a quicker Vsync. It doesn't really wow you, it just seems like what you would expect your games to look like in 2016. I'm sorry if that sounds entitled but that is honestly the feeling it invokes if you haven't yet spent the ridiculous pricing premium for G-SYNC on your screen.
- You need a deeeeep desk | that's right, your desk should be at least two-and-a-half 15" Macbook Pro Retinas long (sorry, I don't have a ruler on me). Actually three would be even better, because right now I have the back of the monitor stand dangling off the back of my desk. I would strongly recommend getting some sort of VESA Arm desk mount thingy if you don't have a particularly deep table and you are thinking about buying this panel
- My 165hz-enlightened friends still bag me out | what a time to be alive, where you can spend $1800 AUD on a screen and still get pissed on. #100hzLivesMatter
To be continued/completed...