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All Weather Nightfighter

by BillyWan


This is my first computer build. My 2009 Sony Vaio AW290 laptop was dying so I needed a replacement. And Sony no longer makes computers so all support is finite. I decided on a DIY desktop after years of laptops because I could get way more bang for the buck and have the flexibility for future incremental upgrades.

This machine was assembled primarily for use as a MS Office workstation and for photo editing. I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop (plus plugins: Nik, Topaz) along with Photomatix and PTGui to merge full frame raw images to HDR tiff files and then stitch to spherical VR panoramas. It takes a bit of processing power to perform these tasks and my old machine was pushed to the limit. The heavy lifting took a lot of time.

Old Sony Vaio AW290JFQ: Chipset: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T9550 RAM: 4 GB upgraded to 8 GB Storage: 1 TB HDD upgraded to 1.5 TB Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT Display: 18.4” 1920 x 1080

New Machine: Chipset: Intel Core i7 8700K RAM: 32 GB Storage: Samsung Evo 970 500 GB NVMe, WD Black 4 TB HDD Graphics: EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 SSC 6 GB Display: 27” 2560 x 1440

Most everything went together seamlessly and everything works! I searched for articles and videos for building a top flight photo/video editing machine and found two sources that were instrumental in my parts selection and build. The first is ‘The Ultimate PC Build for Photography Needs’ by Nasim Mansurov at PhotographyLife.com. It is very detailed and informed most of my parts decisions. The second is ‘The Ultimate Video Guide to Building a Photo and Video Editing Desktop Computer’ by Lee Morris at Fstoppers.com. There is both an article and a 42 minute video which was very helpful. Even if you are mostly into gaming, these resources will still be helpful because many of the parts will serve the gamer well.

I was concerned about the three case fans maybe being too noisy and the CPU fan not being up to the task. So far the machine runs quiet and cool. I built this PC to get the most performance for the buck for my end use and without spending more than necessary. My photo processing time is way faster than the old machine! It is a joy to run. Oh, I also run MS Flight Simulator and its way more responsive as well. Bottom line, I’m really happy with the computer and the peripherals.

PS: The All Weather Nightfighter handle is lifted from the aircraft industry and essentially means a machine that can fly and do battle no matter what the conditions. And that’s what I believe I have with this build.

Part Reviews


I considered the ASUS ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming motherboard but went for the Maximus Hero X because of the added USB ports as I have a several external hard drives for photo storage. I appreciated the included SATA cables that let me hook up my optical drive and the 4TB HDD. Nice board!


Actually the ones I have are the Ballistix 32GB Sport LT Series DDR4 2666 MHz UDIMM Memory Kit (2 x 16GB, White) from B&H. I couldn't find the 2666 MHz in the PCPartPicker parts list


This thing is fast! Perfect for all my applications software and my Lightroom catalog.

Video Card

I've got my monitor connected to this video card with a Display Port cable and there are two more available Display Port connections to accommodate up to three monitors.


This is a great modular case that has lots of flexibility for component placement and plenty of room to maneuver during the build. The two metal handles on top were much appreciated during the move from the build area in the garage up to my second floor office.

Power Supply

This is a first class power unit that comes with every power cable you need, at least everything I needed with several left over.


I was equivocating between a 24" monitor and a 27". Since this seemed like a great value for a 27" with 2560 x 1440 I went for it and I'm glad that I did. The monitor tilts and swivels on the stand which rotates on a lazy susan turntable. The resolution is wonderful.


A young guy at Fry's turned me onto this mouse, praising the ergonomics. I agree! It feels great in the hand. It's good looking and has a solid build.

Comments Sorted by:

nrmcglothlen 1 Build 3 points 11 months ago

If possible, it would benefit to rotate your CPU cooler 90 degrees to help with the air flow through the case, depending on where you have your case fans mounted (with 3 im assuming 2 in the front and 1 in the rear). rotating it will help push that hot air out of the back of the case directly into your rear exhaust fan, rather than up into the top of the case where there are no fans (that i can see). nice build, good job with cable management. +1.

BillyWan submitter 1 Build 3 points 11 months ago

Good suggestion. Makes sense. Thanks!

Leleedler 2 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Actually, having the cooler in his orientation can improve temps in certain situations. He should be fine just leaving it as it is.

BillyWan submitter 1 Build 2 points 11 months ago

I looked at some YouTube test videos with the fan in different orientations and the results varied and were overall not significant in their differences so I decided to try it this way. The CPU is at 30 C without load. Thanks for the input.

Manned 2 Builds 2 points 11 months ago

Your build looks excellent, but might I suggest removing the HDD cage since you're not using it. Would open the case up more and help with airflow. I have the exact same case and love all of the features that it has as well.

BillyWan submitter 1 Build 1 point 11 months ago

Another great suggestion! Will do. Thanks!

diabolicflame93 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Your build looks great. I hope it serves you well +1

BillyWan submitter 1 Build 2 points 11 months ago

Thanks, I appreciate that. So far everything is working beautifully and it is really fast.

Leleedler 2 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Great looking build! The 8700k serves you quite well for your use case, and the 1060 should be ample power for a long time (probably as long as you've had your laptop if you don't intend on too much gaming!). My only thing that I looked at a little funny is the hyper 212, don't get me wrong... it's a great cooler for the price but, generally with an 8700k I'd usually go for something like a Noctua NH-D15, which will be super quiet and much cheaper than liquid cooling in a similar caliber, here's a link the the PCPP page for it: https://pcpartpicker.com/product/4vzv6h/noctua-cpu-cooler-nhd15

Great build overall +1!

BillyWan submitter 1 Build 2 points 11 months ago

The Noctua NH-D15 was the cooler recommended in the PhotographyLife build. I decided to try the Hyper 212 after seeing it in the FStoppers build. At $30 I decided to try it and see. I figured I could always upgrade if it runs hot. So far so good. If I need more cooling the Noctua NH-D15 will be my next step. Thanks for your thoughts.

Leleedler 2 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Yep! I would also not that Noctua is an addictive substance, and once you buy one product from them... IT NEVER ENDS! As long as the Hyper 212 is treating you well for now, I'd stick with it.

Yasir69 1 point 11 months ago

nice build sir......i appreciate your all components choice except cpu cooler......i have almost identical pc parts but my cpu cooler h100i is not enough for 8700k.......what are your cpu temps sir..........

BillyWan submitter 1 Build 1 point 11 months ago

CPU is at 30 C at rest. I have not yet chosen and installed CPU monitoring software. That's next. My heavy processing operations are merging full frame 24 MB raw files to HDR with tiff output and then stitching the tiffs into a spherical panoramic image with PTGui with output as a large PSD file including all layers for final editing in Photoshop. I'm assuming that those processes are less likely to generate a lot of heat than intense gaming. Your thoughts?

Yasir69 1 point 11 months ago

you are right sir but my ambiance temps are between 40 to 45.........

popeizzy 1 Build 1 point 5 months ago

Plus one for the cable managment!

Produde234 1 point 1 month ago

Can this Noctua NH-D15 fit in this case?