So my gaming PC was 5 years old, the HDDs were going bad, my GPU was struggling, but I finally had saved up enough money to build a near dream machine. This is the story of my recent build...
I actually held off on this build initially in May-June as I was an owner of the ASUS M3F board and wanted to get the latest M7F board. So between Devil's Canyon and the M7F being delayed I could not build this until early August. Basically I was trying to be strategic with my money to get the latest parts, rather than a near end of life 4770K and a Z87 board. So I had to play the waiting game and the market for the next wave of tech to be released.
The Maximus VII Formula (M7F) board is admittedly more of an overpriced boutique board, and I would probably recommend the M7H (Hero) version over this to save yourself an extra $100. However, this board definitely has some nice exclusive perks such as built in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, M2 support, high grade mil-spec parts, ROG Armor, and the copper cross chill chamber for water cooling (I want to eventually add a custom loop).
So my Devil's Caynon i7-4790k clocks in @4.7 GHz stable, although I was able to push it to 4.8 GHz, but the voltage required was a little bit more than I wanted to run for a 24/7 setup. The H100i is the smaller version of the H110 (240mm vs 280mm) because there's not really much difference and I was already tight on clearance from the cross chill chamber - bigger is not always better. The H100i was keeping me in the 28-29 C range and right under 70 C under 100% full load with AIDA64, all in all I was fairly satisfied with my CPU clocks and cooling. A huge jump from my 3.6 GHz i7-860 !!
So the G.Skill Trident X is a great RAM kit (I know many prefer Corsair), and the clocks you can get with XMP are nice. Plus they have a deal with Newegg so there is ALWAYS some kind of combo or discount deal that ends up bringing this kit below $150. The heat fins are removable as well if you are using an air cooler and need the extra clearance.
Okay for storage I'm sure everyone knows how great the Samsung EVO SSDs are so I won't go into detail. I mentioned earlier, my previous HDDs were slow as hell and just I really wanted to load most of my games and applications fast with enough extra disk space for future proofing. Plus this capacity has the cheapest price per GB for the SSD so it is a great long term deal.
In regards to the PSU this was easy, my last 850w Antec actually ended up frying itself after 4 years (I had a 5 yr warranty) and when I RMA'd it, they gave me this free courtesy upgrade, so why not? It's 80+ plat rated, saves the $$$ on the electric bill, fully modular, and can be linked with another HCP power supply in case I ever want to go quad-SLI. (I won't lol)
The case was probably the one aspect I wasn't sure about as you know there are so many to choose from nowadays. So I kind of wanted something a little more unique this time, and a lot of ppl recommended I try the Corsair Carbide Air 540D. I liked the fact it wasn't gigantic like a 750 or 900D, and it has 'split halves' with the PSU/ODDs/HDDs on the other side to not block and allow for GREAT air flow, as well as great cable management. Plus I think the cube aspect looks pretty damn hot and retro, it is very light to pick up, and the full case window is freaking beautiful. There's a 900 page owner's club thread out on overclock.net if you want to see a bunch of crazy builds ppl have done with this thing. My only criticism is there is not much room left to put a large reservoir on the windowed side, many have to put it in the back half with the PSU, not close to being a deal breaker honestly.
Last but not least, the graphics card. Well if you can remember in August we were right on yet ANOTHER tech evolution with the GTX 900 series about to come out. So once again, I hung on with my little ole 660 and played the waiting game again. In September and early October, it was freaking impossible to find availability for the GTX 970s, I finally started F5'ing Newegg and Amazon for like a week. Finally some EVGA FTWs came in stock, and I knew they had the improved cooling system with better heatpipe coverage and no coil whine, along with a very high 1367 MHz boost clock right out of the gate.
So I finally managed to pull the trigger on two EVGA 970 FTWs, and I got a free TORQ ($70) mouse with each of them. Then a week later the Nvidia free game promo came out and Newegg was awesome enough to retroactively give me 2x free codes even though they didn't have to as I bought my cards before the promo. Thanks again Steve! Did I also mention, EVGA was doing their own free back plate offer, so I just got two of those as well LOL :D All in all I ended up spending $760 on two cards and wound up getting $320 total in free goodies ($140 in mice, $120 games, $60 in back plates). Can't beat that! * totally planned *
The only thing I didn't include on this build were like 6x Corsair SP 120 PWM fans for another $90. I am so happy with this build, I can play games on my Surround setup in 3D on Tomb Raider and 50-80 FPS across 3 monitors on even the most intense games like Star Citizen with all the graphics turned up! Okay I will admit I was only getting 40-45 in Assassin's Creed Unity, but we all know how that game is :P
So anyways that's my journey here. I will try and add some more cosmetic and benchmarking pictures for you all. I don't know if or when I will add a custom loop, as I did admittedly splurge a lot, but you know what, it felt good and I am really happy with my build. No regrets!
Update: 11/23 - Added a ton more pictures of the actual updated hardware. Many of you were complaining about the older pictures I uploaded not having the 970s, so you should find the most recent updates. I also apologize about the picture quality, the Samsung S5 camera sucks in low light.
Update: 11/24 - Got my backplates from EVGA finally. Went ahead and added a few more pics.