TLDR : Computer Science university student builds PC for Unreal Engine 4 game development after ~3 years of using a gaming laptop. Very happy with the PC. I only wish the PSU had a higher quality fan...
Hello everyone! I finally found a pretty good excuse to get rid of my gaming laptop (MSI GE62, i7-5700HQ, GTX 960M 2GB VRAM, 8GB RAM, Win10) and build a PC! So, let me tell you a bit about the backstory and the name inspiration and then I'll say the rest.
I'm a Computer Science uni student and this semester I had the option to take a class on game development where we would use Unreal Engine 4 to create a game of our own as a semester project. The thing is that my laptop couldn't handle light building and would either freeze or just crash. I saw some errors about insufficient VRAM and resources in general so after a lot of discussion with my father we decided that it was time to upgrade and sell my a-little-bit-more-than-3-year-old gaming laptop and buy something that will help me with my studies. So, near the end of November 2018 I ordered all the parts I needed for the build and about a month later (that's when the date built refers to) when I finally got some free time I built it! A couple of days later I sold the laptop for 500 EUR. Pretty cheap, since I bought it for 1400 EUR and had it in mint condition but at least I got some money back...
Part choices :
Originally I was going for a Ryzen 5 2600X, a Sapphire Vega 64 Nitro+ and a 25" Dell 1440p IPS monitor but once I realized that UE4 needs more CPU horsepower than GPU I changed my mind. After all I was saving about 300 EUR from the graphical downgrade and now that I'm using my build I have to admit that I don't care!
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X : This CPU is a beast! I haven't manually overclocked it so most of the time it floats around 40o C and during Prime95 small FFTs stress test it peaks at 80o C. However, I have used a -50mV offset and set the LLC to Level 1 instead of auto and it goes all the way up to 4.35GHz with voltage raising up to 1.45V for less than a sec. I did those tweaks because on default settings it would frequently go up to 1.5V and I'm not very confident with this much Vcore. On Cinebench R15 I get 1807 point on multi-core and 177 on single-core. If I overclock to 4.15GHz @ 1.35V I get 1877 on multi-core and 170 on single-core but the gaming performance drops a bit. After all I don't think it's worth the all day 1.35V Vcore for just a tiny boost in multi-core performance. (photos 15 & 16 are Cinebench)
Noctua NH-U14S : Sure the Wraith Prism that comes with the 2700X looks cool but I like silence and I had other plans for the Prism... I bought a NH-A15 chromax fan for it because beige and brown aren't anywhere near the colors I'd like to see when I look through my case's TG window... Anyway, I'm happy with the cooler and its performance but beware that under heavy load it isn't that quiet but it certainly isn't annoying. So far I've been using a tube of MX-4 thermal paste but at some point I'm going to test the paste the cooler came with and post my results here.
Asus Strix X370-F Gaming : I pretty sure that someone will be like "Why would you pick an X370 board for a 2nd gen Ryzen?". Well, to begin with more than half of the X470/B450 motherboards out there were either ugly (*cough* Strix X470-F), had bad cooling/VRM or were too expensive for me. So, since I had a 1st gen Ryzen (from my father's build) I thought "Why not?". This motherboard has a great VRM, looks great, has lots of features and costs less than most good X470 motherboards.
G.Skill Trident Z RGB : I believe that it has been said many many times but the lighting on this RAM is gorgeous! I have manually overclocked it to its rated specs 3200MHz with 16-18-18-38 timings and after 9 hours of Prime95 blend stress test there were no errors. I believe that 16GB of RAM is starting to become a standard for any power-user.
Samsung 860 Evo 500GB : At the time of purchase it was on sale, I don't use that much storage and an NVMe SSD would be kind of a waste for me. I also have an external drive dock and a 4TB WD Red (it's not in the photos) for backups etc. I chose to not add any mechanical drives in my PC because I didn't want to hear them humming due to stupid Windows not spinning them down.
Sapphire RX 580 8GB Nitro+ : I could have gotten the RX 590 Nitro+ but the non-special-edition was available in Greece at least half a month after my order was placed and I wasn't willing to go through all the pain of waiting for the new GPU. After all the performance gains aren't that great over the GPU I have. I have managed to overclock it to 1525 MHz on the core and 2250 MHz on the memory with a +75mV and +50% power limit through the Sapphire Trixx software. I don't use the overclock 24/7. Only when the need arises.
Fractal Design Define C TG : I must admit I've been in love with this case for quite a while. It looks awesome and the cable management capabilities are great! The only complaints I have are the white fans and PCI slot covers (why on earth would you do this Fractal?) and the fact that the front fan mounts are less than ideal for 140mm fans as a great part of the fan is covered by the mounting bracket and this results in some humming noise (tested with FD HP14 fans from my father's build). So, I decided to buy 3 x FD HP12 fans for intake and a FD HF12 for exhaust. So far this setup works great.
SeaSonic Focus Plus Gold 850W : I am quite happy with my PSU choise. Performance is great but I have a couple of minor complaints. The fan is producing some noise at low speeds if you turn off the fan-stop mode, the cables are hard to work with and very stiff (it has the worst 24-pin cable I've ever seen in terms of stiffness as it has about 5cm of cable next to the connector for the motherboard that you cannot bend), you get 3 PCI-E cables that split into two 8-pins and I hate these cables because in my opinion are harder to work with and miss the point of having two connectors on your GPU rather than one... Thankfully, I have not come across any serious issues so far.
Fractal Design HP12 PWM : Great fans, they move a lot of air on high RPM (even with the closed front of my case) and are very quiet on low RPM. Not to mention that they have rubber corners to reduce noise, look good and their low price.
Fractal Design HF12 : Great fan, looks good, has rubber corners, is silent and pretty cheap.
Noctua NF-A15 HS-PWN chromax : No complaints other than the absurd price... At least it makes my cooler look good.
Dell U2417H 1920x1080 60Hz : I don't play games competitively but even if I did my ping (~85ms most of the time) is my main issue so I didn't seen the point of buying a ******-color-high-refresh-rate monitor that I have no actual use for... So, I thought that a good IPS monitor would be a much better upgrade over my laptop's TN monitor.
Logitech G403 Prodigy Wired : To be honest I've had this for 6 months before I built my PC but whatever, add this to the part list too! Great mouse can't recommend it enough! I would buy it again if it lasts me a couple of years. Just be careful with the rubber sides as the slightest scratch with a nail can leave a mark.
Motospeed Inflictor CK104 keyboard : I wasn't willing to pay 90+EUR for a mechanical keyboard with RGB so I went for this one. It has red switches and I'm starting to get used to it since it's very different from a laptop keyboard. Has lots of effects and some customizable modes where you can set each buttons color. Note: It's not true RGB (it has 7-8 colors if I recall correctly), it has 5-6 brightness levels and effect speeds and it's not software controlled.
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x : Again, I've had it for more than 6 months but it's part of my setup. Great headphones! I listen to metal, electronic and retro-wave so a pair of flat sounding headphones were my best bet! Really happy with them!
Creative Labs Sound Blaster Omni 5.1 : Originally bought for my laptop once I realized that the laptop's onboard headphone jack was creating some whine on my right headphone. As a result, after prolonged use of my headphones my right ear had an annoying whine when I went to bed... So, this external sound card pretty much saved my hearing... Great product overall, I love the software it comes with as I can create profiles depending on what I'm listening.
Creative Labs Pebble 2.0 : I don't see the reason of wearing headphones when not gaming or listening to music on high volume, so I bought these speakers. I'm quite impressed as I didn't expect them to have good bass or such good quality due to their size and USB power. Only "issue" is that when you max out the volume they start humming a bit but I guess it's something you can't avoid. I would definitely recommend them if you don't plan on throwing a party with them.
Bitfenix Alchemy Cable Extensions & Cable Comb Kit : These cables look great and as far as I've seen on forums nobody has ever said anything bad about them. It's not very easy to make them look good but it's not impossible either. The cable comb kit is a must for the 24-pin, the PCI-E 8-pin and the PCI-E 6-pin in order to look good.
Silverstone SST-AEROSLOTS-BP PCI Slot Covers : Bought these because I hated the white covers that came with the case. They are of good quality. Flaws in the hole cuts can be seen only if you observe them from a very close distance.
Great motherboard, my Ryzen 7 2700X runs without any problems at all even under heavy loads and a 4.15GHz all-core overclock on air @ 1.35V. Not to mention that it looks much better than many X470/B450 motherboards without offering less features or a higher price.
Gorgeous RAM, runs at rated speed and timings on my X370 motherboard with a 2nd gen Ryzen. No problems syncing it with the motherboard's lighting through Asus Aura software.
Awesome design, great cable management, sturdy overall, lots of dust filters and it's pretty silent too. However, choosing the right fans plays a big role in silence. The only complaint I have it the fact that its stock fans and PCI-E covers are white... I mean, why would you do this Fractal? Anyway, the stock fans aren't that great for high-end hardware that need as much cooling as possible and the PCI-E covers can be painted or replaced easily so I wouldn't consider it an actual flaw.
Performance wise, it's great but SeaSonic seems to really like using mediocre fans that make an annoying crackling sound on low RPM. Also, the 24-Pin cable has about 5cm of cable (1cm after the connector that goes on the motherboard) that makes bending the cable through my case's cable cut-outs nearly impossible. Thank god cable extensions are cheap. Last but not least we have this awful coil-whine-like noise that might be normal but at least I can't hear it unless I go very close to the rear of my case. I understand that you can't avoid coil whine and some minor issues here and there but this is supposed to be a top-quality PSU with all the praise it's getting from some professional reviewers...
Edit: After 4 months of use I have not come across any major issues and would recommend this PSU to anyone who doesn't sit within half a meter away from it and is willing to buy a 24-pin cable extension to be able to tidy the stiff stock 24-pin cable.
Great mouse can't recommend it enough! I would buy it again if it lasts me a couple of years. Just be careful with the rubber sides as the slightest scratch with a nail can leave a mark.