The case, motherboard, processor, and memory are the only original components that stayed. I personally like the aesthetics of the case, although the cooling is admittedly bad and there is no cable management. The Dell BIOS leaves much to be desired, but unless you are overclocking, how much time do you really spend in the BIOS? As for the CPU, the Hazwell 4790 is fine since I won't be overclocking. 16GB of DDR3-1600 is more than enough for casual gaming.
I was able to get the Intel BXTS15A cooler to work by removing the plastic push-pins and screwing it into the motherboard using the screws for the hard drive cage (which I removed). The fan on this CPU cooler is a Delta 0.69 amp, 3800RPM beast.
For thermal paste, I went with Arctic MX-4. This paste is very sensitive to application methods. My first application (about a pea) was too much and caused my temperatures to spike at idle. My second application was about 2 small grains of rice and that seemed to work, but nothing remarkable happened. I used rubbing alcohol to clean the heatsink and CPU.
For a case fan, I ended up getting a Titan 92mm, 0.3amp, 3000RPM model. The fan is rated at 55CFM @ 34dBA. I was not familiar with this brand previously but would definitely recommend them. See my results for more information on cooling.
I originally was going to go with a 512GB mSATA because it would be 1 less PSU and 1 less SATA cable to route (look at the rats nest in there). Ultimately, I ponied up and went with a 1TB Crucial MX200 SSD. The price on the Crucial was outstanding, and the reviews were all positive. I didn't want to start with a fresh OS install, so I picked up a SATA to USB cable and used Macrium Reflect to clone the original drive to the new SSD. The SATA cables that came with the Dell were very short, so I picked up a single 500mm black sleeved cable from SilverStone which was perfect for sneaking around the gigantic video card and matched the EVGA PSU cables. I disconnected the optical drive entirely since I'll never use it and want to have as few cables as possible inside the case. Lastly, I also needed a 2.5"to 3.5" mount and went with a black Corsair model.
For video cards, I was also limited by size. Some of the aftermarket coolers from MSI and Gigabyte are just massive. I went with the EVGA, with the ACX2.0+ cooler, and backplate. It fit perfectly and Dell even has a cutout on the side of the case to allow the fans exhaust hot air. I debated going with a reference card from Nvidia because they are the smallest form factor, but the reference cooler is not exactly great and we are already dealing with a hot box of a case.
Since I bought a 1440p monitor, I obviously wanted a video card that could pump enough pixels to it. The 980 Ti is a true beast. I benchmarked 14100 in Firestrike on the stock setting.
My temps while gaming were in the 70's before I got SpeedFan to work. The system fan settings are so conservative which prevents them from ever really spooling up. By using SpeedFan, I can keep them quiet during web browsing and have them crank when gaming. Now I can comfortably game in the low 60's. I did try using an external fan controller, but you'll get a fan error every time you boot (if the fans aren't plugged into the mobo), so software is the way to go.
Total cost for the computer, PSU, graphics card, SSD, and cooler was about $1900. I'd say if you are in the market for a gaming rig, obviously roll your own. However, if you purchased an 8700 and need more power, don't throw it away - you can definitely upgrade it.
Great SSD at a great price.
Went with the reference clock version, which is more than enough power. In 1440p, I'm averaging about 100 FPS in Black Ops 3 (1x Filmic SMAA) and 130 FPS in Star Wars Battlefront (FXAA High). The ACX 2.0+ cooler is doing a great job. The EVGA software doesn't look quite as polished as MSI's, but it allows simple overclocking and easy fan speed control so I can't really ask for anything else.
This is a really nice PSU. Fully modular, 140mm fan, whisper quiet, platinum rating. The EVGA branding matches the video card.
Easy setup and picks up my 5ghz network a floor below the router. Have not been disconnected once yet. Pricey for what it is, but anything with USB 3.0 is pricey these days.
1 DP input and 1 HDMI input (could add a gaming console or Android/Apple TV). Very easy (but basic) on-screen menu. Nvidia Gsync makes your 360 headshots look super smooth with no screen tearing. Cheaper than other gaming monitors from Asus and Acer; similar price to Benq. Know that it is a TN Panel and not IPS, but I truly don't know what the difference is.
Easily the nicest keyboard I've ever owned. Uses 2 USB 2.0 ports, but also has a USB 2.0 port on it to connect your mouse to. Per-key backlighting that is controlled on the keyboard itself (doesn't require any drivers or software). The top of the keyboard is a solid sheet of aluminum. Key presses are super quick, but know that it's very loud. Special WSAD keys that are textured are a nice touch.
Great mouse, I was previously using the non-RGB version. Feels like an air hockey puck on the Corsair MM400 mouse mat. Great weight, which is adjustable. Uses Corsair CUE software to control DPI and color.
For the price, it's a great headset. The only other headset I considered was the Logitech USB 7.1 (not spending $300 for Sennheiser or Astro - although they are amazing). The padding is super comfortable and you can notice a difference with the 7.1 surround on. Everything is configurable using the same Corsair CUE software that the mouse uses. You can adjust volume, mic on/off, and surround on/off from the headset while gaming.