After about a total of 5 days of work over winter and spring break, I finished my first homemade PC case and build.
This is my third build ever. I was really just going for what would make me happy with this one. No budget in mind.
In retrospect, I should really rename this build "Blood, Sweat, and Tears." I have minimal woodwork experience. The tools at my disposal are more suited for finishing a basement or making a shed. Despite all this, I seemed to make quite a functional case with just a circular saw, jigsaw, and a drill.
I have had two major issues with cases I've purchased:
I can never get right into the motherboard and work without walls restricting my access.
Dust! My previous case was an Antec Lanboy Air. Even with 12 fans pointing in, the positive pressure wasn't enough to keep it clean. I'd have to dust the thing out every week.
This design was aimed at solving these two issues. Here's how:
The case can be completely disassembled by removing just a couple of screws. Each of the 4 walls can be removed, and the case can then be split in half horizontally (you can see where the red framework comes apart). Once you remove the walls and the top, the motherboard is completely exposed on the wooden tray. I was able to get right in there and work without issue. I could also remove this tray and get direct access to the bottom shelf where the PSU and storage drives rest.
The 4 red bgears fans are intake. The 4 b&w xigmatek fans are exhaust. I haven't finished the fan grates, but once I do, I plan on adding dust filters to the intakes. This thing right now is a freaking wind tunnel. The filters may cause a loss in airflow, but there's already enough from my initial tests. This should greatly reduce the dust since all intake will be filtered. At least, that's my hope.
The case is not as pretty as I wanted it to be, but for what I had available, it came out okay. I really enjoyed building this case, and I plan on making more. First, I plan on purchasing an intricate woodworking toolset so my next case won't look as shoddy.
CPU: Just posted and haven't tested under loads yet. Will update post when I finish installing Windows.
CPU Cooler: This cooler seems pretty good so far. It's the first aftermarket CPU cooler I've owned. The stock mounting set worked fine for this mobo and socket chipset. It easily fit either the left/right and up/down configurations.
Mobo: This thing saved my bacon two times. First, I bought it on amazon which wasn't flashed to support ivybridge-e cpus. This mobo allowed me to flash the BIOS without A SANDYBRIDGE CPU?! I just plugged in a flashdrive with the update into the ROG COM USB port. Second, this case I built doesn't have any headers in it yet. Luckily, the ROG connect app allows me to turn the PC on remotely from my laptop. I really like that feature in my situation.
Memory: Again, haven't fully tested it. Initially recognized as 1333MHz instead of 1600. I expected this since the voltages are over the intel recommended spec. From other's experience, the XMP profile will work fine to "OC" these to 1600. The trident series is great LP memory too! The CPU cooler was bumping into the 2 inner sticks in the up/down configuration I wanted. By removing the heat spreaders on the two inner sticks, the memory easily fit under the CPU cooler fans. In the other configuration, I could have left all the spreaders on. I really like how low these sticks can go without the spreaders. It's lower than the Sniper series. Gskill posts detailed dimension specs on their site. I give them a big plus for that.
Storage: Grabbed the SSD on Black Friday and it's been working great. I've had the HDD for 2 years now; old reliable.
Video Card: Again, haven't tested under load. It definitely felt solid and fit nicely into the mobo. However, in the second PCI-e slot starting closest to the CPU, it blocks a bunch of the headers / CPU fan headers. If you want to use the headers, make sure you don't SLI and have the CPU cooler in the left/right (blowing over the RAM sticks) configuration.
PSU: Seems really good. I may be overloading it a bit with these fans. However, I tried to go double of the recommended. No complaints yet. The cables were abundant and long. I didn't need any extensions. If I was going to do more hardcore cable management (I didn't do much at all due to the case configuration), I would need an extension kit.
OS: No comment.
bgears fans: move a lot of air, but are very loud. Not recommended for a silent air cooled build. They're definitely more solid than I expected. They looked a little cheap online. The wires are a tad flimsy. If a wire got loose it would definitely be eaten up by a fan.
xigmatek fans: This fans are great. They have extension pieces, and have a slew of mounting configurations. Worked great since I was mounting them on wood. Quieter, but not silent. However, the airflow to decibel ratio is definitely a lot better than the other fans. They would make a great "big air mover" fan in a traditional case.
Custom Mobo Tray: This is what I used to start the build. It was a really nice piece of metal to start with. The tray fit exactly as I needed it in my design. I'll probably start with a Lian-Li mobo tray replacement for my cases in the future.
A big shout-out to the PC Part Picker community on this one. I asked a bunch of questions / looked over other builds for inspiration. This build would not have gone so smoothly without you guys!
I'll be updating this description with performance metrics once I get a chance to test everything. I'm heading back to college so it may take me a week.