From start to finish, this little beauty was the most difficult to piece together PC I've ever built. From the careful selection of which parts to put in first, to literally pulling apart every wire in the motherboard ATX power cable to make it fit around the psu, cpu fan, and memory. It was an ordeal, but I'm so glad I did it. Each fan in the entire system (PSU, GPU, Case fans, and CPU fan) is smart controlled by temp sensors so it's incredibly quiet 90% of the time. The side case wouldn't close until I ordered some custom 8-pin cables for the GPU. She runs around 45C at typical desktop function, 55-60C for low level gaming, and intense GPU hits around 70 - 75C, which I'm fine with. (Don't have a fan on the back to blow air out there, but I may install one yet. Put a splitter on my 2 bottom case fans to the MB, so they're smart controlled, but no more connections on this MB so it'd be directly wired to the PSU so I'm avoiding it.)
She's a beaut! Questions, comments, concerns please direct below. (Bushmills bottle for scale)
Case: The centerpiece of this mastery! I'm going with an N•Case M1 Version 5 because I'm planning on traveling outside the country, and will need the freedom to throw a desktop in a (albeit modified) backpack. This crowdfunded little beauty is magnificent and is perfect!
Motherboard: I've never thought a motherboard could look beautiful before, until now. Interior theme will be dark red and black, so this works perfect. And the functionality!! This board has so much going for it, and also has some excellent reviews out there. Isolated audio circuitry and built in dual headphone amp means for some sharp sound, it supports an M.2, USB 3.1 front pin headers, WiFi & Bluetooth (if I want my N•Case to look like a rabbit), and supports all the latest and greatest chipsets.
CPU: I went with an i7-6700. A lot of people have been getting the K's, but I didn't. There are reasons for that. Primarily, while the i7 6700K does hit 4.0GH stock, it also pulls around 90 watts average, and close to 133 watts peak! That's a heck of a difference between the 65 TDP of the 6700 (sans K). The 600MH it's lacking is nothing when compared to the heat differential I'll have to deal with. This is especially important in a small case that's already relying on blower style cooling.
CPU Cooler: After a ton of consideration and research, I decided on a CRYORIG C1, blower style air cooler. This was a big decision, but I ultimately chose non-water cooling because I don't ever want to have to worry about draining water before going to the airport. Also, with the specs I'm running and how hard I'll be pushing my machine, I doubt I'll have the desire to overclock anytime soon. This little beauty is just slick! Aside from the low form factor and the subdued grace of it, the noise and cooling efficiency is awesome!
NOTE: Had to bend one of the side pins to get it to fit past the power supply bracket. Barely bent it and it fit just fine. It was crazy because I installed it and realized I couldn't plug in any of my SATA connectors, so I took it off, cleaned the thermal paste and reattached it.
GPU: This beast... It's incredible how wide the range is between the 980 Ti's is! An analogy: If a marathon runner wins the race so close that it's practically nothing, but he's too big to fit in your car, so you get the guy who lost by 1"... is it really so bad? I REALLY wanted the ASUS STRIX, but it literally won't fit inside my case without alterations. This is second best. If you want to see how good this card is, or how wide the range of comparison is between the Ti's, look at THIS article. It also externally exhausts out the back, so that's a plus!
My only problem has been that NVidea drivers have a known propensity to be somewhat unstable with the 980 at times. Looking for a better driver that won't randomly crash my more graphics intensive games. :/
Memory: I went with these low profile (again, saving space) 2666MHz, dual 8GB's for a total of 16GB. I hear that all DDR4 memory defaults to 2133MHz straight from the box, but I'll see when it gets here. Probably just needs a tweak in BIOS to enable the 2666MHz it needs. The Motherboard will take up to 32GB, but 16 should be just fine for the moment. I mean, let's not go crazy... I already have 6GB purely devoted to my GPU. I think I'm good. ;)
Storage: I salvaged the 2TB drive from my old machine temporarily until I need bigger. Either way, I already have a 500GB SSD, and a SCREAMING 256GB M.2 PCIe card which is THE SIZE OF MY FINGER!!! Oh technology, how you amaze me... And these bad boys are usually 4x the R/W speed of typical drives. The M.2 is being used to run my OS. Getting around 18 second boot times from a cold start, and less than 10 seconds on reboots.
NOTE: Yes... it's ghetto'er than sin. I have heat shrink tubing wrapped around my M.2 and rubber bands holding it down. The MB said it would accommodate 80mm, but it looks like it lied... doesn't matter though, the socket fits fine and this solution works perfect. Rubber oxidizes so I'll have to check on it every year, but I'm a lot more comfortable with this method than the glue or tape others are using.
PSU: Small. Modular. 600 watts for future expansion flexibility. What more need I say? It also got some great reviews and is 80+ Gold Certified. Also doesn't appreciably add fan noise, either since it's temperature smart controlled.
Case Fan's: These little bad boys are mounted to the bottom of the case, giving additional airflow directed up into the GPU fan. Essentially, what I'm going for here is a vertical upward air flow which also naturally works with rising heat. Air will flow from the bottom of the case, through the GPU (some exhausted out the back), in from the side onto the CPU, some through the PSU and out the top, and the rest pushed by positive air pressure out the top vents of the case.