Description

I was reaching a point with my previous 9 year old system where it was laboring to perform tasks and renders in increasingly demanding software environments. After a particularly point-heavy album cover bogged down my Adobe Illustrator to the point of nearly not being able to complete the final saves I realized it was time to upgrade.

My primary usage is graphic design and layout for both print and web with some video design and editing thrown in the mix. My usual tools span most of the Adobe master collection, from Illustrator to Photoshop to InDesign to Acrobat to Premiere to Dreamweaver. Also, I have a decent music collection but a massive stash of music videos, video projects and movies. I decided to give myself a good bit of drive space headroom. These factors influenced my decisions in relation to what and how to build. I do have a couple of games as well, I would never call myself a gamer. I'm not that hardcore and I'm infrequent to casual at best, so that had very little influence in my component choices. Lastly, I won't say money was no object (because it did matter), but I was going to get what I felt I needed without going crazy.

OS

  • Win7. The fact that I prefer Windows to Mac notwithstanding, I needed a stable, productive OS with no ridiculous quirks or limits that was usable "out of the box" and that would also offer flexibility as I have a propensity to "fiddle under the hood". I started with Home Premium, but will upgrade to Pro once I feel the 16GB RAM max is limiting my productivity.

BOARD

  • Asus P8Z77-V-LK. This board offered front and rear USB 3.0, enough SATA II and SATA III headers, all the PCI headers I could ever need, and even onboard TOSLINK. I didn't need anything extreme, so it's great for me.

PSU

  • Corsair TX650. The capability of this PSU seemed right for what I was doing and the Corsair had good enough reputation that it was right up my alley.

CPU

  • Intel Core i7 3770k. The 3770k is a beefy, fast processor that utterly dwarfs the capabilities of the previous system. I overclocked it a bit, mostly just because i could. Why not?

CPU COOLING

  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO. Knowing that I'd probably tool with overclocking I knew I needed a decent cooler. The 212 had a nice look with performance good enough to make it a no brainer. The install was nerve racking (big hands/ fingers) but it does a great job with these components. Also the fan's height is adjustable so it can easily clear low profile RAM sticks.

MEMORY

  • Corsair Vengeance LP 2 x 8GB. I knew that the tower configuration of the cooler could potentially cause issues with tall RAM sticks, so I went with low pro sticks from a trusted name, using just 2 slots so I could add 2 more of the same when the time came. 16GB gives me a ton of headroom, though.

GPU <<UPDATED 12/27/13>>

  • Well, upgrade insanity kicked in and Robot Santa got me an EVGA GTX 780 SC ACX for Christmas. Didn't really need it, but but I'm a big believer in having headroom. My PCU can handle it so far with no problems, so I'm happy. Plus, I used the little badge on the front of my case, cuz it looks cool. Anyway, I'll have to figure out what to do with the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660. I may use it for another more lightweight build, but we'll see. Twas a good card, so I'm gonna keep it.

STORAGE

  • Crucial M4 128GB. My OS and application drive is a decently sized SSD with great speed and life expectancy.
  • Crucial M4 128GB. I wanted a separate and fast application cache and TEMP drive and another M4 was the perfect way to go.
  • WD Black 1TB. This was my first HDD. My last system drive was miniscule by comparison. Having so much space in a good, fast drive is such a relief.
  • WD Black 2TB. I realized that the amount of video content I had would eat up an uncomfortable amount of space on the 1GB drive, so I got the 2TB for extra headroom, dedicated solely to video storage.

CASE

  • Cooler Master Storm Enforcer. I knew I needed a case with at least a few 5.25" bays, a few HDD bays, at least one SDD bay, good space for wire management, bottom mounting for the PSU and USB 3.0 up front and in the rear. A good aesthetic was important to me as well but function was primary. The Enforcer has a nice presence along with the loads or practicality in its design. I put the front fan on a motherboard header to slow it down as the thing is quite loud when spinning at full speed. It can move crazy air when I need it too, though. The case also features a nice sized window that shows off the internals and encourages a tidy build. The illumination is red out of the box, and though it's easy to customize, it works just fine for me.

CASE FAN

  • Cooler Master R4 LUS Megaflow. The front of the case features a high speed 200mm red LED fan that moves a ton of air. The case has top mounting option as well, so I went with another 200mm red LED fan in exhaust configuration. It gives me continuity in appearance while keeping the internals nice and chill with no crazy noise generation.

CASE LIGHTING

  • NZXT CB-LED20-RD (Red 2m braided LED strip). The lighting of my case's included front fan was red. I liked the look and continued it with the aforementioned red led fan up top. The case's window showcased an obvious dark zone in the bottom rear. The NZXT led strip is long enough to be run along the perimeter of the case giving an even bit of glow to the internals. Granted, cathodes may have more true glow, but this LED kit is well built with great mounting hardware and brightness options without the worry of heat generation, breakage or pinkish light. The PCI control module looks right at home mounted in the "extra" PCI bay on the case.

CASE TWEAK

  • My newly acquired GTX780 came with a cool little badge, so I replaced the Cooler Master logo with it. I basically just scratched off the CM graphic. It's looks rough up close and I may treat the scratchiness later on, but it looks cool, so I'm happy. You can see the roughness of the scratch in the photos above.

OPTICAL DRIVE

  • Lite-On DVD/CD Writer. Nothing much to say about this one. I needed an good optical drive because I receive as well save a lot a content on discs. I have the space, so it's better to have than to have not. I "modded" the front of the drive using mesh from a bay cover for a nice cohesive front to the case.

CARD READER

  • NZXT Aperture M. Call me compulsive, but I needed as card reader, and really felt that a mesh front would be awesome. It was impossible to find anything else, and NZXT has enough of a reputation to make this a no regrets purchase. I should mention that it comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports, but I capped mine since I prefer using the 3.0 ports at the top of the case.

PERIPHERALS

  • I love the size and comfort of the MS Ergo 4000. I've had it for at least a couple of years now. I have huge hands and the spacing combined with the padded wrist wrests are just great for me.
  • The NAOS 8200 replaced an old Logitech "something or other" mouse. My buddy got that insane RAT9 mouse and I realized they do make bigger, better mice. I didn't need a "mouse of the future" but I did want something large, with high DPI, at least a few configurable buttons and changeable lighting if possible. I can't remember what I paid for it, but the NAOS wasn't expensive. That combined with its braided cord, excellent button customization, great weight and solid grip surface make it a great mouse in my book.
  • I got the AOC e2450SWDs from Staples during a great sale. I can remember exactly when it was, but they are great for me. They "only" run in 1080, but that's perfectly fine for what I used them for and are very adjustable on the software side of things. The stands are generic though and I have them on the monitor stand to raise them up a little and give my better placement options.
  • The Planar Dual monitor stand is great. The base is very heavy which is good, but it's a bit thick so it does eat up some real estate. This is infinitely better than the bases of 2 monitors sitting there, so it's fine. It's sturdy, adjustable, allows for easy on-the-fly turning/ twisting and features a handy cable management clip. I actually bought one for my Acers at the office because I liked it so much.

All in all, I'm extremely happy with this build. It is fast, powerful, quiet and a bit intimidating. I won't call it future proof, but the components allow me enough headroom and space to expand or upgrade as I might need to for what I hope will be at least a couple of years.

Also, I did the 3DMark 11 thing just because a couple of friends said I should. I guess I picked the wrong version at first, but now I think I'm in the right ballpark shrugs. Thanks, everyone!

I received advice and feedback from an awesome buddy at my 9-5 as well as invaluable information from forums and articles from sites like PCPartpicker, NCIX, Tom's Hardware, Overclock and Youtube. Thanks!

Comments

  • 79 months ago
  • 4 points

Great part selection. I would have gotten a 7870 ghz or 7870XT over the 660. Otherwise, great build.

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you. When I was putting together a plan, the GPU had me in a holding pattern for a while. My original plan was a 7850, but I think there was a sale on the 660 and it fit the bill with Cuda cores and all, so I did a "might as well" and went for it. I'm definitely keeping a big eye on the higher tier cards for when/ if the time comes. They'll be NVidia though. I found out Adobe favors the Cuda cores and that's primarily what I use.

  • 79 months ago
  • 0 points

He is using Adobe so he is most likely using Cuda.

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

But he has a 3770k. It's either rendering with the CPU or the GPU and I think they are comparable to where you can get the CPU for rendering and the GPU for gaming and the rest.

  • 79 months ago
  • 0 points

Not how that works, the CPU hauls some of the weight but Cuda takes care of "some effects, scaling, deinterlacing, blending modes, color space conversions"

Source: http://forums.adobe.com/message/3377595

  • 79 months ago
  • 4 points

how'd you do that with the optical drive?

  • 79 months ago
  • 2 points

My case has 4 drive bays and stock they come with mesh covers. Well, the mesh just pops right out of the frame and with a little trimming with really sharp scissors, I cut out the button hole. After that, I just carefully lined things up and CAREFULLY expoxied the mesh to the optical drive's door. I hated butchering one of my covers, but I like the look.

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

There are a number of ways, but simply put, something such as glue and a little bit of trimming would have done that easy peasy.

  • 79 months ago
  • 2 points

Gaming computer?

  • 79 months ago
  • 2 points

Nah. I do have a few games, and they run quite smoothly, but I'm not a gamer (very, very casual about it). It's a decently capable system though. I think I finally finished my write up. It explains my motivations a little more.

  • 79 months ago
  • 2 points

Thank you for the write-up (apparently people think I am too ignorant to read the description, which wasn't posted at the time.)

I like how you explained everything in your build, and why it suits you.

How do you like the Crucial M4's? Is it your first time experiencing SSD performance?

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

It's all good. Preciate it, too. And yeah, I LOVE the SSDs. It is my first experience with solid state drives personally, but I've been privy to associates' builds and have noticed all of them doing it backwards. Three different people put media and games on their SSDs while putting the OS and caches on slower HDDs. I actually researched before I built this thing, so I understand the benefits and limitations of the tech. The boot time, or rather lack of it is cool. The responsiveness is great. The responsiveness with the Adobe caches on the other SSD is unreal. Non of my stuff is super high end, but they all work well enough together to make the experience buttery smooth with anything I need to do.

  • 79 months ago
  • -1 points

read the first 2 paragraphs

  • 79 months ago
  • -1 points

Thank you - someone who actually reads the description.

  • 79 months ago
  • -1 points

Hate it when people never read the description.

  • 79 months ago
  • -1 points

Tell me about it.

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

Description wasn't up when I commented...

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

I guess its a good case, but the aesthetics on it just don't appeal to me. I can see that you chose wisely here, you definitely made the right choices.

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you! It's definitely a bold case, but I like it. Cooler Master wisely created the Storm Enforcer so that it shares the exact same frame and internals with one of their more modest looking HAF cases. I think it's the HAF 912, but don't quote me. Having options is something I can appreciate.

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

That case is indeed very sleek. I hope you enjoy your build for years to come.

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

'Preciate that. Thank you.

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

I have this case. I'm not that fond of it anymore. The filters are horrible. The one on the front is actually held on by little flaps of metal folded over. Nearly impossible to remove and clean.

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah. they do demand a certain amount of patience. Oddly, popping off the front facade and delicately folding out that filter doesn't bother me so much. I have more issues with that outside mesh. It's hard to get anything but a tiny vac with a brush tip into the corners.

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

Excellent build. For your use the system couldn't be better. Excellent choices on all your components. It'll last you a long time...but I wouldn't suggest waiting 9 years for your next build.

  • 79 months ago
  • 1 point

Haha! Thanks! It's a very "safe" but functional build, and it was fun so it'll definitely be sooner (much sooner) than later for a new project.

  • 68 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice job! Your score is 3DMark Vantage not 3DMark11 though. :)

  • 66 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you. That 3DMark stuff can get confusing if you don't pay attention, but I think I have it now. 'Preciate the heads up.

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice mod on the optical drive. I've got a mesh front for my new case too and looking at how to keep that cohesive look and still get all the parts I want.

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

If you're talking about that 400R, then I see what you mean. Mine was a bit of a hack job, but it looks pretty cool when it's all said and done. I've found a hot glue gun can do wonders for things like this, especially when you have bay covers lying around. Give it a shot.