Gaming machine I've been working on for the past few months, I call it "The Red Eye" because it's got a single red LED poking through the blue build, as well as the red eyes you'll have from long nights of gaming. Some of the parts were re-purposed from my older gaming rig. Most new parts were bought during the holiday season, with a few here and there over the months. The holiday pricing lead to a $275 CPU, my first 970 I ended up only paying $280 as Amazon was giving partial rebates due to the "RamGate" thing. My second I got on sale for 320 with a $30 rebate on top of that; and both came with free games. You see where I'm going with this. Just keep your eyes out for deals. You'll save a bunch of money buying at the right times. My total cost for all hardware/software/peripherals I didn't cannibalize from my other computers including tax+shipping was somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5k. So the up-front cost wasn't as much as it would be if you were buying all at once or without any cuts in pricing.
As of July, my build is 100% complete. CPU has been de-lidded, the IHS and D15 were lapped. I'm currently running 4.9Ghz @ 1.305v. After the de-lid, I get maximum spikes only up to 65°C on programs such as XTU, Burn Test, AIDA64, etc. So I'm very happy with the de-lidding process combined with the lapping and the performance of the D15. I'm still working on dialing in an exact OC after the de-lid giving much better temps to work with. The Noctua D-15 fits in my Blackhawk perfectly using both fans, and I'm even using a 3rd fan from my old Hyper 212 Evo. Using the Maximus VII Hero and GSkill Ripjaws you still have access to all 4 DIMM slots, and the cooler doesn't block any PCIe slots. You can also still use your side-fan, as long as you take off the pre-installed 120x25mm side-panel fan and put on a low-profile 120x15mm fan. There is also a mount for another low-profile 120mm fan on the other panel that will add extra cooling for the backside of the Motherboard, and blow on the CPU plate adding even more cooling and circulating air in a place that doesn't normally have any circulation. You can also add in another front intake fan if you only use the top 5" drive bay. Currently in my Blackhawk I have 120mm x3 front intake, 140mm x2 top exhaust, 120mm x1 rear exhaust, 120mm x1 side intake, 120mm x1 side intake (opposite panel), 140mmx 1 (PSU), 140mm bottom intake, 140mm bottom exhaust (exterior mount), 140mm x1 Push/Push set up against the only HDD cage bracket I didn't remove to help keep intake airflow from getting disrupted from the HDD cage, 3x 140mm CPU fans, (2x OEM Noctua 1x 140mm CoolerMaster). All together I have 15 fans in the case, 2 of which were personal additions myself and not technically pre-mounts. While I am not an audiophile and don't care about a gaming PC making a little bit of noise, the OEM Rosewill fans are of surprisingly decent quality and quiet, those combined with the fans I either bought or that came with coolers lead to a very nice and quiet gaming rig for what it is. Although my tower is about 6 feet from where I sit and I wear a headset, the tower is completely inaudible at idle, and at 100% utilization is barely noticeable, even with no white noise or headset. In essence, you won't hear it unless you're just one of 'those types' that needs to put a microphone next to the case to complain about noise. With any sort of background noise (i.e.- TV, fan, air conditioning, music, games, surround sound, etc), it's completely inaudible even under full load and all fans manually set to 100%.
As far as the heatsink goes, I don't think much needs said about its performance. I think everyone knows by now how good Noctua is, and even without delidding or lapping the D15 can provide cooling on par with high-end all-in-one cloosed loop watercooling solutions, and completely destroy lower-end closed loop systems. As for the case itself, as I said, it's great for air cooling. The Blackhawk is classified as a mid-tower, but I'd say it's actually more on the end of a smaller full-tower. It has 4 USB 2.0 slots, 2 USB 3.0 slots and 1 hot-swap SATA on the top of the case.
I took apart the 970's, used CLU on both for TIM as I did the CPU. You have to be careful here as the G1 Gaming 970 Windforce coolers are sort of the "gimped" version, and the gallium in the CLU doesn't play well with aluminum, which is what is surrounding the direct-contact copper heat pipes, whereas on the 980/980Ti there is a full baseplate. So insulation on a small part of the aluminum just outside of the heat pipes is needed in case any spillover/pump-out occurs you'll still have an intact heatsink left on your card. Also added in Fujipoly 11.0 W/mK thermal pads on the GDDR5 memory modules on the rear of the PCBs that don't receive any sort of cooling for some reason. The GDDR5 modules on the front of the PCB receive their own dedicated thermal pads that make direct contact with the heatsink, so it seems weird they would leave the rear modules untouched, leaving it up to the consumer to make modifications. The pads made great contact with the backplate, basically turning a purely aesthetic (with some rigidity-adding qualities) backplate into an active heatspreader backplate; cooling the previously untouched GDDR5 modules. Idle temps raised slightly from 28-32C to ~36C, but maximum load temps are greatly decreased, never exceeding 60°C. I have yet to find out if helping to cool the memory on the back of the PCB will help overclocking. I still have yet to figure out how some people claim to be getting +500 memory overclocks. Both my cards are Rev 1.1, one 75.5% ASIC, the other 72.3%, one card has Samsung memory, the other Hynix, and neither will come close to holding a stable +500 memory overclock, even when overvolting or using the 1.3v custom Bios. I honestly believe some people are either lying, only using synthetic benchmarks, or a mixture of both. I have some room to speak as I have 2 cards with both types of memory and neither will come close to some of these overclocks certain people mention. And the chances of getting 2 duds in a row are slim. What I've found to be more of an "average" stable overclock for gaming is anywhere from +115 - 125 core, and +250-280 memory. It just differs and it's good to make a few profiles, as it's well known what is "stable" for one game might instantly crash another. It'll end up boosting to around ~1550 MHz core, and 7500MHz memory. OEM one card would top out at 1.262v without a 1.3v Bios mod, the 2nd card would top out at 1.243v If you install a custom Bios you might be able to squeak out a bit more than that, but not much.
I have my 3 Asus VG248QE's debezled and set up in a landscape orientation. I did a little extra work when doing mine carefully drilling in self-tapping screws so I could keep the OEM movement range, as when you debezel these monitors you loose the mounting holes and have to get a bit creative. If you just want to debezel and stick on the mounts with double-sided 3M tape, just be sure it's adequate, otherwise the monitors will fall right off the mount and you could end up completely destroying the monitor depending on how far or where it falls. With the bezels on, the VG248QE's bezels are just too thick to be used in a multi-monitor setup. Even de-bezeled it's nearly distractingly noticeable, but at least it is much, much less noticeable. Keeping the plastic housing on these and trying to use them in either portrait or landscape mode is going to leave you a ~2½" black bar between each screen, and that's just far too much. However bezels aside, especially for single-monitor 1080p gaming, for the price you really can't find a better gaming monitor.
The EVGA G2 Supernova is amazing, and I don't know how they sell it at the price point they do. It's fully modular so you have a clean case, and has steady and reliable power delivery with literally no ripple. It's great if you want a power supply that will give you reliable power delivery for overclocking, and for giving you full power delivery if you start to creep toward it's limit. The 850W is plenty for this build even with the large amount of fans, and the CPU and GPU both overclocked and overvolted. Even leaves room for expansion up to the bigger "flagship" Nvidia cards, or will give you room to use AMD's slightly higher power-requirement cards if you do not want to use Nvidia (and I wouldn't blame you).
The Sandisk Extreme PRO is just great, and doesn't get much attention because of Samsung. It's listed on Tom's Hardware 2015 list for "Best Performance Pick" under all categories, as seen here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-recommendation-benchmark,3269.html It's given glowing recommended reviews on Cnet and Techspot as well as other review sites. The drive is just blazing fast. When used as a boot drive you'll go from POST to desktop in <10 seconds. When used as a gaming drive, say goodbye to load screens; they'll just blow by. Current SSDs are now actually starting to come very close to surpassing the current SATA 3 speed of 6 Gbit/s which is equal to about 750 Mbyte/s, and this is one of the drives that will start to push toward that limit. In Raid 0 I'd imagine these are amazingly fast, although in reality Raid 0 has little no to real-world benefit, and does nothing more than inflate benchmark numbers for E-Peen bragging. The only time you'd see any benefit is constantly moving data, and large amounts of it, back and forth. Other than that, Raid 0 is pointless, a risk, and gives no benefit aside from maybe a placebo effect. As for the Crucial RealSSD C300, it's not the fastest SSD on the market, as it is a drive from 2010. I bought that SSD in 2010, and used it nearly 24/7 since. It got me through 5 years of gaming, college use, has been used in 2 computers, and it is STILL going strong to this day with so many hours and read/writes to the drive. After all that it still posts very respectable read speeds well above 300MByte/s and write speeds pushing 200. I couldn't recommend one of these enough, or perhaps a modern successor to it.
The CyberPower UPS has been great. It's a 1500VA/900 Watt and outputs a pure sine wave, not a simulated stepped wave so it's compatible with modern Active PFC power supplies used in PCs. It's been put to the test several times, never failed once. It's a line interactive model, so it monitors the power going through it and into whatever you're running, and will kick on if it detects any fluctuation, so if there's a brownout, surge, or complete loss, this will protect your system by correcting for whatever is going on. I have it running my entire PC from the tower to the monitors, as well as my modem so power outages don't kill my internet connection. There's been times I've lost my power and not even realized it until I hear the UPS beep after it's been on battery power for a bit. It'll run my entire system for ~10-15 minutes on a gaming load, and about 30 minutes of idle power draw. But now that I've added 2 extra monitors to the mix, I'd say the time it will keep my system powered is lessened a bit. Plenty of time to let everyone know you've lost power and need to go when playing any type of online game.
The Pioneer optical drive is what it is, a good optical drive. Pioneer is a tried and trusted brand. A lot of people don't even use optical drives anymore in their builds, or just use a USB drive. But this dedicated drive is obviously faster than any USB drive, but because drives need to support Blu/CD/DVD/etc., etc., long gone are the days of 48x speed CD-ROM drives burning CDs in 5 seconds. But the drive is quick, it works on all formats, it's quiet when running, and it came bundled with CyberLink Media Suite 10, so you can't ask for more than that.
As for peripherals, I used to use a RAT 7, and never thought I would find a mouse that came close to fitting my hand as well as it did. But the G502 Proteus Core does a good job, however still doesn't fit my hand like the RAT 5/7 does, and doesn't have a pinky guard like the RAT, so you end up with hand droop, and dragging your pinky/ring finger around the mouse pad. Feels somewhat weird with "medium" size hands, and feels like a mouse that would fit a larger hand pretty well, and since it doesn't have any sort of adjustments on it, you just have to use it as it is and get used to it. However, it does have its share of perks & definitely superior in many departments. The sensor, buttons, build quality. I just used a RAT 5 and 7 for 6 years, and have a soft spot for the RAT series, even though build quality from Mad Catz is a coin flip on whether its junk or a decent one. The Kingston Hyper X Cloud II headset is beyond amazing. I'm not an audiophile, and speaking for the "average" person/gamer, if you didn't know the price, you'd think it was a several hundred dollar headset; the microphone surprised me the most, having an entry-level dedicated mic sound quality. The CM Storm Quickfire Ultimate is an amazing keyboard, although I'm still getting used to the Cherry MX Red keys. I'll find my fingers barley resting on a key and it registering it as a keystroke and I've sometimes made a few typing/forum/game mistakes because of it, but that's just because I'm still getting used to it.
As for the G27 or the X52 Pro, they're just peripherals for a very niche' market and very few games, although both genres are currently experiencing somewhat of a resurgence in popularity. Both the G27 and X52 are arguably the "Golden Standard" for racing wheels/HOTAS respectively. There are arguably better ones for both items available, but the G27 and X52 are pretty much what all racing wheels/HOTAS setups are compared to. If you're into racing games or flight sims, the G27 is a great buy, as is the X52 Pro, especially if you can find them on sale for up to $100 off, which they regularly are.