I've built a few gaming machines before, most of which were plug and play. I'd match every component to (usually) the motherboard and then everything just snaps together. At the end of the day it would be a very good computer but it would just sit silently under the table. Well, actually not very silently because the fans would really kick in with games and intense media.
So this time I wanted to build something that would be powerful but also a show piece of craftsmanship, design and technology. Initially I wanted it to be black and have yellow pastel coolant. But a lot of computers are already like that, plus I really liked the look of the raiden blue memory sticks. So ended up deciding on a white-blue-black type of scheme.
The first thing that got in was the case. I stripped it apart and painted the inside white. It reflects the light better and makes good contrast with the black outside.
Next I did a test fit of the motherboard stuff. The cooler and the memories barely fit, there's almost no gap. After I got it all to fit, I removed the heatsinks for the motherboard and gave them a white and blue spray job.
Right after, the graphics card came in. I quickly realized that the reservoir i got was not going to fit standing. I ended up buying other reservoir bodies from another brand (koolance) but, even though the width was the same, the thread was very different. So I ended up having the tank go sideways. This was actually great for filling since the side of the tank has a small plug I can unscrew to help air go out when I put water in the system.
I also wanted a fillport on the very top of the case so I drilled through the radiator support bracket and then through the very top of the case with a 1 inch hole saw. I think it turned out great.
Tubing wise, I used soft and hard tubing. Most of the ones that stand out from the side window are hard tubing, the others are soft. It took me a long time to get the hang of bending the tubes. A lot of them are not perfect with some small stretch marks, some minor kinks etc. But hey, in the end this was the first time I did it, so it remains true to the fact I didn't know what I was doing.
I might give it an upgrade in about a year. The cooler and the cpu combo are fine for now, but I think I'm going to go with a 6700k and watercool that one too if I see a need for it.
I did a small OC on the GPU and it's running stable at ~2140Mhz and ~5300MHz for memory. Here are the benchmarks:
- Time spy scored 6808 overall ( 8024 graphics, 3664 cpu )
- User benchmark returned great for gaming, good desktop, ok workstation. Here: http://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/1787013
- Haven 4.0 did 1300 score at 51 fps on ultra at 3440x1400 screen res with tessellation in extreme.
The scores are not jaw-dropping but it's a significant upgrade from my old machine and it's less than $4k, screen included. More than that, it sits next to me and it's dead quiet, even during hardcore gaming.
Other things I learned:
- Most of the parts came from performance-pcs.com . Looking back I think I would have preferred to buy the stuff elsewhere. The shipping is expensive, the RMAs have a 20% restock fee and the website is super gnarly.
- Having found an already installed cooling block on the GPU saved me a lot of time and trouble
- Bending tubes is hard, but using the XSPC tube bending tool is much harder. I ended up doing it by hand and it was better. Actually, nothing inside the XSPC kit I got was useful.
Comments are welcome :) Parts that are $0 means I already had them.
It's great for a gaming machine but without OC it will operate close to its's limit.
Great looks but the cooling performance is not the best. Will work on a 6600K not OC, but under load it might thermal-throttle the CPU
Great little motherboard, only complaint is that it's black and red, like 90% of other motherboards in the market.
If you put your computer to sleep the rams keep being powered (to keep the data) so they keep glowing. Cool!
The build quality is fine. It's a good case for a mitx build
They are solid, high quality fans, but maybe slightly overpriced.