I built this new gaming PC to replace the computer that I had built back in 2015 (i5-4900K CPU and EVGA GeForce GTX 970 GPU in a BitFenix Prodigy micro-ATX case). My old computer is still able to crush most games that I can throw at it, but I have been thinking about building a new PC with improved airflow for over a year now. Borderlands 3 is coming out within a week and so I put a quick list of parts together and built it with no major problems, ready to get some Loot this Friday.
The case was really easy to work with when compared to working on my old rig which has a BitFenix Prodigy M micro-ATX case. It has way more space than I need, but I know that my old rig didn't have the best air flow and always ran at 80 degC. The motherboard is really nice, compared to the micro-ATX ASRock Z97 I had which had no room on it when plugging in devices. I don't know if it's just me, but I spend the most time during builds aligning the motherboard with the standoffs; snug fit but I was breaking a sweat.
The case came with a chassis fan on the front and on the back, and I had to move the front fan further down on the case to mount the fan and radiator for the CPU cooler. I chose to mount the CPU cooler fan up top because I figured that if the CPU cooler and fan are near the top on the front panel then the warm air blowing out of the radiator would either rise up and out of the case, or be blown out of the back of the case by the rear chassis fan. This way, the fan below it will be mostly supplying cool air to the GPU.
I mounted the CPU radiator first, wanting the cooling tubes to run closer to the top of the case than through the middle. Since I I wanted to mount the CPU cooling pump in such a way that there was minimal stress on the cooling tubes, I ended up mounting the cooling pump upside down (NZXT label is upside down, but I was going to disable the RGB features anyways, along with the motherboard).
The EVGA RTX 2070 is a beefcake, taking up almost 3 PCIe slots, so I mounted it as high up on the motherboard as I could to make sure there was enough clearance below it for cooling intake.
Everything else (PSU, HDD, SSD, cable-management, Wi-Fi card, RAM) went smoothly. It took me some time to install Windows to the SSD because of incorrect partitioning, or something. Anyways, I set up the BIOS, which really meant disabling the RGB on the motherboard and then booting up to Windows 10. NZXT apparently has free software for the coolant pump, so I disabled the RGB as well.
I typically play Overwatch, Grim Dawn and Skyrim, so when my old PC's GPU would run at 24 FPS at 80degC, now I'm hitting 70FPS on Epic in Overwatch at only 60degC. I haven't been monitoring my CPU yet, especially since I've never used water-cooling, I should be comparing temperatures to that of the old I5.
Overall, I am quite content with my new PC. It's quiet and very sleek, and I find it very satisfying to look over through tempered glass and see the machine that helps me enjoy my favorite hobby: gaming. I know the GTX 970 is still pretty powerful for an older GPU, but I will be reinstalling Windows on the old PC so I can gift it to my nieces and nephew so they can start familiarizing themselves with computers.