I run an up-and-coming YouTube tech channel known as TechFox. I built my first computer back in 2016 and learned a lot from that experience. My workflow has evolved and my video production requirements reached a point where I needed to upgrade my hardware. I didn't want to make any compromises so I started saving my YouTube and Amazon revenue for over a year. I finally purchased my components in December of 2018 and assembled everything in January of 2019. I've built 8 computers for family and friends since 2016. Some of these PCs were water-cooled but I've never attempted a custom rigid loop until now. This project was a labor of love and I enjoyed every minute of it. Hopefully you do too!
My workload on my PC is about 60% video editing, 20% general desktop use, 10% gaming, and 10% homework. I use the adobe suite and all my research indicates that the i9 9900k is the best option. I considered the AMD competition for Premiere but Photoshop seems to prefer Intel by a significant amount. The ability to use hardware encoding with the integrated graphics was also a contributing factor for choosing team blue.
Motherboard: MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge
There were only 3 realistic options for motherboards for the 9900k in the Micro ATX form factor. The MSI Gaming Edge was the most feature-rich and, honestly, the best-looking. I know the ASUS Gene exists but, as far as I'm aware, isn't coming to North America. It's also incredibly overpriced.
Memory: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro @3000MHz (4 x 16)
Aside from the CPU, the memory was my next-largest improvement. Coming from 32Gb, running at 2133MHz, this new kit from Corsair is a huge upgrade. I like to implement motion graphics and specialized effects with Adobe After Effects. Unfortunately, the amount of time it took to edit and render those effects previously made it not worthwhile. After Effects is one of those programs that will use every ounce of RAM you can throw at it.
Storage: 500Gb Samsung 970 Evo (x1) and 1Tb Samsung 860 Evo (x2)
I organized my storage according to the recommendations of Puget machines. My fastest drive stores my active projects, media, and scratch disks. One of the 1Tb SATA drives is for my OS and programs. One of the 1Tb SATA drives is for completed projects and games. I want to eventually buy a large QVO 4Tb drive from Samsung as a dedicated game drive, but that will have to come later.
Video Card: PNY GTX 1080 TI
For a while I was set on buying the new RTX 2080, but it just isn't a good value proposition. For this reason, I picked up a very lightly used 1080 TI for $500. Gaming benchmarks seem to have them basically on par across the board. Some video production benchmarks actually seem to favor the larger 11Gb VRAM capacity of the 1080 TI anyway. Of course, I could have stepped up to a 2080 TI for an extra $700, but I'd only see a marginal increase in video production capabilities. My 1440p 75Hz monitor is already basically maxed out by the 1080 TI for gaming so a 2080 TI would be complete overkill.
Case: Corsair Crystal 280x RGB
With my first PC build, I used a case that was much larger than I needed. This time around I wanted to reclaim my desk real estate and also give myself a bit of a challenge. I found a good deal on the 280X RGB which comes pre-loaded with 2 LL120 fans and a lighting node pro.
Power Supply: EVGA Supernova G3 850W
I recognize that 850w is probably overkill but I selected this PSU for a reason. This new G3 series is smaller than the outgoing G2 series and I need every spare millimeter I can get behind the motherboard tray. This PSU also has an "ECO" mode that will keep the fans off until it gets warm enough to need to kick on. Hopefully, this extra wattage overhead means it won't ever have to spin up. While increased performance was my primary goal with this new PC, less noise was a close second.
Fans: Corsair LL120 (x2) and Corsair LL140 (x2)
I swapped the included EK Vardar fans with a few Corsair LL120s. While not strictly for static pressure, the LL series actually perform admirably well considering how quiet they are. I also added a pair of LL140s to the front as an intake to balance out the two pairs of LL120s that are being used as radiator exhaust. In all honesty, I just really love the way the LL fans look! It was worth the added cost and marginal potential performance decrease to really make the machine pop.
Cooling: EKWB Fluid Gaming
Early on I knew I wanted to do a custom loop, but I underestimated how prohibitively expensive it is. The fluid gaming kit is a great budget option but it limits your options of graphics cards to those that leverage the reference PCB. You also have to be very careful to only purchase aluminum components to prevent galvanic corrosion. The tubes in the front chamber are all rigid and the tubes going behind the motherboard tray to the pump/res are the soft tubing that came with the A240G kit. I did this to allow me some flexibility with the res/pump. It should make draining the system easier as the fluid gaming series does not currently offer any ball valves in aluminum.
Lighting: Corsair RGB Expansion kit and MNPCTech UV Light Strip (x2)
The 280X RGB comes with a lighting Node Pro. The Node has 2 RGB channels. One channel runs the RGB lights for the fans and one channel was available for an RGB strip. I also purchased a pair of UV strips to help the UV-reactive coolant really glow.
Custom Cables: MainFrameCustoms Expansion Kit
From what I've seen online, these small shops that hand-make their cables seem to make the most impressive products. I was blown away at how good the cables from MainFramCustoms looked. The fact that that curve by default makes routing them easy and prevents them from getting bunched up.
I had to make a couple modifications to the case to accommodate the hardware I wanted to implement. I started by removing the HDD and SSD caddies. The NVMe drive connects to the motherboard directly but I needed to find a new home for the pair of 3.5in SATA drives. The 280x has this weird "attic" on top of the case. It's just barely tall enough to house the two drives. I drilled 4 holes to attach them with washers to the case and cut a slit to feed the cables. The 280x has 3 holes with grommets to feed cables from the front to the back. If you're using a MicroATX board, however, 2 of the 3 holes will be covered. For this reason I cut a new hole and added one of the now unused grommets to it. While the cut wasn't perfect, the grommet covers up any potential imperfections. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I needed this extra hole for the thick custom cables and tubing that needed to be fed to the back. Finally, I drilled 4 holes into the bottom to give the pump/res a place to mount to the case.