I'll start off by saying that it has been quite awhile since I have built a machine but since Apple has been making their machines less and less upgradable and I wanted to have a proper gaming machine again I decided to build my own.
I went down the path of wanting to do a powerful compact build with a white theme. Being a Star Wars nut I decided to see if I could pull together a BB-8 themed build with some RBG elements without going too crazy. When deciding on parts for the machine I generally leaned towards specs but there were times that I went for aesthetics first.
Case: The case took awhile to research the one I wanted. It needed to accommodate what I wanted to put into it, and have relatively good cooling. I know I wanted to water cool the processor and possibly the video card. It also needed to have decent space for cabling, and look clean. I choose the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ITX case based on some reviews and build guides. I removed the both hard drive cages for cabling and for the AIO Radiator.
Processor/Motherboard/RAM: I choose the i7-7700k without reading up too much on what Intel was coming out with next or when. Yes, I bought it before the 8th generation processors came out. Yes, I could have waited. Honestly, in the end it really doesn't matter too much to me. I specced the system to last around 5 years and the 7700k should do just that. As far as the board is concerned, the Asus ROG Strix Z270i is the best ITX board around at the moment. I spent money that I probably didn't need to getting the faster RAM to play around with the XMP Profile and see if running it at 4266 would be stable. It was to a certain point, but mostly I run the system at 3200. What did annoy me slightly is that Asus gaming boards default to the processor being overclocked 100% of the time. I really wonder how many people out there really know that they can get way better idle temps if they let their CPU idle clock speed step the way that Intel intended.
Power Supply: This is where I went for aesthetics. I didn't really need a Platinum rated power supply, but this one fit the build color scheme better.
AIO Cooler: I choose this cooler specifically for the aesthetics for the build. I'm quite happy with it. It's quiet, and works with the Asus RGB header on the board. I did end up replacing the stock fans on the radiator with the static pressure fans from Phanteks in a push configuration with the radiator on the front of the case. Yes, I could have put it on the top like everyone else, but there is a benefit to cooling with air from outside the case. Which leads us to the next choice...
Video Card: With this case, the video card is so close to the power supply shroud that it made sense to do a blower style card. I choose this one for aesthetics for the color scheme of the build, and to manage the thermals inside the case as best as I possibly could. The card does run a tad warm, but I have adjusted the fan curve so that it stays around 79-80 degrees C under load. That does mean that the fan does get a tad loud. I may at some point look into using the NZXT Kraken G12 AIO cooler bracket at some point, but I'm not sure if there will be enough clearance in this case.
Custom Stuff/RGB: I did do custom power supply cables and extensions where needed from Cablemod, and commissioned people to do a custom RGB GPU back plate and vinyl decal for the front of the machine. The GPU back plate doesn't like to work with either the RGB headers on the motherboard or with the NZXT Hue Plus controller, so it's running with just a solid color. The CoolerMaster fans, AIO Water Cooler, and RAM are all running off of the Asus Aura Sync software, and I routed 4 NZXT RGB LED strips along the sides of the case as well as in the top and front air intakes for added subtle lighting.