Wow, never expected to get FEATURED!!! Lost for words - thanks once again guys. It's a real honour :) The PCPP community is amazing. Keep those builds coming!
Bit hard to shake off the PC building itch once it’s hit! The goal I had in mind was to build something that was affordable and capable of keeping up with mainstream tasks, while trying to bring out the visual best in each component no matter how basic. I was keen to build a PC that anyone could put together on a reasonable budget and still make it look awesome. A little bit over the whole RGB thing as well; just about everything is RGB nowadays which is good in a lot of ways but overwhelming at the same time. I was keen to show that it’s possible to make even a basic PC look great without needing a fancy 1080Ti, a water cooled / all-in-one setup, insane RGB fans… you get my drift!
Took me ages to settle on a colour scheme and it was somewhat dependent on whatever components were available at the time of the build. The white + orange combo has always been a favourite of mine, and I wanted to go as minimalistic as possible. The PC would probably get laughed at for the lack of a GPU but I flat-out refuse to pay inflated prices for a card! The new Ryzen APUs fit the idea behind the build perfectly, and the 2400G seems to handle 1080p gaming moderately well. I spent about 3 weeks visualising the build and slowly gathering the parts that fit the picture. Spray painting and masking off probably took another week or two, with having to let the pieces dry and all. A very fun building experience and one that I’ve learnt heaps off, particularly when it comes to what you can achieve with a couple of cans of spray paint and some planning!
Cameras used for images - Fuji GFX + GF63mm f/2.8 and Fuji X-Pro1 + XF18mm f/2
CPU: Ryzen 5 2400G Probably the best bang for your buck in the entire build. Solid CPU + GPU performance rolled into one. Can’t complain really!
CPU Cooler: Cryorig H7 I’d picked this purely to suit the build visually. The top plate of the cooler is easy to remove and can be sprayed to match just about any colour scheme you have in mind. It also offers better cooling over the stock AMD unit. I replaced the stock Cryorig fan with a 120mm EK-Vardar unit; the Vardar is much better built and was already in the right colour. The bequiet! Dark Rock unit was a solid alternative but a bit too bulky for my liking.
Motherboard: MSI B350M Mortar Arctic mATX This board is one of the more uncommon boards that come in white. Needed a BIOS update to accommodate the new Ryzen 2000 series processors which the retailer was more than happy to assist with (thanks!). The white LED corner lights add character to the layout and the off-silver heat sinks on the board match the RAM I’d picked. Has decent features, basic display connections, and a good amount of 4-pin PWM connections for cooling fans.
Memory – Team T-Force Dark 8GB 3000MHz The website won’t let me select the 3000MHz option; only has 3200MHz for the 8GB combo. Relatively well priced RAM (Australia) and has decent looks + speed. The silver finish blends in well with the rest of the motherboard fortunately; I was tempted to take the heatsinks off and respray to match the overall colour scheme however the warranty sticker goes over the heatsink. Decided to leave it alone to preserve warranty. Could have gone with a white version of the Corsair Vengeance units but opted to try and get the quickest RAM I could to bolster the Ryzen APU.
Storage: Main (OS + Games) – Samsung 960 EVO 250GB M.2 NVME I’d built a PC using this previously and it is amazing what a difference it can make! Was easy enough to go back to; well-priced at the moment as well given the release of the newer model. Insane boot times ftw!
Files / Media / Etc. – Seagate IronWolf 4TB Needed something larger for longer term media storage. Was on sale at the time so ticked the right boxes.
Case: NZXT H400i mATX Picking a case was probably the hardest part of the build. I’ve always started my builds with deciding on a case first as I’ve personally found that it affects the vision of my build more than any other component. I’d originally looked at a Fractal Design Meshify C Mini but it only came in black which didn’t quite fit the bill. The H400i is a really nice case to build with; it’s really well made and has the Smart Controller which just about does away with the need for an additional RGB and fan controller. I also had a spare LED strip from a previous Hue+ purchase which I threw into the build to finish off the look. The NZXT CAM software however can be a pain in the bum. I am having issues with the fan and lighting profiles saving once CAM is turned off / PC is restarted. As a result, the next hard reboot sees the PC “forgetting” what the last saved settings were. Starting up CAM each time Windows runs is a solution however it ramps up all connected fans to full speed when CAM is loading up which I found really odd. It’s not a big drama but just had me annoyed that the PC had to go “WHOOSSHHHHHH” and then go quiet again every time I turned it on! I may yet reconfigure the fans to run off the motherboard PWM connectors if I get really frustrated. Apart from that, the H400i is brilliant. Items re-sprayed to suit build:
• Front case fan mounting bracket – Satin white
• Top magnetic dust filter – Gloss orange plus satin clear
• PCI slot covers and retention bracket – Mix of orange and white
PSU: Thermaltake 650W Semi-Modular 80+ Gold Certified Semi-modular was perfect for the build as I didn’t really need any of the additional power connections (no GPU, etc.) Coupled with the Phanteks orange sleeved cables, the PSU unit does the job both function and price-wise.
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Can’t run the PC without it annoyingly enough!
Case Fans: EK-Vardar EVO 120ER and 140ER Website won’t let me select the right fans in both 120mm and 140mm sizes. Fans were on sale for AUD$19 so can’t really complain! Very quiet units, and well weighted + built. Spray painting the fans was fun; I’d spent an entire night masking off the bits that I wanted covered up. I did run into some overspray however managed to scrape / sand it off with minimal fuss leading to the final result. Very, very happy with the end product and impressed with what you can transform a simple case fan into.
Misc: I made up a custom acrylic plate to go over the top of the PSU shroud. This was purely for aesthetics and to conceal the misc. cables connected to the base of the motherboard (USB, audio, etc.). Very happy again with the result as it adds a fair bit of character to the build. I had custom vinyl made up through a local creator to match the theme of the build; Japanese text as well as the Stark Industries + Arc Reactor logo. Acrylic sheets were sourced through Ebay in A4 sizes in both clear and orange. The clear acrylic sheet is the way to go really; spray the top in your desired colour with the vinyl sticker on and followed by the base in a different colour. Remove the vinyl sticker to reveal the base colour – gives it a lot of 3D depth!
Used a Dremel 4200 with the work stand to drill holes / sanding. Great tool for small projects like this! The H400i has vent holes in the PSU shroud which is perfectly sized for an M4 bolt. Used 4 bolts as stands for the custom acrylic plate.
The cable guard in the NZXT series of cases tends to look a bit boring on its own. I spent a good 2 hours trying to form the orange sleeved cabling to overlay the cable guard! Fortunately this worked out beautifully and really adds to the look of the build; was very impressed with what a nice run of cables can do!