MY BUILD STORY
As a teen in the 90's, I enjoyed taking apart our family store bought PC and upgrading the CPU, RAM, GPU, etc. when needed. Later, in the 2000's I went through 2 builds before purchasing an iBuyPower PC back in October 2010, right before I had my first born. That PC has been a champ but time has taken a toll on that bad boy.
PC technology has changed since 2010 and I must have spent 2-3 hours a night for weeks looking at parts and prices to make sure I had what I wanted. What did I want? A high-end "value" gaming machine that would provide me with as much future-proofing as I could get within my budget. I also wanted to focus on style/aesthetics. That's a thing now. I love it.
My budget originally started at a modest $1000. I was able to obtain a pretty good machine (on paper) put together for that price. Yet I worried I would be upgrading parts much sooner than I would have liked. For my budget, It was not worth it to save $150 on an older/slightly slower CPU or $100 GPU as I know I'm not going to resell those parts and use that cash towards the upgrade. They would be dated by that point, you know? So my budget crept up to $1500.
Case - For me, the white NZXT S340 was a no brainer. I fell in love with the case as soon as I saw it. It defines the look I wanted, sleek and minimalist. Zero regrets on this choice.
CPU - Intel Core i7 6700k was probably overkill, but I wanted the base 4.0GHz vs. i5 6600k 3.5GHz. I'd like to get in to some video/photo editing in the future and I frequently multi-task, so those speedy cores may come in handy down the line.
Motherboard - I've used MSI and Asus in the past. I pretty much went for looks on this one. The black and white scheme is perfect. So far I'm loving how easy the BIOS is to use!
Video Card - I knew I was going to get a GeForce 9xx card, but my debate was between the 950 or 970. The 980 was never in the running as paying nearly double vs. the 970 is not "value" to me. Paying $100 more for the 970 vs. 960 was. I chose the MSI card to match the mobo and for the similar black and white features. I am currently OC'ing the GPU by an additonal 125MHz.
Memory - Will I ever need or use 32GB of RAM? Probably not, but for $150 I couldn't pass up those two 16GB sticks that give me room for further upgrades. I would have preferred white sticks, but there was not nearly the color options within my price point, unlike the 8GB sticks.
Storage - I decided to invest in the Samsung 950 256GB Pro as my boot drive over a standard SSD. Sure, I would have liked more storage, but it's costly. It's ludicrous speed and insanely quiet! A few days after I finished the build, I installed a 2 year old WD 2TB HDD I had in my old PC for storage along with Dropbox as backup for important files. As the cost of this technology drops, I'll either upgrade the boot drive with larger storage or add a standard 2.5 SSD drive or two.
Keyboard/Mouse - I can't believe I spent $170 in a keyboard and mouse. Now in hindsight, I'm glad I did as I love them both! The mechanical keyboard is very durable, RGB back lit and has swappable keys FTW! I can keep the white/black theme with both and adjust on the fly. I love that the mouse has a thumb and pinkie rest areas, way more comfortable and practical than I imagined.
1. Kraken X61 Fan installation - The directions on NZXT's should be clarified on their website. I had to modify based on the S340 case having LED power controls blocking where the fan should be installed based on the company's default website instructions. Once I figured this out, I then ran into alignment issues with the fan screws attaching to the cooling unit. Currently 1 or 2 of the 8 screws are not in place. I was very frustrated by this and it took nearly 2 hours to get this attached correctly.
2. M.2 Slot - I could not get the motherboard to recognize the SSD. It took forever for me to find the BIOS settings I needed to change to get the OS installed. Once it I got it to read, we were flying.
3. XMP/DDR4 3200 - I'm having difficulty keeping the system stable with XMP turned on, which allows me to use the full speed of my RAM. Sometimes it works, other times not so much. I have to go in manually to adjust these settings.
4. NZXT CAM Software - Once I installed the CAM software for the Kraken, my cooling unit immediately started making a clicking sound. I did some research and found that the software can be quirky in how it adjusts the speeds, so I uninstalled the program. I can't adjust the lighting without it but it's already set to white so I'm good there.
5. General OC - I've been able to get the CPU to boot at 4.7GHz but it's not stable. I thought I had a great settings for 4.5GHz and used it for 2 days, only to have it crap out on me today. Going back to the drawing board.
I've had so much fun with this build. I certainly made the right choices for my wants/needs. My office looks amazing with this sharp looking speed demon sitting on my desk. Can't wait to keep pushing "White Thunder" to it's limits! Speaking of limits, don't tell my wife what I spent...