Date: July-November 27th 2016. Location: Sydney, Australia
Uses: Casual gaming, producing, CAD, photoshop, 3D modelling, general productivity
It took a long time to save for, plan and construct this build but I am very happy with the final result. I would encourage anyone who values the aesthetic value of a computer as much as I do to take a leap and build a custom loop in a beautiful case such as the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Tempered Glass.
The main focus for me was to produce a build that perfectly complements the design of the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Glass case. Having looked at most of the cases available on the market, it was an obvious choice for me to purchase the Enthoo Evolv TG as it posed a fantastic-looking design that I couldn’t find elsewhere, at least at that price range. I had initially wanted to build in the In Win 909, but I couldn’t justify the extra cost that a larger case would bring with it.
I wanted to choose a Z170 board that was subtle in its appearance and that wouldn’t take away from the rest of the build. Since the interior of the Evolv is a satin/semi-gloss black, I wanted to get a board that was as dark as possible. That being said, I was after a board that had nice armour to cover up the I/O and as much of everything else as possible, without going overboard. My initial choice was an EVGA Z170 FTW – a cheaper board that wasn’t in any way overpowering. Just prior to purchasing however, Stuart Tonks from GGF Lan Party (Australia) posted his Asus ROG Maximus VIII Hero Alpha motherboard that had come from his Nvidia green In Win 909 build (one of my favourite builds of all time may I add). At the right price, this board was going to be well worth the extra $100 or so, therefore I bought that instead.
THE CPU & GPU:
From the beginning I had decided that this build was going to be primarily focused on it’s aesthetics over raw performance. I was happy to neglect some aspects of performance to ensure that I had a maximum amount of the budget to spend on making the loop look as best as possible. Therefore, it seemed appropriate that I should buy a GTX 1070 and an overclockable i5, the 6600K.
Corsair’s dominator platinum was an easy choice for me. Despite being so high profile, the ram when put together in a 4x4 or 4x8gb configuration in a Z170 board is a universally loved arrangement. The silver especially suited the Silver edition Evolv.
When planning for this build, it was essential for me to solidify the loop I was going to be creating since it was so specific. All the parts’ dimensions had to be scaled from product images and replicated in 3D software to ensure that there were to be no complications when it came to putting the loop together. The last thing I wanted was to plan a very specific design element, only for it to be impossible and therefore affect the rest of the build.
Unlike most traditional hardline loops, I didn’t want the configuration to be ‘component-to-component’. Instead I wanted each and every run to leave a component and meet the case immediately afterwards, connecting everything out of sight behind the motherboard tray and in the basement. This required very careful planning since especially in the basement, space was very limited, making it difficult to get everything to fit. In order to compensate for the lack of a second GPU, I decided to fit two 150mm reservoirs directly underneath the 1070, filling in that space that would otherwise be blank. This also allowed four tubes to be run from the reservoirs, filling in space that would again be otherwise unoccupied. Obviously this orientation has no effect on the performance of the cooling loop, but only adds to the design. I believe that this instills a degree of confusion into the viewer, whereby they’re unable to determine the direction of flow and what connects to what.
In creating such a complex loop for just a single GPU and CPU, the result would be a very large number of fittings, comprising multiple rotary fittings for the tight spaces, pass-throughs, lots of 90 degree low-profile fittings, stop fittings, and plenty of multi-links. I therefore decided that the most cost-effective way of approaching this would be to purchase Barrow fittings – Chinese replicas of Bitspower’s range. Although I don’t endorse this, it does provide a fantastic alternative to most fittings at a much cheaper cost.
All custom acrylic purchased was translucent opal acrylic. The properties of this acrylic enables it to diffuse light very well, taking on whatever colour is emitted by the LEDs. All dimensions for the acrylic cut-outs were measured from the case after purchase and remodelled in Adobe illustrator. A laser cutter was then used to precisely cut the shapes. For the panels that I wanted a matte black to match the other black components (namely the radiator), a standard flat black spray paint was used. For pass-through fittings, the acrylic was drilled out and the hole was widened using a dremel and sanding bit.
There are two available lighting zones in this build. The most prominent one is in the very top of the case, mounted onto the aluminium frame at the top. It consists of two LED strips that expand the length of the chassis from front to back. These are soldered together and then connected to a molex connector. I then made a cable that plugs into this molex connector and relates to the correct pin out of the LED strip, ready to be plugged into the controller which sits at the back of the case. This allows full RGB capability from this zone, allowing for custom RGB colours, stock RGB colours, fade, flash, jump; and speed and brightness control. The second zone is identical in configuration however is attached to the GPU support bracket out of sight. This zone mainly illuminates the reservoirs if desired. Both zones can be controlled independently from one another and turned off individually. However, as both controllers run on the same frequency, it is necessary to unplug one of the strips in order to change the other unless consistency is desired. Both controllers are powered by a homemade DC-to-molex connector.
EDIT: The lighting for both the setup and the computer are both a slightly purple white. I haven't been bothered to colour correct the photos so they appear quite oversaturated and sometimes even blue. Sorry!
Excellent motherboard that incorporates great aesthetics with good overclocking capability. The two RGB headers are very useful for anyone looking to incorporate RGB capability into their build while being controlled through the motherboard's software. The red accents can be easily covered with vinyl cutouts to accomidate different colour schemes
Great performance but still good looks for any build. It's a shame you can't turn off the white LEDs, but having 4 or even 8 of these together creates a really solid aesthetic.
By far my favourite case currently on the market. The combination of thick aluminium with tempered glass sides forms a really clean look that comes second to none in its price range. Very easy to build in, with great modding capability. Highly recommended!
I have to say I love small (60%) keyboards. In contrast to christmas tree-like keyboards, the Pok3r gives a far cleaner, smarter look. This can be further enhanced by custom sleeved (or double sleeved) cables, custom keycaps, enclosure mods, wrist rests and even soldered LEDs.
An excellent mouse for people with larger hands and longer fingers. Unfortunately the mouse has been discontinued since Func was taken over by Fnatic, however if you can pick one up second hand, i'd highly recommend it. Very comfortable. However, the switches do get a little squeaky over time form my experience.