Because I have too much respect for the word "beast"
Aiming for half the price (under $1500) and significant performance increases over my Sager NP8170, which has been stupid heavy, noisy, and hot since I took it out of the box four years ago. The lappy has always done everything I've asked it to - simultaneously streaming multiple camera live video and a separate live audio stream, running one fairly intensive game and a couple browser windows for chat and to monitor the stream on YouTube - I just want to do it cooler and quieter (below 30dB under load) while keeping the portability of the laptop. This is my first build, which I hope will give me some control dealing with DPC and IRQ issues. The Sager BIOS is useless. USB traffic appears to be one of my most problematic bottlenecks since adding a couple HD cams, and is also a critical issue for music recording, my other primary use with a RME UFX interface.
Sager NP8170 specs:
i7-2720QM @ 2.2GHz
Everything from Amazon except the case and Mushkin drive from Newegg (a couple rebates in there), Split some Amazon Chase reward points between the PSU and Samsung drive, which made me like those prices better lol - and kept me right on budget considering I spent twice as much on the GPU as I was planning to.
Fanless? Almost! I'm weird enough to try the CR-95C (plus I don't see how I could resist that sexy mofo) but I'm not insane. I love a great deal, but I love value even more, so keeping a balance between efficiency and power is important to me. That applies to everything from the hardware to the electricity bill to the OS - Not only is this my first build, I'm throwing Windows out the window. Maybe I am crazy!
Bioshock Infinite HIGH
Before BIOS update (Speedstep, Turbo off/CPU frequency scaling monitor Powersave)
CPU 72 GPU 68
After BIOS 2801 update (F5 optimized default/CPU frequency scaling monitor Performance)
CPU 64 GPU 67 - 39% GPU fan max
After BIOS update (F5 optimized default/CPU frequency scaling monitor Performance)
CPU 35 GPU 39
Shadow of Mordor LOW
(Replace CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor with CPU Frequency scaling indicator, sets all cores, but kept it on Powersave anyway because the game was running smooth as silk after some initial issues)
CPU 69 GPU 68
Steam was having a crazy Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal, so I couldn't resist picking up 3 or 4 games for less than SoM alone was going for the week before. Tell you what: I don't miss that portable idea ONE BIT. I knew Bioshock Infinite would be a breeze for the system, and I loved the original on PS3, so I got that first to just kinda burn in the GPU. Holy crap. That was the most intense gaming experience I've ever had. Mordor is a BLAST, too, I just don't yet see why it has to be so much more of a hog - but then, I haven't even bothered to push it past the default low settings it puts me at (which I found startling) - Could it look THAT MUCH MORE bitchin'?
I think I'm gonna be getting really into gaming.
...oh yeah, streaming! Well, I am loving Ubuntu MATE 15.10, my first Linux experience ever, but it's a good thing I like tweakin' around because it's gonna take some before I can get pro av happening - I did about a half dozen reinstalls before I realized a basic sensors app (lm-sensors) was resetting my sound preferences lol
Clearly very popular. Chosen, like most of the parts for futureproofing: When the system starts feeling lackluster, I can overclock - Maybe I'll be over the bitchin' fanless cooler by then lol
Seriously. Love at first sight. Never understood windowed cases before. And BY GOD it WORKS!
USB 3.1/m.2 capable (futureproofing again) version of a popular Z97 board. Much sexier in person. Returned because I blamed it for the issues of a faulty power supply, and got back one that looked like the same thing happened to somebody else! The chipset looked like it took a little abuse. Working like a champ though, nice UEFI/BIOS.
Last time I bought memory, the only choice was between different capacities of green PCBs. When they say "low profile" they mean it! Very, very cool and simultaneously cute. 16G? Yeah, I guess I just like headroom (and I believe I've mentioned futureproofing).
Incidentally, ASUS means it when they insist you get memory on their fancy-schmancy list - The Z97-A/USB 3.1 sees these as 1333 out of the box. But their nice UEFI/BIOS makes that no problem at all.
WOW. That thing is HEAVY. I mean, emotionally heavy more than by weight, but the last time I bought one it was essentially a green PCB. Like memory was. I'm getting old, huh? Anyway, considering I was looking at the 750 Ti STRIX (the whole series appeals to my love of efficiency),this was an equally popular and probably smarter choice I ended up spending twice as much for in the interest of futureproofing. I suddenly see myself getting into gaming.
A forerunner if not the undisputed champ of cool and quiet. Every little bit helps. Very popular among first-time builders. The CR-95C monster fanless cooler seduced me out of the portable idea. Good price for the windowed version. If it's as easy a case to work with for the first-time builder, as they say, as I am, I don't think I'll try a challenging one anytime soon. Clearly high quality though, I was happy with the nice chunky door panel, the insulating material, and the modularity. Fractal had to cut corners somewhere, and it kinda shows on the window and fan wires, though the fans themselves are very, very nice for stock chassis fans. Awfully thoughtful of them to put them in there.
Well, it's what they had down the street to replace the Seasonic SS-520FL2 520W Fanless 80 PLUS Platinum I originally bought. Which had a bad CPU rail. Which I didn't know until I got a replacement mobo. Thanks a lot, RackGo, I think you owe Asus an Apology. Still waiting for my refund - Got the mobo replacement the DAY AFTER Amazon SENT UPS WITH A SHIPPING LABEL to pick up the return. Which was the DAY AFTER I clicked the return button. Amazon Prime FTW. Always Prime. Always. Note to self. In any case, the Corsair is fine so far. I can hear the deathly silent Noctua on the back if I get my ear right up there, but not that PSU.
I first got a couple of these for a totally unrelated project, to cool pro audio gear in a closed cabinet. They've been running 24/7 for three months and I have to look all the time to see if they're running. Never heard 'em. And they work flawlessly with the PWM I send them via a thermistor stuck in an Arduino up there in the cabinet. There may be equally great quality out there, but you won't find better.