It's been over six years since I fully built a computer. In June of 2007, I built the desktop that lasted through high school, through four years of college, and over a year of me being on my own. While the end product had none of the original parts, the computer was one continuous build. Needless to say, by the end, it was like a slow, dying dog. Having an old Core 2 Quad CPU, only 8GB of DDR2, and an nVidia 440 driving three monitors, it was loud, inefficient, and extremely slow for modern tasks.
It's worth noting that I'm not, and never have been a PC gamer. As a professional graphic designer, photography, and video nerd, the computer acts as a workstation that supports media consumption. I'm constantly using most of the Adobe Creative Suite, and am starting to get into light 3D work using software like Cinema4D. Earlier this year, I built a 16TB NAS which handles all of my media storage, including a photo library containing over 50,000 photos and 4TB worth of movies.
Having a real "big-boy-job" and freelance work on the side, it was time to bring my computing up to speed. I set out to build a system sacrificing almost nothing. Cost was important, but not at the expense of building a system that would do whatever I throw at it without slowing down.
For the CPU, I went with the most affordable of the Haswell-E chips from Intel. I didn't need the extra lanes of the 5930K and couldn't justify the $1,000 price tag for 8-cores. I chose the 5820K with plans of overclocking lightly. Paired with the Kraken X61 and it's massive radiator, I'm able to overclock to 4.0 GHz and still maintain near-silence. Lots of memory was key: I often end up running Photoshop, Illustator, InDesign, and Lightroom all at the same time. Paired with Windows, web browsers, and other applications, I wanted to ensure the system would never slow down. Go big or go home.
I chose the motherboard for its sexy all-black design to match the interior of my case, and it had all the inputs and outputs I could ever dream of. For the case, I went with the super simple, but well designed NZXT S340. I'm a huge fan of black and white builds, and tried to keep as much color out of this build as possible. Rounding out the visuals, I got myself another 140mm fan from Phantek and a set of Silverstone individually-sleeved white cables to make the inside of the case stand out.
As I stated above, I didn't need massive amounts of storage due to having a separate NAS. I wanted a super fast drive for running Windows, so I went with the M.2 XP940 from Samsung. Since that drive is only 512GB, I decided to pick up a second SSD to use as a scratch disk and place to drop temporary files such as podcasts and my Lightroom catalog. Gigabit ethernet is a bottle-neck for data transfers, so I wanted to make sure I had enough space to work locally.
I'm not into PC gaming, so I went with a conservative GTX 970 for it's three Display Ports, HDMI, and dual DVIs. I wanted to drive dual 4K monitors and needed to do so without any messy dual-HDMI setups. I figured the 970 would have plenty of juice to drive the monitors, and should work nicely should I need it for video rendering or GPU acceleration in Photoshop or Illustrator.
All told, the build ended up looking great, runs like butter, and is virtually silent. I'm super happy with every single part I chose.