Self made cable sleevings (white-carbon) and custom extensions using MDPC-X parts
$62.40 USD (Purchased)
+ Total (United States):
Oct. 7, 2018
Oct. 7, 2018
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After being a laptop user for many years while building/upgrading/repairing a number of PCs for family and friends, I decided to finally build one for myself. While I feel myself more than adequate when it comes to hardware, I never touched the realms of modding before - so I thought it's time to make some attempt on customization, too.
Choosing a theme was a no-brainer: when it comes to gaming, I spend most of my time in the - literal - Universe of Elite : Dangerous. Although my in-game character is an independent space cowboy, I am quite fond of the imperial ship designs from Gutamaya. I thought at least the colors scheme should reflect that. Well, it's mostly grayscale with some blue lights and accents, so I didn't really put the bar far up high, did I? :D
The platform was of no question, either. Since the first Ryzen chips came out I wanted to build a system around one. The 2400G currently serves as a placeholder in the build, while the market of discrete graphics cards are settling: AMD's R5xx series are getting old, Nvidia's new RTX cards are way over my budget (and they haven't been proofing their worthiness yet either, in my opinion) and the price of GTX1xxx series cards have not yet been dropped that much, so I'm still waiting out for a while. Maybe for a new AMD Navi GPU, or a yet-to-be announced middle range RTX, or a well priced 1070ti/1080 - I still don't know what comes. Until that, the 2400G performs similarly to my laptop with it's i7-4720HQ/GTX960m and I'm okay with that using a 1080p/60Hz 24 inch monitor.
EDIT: meantime I bagged a liquid cooled MSI Vega 64 second-hand. More than plenty for my current needs, was quite tight to fit in this case. Now the pump is the noisiest component in the system at idle, not too disturbing, but still noticeable. Another recent second-hand purchase is a 32", 1440p/144Hz HDR600 Samsung monitor, that is absolutely stunning in both size and image quality, very happy with it! I also replaced the 2400G with a 3700X right after the launch of Zen 2 generation.*
The case is also something I was keeping eye on for a while. I admire its compact size and unconventional layout. With the current setup it almost feels empty, but certainly it has enough space for planned future upgrades. The white variant also fits nicely to the theme, I took the grilles out to give them a dark grey coating instead of the factory black. Only trained eyes notice the difference, though. ;)
Let's get to the airflow: the case has a number of options for fan setup. Since this machine sits in the corner of the living room where usually other people and animals are present, it needs to be silent while staying relatively cool. I went the 'more fans, less RPM' way: using a reverse airflow scheme, a total of seven PWM case fans were installed. I choose Arctic Cooling's great price/performance ratio products for the task. The back mountings sports two F8s as intakes close to the CPU, two F9s, one on each side close to the RAM and the (soon to be) graphics card also as intakes, while two F12PROs on the front (EDIT: had to take one of them out to make room for the graphics card radiator) and a third one on the bottom panel are serving as exhausts. Since all of these fans are PST variants, no additional fan control hub was necessary, all of them are chained onto the readily available three mobo case fan headers. Setting a custom fan profile in BIOS, they are hardly noticeable during normal use and gaming even by sitting close to the machine on the desk at ear-height. I also determined with smoke test that the case now have a completely neutral pressure in it's normal working conditions while it turns into a somewhat positive pressure chamber when all fans are at 100% (never actually happens, though). The CPU also got it's Arctic treatment in the form of an Alpine 64PRO - while it has a similar basic aluminium heatsink like the stock Ryzen cooler, it weights about 40% more and rated for 90W TDP instead of 65W, not to mention it also have a PRO series fan attached. It keeps the CPU around 30˙C idle, 40-45˙C during moderate usage and about 65˙C during gaming.
The motherboard was also chosen based on it's price/performance ratio while also considering its looks. The B450 chipset just came out as I was planning the build, and MSI's B450 Mortar seemed up to the task while the Titanium variant looked just right to my eyes. It has a solid, 4+2 phase VRM layout that allows some safe overclocking without having to worry about increased currents, and has all the necessary headers and I/O ports I was aiming for. The hottest part of it is the 2 phase SoC VRM that has been left without any dedicated cooling by MSI, but I ordered some 14mm passive heatsinks from Fischer those will be fixed on the MOSFETs with adhesive thermal pads to counter this weakness. There is a very good youtube review about this board, that basically reinforced my findings.
As for memory modules, I aimed for speed more than capacity within the confines of my budget. I learned from my usual activities including gaming that memory usage barely breaking 8GB, so even if considering that the integrated Vega 11 GPU chunks off max 2GBs as dedicated video memory, 16GB will serve me well for a while. Knowing also that Ryzen loves fast memory, I opted for a pair of 3200MHz Corsair Vengeance LPX modules. White ones, because, yes, the theme... At this moment, they are running stable at 3400MHz with 1.4V and stock timings, I haven't had much time for tinkering any further with them.
I bought a 256GB Samsung 970 EVO NVMe drive that hosts the OS while also having enough space to put currently installed games on it for quick access. The reason for choosing Samsung is that I've been using a 512GB 840Pro as the main drive in my laptop for more than five years and it's been a reliable device with excellent performance for all that time. Now, at 94% health with more than 25TBs written and 1100 days running it is going to serve as secondary drive in this build. I hope its younger bro will live up to the family name.
But why on Earth need this build that 750W PSU, you might ask. Well, it doesn't. I calculated that with any possible future upgrade the power requirements would top at about 500W, and by being a better safe than sorry person, I originally specified my needs at 650, generously giving the healthy 20% surplus to the system. I also previously pinned down Corsair's TXM gold rated series for it's appealing specs and p/p ratio. Then, I found only one retailer offering the 650W variant at that time (in my country, Hungary anyway), for about the same price than the best offer was on the 750W. More juice for the same money? I'll sure take that... :)
Since I never actually done any cable sleeving before, I decided to make my own extension cables rather than possibly ruining the ones on the PSU (ATX and EPS are fixed on this series, only PCI and periperials are modular). I covered whatever I could with MDPC-X white-carbon sleeves, one exception being the onboard front USB3 cable. I'm still looking for suitable connectors to make an extension for that too, anyway.
Some additional decoration vinyls were ordered from a local print shop - making the poor guy re-do the window foil three times, first because I did not specify the orientation of the cutout, secondly parts were missing from the shape (frosted glass foil is a ***** to work with, I learnt), third time he made it right and I also managed to apply it without creasing or tearing.
Ah, yes, the RGB part. To be honest, I don't really care about RGB'ing everything. Even less than willing to pay the RGB tax on the parts. So, beside the mobo's LEDs I just slapped on some 5050 strips remained from a home decoration project, connected to one of the motherboard RGB header and called it a day. MSI Mystic Light is taking care of the rest - not that it'd need too much effort, they are set to medium-light blue for most of the time, anyway.
This is it for now, thanks for reading, I'll update the build log with any future changes and upgrades.