Last desktop build was in 2010 with an AMD 5000 series card, Intel i5-750 and Coolermaster Sniper tower. This is a terrible time to build a new PC with inflated prices but here we are. Most of this build was bought at MicroCenter so the price here isn't accurate.
This system will be used for gaming, Plex transcoding, virtual machine labs and general use by the family. With Intel's recent security blunders and shady business practices, plus my dislike of how they SKU unlocked chips separately meant I was going AMD. Luckily, they're competing again.
CPU/AIO - Go big or go home. Coming from a dual-core machine to one with 16 cores is ridiculous in a good way. This beast allows me to run some VMs in the background and game at the same time with no worries. There's no better cooler at the moment than the Enermax. Though I'm not overclocking now, I have it in place when it's time. Build quality on it is fantastic and mounting was a piece of cake. I read mention of the thermal paste they include not being enough for TR. They must have been frosting it on because there is plenty with lots left over. Rad is set up in push/pull at the moment with the case Aer fans in pull and Corsair ML120 Pros in push.
Motherboard - This one took me a bit to pick. Ended up going with this one for the good reviews, good power delivery and built-in 10Gbps NIC for future proofing. LEDs are minimal. Dual USB2 headers came in handy so I didn’t need a hub. Tons of rear USB ports which I definitely need with this build. RGBSync is second class citizen to Asus Aura.
Memory - Speaking of ASRock’s RGBSync, their website lists Team’s Night Hawk RGB RAM on their RGBSync page. It does not work. Their support told me it’s in the works still. I ended up having to download Team’s Blitz Control software to control the RAM RGB and the software on their website doesn’t work. I got a different link from their support along with some undocumented instructions on a different way to install the software. After all this, Blitz recognized my RAM. Besides that though, the memory itself looks amazing in person, good price relatively speaking and after enabling XMP 2.0 profile in BIOS the memory runs at advertised 3200Mhz. Easy. With all of the DIMM slots I thought 2 sticks would look silly and I wanted to enable quad channel memory anyways, so 32 GB it is. Also comes in handy for virtual machines.
Storage - 960 Evo speaks for itself. Boot drive and room for a few applications that will benefit from the speed. Otherwise, went with the 8TB drive due to a great sale price which will hold the bulk data. I listed the Crucial MX500, however I am actually waiting for their m.2 1 TB version to launch and will be getting that. I love m.2 for the lack of cables. This motherboard sports 3 slots so I’m good to go for a while.
Video Card - Good lord this one. In the height of the mining craze I had to find a video card. I used the NowInStock.net website to keep an eye on all 1080 Tis and lucked out one night. This hybrid card popped up as the only one in stock and was only there for about 20 minutes. Luckily I had read reviews on it previously so I bought without hesitation. Temps are outstanding as you’d expect. The radiator fan isn’t manually controllable, only the blower fan is. It also ramps up and is a bit louder than I would like so I have ordered a Corsair ML120 Pro that will be plugged in to the last channel on the CAM smart device and monitor off of GPU temps there. I may end up setting a fixed low RPM though as the cooler here is very efficient.
The Case - Of all parts this one took me the longest to decide on. It was between the h700i, Fractal’s recently announced Define R6, the Fractal Meshify C and the Corsair Crystal 570x. I think being able to see this in person at MicroCenter helped sell it. I love the white and black combo. Very easy to build in, great cable management options, tempered glass is high quality. No part fitting issues at all. The ventilation slots at the front and top are definitely adequate for air flow. Let’s talk about the infamous smart device then. I haven’t set up the “smart” part of it yet because I found the built-in profiles are fine for now. No, the con is that I didn’t notice that the device only has 1 RGB port which by default runs the RGB strips. Since I picked up AER RGB fans, it was either run the fans or the strips unless I wanted a totally separate Hue+ unit. I opted for the fans obviously so the RGB strips go unused. Other than that, I actually really like CAM and I don’t see all the hate some people throw at it. It’s easy to use, well laid out and hasn’t crashed once on me.
Monitor - Amazing quality build and picture is superb. I ended up arm mounting it on a Freedom HD. Why the HD? Shortly before this I had the 49” Samsung CHG90 and this mount did the trick with that beast. Ended up returning it due to screen separation from the bezel. The only thing I wish the Alienware had is HDR otherwise this monitor is perfect.
Speakers - I have the HyperX Cloud headphones but wanted some speakers that didn’t take up a lot of desk space. Figured a sound bar would work perfect right under the mounted monitor and the Katana had some pretty good reviews. Plus more RGB of course! This sucker is can get very loud… Bass is acceptable for a passively powered unit. * See edit below.
Overall I’m psyched about the build and expect it should last a good 5 years or so. I’m a married adult with kids, and I like RGB…
Thanks for reading my thesis.
--EDIT-- Had more time with CAM. The gaming overlay doesn't work in most games, though I think every game launcher + Nvidia has an overlay so not missing much. Also, forget the smart profile for now. I had to run it 4 times before it would complete and the profile it came up with was backwards. It would run my fans full tilt during idle and turn them off on load. Yeah... Stick to manual fan profiles. Also, the EVGA power supply is easily the loudest thing in my case. I would suggest going Seasonic or Corsair here.
I ended up moving the Katana to a secondary TV in a bedroom where it continues to amaze. I found that I use headphones 99% of the time at the PC so I upgraded from the HyperX Clouds to Audeze LCD2C for open-back and Campfire Audio Cascade for closed-back, late night music listening. Audeze Mobius on preorder for gaming. Schiit Audio Modi 2 Multibit + Vali 2 headphone amp stack.