I built my first PC quite accidentally. I had purchased an ASUS PC from a brick and mortar store about 3 years ago, the salesperson had suggested upgrading it before leaving the store and replacing the original GPU with an EVGA GTX 660 when I told him I was a gamer. After I started playing WoT, my PC started shutting down randomly. I took the PC back to the store, they looked at it and did not find anything wrong with it, especially since it worked just fine with everything else.
That's when I started changing/upgrading components. Through my own research, I first thought it was a PSU issue, so I got a more powerful one (I think a 500W or something). Then I thought it was an airflow/heat issue inside the generic PC case, so I got a Fractal Arc Mini R2 and transferred all the components from the store bought PC into the new case and added fans. Still no avail. I don't remember what made me think about switching Mobo, but I ended up buying a new one (Asus P8Z77-M PRO Micro ATX LGA1155) and moved my I7 3770 into it. Surprisingly, that completely fixed the problem!
After a couple of months using the 1st build, I added my first SSD (Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive) as my new C: drive. The HDD (Toshiba 1TB) that came with the original ASUS PC from the store was relegated to storage duty. Another couple of months later, I added my 2nd SSD (Samsung 850 EVO-Series 500GB 2.5" Solid State Drive). I think, in between of these 2 storage upgrades, when the price was right, I replaced my EVGA GTX 660 with my current GTX 970 (EVGA GeForce GTX 970 4GB SSC ACX 2.0+). Once again, I upgraded the PSU to a modular 750W (Corsair CXM 750W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply...I don't remember the thought process behind it at that time, cause it's definitely an overkill). The RAM remained the original one that came with the store bought ASUS PC, which was: Adata MI64C1D1629Z1 2x8GB.
Now, two years later, I felt I needed to get me a Christmas present(s) and upgrade parts of my system.
Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case Intel Core i7-6700K 4.0GHz Quad-Core Processor Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler Asus ROG MAXIMUS VIII HERO ALPHA ATX LGA1151 Motherboard G.Skill Aegis 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-2133 Memory Toshiba P300 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ~~Samsung 960 Evo 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive~~
Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive Samsung 850 EVO-Series 500GB 2.5" Solid State Drive Toshiba 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM HDD (older version of the one above) EVGA GeForce GTX 970 4GB SSC ACX 2.0+ Video Card Corsair CXM 750W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer
Because I was very happy with the Fractal Arc Mini R2 as far as cable management, airflow and general layout, I decided to remain with the Fractal design and went with the bigger Midi R2 to fit the full ATX Mobo.
The Midi R2 can accommodate 7 fans (6x140 and 1x120), it already comes with 3 x 140 mm and I had a couple from my old set up and a couple more spare ones. The old setup kept my system nice and cool (idle temps: CPU 28 C, GPU 34 C, inside case ambient temp 23 C [75 F], room ambient temp 20 C [68 F]). Some tech websites recommend a negative inside case pressure for better airflow (others, the opposite...I went with negative air pressure). So, I placed my fans with the highest airflow on top and in the back as exhaust and the front and bottom as intake which will guide the airflow from the lower front towards the upper rear.
PS: When installing the 120 mm fan at the forward top position, it won't be possible to use the upper 5.25" front bay for a DVD/CD/RW player. The front I/O panel cables will be in the way. It only leaves room for a fan controller or something similar...may be.
The Midi R2 has semi-tool less storage trays for up to 8 SSD/HDD's, plus 2 SSD's in the back space behind the Mobo back wall. My old Mini R2 came with two SSD brackets in the back (which I did not use and just mounted my 2 SSD's and my HDD onto the 3 trays in the lower cage). However, for some reason, my new Midi R2 did not come with similar SSD brackets even though the screw holes were drilled into the back wall. I successfully transferred them from my old Mini R2 to the new Midi R2.
The lower cage will mount my old and new Toshiba 1 TB HDD's. The upper cage will not be used and will be removed which will open the space between the front fans and the middle of the case.
Since the I7 6700K does not come with a stock heat sink/fan, I opted for a Cooler Master 212 EVO. Since I have several good 120 mm fans left over from my first build (COUGAR CF-V12HB Vortex Hydro-Dynamic-Bearing (Fluid) 300,000 Hours 12CM Silent Cooling Fan), I may use two of them in a Pull/Push setting. They are only 1200 RPM compared to 2000 RPM of the the original Cooler Master fan, but I was thinking a pull/push configuration with 2 x 1200 RPM fans might be as efficient as a single 2000 RPM fan. I'll probably test the different configurations and decide what's best for my rig.
I have not decided yet whether I'll take advantage of the RGB LED connections on the ASUS Maximus VIII Hero Alpha and add some "ambience" lighting inside the case or not.
I did have a cheap suction cup digital thermometer (https://www.acurite.com/digital-window-thermometer-00315-00316-00317-00318.html) stuck to the side window inside my old case that gave me the case's ambient temp.
I finally purchased an LED system (Deep Cool RGB 350) and I connected the LED strip (about 12-16" long) directly to the Mobo RGB headers. Well, I was pleasantly impressed with the lighting, the Maximus VIII Hero Alpha also comes with an RGB software call Aura and can customize the lighting to your liking.
All in all, I am liking my new rig a lot. The Cougar fans in push-pull config with my 212 EVO are practically silent even at full speed, barely a humming!
Very easy to install, replaced original fan with 2 cougars. Excellent cooling with very little noise.
Great layout, too many features to list, easy to work with. fewer USB connections than some other boards. POSTed on the first try.
My first SSD ever. After moving from a standard HDD to this, you just can't go back. I've had it for about 2 years. No issues, works at advertised speeds, boots up my PC in a few seconds.
I was so happy with the first Samsung, I needed to expand my storage so I got this second SSD for all my games.
1.5 year old card still going strong. No complaints whatsoever.
As stated above, spacious, great airflow, sturdy. Only issues are the inability to use both 5.25" optical bays if 3 top fans are installed and the lack of SSD brackets that are available on its smaller version the ARC Mini R2.
Had this unit for 2 years or so and have not had any issues. Runs very quiet.
Also had these fans for a couple of years, they can move some air. Using them as top exhaust fans.