I woke up on this Christmas morning 2019 to turn my beloved Aurelian PC on only to have it hit a boot loop. I was gifted an RTX 2080 Super to put into my rig later that day. Truly, the PC gods are fickle beings. They cast us down with one hand and bestow new GPUs unto us with the other.
The only way I can get it to boot successfully now is to clear the CMOS. I've tried reseating everything, I've changed out cables and power supply, I've checked every RAM stick, I've updated my BIOS, and I've cleared my CMOS and replaced my CMOS battery. Nothing has alleviated the issue, so I believe the motherboard is failing and it's finally time to retire this build that's served me so well over the past 5 years.
I wanted to create a "Completed Build" here on PCPartPicker to highlight some of the changes I've made over the years from the original Aurelian setup I posted here back in 2014 that people seemed to enjoy. I can't really call it "2.0" or "version 2" or something like that because I changed my mind on so many things and changed so many components over the past 5 years — so, being the last few weeks of this rig's life, I'll call it Aurelian 275 after the year the emperor for whom it was named was assassinated.
I suppose it might be a bit of cheating to count this as a "Completed Build" at this point, but I wanted to log it as a love letter to this rig that has lasted me 5+ years of wonderful gaming and learning experiences. I've upgraded half of it, wired and rewired everything, put in LEDs and pulled them out, dusted it, polished it. I've moved 2 times since I built it and the fully assembled case rode with me in the passenger's seat of the moving truck each time — with the seat belt fastened over it to prevent any accidents!
I love this damn thing and it deserves a fair send-off as I begin to research my next build for early 2020. So I'm going to log all of the changes I've made over the years here on pcpartpicker in order to remember it before I eventually part it out and sell or store the individual left-over components.
Check the individual component reviews below, where I'll go into detail on my experience with some of the changes I made over the years, mostly for posterity and for my own memory, but perhaps somebody will be able to learn or gain some enjoyment from my personal experience over the years as well!
And that's about it. I hope someone finds this helpful in some way. I've learned a ton over the years and probably spent far too much money on all of these toys, but I've enjoyed optimizing my set-up. With each change I either learned something about a peripheral or my own preferences, or I significantly improved my experience gaming on this machine. I hope to continue to share that knowledge with others on websites such as this and /r/buildapc on Reddit, and I hope whoever has gotten this far reading found something useful out of this overlong nonsense I just wasted an entire New Years' Eve afternoon typing up.
It's been a fun decade of PC gaming, I hope the 2020s are just as enjoyable.
My original 2014 build featured an i5-4690k that I soon deemed unsatisfactory for 1440p/120+ hz gaming. I replaced it with an i7-4790k in 2015 and sold the i5 soon afterwards. The i7-4790k is a fantastic CPU that has served me well over the years and is still going strong today. If I was sure it was still functional, I would sell it. As it is, I will probably end up giving it away to a friend.
I'm far happier with the extremely pricey H150i than I was with my H100i or my Dark Rock Pro 4 air cooler. I just put the H150i in this past Saturday, and it will be carried over to my next build in 2020. I was worried the Dark Rock Pro 4 caused my boot loop by breaking my RAM or something else, so I bought another cooler to replace it with out of panic, but this has since proved not to be the case.
I seem to never be able to settle on certain things, one being CPU cooler, which I've replaced twice. Earlier in 2019 I replaced the original Corsair H100i, which was noisy and rattled quite a bit and I was never fully satisfied with. I first replaced it with a Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 4 air cooler in 2019 which I was equally displeased with due to its size and the lack of clearance — it sat directly on top of my RAM sticks and heated them. The Dark Rock Pro 4 is a fantastic air cooler and silent as can be, but it just didn't fit my configuration. It's more an error on my part, I should have been sure of its clearance before ordering it. Live and learn.
I will keep the Dark Rock Pro 4 as a spare cooler, and use its fans in my next case.
The Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 was a board I bought simply because it looked great. I believe it's beginning to fail now, but I'd still recommend Asus boards as its BIOS is top-notch.
I added 2 more sticks of 4 GB DDR3-1600 Corsair Vengeance RAM in 2015 along with my CPU upgrade. Zero complaints, they've done the job.
Nothing bad to say here, the Samsung 840 Evo is a fantastic piece of hardware and I've never seen any reason to upgrade it beyond adding an external HDD for backup purposes. I'll likely upgrade to an NVME SSD drive in my next PC in order to keep pace with modern technology, but I'll probably install this 840 Evo into my new rig as well, as an additional storage device.
I never felt the bang for my buck with my original 780ti set-up in SLI. Most games ran iffy in SLI, if they even ran at all, and in 2016 I sold both cards and upgraded to a single EVGA GTX 1080, which I'm still using today. This card carried me through playing modern games such as The Outer Worlds at 1440p at framerates of over 90 fps at high settings. It's been an absolute tank of a card and I have nothing but good things to say about it. I'll likely sell it as I've already been given an RTX 2080 Super as a Christmas gift that I'll incorporate into my next PC. Oh, and I'll never use SLI again; extremely disappointing results considering how much it costs to purchase two cards. Single cards only for me from now on.
I've never been totally pleased with my Corsair 750D. The case is a monster size-wise, which was nice when I was running an SLI setup, but it never had the best airflow and hot air would always pocket near the GPUs no matter how I set up my fans, and it would heat the glass window so much that it would be near-painful to touch.
I could keep this case and reuse it for my next build, but I'll likely upgrade to a Lian Li and donate the 750D instead. It's not bad, but it's got serious flaws, and I probably won't go with another Corsair case again.
What's there to really say about a power supply? The AX860 is fine, I suppose. It works. It's not too loud. It didn't blow up, and I never hit its ceiling. A good unit.
LOL, I bought an optical drive way back in 2013 on my first build. What a rookie move. I barely used the thing, and I bought a blu ray drive specifically to watch movies. Another mistake, since you have to purchase driver software for exorbitant rates to even run a blu ray disc. It's a racket and I surely won't be buying another. I took it out of the case for a few years, but I put it in since I wasn't using it for anything else. It's still in the case, collecting dust.
I upgraded Aurelian's original Windows 8.1 with the free Windows 10 update they provided a few years back. I like Windows 10, not much more to say.
Big upgrade here. I originally had an overclocked QNIX 1440p monitor attached to this rig. Possibly the most significant investment was moving to an Acer 1440p, 144hz, g-sync, IPS panel monitor in 2018. It was hugely expensive at the time, but also hugely worth it. There's nothing quite like running games at max settings, in 1440p, and seeing 100+ frames with g-sync activated. I'll never get tired of it.
I've since augmented the setup with an Asus 1080p g-sync IPS 2nd monitor, for running movies and videos in native 1080p fullscreen, and running games at 1080p if they're too demanding to hit 60+ fps on my 1440p screen in native resolution. A luxury, really. Not necessary, but a nice thing to have. If I could do it again, I'd have gotten a 24" instead of the 27". The extra 3 inches really show some pixels and are unnecessary. Again, live and learn.
Another big one here. I had a Das Keyboard Stealth with black keycaps on my original Aurelian, but since upgraded to a Das 4Q. I wasn't as impressed with the 4Q, and eventually ditched it and splurged on the ultra-expensive $300 Topre switch Realforce. It's the ultimate board, and I consider the money well spent. I'm typing on it right now and it's an absolute pleasure. I can't recommend it enough and I'll never replace it unless it fails. I'm in love with the damn thing.
It's a great board, but I never felt the switches were as "solid" as other Cherry MX Browns I own. It's hard to explain, and maybe it's just me. I greatly prefer my Topre board.
Another significant change. I upgraded from my original Roccat Savu to a Logitech G502 Proteus, but it never felt quite comfortable to me.
In 2018 I upgraded my Logitech G502 over to the arguably inferior Corsair M65, but it fits my hand/grip style far better than the Logitech ever did. I doubt I'll change again unless it breaks. I love it. Personal preference, I suppose.
I love these cans in wired mode with noise cancellation off, because I'm an old fuddy-duddy who hates new technology. Seriously though, the delay in bluetooth connection sucks, and the noise cancellation tech gives me a headache. Other than that, they are out-of-this-world comfortable — I often leave them on for 12+ hours straight at work and gaming and feel zero discomfort whatsoever. Also, the sound quality is excellent. But they are very expensive and the bells and whistles aren't all that great, in my opinion.
I rolled with the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s for many years. The earpads eventually wore out; they hardened and began cracking, and I replaced them with the omnipresent Bose QC35s you see everywhere nowadays. The QC35s are far more comfortable — These ATH-M50s have excellent sound quality but gaming with them for more than a few hours led to extreme pain in my left ear. Maybe I just have a grotesquely-shaped ear.