Now that I have an office in my new home this setup has expanded to include more audio capabilities, some general performance power, and other accessories. This build inherits many of the parts from my original version of this build First PC v1.0 which was already rather powerful and I liked it a fair bit. With new usages departing the realm of gaming and general use such as development and school work, I wanted a better setup for maximizing productivity and enjoyment. The main issues I had with v1.0 were less with the parts and the machine itself but more with the setup I had to work with. This not only required some new parts but also the construction of a new desk for myself.
- 72" x 36" (6' x 3') & 112lbs workbench top
I added 30" x 1" black iron pipes and 1" black iron floor flanges for legs and that was it for construction. The cable management was a bit of a pain with a lot of drilling and hammering cables into place under the desk. As well as simply running the wires under the desk, I included a 6 outlet (non-surge protected) power bar which ran back to the UPC power supply - covering the need for surge protection. All of the wires under the desk are for my audio accessories such as speakers, mixer, and amps while the monitors and PC wires that run down the back wall are all connected to my UPC battery pack. Thanks to running everything at my desk off of the battery pack this desk only uses up one wall outlet and even under full load doesn't use more than 300W (per the UPC). Overall it is an incredibly solid piece (totaling at around 200lb) and it can support a bunch more weight (at least it can support me sitting on it. The cabling is fantastic and out of the way and the layout is really open - super conducive to working at. The only issue I have with the desk is the height. With the floor flanges, a furniture pad below each leg, the 30" piping, and the height of the workbench top itself the top of the desk sits at right about 32 and some change inches. The average desk height is between 28 and 30" and I can definitely tell that this is tall for a desk. Having a tall chair, being a bit taller than average, and not sitting continuously for to horribly long have helped make this height not a big issue but I may at some point get the leg pipes cut down to 27 or 28 inches for a more regular desk height. One unintentional upside to this is that I can stand at and lean on the desk if I ever need to get up and it is at a good waist height.
To free up space on the desktop while still showing off the PC case I put the two speakers on stands and have them angled quite nicely to provide a great sound space. If it is night time or I need to be quieter I can put on the Oppo PM3's and have their incredible clarity. The speakers and headphones run through the soundboard (mixer) which in turn is fed by the Xonar sound card. This allows me to use a physical device to adjust levels of analog audio and isolate the outputs to either my headphones or my speakers (or both). The only issue so far with this setup is that to turn the speakers off totally (no sound input goes through) I have to turn them off. While a hassle, this doesn't really bother me because it means they consume less power and may have a longer life. The headphones are not directly connected to the mixer, instead, my Magni 2 is used to amplify the signal to help drive the Oppos more effectively. The mixer also has input lines for my record player, phone, and laptop so I can always play any of my media at my desk. In addition, the next room has my amazon echo and a Vizio soundbar so if I want I can have house-wide music through Spotify. Not only did I get great sound output devices, I got an AT2035 mic and a Focusrite Scarlet Solo preamp for doing some high-quality recording. The mic is on a boom with a pop filter at one end of the desk and is super easy to pull over for use in voice chat while gaming or recording myself for personal use. The mic is always connected to the system and the preamp is always connected (by USB) to the computer but because the AT2035 needs phantom power I can effectively turn it off (physically).
- The cables included in the list are there more for my record keeping than as a guide to what is needed/ideal to get audio passed along. The mixer itself is a bit excessive but I like physically interfacing with my gear.
Per the suggestion of some friends, colleagues, and comments on forums or builds (my previous build included) I decided to try out a 144Hz monitor. The last build had a 1440p monitor as the main screen and I wanted this for a few reasons;
- 'screen real estate'
- higher quality media consumption
- have never used 1440p (have 4K TV and plenty of 1080p screens)
However, I had also never used a monitor over 30Hz so 60 was already a massive improvement. This coupled with the cost of 144Hz monitors, especially 1440p ones, made me question if I would need 144. After a while though, being recommended by friends and already upgrading other parts of my system, I decided to add a 1080p 144Hz monitor to round out my testing of resolution, frame rate, and screen size. The ensemble might seem like a hodgepodge but I am trying to figure out what configuration would be best for me so in the future, I can simply by one type of monitor that I really like (probably still in multiple monitor form). So far, I love 144Hz and I love 1440p. The change of resolution (with proper scaling), differing screen sizes, and the differing frame rates don't bother me but I think next build I'll shell out for 1440p and 144Hz monitors... In addition to the sizes and such, I have heard that it'd be nice to have the monitors mounted so as to not take up much desk space. With my planned desk being 36" deep I figured that the bases of the monitors wouldn't get in the way of my desk space and work. However, the benefit of monitor stands is also that you can reposition the screens to be wherever you need or is most comfortable. The current monitor stands behave well enough but my 1080p 23" monitor is just a little too low to the desk. This wouldn't normally be an issue but I have the audio mixing equipment on the desk and some of the cables poke up enough to cover the bottom of the screen from time to time.
Perhaps an odd section to add but I found it an odd enough setup to include. The ethernet line runs from the modem into the UPC in my office, the UPC is then connected to my network switch. The switch then runs connections out for my PC, raspberry PI, MacBook Pro, and iMac. This lets me have one line running in and a safe network switch operating for all four devices. It is also rather nice having speeds like this.
I added a DVD/CD drive and a drawer to the front trays of the case. The drawer is great for thumb drives and misc stuff while the DVD drive is just there to round out the functionality. I also fixed the issue of one front fan not working by getting a fan cable splitter. This is been nice for keeping the case cooler and having all the case lights on.
I know RGB strips are cliche but... I added LED RAM cards that fade a nice blue color, NZXT HUE case lights to color the inside (normal with the rainbow but sometimes with static colors), and an led strip (cut and resoldered to fit) underneath the desk. This all can easily compliment the rainbow and blue colored lights on my keyboard and mouse. The RAM is a little taller than needed due to the lights and the led strip under the desk was a complete pain to get installed. I love the effect both add but it is also a bit in your face and it is not necessary, just nice. The NZXT HUE was however relatively easy to install and (besides needing to run CAM) is a great product. Also definitely excessive but the addressable lights and the patterns that you can make with them are fantastic.
- i7-7700k runs REALLY HOT. The Hyper 212 Evo isn't enough to keep up with it under the max possible load. Thanks to that I have not yet overclocked the chip.
- Z170M-Plus is not the best board for enthusiast setups. It is tiny and rather cramped and the board seems to flex under the weight of all the parts (namely the graphics card but sound card, wifi etc all affect it.
- DDR4-3000 RAM is way more than you need for an i7-7700k unless you are going to really overclock it. The i7-7700K only supports 2133 and 2400 so to get up near 3000 I would need a 5.0GHz clocked i7. And getting that to be balanced and safe would be rather tricky. The size (32GB total) is perfect though.
- 250GB is really small for a startup drive when you are running many large programs. The 2TB drive is nice enough to store some less used or generally slower running code but ideally, the startup drive would be big enough for all my non-bulk storage needs and my other drives would act as backups and bulk storage areas (pics and video).
- The case is rather cramped as well, mostly because the cable management options are awkward and ineffective. Custom cables and a case with better layout may be nice for next time. A larger viewing door would also be called for then.
Any other complaints I have are listed in the above sections as well... In the future this build will likely get a bigger better cooling system, more storage, and maybe monitor stands (to raise and reposition the monitors).
It runs REALLY HOT. It also runs RAM at 2133 or 2400. This CPU needs to be combined with a super effective cooler and RAM that matches what level of overclocking you will go for to be cost-effective. It's got plenty of power and hasn't been a problem yet but I have to be careful when under very heavy load (very very heavy).
Great, but kinda wimpy for the i7-7700k. Can handle regular use and most gaming without breaking 75C but under full load, it quickly hits 100C and throttles.
Small, simple. Packed with good options but the very tight form factor, as well the board is flimsy make it kind of a hassle to work in. It also needs to have the bios flashed to a new version to run the new 7 series Intel CPU (so you need another machine to prep it - in my case that "other machine" was this one with a different CPU). Works fine.
Runs great. Even 3000 is a bit overkill with the i7-7700k. If I overclock the i7 at 5.0Ghz it still can't handle RAM that fast. This might be due to my motherboard being somewhat eh or my CPU not being able to handle extra overclocking thanks to my rather weak cooler but it still is a great quantity and at 2400 it runs pretty fast. The LED is also a huge bump out of the regular profile of RAM. It gets in the way of my CPU fan cooler on the mobo I have and just glows blue. Pretty pointless, probably won't buy LED Ram again.
Super fast, great performance. Too small for a startup drive...
Fast enough, great performance. Plenty Big.
Powerful. Doesn't get too hot, can run anything I throw at it and hasn't caused a single problem yet.
Wouldn't build in this again. Crappy cable management options, shoddy screws and overall design. The viewing window is rather tiny and the area for mounting drives and other accessories is not very easy to work with.
Provides power. Have had one issue with the whole machine not starting when a cable was not fully plugged into this PSU but it was an easy enough fix (though hard to find).
Good. Didn't come with a cable.
Eh, it's Windows 10...
Would give 5 if the driver wasn't such a pain to find and install. I spent nearly 3 days working on it to get audio working for any length of time. After I got that sorted out everything works great and my audio throughput is super clear.
Wireless Network Adapter
Wouldn't use this again. Always use the ethernet cable.
Great product, a little too expensive. Sucks that you have to operate it with CAM but it's a quality product.
Great. Good clarity, the frame rate is nice, no major issues.
Pretty, sturdy, great resolution. I only wish it was 144Hz.
Functional. Pretty good image quality - as advertised. A little small for me.
Great quality. Customization ability is amazing and the build quality is pretty darn good. Love the feel of typing on it.
All the functionality I need in a mouse. Great product.
Besides needing a PDU to properly handle extra outlets this thing is great. It's already saved me during two power outages and even my networking cables come through it.
Great mic and kit
Great surface area, easy to clean, pretty.
Great for regularly putting the mic to the side or back near you. Slightly awkward construction but it's sturdy and gets the job done.
Great. Records what comes in. Quality.
Splits fan cable.
Neat, and useful for the HUE but kinda pointless otherwise.
AMAZING. Best sound reproduction I've heard in headphones ever.
Does a great job of amplifying the signal for my OPPO PM3s. It's a bit overkill because my soundcard has amps but the physical interface is really nice and makes sense. My only complaint is that it gets hot.
Best use I've ever seen for a PC tray. Great for holding USBs, pens, and misc items.
Hard to solder back together, iffy adhesive for the long term, shoddy remote and IR receiver. Looks great and is plenty bright.
Nice network switch. Keeps my PC, rasp PI server, Macbook, and iMac all on the same line into the room.
Got it to supplement my Asus DRW optical drive
AMAZING. Best sound reproduction I've heard in bookshelf speakers. Mastering studio quality sound environment.
Small and kinda eh but has plenty of features and works as intended.