After nearly 7 years with my Intel Core 2 Quad, Shuttle PC, it was time for a full upgrade.
I decided to focus on getting a powerful, but somewhat cost effective Gaming PC, with a budget of around £1000. I wanted to make it viable for at least 5 years (with perhaps a graphics card upgrade at a later date).
I sought to keep the build as simple as possible, so I decided to forgo any drive bays and instead just fix a single SSD to the top of the power supply with foam tape. I also removed the Fan Controller; instead opting to control fan speed with the BIOS. This removes any cable clutter from above the graphics card.
As this was my first full custom PC build, it took me a while to select all the most suitable components and then put them together. I made some mistakes along the way: such as putting the wrong screws in the motherboard. Nevertheless, the PC seems to work fine (with no heat issues) and has passed all stress tests / games thrown at it so far.
Ultimately, I found the most difficult thing was fitting and arranging all the components / cables within such a small space.
PassMark Rating: 5732
I chose the i7 6700K as it was the most powerful mainstream, quad core processor on offer at the time. Although the i5 6600K probably offers best price / performance ratio
The Noctua NH-U12S cooler seems to be a well-made heatsink. It just about clears the top of the inside of the case (with around 2cm to spare). It is a bit expensive for what it is; but nevertheless is whisper quiet when gaming
This Mini-ITX motherboard is absolutely tiny, but packs in a lot of features in such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, M.2 support and bright red LEDs (if that’s your thing)
The 2x16GB sticks of Crucial Ballistix Sport, DDR4 RAM were only £117 from Amazon last December (2016) and seem to offer the best ‘bang for the buck’. The red RAM heat sinks also match quite nicely with the motherboard
This 525GB Crucial SSD is perhaps not the fastest, but is the most cost effective for its capacity. It only cost just over £80 from Amazon on Cyber Monday (2016)
The Gigabyte GTX 1060 G1 graphics card offers decent Gaming performance, particularly at 1080p (where all game settings can be turned up to ultra). The card is also very quiet until around 50% fan speed. The twin fans don’t turn on until the GPU temperature reaches at least 50 degrees C. The card also draws less power than its AMD equivalent
I liked the Node 304’s design and small size. I also did not require an internal DVD drive (as I rarely use one these days)
I needed a short Power Supply, so I could fit a long graphics card inside. The Fractal Design Integra power supply is only 140mm long and fits inside the case nice and snug. The modular nature of it also helps to reduce cable clutter and improve airflow