Description

I started this build in January 2016, by end of year I moved it into a Silverstone Fortress FT-03B case for its beautiful monolithic appearance, stacked positive airflow design, and very small footprint that has seen me migrate this beauty from a closet to sitting next to my UHDTV.

1080p performance, no CPU power wasted. It is designed and used exclusively for gaming for myself. The idea was to build an affordable system that leverages maximizing lower end dual core CPU power and to recoup the savings to be spent on a higher end GPU, hence the i3-6100 and GTX 970 pairing. This also produces a clear upgrade path for the future: first the CPU to an i5 or i7 and second the GPU to a Pascal-based GPU. The i3-6100 and GTX 970 combo produce Very High/Ultra graphics settings at 1080p at 60fps across all tested games including: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain, Grand Theft Auto V, Rise of the Tomb Raider and all older titles. This configuration is virtually silent during all operations as a 1080p 60fps gaming machine. The Intel stock CPU cooler does not even have to turn on because the case runs so cool, this is after changing the UEFI cooler settings to 'Silent.'

4K capabilities are the icing on the cake. Still looking for a challenge to find the limits of this configuration I cranked up the settings to 2160p (4K) and found that the previously listed games perform well at 30fps (and often above) on Medium to High graphic settings with no AA (no longer required at such high resolution). The stock Intel cooler is for the most part silent, it may occasionally activate for a few seconds to whisk away built up heat for the three low RPM case fans and thermodynamic physics to carry upward out of the top of the case.

I recently started donating my CPU and GPU cycles to Stanford's Folding@Home project which folds proteins as a part of a distributed computing network while I am away from home at work or asleep. This configuration operates under a 75% load around the clock, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This machine is in the top 75,000 protein folders now.

UPDATE: I upgraded the CPU cooling fan from the included stock Intel cooler included with the Core i3-6100 to the $30 Cooler Master Evo 212. The justification is that the Cooler Master Evo 212 is drastically quieter than the stock Intel cooler, even when I switched the motherboard to Silent mode where the fan only revs up to whisk away heat when it builds up from being turned off—the stock cooler fan revving noise would keep me awake at night. On the other hand, the Cooler Master is quieter even when I configured the motherboard to Standard mode at a constant 1000 RPM—it also keeps lowers the temps on the already cool i3-6100 under my usual Medium load in Folding@Home and hours long sessions in The Witcher 3 (4K @30 FPS).

Part Reviews

CPU

A top value CPU, great hyper threaded performance, low power consumption 35W, runs very cool, handles 1080p and 4K gaming competently, also as a Skylake processor provides a wonderful upgrade path to more powerful CPUs with more compute cores.

Motherboard

As future proof a motherboard you will find for a gaming PC using LGA1151. It supports SLI, full speed DDR4 RAM, and UEFI to boot.

Storage

Fast SATA3 m.2 drive that frees up a 2.5-inch drive bay, power, and SATA connector for other uses. I use this to boot Windows 10 while a spinning disk handles game application storage.

Video Card

A wonderfully power graphic card that despite its age still handles 1080p graphics on Ultra settings at 60fps amiably and can put up a fight to maintain High settings 2160p 4K graphics at 30+ fps. It runs dead silent thanks to heatsinks from EVGA that don't have the fans come on until 50C.

Case

As a veteran computer engineer, this is hands down my favorite PC case that is not labeled Apple Power Mac G5. Actually, I think I like it far and way more innovative than the 10 year old Apple case because it leverages the laws of thermodynamics and physics to allow positive airflow through heat rising from the components out of the top of the case by turning the motherboard 90 degrees to the top and pointing all of the exhaust normally pulled by fans out the back from the top of the case. Genius! Apple's tread here before with the fanless convection cooled iMac of 2001 and the Power Mac G4 Cube of the same year, but this is made special it being the first PC case that accepts standard size components. This case forces good cable management upon you which will soak up extra time to complete a build with it. Can't rave enough about it.

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Comments

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

Setup looks great. As does the room it's in.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you! I think the Fortress FT03 is a good fit as an extension of my aesthetics (and the loft) into a computer.

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

I find this as a greater alternative to a console +1

Also, nice photo editing :)

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Beats the pants off my PS4 Pro on multiplatform titles :D

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

I like this case a lot +1

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

why do I like the tv more than the actual pc? its just so sexy lmao.

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

I'll snap some more interior pics to reflect more of the FT03 as well as the addition of the m.2 SSD and extra cable management efforts. ;)