Description

This totally started out as a budget build. It really was meant to replace an old HP media center PC which bit the dust. I wasn't in a rush and spent nearly a year accumulating parts for this build. My desire to build my own computer goes back for as long as I can remember. The idea of building a new computer (vs buying a pre-built) meant it would have a healthy upgrade path and gave me control over what went into it.

Though it started as a budget build, there were some items where I ended up spending a bit more for the sake of quality and longevity; CPU, PSU, motherboard. Some items were purchased new through NCIX, Canada Computers and Amazon while other items were salvaged from the old computer. (WD HDD, Monitor)

The initial idea was to keep component costs at or under $100 per category and this worked initially. The 'finished' build came out to about $1000, which was probably $300 more than I really wanted to spend. I say 'finished,' but that would be a lie. Two stock case fans became 4 and 16 gigabytes of RAM needlessly became 32 gigabytes. The stock CPU cooler saw its upgrade to something that would help overclocking, my 3GB GTX 1060 became a 8GB GTX 1080 and my i5 4690k became an i7 4790K. More upgrades to come for sure . . .

What I thought I was building the computer for and how I'm currently using it are pretty different things. As I drew closer to the actual build, my intended use for the computer kept changing. I originally wanted it for day to day office / Adobe Photoshop type work but slowly I got the itch for gaming. Though I'm not a huge gamer by any means (I have a PS4 for that) I wanted something that could hold its weight down the road: Z97 motherboard, K processor and a case with decent ventilation options. To scratch the gaming itch, I started with a 3GB EVGA GTX 1060 SC but eventually upgraded to a 8GB EVGA GTX 1080 SC. The final upgrade will likely be to the processor to alleviate any bottlenecks the system may encounter from CPU intensive games.

Though the i5 4690k is more than capable in most gaming scenarios (current games are starting to fully utilize 4 or more cores) the transition to the i7 4790K was only natural. The increased clock speed (3.5ghz vs 4.0ghz) plus the additional virtual cores will help in future proofing the system; realistically taking this LGA1150 build as far as it goes.

Part Reviews

Motherboard

Motherboard has plenty of connectivity though I wish Bluetooth and Wi-Fi were built. (I wouldn't complain if it had more case fan headers as well) Overall though, very durable and well built board. The Z97 unlocks the potential for overclocking down the road.

Would absolutely buy again.

Memory

Fast RAM in a low-profile configuration with great timings / OC options. Just remember to enable its XMP profile in bios or it will default to your motherboards lowest supported clock speed.

Storage

No complaints. Reliable, quick and quite. I probably should have opted for a higher capacity, but its serves just fine as a boot drive.

Storage

Great media storage drive. Great for music, photos and games. Not very noisy.

Case

Used this case in my first build. For someone who has never built his own PC, this thing was a breeze to work with. Features excellent accessibility and cable management; the power-supply and HDD/SDD cages are located in a section behind the motherboard area.

This helps with cooling and organization, but hurts slightly when shopping for CPU coolers (cooler maximum height cannot exceed 130mm) and certain GPUs. (GPU height cannot exceed again 120-130MM)

Other than that, fantastic building platform.

Operating System

Safe, Stable OS.

A welcome change from previous versions.

Comments

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

Looks nice! A 1070 or 1080 will really make this run nicely won't it.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

For sure!

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

Good job! I love that case, I've used it before myself. Congrats!

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks!

It was a lot of fun, I can't wait to optimize it's airflow and maybe toss in a white LED fan or two.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Your airflow looks good to me! That's the same fan setup I used in the build I did with the 240. You ever consider LED strips instead of the fans? I feel like they look better, but that's just my opinion!

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

I've seen some pretty cool builds with strip lighting but I don't know if my confidence level is there yet. (I wouldn't know where to plug things in)

I'm thinking of moving one or both intake fans to the top of the case as exhaust and adding two white ML120 pro's (LED) upfront. I'll need a splitter I imagine as my case only has three sysfan headers.

If I end up doing the Asus 1070GTX dual fan (nice white card) then I'll probably get do a custom backplate with a storm trooper helmet. I'll probably add some LEDS at that point.

I guess it all depends on what kind of CPU cooler I go with.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Most LED strips will connect with a 4-pronged connector, like this one on the newer ASUS motherboards, or will connect to a 'power source' which will then connect to a molex or SATA connector. If you look at my build, Fireball, you can see my RGB strip's IR Receiver/power supply just underneath the 24pin connector on the motherboard.

If you're going to need more fan headers, consider getting a good fan controller like the Grid+V2. I use it in my system, and it helps a lot being able to keep the fans from just going 100% all the time. My motherboard has just one fan header besides the CPU fan header, and I used a Y splitter for a while. This was great, but my fans ran at full load all the time, which meant more noise and more dust.

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

Whether or not you plan to overclock, a different cooler would be beneficial. There's plenty of inexpensive options available.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

For sure!!! I ordered a really cool Phanteks dual-fan c-style cooler from Amazon for $54 (normally $105) and for some reason I didn't pay attention to the coller height. The Corsair Air 240 lists the max height being 120mm but it's actually 130mm and this cooler topped out at 140mm. I ended up cancelling the order.

Even though the cooler could be run with 1 fan, it would be pointless on an OC scenario. (You would want both fans going right?)

I got impatient and used the stock cooler, but know I'll go aftermarket when I do overclock it. Any recommendations for something below 130mm that will cool a i5 4690k?

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

if i want to take a guess, you got this one

to keep that lower profile look, check out these 2: phanteks cryorig

i have both and have no complaints with either one. also being under $40 really helps the wallet.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks mlach.

Between the two, which of the two do you feel would be more appropriate if there was the intention of overclocking? I can get the Cryorig C7 for $40 (CDN) on amazon.ca, but I also noticed that there is a C1 that they make as well. (from my understanding, the C1 has a higher CFM)

Should I look at a C1 instead?

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

no problem.

c7, especially at that price compared to the c1. the fan might be slightly louder, but the higher rpm will allow to cool the cpu better. my biggest gripe with the c7 is the proprietary fan, you can't replace it manually. you would have to rma the whole piece.

benefit of the c1 is that fan is removable and can be switched out, for instance with a noctua, corsair, cooler master, etc.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks mlach,

I think I'm going with C7. Its a pretty good setup, and if it breaks I could always have another for the difference in price.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey, it's not a bargain... It's not that cheap eh

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

It definitely adds up that's for sure.

This system was initially going to be a G3258 with one of the cheapo z97 boards that came out at the same time and it certainly would have been cheaper. Instead I chose to go with better components.

I only call it a 'bargain' because everything I've purchased is well below retail price.

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

The 1070 pricing is pretty good too. Will it handle 4k gaming okay? (Thinking down the road if I replace my monitor)

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

I'll probably just do that. Any suggestions on a good low profile CPU cooler?

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

Good options as well. Thanks BJB