+ Total (United States):
This is an upgrade of my previous build: Titanium Red
Old build here: https://pcpartpicker.com/b/HnvV3C
Since i changed quite a lot, i figured i'd do a re-post with new parts, some more/new info, new pictures and do another grasp to a nomination of being featured.
HOW IT STARTED:
At the end of 2015 i decided i wanted to build a new gaming rig, completely from scratch except for my case, because i like the cube form-factor and the space i have in this case. I have always used black/white builds before so i wanted something different this time. After doing some research, i decided to go for a brand new Skylake build and chose the Asus Maximus Hero VIII to be my main-board of choice. i liked the looks/colors of the board so why not build a rig in a gun-metal/titanium, black and red theme? I also like my builds clean and tidy. I don't like flashing lights, tacky RGB LEDS, oversized stickers and all sorts of colored tubing or coolant. Personally to me, less is more.
That was the moment Titanium Red had born...
CPU: Intel i5 6600k @ 4700Mhz, 1.425v.
I chose a Intel i5 6600k because all i have in mind for this build is gaming really. I understand hyper-threading is getting more and more useful even in games nowadays, but at the day of purchase i figured i'd spend the cash elsewhere.
The chip currently runs (24/7) at 4.7Ghz on a core-voltage of 1.425v. For benching purposes i can push it to 4.8Ghz at a core-voltage of 1.455v.
For gaming, 4.7Ghz is perfectly fine and i'd like to stay under 1.45v.
CPU cooler: Corsair H110i GT
Nothing too fancy really, i did like the looks of a AIO cooler better than the massive air-coolers around. Cooling wise it did fine really. Again, nothing too crazy but it kept its own quite okay on 1.42v. If i remember correctly, i was looking at temps somewhere mid 70c.
Memory: 16GB Corsair Dominator Platinum (2666) @ 3000Mhz, 1.30v.
I wanted good performing and great looking (fitting my theme) DDR4 sticks, first sticks that came into mind were the Dominator Platinums. And quite honestly, i still love them from the first time I've seen them. I did install a lightbar on them though, just gives that lovely subtle light effect.
I got these 2666Mhz sticks overclocked to 3000Mhz at a voltage of 1.30v.
Mainboard: Asus Maximus Hero VIII.
My entire theme is based around this board. I like the road Asus took with these new Maximus boards: less red and more black/grey. Other than looks, i can tell that this is a very solid board. I have read quite a bit of negative reviews on it but in all honesty, i cannot find myself in those. There is a lot of settings to alter with this hero board, settings you can't even access on other boards. Keeps my i5 6600k perfectly steady on 4.7Ghz/1.42v (BIOS settings added below).
Storage: 256GB Samsung 850 Evo SSD, 128GB Crucial M4 SSD, Seagate 1TB HDD.
Not much to talk about here. I'm using about 60GB worth of disc space of the 256GB SSD for my OS (Win10 pro x64) and the remaining for my most played games. The 128GB, a friend had laying around and asked me if i had good use for it. There is really nothing wrong with Crucial M4 SSD's so i took it and use it to store all programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and also my benchmarks. The 1TB HDD is just a storage drive for everything else really. You name it... Documents, photos, music etc...
Maybe you're thinking, isn't 1TB a little too less? No.. It's plenty for me, believe me. I am running a Windows Server 2012 with 6TB worth of storage in the basement of our house. It's acting as our mediaserver running PLEX but it also acts as a Teamspeak server and does some auto backups of our client computers. I guess i could make a 'completed build' of that server as well one day.
GPU: EVGA GTX 980Ti Superclocked+ ACX 2.0+ @ 1575/8450Mhz , 1.274v (custom bios).
I previously had a HD7950 crossfire setup to be able to provide me at least 60 fps on 1440p. When upgrading from my previous build i wanted a single video-card that performed on par, if not better than the crossfire setup. I got my eyes on the GTX980Ti immediately and as of today, i do not regret it one bit. First i had the standard EVGA ACX 2.0 air-cooler on it that did quite an okay job. The thing is however: as soon as the card reaches ~ 64 degrees Celsius, it starts to down-clock itself to prevent possible damage. This way you never ever see the true potential of your video-cards. Because lets be honest, 64 degrees is nothing for a GPU chip under load.
One of the biggest reasons i decided to go full custom water cooling. Great right? Well, yes... and no... The moment i started to add more and more water cooling parts, the quieter my system became. Still awesome!? Yes, but... As soon as i installed a waterblock on my GTX980Ti, excessive coil-whine became very audible. Even on capped fps, coil-whine was so apparent that i got crazy of it. After debating for a couple days, i decided to submit a advanced RMA at EVGA. They agreed and sent me a 'new' GTX980Ti, an even better performing one (79.9% ASIC) actually but more on that later... Sadly, this new card has coil-whine as well. Not as audible as the former one but its definitely there. I tried a different power supply, i tried burning in the card with some benchmarks but nothing seems to solve it really...
I decided to keep this card, because no one can guarantee me the next card is coil-whine free and has the same stunning performance that this puppy has. Which leads me to overclocking:
Now, this card is benchmark stable at 1585 / 8600 Mhz which is pretty awesome in my opinion. I'm running a custom BIOS to make this possible though: 1.274v, Boost disabled and Power limit increased. When gaming, the card has no trouble running 1575 / 8450 Mhz and that while maintaining a maximum temperature under 49 degrees Celsius... Amazing!
Soundcard: Asus Xonar Essence STX.
A dedicated sound-card, yes. Even with that on-board chip?! Yes, even with that on-board chip...
I am a music enthousiast and mainly use a Sennheiser HD-600 to listen to my music. Believe me when i say that this headphone needs a good source and amp (schiit Magni 2) to shine. I can tell the difference between the sound-card and the on-board within seconds. I love this sound-card to bits and treated it nicely with a custom back-plate, made from acrylic (take a look at the pictures).
PSU: Super Flower Leadex 850W.
I wanted a reliable, powerful and efficient power supply for my build. I read a lot of great reviews on the EVGA G2 series but unfortunately, they were sold out everywhere here. However, digging a little more i discovered that the amazing EVGA G2 power supplies were re-branded Super Flower Leadex models. The Super Flowers were in stock so i ordered one of those. A 850W unit to be specific, to be able to crank up my power hungry GTX980Ti and to be somewhat future proof.
On a side-note: The amount of builds i see where people cheap out on power supplies are countless. Really, DO NOT gimp on a power supply guys. You don't want your precious and expensive hardware to get fried by a failing power supply. It's the heart of your system, it failing can screw your gaming experience, overclocks and again.. potentially kill your entire system.
Case: Corsair Carbide 540 Air.
I wanted something different, a cube form-factor. I love the dual-chamber design that not only accounts for great temperatures but also is visually pleasing. Not hideous power supply to be seen and plenty of room to hide things in the back-chamber. My EK pump/reservoir combination is there for example, not because its ugly but it makes up for a cleaner build.
Note: Initially i went with a Corsair H110i GT to cool my cpu, but i recently decided to ditch it and go for a complete custom water-cooling loop instead, therefore doing this re-post mostly:
I decided to all out on EKWB parts. I read great reviews about them and though they looked the bits as well. I wanted to aim for a clean/organised looking build and the (black) EK blocks/rads/tubing seemed like the perfect match. And boy, was i right...
For the rotary/elbow fittings i decided to go with mostly Bitspower. They're expensive but good lord, they scream quality. You don't want to go cheap on fittings, discovering leaks that could damage your system. At least that's my mindset on this. Again, these fittings are expensive but they're well worth it.
THINGS I HAVE DONE MYSELF...
To match everything nicely together; i spray-painted all the grills, thumbscrews, pci-brackets and fittings in the titanium/grey looking color. It fits very nice with the grey accents of the main-board, memory and other components.
Cable extensions and combs:
No one likes these rainbow colored cables in their builds, neither do i. The Leadex power supply comes with braided cables but obviously, they're not individually braided. They come in a simple black color with some hideous red/blue connectors. I only wanted red to highlight/accent things so i decided to go for red sleeved cables from Bitfenix. I am very pleased with the result, too much red becomes to overwhelming in my opinion and i believe this is just the right amount.
To make them cables look more organised, i used black cable-combs. People either love them or hate them, I am with the lovers.
I made a mid-plate for the Carbide 540 case. I loved the case at first glance but the HDD/SSD brackets on the bottom of it are hideous, at least that's my opinion. With the help of a nice friend of mine and his laser-cutter, we made a 3mm thick black acrylic piece that completely covers the bottom. The HDD and SSD's are now mounted in the back-chamber of the case (again, completely out of sight). When adding the enormous triple radiator at the front, i had the find a way to keep the mid-plate in there as well.
I took a fretsaw and carefully cut out the clearance for the radiator and for the Bitspower 90 degrees fittings. To finish it off and make it look pleasing to the eye, i took a rubber grommet and attached it into the cutouts (see pictures). The outcome was great, i am very satisfied the way it looks all together.
One more thing i did was drilling a 3mm diameter hole in the mid-plate so that i could screw in a thing metal 'pipe' that could hold up my heavy GTX980Ti + waterblock to prevent it from sagging (OCD warning). With the help of that 'stand', the GTX980Ti is perfectly level now.
5.25 inch bay grill:
As written above, instead of mounting the HDD at the bottom of the case. I installed it in the rear-chamber, in the 5.25 inch bay to be precise. I vertically slide it in there and secured it with two screws. For the HDD to be able to at least breath a little, i took a grill/mesh (from an old case again), cut it out to fit a 5.25 inch bay bracket, painted it in the same titanium color that matches the rest of the build and attached it to the case. It looks great and keep my HDD on a maximum temperature of 34 degrees Celsius, perfectly within the safe range for HDD's.
Asus Xonar Essence STX backplate:
Already described above, i (or should i say we?) made a custom back-plate for the soundcard so that it would blend in better with the rest of the build. We took the back-plates of www.coldzero.eu as an example and the outcome with perfect (see pictures). Really, I couldn't be happier with it.
<Asus Maximus Hero VIII BIOS overclock settings>
Futuremark Firestrike v1.1: http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/11394742?
Futuremark 3dMark11 v1.0: http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/11110149
Futuremark Vantage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmv/5434240
CPU: i5 6600k @ 4.7Ghz.
GPU: EVGA GTX980Ti Superclocked+ ACX 2.0 @ 1585 / 8550.
THAT'S IT FOR NOW...
I still have some ideas in mind on short and long term so keep an eye on it if you're interested to see the progression. Finished builds don't really exist, my build is always in progress :)
I hope you like the build... Give me some feedback if you want, both negative/positive are welcome and are much appreciated!