This build was a challenge for me hence the name “The Challenger”, I wanted an well cooled overclocked CPU, an M.2 drive and a monster GPU… all this in the Fractal Design Node 202. I will use this build for a bit of gaming and video editing but mostly for multi-threaded programming where I can easily use 100% of the CPU.
Case: I initially wanted to go for the “Silverstone Raven RVZ02” but the overall cooling isn't as good as the 202’s, I’ve also read that the RVZ02 fan filters reduce the cooling a lot, and going with the version with plastic panels isn't an option at all because I need a cut in the CPU area and cutting plastic is harder for me than cutting metal, at least for the tools I have right now. So I ended up cutting the 202’s CPU area to fit an Noctua NF-F12 with cut corners, to make it look more rounded. If you want to know how did I cut the corners, ask in the comments :P
Cable management: it ended up being pretty easy without the SSD cage and no SSD installed, just had to plan everything. The PSU was the last component to go in the case because of the cable management.
TESTING - probably the part where I spent most time CPU temperatures celsius (with overclock at 4.5ghz): Stock Scythe fan: …… thermal throttled…. -----Noctua 12cm Push: 80º----- -----Noctua 14cm (NF-A14) Push: 85º----- -----Noctua 14cm Pull: 84º----- -----Noctua 12cm Pull: 77º----- It was a surprise for the 12cm fan to perform better than the 14cm, specially in Pull, probably because the blades are closer to the heatsink and due to it smaller size, it sticks better to the heatsink, not allowing any gaps like the 14cm fan does. As for the GPU: 40º at idle and 75º under load, it never went above 75º, barely audible, the case also helps cooling the GPU as the backplate is very close to the case side panel and the side panel itself dissipating the GPU heat, acting as a thicker backplate.
Looks: painting was another challenge as the fan was very hard to paint without painting the blades, just that part took a while. I’ve used hot glue to make a surface around the fan so it sticks properly to the heatsink and to the cut edges of the case. It's not well polished so it may look a bit rough but from a fair distance you don't see the imperfections.
Overall it looks great near my desk or on it, using the rubber feet :D
CPU (delided and reapplied thermal compound, used Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme between IHS and chip): managed to keep it stable at 4,8GHz and 1,4V without thermal throttling in stress tests. I needed the best cpu possible for the motherboard, won the silicon lottery there, the normal voltage for 4,8GHz is ok. My CPU wont push above 4,8 however.
CPU Cooler: The Big Shuriken 2 is by far the best heatsink for the 12cm noctua fan. It has a lot of heatpipes and a very good dissipation surface. Another challenge here, I had to cut it a bit in order for the 44mm height ram to fit. The cpu fan is 1cm higher than the case.
Motherboard: I first thought of going with the “Asus Maximus Impact VIII” but the sound card and the VRM board near the CPU would give me a lot of problems with the “Scythe Big Shuriken 2” and the lack of M.2 made me go with the “Asus Z170I Pro Gaming”, I wanted it as compact as possible.
RAM: I really wanted to max out as upgrading it later on will give problems in the long run. I do really use most of the 32Gb for compression/encoding tasks. I know this ram is a lot higher than the “Corsair vengeance” but it is a bit better for a lower price. The Corsair memory I was looking for was at 3000mhz and CL16 as they don't have better options available in my country, while the G.Skill is 3200mhz at CL14 for like 20€ lower.
Storage: this one was easy as I had an 500GB m.2 laying around, the space and speed is more than enough for editing. Most projects are stored in the home Server, so space isn't a problem.
GPU: well, this part is that game me another challenge. Initially I wanted to go with the EVGA 1080 but I found a 50% discount on the Sapphire R9 Fury and it was an insta-buy. My next monitors are going to be free-sync so that's just a plus there. I had to cut a corner off the backplate as It did not fit in the case properly, holy cow, this GPU was very hard to fit in the case without bending or forcing anything, the GPU is 307mm long while the recommended max length by fractal design for the case ie 310mm. Well… even if it is a 3mm shorter it didn't fit the entry, but when it was in place there were no problems at all. The GPU is overclocked at 1100Mhz and the HBM at 530Mhz.
PSU: Didn’t go with the corsair memory, but I’ve always had Corsair PSU’s and they did never gave me problems, so this pick was pretty easy. Later on I’ve found out that not many SFX psu’s have 2x 8 pin power connectors for the GPU.