Description

After living with an ancient Phenom-II 965BE-based system for years, I decided to finally treat myself to an upgrade. I'd had most of these parts earmarked for quite a while, but I only had a budget of $800. Luckily I managed to take advantage of some really great Black Friday deals and, once I included taxes, I managed to just barely squeak in under the $800 mark. Despite the usual holiday-time shipping fiascos, it was a pretty streamlined build experience and I'm really pleased with the end result. The system plays games like a champ and looks so great in person!

I realize I could have skipped out on the RGB fans and the liquid cooler and probably could have used the price difference to bump up to a Zen+ processor and a 580, but I decided that since I'm only gaming at 1080p and I'll likely be upgrading to the 3000 series chips and Navi in a year or two anyway, I'd treat myself to some RGB goodness and use the AIO to dial in a nice strong overclock to get the most out of my $130 CPU as possible. Besides, I've never had a liquid cooler before and with it on sale for $50, this seemed like a great opportunity to pop that cherry. Looking at the completed system and the fact that it still manages 1080p@60 with zero issues on all of the games I play, I'm happy with my decision to splurge on a little cosmetic flair.

Pros of the Build:

  • I apparently got very lucky with the silicon lottery on my CPU and GPU. I was able to dial in a rock-solid 4.0ghz at 1.325v on my CPU with plenty of thermal headroom remaining. My GPU was able to get an 11% overclock (to 1420mhz) with a 100mv undervolt, a memory overclock to 2250mhz, and never tops 75C even with the fan limit set to 2,500rpm, which is barely audible. Extremely pleased with my final overclocks on each component.

  • So quiet! Even with a total of 7 fans (3 intake, 3 exhaust, plus the GPU), at full load, I can barely hear the fans in this system running. At idle it's nearly dead silent and at load it's easily drowned out by my speakers or headphones, even at low volume. The RF120 case fans are an amazing value in terms of airflow, noise, and lighting quality. Not only that, but they move plenty of air, keeping internal temps nice and col.

  • The Geil memory was a bit of a gamble, but I put my faith in that 'Ryzen Approved' sticker and it paid off. Utterly stable and worry-free after activating the built-in 3,000mhz XMP profile. And the RGB is very slick. Not as well diffused as the Trident Z or Vengeance RGB kits, but still very attractive in person. Pictures don't do it justice. Awesome value at the price I paid.

  • I didn't know I could be more in love with the Meshify C than I already was, but somehow I am. Between the aesthetics, the airflow, the zero-wasted-spaced dimensions, and the simple but effective cable management options, it just makes building a system such a streamlined experience.

  • The UpHere! PSU cable extensions are absurdly high quality for how little they cost. They feel and look great and even come with cable combs included, all for less than $30! Awesome value.

  • The RGB really pops in this case- including the front fans, which shine through the front mesh in such a way that they really highlight that unique front panel design. I'm really happy I chose the white version with the clear tempered glass, as I feel it really helps diffuse and maximize the light spill of the components. Really makes it feel like a showcase piece instead of just another dark box with some LED's inside. Also, you can set a separate RGB profile in the bios and another one in the app, meaning my system does the whole mult-colored disco dance while it's going through the boot procedure, but then switches to the nice clean two-tone theme once the desktop is loaded. Just a stupid little thing that makes me happy.

Cons of the Build:

  • That being said, RGB Fusion is a horribly clunky and outdated piece of software. Even accounting for the fact that I went into this knowing that a B350 motherboard would not feature addressable RGB headers, I still expected more customization options in terms of controlling different segments of the RGB-equipped hardware. Thankfully I was able to get the color scheme and separation I was hoping for by playing fast and loose with the combination of RGB headers and the sync cabling and splitters that came with the CoolerMaster AIO and Deepcool case fans. Now the AIO pump is on the same circuit as the motherboard RGB, while all of the fans share their own circuit.

  • If I could do it again, I would have bought sleeved replacement PSU cables instead of extensions. Don't get me wrong- I LOVE how the extensions look, but boy do they add a lot of cable length! Even in a case as focused on cable management as the Meshify C, there's only so much room for that much excess PSU cable.

  • Speaking of cable management, be sure you pre-plan your cable routing and make sure everything is going to match up right before you commit to parts- especially RGB components. RGB adds a TON of extra cable clutter, on top of the usual PWM and SATA connectors. You're going to have to get creative when it comes time to wrangle all of that spaghetti into something even remotely organized.

  • The Geil DDR4 memory is deceptively tall and the Cooler Master AIO is deceptively thick. This almost turned out quite badly for me, but I was able to adjust the AIO position just right to where the RAM heatsinks just barely clear the radiator fans without actually touching them.

  • It doesn't matter how careful you are, what kind of gloves you wear, or how well you wipe it down- that tempered glass side panel WILL smudge.

  • The one way I would improve the Meshify C is that I wish the PCI bracket area was more like the Cooler Master H500 series cases or the Lian-Li PC-011 cases where there are no built-in dividers outside of the removable covers. In those cases, if you remove all of the covers, there's a nice clean full size opening that lets you use an aftermarket vertical GPU bracket if you wanted to. If that had also been a feature on this case, it would be absolutely perfect in my opinion.

Part Reviews

CPU

An absolute workhorse of a CPU and an amazing value. At 6 cores, 12 threads, it was a good deal at $200 when it debuted a year ago and so when I saw it on sale for $110 on Black Friday, it was a no-brainer to snatch it up. While the 2600 is a bit faster, it wasn't enough of a performance jump to justify the additional cost.

I also got very lucky with the silicon lottery on this one. I was able to very easily dial in a rock-steady 4.0GHz overclock at 1.325v without any hassle whatsoever.

CPU Cooler

For $50-$70, depending of what the deals are when you're picking this up, it does its job and does it well enough I really can't think of any reason to not recommend it if you're wanting a solid AIO on a budget.

The long thumb screws make installing the fans to the radiator a simple affair, even if I would recommend tightening them a bit farther with a screwdriver once they are in place. The mounting hardware for the CPU was also easy to figure out, though I had to fish around in the Intel baggie for the proper machine screws for the AM4 brackets. Mounting was easy enough and the swivel fittings on the pump for the hoses are invaluably convenient for final organization and aesthetics.

The fans are a good compromise between airflow and static pressure, but they fall flat on lighting and noise. My Deepcool fans are substantially nicer to look at and listen to. I'll be honest, the pair of included Cooler Master fans are the primary source of system noise with my rig and I'll probably be replacing them in the near future, but for the time being I can deal with the noise, as they do their job well enough. When installing the AIO, though, please pay attention to the total thickness of the radiator with the fans screwed in. At 52mm in total thickness, I just BARELY had enough clearance for the heatsinks on my RAM modules when top-mounting the radiator, so keep that in mind when deciding on placement and fitment for your components.

The non-addressable RGB is suitably bright and evenly spaced on the pump, but it's not particularly well-diffused on the fans. Be aware that the pump and fans all use their own separate RGB cables and PWN cables and if you want your fans to be able to do a different color than the pump, you'll need to put the pump on a different RGB header like I did. I didn't have to use the inline controller, as my motherboard includes 4-pin RGB headers, so I can't comment on the controller.

In terms of cooling, it does its job and does it well. I have the radiator mounted as a top exhaust on my case and even with my Ryzen 5 1600 overclocked to 4.0GHz, I have never seen more than 61 degrees Celcius when running a CPU+GPU stress test for multiple hours.

So in terms of performance, build quality, assembly, and lighting, it's an awesome value and I can easily recommend it for those things. My only complaint, in addition to the fans, is the installation instructions- they're simply awful. In typical Cooler Master fashion, all you get is a simple multi-fold pamphlet with vague illustrations and almost no written instructions. I've worked with Cooler Master systems a few times and every time, it's the same story: the instructions and the fans are the weak links, whereas the rest of the hardware always punches above its class. If only they could keep that same quality when it comes to their fans and instructions.

Motherboard

I picked this up for $60 on Black Friday, but I'd had my eye on it well before then after reading/watching a fair number of reviews. For that price, it's an obscene value, but once it goes back up to the $90+ range, it has to deal with some steep competition in the B350/B450 arena. But at $60? I couldn't be more pleased.

I'll tackle the one weakness first: The VRM's aren't the most amazing, but so long as you have decent airflow in your case and you're not dialing in absurd overclocks, they should be fine.

As far as the rest of the board, it's really solid. The ports are plentiful with a good selection, the installation instructions are clear with a really well-made manual, the BIOS is easy to access and navigate, the audio codec is fantastic, and the RGB looks great. The only thing I could have any level of complaint about is the fact that there are only 2 RGB headers on the board. A third header would have been nice, but for the price I can't really complain. There's also no Type-C port but I don't really care about that.

On the topic of RAM compatibility, since I know that's a concern with B350 boards, I updated my drivers and the BIOS before dialing in any sort of overclocks on the CPU or RAM, but once it was up to date, it had zero issue accessing the built-in XMP profile on the RAM, so no worries about that.

Overall, with the B450 boards already on the market and the B550 on their way as well, the time is up for this board. However, if you can get it for anywhere under $80, I wholeheartedly recommend it as a true value proposition.

Memory

I didn't know a whole lot about this company before I bought this RAM. I was trying to get some Team group RAM on Black Friday, but they were out of stock and this was one of my alternatives. After checking a couple reviews and researching the general reliability, I decided to give it a shot- mainly because it was within my budget, was 3,000mhz speed, and was apparently 'Ryzen Approved'. It was also RGB, which was an unexpected bonus for this price range.

Having used it, I have to say it's great. The XMP profile for the 3,000mhz overclock loaded without a hitch and the RGB looks fantastic. The heat spreaders for the modules are pretty tall, though, so you may want to check clearances first. I almost didn't have enough room for my top-mounted AIO radiator with this modules, but it just barely fit with less than a mm left.

I tried overclocking it to 3,200mhz just to see if it would take and it didn't. 3,133mhz seemed pretty stable, but didn't show much of a performance increase, so I just set it back to the 3,000mhz profile. I'm not going to knock a star off for this though, because the modules are rated for 3,000mhz, not 3,200mhz, so they do exactly what they're advertised to do.

Also, the RGB lighting synced up perfectly with the RGB Fusion software on my motherboard and was easily controllable. If you don't have any sort of software to control them with, they do a simple smooth color cycle that I find pretty tasteful.

Overall, for $105 I think these are a really good value.

Storage

I used this as my O.S. boot drive for over a year and it performed very well. Quiet, fast, and reliable. I recently replaced it with an M.2 drive and decided to repurpos this as an external SSD for my XBox One.

Storage

I recently upgraded to this and gave my old Crucial MX500 2.5" SSD to my stepson for his system. This Samsung SSD is stupid fast and a breeze to install. I have had zero issues with reliability so far and the temps max out at around 56C, which is perfectly acceptable.

Video Card

Alright, so I got this card for free in exchange for helping a friend with some automotive repairs on his truck. I had previously been using an AMD RX570 8GB that had performed admirably at 1080p with a solid 11% overclock. However, I wanted to make use of my fancy second monitor with its 1440p 144hz adaptive sync goodness, so I nabbed this for only about 6 hours worth of repair work and gave the RX570 to my stepson for his hand-me-down 1080p gaming system. This was a no-brainer, as 1440p was what the 1080 was designed to excel at.

I'll be honest: I had my doubts about this card, with it using a blower style cooler which is known for being hot and loud. I tested it for a bit and was surprised at the fact that the fan was surprisingly quiet and the temperatures were fine. While the fan is somewhat audible under load if you listen for it, the main noise I could hear was coil whine at 150+ FPS, so I simply limited my framerates to a max of 143. When I first received the card it crested about 85c under heavy load and would boost to about 1900mhz. However, I hated the black shroud that sort of disappeared in my system, even with the solid-white backlit ASUS logo. So, I decided to grab a vertical GPU bracket that I'd been waiting to drop in price and decided to paint the GPU shroud.

I disassembled the card and found that the factory thermal compound was overly cured and was absolutely everywhere, as the factory apparently goes overboard with the amount of compound they used. While the various coats of white paint were drying on the shroud, I went ahead and cleaned up the PCB and applied fresh thermal compound and fresh thermal pads for the various mosfets, memory chips, and VRM chips. Once the (not amazing) paint job was fully dried, I reassembled the card, installed it on the vertical bracket, and re-ran my tests. I actually managed to drop the max temp to 79c, though it generally hangs out around 75c during most gaming loads. The coil whine was still evident if I unlocked my framerates, but fan noise was further reduced. The vertical bracket keeps the card far enough away from the tempered glass side panel that the new orientation doesn't affect access to airflow.

Using MSI Afterburner, I raised the power and thermal limits to their max and was able to get a stable overclock using the Curve generated by their Auto OC utility. With the overclock enabled, boost clocks now ramp up all the way to 2,025mhz and temps top out at 82c, though still rarely crest 75c under typical gaming loads. Thermal load isn't even the limiting factor, as I'm instead maxing out available power and voltage. For a blower-style cooler, that's downright impressive. In Destiny 2, I have no problem achieving framerates over 140fps in lightly populated areas and around 90-100fps in heavily populated areas or areas where a ton is happening. Admittedly, the drop in areas with lots of other players is more than likely due to my CPU as opposed to my GPU. Witcher 3 also performs beautifully at 1440p with this card. I have zero issues maintaining 60fps with all settings cranked (except hairworks, because hairworks is stupid). And this is with over 100 mods installed, including, high resolution textures, facial maps, lighting and particle effects, and multiple Reshade lighting filters.

Overall I'm very impressed with this entry-level 1080. Thermally and sonically, it performs well above my expectations and fulfills my 1440p gaming needs admirably. The only reason I'm only giving it 4 stars is due to the issues of coil whine and the messy factory over-application of thermal compound.

Case

I am utterly in love with this case. It is an absolute dream to build in, with just the right balance of form and function. Airflow is amazing. Cable management is easy and simple with the included velcro straps, grommetted cutouts, and enlarged front channel area. Fan mounting points are plentiful, appropriately offset, and the dust filters are easily accessible. And while I love that this case isn't as long as most other mid-towers, be aware that the truncated length can limit the size of GPU you can use, especially if you're using a front-mounted radiator, so just check those measurements. If something doesn't fit, it's on you.

Overall, I think this is one of the best cases ever made for under $100 and I couldn't be happier with my decision to use it for my build.

Power Supply

I grabbed this puppy for $40 on Black Friday and I'm so happy with it. It's admittedly overkill for my system, but it gives me plenty of headroom for expanding and upgrading down the road. The packaging is super high-end, the modular cables are high quality, all-black, and clearly labeled. The PSU itself is dead silent and very efficient.

Monitor

Best value 1440p high refresh rate monitor on the market, hands down- At least at the time of this writing (July 2019). I picked this up for $300 and it's been worth every penny. The panel has beautiful color accuracy, nearing IPS territory and beating many VA panels I've seen, with a wonderful 1ms response time that has minimal ghosting if you keep it at the 'Normal' or 'Fast' settings. Freesync through the HDMI 2.0 port works flawlessly on the 'fast' setting, giving a very smooth gaming experience with no tearing to be found. Viewing angles are good but not great, which is going to happen with a TN panel. Same with contrast and brightness- good but not amazing.

Another added bonus- using a proper DisplayPort 1.2 cable, I was able to use G-Sync without a problem via a 1080ti FTW3 that a friend let me borrow/test. I didn't experience any flickering or visual artifacts in Forza Horizon 4, Apex Legends, Destiny 2, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, or Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The only difference is the sync floor- 55hz vs 40hz with Freesync. But from 55hz all the way up to 155hz, it performed perfectly.

I can't comment on the stand, as I immediately mounted the display on a monitor arm using the available VESA mounting points.

The built-in USB 3.0 4-port hub works great and is the perfect place to put wireless dongles for bluetooth, mouse, keyboard, etc.

The buttons on the bottom right are hard to see, but easy to feel. The UI is standard fare and functions as needed, even if it's not flashy.

The build quality of the panel itself is fantastic. It feels sturdy and well put together. A simple, professional aesthetic that eschews the typical 'Gamer Flair' that can look childish at times means this monitor will fit in fine in any environment. The physical bezels, aside from the bottom chin, are small, but there are larger in-display bezels that aren't visible when the panel is off. These bezels aren't overly large and are what I'd consider 'standard' size. The screen is matte with what seems to be a decent anti-glare coating.

The monitor only ships with an HDMI 2.0 cable in addition to the power cable and USB 3.0 pass-through cable. If you want to use the 155hz refresh rate or G-Sync, you will need to purchase a DisplayPort 1.2 or better cable yourself, so keep that in mind. The provided HDMI 2.0 cable, when plugged into the appropriate port, works great all the way up to 144hz, but will not allow you to overclock the monitor to the 155hz max refresh rate.

For the picture quality, feature set, and G-Sync compatibility, if you see this thing anywhere close to $300, grab it. You won't regret it.

Keyboard

No gimmicks, no unnecessary add-ons or miles of macro keys. Just a solid, extremely well-built, surprisingly quiet mechanical keyboard. The RGB lighting is bright, but well-divided due to the unique design of Logitech's Romer-G switches, meaning the letters are very visible, but there's next to no spillover outside of the keycaps. Considering I use the RGB in my games to color-code my keybinds, this was perfect for me. The software, in my opinion, is some of the best software out there. When no gaming, I use the 'echo press' effect, but there's a dizzying array of RGB effects and options that really show off the quality of the lighting Logitech used for this keyboard.

Mine has the Romer-G tactile switches, which I prefer over linear. The tactile bump is subtle, but you can definitely feel it, especially if you're used to linear switches. The switches are quieter than a lot of other mechanical keyboards, with less of a high-frequency 'click' and more of a low-frequency 'thunk' when pressing keys forcefully. Some people don't like the lack of dedicated media controls and that's totally understandable. I personally prefer the cleaner key layout without them and just leave the 'FN key inversion' setting on, which inverts the 'PRTSC' 'SCRLK' and 'PAUSE' keys, meaning pressing them normally uses the media functions, but using the 'FN' key and then pressing them uses their original functions. Considering I almost never use their original functions, this works out great for me.

The build quality is tank-like. The solid-metal chassis is heavy and sturdy with essentially zero flex. The non-slip grips on the bottom doe their job, and the wire channels are a nice thought. The USB passthrough works as intended and the cable, while thick, is long enough to reach the back of my system with plenty of slack to hide out of sight.

Mouse

I'm left-handed, but I eventually grew tired of using lackluster ambidextrous or overpriced left-handed gaming mice and having to program and learn custom key binds every time I got a new game. Since I didn't want to use a controller (outside of racing games), I decided to bite the bullet and learn to game right-handed on mouse and keyboard. After a ton of research and reading of reviews, along with my pleasant experiences with their other products, I knew I wanted a Logitech mouse. But which one? I'm on a fairly tight budget and I need something comfortable, customizable, and with enough buttons to be able to use in both FPS's, RPG's, and MMO's.

Luckily a friend of mine has a G502 Hero and let me borrow it for a week. I fell instantly in love with it. The size and shape fits my hand perfectly, all of the additional buttons are easy to reach, the 2-mod scroll wheel has just the right amount of weight and resistance, and the RGB lighting is subtle, but effective when I need to find my mouse at a glance in the dark. The customizable weights are a great touch and once again, I love the G Hub software.

I was so sad to give my friend his mouse back that I immediately added the G502 Hero to my Honey droplist and snagged it up as soon as it hit an all-time low sale price a few weeks later.

Custom

Dead silent, pushes plenty of air, and the RGB lighting is bright, smoothly diffused from the hub along the fan blades, and syncs up with zero problems with my RGB Fusion software. Comes with anti-vibration pads pre-installed. The PWM and RGB cables are a little on the short side, so make sure you plan your cable routing accordingly.

Custom

I can't believe these are under $30. They look and feel like a much more expensive set of extensions. The sleeving is a very tight weave with a slightly glossy look, making the white versions great at reflecting ambient case lighting. The sleeving is also a thicket gauge than most budget kits, giving them that full appearance that everybody wants.

The connections are very secure and they included plenty of cable combs to keep that nice tight grid pattern that everybody is looking for. The cables themselves aren't overly stiff, either. They're flexible enough to be easily routed, but still firm enough to not be floppy.

Overall an excellent value for the money.

Custom

These fans are dead silent, push plenty of air, and the RGB lighting is very bright, smoothly diffusing from the hub along the fan blades, and syncs up with zero problems with my RGB Fusion software. Comes with anti-vibration pads pre-installed. The PWM and RGB cables are a little on the short side, so make sure you plan your cable routing accordingly.

The PWM fan hub is triangular and a little tall, meaning I couldn't just adhere it to the back of my motherboard tray and instead had to tuck it down with the PSU cables to make sure the back panel would close. The RGB sync splitter and extension cables result in a lot of clutter, but that's par for the course with RGB fans these days. The proprietary non-standard connection type for the RGB cables is something I think should be changed, though. Not sure why they couldn't just use the standard 4-pin connector style. Other than that, I just connected the sync cable to the 4-pin RGB header on my motherboard and everything sync'd up right away.

I think these fans are one of the best values on the market for quality non-addressable RGB fans.

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Comments

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

+1 For Cayde. Let me know if you’re down for some destiny anytime

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! Maybe after I get used to the controls and get my characters leveled up. I'm jumping over from XBox and it's taking some time to get used to keyboard and mouse controls.

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

That’s what I did. Experiment with key binds. I play with some really weird key binds so that make it easy

  • 13 months ago
  • 2 points

Really good looking build, but an even more impressive part list. Well done. I am especially glad for you regarding the Rx 570! +1

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

I'll trade you my PC for yours. This PC is something I want to build just because it's blue. :P Great build. Also links for wallpaper?

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks. I'm really happy with the end result. Here's where I got the wallpaper: https://www.geckoandfly.com/12174/creative-amazing-dual-screen-monitor-hd-wallpaper/

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

buy and bild this for me now and i will give you the doble hand twist shlop sholp glop glop vacume seald combo 3000

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Are those RAM modules fully addressable? They look nice

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

They seem to be, as they have their own rainbow color cycle mode when no software settings are applied to them.

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

I am considering getting the same memory but I have an intel mobo. Do you have any idea if the Geil memory will also work with an asus Z390?

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Honestly as far as I know, Intel is far less picky with RAM than Ryzen, so I imagine it would work just fine. X.M.P. was originally an Intel-specific technology anyway. If it makes you feel better, the RAM is listed as Intel compatible as well.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build. Looks really good for a 800$ build. +1

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! _^

I'm actually getting ready to upgrade the GPU to a 5700XT. I recently upgraded to a 1400p 144hz monitor and my RX 570 has been struggling with that resolution. But for 1080p? It was great. :-)

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build man. +1
I have a 2070 and I'm looking for a monitor. Which 1440p one did u pickup? Might be a good option for me

  • 6 months ago
  • 2 points

Hey, sorry for the late reply. I went with the Dell S2719DGF for $300. It's a fantastic value, but it uses Freesync as opposed to g-sync. However, I tested it out with a friend's 1080ti and g-sync worked fine for it on most games I tested (except Wolfenstein: New Colossus for some reason). The only difference I saw was the max refresh rate- 144hz for g-sync, vs 155hz for Freesync over Displayport. Colors are really, really good for a TN panel, too.

  • 4 months ago
  • 1 point

How did you get the psu shroud cover back on after installing a fan on the bottom front of the case?

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

Actually that's the hard drive cage. I slid it back juuust far enough for the fan to clear. The PSU panel was left off.

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

Would your 5700xt bottleneck because of your processor?

  • 3 months ago
  • 2 points

Well funny story there, I recently got a GTX 1080 in exchange for doing some work on a friend's car, so the 5700XT isn't going to be happening, lol. I'll be saving that money towards upgrading other components or getting the next top-end GPU that AMD releases. As for your question, from what I can tell, my 1600 doesn't seem to be bottlenecking at 1440p. The GPU maintains 95-100% during gaming, whereas my 1600 will hover around 93% on a couple of cores, with the rest of the cores not pushing very hard. It's a pretty good matchup for 1440p, though I have a feeling a CPU bottleneck would definitely be present at 1080p.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Loved it!