First proper, well-thought-out custom build I've done solo, and I opted to aim high with it - as much as I could, within budget. Running very smoothly so far, used primarily for games, as well as some graphics design/Photoshop work.
This build started when my old desktop, running an i7-4790 and GTX 960, finally gave up the ghost. I was fortunately able to salvage the storage (HDD and SSD) and retrieve my files, but it was evidently time to start work on a new system. I initially considered a Ryzen 5 2600 or 3600, but the amount of troubleshooting and temperamentality I had been seeing with the 3600 and the B450 (and even X570) motherboards dissuaded me from choosing that.
Were I on a tighter budget, I likely would have gone that route, but I was able to spare a bit for an i7-9700K, and settled on the RTX 2070 Super as a GPU after looking at the specs between the current Nvidia cards. The price increase on the 2080 Super relative to the performance was too high to justify, and the 2080 Ti was well beyond my budget.
The MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Pro Carbon came from the CPU/GPU decision, as I wanted a fairly reliable Z390 full ATX board with more than four SATA ports and space for some M.2 SSDs. The Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro RAM was going for ~$160 USD, barely more than the non-RGB variant, so I tossed the extra dollars at some fancier RAM.
I was considering the CRYORIG H5 Ultimate as a CPU cooler, but the sale on it ended before I purchased my parts, and I wanted something that wouldn't hurt the wallet as much, so I opted for the Scythe Mugen 5 Rev. B, something still within the bounds of what I was looking for.
Originally, I intended on using a 2.5" SSD (250 or 500 GB) and HDD (2 TB) for storage, as well as throwing in an optical drive for CD burning (I am a dinosaur), but I eventually shifted towards favoring a 500GB M.2 NVMe SSD and a 2.5" 1TB SSD for the sake of speed.
The case was something I settled on late into the build, and while I wanted something a little easier on the wallet, the design of the Phanteks Enthoo Pro M TG had impressed me: there was a good amount of room for working inside the case, plenty of places for tying down cables (plus some pre-installed velcro straps), a good amount of airflow through the front, and a nice basement for the PSU and any 3.5" drive bays, and even a 5.25" drive bay space.
After getting familiar with the case, I started with the mobo, and despite my lack of experience (this being my first "real" build), everything went off without a hitch. The Scythe Mugen was a little finicky to install, but it was still bearable. The mobo comes with a small heat sink for one of the M.2 SSDs, which I installed the Samsung 970 Evo under. There are also plenty of headers for fans and RGB lights on the mobo, making it easy to work with.
Cable management probably took up the bulk of the building time, as I wanted to do it right and have them well-organized and properly secured. Thankfully, I was able to accomplish this basically to satisfaction, and the only cables particularly visible from the side are the PCIe power cables to the 2070 Super, the front panel USB connector, and the 24-pin ATX power cable running to the motherboard.
The case comes with plenty of rubber grommets for cables, and I was able to feed the PCIe power cables through some of those to keep up the clean look; everything else was tied down on the other side of the case, in a more-or-less organized manner.
The case also comes with two 140mm fans, one in the back and one in the front, and I removed the front 140mm fan so I could later install it on top. There is a removable radiator/fan bracket on the ceiling of the case, which does take some effort to remove after unscrewing, but makes installation of fans much easier. Finally, the three Deepcool fans went in the front, where they could then attach to a single RGB hub that led back to the motherboard.
This thing is an absolute tank compared to the old system I had been using, which somehow chugged along despite the stress it was put under (and despite its design flaws) for the better part of five years. At the moment, I'm relegated to using a 1920x1080 60Hz monitor, which means the PC can't properly perform at 100% yet, but I'm intending on getting a 144Hz+ monitor at some point in the future. In the meantime, it can easily max out anything I've been able to throw at it, though my library of top-of-the-line AAA games for such a purpose is wanting.
With a 1440p/165 Hz monitor, the system has thus far been able to run most games between 80 and 120 FPS, depending on the intensity of the title. The increase in smoothness from a 60 Hz monitor is honestly palpable, and the performance is pretty impressive given the increase in resolution, too. It's almost hard to look at 60 Hz monitors now, something I didn't much imagine I'd be saying a few months ago. I'm considering upgrading the GPU at some point in the future, perhaps when Nvidia's next lineup drops, but unless I can find a 9900K used for a decent price, I'll likely stick with the 9700K for another generation or two of CPUs at least. The returns on upgrading the 9700K are likely to be more negligible for my purposes, and I'd prefer not needing to pick up a new motherboard for a while, as well.
I was, indeed, able to justify an upgrade to the 9900K after all. A friend was interested in upgrading his own system, and I thus sold the 9700K to him for around $300. Paired with some unanticipated savings I had run into, I functionally paid almost zero dollars out of pocket for the 9900K, and the installation was painless as ever. Temperatures in regular use cases have been quite manageable, in part because I haven't aimed to run it at 5 GHz all cores. It was a bit of a long shot, and the 2070 Super seems like an imbalanced pairing with a 9900K now, but pairing this system with a new card from Nvidia come Q4 2020 will make for a powerful build indeed.
I'm rating this 4 stars because while it is theoretically the best you can do for gaming, streaming, and similar right now, and while certain use cases can justify it, you really aren't getting your money's worth if you pick up a 9900K. I would only recommend this CPU if you have some money to burn, because it's not a great value proposition. AMD is clawing its way up impressively, and Intel's offerings aren't so attractive as a result. With that caveat out of the way, this little hotrod is unbeatable for my purposes (full-throttle single-threaded gaming, video/photo/audio editing, and some other amateur workstation purposes). It is also hot if you're intending on running it at 5 GHz on all cores, but it's very manageable if you run it at 4.7 all-core and 5-5.1 single-core.
The price of this cooler is unbeatable considering its performance, and the installation process is pretty painless. Doesn't block RAM or VRMs, nice and compact, and not terribly expensive. A solid choice, alongside other Scythe offerings like the Mugen 5 Rev. B.
A solid board with plenty of headers, SATA ports, and other bells and whistles. The M.2 SSD heat sink is a nice touch, and it comes with an integrated I/O shield. Working well so far, and it comes with plenty of room to play around or add new things later. Realistically, you'll want a stronger board for pushing 5 GHz consistently on a 9900K, never mind the 9900KS, but for a 9700K or a 9900K with only light overclocking, it's quite alright.
As far as RAM is concerned, this comes at a premium for no performance gain, but I was willing to go for it since regular LPX wasn't on sale at the time. I would lean towards that if it's more affordable when building; otherwise, this does the job fine and looks good doing it.
This was the first M.2 I've ever used, and it certainly is a nice one. Easy to install, easy to load Windows onto, and no issues whatsoever so far. Wait for a sale, maybe, but well worth it in that case.
As always, a bit on the pricey side, but you can't do much better than Samsung for SSDs. Very solid (no pun intended) and works great for storing files and games so far. If you can get it on sale for a similar price to the MX500, I'd wholeheartedly recommend it.
Honestly? I would have gone with an MX500 if I could have at the time of purchasing, but the 1TB and 2TB models were entirely sold out at the time. This is a pretty respectable mass storage SSD, as well, but as is tradition, you're effectively paying a Samsung tax to get it. I'm happy enough with it for storing my archived photos/documents, as well as my less intensive games, though, as it's still a huge step up over a hard drive.
What can I say? It's an RTX 2070 Super, and for now it's one of the best cards you can get. Probably the card I would recommend for anyone going Nvidia over AMD, as it's the last card with a reasonable price relative to the performance it offers. The 2080, Ti, etc. start offering diminishing returns relative to their hefty price tags, so this is a very nice choice if you want great performance without spending an excessive amount for a GPU. Higher core/thread-count CPUs can last a nice long while, but GPUs tend not to fare quite as well, in my opinion, thus my rationale here. I'm planning on selling this and upgrading later down the line to whatever Nvidia's next offerings are, but in the meantime, this performs just fine while looking very, very sleek in my case -- no complaints.
A very easy to work with case, with plenty of places for tying down cables, as well as velcro strips for larger cable bundles. Space for 3.5" drives and a CD drive (in case you're a dinosaur), a mesh front for airflow, and easy to do cable management on. Also comes with two 140mm fans, which I am using for rear/top exhaust in conjunction with a 3-pack of 120mm fans that I mounted in the front. Well worth the cost.
A very nice fully modular PSU (called the GX-750 now), which I found very easy to work with -- and this is without mentioning the ten-year warranty. This thing is liable to outlast the rest of my PC.
As you do, it's Windows 10. It functions, Microsoft does their thing, you should consider ShutUp10 to make sure it's locked down and to your liking. As much as I like Windows 7, it's probably more responsible to upgrade to Windows 10 for most consumer uses, lest you prefer hopping over to a Linux distro instead.
A nice three-pack of addressable RGB fans that I'm using in the front of my case. The stickers are a bit annoying (not perfectly centered), but that's a real minor thing. Took some effort to mount in the case, but after some extensive cable management, they more than do the trick. Just know that the fan screw holes aren't pre-threaded -- it'll take a bit of muscle to get them into place. Honestly, though, given that I only paid around 30 bucks for these fans, they look alright, they push air decently, and I can't complain about the price one bit.