This is my "realistic" dream build I have envisioned for a while. It is the first build I have done by myself from finish to end. Hope you enjoy! I will try to get more polished final pictures of the inside up soon.
To set the stage, my company relocated me from the US to the UK in March. I decided to leave my mid-range build (i7 4770k, Air 240, GTX 960) at home and let my brother-in-law use it. Reason for this is that I thought that I would be ok gaming and being productive on my 4k Dell XPS 15 9550. While it is certainly a capable machine, I realized just how much I enjoyed/missed my rig at home. I gave my bro-in-law a good deal to buy my rig I left at home and the decision was made; time to build a new rig.
The research/planning started. I wanted my next build to be a clean and minimalist build but still have some oomph. I decided on a lightly modded white and black build. I didn't go ALL OUT on my build and mods like I've seen some. Just enough to make my build unique, complete it, and get to using it. Bottom line... I'm very happy with the outcome and love my new RIG!
Since this is in some ways a reimagining of my previous black build, I thought Gandalf the White couldn't be a more fitting name for it.
"I am Gandalf the White. And I come back to you now at the turn of the tide"
Here is a detailed breakdown and my thoughts on each part used in this build.
Corsair Air 240: 2 years ago I did a build on a black Corsair Air 240 case. I loved it so much I chose it for this build. In my opinion, this is one of the best cases for compact builds. I thoroughly researched other compact cases such as the NCase M1 and Phantek Elvolv mATX but ultimately came back to the Air 240 for its good looks, ease to build on, and cable management with dual chambers. White model with the fins painted black. The all white wasn't doing it for me and looked rather bland. The black accent gives it the appearance of its big brother, the Air 540, and gives it some character while still looking sharp.
Founders Edition GTX 1070: This was an interesting pickup. My objective in a GPU was 1) performance to price 2) works in a white build. I narrowed down my final selections to the ROG Strix 1070, Asus DUAL OC 1070, ASUS Turbo OC 1070, and the Founders Edition. I decided to get the Asus ROG Strix 1070. I installed the ASUS GPU but the white that it created using RGB was an awful purple color. Added to that it was a long card and I wasn't able to do push-pull on my liquid cooling. I was willing to tradeoff on the latter if the white was actually white. Graphics-wise it performed well. I would not recommend it if you want to use the White LED. I returned it. I considered the OC DUAL and OC Turbo but prices in the UK for third party 1070s was in the mid to high £400s. They also didn't have a backplate which I thought was tacky for spending that much. I went with the Founders Edition for £399 which was the cheapest 1070 available in September when I bought it. I had to do something about the "Nvidia Green" logo. I found a mod to sand off the green from the logo to create a very clean white light from the LED. The actual logo element is rubber so the sanding proved difficult. Since the black and green paint layer is a latex coating, it was really hard to get all the green without the black peeling up in between letters. I found a black oil-based pigment "paint" market to kind of dab in the green parts that needed to be black. I'm very happy with the end result and would recommend this mod for a white build. I really like the classid "GEFORCE GTX" logo on the build vs a third party logo.
Asus Maximus Gene VIII mATX Motherboard: I saw the Gene and it ticks a lot of boxes for me. Well reviewed mobo that supports USB 3.1, M.2 SSD, lots of fan headers, and looks great. The BIOS are easy to navigate and easy to overclock. I was also drawn to the heatsink.. they would look GREAT spray painted white . For those wondering, several tests prove that spray painting motherboard heatsinks have little to no impact on thermal performance. I spray painted the heatsinks and this took a lot of patience. I had to re-do it twice because I wasn't getting the finish I wanted. Beware: the fins are sharp! I bloodied my fingers while scrubbing a day-dried paint job off. All clear and I start again with 4-5 very very fine coats broken up by about 15 minutes. On the 5th or 6th 'finish' coat I went a bit heavier to get the wet glossy smoothness I was going for and it turned out perfectly. Special attention was made to angle the coats to ensure even coats in the crevices. I ended up taping off the main surface while I really went to town over the crevice coats. That way the main surface wouldn't get over-painted and drip. Very happy with how this turned out. I found a very small metallic Asus decal on eBay to replace the 'Gene' logo and the size/effect was just what I wanted. White, clean, minimalist.
i7 6700k CPU: Because science. I don't need this and for what I do, the i5 6600k was over kill. But what the heck. Overclocked by 15% to 4.6GHz using the mobo's easy to use overclock settings in the BIOS. Runs like a champ.
32GB (4 x 8) Corsair Vengeance RAM @ 3200Mhz: 16 GB suits my needs but went with 32GB to fill out the slots and future proof. I have always used Kingston Hyperx Fury sticks and was hoping to get those but their DDR4 doesn't come in white. It was between Corsair and Crucial Ballistix in white and the Corsair won out due to better durability, price, and less busy looks.
Samsung 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD: Love this thing. Storage drives in the past have always been bottlenecks to builds. Even SSDs based on SATA are not allowing some builds to reach their full potential. This SSD flies. My CrystalMark results are 2.1GBps read and 1.5GBps write. This is the OEM variant the Samsung's Pro 950. The Pro 950 looks a bit better in all black but since this is sitting behind the GPU I decided to save £100 and go OEM.
Fans: Going for white, I tried out the ThermalTake RIING RGB LED fans. I wanted to test them out because I thought the build would also look great with a Red accent once in awhile if I wanted to change LED from white. But these have the same issue as the Rog Strix 1070 RGB's attempt to create a "white" light... the white that is created using RGB was blueish and created rainbows from reflections in the case. I returned the TT fans. I've always been a fan (heh) of Corsair's fans so I went for 4x SP PWM fans and 2x AF Fans. I have 2x SP exhaust on the top. There was a test that Linus did about what push/pull config to use with SP and AF fans and the best thermal performing config was SP push AF pull so I went 2x SP push on the radiator, and 2x AF pull on the radiator coming into the case. I also used one of the including OEM Corsair SP fans that came with the case as an intake fan in the PSU chamber set to turn on if the CPU gets to 70 degrees.
Windows 10 Pro: Never pay full price for Windows. Go on ebay and buy and OEM Windows code from a well rated seller for $10.
Corsair H100i v2 Liquid Cooler: Used its predecessor on my last build and it offer great cooling performance. I painted the side plastic insert of the radiator white. The white LED isn't very bright so I'm probably going to take the insert from the pump and paint it white as well. Also thinking of doing a white wrap on the tubes soon.
EVGA 750W G2 PSU: - It works. Went 750 if I wanted to SLI in the future.
NZXT Sleeved LED Cable (White): Perfect length to go around the sides and top. The switch fits into one of your expansion slots but doesn't plug into PCI or anything. Is powered using MOLEX (meh). I really like the on/off button it provides and the light really makes the build pop. Absolute steal for £7. What I don't like is the control board sets way too close to the motherboard so the board creates pressure on the mobo components.
Onto items not in inside the Rig but part of my overall setup... I didn't price these in the part list to be able to reflect my true cost of build. Prices below.
ASUS PG279Q ROG Swift IPS 165 HZ Monitor: I was torn down the middle between this and the MG279Q which is also IPS 144hz but is a freesync monitor but £200 cheaper. GSync with my NVIDIA card wasn't a necessity to me and the MG279Q was worth a shot. I bought the MG279Q on Amazon through Warehouse Deals and ended up going through 3 monitors due to dead pixels on one, bright white pressure dots on another, and backlight bleed on the third. Thank goodness for easy Amazon returns. The picture was great... just wasn't willing to deal with defects at this price point. I was getting monitor fatigue at this point. I went with a refurbed PG279Q and its a beauty. There is a fair amount of IPS glow on any any specimen on this model so knowing that goin in, I'm very happy with it. Text is sharper than the MG279Q and GSYNC is a joy to game and work on.
Creative Sound Blaster Omni external Sound CardThe on board audio of the Asus motherboard wasn't doing it for me. The input was a bit hissy even with noise suppression turned on and noise gate set to high. A requirement I have of my sound card is that I can hear myself talk in real time (no lag... like you get with the "listen to this device" in Windows settings) This card ticks every box. Sounds great. No hiss. Mic input sounds crystal. I can hear myself in real time using the playback mixer.
boldHyperX Cloud Headset*bold Had this for a couple of years and still good as new. Comfy and great sound. No complaints.
Corsair K70 Keyboard I really like Cherry MX Brown Switches for the slight tactical bump while still have quick and smooth actuation. I also outfitted all keys with O-rings to shorten/dampen key travel. Highly recommended mech switch mod.
MSI W8 Mouse Noone knows about this mouse but I have used it for years and I love it. I bought 5 of them in case they get discontinued.