Preface - A few months ago I built my first computer, Grad School Experiment (GSE). Aesthetically, I was very pleased because of how unique it looked-particularly the combination of the huge CPU air cooler and the all-in-on cooler for my GPU. I was more than satisfied with its performance, especially considering how little I spent on it (sans the monitors). Overall, I had a lot of fun and learned a lot; however, I would have done a few things differently.
I'm a really big fan of black and white color schemes, but I honestly feel like I executed it poorly for GSE. The build felt disjunct because I really didn't know how to unify the the blackness of the exterior, the whiteness of the interior and the so called white LEDs. It would have been nice if the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv mATX window was a smidge bigger, like, dare I say, as big as the window on the ITX model. GSE was also completely full, which looked cool to me, but was a pain to work with, just check out the cable management pic. With these considerations in mind I set off to start GSE II, or Grad School Experiment II, which I have decided to call RGB Oreo for obvious reasons.
Goals - Build a sexy beast capable of playing games and use as a workstation, with an emphasis on cleanliness and color scheme.
Here's a little list outlining the reasoning behind my part choices.
- Intel i7 6700k I didn't make sure, but let's pretend the extra cores are useful for work =P
- NZXT Kraken X61 I thought about getting an air cooler like in my previous build, but I thought it would have been a shame to hide the beautiful motherboard. Ultimately, I decided to save the time and money and got the Kraken X61. I never considered getting a Corsair cooler because, honestly, I don't like the look of their tubing or their pumps. Maybe when I get bored of this build and stumble on a few hundred dollars I'll experiment with some hard tubing!
- Asus SABERTOOTH Z170 S Don't know if I could have found a better motherboard. This one fits my intended color scheme perfectly and has a m.2 slot. Would have paid extra if it had built in wireless/bluetooth.
- Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 32GB I wanted to fill all the slots so I decided to pay 50% more to go from the 4 x 4 GB to the 4 x 8 GB set.
- Samsung 950 PRO 512GB It's blazing fast, and I really like how it stands out against the white motherboard. To top it off, it doesn't require any cables. I find it sort of annoying how the words on it are upside down, but there are probably motherboards where this isn't the case.
- EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB SC Initially I wanted a FTW, but this was a steal at $312 (after a $50 gift card). Sure the FTW version has a bigger cooler, RGB and better stock overclocking, but I put the money I saved toward the HUE+, and the card runs cool enough even after further overclocking! One minor complaint though, the"EVGA" label on the the smaller side (closer to the front panel) is upside down. Maybe it's the OCD in me, but it seems like an oversight, given everything else is right side up. I included a pic.
- Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 5 This had to be the most difficult choice I had to make for this build. I was debating between this case and the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Glass - Galaxy Silver. I think I would have been happy with either, but what really sealed the deal for me was being able to use an optical drive or a third 140 mm fan on the front. Neither of those are an option with the Phanteks case. I also appreciated that I could mount fans within the top cover (without having to modify the frame like someone else did here onPCPP), and maybe it's just me, but I really don't like the look of top mounted radiators in the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX. It just looks a little gaudy. Anyways, the way I saw it, if I bought the Phanteks case I would have paid $75 more for less features and a different, not necessarily better, set of aesthetics. Also, call me naive, but I'm actually optimistic about future accessories Coolermaster releases!
- Asus BW-12B1ST/BLK/G/AS Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer Had it from a super old desktop. Not installed currently, but I'll add it in soon.
- Phanteks PH-F140SP_BK 82.1 CFM 140mm Fan Decent SP, air movement, not random tan/brown color scheme, and quiet? Check, check, check and check!
- Cablemod E-Series GS & PS 850/1000/1050 modflex cable kit I prefer this set over the ones from EVGA.(more details outlined below)
- NZXT Hue+ Advanced Lightning Control What can I say, RGB on white = win.
- Corsair Strafe RGB/M65 PRO RGB I've used Logitech mice and keyboards my whole life. Just decided to change it up a bit (it's also my first mechanical keyboard).
- Corsair Gaming MM300 Extended Mouse Pad Looks pretty good in the dark, but the gray looks brownish in sunlight. Performance wise I was really disappointed with the Gaming MM300. In comparison to my old Razer Sphex, mouse movements seemed imprecise.
- Glorious XXL Extended Gaming Mouse Mat Decided to try this mat instead. I really think the white mat works well with the color scheme, but looks like I won't be eating at my desk anymore xD. Mouse movements much better than the MM300. I'm going to keep this one!
- Changed pci slot vents to some white ones I had from other build.
- Changed pci slot thumb screws to silver ones.
- Wrapped Kraken X61 tubing with white anti-kink coil leftover from last build.
- Added black cable combs to contrast white sleeving.
- Spray painted PSU cover on window panel white. I wanted to keep something written out, but I couldn't think of something I wanted to commit to.
- Spray painted big hexagons in the front and top panel white.
It was my first time painting anything so I planned to paint things that weren't directly exposed. I figured if it wasn't perfect, it wouldn't be that big of a deal.
Miscellaneous Notes - The Mastercase Pro 5 is technically not fully compatible with 280 mm radiators at the top. You can attach it like I did, but it was a pain in the butt because you have to attach the radiator mount to the case and then mount the fans and radiator. This defeats the purpose of the detachable radiator mount.
If I had some slightly longer screws it would have been easier. Just be careful not to use ones that are too long and hit the fins! Also note that If you install a 280 mm radiator you can do it with the tubing closer to the front, or you could do it like I did. If you do it with the tubing closer to the front, you will forgo the ability to use the 5.25" drive cage. I was afraid the tubes may hit the rear exhaust fan, but so far so good. If anything I'll get a custom fan grill to make it look even cooler!
Aftermarket Cable Kits I mentioned earlier that I tried two cable kits. I prefer the cablemod version over the EVGA kits for the following reasons:
- The EVGA sleeves are too stiff, thus harder to route and comb.
- The EVGA sleeves come out of plugs pretty easily.
- The EVGA sata cables are ALL right angled, which depending on your case may or may not make it difficult(maybe even impossible) to hook up.
So far I'm pretty happy with this build. I could have easily cut costs by getting an i5 6600k, less ram, and a smaller m.2. drive to upgrade from a GTX 1070 to a GTX 1080, but that's okay. Unless I'm mistaken, I should still be able to play games pretty well at 1440p with this card. So aside from a worthy monitor (34" 21:9 maybe?), an impulse upgrade to a GTX 1080, and some Aer RGB fans top compartment this build is done!
Sorry for the noob phone pics, but thanks for reading and hope you enjoy anyways!
TL;DR Generic black and white themed build with RGB, but no fancy shmancy custom loop or mouth drooling display. Sadface.