Description

So I've been out of the game for about a decade. My last build was back in 2009 and has lasted me up until now. I've always build my own PC's ever since I learned from a friend of mine back in the 90's. I used to build PC's all the time and always tinkering after reading forum posts. I remember taking a hole saw and cutting a hole in my side panel and top panel to add fans for airflow, cartridge CPU's (Slot A/1), and water cooling with heater cores. Good times!!

I was always an enthusiast in my youth. The last PC I built I spent quite a bit to make it last. Life was starting to get more busy and I didn't have time to tinker as much. So, I wanted something reliable. Off the top of my head, the spec's were:

*Intel Core 2 Duo i7 860 - 2.8Ghz

*EVGA P55 SLI motherboard

*3GEIL 8 GB memory 2400 ddr3?

*Asus Strix GTX 960 2Gb - This was a replacement to an EVGA GTX 780 I think that was originally in the machine but died on me.

It was a fine machine and still works and plays most all the games, but obviously not in high/ultra settings. It'll probably become the wife/son PC to use for day-to-day mundane use.

I had an itch to build a new machine and convinced the wife to build a new one. Since I've been out of the loop for a while I had to do a lot catching up on parts and the new tech. Once I discovered this site, it was like crack. I must have created 5 different machines with different color themes and I gave myself a goal of $1k to stay around. I wanted a machine that was beefy, and not break the bank.

Eventually, I settled on the machine you see now. I decided to not go flashy and keep a basic Black/Grey theme and keep it subtle since it just sits on the desk and no one really see it but me. So far, it's been amazingly solid. The speed increase from the old machine is incredible.

The build itself was simple and easy, minus cable managing, which I didn't do so great. I built it with my son to help pass along the knowledge I have, and maybe help give him some understanding on how components work together. I had never used an AIO, so that was fun to see how it worked. Even though I was a bit rusty, I got everything together and worked straight out of the gate! I did have to set the XMP for the memory to get the correct speed, but that was simple and straight forward with no issues and been working fine ever since.

I haven't done any overclocking, and not sure if I need to quite yet, but I may tinker soon to see how far I can get. I'll update once I do to give some results. So far, it's been stable but I haven't really stressed the system at all. The only thing I have run is AIDA64, and the temps on the CPU didn't go above 52c.

Part Reviews

CPU

Best bang for the buck CPU right now. Haven't tried to push it yet, but AMD CPU's were always the best value for the money!

CPU Cooler

Great cooler! I've never used an AIO before and this went together perfectly. It's keeping the CPU at idle around 35c and I've yet to see it get over 50 while gaming. Also surprising was it came with an RGB strip. I wasn't expecting that and was nice to have. It also has a 4 port fan hub, which was really helpful keeping all the fans in one place. Instructions were easy to follow and I've been greatly impressed thus far with the performance. The fans are super quiet as well. Some people said it would make a bit of noise on initial boot as the pump settles in, but I didn't have or notice any noise. It made me a little nervous since I was expecting noise, but I monitored the temps and everything seems normal. Well worth the price to performance.

Motherboard

I'll be honest, this wasn't my first choice. I wanted the MSI Pro Carbon, but it was out of stock everywhere. I needed a board with wifi since I have no hardwire connection, but boy was I happy with this motherboard. It has lots of fan headers and 2 RGB connectors if you need. The wifi performs flawlessly, in fact, its OVER twice as fast the previous card I had in my old machine. The only knock I'll give it, is the RGB software. It's pretty basic and doesn't do anything fancy, which to me, is just fine, but other might wants something more robust. The price is great for an x470 it the board's aesthetics are really nice if you like a less in-your-face look. I found it to be very attractive. The RGB on the board is under the chipset and very subtle. It's hardly noticeable. I couldn't find any BIOS update on the website, but I had no need as everything worked perfectly on first boot.

Memory

I love the look of this RAM and fit with the black/grey theme of my build. The XMP profile loaded right up and worked at the rated speeds. What can I say, it looks great, works great, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

Storage

Man, this is a great drive. I've had a few SSD's in my time and this one just seems to be much more "snappy". I was going to go with an M.2 drive, but decided to just get an SSD since I could just hide it in the back. It didn't feel as solid as some drives, but that doesn't take away from it's performance. Great drive and i'll probably pick up another before long. Maybe an M.2 drive next time!

Video Card

Man 'o man, this is the bread and butter of the build. I only have a 1080p monitor, so I can't take full advantage of this card, but compared to my old GTX 960, this thing is a monster. I've played WoW, Apex and BF5, nothing can stop it. I've turned everything to high/ultra and it just keeps chugging, wanting more. I swear at one point, I saw it get almost 2Ghz with the boost clock and I haven't touched any settings! the Zotec logo lights up SUPER bright white, so it can be a little distracting, but it does look nice and clean. This fit my build perfectly with the black/grey theme.

Case

This case was amazing to build it. I had so much room to do what I needed and my poor cable management skills were still able to make my build look clean and professional. The AIO went in perfectly and had just enough room for the hoses to reach without being too loose or tight. My only complaint is the stock fans that come with the case. They're 3pin and run 100% the whole time. They also have a high pitch whine, so I'll have to replace them with some PWM fans at some point, but they definitely keep my case cool. For the price of this case, if you're on a budget, just spend the extra bit and get this case. It's the most premium case I've ever used and well worth the money. The price to performance is top notch. It's easy to build in and there is a reason it's rated so highly.

Power Supply

Fully modular and SOLID! This thing is pretty heavy so you know it's a good product and not cheaply made. The cables are all blacked out and look great. I know this is an "older" power supply and didn't realized it until I ordered it, but power is power and no problems thus far. All the power meters are showing the correct voltages and nothing too high or low. It was cheap at the time so why not? Has plenty of wattage for my build so it shouldn't be too stressed.

Monitor

I was using an old 720p LCD TV as my monitor for the longest time and wanted to get a real monitor to use. The picture quality on this monitor is amazing. Everything looks very vibrant and crisp. The curve took a little adjusting too, but now i don't even notice it. It's very bright by default. i had to turn it down a little as it was just blaring into my face and hurting my eyes. The downside is it's only 60hz. I didn't do enough research when seaching monitors, but I just wanted a cheaper (but nice) monitor and it got high marks. I wish I would have gotten a 144hz, but for my needs, it's been great! It does have freesync technology and I havent really played with the settings much. I'm happy with it, but it does have a wobble if you bump the desk. The stand isn't the greatest. That being said, I'm not banging my desk much anyway, so its not a deal breaker. If you want a nice, cheap monitor, I'd definitely recommend this one.

Keyboard

My wife surprised me with this keyboard for Christmas. I needed one BAD and this one has been pretty great. It's VERY sensitive to touch, so if you like to rest your hands on it, you may hit a few keys accidentally. It's pretty unique, as it's very mechanical typing. You will definitely hear your typing audibly, but it's also very sensitive at the same time. The software to control the RGB is really nice. You can do a lot of different features and colors. I'm glad my wife paid for this as i'm not sure i'd spend the money on this as it's pretty pricey and i'm not using all the features this thing offers.

Mouse

Bought this on a whim since I was building a new PC, I figured I'd just buy a new mouse as well to replace my Razer DeathAdder. I had always wanted one of these with the 12 buttons on the thumb rest. I'm still getting used to it, but man this thing can get as sensitive as you want it to be. It has 5 sensitivity options so you can adjust it for different situations (i.e. more sensitive for gaming vs. less sensitive for browsing). The software lets you control the RGB colors, effects and brightness. It also lets you adjust the different modes sensitivity levels which is very handy. You have to use a flat grip to use it however. So if you're not used to holding a mouse that way, it was be cumbersome to use. I'm used to a more "claw" grip (tilted slightly right) so it's been a little hard to use right now. I did try the side buttons in WoW and it took me some getting used to as the buttons were a little harder to use that I imagined. Overall, I'm really impressed with this mouse, but it's much different than what I'm used to, so I won't knock it as it's my issue, not the mouse. Plus it's also much cheaper than it's competitors, so if you're looking at one of the more expensive ones, give this one a shot instead. You'll be supervised.

Custom

I'd give these things 6 stars if I could. I was really surprised by the quality of these cable when I opened them up. The sleeve of these cables really felt premium and once the combs where applied, they were perfect. They are stiff, but if you place the combs appropriately, they will form however you wish. For the price, these things are a steal to makes your build look super professional.

Custom

Buy this thing! It was so cheap, but the quality of this thing is great! I wasn't expecting it to be that great. It came rolled up in a small box, but once opened, it laid perfectly flat on the desk! Some folks mentioned it had a chemical smell, but I never noticed any odor and was using it that same night for a while. If you're in the market for a mouse pad of this nature, I don't see how any of the competitors can be any better for a basic, full length mouse pad. I won't compare it to the hard pads or RGB ones as that's not what this thing is or tries to be.

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