This is my second computer build to date, but the first I designed from start to finish. My first computer's parts list was selected by a good friend of mine back in 2014 for the switch from XP to Win7. That system was an AMD FX-6300 with a GTX 760. It was adequate for my needs but it's time for a new machine. I do plan to apply an overclock on the graphics card as I become more comfortable doing so, and pushing the CPU up past where I have the modest current overclock. I'm not really a benchmark type person, so sorry no 3DMark or Unigine scores for the time being. Big Fau runs superb and that's all that matters to me! Please take the pricing info with a grain of salt, a lot of it takes into account parts I already had, Black Friday sales, discounts, and gift cards.
Big Fau -- Showtime!
CPU: The Ryzen 7 1700. AMD put out an incredible line up of CPUs this year. Originally I planned for a Ryzen 5 1600, but ultimately opted for the R7 1700. Price-to-performance I'll save the money on CPU/Mobo compared to Intel's superior gaming chips and put that money into fancy lights and stuff. I compose music and do video editing in addition to gaming, so this was the best long term choice. Super easy to overclock (@ 3.7GHz now), and with a bit more testing I'll try to get closer to 4GHz.
Motherboard: The Gaming 5 from Gigabyte looks great and performs great. Plenty of fan headers, SATA ports, and rear I/O options. My 2 gripes are: a) M.2 slot is placed awkwardly behind the graphics card, and b) the RGB header locations... but more about that in CPU cooler section.
CPU Cooler: The original plan was for a Noctua NH-U12S, but then I saw this. I love Noctua for their acoustics and mounting system, but this... wow, this is how you RGB a CPU tower. The fan may not be as "good" as a Noctua fan but my CPU stays frosty and that's good enough. Mounting brackets are acceptable. My hair ripping-out problem with the Gammaxx GT is the ridiculous cabling for the fan and tower. Biggest headache was the shear length of the cables (both fan header and especially RGB). I basically had nowhere to put the excess with the layout of the Gaming 5, and I would have LOVED to chop off at least 6 inches of RGB cables on both the Fan & Tower to make it go the only 3 inch distance to the header. What's worse is that I might have been able to route it to the lower RGBW header on the Gaming 5, except the cables are 4 pin NOT 5 pin and would have broken the 5th pin off. Sigh. Other than this cabling nightmare, I recommend Deepcool's Gammaxx GT if only for the tower alone.
Memory: Let's be honest, I could have gone for plain RAM. If you want something to look nice though, the premium is up to you to justify. RAM prices have skyrocketed and I got this on Black Friday sale for (relatively) cheap. Not the 3200 speed I wanted, but I'm super happy. NOTE ~ For any Ryzen owners who've heard horror stories with Trident Z RGB not lighting up or failing. There might be compatibility issues with Aura, Fusion or other RGB programs, but this is how I made it work for me. I use Gigabyte's Fusion to set the RGB on my Mobo and CPU tower fan. Close out of Fusion, open Task Manager and End Process. Stop the function completely. Then I boot up GSkill's RGB control program (currently using v1.00.28) and set the RAM lights. Close that out completely, and voila! You're golden. The trick is to not have both programs trying to "program" the RAM at the same time. So use one, or the other. Not both. Your mileage may vary, but this worked for me.
Drives: The SSD and HDD came from the old compy, but the M.2 is new. I cannot say that I've noticed dramatic improvement (my old compy's OS was on a SATA SSD), but I'm sure I will notice the speed as I edit more videos and music in my notation programs. Oh, and don't be fooled by the price. I used a $100 gift card and the $27.45 was my out-of-pocket. ;)
Graphics Card: This was a late decision but I chose the 1070 Ti as opposed to a normal GTX 1070. Reviewers be damned, because this was the only WHITE graphics card I could find above a 1070 that I could afford. It was this or go with an ASUS GTX 1070 "Dual" (which is also amazing). GALAX makes some awesome hardware, and I'm thankful I pre-ordered this. Silent, smooth, and aesthetically pleasing.
Case: I knew I wanted a windowed side-panel case once I established my budget. The Focus G is perfectly sized white case, with great reviews, good airflow, and 2 external 5.25" bays. While most PC enthusiasts prefer USB or downloads, I still use CD's, DVD's and Blu-Rays. This is a HTPC as well as a workstation so flexibility and backwards compatibility are important for me. Cable management was challenging, but ultimately successful. I want a couple extra zip tie points in the center of the Mobo tray's back for better routing and keeping large connector heads flat (like my CableMod extensions). All in all it's an incredibly solid case for the price range and perfect for many users.
PSU: I used a Corsair PSU on my first compy with no complaints. I'm using a EVGA PSU on this one, and no complaints. Gold rated and fully modular at a great price point. Its excellent reviews sold me.
Case Fans: I love Cougar's fans. Noctua may be the best for acoustics, but I love Cougar for the airflow. They have a deep navy blue color when lit, and are nice & quiet while moving a great amount of air. Highly recommended.
BYTECC Bracket: Do not buy this. It's the same Chinese manufactured plastic bracket available from other sellers, and I really do mean identical. Awful quality and incredibly brittle. Screw hole are NOT tapped and split. The ultimate reason for the purchase was the choice of this for $5 or an aluminum bracket for a whopping $30! Hope a middle of the ground price-point & quality option pops up in the future. Sigh.
Well that was fun! Go easy on me for my first write up folks. I should have taken more pictures during the build process, but I was under a time crunch. The "free Windows 7 to Windows 10" upgrade loophole closed January 1st, so I had a lot of work to do before that deadline. It was a blast to do something aesthetically pretty for a change. For a novice, I feel like I accomplished something wonderful. For anyone who gets the rig's name, I plan to add red stripe tape (like those on model RC cars/boats) in the future. I want to get it a bit closer to its namesake.
Excellent tower with a nice fan. The RGB implementation on the tower is stunning. The fan is adequately quiet, and keeps my Ryzen 7 1700 cool even on a modest OC. My main gripe is the seemingly excessive cable length for the RGB cables. I could lop off ~6 inches of cable and be happier. My mobo's RGB header was 3" away and I had over a foot of cable to manage. Ugh. Other users may not be concerned with this, so if you're good at cable management ignore that point. I strongly recommend this CPU cooler for RGB builds that want budget air cooling.
Fantastic graphics card from a solid company. It has a sturdy backplate and fan shroud, with great LED/RGB lightning accents. It's also the only white 1070 Ti I could find on release. The Galax OC software is decent for a rookie. One small issue were the fans starting & stopping every 5-7 seconds on "silent" mode, which caused some irritating clicking noise. Keeping the fans spinning even on low speed solved this issue. All in all a great card.
Great case for its size and price point. Smooth edges and solidly built. Included dust filters are fine and provide a bit of noise dampening. Some reviewers noted interference with front I/O cables and top 5.25" bay, however I did not experience this. Both bays of mine are utilized and there was no conflict with case cables. Plastic side panel is awesome for someone nervous around glass. My only request from Fractal would be to add some zip tie points to the center/middle of the Mobo tray's back for better cable routing. Superb case, highly recommend.
Brittle plastic, non-threaded screw holes, and strangely only just barely fits in a 5.25" with excessive force. Cheap plastic made in China. Wish there was a better budget option for those who need an adapter bracket like this. Do not buy unless you're desperate like me.