First, let me thank Ari for his Forum answers to some details as I was deciding my 1st build. Of course, the Techbuyersguru site was a real help all along. My build is based closely on the December 2016, $3000 Elite Gaming PC. The pics don’t do it justice, particularly at night in low light, to the naked eye it looks like the case is open – the tempered glass is near invisible and the matching fan / gpu lighting is very attractive, the case layout allowed for a clean build.
Built: January 2017
This sweet-looking glass-enclosed PC was created by Canadian reader Alf from from Toronto, Ontario, who started with our $3,000 Elite Gaming PC Buyer's Guide, as published in December 2016, and customized it to make it truly his own! He was particulary interested in picking up a cutting-edge case, and so he waited for just the right one to come along. Sure enough, Corsair released its Crystal 570X just in time for Alf to snag one, and as you'll see, this case is a looker!
Below is the parts list for Alf's PC, with both Amazon US and Amazon Canada links provided, in honor of this being a Canadian build!
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6800K (U.S. | Canada)
- Motherboard: AsRock X99 Taichi (U.S. | Canada)
- Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 1080 A8G (U.S. | Canada)
- Memory: Corsair 4x8GB Vengeance LED DDR4-3200 White (U.S. | Canada)
- SSD #1: Samsung 960 Evo 500GB (U.S. | Canada)
- SSD #2: Crucial MX300 1TB (U.S. | Canada)
- External Hard Drive: Seagate Backup Plus 2TB USB 3.0 (U.S. | Canada)
- Case: Corsair Crystal 570X (U.S. | Canada)
- CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro H100i v2 (U.S. | Canada)
- Power Supply: EVGA Supernova 850 P2 (U.S. | Canada)
- Thermal Compound: Noctua NT-H1 (U.S. | Canada)
- Case Fan: Phanteks PH-F120XP (U.S. | Canada)
- Operating System: Windows 10 USB (U.S. | Canada)
- Monitor: Dell U3415W (U.S. | Canada)
- UPS: Cyberpower CP1500AVRLCD (U.S. | Canada)
While this is clearly an ultra-high-end build, it was actually Alf's very first PC build. Talk about taking a flying leap into the deep end of the pool! This took real guts! To help himself get prepared for the challenge that this build would entail, Alf realized he'd need a way to keep track of all the information he was putting together. Here's how he approached the process, in his own words:
To start off, I set up an Excel spreadsheet, which I updated as I did my research. I would strongly recommend some such to any 1st Builders. Tabs were Detail Specs, Assembly Steps, Installing Operating System / Drivers etc., Windows 10 Install and Settings, First Actions, Software, and Reference sources. In retrospect, I think I did about five hours of research for every hour of build. The build was completed in about eight hours for the hardware and another three hours for the rest. Some may consider this slow, but for a first time builder slow wins the race.
Take a look at all the parts he had to order for this build, as shown below, and you'll realize why he spent so much time researching. This is a lot to keep track of!
Some of this gear was so new that Alf actually had to postpone the build. We already mentioned the Corsair 570X, which was announced in September 2016 but didn't ship until December (and is still in short supply as of this writing). But even worse was the Samsung 960 Evo SSD. It was announced in October 2016 and didn't start shipping in quantity until the end of January 2017! A few snuck out before then, and we're guessing Alf received one of the very first units to find its way to Canada!
Once all the parts were on hand, Alf had to get working on the build. Luckily, just about everything was smooth sailing, except for the following issue:
The only “glitch” was finding the LED headers on the RAM touched the fan casing screws above it – I filed down the screws a bit and recessed them also by about an eighth of an inch.
This is a tough one, and it's something others have mentioned to us as well. Corsair's Vengeance LED RAM kit isn't the tallest RAM we've ever seen, but it's pretty close. Ironically, it used to be that air-based tower coolers had all the issues with tall RAM, which was one reason builders started gravitating towards liquid coolers. But that's not a cure-all, as the most thermally-optimized location for a liquid cooling radiator is along the top of a case, which forces the radiator and fans to hang down.... you guessed it, right over the RAM slots. This becomes a problem in smaller ATX cases, like the Corsair Crystal 570X, which have very little extra headroom up top. We've encountered this problem in our own builds, and we now tend to recommend lower-profile RAM for builders using liquid coolers in smaller cases. That's sort of a shame, because if you're spending the money to build a seriously high-end system, you probably want it to look good too, and LED RAM does in fact look good. Well, sometimes you can't have it all....
So, we've established that Alf's system looks good, but how does it perform? Well, he sent along this feedback:
Have done auto OC in the BIOS, the only test run so far is 3DMark with Timespy for a score of 7273. Need to read up on Overclocking…
For the sake of comparison, our Core i7-6700K@4.4GHz system with a GTX 1080 scores 6909, and our Core i7-6900K@4.4GHz system with a GTX 1080 scores 7659, so it looks like Alf's right on track with that score (we'd guess the auto-overclocking routing is pushing a pretty big OC, as well as some serious voltage). Typical 6800Ks can probably hit 4GHz with nothing more than a 40x multiplier. Extra voltage probably won't be required, making that a cool, safe OC, so that's probably a good alternative to the auto OC setup. By the way, Alf's Asus GTX 1080 comes clocked pretty close to its maximum. In fact, Asus originally released an "O8G" model that had to be pulled from the market because it was factory-overclocked so high that some samples were actually unstable out of the box. Very, very few 1080 samples will be able to exceed a 12% overclock over reference settings (translating to around 2050MHz during gaming).
We want to thank Alf for taking the time to contribute to the TBG community with this build. You can read more about all the decision-making that went into this build by checking out his TBG Forum thread.
Oh, by the way, Alf wanted to share one last thing:
P.S. I love my new monitor!