Even though this was my first full build, it was amazingly easy, mostly due to planning with Ari ahead of time. I wanted a machine that could run 4k gaming with ease, but was simple, not too flashy and pragmatic in function. My game [EVE Online] just isn't that demanding, so the $3k build was WAY over kill. After further reading I landed on trying to combine elements of the $2k and $1.75k builds.
Built: March 2017
After 2 more rounds of Q&A, I settled on a parts list and started ordering:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
- CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U14S
- RAM: Corsair LED 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 3200 C16 Red
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Aorus GA-Z270X-Gaming K5
- TPM chip: Gigabyte GC-TPM2.0 TPM Module
- Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Gaming X
- PSU: EVGA Supernova P2 750W
- Drive (OS): Samsung 960 Evo M.2 250GB
- Drive (Data): Samsung 850 Evo 500GB
- Drive (Backups): WD Blue 500GB (existing)
- Case: Phanteks Enthoo PRO M Tempered Glass
- Fans: 3x Phanteks 140mm Cooling Fans & PWM Y-Splitter
- Monitors: 2x Dell E2414H 24” 1080p monitors (existing)
Adam made extensive use of the TBG Forum to get up to speed on the latest in PC tech, as well as to gain a better understanding of what he'd need (and didn't need) to have a great gaming and overall usage experience. Here's what he said about this process:
After reading as many Tech Buyer's Guru articles as I could handle, it was off to the forums. My first post was question after question, but Ari broke it down for me and simplified the whole decision making process. I really appreciated the super quick responses, clear metaphors, succinct advice and broad experience that Ari has clearly gained from going through so many builds himself.
Of course, it's one thing to pick parts, it's another thing entirely to successfully build a high-end PC. Here's what Adam had to say about that experience:
It only took about 2 hours to assemble everything and get booted into the BIOS. Overclocking the CPU to 5.0GHz and the RAM to 3200MHz was ABSOLUTE CAKE through the BIOS. From there it was just a matter of cloning my existing SSD to the 960 EVO, installing drivers, updating firmware and, finally, all of the apps from Gigabyte & MSI. It took a little while to get the video card stable while overclocked, but I landed at a 2088MHz core clock and 4408MHz memory clock (remember that's 8816MHz with the GDDR5 video memory). Not sure if that's a win or a lose in the silicon lottery, but the performance I'm seeing is great with these settings.
Believe it or not, that's pretty incredible, Adam! Getting to 5GHz is not guaranteed, as many reviewers actually topped out at 4.8-4.9GHz. As for the video card, 2088MHz is fantastic - TBG has tested half a dozen Pascal-based video cards, and none have been able to sustain that speed! And yes, a 400MHz overclock on the GDDR5 sounds about right. Some cards will hit 500MHz, but many will start artifacting at that speed (flashing colors is a classic sign of a failing VRAM overclock).
Adam followed TBG's tips to fine-tuning PC fans in our recent 120mm CPU Cooler Shootout, and did a bit of extra system modification to really maximize airflow. Here is his feedback:
After adjusting the fan profile to get rid of unnecessary revving, the system is almost silent, even with 6 140mm fans (3 front, 1 rear, 1 top and the CPU). One note on the fans, this case was only designed to fit 2x 140mm fans at the front, but with some long screws, one of the extra fan clips from the CPU cooler and replacing the optical drive plate with a dust filter, that 3rd fan went into place and airflow is amazing!
Wow, that is some creative use of space up front! Repurposing one of those Noctua fan clips was pretty brilliant, as was replacing the optical drive cover with a dust filter. The Phanteks Enthoo Pro M actually has some of the best out-of-the-box airflow of any case on the market, so these upgrades will make it even better.
Finally, Adam got down to actually enjoying his system. Here are his parting thoughts:
My game runs at full graphics, 4 instances, across 2 monitors without issue. Just as Ari recommended, this is the perfect build for my needs! The only planned upgrade (at this point) is either an ultrawide 1440p monitor or dual 4k monitors. Depending on how things run after the monitor upgrade, I might opt for a second 1070 running in SLI, but that's yet to be determined. In the meantime, I'm even enjoying the lighting effects... who knew!
If you'd like to read more about Adam's journey from concept to reality, check out his forum thread!