This has been a long time coming. I've been using an Alienware x51 R2 with a GTX 960 for gaming for about 3 years, and it just wasn't holding up anymore. I decided to bite the bullet and just learn how to build my own rig properly. It's been quite a process, but I'm extremely happy with the results. The original goal was to be able to stream, do standard desktop work, and play at high FPS on high-ultra settings at 1080p.
Parts-wise, it all started with the GPU. I had originally planned for something in the 1060 or 1070 range and a $1200 total build, but I knew if I shopped smart I could get something above my price range. Lo and behold, an Ebay listing direct from EVGA for their FTW DT 1080 for $430, and a 15% flash sale coupon from Ebay for orders over $100. A week or so later I had a brand new GPU that was way outside of what I was expecting to fit into my budget.
From there it came together pretty smoothly. I splurged on the 2700x over a 2700 because at the time of purchase the 2700x was on a sale that only made it $20 more than a 2700, far less than the cost of a decent after-market cooler that would be needed to overclock to 2700x levels. I went overkill with 32GB of RAM so it will scale, and so I can run multiple background programs during gaming. I've been able to get it to run at 4.3 GHz on all cores without issue. Tried 4.4, but it looks like I would need to tweak voltages to get above 4.3.
The case actually was the last big change to the build. For nearly the entire planning stage I had penciled in the Phanteks Enthoo Pro M. At the last minute I decided that the H500 gave me more/bigger fans, aesthetics I liked more, and some extra RBG at an identical price point. It was pretty easy to build, though for whatever reason installing the motherboard standoffs was agonizing.
In the future I would love to upgrade it with some LED strips (been experimenting with colors but so far I've liked purple the best against the almost all black components), swap the exhaust fan for an RGB equivalent, and maybe an AIO if I decide to overclock the CPU later down the line. Eventually I'll be in the market for a 1440p monitor to take full advantage of the 1080, but for now 144MHz/1ms at 1080p is sufficient.
Awesome at the price point. With sufficiently fast memory it's been a multitasking champ.
As a new builder it took a bit to get used to the BIOS, but once I did it was fairly intuitive. LEDs and Mystic Sync work well for lighting across the system, and for the price point it had everything I could want.
For $227 nothing else came even close. I could have been fine with 16gb on my build, but the 32GB kit worked out to a better GB/$ ratio and gives me memory room for more intensive needs in the future.
The only downside is the RGB lighting doesn't seem to be compatible with any 3rd party lighting software, so it has to be controlled separately. With that said, the card is a beast. Despite not technically being a full-on FTW with high base speeds, I've been easily able to clock it up to 1911MHz at base voltage without even trying via MSI Afterburner. I may play with it more, as the fans have kept it very cool on every game I've played using it so far. At or around MSRP it's a fantastic card. With that said, I've seen very few high-end Pascal cards being sold anywhere near a fair price in the months following my own purchase, so buyer beware.
Pretty great case at the $100 range. The big RGB fans look awesome and were very easy to control via MSI Mystic (didn't bother using the included controller). My only gripes are that the motherboard standoffs were extremely difficult to install (as though the drilled holes weren't actually big enough for the standoffs to screw in), and even using the tie-down points some of the thicker PSU cables make it pretty hard to close the rear cover.
Nice black sleeved cables. Everything on the fully modular system is clearly labeled and comes with pouches for storage of unused cables and other extras once a build is complete.