Description

Back in January, I submitted a build called Ursula, which I took down because the motherboard didn't last a month. It came with a faulty memory channel, and the NIC was dead on arrival. I got this inkling in my head that, rather than sending that flimsy board back for an RMA, it would be better if I saved my pennies for something a little more robust. I think "a little" was an understatement, as I went from an ASRock Z270 PRO4 to a ROG Maximus IX Apex.

In addition to my new motherboard, I decided to doll up the interior with RGB fan rings. Notice how none of my fans are RGB by default? Yeah, the Phanteks Halos rings are the best thing since sliced bread. They're even daisy-chainable! All five of them run off a single header! And while we're on the subject of dolling things up, you'll notice that the interior of my Core X9 is all chromed out. Yes, I have sealed the top and side panels with chrome duct tape, leaving only the intake and exhaust open for airflow. Believe it or not, this focused airflow has actually improved my cooling a bit, as now I can create areas of positive and negative pressure inside the case. Plus, the chrome reflects the LEDs quite nicely.

This rig is used for a fair variety of things, from gaming to media editing. I find that it runs Sony Vegas quite nicely, and all of the games I play are simply no match for it. I actually think I could have gotten away with a 900 or even 800 series card, as the machine I ran before this was a laptop with a 760M in it. But hell, I'd say Pascal was worth it; I imagine I'll be able to game sufficiently for a lot of years to come with this setup. Perks of playing mostly indie games.

I've left my CPU at its stock clock speed and set all of my BIOS settings to automatic, as it seems ASUS' firmware is quite intelligent when it comes to managing stability. "Why are you using an overclocking board when you're not even overclocking your CPU?" you might ask. The answer: tolerances. The way I see it, since both the CPU and motherboard can handle more than I'll ever throw at them, the parts themselves should last a pretty long time with no issues.

Some interesting facts about this machine:

  • I chose the PFB1212UHE-F00 as my exhaust partly because of its noise. I like having some ambient noise, and the CF525 fan controller allows me to tune it to a fairly pleasant pitch. It also moves a freakish amount of air, which keeps the ambient temperature inside the case quite cool.

  • I don't have a dedicated desk for my keyboard and trackball; I instead use a lap-desk with cushions on the bottom. Perks of Bluetooth peripherals.

  • I'm using the Core X9's stock exhaust fan as a secondary intake fan on the front panel. That fan is absolutely pathetic, pushing basically no air even at full speed. I guess it was a matter of "I have it so I might as well use it."

  • The DIMM.2 riser doesn't currently have any M.2 devices on it. It's mounted solely for its LEDs to negate the RAM's red heat spreaders.

  • Among its storage drives is a 2.5" HDD that I pulled from my old laptop. It's free real estate.

  • The Hyper 212 Evo's fan and RGB ring had to be moved up a couple millimeters, and are currently resting on top of the RAM.

Part Reviews

CPU

Does what it says on the tin, albeit for a pretty inflated price, given how it's not current-gen anymore. If you're looking for a Z270 CPU, definitely get this instead of the 7700K; the $50 price difference isn't worth the 200MHz clock speed difference.

CPU Cooler

This here's a tried and true piece of hardware - a design that's over a decade old and still does the job right. While you shouldn't expect much overclocking out of this setup, you can actually pull about a 7% overclock on a 6700K while keeping it at a reasonable temperature, provided your case is well enough ventilated and your thermal paste application is done right. My only word of warning is that it's fairly tall. Make sure you have about 150mm or so of clearance between the CPU and the top/side of the case.

Motherboard

Now THIS is what I call a motherboard! Solid construction, a comprehensive BIOS, and highly intelligent firmware make this board the Apex of the Z270 lineup (in my opinion). My only cause for concern with this board is that it only has two RAM slots, which are pretty close to the CPU, so pay close attention to your CPU cooler's RAM clearance (unless you're using an air cooler whose fans clip to the heatsink, in which case you can just move the fan up a couple millimeters and be just fine).

Memory

Good quality RAM that's compatible with a variety of boards. The heat spreaders aren't as gaudy as the picture may lead you to believe; the red paint is actually deeper and more glossy than that, sorta like the paint on a Ferrari. If you're going for a red-themed build, this will give it a fairly classy look.

Storage

Boots fast, has enough room for some programs and a dual-boot partition. Seems to be constructed fairly well. Samsung may have no idea how to make a smartphone, but their SSDs are pretty solid.

Storage

I pulled this from an old laptop when I upgraded it to an SSD, figured I'd slap it in my current PC for the hell of it. Been working since 2014 with no issues so far.

Storage

It's big, it's cheap, it will reliably store all of my, uh, "stimulating images." 10/10

Video Card

Ahh, the beastly heart of my build. EVGA's always been a favorite of mine, and their graphics cards are no exception. This card's fans are pretty silent, on the rare occasion that they activate in the first place. Nothing I throw at it gets it above 65C, and that's with all the case fans turned off. It eats everything I play for breakfast, and gives me wonderful hardware acceleration when editing videos. Overall a very competent card. Highly recommended.

Case

First off, let me put this case into perspective. Think of a moose. You see a picture of a moose online, you're like "Yeah, that's pretty big." But only when you see a moose in person do you realize just how big it is. The same goes for this case. It's immense. It's bigger than you want to believe. If you have limited space to work with, this is NOT the case for you.

If you're like me, and you don't mind having a PC the size of a minifridge, this case is godlike. This case features:

  • Nearly limitless clearance for CPU coolers and graphics cards

  • Fully customizable interior in which all parts can be removed and rearranged

  • Grated side and top panels for maximum airflow

  • Fairly good stock intake fan rated at 130CFM

  • Removable I/O panel that can swap to the other side

  • Mounts for up to 6 internal drives and 3 optical drives (though I recommend using them for fan controllers)

  • Mounting space for up to 21 12cm fans. Yes, twenty-one. You don't need that many fans. You don't need half that. But if you're buying this case, you don't believe in overkill.

All of its panels are removable. Even the bottom panel comes off. But that's not even the craziest part of it. Should you somehow manage to run out of space (which is practically impossible), you can stack another one on top of it by removing the top and bottom panels and bolting the two cases together.

Legitimately, my only gripe with this case is that the screws that hold the side panels on are short and weak. They can be replaced with longer screws quite easily though, so that's not much of an issue.

Overall, I would recommend this case in a heartbeat, especially for newbie builders (like me) who don't know how big their components are.

Power Supply

Good quality, solid cables with nice black jackets, and an intelligent fan that only kicks on if it gets hot. Definitely recommended.

Operating System

Eh, it's Windows. Runs my games and editing programs well enough. If you're not big on gaming, I would recommend you save your money and go for Linux Mint with the Cinnamon interface; it's kinda like Windows 7 but with more features. Would've just done that if I had know how great Mint was at the time.

Wireless Network Adapter

My roommate gave me this from his old build. Seems to do the job pretty nicely.

Case Fan

Excellent value here! The fans are fairly strong and very quiet, all for less than $10 per fan. I use these for my floor intake array, and they work very nicely.

Case Fan

This is not the fan for the average person. This fan is like a drag racer: extremely fast, extremely loud, and very expensive. But oh lordy does it do the job; at full capacity, this fan puts out 252 cubic feet of air per minute. It can exhaust the entire volume of my monstrous Core X9 case in 1.03 seconds.

Note: DO NOT PLUG THIS FAN INTO YOUR MOTHERBOARD. Its max power draw is about 58W, which means you have to either molex it into your power supply or use an extremely beefy fan controller. I recommend the Lamptron CF525; that will allow you to adjust its speed and noise level.

Keyboard

This keyboard serves me quite well. Good battery life and strong buttons, plus a variety of additional functions that you might normally find on a laptop. Overall I recommend it.

Mouse

Smooth, well built, easy to clean, looks nice. Those two extra buttons have proven quite useful. Overall, I recommend it.

UPS

BIG, BEEFY BOY. It's expensive, it weighs about half a million pounds, but you will not regret having it. Power flickers and outages are nothing for it. It will power all but the most excessive systems for upwards of an hour - even longer in most cases. Something I find rather nice is all the readouts it gives you; I've used this thing to test my rig's maximum power draw, which actually came out to about 414W.

Overall, worth the money!

Custom

Yup, it's a Y cable. It does the electricity thing.

Custom

My roommate gave me this panel after seeing me game on a cheap LCD TV, and now I really can't go back. This thing's display is wonderfully crisp, and I never really realized how much I would love its ultra-wide layout!

Custom

I used this thing to reach from my fan controller to my exhaust jet. It actually couldn't take all the power running through it, and when I took it out I came to realize I didn't need it in the first place.

Custom

This card saved me a lot of embarrassment because my motherboard only had one USB 3.0 header and I needed two. Nicely enough, it does justify its existence in that slot by giving me five additional USB ports on the back of my machine. I'm glad this exists.

Custom

It's slick, it's smooth, it's precise, and most of all, it's powerful. It's the only fan controller I could find that could tame my mighty PFB1212UHE-F00 exhaust fan. I think my favorite part about it is that it doesn't go over the top with the aesthetics; it's a simple, functional, classy piece of hardware. Kinda makes my PC look like a guitar amp at the right angle. 10/10, definitely recommend.

Custom

These are practically a lifehack. No more shopping for RGB fans when you can just add these to whatever fans you want! Make your server fans RGB for all I care!

One thing to note, though, is that the rings themselves read the signal as GRB rather than RGB, so you need some kind of signal adapter to sync the colors up. Luckily for me, they interpret blue as purple, which happens to be a scheme I really like anyway, so that's nice, lol.

Custom

These really saved me a lot of hassle. If you have a SATA device somewhere hard to reach and are using a modular power supply, these can save you a whole extra slot. I'm really glad these exist.

Comments

  • 5 months ago
  • 3 points

I love these cases. I have a Core v21. I want to try something else, but the airflow is just so good.

  • 5 months ago
  • 3 points

Honestly I can't see myself using anything BUT the Core lineup. They're just so easy to build in, and so customizable!

Funny you mention that; I'm working on a secondary build that uses the V21. Can't wait til it gets here!

  • 5 months ago
  • 3 points

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