I am a post-doc researcher in archaeology. I work from home several days a week running statistics for geochemical data (mostly Laser Ablation - Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)) and 3D graphics files from scans taken with a FARO Edge and FARO Prime 3d laser scanners. I had a Mac Mini (running in dual boot PC/Mac) that could not run the programs quickly enough for me to be productive. I moved the Mac Mini to the living room and hooked up it to the big screen for internet browsing, music, etc. I will use this new machine for running macros in Excel that would bog down my little Mac Mini for at least 3 hrs. I also use CS6, Photoshop, and JMP Pro 10. The boot time for the Mac was 7-8 minutes. I am now booting in 7-8 seconds! The SSD is amazing and fast. I will probably upgrade to a 500GB to put underneath it. I am planning on running multiple OS Mac, Windows, and Linux using VirtualBox. Windows 8.1 Pro wasn't my first choice but my wife said I should try something new. I don't like the look of it at all. I installed a cool program called Classic Shell that lets you make it look like Windows 7 and XP (maybe even earlier)?
The build was easy with the Fractal Design case, but it is big! It barely fits in my cabinet. I had a dilemma in deciding on which GPU to get, but I couldn't justify the upgrade to one of the 780s; mostly due to the fact I wanted a new monitor and a beefier CPU for the $100-250 in price difference. I also made sure that I could add a second card in SLI mode for future needs. I wanted to make the build last a while so I went with the i7 for multiple threaded programs that will come out in the future. I also allowed expansion for the memory to go up to 32GB if I needed it. It works really great as is, with 16GB (2x8). The Optical Drive is a little clunky when opening and I may get another type (suggestions)?
I had a hard time understanding the push/pull dynamics of the fans and radiator. I think the radiator sucking cold air from outside the case is great but blowing hot air into the case is not efficient. I think maybe some kind of ducting for the radiator would be beneficial. The radiator was very easy to install and I had no issues. The case fans are very quiet and I can actually hear my Fireproof ioSafe 500GB backup running. I usually run the fans with the lights off; but it is cool to open the case and have it running with them on when I am playing "WatchDogs"!
The cord management was a snap but I did not like the two PCIe power connections on the GPU. The loop on top had to be bent over to allow me to close the case. I purchased the back-plate for the GPU and I did see a 1 degree average drop while idle and 3C drop while under load. The fully modular PSU from Corsair worked really well and made cable management super easy. I may upgrade some day to the 1200W but the 860W seems more than adequate now. The platinum rating makes me feel a bit better about the longevity of my other components. One issue that arose was that I had the SSD initially on the top rack, when I went to install the WD Black HDDs they were so long that they bent the cords up for the SSD. I slipped out the racks (which is a nice feature) and rearranged them quickly with the SSD on the bottom. You'll notice in the pictures that I also rotated the top HDD rack to allow the top front case fan to have unrestricted air flow to the GPU.
I still have some tweaking to do with the processor, voltages, and GPU to get better scores in the benchmark, but it is working well after 2 weeks since the build. I have not played any PC games in 6-7 years and I received a free copy of "WatchDogs" with the purchase of my GPU. I have to say it works flawlessly with everything on the "ultra" settings. It is amazing how far games have come since my last experience. I already owned the Logitech speakers, keyboard and mouse for around a year now; they all are fantastic and I haven't had to change the batteries yet. If any one has any suggestions to improve this please let me know. I frequently used PCPartPicker, Tom's Hardware, PCMag, and various YouTube channels (the ASUS channel was really awesome! I highly recommend!) to research all the parts and read advice about compatible components.