Description

This was my first build. I started out by heavily researching the specifications of custom PC builder offerings and then finally decided to just order the parts myself.

I'm a web developer with a little background in multimedia and wanted a quiet machine that would allow me run all (18) applications in Adobe's Creative Suite 6 Master Collection with ease, including Premiere Pro. I was stunned at the high quality and packaging of the parts I ordered, as well as the attention being paid now by manufacturers to help keep PCs quiet.

Besides pcpartpicker, I relied heavily on guidance given online by two companies. Newegg has a series of three videos on Youtube on how to build a PC which I viewed extensively as I was building mine. The other company was custom pc-maker, Puget Systems, which has a "Serenity Pro" model that I used as the basis for my machine. They have published a number of articles about its components that I referred to many times. While it's true I saved about $1000 building it myself, on a strict cost-benefit basis, I would have been better off having them build the system, given all the hours I spent researching and putting it together. Comparing Puget's price against the big box makers revealed no cost difference at all, so if you're not an obsessive control freak that enjoys this stuff, I would have no trouble recommending them for your next PC.

The hardest part of the build was attaching the giant Noctua D15 CPU Cooler to the CPU. After sticking the thermal paste on to the Intel 4790K and placing the mounting kit on top of it, there are two screws which have to be "grabbed" under tension between the tall, delicate (and sharp) fins of the cooler. I appreciated the screw driver which Noctua included, but there is no way to generate the necessary downforce (felt like 40-50 lbs.) and get the screw to catch without a larger-handled screwdriver. Starting on one side of the CPU, I made a few revolutions of the screw, then after a few revolutions on the other side, the first side popped out (!) and I had to redo it. Not what you want happening around the delicate CPU when the thermal paste is starting to dry! Noctua's instructions gave no guidance at all around this issue. I hope they make it easier in the future.

One nice thing about the case is it comes with a 3-speed fan controller, if you plug the fans into the controller and not to the motherboard. However, after starting it up and seeing all the options available within the BIOS and within ASUS' AI Suite for setting up and controlling fan speeds, I decided to plug the fans into the board (1 front, 1 rear, 1 bottom, and 2 for the CPU Cooler). However, one problem remaining is that ASUS' software only works if you are set up as an administrator in Windows. It appears there may be a way to run as a standard (and safer) user in Windows and give elevated privileges to the ASUS programs.

After noticing an ever-so-small-but-noticeable noise generated by the stock chassis fans (Silent Series R2), I replaced them with two Noctua NF-A14 ULN fans which are very quiet, indeed. If I place my ear two inches behind the rear fan, I can hear the air moving through, but not the fan itself.

One of the main reason for getting the ZXR sound card was to allow the recording of an analog signal into the machine with a decent sound/noise ratio. I was a little disappointed there aren't more offerings out there for PCI sound cards. I liked my old Echo Mia card, but Echo doesn't make it anymore.

I still have to get a mouse, keyboard, two new monitors, as well as hook it up to my Mackie audio monitors, and place it all on a new desk. I hope to run some benchmarks and once I get comfortable knowing what is "normal", will try to overclock as well.

Comments

  • 66 months ago
  • 2 points

a 1TB SSD o.O

  • 66 months ago
  • 1 point

I was in love with the new samsung 850 Pro ssd (512GB) that has just come out, which should have increased "endurance" (number of lifetime writes), though the performance difference between it and the 840 EVO is really quite small. Then it dawned on me the effect of purchasing a 1TB EVO would significantly increase the endurance of my main drive, and more than make up for what the 850 Pro offered in superior hardware design. Since the 1TB 840 EVO is only $40 more than a 512GB 850 Pro, it was a no-brainer. The hard drive cage seems a little superfluous now, though...

One option offered by the R4 case would have been to put two drives on the other side of the motherboard. But it appears you'd have to remove the motherboard to unscrew the drives if you ever needed to replace a drive which would be nuts.

  • 66 months ago
  • 1 point

Great part choices. This computer could game well too if you ever had spare time. +1

  • 66 months ago
  • 3 points

Spare time without the wife around is in short supply, but I seem to have received a free copy of Watch Dogs, and that certainly needs some testing.

  • 66 months ago
  • 1 point

Cool build!

  • 66 months ago
  • 1 point

Awesome build! Great cable management and a nice and lengthy detailed description, always a nice site to see!

One thing I will disagree with you on is that you should have just let them build your PC instead of you. Honestly the best part about having a computer (IMO) is the fun of doing the research, learning how to put all the parts together and in the end saving a huge amount of money.

Great build and I hope it serves you well, +1!

  • 66 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh, you're right, it was totally rewarding, and I'll be able to easily fix anything that breaks in the future. Just had to admit I did spend a lot of (unbilled) hours on it.

  • 66 months ago
  • 1 point

I know the feeling! I got the itch to build a computer back when I was a freshman in HS (now 23) and spent many hours researching over the years, not building my first PC til I graduate college.

Talk about some wasted man hours there... haha

  • 66 months ago
  • 1 point

Awesome cable management! I've got the same case and seemingly fewer components and yet the cables in back of the motherboard just hang everywhere no matter what I've done to try to group them logically. Again, nice work man. Gonna pull this beast apart again to see if I can't get a bit closer to the zen-like tranquility of your photo.

  • 66 months ago
  • 2 points

LOL. That's just the lighting in the pic. :-)

Truth be told the Noctua fans don't do much for the color scheme. Even so, I would have liked the R4 case that comes with a window, but it wouldn't have been as quiet. Pretty soon the cover will go and no one will see the cables. Oh well.

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

Love the peeps who main on noctua case fans +1, D15 +2 =D Get a jigsaw for the window to show off that D15! getting it myself in a Panteks Enthoo Pro You thought of LED Lighting? NZXT HUE is amazing! $40 RGB, just run it without side panel lol What kinda noise levels you at? Building a similar rig, I too will have dual exhaust top but front 200mm with 2x 140's for HDD Cages, wondering what kind of noise to expect? all noctua apart from 2 original case fans

With 6TB in NAS, just a 256 evo ssd for me and a 1TB barracuda, gotta budget of half yours =( A Great snug fit there hehe great job!

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

Goodluck on the OC!

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

I have wood floors but even so the machine is now so quiet it's hard to test because I have to wait til there's no ambient noise in or around the house! The refrigerator and the AC unit outside are louder than the PC when I'm sitting next to it. When idling, I don't think it's audible. However, I can tell you that as soon as I start up Watch Dogs (the game) the Asus GTX 770 fans do start to create a slight pulsating noise that is audible (if I have the game sound off). When I did a short render from Adobe Premiere (using CUDA), on the other hand, there wasn't any extra noise from the GPU. If it's a little audible only during certain intensive tasks, that's fine by me. Hope this helps.

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

You wasted that $200 on that sound card, really no improvement over your asus mobo onboard audio. You could have scrapped the $80 optical drive and gotten an external dac/amp with zero interference/case noise from Mayflower Electronics here: https://www.mayflowerelectronics.com/shop/digital-to-analog-converters/objective2-odac-combo-with-rear-power/

Otherwise good build, would also recommend getting a 970 instead of that 770 (don't know when this was made)

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for checking it out. The main reason for going with the ZXR soundcard was to have decent analog inputs for recording from old sources. The old Echo Mia card I had was better in that respect, but hopefully this will work well enough. I got the optical drive so I could play and record a Bluray. Not sure how the Mayflower would help with that, but it looks like cool little unit.

I want to test stuff more but just too bizee these days.

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

How's the Noctua nh-d15? Do you regret getting it? And is it THAT ugly like everybody says?

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

The NH-D15 has been great, though I still haven't tried to overclock or put serious loads on it.

On the other hand, I am not happy about a low-level but irritating pulsing noise that comes from the fans of the Asus GTX 770 GPU that occurs occasionally. I wouldn't mind it if I'm gaming or rendering, but it sometimes happens when I'm just surfing web pages. I would like to figure out a way to configure the 770 fans not to spin unless it's really necessary.

Love the machine, though.

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  • 66 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks Xytrios. I was going to rotate or take the cage out (easy enough to do), but then I read this article about the R4 case (under Cooling Performance, halfway through) that compared the levels of cooling with the cage straight, turned and removed, which found no difference:

http://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Product-Review-Fractal-Design-Define-R4-159/

One thing for sure is I'm not going to run out of drive cages. Like ever.

  • 66 months ago
  • 1 point

This might sound ridiculous, mainly because it is, but if you wanted to, you could take out all the drive cages and mount the SSDs on the back of the case or something with tape or velcro. There's no moving parts, so there's nothing to vibrate.

Very nice build!

  • 66 months ago
  • 2 points

I went ahead and removed the top cage. Nice and roomy in there now.

It's ridiculous how small the SSDs are. I guess it's good to have a large case for cooling and for quiet, but you're right, the SSDs don't produce much heat or vibration and could be stuck anywhere.

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  • 66 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, re-reading the graphs more carefully, it seems there may be a slight improvement with it removed. I will give it a try. Anything to make the beast a little lighter.

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