The main components of my current rig is over 7 years old (AMD AM2 with 8GB RAM). I needed to have more RAM and like the low power capabilities of the intel chipsets. I thought about going Haswell/LGA 1150 but I really liked the prospects of the new M.2 drives and USB Type C. The new skylake platform and Intel 100 series chipsets were built better for this so I figure it will help future proof my rig for another 5 years at least. So I built my new rig around the Intel Core i7 6700. The 6700 is rated at a lower wattage than the 6700k, is $100 cheaper, and it's still an i7. My main goals were to keep the costs around $1500, have 32GB RAM, use the new M.2 SSD's, and build a quiet and energy efficient PC as possible. I will be using this as my main workstation at home, running one or two VM's, and to improve my efficiencies in photo editing and video processing.
Overall I spent ~$1600, but I really liked the way it turned out. I could have went a little cheaper on the mobo by getting the Gaming 6 and getting a cheaper cooler… but I decided to get components that matched the white H440 case better :)
This is also my first time with water cooling, I always thought this was cool so I really wanted to try it. Plus it aligned to my goals of building a quiet PC.
I bought pretty much everything on Newegg, besides the CPU. Newegg is great because I get most things in 1 or 2 days living in Southern California. Unfortunately, I had to pay over $100 in taxes.
I did get a wireless PCIe adaptor because some devices on my home network are only accessible wirelessly, such as chromecast, and my Samsung smart TV.
In the near future I will probably pick up a 1TB SSD for user file storage. And in 18-24 months, upgrade the M.2 to a higher capacity when the prices eventually fall. I migrated over my 4TB RAID 0 setup from my AMD rig over to the new one. This gives me 3 storage tiers Ultra Fast (M.2 SSD) , Fast (SATA SSD), and Medium (HDD RAID).
I wanted an i7 for the hyperthreading. I do a lot of photography and light video editing, coming from an AMD platform, I would probably do heavier video editing now with the i7. Didn't feel like spending the extra $100+ for the 6700k, plus this was on sale and is rated at a lower wattage. Trying to be green here. I'm not interested in squeezing every last GHz out of my processor anyway. But I do want reliability, silence, and low power. My mobo detected the processor accurately and it works great so far. Runs around 20C with the AIO watercooler.
It matched my case and it got great reviews. Plus the customizable LED is cool. I cleaned off the OE thermal grease on the Kraken and used Arctic Silver 5 directly on the CPU surface. Easy to install, although I was confused about the power and fan headers. The IKEA like instruction manual was vague, so I had to look up a youtube video to figure out what headers to use. Apparently the 3-pin plug goes into the CPU_FAN header, the waterblock fans go into the CPU_OPT header, and there is a USB plug (which doesn't have all the pins, on purpose) which plugs into an available USB_2 header on the MOBO. NZXT warns to install the CAM+ software BEFORE plugging in the USB header. I followed that advice and had no problems. The CAM+ software is cool but it requires you to submit/register with NZXT. The radiator and fan are quiet and keeps my i7 in the low 20's.
minus one star because I spent a bunch of time trying to decipher all the wires, the installation instructions could have been clearer. Plus the CAM software required internet connectivity
I've had the same stick of thermal grease for years, still works great!
Some of the reviews online were scaring me away from this board, but I love it. This is my third Gigabyte board, but first intel based one. It shipped with the F5 BIOS but I quickly upgraded to the F6 as soon as I got my first POST. I have had no issues with it so far, and it was a breeze to install. Plenty of connectors, and the manual is decent. The Gigabyte App Center has some cool apps and the BIOS GUI is pretty simple to navigate. The board detected all of my hardware just fine, including my m.2 NVME 950 Pro stick. Just be aware of how M.2 shares PCIe lanes with SATA. If you only have one M.2, use the M.2 connector on the bottom, it uses up less SATA lanes. If you have 2 M.2 connected, you will lose all but SATA_5 on the Intel SATA controller, but Gigabyte provides 2 additional SATA connectors with a secondary SATA controller (SATA_6 and SATA_7). You just cannot RAID SATA_6 and SATA_7.
Windows 10 installed just fine, I enabled the Windows 8/10 mode in the BIOS and have "Ultra fast boot" turned on. The system loads in less than 10 seconds from power up. You can even customize the startup logo with the gigabyte App.
This board also comes with 2 Ethernet controllers. Great for hosting VM's.
I wanted 32GB of ram, enough to run a host and some VM's at the same time, along with doing the video editing and photo editing. The memory was running at some other frequency upon first boot, but I was easily able to select the XMP "Profile 1" setting and it changed everything to what was spec'd out on the memory box. These sticks are huge though! They are almost touching each other in the memory slots. So far so good.
First time messing with M.2, so I did a lot of reading… boy these are fast! Windows 10 installs just fine on it but the Microsoft nvme drivers are crap. Quickly install the Samsung NVME drivers for a 10x speed boost. Windows 10 installed in under 10 minutes, and could have been faster if I didn't dilly dally mouse-clicking through the install screens.
I was thinking about getting a second stick for RAID but I would be losing a lot of SATA ports, along with not having a whole lot of storage. I will instead wait for the prices to drop on these in a couple of years and increase capacity that way.
Had these in my AMD rig in a RAID 0 array and now moved them into my intel rig. TOo bad I had to recreate the RAID, but the data transferred over just fine and I will be using these until SSD prices drop more. One day I'll convert to all SSD.
I don't do a whole lot of PC gaming, but wanted a decent video card for the video editing. So far so good and this card is quiet! It is monstrous, but I didn't lose any HD trays with the NZXT H440. it sticks out a little into the HD area but it's fine. There are blue LED's that say whether the fan is on or off, which is cool. Most of the time the fans are off, so I hardly ever hear it.
I was debating between this and the Corsair 540. The showstopper for the 540 was the power buttons were right in the front, with two small kids they will be turning the computer on and off all day. The H440 has the power button on the top, and it's the same color as the chassis… kids are less likely to press it, plus the peripheral ports are on the top, where I tend to place external drives anyway. Awesome case, just don't try and lift it up by the handle looking area on the front panel… the top will just fly off! All of the thumb screws were on pretty tight from the factory so I had to use a screwdriver. The fan hub is a nice touch but I think I will connect most of the fans to the Mobo headers so I can monitor and adjust their speed. I left all of the fans intact, and installed my Kraken radiator at the top in an exhaust formation. The wire holes were a-plenty and the case is pretty quiet. I like the thick sound deadening padding, not sure how much it helps with the video card right below the un-padded side-window. The LED's in the case are cool, I like the lighting on the rear ports, keeps me from holding a flashlight from under my desk where the rig sits.
Great power supply, even has an "ECO" mode, which runs with the fan off until it gets too hot. Fits in nicely with my goals of having a quiet PC and saving energy. This has to be the nicest power supply I have ever bought, even came in a fancy cloth bag… and with fancy velcro cable ties.
You can use your windows 7 key to activate it... it's also wayyy better than WIndows 8. I prefer it over windows 7 due to the "app" marketplace, and I have a Microsoft account so I like Onedrive and the settings sync between my tablet and PC's.
Wireless Network Adapter
It worked fine in Windows 10 without any drivers, although Bluetooth was not working. That is probably because I did not plug in the USB header. Why does this need to plug into a USB header on the mobo? I don't have any available USB headers and this expansion card wants to take one up... doesn't make any sense.