This build started at the beginning of 2017, and is being updated as of July 2019 to be more informative. Many accessories and peripherals were retained through the intermittent rebuilds, most notably the GTX 1080 Ti. Recently, the AIO was replaced by a complete custom loop, an NVMe SSD was installed, and StoreMI installation was ultimately a success.
After finally getting a stable system, the results are phenomenal! Most of the issues with this build so far stem directly from the ROG Strix X470-F motherboard, which are detailed in the individual part description below. Another now-solved problem concerns users with Razer products, as these devices can cause issues with BattlEye services - especially when coupled with Synapse software.
StoreMI slowed down the initial boot a bit so far, as the BIOS time has increased from 13s to 16s, but will eventually mellow out after some regular usage. Everything after reaching the desktop feels even snappier than before, which was honestly surprising but certainly welcome. After much trial and error with installation, it should be noted that one must read the instructions very carefully. Notable steps include disabling Fast- & Secure-boot options, as well as installing Windows onto a clean drive formatted with MBR partition. No installation worked without those steps, resulting in an error that only referenced a “testapp.nsh” file.
Since the fluid will eventually reach equilibrium the actual loop order isn't critical, so hardware installation was designed without any real consideration for order - only aesthetics. The goal was to have as little tubing routed as possible, partially to ensure everything would physically fit inside the case (which turned out to be pretty difficult). There were a couple configurations that would have barely worked with respect to space, but the order here is: RES > PUMP > 360RAD (air intake) > CPU > 240RAD (air exhaust) > 120RAD (air exhaust) > GPU. Temperatures for the CPU and GPU are typically identical, and after multi-hour gaming sessions average 48C.
Performance so far is incredible and XFR handles all of the grunt-work! While it should be considered this one is under heavy water cooling, the CPU handles it's own voltage to achieve 4.341GHz when needed (and 1.646GHz when it isn't).
Not electrically conductive, and works very well. I used this under both my waterblocks, and it did help my GPU temps when versus when it previously was on air as well.
The black-on-black theme of this board looks nicer in person than it does online. Fortunately, the RAM support has gotten much better after recent BIOS updates. However, the ROG audio manager still does not allow the use of both desktop speakers and headset simultaneously. Asus' audio manager cannot properly detect input jacks: the system shows "connector retasking" and constantly switches the audio output back and forth between speakers (front-panel) and headset (back-panel) yielding NO sound. Automatic jack detection must be off to set these manually, or only have one unit plugged in at a time.
Additionally, the monitoring options in the BIOS could be better as the CPU header does not allow for fan off and all headers will forcibly pick an arbitrary “minimum duty.” The fan profiles aren't great, because the CPU fan header cannot be set to monitor fluid temps. This means that it is very difficult to take advantage of the heavy water cooling, when during light web browsing the fans likely aren’t needed whatsoever.
All things considered, that's a ridiculous amount of troubleshooting for a "Gaming" branded motherboard in it's price range. It must be mentioned that Ryzen XFR works well with this unit, because the CPU will reach near it's automatic limit of 4.35GHz.
I would have preferred to get 2x16GB, but at the time this configuration was cheaper and I wont need to upgrade for a long time with memory like this anyway! Although the memory passed 4 times without error in memtest 7.5 using the 3466 c16 XMP profile, I could not get a stable boot above 3133. While that is at least partially because I'm running 4 sticks, I honestly believe the bigger problem is this so-so Strix X470-F motherboard.
It seems unlikely that I can actually tell a difference between this and a standard SSD, but this NVMe drive feels incredibly fast by comparison. I purchased this for StoreMI: 1) to expand my storage a bit, and 2) to see if there's any measurable speed upgrade.
This SSD has some serious speed! The connection is easily 4 times faster than my HDD, and it's large enough to store a lot of games too.
I started this build with something cheap just to put my OS on, and I wanted extra volume for bulk storage in the future. This drive is surprisingly fast despite being a mechanical one, and has proven to be very tough and reliable.
At the time of purchase, this was the best GPU on the market for gaming (purely based on performance) and a year later I'm not even remotely interested in an RTX2070/2080. This achieves 100+ FPS in 1440p on Ultra (or Extreme) in a wide variety of games, including Warhammer: Vermintide 2, PUBG, The Witcher 3, The Forest, Elder Scrolls Online, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
I enjoyed that this was one of few GPUs with a white color scheme, as my build was initially on air. That's hardly relevant to me now that I'm running a full custom loop, though. Gigabyte's OC software doesn't seem to work very well.
This is the best PC case I've ever had the pleasure of building in. Even when cramming three radiators inside, there's still generally plenty of room to work, but with that much hardware stuff pretty much only fits one-way. On that subject: the plates in the top and front make moving and reinstalling my rads much easier, by allowing me to build them outside the case.
The four-sided tempered glass design is beautiful in person, surprisingly easy to keep clean, but ostensibly very heavy - with all my hardware inside, this build easily pushes 40 lbs.
Full modularity allowed me to only use the cables necessary, which helped with building and interior space. The 80+ gold rating cuts down on heat, and yields a high percentage of the wattage rating. 750W is plenty for my build, though it might be a stretch if I ever decide to run a CFX/SLI configuration.
I am actually still using my Windows 7 key that I purchased back in 2011 for my very first PC build, which has become Windows 10 through the "Anytime Upgrade." It's an OS, and does just that.
Wireless Network Adapter
Wi-Fi and BT4.2 both in one unit is nice, the exterior antenna can be placed up on my desk for better signal, and my internet connection is consistently full-speed (100 MBPS download, 10 MBPS upload) . The device seems to take a while to connect on startup compared to the rest of my services, but it's usually working within 30 seconds.
These are some of the cheaper RGB fans out there, especially considering their relatively high CFM and Static Pressure rating. The downside is they are DC, but my motherboard can still control them somewhat: at idle they run at their minimum speed (~600 RPM) and aren't too loud, but they sound like a jet engine at full roar.
Bought this basic monitor for my first build, and have no plans to replace it, as it still works very well. The colors are bright, and the response/refresh times are pretty good due to LED back-lighting too. It was re-tasked as a secondary screen when I finally upgraded to something more modern.
There is nothing bad I can say about this monitor. The resolution, refresh rate, and response times are among the best available: even my fiancee thought the picture looks beautiful, and she doesn't play games. HDR is amazing in BF1, but that's the only game I have that uses the feature.
There are tons of settings and presets, as well as the possibility for custom picture profiles. I've cycled through most of them at this point, and use one of the canned profiles so far. The box also included a bunch of cables and all of the hardware necessary for a wall-mount (except the mount itself).
I used the wired version of this mouse for a while, but sold it to get this wireless one - which turned out to be a bad idea. Synapse 2.0 is specifically troublesome, though it is all but required if one desires to change keybindings or even RGB settings. Much anecdotal evidence is to be found that says otherwise regarding Razer devices, but major titles do warn of potential incompatibility. This device definitely caused problems with BattlEye services, and also caused the BIOS to hang on startup.
Notably, the thumb-pad buttons are easy to find in a firefight, and incredibly useful whether playing an FPS or MMO. Battery life is decent: lasts about 12 - 14 hours on a full charge.
I tried the Game Zero model for a time, but returned it to get these, which was the right decision. I thought the closed headset would be better for me, but the sound on the Game Zeros sounded muffled and tinny. These, however, sound as good as most desktop speakers, other than the bass can be a little lean at default settings. They get much louder than they need to: I rarely go beyond half volume.
Additionally, the velvet-like material on the over-ear part of the cans is much more enjoyable than the hot leather of the Game Zeros. If choosing between the two, unless a closed setup is a must, the Game One headset is the best, hands down!
These are the only desktop speakers I've ever purchased, and they're certainly a great value: they get unbelievably loud and the bass is rich. The sub-woofer thumps hard enough on the desk to cause my mouse to migrate. It would be nice if the sub-woofer had independent bass control, but that's nothing software can't overcome, and I don't think these speakers truly need it anyway - I just like to feel the beat and/or bombs!
I feel like I've had these speakers forever. They're still going strong, and I enjoy cranking them up while I clean house.