Description

I call this my "first and a half build." Back in December 2017 my trusty Gigabyte Laptop that I had used through college started becoming.....unreliable. So I needed a new machine and I needed one fast, since I was graduating that semester I didn't want to bother with another laptop and decided to build my own, however I had little experience with hardware and was mostly going on the advice of a friend in computer engineering.

I assembled the first iteration of this rig in January. That first build had all of the same core components of the build you now see, but the original was in a original NZXT Phantom, and had a Cyrorig H7 rather than a DPR4 you see now. Unfortunately the Phantom's proprietary 193mm fans where noisy, and the H7 wasn't quite up to a 7700k overclock.

So in May I set about fixing the mistakes of the first iteration, and this time I was going to do it perfect. I wanted a rig that was silent, and cold. I had had enough of noisy fans and hot CPUs from my laptop days. I also wanted full software control of my fans, as I found having micromanage the fan controls on my Phantom a hassle. I spent weeks analyzing every fan and case on the market, looking for the right combo of silence and airflow. I also heavily researched airflow and acoustics to the point of becoming almost obsessed. And After all of that I settled on the design you see here.

The Define S was selected because it allows for a triple 140mm fan setup in the front, and has no internal obstructions to airflow, is designed for silence, and lacks a PSU shroud. (PSU shrouds are suboptimal for your GPU cooling) However the Define S has two drawbacks, the first being that it's stock pci slot covers are extremely airflow restrictive on top of being a ugly white. I fixed that by swapping them for the black hex mesh slot covers from my old Phantom. The second drawback is that it has a bottom fan slot, this slot is bad because it will allow air to escape the case without first going through a hot component. I couldn't fill the slot with a fan because of the PSU wires. I solved this drawback by using adhesive sound dampening material to cover the entire bottom of the case thus closing off unwanted holes and increasing the sound dampening of the case at the same time. I also added a strip of the dampening material to the ceiling the case for even more dampening.

I chose the Aerocool DS fans for front intake as those fans offered the best mix of airflow and silence. The only other fans that could possibly contend with these fans in performance are Be Quiet's Silent Wings 3 fans which are double the cost. (Contrary to popular belief Noctua fans aren't that great for quiet builds as they most achieve their silence by just having crap performance, and the Industrial Noctuas have a ear grating tonality to them)

The fan controller choice was between corsair's commander pro and NZXT's Grid+. I ultimately chose the Corsair option as the Link software is less intrusive than NZXT's CAM software, and the commander pro also has temperature sensors. These temperature sensors are useful because they allow be to compare the temperature of the air going into the CPU/GPU vs the air coming into the case. If there is a noticeable temperature delta between the air coming into the case and the air being taken in by the CPU/GPU coolers than it tells me that I've got a recirculation problem. The fan curves are set up so that the speed of the top two front fans is determined by the CPU temp, and the speed bottommost front fan is determined by GPU temp.

The DPR4 cpu cooler was a gamble on my part has it had just come out, I was originally going to go with a Thermalright Le Grand Macho RT, and in hindsight I wish I had, however the DPR4 has the performance and is quiet so I won't complain. I do wish the fan mounts on the DPR4 where not proprietary though.

Part Reviews

CPU

I went with a 7700k over a 8700k as the 8700k was still rather new and pricy when I first built the rig. I didn't really need multithread performance at the time so it seemed wise. Unfortunately I got into UE4 development shortly after building the rig and now I wish I had those cores. However if you're just a gamer and don't need all the threads, this CPU is a beast. Runs GW2 (which is very CPU abusive) at 90 fps and can handle Arma 3 at 60 FPS easy.

CPU Cooler

Probably one of the quietest dual tower CPU coolers, and it looks very dank. However I was extremely agitated to discover that the fan mounts can only work Be Quiet fans. It's not possible to mount other 120mm fans unless you can make your own custom fan clip. Should have followed my gut and gone with the Le Grand Macho RT.

Motherboard

The VRM on the board leaves a lot to be desired, but since I only went for a 4.5 GHz overclock the VRM is adequate. Otherwise it's a good budget board.

Memory

The one weak point in my build. The speed is slow and when I overclocked the RAM the timings went through the roof. Still it was one of the cheaper options at the time. Will probably replace when RAM prices come down.

Video Card

Easily one of the best 1060 6gb models on the market in terms of factory clock. Keeps cool despite it's small cooler size. Absolutely destroys 1080p gaming and I haven't found a game yet that I can't play at max settings.

Case Fan

Excellent build quality, and Aerocool isn't exaggerating about the amount of air this thing moves. It is however much more audible than it's specs would imply, however the noise is a satisfyingly deep thrum rather than the obnoxiously higher pitches of most fans.

Comments

  • 17 months ago
  • 1 point

Outstanding, you are ready to play Facing Worlds into the wee hours.

  • 11 months ago
  • 1 point

Cool, thanks