Hi, I’m Jozza and this is my first ever PC build. I’ve spent most of my life working and gaming on laptops, and finally felt the need to upgrade to a desktop, with my 5-year-old laptop becoming more and more sluggish. Having been using laptops for years, I don’t generally play a lot of AAA/FPS games, because I’d never been able to keep up with the necessary performance before. Boy is that a thing of the past.
I spent 5/6 weeks researching in the build up to purchasing everything, with a wealth of useful YouTube channels at everyone’s disposal, it really helped me to learn more about what I did and didn’t want. I had originally budgeted around £550-£650 for the build, after receiving a tax rebate during my research stage, I slowly found myself looking at higher and higher end parts. I didn’t want to find myself in the same situation in 4/5 years not being able to keep up, and it does help that desktops are a little more upgrade-able than laptops.
It was never in the original plan to buy everything on/around black Friday, so I feel I kind of lucked out a little bit with the reasonable savings I got. Originally, I had picked up a 6GB GTX 1060, but I saw the offer on the Vega 56, and for the performance boost, and ability to go with a Freesync monitor when I eventually upgrade, I think the slightly more expensive card was the right decision. However, I didn't really research the Vega 56's, so having bought a Gigabyte card, I had serious stability issues out of the box, stock. Tried a number of fixes but have had to RMA that card, and I have bought a Sapphire Pulse card (wanted the nitro+ but that was waaay expensive!) So far the new card is performing soo much smoother, haven't had any crashes since, even with a GPU burn test. I also a little bit of trouble with the SSD I bought not arriving, thanks DPD for the <i>great</i> service… But in sending it back, I picked up a further discount on what I’d paid by using a different supplier, and they didn’t mess up the delivery. I also ended up sending back the original FNATIC STREAK keyboard I’d bought, as Amazon had a lightning deal on, and I wound up saving £25 (including return post) by returning and re-ordering. Because of that, I got some amount of discount on every part I purchased, according to pre-sale prices, I saved around £200-£250. Also the mouse is something I’ve had for a year or so, I got it as a gift.
I had been waiting almost 2 days just for the final part (SSD) to arrive, so you could say I was a little excited to get stuck into my first build. Right off the bat, I was super nervous because I’d read a lot of horror stories about static, but I read somewhere about being able to ground yourself on a plugged-in power supply, so I tried doing that quite a lot. I also built in the only room in my house without a carpet.
I won’t bore you with every little detail, because most of you know what I would have done, but highlights include: Struggling to remove the stock thermal paste from the cooler. The whole process of installing the Wraith Prism cooler; seriously, who at AMD thought those clips on the side were a good idea? Having to remove a heat-sink on the motherboard just to peel of a plastic protective layer on the back of the IO back panel. Spending ages lining up the motherboard with its standoffs. Working out which lead needed to be plugged into which slot; I found using the motherboard handbook as a step by step plug stuff in guide helped a lot. Dropping screws. Installing fans which don’t have pre-threaded holes, leading to a constant fear of breaking things. The teeny screws included to screw the PSU in, which hardly reach the hole they’re destined for.
It did take me quite a while to get everything assembled, close to 5 hours, excluding cable management, we’ll come to that in a second. I wouldn’t really say there’s a lot that should stop you giving it a go yourself, if you’re one of the few people on here who haven’t already built your own. Just remember to eat and drink, I basically forgot to for the duration of the build, which meant I was quite hungry by the end of it.
Having read the reviews of the case I’d selected, I was kind of worried that I was going to struggle to fit everything into the cable management channel, but actually I found the process of cable management really therapeutic, making sense of the mess and tidying things up (I wish the same could be said about my life). Having added three more fans, taking my case to full capacity on that front, I did have to disconnect the Corsair logo lighting on the front and side of PSU cover, but the reviews I’d read mentioned they weren’t RGB anyway, although I never did test that. Likewise, the review cases had an open front to the PSU cover, but mine doesn’t, nor does my case have thumb screws holding the tempered glass on, instead having allen screws. I am delighted I chose this case, I just think it’s totally gorgeous, and I don’t think the pictures really do it justice, but I may be slightly biased on that front.
In terms of actual cable routing, I did find it annoying that there is no clearance at the bottom of the motherboard next the PSU cover, it meant that plugging cables into the bottom headers on the MOBO left me with no choice but to run the cables over the top of the PSU cover, admittedly they don’t show too much with the mirrored glass, but is slightly bothersome. Remaining on the front side, to connect my top exhaust fans to a header, the only viable option without requiring a 3- or 4-way splitter was almost in the centre of the MOBO, which happens to be next to the RGB header for the CPU cooler, the cable for which has to run along the top of the graphics card. Again, isn’t super noticeable with the mirrored glass and dim case lighting, but a gripe nonetheless.
On the backside, I found the rear channel relatively easy to work with, as long as I put the fatter cables at the back and ran my skinnier ones to either side of it. I don’t have many SATA cables, my only storage at the minute is my m.2 SSD, but that may change in future. Most of the exposed wiring is the RGB stuff, it tucks partially away into the sides and top corner, but I wish it had a slightly wider channel at the top/side I could use to hide things in. Reasonably pleased with how it looks, and with no lighting on the backside of the case anyway, it is very much hidden with the side panel on.
Having not had much chance to test the PC so far, I have done a quick CineBench test, in Open GL it scored 117 and the score for the CPU was 1753, all of which is without playing with any of the under the hood settings, which hopefully means that I can improve some things should I find I need to. I did play a little bit of League of Legends last night, with settings cranked to max I stayed at my capped 80 FPS even in ARAM chaos (I’m using a TV at the minute so higher doesn’t do me any favours). Rocket League sits nicely around 180 with everything turned on/up, but I suck at the game, so I didn’t play for long.
I’m still learning to type on this keyboard, it feels quite nice, obviously very different to my laptop, and my first time using a mechanical keyboard. I went for the Cherry MX Red Silent switches because I didn’t want my keystrokes to be too loud, especially as I don’t generally use headphones. Speaking of volume, the fans are considerably quieter than my old laptop, I think I’m going to have to play around with the fan curves a little more, as when I play Football Manager, the fans kick into action each time the simulation starts, then quieten down again, a little irritating. Still, it beats having my legs burnt by my laptop. Thermally, it idles around 33°C, and I haven’t done a real load situation, it peaks out around 65-70°C during the CPU CineBench test.
If there’s anything more you want to know performance wise, let me know.
I’m really happy. Like the whole feeling of being a kid at Christmas came back to me in the build-up to this all. It has been a real eye-opening experience, and to be honest I just find myself smiling at it all. It has been really nice to learn more about computers, I think it’s a really important thing in the modern world, and it’s a nice little brag to have over my friends. I really am chuffed to bits with how it’s all come together, I still have a few quality of life updates to do (more storage/monitor/speakers) but that will come in time. I just need some more games to play on it now!
If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you taking the time to read through my little ramble, I hope some of it has been interesting/entertaining. I was going to put helpful, but that’s probably a stretch.
Have an awesome rest of your day/week/month/year/life.
Really like this case, only dislikes are that one of my side pannels doesn't lay completely flush with the feet.
Overall good, small bits of bad stitching on the side stops me from giving higher.