Hello everybody! Welcome to my build, Fluorescent Adolescent :)
Before I begin explaining everything, I want to just thank everyone who uses, comments, and posts their builds on this site and similar ones like the Linus Tech Tips forums. This is my first PC build, and I learned so much from looking at similar builds on here (special thanks to @Soulprovider for Morningrise, @ahkenatan for his B&W 4k Gaming build, @1Scotty1 on LTT for his Project Yin-Yang, @PureFetus for DIVISARE)! I hope to make this guide as helpful for others as past guides have been for me. Please feel free to comment and ask any questions, I'll answer as I am able! Also, sorry about the poor quality photos... I only have an iPhone camera :/
- Note: Photo's #1 and #22 are actually illuminated by a white LED. In person it looks very clean, but over photograph they appear to be somewhat blue. I'll see if I can get a more accurate shot once I have access to a better camera.
I'm a college student, and I've always wanted to build a computer because I've been gaming on a laptop since middle school. However, it just didn't seem realistic until recently. My trusty HP laptop's about to break down, I've gotten more into streaming, and I found myself with a little extra time and money while interning, so I went for it. I couldn't be happier.
- I mostly play and stream GW2, but now that I have this, I'll certainly be getting into other games. Follow me :D
Intel i7-4790K: I literally knew nothing about building a PC when I went into this project. So I hopped over to Tom's Hardware's introductory guide for building one, and I looked at the CPU recommendations. At first I thought I wasn't going to need anything more than like a i5-4590, but then I saw everyone's builds with a i5-4690k and did a bit more researching and thought I'd like to get more power by overclocking. The 4690k was on sale at Microcenter for $200, and just seemed like the better buy. But then I saw Linus's video titled "CPU Cores for Gaming, Streaming, & Rendering Simultaneously - Is More Actually Better?" and decided that since I want to stream, game, and render at the same time, the i7-4790k would be a better fit for me. It was only $80 more, and I saved so much more money elsewhere in the build that I felt the expense was justified. I'm in the early stages of overclocking, but I've got MSI's OC Genie setting it at 4.4GHz right now. I plan to go higher later.
NZXT Kraken x61: A lot of the selection of this part just came down to aesthetics. I could probably have gotten similar cooling performance from an air cooler, but I think they look ugly as hell. This not only cools my cpu exceptionally well, but it does so while looking incredibly sexy. A bit more expensive than the Corsair alternative, but I figured since I was using the h440 it'd match nicely. I got it on sale from Amazon with a gift card I got from another sale on r/buildapcsales.
MSI Z97S SLI Krait Edition: This mobo is great, and perfectly met my performance, aesthetic, and financial needs. It's also got room for me to upgrade in the future, in the event I want to SLI or throw on another 16gb of ram. I got this as part of a microcenter deal with the CPU for only $99.99. The BIOS and available MSI software are, for the most part, easy to navigate and rather useful.
Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB: When I saw these modules in @Soulprovider's Morningrise build I was like, damn... I've gotta get em. Sure I could've gone with Kingston HyperX Fury White's for like $45 cheaper, but I really wanted white LED's in this build to pop out. I planned to use an RGB led light kit on the inside, so I wanted everything white to pick up the color of the RGB light, while the LEDs of the internal parts to be white so that they stand out regardless of the other color. I'll be keeping this computer for a while, so I went with 2x8 instead of 4s so that when I want to upgrade in the future, I can just plop two more sticks in there to be at the max my mobo supports. I bought them from Corsair's site because they came with the free LED upgrade kit.
Samsung 850 EVO - 500GB: This may be the most highly-recommended PC component I've encountered in my search, second maybe to like a GTX970, but I chose it for four reasons. First, it performs incredibly well and I can get from off to desktop in like 5 seconds. What an enormous upgrade for me from the laptops. Second, I stream all my movies and music, so I don't have a need for much more storage than 500gb. When I do have that need, the prices of these will have come down and I can just buy another for cheaper. Third, it was on sale for $150 w/ free shipping. Fourth, it matches really well!
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4gb - Reference: Okay so GPU selection really sent my build in an entirely different direction.
- I originally wanted a 970 because of the awesome price per performance reviews.
- Then I realized I'd just be playing at 1080p/60hz, so I didn't need more power than a 960.
- Then, I fell in love with the reference model NVIDIA GPUs with the LED modded white, so I thought the solution would be a 770; same vram, slightly better performance, significantly cheaper, and better looks.
- But then, Microcenter had that crazy pricing error and I got two GTX 980's for $500!!!
I immediately thought about buying a 4k monitor and how great it would be to SLI them both. Then I read a bit more about VRAM concerns at 4k, and read some more reviews about less-than-stellar gaming at 4k on smaller monitors, so I figured 1440p would be the sweet spot for me. I ended up only using one of these cards, took the other one back to the store to return it and rebuy it so I could get a free copy of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, then sold it for $450. In the end, I got like $650 worth of stuff for free (Edit: I just did the math and I actually made $10).
NZXT H440 (White/Black): Once I saw the case and read the review, I was hooked. It looks SO good, is quiet, at a good price point, and had everything I needed. I could've gone with an s340, but I compared the sizes and this one wasn't all that much bigger, and I liked it a little more, so I paid the extra money. Super easy for a first time builder, and cable management was a breeze. One thing I don't like is the side window gets dirty quickly, but maybe that's just me being dirty. Thankfully you can't really tell in the pictures.
EVGA 750W G2: This is a T1 PSU that I got at a fantastic price thanks to a sale+coupon+MIR that was listed on r/buildapcsales. Currently, I think it's a little overkill, but it has plenty of room for an SLI and overclocking setup in the future, and it's a high quality product that won't fry everything else in my build, so I was happy to pay a bit more.
H440 Case Fans: Good enough, match my build. I don't really have temp problems so I will probably upgrade them later rather than sooner.
Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro (64-bit): Got the student version on sale for $70. It came with a free upgrade to Windows 10. Currently still using 8.1 though, I am fine waiting until some of the bugs get fixed.
Acer G257HU smidpx 25.0: Lovely monitor. I wanted to game at 1440p so I could make use of the power of the GTX 980. Fast response time, little input lag, nice size screen, easy to control, and it looks alright. It's overclockable from the standard 60Hz (it's actually 59Hz), but I haven't tried doing that just yet. Also, it's got built in speakers for the rare occasions in which I don't have my headset on. Only downside is cheap stand and I don't think it's VESA compatible but that's a non-issue for me.
Update (08/13/15): Today I'm going to overclock the monitor to 85Hz, so I'll be able to display 41.66% more frames! I've read reviews that overclocking this monitor looks great, and other reviews that say that it actually looks worse... I'll let you guys know for myself later tonight. As Linus says, "the difference between 100Hz and 144Hz is possible, but difficult to perceive. By contrast... the difference between 60Hz and 75Hz is night and freaking day." So, my jump from 59Hz to 85Hz should be totally ******* awesome if he is still the review god I envision him to be.
So, the monitor only comes with DVI-D Dual Link and HDMI cables. I couldn't overclock at all on HDMI without skipping frames. On the DVI, I was only stable at like 65Hz, so not a big improvement. Time to get a Display Port :D
Corsair K70 RGB w/ Cherry MX Reds: Looks, sounds, and performs very well. Virtually endless LED possibilities. I got it on sale refurbished from Corsair's site, and it's indistinguishable from new. Great product.
Logitech G700s Wireless Laser Mouse: I was debating between this and the G502, but it all came down to buttons. I play MMOs and the extra buttons and their placement are really great for me. I use shift as a modifier for the four buttons on the side, so for me it's got like 20 different programmed commands on it, without looking/feeling like a Naga. It was also on sale really cheap at Best Buy when I needed it.
Logitech G430 Headest: This is one part that I really liked when I got it, but I'm now kind of sick of. Sound quality isn't exceptional, but it's great for the price. I should've upgraded and gotten a wireless one though, so I'll probably sell it and do that later down the road.
Satechi® Computer RGB LED Light Strip with Remote Control: Stupid easy to install, and looks really, really good. I just wish that I could customize which colors it flashes through in the strobe mode. Otherwise, it's easy to control and I love it. Maybe I should revisit the instruction manual because I'm really surprised I can't select what colors it strobes through...
Logitech C310 Webcam - Black: Cheap, perfect for my streaming needs, easy to install, includes a microphone, works fine. Not much else to say here.
Silverstone Sleeved Extension Cables: Purely for aesthetics. I thought these looked really nice at a good price, the only downside is that they're pretty rigid and hard to shape so they don't look slanted.
So my idea for this build was to have something both powerful and aesthetically pleasing, at a good price point. The total hardware came down to $1200, but since I made some profit off of selling the spare GPU it was pretty much around $1000 flat. With peripherals, OS, fees, shipping costs, and all the other random crap I needed, my total cost hovered somewhere around $1800. Once I purchased everything, I was happy with the price point, so my next goal was to mod some parts to make it really fit together well. I used Linus's "How To Paint Your PC Parts - Linus Plasti Dip Method" and Techsource's "How To Custom Paint Your Graphics Card (4K)" videos as guides for the following modifications:
GPU LED Sanding: Like I mentioned earlier, I really love how the reference cards look with a white LED instead of the green one. I dismantled the shroud of the GPU and removed the LED, and sanded it down with a medium-grit sanding block. I read on Reddit and Linus Tech Tips that the newer model GTX reference cards use rubber instead of plastic, and that the rubber version of the LED cannot be modded white - this is NOT TRUE! Although I did indeed have a new card with rubber LEDs instead of green paint over white plastic, it just took more sanding to get the green rubber off. Although it doesn't look as good when the PC is turned off because of the black edges, it still looks amazing and bright/white when the PC is on, which is all I really care about.
GPU Painting: With the GPU shroud dismantled and the LED sanded, I then went on to plastidip the shroud white. I took it outside, put it on some cardboard, and evenly put 4 coats of white plastidip. Although it didn't come out perfectly in some areas, it was good enough for me and I think it looks great in the build regardless because you can barely barely see the errors. I can repaint it if I feel so inclined, but I really just wanted to put the PC together ASAP xD. If I do repaint it, i'd like to also paint the backplate because I forgot to do that the first time around. I am not entirely sure whether making the backplate white would look really good, or whether it'd be too much... thoughts?
White Dominator Platinums: With the rest of the plastidip I had leftover from the GPU, I used it on the LED-fitted platinum tops to make them white instead of steel. Since i've got the Satechi RGB LEDs in my case, I wanted everything white to absorb the background color, while the white inside LEDs shined through. I ghetto rigged a pizza box as my spray painting base (see pic #7), and went to town. I think they came out great, and they look nicer than the regular silver alternative.
For a first time builder, I think I did alright with this project. I've never had anything perform as well as this computer. I named it Fluorescent Adolescent because it's got sexy fluorescent LED goodness, I've wanted it since I was a teenager, and that's one of my favorite songs :D This whole process has been such an incredible and fun learning experience, and I hope to continue this hobby in the future and someday teach my kids how to build their first personal computers. Thanks for taking the time to read this, I look forward to hearing your feedback, and happy building!
7/15/2015 - Part Selection Started
08/05/2015 - All Parts Purchased
08/08/2015 - Mods + Build Complete
08/13/2015 - Added links in description. Monitor could not achieve a stable overclock at all on HDMI, and was only stable at 65Hz on DVI-D DL. Time to buy a Display Port cable.
07/23/2016 - Ended up losing the Acer monitor during moving to my new job, and just purchased an X-STAR DP2710 LED 2560x1440 Samsung PLS 27" Monitor for $189 on ebay. The extra inches make for a very nice size difference, and the monitor was incredibly easy to overclock. Right now I'm sailing along at 90Hz, but I bet I could go higher since I've read about people getting up to 120. However, because I'm playing at higher resolutions I am never pushing more than 90fps in the games I play, so I currently don't have a need to overclock further.
Eventually - Overclock higher, paint the GTX980 backplate white, add another 16gb of ram, add another SSD to fill that sad, empty spot, and maybe SLI and upgrade to 4k if they someday make games that take advantage of DX12's stacking vram (although I may just want to buy a new card by then).