Red Alert, for me, is a huge milestone in terms of project scope and design. I had built and refurbished an AMD PC before, but it was always a budget build that prioritized looks as a tertiary concern over cost and practicality. 3 weeks ago, I decided that it was time to create something beautiful. This is my humble first attempt.
Color Scheme: Red & Black
Theme: Star Trek
Case: Phanteks - Enthoo Evolv ATX Glass ATX Mid Tower Case. I chose this case for 2 reasons. First and foremost, it looks gorgeous with the tempered glass sides and anodized aluminum. It is minimal and clean, but sophisticated. Second, it has a lot of flexibility in terms of cable management options and installation of drivebays and radiators. I added an LED strip to give it more lighting, and replaced all of the case fans with corsair LED fans (except the bottom, which is not LED, in order to prevent too much light from bleeding to the backside of the case). I chose to spray paint the top cover (more on this in challenges) and design a custom transfer sticker for the glass side panel on the cable management side, because I wanted it to have a lot of personality. I placed Picard in the case as well, since it just seemed so fitting! As a final touch, I epoxied on an ops communicator to the front.
PSU: My last PSU was garbage and I wanted something completely reliable and modular. Enter the Corsair 850 RMx: a Gold Certified, fully modular 850 Watt PSU. I also elected for the red braided, individually sleeved power cables, since the glass sides will be showing off just about every millimeter of the build.
Mobo: To be completely honest, I chose the Gigabyte - GA-AX370-Gaming K7 ATX AM4 Motherboard mainly because it looks sick AF. Also, the support for high speed DDR4 and the screen readout for errors made it well worth the extra dollars. I CANNOT stress enough how much easier it was to troubleshoot the install with a nice error screen on the motherboard, displaying the error code. If you have ever had a board not post, it can be a nightmare to guess what is going wrong. This made life so much easier.
CPU: I wanted to future proof my rig, and move to the AM4 architecture. I was just at the point where my old FX-8320 (at 4.4 Ghz) was starting to have trouble keeping up, so I searched CPU rank charts and decided that the Ryzen 5 1600X would be more than enough to keep up with my gaming and video editing needs for a while to come.
GPU: I mean, who doesn't want a 1080...? I chose the Zotac - GeForce GTX 1080 8GB AMP! Edition video card, since it had an excellent price point and the carbon fiber look matched my build perfectly. It came with rather unpleasing yellow stripes on the heat shield, so I painted over them with black high temp paint (brand in pics).
RAM: I wanted 3000 Mhz DDR4. After a few moments of searching I found the GeIL - SUPER LUCE 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 Memory. 3000 Mhz DDR4 AND IT LIGHTS UP?! I'll take 2 please.
Drives: I like segmentation. With that in mind I used my old drives and some new ones to make my system as bucketed as I could. The Samsung - 960 EVO 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive holds my OS, my programs, and my most played games. The Samsung - 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Drive holds my files, which are backed up to the cloud. The entire drive is encrypted for security. The Kingston - SSDNow UV400 480GB 2.5" Solid State Drive holds more games because, who wants to uninstall? Finally, the Toshiba - 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive holds all of my movies, shows, and pictures. When it gets full, I have room for 6 more in my case... so I think I am good for a while.
Cooling: I chose to replace all of the case fans with 5 Corsair - Air Series AF120 Red 52.2 CFM 120mm Fans (4 of them LED red). Why? They look awesome, are extremely quiet, and they look awesome. For my CPU cooler, I chose the Corsair H100i, mainly because I have never done a custom water-cooled loop before, and I want to try it in a cheaper build before risking all of my brand new gear. I replaced the stock fans with 4 (count em') Corsiar Air Series SP120 Quiet Edition 37.9 CFM 120mm Fans. I have 2 on each side in a push-pull configuration. They are quieter than the stock fans and great with static pressure.
Peripherals: Got a 27'' and a 22'' 1080p LCD monitor by Asus for the display. I chose the Asus VE278Q as my primary monitor since it is nice and large and has a fast refresh rate. The Kotion Each G1000 headphones are kind of disappointing. They have true surround sound, but the quality is not the best. That, and you can't switch off the LED while it is plugged in. But hey, they are very cheap, so for the price they do the job. I will upgrade later. The mouse is the Logitech MX Master. Let me tell you, that automatic scroll wheel unlock on flick is the smoothest thing on this planet. I bought it, however, due to the fact that the ergonomic angle is perfect. If you find a wired mouse with the same angle and size, please send me a link! Last, and certainly not least, is the keyboard. The Corsair Strafe is the most comfortable keyboard I have ever typed on. Add some textured WASD keys and cherry MX spacers and it is absolute heaven.
I started from the design and worked backwards. Once I knew my color scheme and theme, I started looking for performance parts and thinking about how they would fit the design. It wasn't hard, as most top end parts have configurable lights these days. I completely dissembled the case, so I could understand how it all fit together and get an idea of what I wanted to modify. I started by painting the internal pieces that would accent the case: expansion slot covers, drive bays, screws, etc. Then, I figured out how to attach the communicator to the front panel. The most challenging part was painting the top cover, but I pulled it off. Then I sloppily legoed in all of the key components to check that they weren't DOA. After some troubleshooting, I got it working and went through the process of cable management. Finally, I attached the transfer sticker to the glass back (made in Photoshop, sent to printing company), and gave the case a once over with a can of air and a soft cloth. I am quite happy with the end result. ( :
Painting the case - Painting the top panel of the case was certainly the most challenging part of the build. I had never done any spray painting before, but I had seen some videos and wanted to give it a shot. It was terrifying when I took sandpaper to the smooth finish of the anodized aluminum and heard the screams of agony as the finish was slowly stripped away. From that moment on I knew I was committed. So, I bought all the paints I would need, watched as many tutorials as I could, and started practicing on paper and aluminum. Eventually, I worked up the courage to paint the 'final' work, and I was pleasantly relieved when It wasn't a total disaster.
Fans - I had to do some research on fan speed, pressure, and noise in order to eventually go with the corsairs. I know Noctua also has some great fans, but they are less pretty. Mostly, no problem installing anything. linking the fans was a bit confusing with the PWM chip in the back of the case and the corsair link on the CPU cooler. I also had to get 3pin extenders to reach the chip in the back of the case from the front fans. The only difficult fan to install was the bottom front fan, as you need to remove the drive bay to get to the screws.
RAM – I was very disappointed when I saw my RAM only running at 1700. Then I realized that it was 1700 x2! So, pretty stoked. I had to eventually turn it down, since 3400 Mhz was not stable. I am stable at ~2400 Mhz now, and am looking into getting the full 3000.
Scary Mobo moments – Let me stress to you the comfort that a little 2 digit code can bring. Be me. Install brand new shiny things. Watch as PC doesn't post. MFW I realize I have voided most of my warranties by painting and disassembling most of my components. Realize that mobo has error codes. Use internet. Find out that SSD is not seated correctly and RAM is way too overclocked. Fix the things and don't rage smash new build.
M.2 SSD – Let me give you one piece of advice: it's not seated correctly; press harder.
The best win has to be doing my first piece of spray paint art ever, on my freaking case! Really happy with this build overall, and I finally feel like I made something worthy of calling a custom build.
I haven't been able to benchmark it yet, but I have been playing CSGO and COD Infinite without any overclocking and it is just too smooth. I will update with some stats when I have some time to dive into performance testing and OC'ing.
Thanks for reading this far! I hope you enjoy the pics and that the descriptions are helpful. Let me know if you have any questions, and I will do my best to answer.
So far, this performs amazingly well. Not even overclocked and I am getting a 1200 in Cinebench. The one thing that is really important to note is that it reports 20 degrees C higher than it actually is! source: https://community.amd.com/community/gaming/blog/2017/03/13/amd-ryzen-community-update
Beautiful Case. Easy cable management, very modular.
Best keyboard I have ever used. Real cherry MX keys. The textured gaming keys are great too.