This tower should be the terminus of my building and upgrading addiction. After working my way through what seems like every piece of hardware released in the last five years, I think this is it. The end. It's not a bad place to be, if you ask me.
I was originally going to do this build just about a year ago. 2011-3 had just come out, DDR4 was the biggest and best thing since sliced bread, and I was ready to jump on it. I bought myself an entire tower with an i7-5930K, accompanying X99-Deluxe, and 16GB of G.Skills value sticks for the laughable price of $225. All I needed was GPUs. The 980 Ti and R9 Fury were set to come out and I was practically salivating at the chance to get my hands on either of them. Which ever offered the most performance was to be my choice.
I was getting out of the military and, by God, I was going to treat myself. I was swinging for the fences.
Then life happened. Somebody managed to pour that sweet honey into my ears, tempting and convincing me to stay in and head to that great sandy desert in the Middle East. My plans were reluctantly put on hold and I spent the next nine months every day going over parts lists, catching up on prices and hardware releases, and counting down the number of days it would be until I could get back and start work on my new tower.
Nearing the end of my stay I reached out to Acer to see if it would be possible to get my hands on a monitor to feature in this new build. Something that would be worthy of two of the "toppest end" GPUs out there. Honestly, at the best I was hoping for an XF270HU, as my list at the time featured two R9 Nanos. They came back to me with the offer of an X34 and I was pretty shocked. Fortunately, my return was very close to the release of the GTX 1080. I actually was only in country a few days before they went on sale.
It pretty much goes without saying, but I accepted. I was super excited to get to work with Acer and the X34. They have been my go-to for monitors for the longest time. The second I know I'm going to be upgrading, they are who I turn to.
It wasn't all sunshine and smiles, though. I had pre-ordered a pair of 1080s though B&H but after a few days I'd had no confirmation email or a charge on my card. By this time, of course, the pre-order was already sold out and nothing else was available. The 27th hit, the 1080s were released, and B&H got back to me- wouldn't you know it, after everywhere was totally sold out. Somewhere along the way my pre-order never went through and I was left with nothing. Fortunately places like NowInStock exist and it only took about three and a half hours to procure two Asus models from NewEgg.
Parts came in, the guy working our mail room wasn't too happy about the dozens of packages I had to pick up, and the tower was built.
So here we are.
I'll do some small blurbs for the parts that are not RAM because there's really nothing ever to say about RAM. RAM never changes. I'll start with the monitors.
Because I was making this such a high-budget build, I wanted everything I chose to last. Everything had to be specced to where I would not want or need to upgrade it in the foreseeable future.
As you can tell I really, really dig Acer's monitors. I've used them for a very long time and as I said earlier, they're my go-to whenever I think about picking up some new ones. Their customer service has been nothing but great to me and I have had little to no problems with the monitors I've bought in the past.
We'll start with the X34 Predator. Again, I would like to thank Acer for allowing me the one-on-one time with this monitor. This thing is absolutely fantastic. So great, in fact, that I plan on buying it outright from them instead of sending it back.
First things first, I think the design Acer has going on for the Predator absolutely outclasses what the Swift has. The Swift has this super strange hyper-future/cyborg/Aeon Flux thing going on and it's just not something I could look at every day and enjoy. The Predator, on the other hand, has this excellent, classy, minimalist stand that just looks so good that I almost didn't want to take the monitor off the stand. I actually have it sitting on its box behind me just so I can look at it from time to time. It's seriously good-looking.
Back light bleed. Probably the biggest complaint with curved monitors in general but in particular curved ultrawides, is bleed. I'm pleased to say that this example suffers from extremely minimal bleed. I get some in the upper and lower left along the top edges and a very, very small amount in the upper right along the top edge, but that's about it. Even that photo makes it seem more noticeable than it really is. It's so little I had to turn out all the lights and sit in a completely dark room to be able to tell exactly how much there was. As far as how much bleed affects this one, I say minimally. There's not one time I've been able to actually notice it during normal use.
So far I've played a lot of Doom, League of Legends, GTA V, Fallout 4, Skyrim. All of it is just brilliant. League took a little getting used to because I now have to hit further out to the side if I want to scroll with the mouse, and Fallout 4's menu UI backgrounds do not entirely match up with their text, but the games themselves are solid.
When looking into an ultrawide as a main monitor you definitely have to be cognizant of what games do or do not support your resolution. Where some games natively support it and others can be modded pretty easily to do so, a great many others offer no support at all.
If there is one problem I have with this monitor it's that there's not actually enough curve to it. I can see how this monitor would be awesome for setups using two or more in a row, but anywhere it is free-standing you never really get the sense that it's curved. The new model unveiled at Computex this year is supposed to fix that, bringing the curve from 2300R all the way up to 1900R. It will be around the same price as the current model and should hit shelves around mid-Q4.
The XB271HU fantastic as well, but not in the "ultrawide is life" kind of way. In the "more frames than you even know what to do with" kind of way. I don't understand how people say there is no difference between 60FPS and 120+ FPS.
I'll admit I have always been and will probably remain of the opinion that increasing frame rates offers exponentially diminishing returns on actual player performance. I don't magically play League of Legends any better now that I have access for 165Hz. It's all just much more smooth.
The only issue I have had with the XB271HU was a stuck pixel toward the middle of the screen. Unfortunately mine did not come with a "Pixel Perfect" guarantee. On the other hand, I was able to reset the pixel by running for a couple days an overlay that rapidly cycled colors over the spot.
The B276HKs, much like my B286HK before them, are fantastic. They have that same simple, modest, and rugged design that I like so much in a lot of Acer's enclosures. It's not something that would be out of place in a work environment and I dig that.
Dissimilar from the B256HK, though, the B276HK(as the name will already tell you) is a 27" model and is perfectly sized to be used with the XB271HU, as well as matching it with a brilliant IPS panel.
CPU: Intel i7-5930K
When I bought it I was planning on running three R9 Nanos and wanted the extra PCIe bandwidth. Had I known I'd be down to two cards, I'd have stuck with the 5820K. Not that I'm really complaining. It's a 5930K. I just could have saved almost $200.
This thing is a powerhouse. It absolutely chews through productivity-based tasks, and is no slouch when it comes to gaming. Is it awesome? Yes. Am I satisfied with it? Yes. Am I going to give up on abstaining from buying new hardware and replace it with an i7-6900K because I display a weak constitution and a pathological need to drive myself into debt by purchasing expensive things to make myself feel better at the end of the day? More than likely, yes.
CPU Cooler: Corsair H105
Anybody that tells you you need a dual-120mm CLC for a CPU is lying to you. Let's get that out of the way first. This is especially true if you have any given 1151-socketed CPU.
With my old H80 I was a handful of degrees over what the H105 gave me and well within acceptable thermal limits. Too, you get not-terrible temps for a couple dozen bones cheaper. On my 5930K it came out to about $3.50 for every degree lower with my H105 at current prices.
Storage: Samsung 950 Pro 512GB, Crucial MX100 512GB, SanDisk Ultra II 960GB
Let me preface this section by stating how much not a fan I generally am of "prosumer" drives like the 950 Pro. They're cool and all. Rad, even. They're blazing fast and we all want them. Why wouldn't you? 3GB/s transfers? Yes please. Which is why I got it.
I'm a weak man.
However, when I put the 950 Pro up against the Ultra II for loading games and movies and pretty much anything that's not an actual file transfer there's no difference. I load League of Legends, Overwatch, World of Warships, War Thunder, Fallout 4, etc., etc., exactly the same. Shoot. When I play multiplayer games it doesn't matter anyway because I have to wait for everybody else.
The whole point of an SSD is to remove yourself from spinning disks and the comparatively stupidly-high latency they have due to seek times. Speed is cool, but we get way too hung up on it as a metric for purchasing a drive. Get something that's proven to be reliable, that has a good warranty, and is a decent size.
To that end, the Ultra II has been fantastic. All of my currently-played Steam games are on it and I still have enough room to fit Trump's ego. I might have to compress it a bit, but I'm sure I can get it to fit.
For anybody wondering, the MX100 is in use from pre-deployment. I had two OG SanDisk Extremes which are still going strong after five-ish years, a 240GB PNY XLR8 Pro, and the MX100. It wasn't the prettiest thing ever, but it was 1TB of SSDs. Don't judge me.
GPUs: Asus GTX 1080 x2
So these things are pretty great. I've not tried to push them very hard on overclocks just yet, but I was able to get some good clocks out of them already just by guessing based off review samples. I set it to 120% power, raised the temp target to max, put a modest 175MHz and 100MHz increase on the core and memory respectively, and I've not touched it since. At full-tilt I'm getting 2050MHz out of the core on each of them. notbad.png
The only problem with this is that I bought/have G-Sync monitors that I would have loved to be able to fully test without removing a card, but the 1080s are too powerful. I don't get varying framerates in anything.
I'll have to throw a fully-modded Skyrim/Fallout 4 at it. I'll be running though Fallout 4 again with the Resurrection mod(which I absolutely recommend, by the way) and mad fidelity mods on. Hopefully that will be able to bring them to their knees.
Case: Corsair 600T
I have loved this case since it hit the market in 2011. For whatever reason, though, I looked at it at 2011 and decided, "Nah. I want something way worse. I want a Lanboy Air." Relevant.
PSU: Corsair HX1000i
Power supplies that turn off the fan when under low load are awesome. This thing is so quiet and at 1000W it rarely does get put under enough load to make any sort of noise that will make a difference. It's done well so far. I'm interested if it can outlast my old Rosewill 1000W Lightning.
Mouse: Ace of Sweden Edge 3200
I actually bought two different mice for this; a white Thermaltake Level 10 M and a white Corsair M95. After using both I definitely liked the M95 more of the two new mice, but I still can't bring myself to replace the Edge.
The two headsets I'm using now are the Audio Technica ATH-A900X and the Philips Fidelio X2. To drive them I have a Schiit stack(Modi/Magni). Neither of these headphones actually need an amp, but it's what is used to drive them anyway. I'm sure I'll end back up with a good pair of high-impedance headphones at some point.
The mic is nothing special. Just an Audio-Technica ATR2500-USB. Covered by a sock because I was tired of waiting for the wind screen to arrive.
For the monitor mount(which I highly recommend) I'm using an EZM Pyramid. If you're looking to mount a large number of monitors for not a lot of money as compared to the Ergo and similar brands, this is absolutely a winner. It cost about $120 and comes with all of the necessary mounting equipment. The and is made from either steel, pig iron, or Thor's hammer. Seriously, this thing is heavy. Do not try to assemble it or mount the monitors on your desk, and definitely try to get a hand in putting it together. Assemble it on the floor and get some help lifting it onto your desk. If you're a lonely neckbeard like me and don't know anybody willing to help you, for God's sake be careful.
EDIT: I totally forgot about the sleeved cables!
I kept seeing and hearing people ask about CableMod extensions and replacement sets, so I picked up a full set of cables for my HX1000i.
The ModMesh is their newer stuff made with PET sleeving, and I can definitely tell you it was worth the buy. As much as I love the sleeving some of the guys over in /r/buildapc and /r/sleeving do, it would have been super expensive to get a full set done through them. I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and review it while also getting some for myself.
The sleeving itself is very stiff and very thick. In combination with the wires themselves this makes it really good for running it and expecting it to stay in place. There's not nearly as much chance for it to bend and twist like with standard paracord.
When it comes to looks the ends are all nicely terminated and secure within their connectors, and the sleeve has something of a light sheen to it, being plastic. It's definitely nothing distracting and very little light seems to reflect off it, so it's not distracting in any way.
In terms of "feelgood" between how nice it is to actually handle and work with I'd not say it's a replacement for completely custom paracord jobs as the paracord just feels nicer and looks just that little bit better. Like the difference between pleather and real leather. They might look the same, but when it comes to working with it I'd choose the real deal any day that I have the money for it.
If you're looking to get a full replacement set for comparatively cheap, CableMod is the place you want to start looking. The whole set which is a 1:1 replacement set cost me only $120 which, in comparison to the multiple hundreds most independent sleevers would charge you, is very cheap.
I think that about does it. If anybody has any questions about the computers or especially the monitors, or would like some more pictures of things, I can always accommodate.