Here's the final (for now) version of my build. I've made a little list.
I did not spend all this money at once. I've been working on this in its various forms for almost exactly a year now, having it assembled in various configurations before changing one or the other component, and selling them to afford an upgrade. The GPU, PSU, and CPU were bought used, for example. The H100i AIO was also bought used, but the seller had gotten it as an RMA replacement from Corsair, which meant it was really mint in box. Therefore, the build was never quite finished, and anything marked as having cost €0.00 was carried over from some previous incarnation (or I got it as a gift). The longest serving parts might be the monitor, which I've had for a couple of years now, followed by the M.2 drive.
At times, I thought about going with an ITX form factor (had an Evolv Shift, and even managed to RMA my B350 ITX board), and GPU-wise, tried out both a Vega 56 (some weird issues) and a GTX 1080 (even weirder issues). For the longest while, I had a 2600X as the CPU, which was perfect for my needs (and the reason this build has CL14 RAM), but lacked that little last extra bit of oomph. I had hoped that AMD would launch their 3000-series earlier and I could upgrade, but since I'll have to wait a bit longer anyway to get that 9900K performance at a reasonable price, I thought I'd defect to the blue team for a while. So I sold my 2600X, and bought a used 8700K that came pre-delidded and liquid metalled. A side-step, really, since I wouldn't have trusted my X370 board to handle the newer processors anyway, and would've had to sell it and the 2600X anyhow.
The gaming performance is (obviously) noticeably better on the 8700K, even at 1440p 60Hz, with less of those small dips under 60, as most of the games I play (GTA V and Guild Wars 2) really aren't all that well optimized. I left the CPU with a lazy 1.31V overclock at 4.7GHz for now, don't really need more for those games. If and when I get a 144Hz monitor, I'll raise it. The previous owner had it at 4.9, but from my (admittedly short) testing, that really might be the limit, as it really doesn't want to do 5GHz until 1.38-9-ish. And that would require getting a 280mm AIO (360mm won't fit up top due to the EK-MLC Phoenix unit's extra length), unless I want my eardrums to burst. These Noctua fans really spoil you, now all other fans sound too loud. Perhaps I'll hone it in at 4.8 and call it a day. For now, 4.7 gives me around 57-60C max temps in-game, which I'm quite happy with. I haven't OC'd the GPU, as it boosts automatically.
Both the M.2 drive and the wonderful 120mm fan vertical GPU mount from Mnpctech were bought when I was thinking of going with one of those beige sleeper builds a la LTT. If anyone wants an Enlight case with vent-holes cut out of the bottom for a 360 rad, let me know. Weirdly, both the O11 Air (or the Dynamic, for that matter) and the early 2000s beige case I had selected had the same issue: the waterblocked MSI card just wouldn't fit. The side panel wouldn't close on either of them. Otherwise, I quite like the O11 Air, and prefer it over the Dynamic. The front mounting for an extra 360mm radiator came in handy, as the EK-MLC 360mm unit (which I got for cheap, as they are slowly discontinuing it), has a larger size due to the added pump. This meant that the only logical place to mount it was at the front (it won't fit in the side mount), and luckily four of the mounting holes line up, even if the rest don't.
The GPU backplate was made by the guys at jmmods, and features my Guild Wars 2 character, a warrior. I am very happy with how the backplate turned out, and they also made some custom 120mm fan grills with (MSI) dragons on them for me. The character art itself was commissioned from Ibrahem Swaid/Noobovich, who I found on ArtStation. The artwork itself was in full color, but the first attempt at printing it in color really didn't turn out the way I'd hoped it would. But, thanks to jmmods, I have proper luminescent RGB glory.
So, here it is, until the next upgrade comes along. But maybe I should let it rest for a while. Until I get my tax return, of course, then I really should get a proper monitor, or another hard drive, or maybe go all-SSD, as spinning disks really are passe, or a bigger AIO, or a better keyboard, or...
Also, a shout-out to Corsair for their excellent customer service, who helped solve my shipping issue!
Fun to play around with whilst waiting for the 3700X. And if that doesn't live up to the hype, then I might as well hold out for another lake to drown my sorrows in.
A very good AIO for the price. It's got RGB, iCue, etc. And you can turn the unicorn puke off if you don't like it.
This really is some good thermal paste.
The only quality 300-series board in stock at the time from the local computer store. From my (admittedly short) time using it, it seems to be perfect for my 8700K. It's also got a lucky dragon on it. One point deducted for the simply obscene white LED's that show which DIMM slots are occupied (why?) and cannot be turned off in BIOS. Even my ASUS B350 Strix Ryzen board let me turn off the stupid red LED it had on it. Black electrical tape fixed the problem.
A good, fast M.2 SSD. I did regret this purchase a little, considering the MX500 series must've come out literally a month or two after I bought this. NVMe wouldn't be worth it for me anyway, so no regrets there. When pairing with an M.2 heatsink like the EK one (because blue PCB, yuck), get some airflow over it, otherwise it'll get a little too toasty. Especially when the M.2 slot is covered by your GPU.
The cheapest 2TB HDD at the local computer store.
Mind you, I bought the Sea Hawk EK X version of this card, which isn't an AIO, but a proper water block. They don't list it on the EKWB configurator, but the PCB is the same as the MSI Gaming and Gaming X cards, therefore the TF6 blocks also fit. Indeed, the pre-applied block is a TF6 block, they're visually identical, aside from the MSI dragon (and transparent acrylic). Yes, this does mean I ended up buying two GPU blocks, which really didn't save me the money I thought it would. Still, a very capable card.
Better than the Dynamic, in my opinion. Watch out for wider GPU's though, as my waterblocked card did not fit (without a vertical mount). There's a list on Lian Li's website. Switched out the front intake filter for a Silverstone magnetic one as per the GamersNexus review.
Considering the price I paid for it, simply excellent.
Noctua. Back in black.
IPS, excellent colors. I think I paid around €300 for it? It's served me well. Sure, it's only 60Hz, but 144Hz IPS is really too expensive right now, even with Freesync now being an option.
It's a mouse, it's got iCue. I really can't get into fancy mice, they have too many buttons. This one's got a manageable amount of them.