This is my first PC build, intended for general purpose computing including software development and gaming. As Donald Trump said of his daughter's wedding, my budget was unlimited, and I exceeded it.
I started out with the goal of keeping this to under $2,000. I missed that target by a large margin, but I decided that given how much time I'd be spending on the machine a little splurging could be justified. This is the first time in my life when building a machine like this is not just possible for me but more importantly wouldn't infringe on other more important financial goals.
My guiding philosophy here was three-pronged:
(1) Get the best parts.
(2) Aim for style -- not overly minimalistic, but still with some restraint.
(3) Keep it simple. Just get reference video cards. Just use an AIO CPU cooler. Don't build a custom water loop.
Don't get me wrong, I love custom loops -- I just thought it was too much to undertake for my first build, and I wasn't sure I was willing to commit the extra money to it since this already shot past by the budget so much. Every time I considered a custom loop, I decided I'd rather just spend the money on a better component, or a second video card, etc.
(4) Take advantage of the fact that this is a full desktop. Don't build what could be put in a laptop but using 5x the space. Do something that actually needs the space (e.g., SLI).
The hardest decision was picking between a 5820k and a 6700k. I ultimately decided that I simply had no use for the extra two cores and I'd rather be on the latest architecture. I pulled the trigger on the 6700k when I saw that my local Microcenter had a single one left in stock (I couldn't find it anywhere else). Until that point I was about to "settle" for the 5820k just so I could finish the build.
I have a Logisys LED strip that I was going to put in this, and I still might add it in, but I found that I actually liked the look of just having the logo LEDs in the case. You still get that LED fun without having a mini light show in your room. I'm still undecided on whether to add it or not.
In the last photo you can see my custom $50 Ikea "standing desk" and the anti-fatigue mat that I stand on. It's an unconventional setup, especially for gaming, but I feel like it's paid off.
This is a great looking and affordable Z170 motherboard that has all the features I need.
That said, it comes with a VERY cheap IO shield, which made mounting the motherboard in the case extremely frustrating. On reading other reviews of this motherboard, I know I'm not the only one who struggled with this.
The board is black, but the lines on it are brown. This is not shown in the marketing images. In practice, the color of the board depends on viewing angle and the amount of incident light. When it's in the case, the board appears black, but when working on it one could easily see that it was actually brown.
Great, affordable and decent-looking DDR4 RAM. The price felt good enough that I splurged a bit and went with 32GB instead of 16GB. I doubt I'll need that much, but it's nice to have the extra breathing room.
It's hard to beat a 1TB SSD in terms of the speed and convenience it offers. I see lots of builds using much smaller SSDs in combination with spinning drives, but I wanted plenty of space to have primary games and such right on the SSD. Loading times are just unbelievable.
I do plan on adding a secondary hard drive eventually because at some point I'd like to dual boot Linux.
An extremely powerful video card -- Titan X power at a big price discount.
SLI scaling for me has been very solid so far with two of these cards. At 1440p with maxed out settings, including HairWorks and all AA, in The Witcher 3 I get an FPS in the mid-40s with one of these cards and an FPS in the high 70s and low 80s with SLI enabled.
Incredible, sleek case that strikes the right balance between minimalism and boldness.
Building in it was a bit harder than I expected. The power supply shroud means that there is almost ZERO clearance below the motherboard, so I had a lot of difficulty mounting the motherboard initially. But the result was worth the effort.
In terms of UX, Windows 10 is a tremendous improvement on 8.1 and even 7. This is the first version of Windows that I've felt that I almost prefer over OS X in terms of UI design. I'll still eventually need to dual boot Linux though because I like to do some of my software development in a Unix-like environment.