Description

This is my first build from scratch. I bought a pre-assembled desktop from iBuyPower eight years ago, and upgraded it twice since then. This time around I wanted to do what I couldn't then, which is to say, spare no 'reasonable' expense and assemble it myself. The name of the build is an obvious reference to the case and an obscure reference to red vs blue.

It was a little nerve racking to build this computer. Something about touching components that are worth several thousand dollars makes me a little nervous. Totally worth it in the end though. I didn't have to compromise much on how I wanted it to look or perform. The RGB setup is ridiculous, but I can use it as much or as little as I want to. It has been running quieter and cooler than my last computer, while outperforming it significantly in all aspects. Of course, I had little doubt about the latter given the newer technology.

Please feel free to comment with any questions on the build or the parts themselves. I'd be happy to offer any suggestions or tips where I can.

Case - Cougar Panzer Max: I overthought this for much longer than I should have. I had narrowed it down to the Panzer Max and Cooler Master Trooper SE for months. I knew I wanted the space, a decent side window, and I liked the idea of a handle to make moving it less of a struggle. I went with the Panzer Max because the hard drives are stored behind the motherboard, it was more modular, and (to me at least) it looked better. No regrets here, but as others have noted it does lack instructions beyond the basics and fitting a radiator on top is not as easy at it seems. The handles are plastic and do give a bit, but I've lifted it, fully loaded, several times and it has held its own. I also considered the Cougar Panzer EVO RGB, but I didn't like the idea of that much glass. The weight, lack of airflow, no 5.25" drive, and potential smudges turned me off of that case.

GPU - MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11 GB GAMING X TRIO: Easily the part I was the least sure about. In fact, I had no idea what GPU I wanted. Originally I was going to get a GTX 1080 TI or RTX 2080, but finding a good price with one I wanted in stock was difficult. And the performance increase from a GTX 980 TI was minimal, so I figured 'screw it' and bumped it up. Surprisingly, I managed to find this at a Best Buy, and with a 5% discount, it came down to $1275. This price is still far higher than I had originally hoped for this build. That being said, it's a beast and is getting about 50-60% more fps in games than my 'old' GTX 980 TI. It hasn't been noisy at all yet, but I haven't pushed it to the max either.

Motherboard - MSI MEG Z390 ACE: I have gone with Asus in the past, but MSI appealed to me more this time around. Some would probably consider this a downside, but I was happy that it didn't waste space with an hdmi or display port. If you are buying a z390 chipset motherboard, you probably aren't using integrated graphics. I liked the pre-installed IO shields, lane configurations, VRM, and tons of usb ports on the back. It has 12 to the Asus Maximus XI Gaming's 10. I also liked that it didn't bother with a PS2 port. Why is that still an option? Me being snooty about legacy technology aside, both are great motherboards feature wise, so it was a close call. My one disappointment, why do they make the m2 screws (under the m2 heatsink) so difficult to get out? I made it worse, but there was hardly any grip on it to begin with.

CPU - i9-9900K: Overkill. Simply overkill. I have no need for this. I can bring up stories about AI projects, some video editing, and maybe the odd computationally intensive game. However, I would be lying to myself that I needed this. But I wanted to spare no reasonable expense. And I was disappointed that I couldn't find a LGA-2066 (Intel's high end processor line) processor that was better than this one. The i9-9900X isn't much more powerful and costs $450+ dollars more. Maybe the lga 2066 socket/x299 chipset has more features, but I could barely justify the i9-9900k, so I kept moving.

CPU Cooler - Corsair H115i Pro: Better than I expected. I wanted the larger 280mm radiator for cooling and theoretically more efficient fan size. I did break the rules and changed out the fans for the Corsair LL140 RGB ones instead because they are quieter and far more pretty. I've been watching my cpu temps, but they haven't gone above ~61C under full load for 10 minutes. And it only hits 45-50 in the games I've tried. All of this on the pre applied thermal paste, so I'm happy. My main complaint here is the bracket that holds it in place. The plastic makes sense, but it feels weaker than I would prefer. Keep in mind though, the weight of a water cooler is far less than most air coolers. Also, note that it doesn't actually feel sturdy until the heatsink is fully screwed in on top of the processor. This threw me off because I'm used to more sturdy mounting brackets.

Storage - Samsung 970 Pro 1TB (M2 2280) + Seagate Barracuda 4TB: The 970 Pro is lighting fast. It may cost more than a sata 2.5" ssd, but there are definitely speed benefits here. And there are less cables being used because it plugs into an m2 socket rather than requiring a power cable and sata cable. If I needed to cut costs though, I probably would have started here since it isn't really necessary, just a nice to have. The Barracuda is uber storage for a fair price.

RGB lighting - 6 RGB Fans, 4 Corsair Lighting Strips, Corsair Commander, + Corsair RGB Hub (comes with LL fan Pack): RGB lighting has really taken off, and while I didn't plan to follow the crowd, I love how it looks. The iCue software is better than I expected. There are a large amount of presets to chose from, and if you plan ahead with the fan hookups, it really flows well together. The documentation on this stuff is limited, but if you check here it should be easier to see. It really is rather easy once you know how, and the commander pro makes a lot of sense if you have enough corsair equipment. The Corsair LL fans are great for the lighting and they are reasonably quiet. This is largely because they have lower max rpms though, so they probably aren't the best at cooling. I am attempting to counteract that by having a lot of fans and good airflow.

Edit -- 01/15/2019 Note on the CPU cooler. I strongly recommend adjusting its default settings in iCue to be balanced rather than quiet for the pump. The pump is very quiet, and setting it to "balanced" took off 3 degrees Celsius from its max and its noise still isn't noticeable. Now it doesn't go above ~58C at full load.

Log in to rate comments or to post a comment.

Comments

  • 16 months ago
  • 4 points

Looking good! i'd definitely clean up those cables but other than that it's stunning. I do have two questions tho, did you overclock your ram? and why did you chose that ram in the first place? you can find faster for about the same price.

  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

Fair point of the cables ;) I am only using the default of 2666mhz currently since I didn't see a reason to mess with the stability. You are right about the cheaper options. I'm biased towards the corsair vengeance series since they have worked well for me in the past, so that is part of it. Then it also came down to getting rgb and filling out all four slots for the fun of it. Although, it is actually possible to buy fake ram for that purpose now which seems kinda silly.

  • 16 months ago
  • 2 points

lol corsair vengeance imo is the best looking ram on the market... and having a 4 slots populated adds 10 frames :)

[comment deleted]