Greetings all. This is my first computer build ever. I got inspired by all the other builds on PCPartPicker and want to thank this site and the community for showing me the way. Watched a lot of YouTube, looked a lot on Amazon, and studied what I could to make a PC that was cool, clean, and quiet. My goals for my noob build were as follows:
Use: Everyday PC used for internet browsing, web development and programming, virtual machines, light gaming (currently Starcraft 2 on ultra), and graphics programs such as Adobe CS4 and AutoCAD.
Cool: Performance at cool temps. I am more than happy with the performance of this build and the temps it runs at. This box starts up fast with the SSD and 16GB of RAM. I would say under 20 seconds without timing it. Long gone are the days of >5 minute boot ups. I got to say that I will never go back to booting up on anything slower than an SSD. i5 is fast enough for me and I didn't feel the need to spend an extra $100 for the i7. Just personal preference.
Clean: Wanted ultra-clean design of system with attention to wire-management. I like the shape of the Fractal Node 804 case as it was just about the smallest case that would fit the Asus Strix GTX970. I actually bought the Corsair 250D but returned it in favor of the Node. I didn't try to use the 250D, but just felt it would be too tight or would not fit the Strix. Whether it does or not, I am not sure. I also like the way you can hide a lot of wires on the non-visible half of the box to keep the windowed side looking simple.
Quiet: I don't know what quiet is, but I think it's quiet enough for me. The power supply fan does not turn on, the video card fan does not turn on, I can set all the other fans to quiet mode most of the time and other modes/fan speeds when I do light gaming. Runs almost silent.
Quality and Value: You get what you paid for. I liked all the parts I chose and felt they were of the quality I desired. Everything worked out of the box and I had no problems with any defects or non-compatible parts. I felt all of these were good mid-range value products that could last me for a while and upgradable to a certain extent.
Size: I wanted a small form factor and a motherboard with built-in Bluetooth, WiFi, and decent audio. Even though the Node can fit a lot of HDDs, I don't think I'll ever use them. My motherboard does not support all the drive bays, but that was not a concern for me cause I don't need them anyways. I still have room to add 1 SSD and 2 HDDs if I want to in the future. I also have no need for SLI, hence the ITX board.
Colors: I like the blacked out look with accents of white and metal. Kept it simple.
Got Lucky: I was lucky I bought the HyperX low profile RAM. I didn't know it at the time, but if I bought a higher profile (height) set, I would not be able to fit it with the H100i top mounted. I would either have to move the cooler to front mount or return the RAM for lower profile ones. I got lucky it worked out as I did not research this.
Weight: The Strix GTX970 is a heavy card and will sag on your motherboard if configured horizontally. I was able to cable tie the power cables of the Strix to the rubber lines of the H100i. The H100i lines are thick and stiff so they can support the end weight of the Strix card. That's the only reason the Strix looks so horizontal and well supported. Worked out well. Otherwise, the end of the card would sag a lot and even more over time I would suppose.
Accessories: Happy with the Cherry MX brown mechanical keyboard, AudioTechnica A900X headphones, and the office chair with mesh back and memory foam seat. I like the fit of the A900X better than the M50X which I also own and use. It feels more comfortable so far because it doesn't squeeze my head as tight as the M50X. Both sound great.
Future: I may add more LED lights, additional drives, or change out some of the fans to LED fans. However, I am very satisfied and happy with the build as it is now. Maybe an RGB keyboard and mouse upgrade? Yeah, I think the mouse is next up. The Logitech mouse has lag when I play games. I would also love to get the LG 34UM95 monitor someday when the price comes down.
Sorry, I have no interest in benchmarks and maybe will explore overclocking later, but for now, enjoy the pics!
Added 2 Corsair SP120 white LED fans to replace the stock Corsair H100i fans. It seems that these new fans are much more quiet than the stock H100i fans. Turns out that the RPMs on the LED fans are much lower than the stock H100i fans. The stock fans seem to cool much better, but the LED fans are definitely better looking.
Also added a Silverstone Tek Flexible 30cm LED 12-Inch Light Strip (LS01W). Mounted it on the backside of the H100i to act as backlighting and seems to have worked out nicely. I don't think there was any other practical place to mount this strip with the setup I had.
Overall, I like the appearance a lot more now and feel a 100% satisfied with the rig. Planning to add some Asus VN279QL 27-inch Full-HD LED-lit LCD monitors soon. New pics came out a lot clearer due to upgrading my phone from a Galaxy S4 to the Note 4.
Added two Asus VN279QL 27-inch Full-HD LED-lit LCD monitors. Love the ultra-thin bezels and the real estate of the dual monitor setup. Will help in all activities including web development, CAD, and other work related activities. These monitor stands are the best I've ever used so far in terms of adjustability. Picture is very bright. If they make the same design in 1440p, I will be very tempted to switch when the price comes down.
Also added the Corsair Vengeance M95 mouse. It feels much better in terms of build quality than my Logitech M510 wireless mouse. The sensitivity and movement speed on the M95 is much higher and it will take some time for me to adjust it to find the right settings. Excited to see how the macros record and how the programmable keys work. A large, high quality mouse pad will definitely help anyone with one of these. The two just work really nice together. Now, I hope to see much faster response times while playing SC2. I was getting a lot of lag and delay with the wireless mouse.