Total Cost - Approx. $1090 (USD)
June 15 - Still waiting for all components to arrive, further updates to come.
June 17 - Assembled everything but the video card and the third fan (still waiting for those). Assembly was relatively straight forward, although being a first time builder, it took me a while to finish. Cable management is quite clean thanks to the case. Operating system installed without a hitch. WiFi adapter is working like a charm, motherboard software is easy to use, everything is running smoothly for now. The PC runs very quiet, but we'll see if it continues to do so after putting the video card in. Even with just the processor, it manages to run Crysis 2 at 720p on high settings (~40 fps), which is quite a step up from the laptop I was previously using.
Build Complete - With the 780 in, I've got to say, that thing is quite loud. Overall, sound levels are still reasonable, but it's still a little whiny for my taste. Since I'm bringing this rig to college dorms with me, as long as it won't wake my roommates, I'll be satisfied. Regardless, as for the performance itself, I'm very pleased with this build. While I haven't had the chance to play anything other than Crysis 2, LoL, and CS:GO on it yet, it's handled these games without a hitch. Temps on the CPU have never exceeded 70 degrees celsius, even under the most strenuous loads (I've done some streaming with it @ 1080p, 45 fps). And along those lines, while irrelevant to this specific build, this thermal paste is really quite something. My laptop was have some serious overheating problems/loud fan whine (which sounded like a vacuum cleaner to my friends over Skype), but replacing the dried up stock paste completely eliminated the issue. But I digress. With regards to overclocking, I appear to be a bit unlucky. My CPU could only handle up to 4.7 GHz while running Gigabyte's auto-tuning software (I know auto-tuning is bad for my CPU, but I'm inexperienced and lack the time to do a thorough test myself). My GPU faired no better, as I was only able to achieve a completely stable overclock of around +60/240 on the core clock and memory clock, respectively. I also had one hiccup with the RAM, but after looking at the default XMP profile for 1866 MHz, I noticed that the timings were set to 9-9-9-24 rather than the recommended 9-10-9-24 (as specified by the manufacturer). Hopefully it'll no longer be an issue after tuning that. All in all, for a first build, I had a pleasant experience and ended up with a pretty decent PC. On a side note, I'm considering adding a CM JetFlo fan to the Hyper 212 EVO for a push/pull system and the blue LED, and/or some blue LED strips in the case (might as well use the window for something).
Great mid-range CPU. I was a bit unlucky with the chip, as I couldn't achieve a stable overclock greater than 4.7 GHz, but I don't think everyone will have the same experience as me.
While I would have liked better performance and less noise, it's good for what I paid and it gets the job done. As a first time builder, it was a little difficult to set up, but I know there are many more CPU coolers that are worse.
Great paste. Nothing more to say.
Really nice mobo. Does the job for a lower price than most Z97 boards, and has enough features to satisfy regular users (enthusiasts look elsewhere). While I would have liked right angle connectors on the ATX power and front panel USB 3.0, I really can't complain for the price I paid.
Good RAM. Had a hiccup with it, but I think that was because the pre-defined XMP profile's timings were slightly off from the suggested ones.
Good SSD, good speeds, hasn't failed yet :)
For what I paid ($200), it blows its competition out of the water. It is, however, very loud. In fact, it's louder than the rest of my build combined. Gotta take 1 star off for that, but it's still a good product. I was a little disappointed with the overclock I managed to achieve, but that's all luck of the draw. The GTX 900s are definitely still better in my opinion, so if you're upgrading or making a new build, go for those instead.
Great case. Lots of space for cable management, lots of features, good build quality, good design, and helps dampen sound as advertised. I did encounter difficulties trying to install a bottom fan, but that was more an issue of not having the necessary mounting tools than a fault in the case. Was also disappointed that I couldn't install the small HDD rack in place of the optical drive rack, but I'm not going to be nitpicky about that.
A great reliable PSU for the price. Love having the option of modular cables. While only semi-modular, the non-modular cables are all necessary anyways, so I don't have an issue with that. I would have liked flat cables instead of round ones, but that isn't worth docking a star for. Plus, my case fits all the cables inside the back panel without an issue, so it really isn't a big deal to me.
Wireless Network Adapter
Does it's job and gives me reliable wireless speeds. In comparison to my laptop's NIC, it's definitely better. At the distance my PC is from my router (about 15 ft), the speeds it delivers is even comparable to a wired ethernet connection. The dual band and bluetooth features on the card gives it a huge recommendation from me. (Some people seemed to have issues with the card not working, but I've had no issues. Just be sure to install and update the drivers it comes with.)
I bought this fan to match the ones that came with my Define R5 case. While I'm too lazy to actually test the airflow on the fan, it's quiet and appears to work as intended. The price is also reasonable for a case fan.