My slow laptop wasn't cutting it, so i decided to build a new machine that will last me a long time.
For my build i wanted a hybrid system, a light gaming system/multitasking/virtual machine system.
Motherboard: I picked the Z97-A because it was built specifically for my needs, it was a work and play motherboard and had all the features i needed. Biggest one was Fan Xpert.
The AI Suite 3 is probably the coolest piece of software that you can have on a mobo. Ton's of features, overclock support in windows (though I don't recommend that). And the ability to choose different profiles for different programs/games. What I like the most is the special Away Mode. When this mode is on (it enables when monitor turns off, I have my PC turn off all non essential fans (specifically, the front intake and rear exhaust fans) which allows my PC to suck up way less dust than normal.
CPU: I bought a i5 over an i7 because I don't need that much performance yet, and i also wanted an excuse to upgrade to a i7 broadwell CPU in the near future. I'm glad i bought the i5 4690K, it is very fast, and good enough for my needs for now.
CPU Cooler: I originally bought the H100i because the H105 which is what I wanted was too expensive at the time i bought my rig. But unfortunately (or in a way fortunately lol), my H100i was defective and i had to RMA it (pump issues). So instead of getting another h100i i bought the H105 instead because it was on sale (i believe). The h105 is defiantly better, my temps are around 10C less than with the H100i.
RAM (Memory): I bought 2400mhz RAM because I like to multitask a lot and use VM's which suck up a lot of computer resources. This RAM defiantly delivers, great speed and no slow downs. RAM disks run crazy fast also. (I plan to upgrade to 16GB in the future so i can run more VMs and/or run bigger RAM disks).
Video Card (GPU): At first, I was going to wait until the GTX 960 came out to get my graphics card. But, relooking at the games I play, Portal 2, War Thunder, Hawken. The GTX 750 ti was more than enough to pump out ultra on all these games (1080P). So i bought the gtx 750 ti FTW edition from EVGA because it is the fastest model on the market.
Now that the GTX 960 is out, i'm now even more glad that I bought the gtx 750 ti because I was a bit disappointed with the gtx 960s performance. Because I was expecting the gtx 960 to be at $250 and replace the gtx 770. (Summary, not worth the wait for the gtx 960.)
Case: I always loved the Corsair Obsidian Series, sharp, high quality, and not too much bling. This is why I picked the Corsair 450D. The top and bottom dust filters are very nice. The front of the case has a type of dust filter. But it only filters about 50% of the air coming in. However, it's better than nothing. :)
PSU (Power Supply): I would of bought a Corsair CX or HX series psu if i bought this rig a year earlier. However a few months ago i researched why CX was a bad model from Corsair. This is because they use extremely cheap capacitors that aren't designed for high performance systems. Plus, Corsair HX psus use Seasonic parts which is why they are so much better. So why didn't I go with HX? Because they don't have a 550W HX PSU, and Seasonic did. So i got the G series 550w from SeaSonic and it has not let me down.
Update: While this PSU is very good, it's non modular cables are SHORT!!! I could barely fit the 8 pin CPU header cable from the psu to behind the mobo tray to connect it. And not have it showing. If you have a Full tower or Super tower, don't even think of getting this PSU.
I bought this rig and built it in late December 2014.
Notes: I already bought the Corsair Force GT a few years ago (when it first came out), and got Windows 8 Pro when it was on sale for only $20 (also got Media Center Pack for free)!
In my first pics, the cable management was in my opinion terrible, so a few months later I spend a hour and was able to clean up a lot of the "mess". Your thoughts on the update would be much appreciated.
(Sorry if one of my pics is really blurry, i was struggling to get good shots with low lighting and not using a flash.)
UPDATE 2: GPU Overclocking
Since this card is somewhat meant for overclocking in mind, i decided to see how far i could get. The unfortunate thing about the gtx 750/750ti is that only some get really high frequencies while most don't as much. I got one of the middle type of gpus, and was able to land 1410mhz gpu clock with no voltage increase. But i kept getting constant throttling by the power target which really hindered performance.
So, i decided to go "NUTS"! The GTX 750 TI FTW actually only has a 52W TDP. Which brings up the question, why a 6 pin PCIE connector? Well, when i dug deeper you actually use NO Power from that 6 pin connection! Since PCIE can deliver 75W, it seems like that connector is for show. But, if you do it right, you can turn that 6 pin into an advantage.
I dug deeper into what's called BIOS modding, it's a special way of modding the bios so that you can play with the cards power target, voltage, core clock, boost clock, GPU boost 2.0, vram voltage, PCIE voltage, 6 pin Voltage etc. I was helped by a master of this type of overclocking on the evga forums (send me a PM if you want more info).
Anyways, long story short I was able (ok rather helped) to get my gtx 750 ti of a final overclock of 1425mhz and memory clock of 1550mhz. Compared to the original 1189 core, 1275 boost, and 1350 memory clock, that was a good increase. And i got a good amount of extra FPS too.
Pros: Absolutely everything.
Cons: Doesn't warm my room up as well as my old Q9650 rig.
But in all seriousness, I wish there was an option to buy the chip without the cooler. This would reduce the price (not to mention waste) by a non-trivial amount. I'm sure most of the people who purchase at this level toss the stock heat sink in favor of superior solutions, especially for the "k" series processors which imply the intent to overclock.
Other Thoughts: I have this running with an ASUS Z97-A and a Cooler Master Seidon 120V. I was able to overclock the turbo from 3.9GHZ to 4.6GHZ and REDUCE the turbo voltage from 1.2V to 1.12V. Idle temps are around 26C and full load (Prime95 small FFT test) temps are from 60C to 65C. This was truly a great purchase, and I would highly recommend spending the extra $$ for this CPU.