I have been wanting to do a somewhat midrange but still performance oriented white themed build for a while. I had the chance to team up with Deepcool and try out some of their current midrange product offerings which worked well for the target price point I was looking to build around (around 1500 to 1700). Below you will see how it all came together. Overall I am very happy with the build as it offers a distinctive look and feel but and a focus on performance, acoustics & cooling. As for the performance and acoustics, the system offers up a great desktop usage experience, fast and fluid gaming, including experience all while cool & quiet whether at idle or under load. As always there is a lot more than meets the eye when you get into what the system offers. This is especially the case when you consider the level of monitoring and fan control functionality the system offers along with the specialized features and functions that benefit first time builders to veteran PCDIY builders.
The foundation of the build is of course a Z170 board which offers up all the current specification support you could ask for, these include RAID, M.2 (PCIe, NVMe), PCIe Gen 3.0, USB 3.0/USB 3.1 as well as overclocking support. Beyond that, the Z170 chipset offers a more feature rich platform when it comes to motherboards as the best features & functions are found on performance chipset motherboards. Many builders do not realize that subtle but important areas can be considerably improved upon when compared to B or H series boards. This is especially true when it comes to areas like Fan Controls, UEFI options, board VRM design and much more. We will get to that soon enough though. Ultimately the choice to go with a Z170 motherboard is a given especially if you are looking to fully realize the potential of unlocked CPUs and XMP enabled memory. As such the choice was easy to make for this build.
A couple of notes
Overall Aesthetic -
The goal here was to have white be the first and foremost prominent color. Therefore, the motherboard, chassis and fans and even GPU were all selected due to offering this visual design aesthetic (outside of respective design benefits that they offer as well). At the same time, I was looking to have a bit of contrast with black. With that in mind there is a mix of some components that help to create that contrast.
Breaking down the components that are white or include white Deepcool Dukase V2 ( white edition ) Deepcool Captain 240 ( white edition ) Deepcool TF120 fans ( white edition ) Crucial Ballistix DDR4 ( white ) SABERTOOTH Z170 ( S edition which is white ) DUAL GTX 1070 ( with shroud being white ) CableMods Extension Cables ( white )
About the only area that would have been nice to potentially integrate more white would have been getting a custom back plate for the DUAL 1070 and painting the pump and or tubing of the Captain cooler. FYI, I did do a quick paint job to the pump header and glass tubing. I still need to slightly sand and go back in with a fine brush once the sanding is finished for some final paint touch ups.
CPU - I decided to go with the 6600K. The 6700K is also a great option for the most demanding applications as well as some game engines like TOTAL WAR which benefit from the additional cores. That being noted the high clock speed, Skylake architecture and ability to overclock the cores help to ensure outstanding performance. At the same time this is also a very power efficient CPU and has very reasonable temperatures even when overclocked. This is especially the case with the 6600K compared to the 6700K and due to the fact, it does not have HT which adds a considerable temperature bump. Ultimately the 6600K not only offers great temps but also offers great FPS performance for all current titles as well as those that are coming down the pipe. As a side benefit the latest generation Intel CPUs have a lot of flexibility when it comes to what type of voltages can be applied and in this respect, we can leverage an adaptive offset voltage to maximize overclocking but also help to improve power efficiency and reduce heat buildup and eliminate the need to supply a constant voltage being driven to the CPU which can cause voltage degradation.
CPU Cooler - Deepcool Captain 240 - This is a solid all in one closed loop water cooling solution. It offers more than enough thermal dissipation capabilities especially for the 6600K even when overclocked. While it offers great cooling performance it also offers up a unique design aesthetic. The pump design is visually interesting and incorporates a soft white LED inside that further adds a visual difference to the build. The pump also has some nice advantageous compared to many closed loop water cooling solutions. It features a closed impeller which helps to reduce vibration and overall noise.
The included fans are also quite nice from a design perspective as the fan blades themselves carry through the white color theme. The fans also feature FDB bearings and a true PWM IC for super low RPM and overall quiet operation. The frame of the fans incorporate a TPE layer which helps to reduce vibration and overall noise. If needed you can also detach the fan impeller so you can apply lubrication or clean the fan hub assembly. By default, though the fans feature a sealed design that maximizes long term lifespan and reliable operation (dust from getting in and from internal oil leaking out)
Installation was easier than many closed loop coolers due to some nice touches such a retention clips that can be placed on the mounting bracket. Overall it was a smooth and straight forward installation process.
Motherboard - There are a lot of great choices out there, especially when it comes to ASUS boards. That being noted I wanted I a board that beyond its features & functions and build quality offered up a distinctive white design aesthetic. Additionally, it had to be reliable and stable when it came to overclocking. The Z170 series from ASUS is a great choice in this respect whether it be boards like the Z170-A or Z170-DELUXE. While those boards fit the build, and offer some outstanding features like Auto Tuning for easy but robust overclocking and Fan Xpert for outstanding fan controls I wanted to take it to the next level when it came to the overall design aesthetic of the board. This is where the SABERTOOTH Z170 S came into the picture. It offers a beautiful white PCB with digital camo print. Along with this great visual design aesthetic the TUF Z170 S offers up ASUS’s proven digital controlled VRM design and the TUF series extensive specialized design attributes and validation which help to improve overall board durability, reliability and overall stability. Furthermore, the Z170 S offers some truly impressive onboard monitoring and fan control functionality. While it removes the Auto Tuning feature. A feature of the Z170-A that enables simplified OS executed automated overclocking it has a robust and stable UEFI that offers up every possible tuning parameter you could want to tweak and tune your system for great OC results. When noting the UEFI it is also important to note the Z170 S also has the same rich UEFI options seen across all ASUS boards so whether it comes to customizable menu tables, integrated UEFI updating, SATA port renaming, extensive fan controls and much more it is all there.
Getting into some of the specific onboard benefits, this board was built for users who want a lot of fans and high degree of control and flexibility when it comes to those fans.
The SABERTOOTH Z170 S offers outstanding fan controls and connectivity. With 8 total fan headers and 2 additional assist fan headers as well as support for the ASUS’s fan extension card the board can support up to 13 fans. More impressive is all 8 fan headers can provide true DC & PWM output / control. This means they fully support 3 pin or 4 pin fans. Each header supports fan calibration and profiling to find out the exact operating curve of each connected fan. This allows you to easily control all your connected fans via calibrated profiles. Along with the calibrated profile you can quickly apply a range of presets. These range from silent operation to varying cooling levels. You can also of course go in and fully define custom fan curves including ramping speed.
Equally as impressive is the sheer number of onboard thermal sensors. These sensors are throughout the entire board and can offer a quick visual on the temperatures of system. Where things get really interesting is that these sensors can be mapped to each fan header. This allows for extensive control in how each fan header and its connected fan respond. Traditionally fans respond only to CPU temperature. Now you can have a fan respond to PCIe slot temp or the VRM or any of the other sensor locations. Ultimately this allows for targeted cooling response. Working in conjunction with all of this is a dedicated TUF IC controller that handles monitoring independently for faster & more accurate polling as well as allows for more variation in how information is weighted and apply to control of the systems connected fans. Users of watercooling solution or groups of fans will also appreciate the ability to have a PWM fan splitter cable connected to the CHA fan headers and output a PWM signal to a group of fans. This works great for front intakes or top mounted group fans due to the trend of wanting these fans to respond in unison. Additionally, for those wanting to connect even more fans or have even more temperature input sources can attach the optional fan extension card which offers an additional 3 fan headers which can operate to same level of functionality as the motherboard fan headers. The card also offers 3 additional temperature input headers where you can connect a thermistor in the same way you can connect a thermistor to the 3 temp headers on the motherboard. In total this offers 5 additional sensors on top of the f 10 onboard thermal sensors that can be mapped to any of the fan headers on the motherboard or the fan extension card. The overall combinations of how you can have a connected fan respond to a specific temperature source is nothing short of cooling nirvana.
Overall this is just the tip of the iceberg, with these items noted though you seriously get the best of the best when it comes to how you can define your overall cooling experience.
As for build quality, the board is great. The Z170 S features a high quality digital PWM and advanced VRM assembly that ensures stable, reliable and efficient operation whether you are stock or overclocked. Being that the board has a digital PWM for the CPU & MEMORY you can easily define all the operating parameters. This is great if you really want to dial in maximum efficiency for your defined operating parameters.
Taking build quality even further and enhancing the overall durability & reliability of the board you have TUF ESDs spread throughout the entire board which much higher performance ratings than traditional ESD implementations. This is great as it helps to protect from ESD discharge across all ports ( USB, LAN etc )
For those that are looking for help when troubleshooting you will appreciate the onboard quick debug LEDS (for CPU, DRAM, GPU and BOOT DEVICE). If you want more information including the ability to quickly access hardware monitoring values as well as Debug codes, you can use TUF Detective. This is a dedicated USB port that can be used to connect to your phone or tablet for monitoring & trouble shooting.
Finally, you have an improved audio design with a separate audio section and op amp for improved volume and dynamic range.
Some of other quick plus points include - An Intel Gigabit NIC with packet priority software M.2 with optimal placement (away from the CPU and GPU) U.2 support via the Hyperkit adapter USB 3.0 & USB 3.1 with Type C support Thunderbolt 3 support via an add in card
RAM – I Went with Crucial, specifically their Ballistix Sport line. Crucial memory has a long track record of offer high quality DRAM. More importantly these modules have solid profiles (SPD & XMP) to help ensure stability and reliability however you decided to operate them. Furthermore, their white DIMMS match perfectly with the overall look and feel of our build.
Storage - The goal was to have a native SSD array offering up enough room for the OS, games, day to day files. The MX300 is a great bang for the buck drive. It offers increased capacities compared to comparable SSDs. The controller used in the drives offers up overall offers up solid performance for real world workloads. Crucial also offers a quality SSD utility for monitoring & management. As such I settled on two 525GB drives which could be run independently as a primary C volume and then secondary D volume. Of course having two always allows a RAID 0 array to be created should I be looking for a single high performance volume.
For long term backup and primary OS back, I also have a Western Digital 2TB Black HDD. This proven drive offers solid performance for general file backup. file playback and if needed in a pinch running applications. More importantly it gives us more than enough capacity to back up our primary OS and still have room for dedicated long term storage.
GPU – This is always a tough choice. I was looking for a card that offered up enough performance to be able to run any game out there and offer the flexibility of high refresh rate gaming at 1080 or focusing on fluid & responsive gaming with high quality settings at 2560x1440. Last but not least was ensuring a quality VR experience and having support for GSYNC. With all this in mind I settled on the DUAL GTX 1070. Outside of the performance that a GTX 1070 offers the DUAL was selected as it matches the look of build perfectly with a clean looking white shroud. It is out of the box overclocked, has a full non-reference design from the PCB to power components. Everything have been upgraded for superior performance, lower temperatures and improved reliability. It has a high performance direct contact copper heat-sink assembly to keep the GPU nice and cool even when overclocked. Equally as important is that it is also quieter than the reference design. The two fans are of course fully tune-able and they have a special dust proof design which double seals the internal hub assembly. This helps to block dust, debris and dander from affecting the fan overtime. Overall the card checks off all the boxes when it comes to be picking a quality card that is cool, quiet, reliable and fast.
Additionally, as an overall plus point for the card it is built on the ASUS Auto Extreme production process. This means it is built fully via robotic assembly for the PCB and onboard component placement. This ensure superior accuracy and precision producing an outstanding card.
Case - Went with Deepcool's Dukase V2. A new midrange budget offering. One of the nice aspects is while it is very aggressively priced it still offers up a clean modern design. Additionally, it not only has a white exterior (with black contrast for the front panel) but also features a white interior. This of course complements and aligns with the overall look and feel of the build. If you are looking for onboard fan control it has you covered with up to 3 fans being able to be controlled directly from the chassis. I opted to use onboard fan headers to have complete fan control via ASUS’s Thermal Radar software but the choice is there if you want it. You have a long internal chamber allowing for large graphics card that also gives the chassis an open feel. As the component going inside look great I appreciate the side panel window. The window is also ideally placed centering in on the primary area where the motherboard is installed and cuts visibility as you move to the front area which includes a 5.25 bay.
Mounting options are solid with support for front 120 or 140mm fans. Rear 120 fans and top 120 or 140mm fans. For airflow, there are a lot of venting points built in at the top and front panel. When opening the front panel, you have extensive venting built into to allow for additional airflow. For the rear of the chassis there is also extensive honeycomb venting present. For users looking for ease of use and cable routing, the Dukase V2 has you covered with a lot of well-placed openings to route cables including cable routing holes that are present within the PSU shroud. This makes cable management simpler and easier especially for the graphics card and the SSDs that can be mounted on the PSU shroud. Speaking of the shroud this is also a nice touch especially at this price point.
A nice touch would have been for rubber grommets but these would not have been in white and taken away from the internal white interior. As for filters, there are some very basic filters. For those looking for more I would recommend an upgrade in this respect. As it is an area that could be improved upon.
Finally, there are a lot of choices for storage mounting whether it be directly visible on top of the PSU shroud, inside the inner chamber covered by the PSU shroud or on the rear of the frame. You can also move the 5.25 brackets to the front bay which is nice for those who still may want to have hot swap drives or an ODD. Finally, is a subtle touch is there is a dedicated LED strip lane. This allows for easy routing and aligns perfectly with the side panel to block visibility of the strip but still allow for illumination.
Overall the case for its price point is a solid value and easy to work with including a big cut out for the CPU mounting as well as side panel which has been extruded outwards to allow for room for bundled cables. About the only immediate area that I would have like to seen improved was two front USB 3.0 ports for the front of the chassis as opposed to one. Additionally, as is the case with many side panel windows be cautious with it as it can be prone to scuffing / scratches.
PSU - Finally you have the PSU. I went with Deepcool's ST series ( the DQ750 ST ). First and foremost, the price is very good for a PSU that features 80+ gold certification. Internal component topology is solid and DQ750 ST features a proven DC to DC topology and single 12v rail design. Furthermore, it is quiet in regards to its operation. The fan is a high quality FDB which ensures long term operation and along with a well-balanced fan curve quiet operation. While note being a fully modular PSU, I am ok with that as the cables are all black with no secondary colors or low quality sheathing. The cables are also flat as opposed to round; this works well as they can be laid flat on each other and folded to make cable routing easier.