Been up and running since March 13th (just 11 days after the Ryzen 7 launch). I'd waited 5 years for Zen to get here, I sure as heck wasn't going to wait any longer haha. (Also anywhere it says "Cost=$" that's the price I actually paid, not the MSRP).
CPU - AMD's Ryzen 7 2700X (Cost=$330/out of pocket = $80) While my original plan had always been to skip 2nd Gen/Zen+ and jump straight to 3rd Gen/Zen 2 next year, but it turned out that a buddie of mine needed to build a music production workstation ASAP right in the lead up to the Ryzen 2nd Gen launch; allowing me to sell him my launch R7 1700, along with the Wraith Prism cooler that comes with the 2700X, and upgrade to the latter chip right at launch for the 2nd year in a row (pre-ordering both times to boot), on the ultra super mega cheap ($80 out of office pocket, aka sold 1700/Prism to him for $250. And, I'm well aware I easily could have charged him a lot more considering the included cooler, but he's a really good friend, so I wanted to hook him up just a little bit. Anyways, as far as the actual CPU goes, it's blown away each & every expectation I had for Zen+, being a simple "shrink & tweak" refresh in the style of a OG Intel tock, but boy oh boy did it end up being anything but. Zen to Zen+ makes Intel's similarly placed / style of regresh that was Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge look absolutely freaking TERRIBLE, even though they have near identical IPC gains of ≈3%IPC. Why? Well first off, AMD didn't suddenly decide to go full ****** and swap solder for crappy T.I.M. like Intel did with IB (totally kneecapping it's thermals & clock ceiling vs SB), but that's not what puts Zen+ on a completely different level. What is, is a simple 2 words & a number. - Precision Boost 2. Unusual for a refresh, this is a legitimately, honest to God, world upending complete & total game changer. As in CPU's will NEVER be the same again. Everything you know about CPU clock boosting & overclocking has just been thrown out the windows and been replaced by something 100000X more awesome. Namely a truly dynamic, core by core, auto-overclocking boost algorithm! And not just that, but one that you have TOTAL control over thanks to XFR2 & specifically Precision Boost Overdrive, which exposes each of the major parameters that affects how PB2 behaves for direct user control. (PBO is only found on X370/X470 though, so keep that in mind). Thus, if the default clock behavior isn't quite agressive enough for your particular cooling setup & power delivery, you can quickly & easily make it as aggressive as you want, and in a very naunced manner. So while most people now will be getting the vast majority of the possible performance from their chip right out of the box now w/o having to touch anything, which is HUGE, the opportunity to obsessively tweak & push your chip is still here, & better than ever. It's just thst it now takes a rather different form than simply messing with the set clock multipler & voltages we all know and love, and after experiencing the dynamism & control of Precision Boost 2 combined with Precision Boost Overdrive, I can unequivocally state that this is the future of CPU's & CPU tweaking, and it's FREAKING AWESOME!!!! Overclocking is dead, long live overclocking!!!! ; )
OLD PART THAT'S BEEN REPLACED!!!->- AMD's Ryzen 7 1700 (Cost=$330) packing 8 Zen cores, 16-threads, and a massive 20MB of cache. Why? Simple really; for the absolutely bonkers multi-threading performance on offer for it's price-tag (even at the OG $330 MSRP I paid at launch). And I got a VERY good 1700 chip to boot!!! (even more so considering it's from the launch/first production batch). I've had it running rock-solid at 3.95GHz @ 1.38V for over a year now at this point. After being OC'd I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever about this chip, which almost never happens with things I buy. The single-threaded performance is close enough to the best of the best (7700K) that the difference is something I honestly never notice even if I'm deliberately trying (roomie has a 7700K), whereas the multi-threading performance on tap is OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! My day to day moderate-heavy multi-tasking PC workload is absolutely night and day superior to the totally cranked 4.6GHz i5-3570K it replaced. I.e. according to Geekbench for ex, S.T. performance is near identical (4GHz R7 vs 4.6Ghz IB, which greatly shows off Zen's superior IPC), but it's an absolute M.T. slaughter to the tune of >2.5x faster; that's freaking nuts... For me and my PC use cases, that is INFINITELY more noticeable than the extra 10-20% or so (vs the 3570K) higher S.T. I'd have got by going Intel/7700K. The fact that AMD will be supporting the AM4 chipset with a cheap and direct upgrade path all the way through the point that BOTH PCIe 4.0 and DDR5 are both available for the mainstream (2020 at the very earliest) was just further icing on the cake for me. With competition this potent I simply refuse to be penny gouged by Intel EVER AGAIN. OLD PART THAT'S BEEN REPLACED
Motherboard - Gigabyte's Aorus X370 Gaming 5. (Cost=$195) As this was a launch build, my pre-order options for motherboards were EXTREMELY limited, and I'm happy to report I completely KILLED IT with this choice! As literally every tech reviewer said in their reviews of it, this was BY FAR the most stable AM4 board available in the early launch days (with many saying it was the only option stable enough for a primary rig) which is something to which I can personally attest. Pretty much any/all issues with the board were software related, and with the most recent BIOS update w/ AGESA 184.108.40.206a practically every single one of them has been taken care of. Layout is fantastic and building with it was a damn pleasure, build & component quality is impeccable, the on-board sound-system is literally best in class (dual Realtek ALC1220's, 1x for the front and back panel), and aesthetically it's drop dead gorgeous with a color scheme that looks hand made for my case (and with the most flexible/extensive RGB-LED system I've yet seen to boot!). The BIOS is generally pretty great (not the best I've ever used, but still very good), and having 2x of them on board is a huge safety net boon in-case something ever gets screwed up. Also, the Smart Fan 5 fan/pump/AIO control system is so far out in front of the current competition it's kind of sad, practically invalidates the need for add-in fan controller's (hence why the H110i's CorsairLink USB cable goes missing in the pics; Smart Fan 5 did it better/easier). My only major complaint on this front is the lack of any P-State OC'ing options, but that could definitely still come down the pipe in a BIOS update at some point. Now what about GB's AM4 flagship released a month later, the Gaming-K7, you say? Well, turns out that literally the only differences between the 2 are the color scheme, higher $, and the K7's on-board BCLK generator which meant I had absolutely no reason's to wait for it instead (BCLK OC'ing is a massive pain for usually tiny gain, so it was nbd not to have it; esp. since my DDR4 was only 3200MHz which was already enough trouble to hit at the time). I was actually originally going to go with a B350 model and a 1700X instead, but seeing how long I plan to keep this system's platform in commission (at the very least 5 years, likely longer) and how long the AM4 upgrade path could go on for (vs supporting just 1 more gen at best on Intel's side), along with the fact that all the Ryzen 7 chips ended up having EXTREMELY similar OC ceilings (within 100-200MHz) I realized that probably wasn't the best way to go. Rather choosing to splurge on a nicer mobo w/ a much beefier/higher quality VRM setup would pay much larger dividends long-term than using that $ on a 1700X vs a 1700. With that in mind I did my research for the best AM4 X370 launch board that wouldn't break the bank, and it turned out this was BY FAR the best option. The only launch board that had a superior power phase design was the ASUS CH VI Hero which was crazy expensive for features I really didn't need (i.e. the on-board BCLK generator). After canceling my Amazon B350 pre-order days before launch, I hit the freaking jackpot by finding one of the last pre-order's available for this board still left online at Fry's.com; checking out literally minutes before they sold out. This stroke of luck was the ONLY reason I was up and running by the 13th, as pretty much all AM4 boards would be sold out for like 2 months after launch.
RAM/Memory - 32GB (16x2) G.Skill Trident Z 3200MHz, CL15. (Cost=$220) My reasons for picking this particular kit are actually really simple. #1 With the way the Infinity Fabric and the Ryzen IMC are connected, the DDR4 clock-speed has a DIRECT, and large impact on it's (the IF) speed, so I wanted only the fastest AM4 supported speed (w/o BCLK OC'ing) which was 3200MHz, #2 16GB which is what I'd been using for years was rapidly no longer cutting it during my more heavy workloads, so I definitely needed more than that with my new build. #3 If I wanted to leave myself an upgrade path to the board's capacity max (and run 32GB at the fastest possible clocks) I needed to get 2 DIMM's in the max supported capacity of 16GB. #4 And finally, by FAR the biggest reason in my choice was the fact that the entire Trident Z line was MASSIVELY discounted (and this was compared to the pre-DRAM shortage/price explosion no-less) during Newegg's Ryzen launch sale. To put into perspective just how ridiculous these prices were (esp. compared to what they are now), my kit (32GB, 3200MHz, CL15) was priced at just $220, or $65 off it's normal price of $285 at the time. That same kit is now $350 on Newegg..... The craziest part about this is that, that wasn't even the best deal they had. The CL16 (16,16, not 16,18) kit was just $185!!!!! Too bad it sold out right while I was checking out with it... :(... Anyways, now to the sticks themselves, first of all, they are absolutely gorgeous; easily the best looking set of DIMM's I've ever seen in my like 15 years of building PC's, and for what I paid, the price to perf/quantity ratio was through the freaking stratosphere. Now much to my relatively recent surprise (only found out about a month ago), it turns out that this particular kit DOES use the legendary Samsung B-die DRAM after all. Now why I found this so surprising is the same reason this doesn't mean it can/will hit the rated 3200MHz in every Ryzen build like most B-die kits. These are 16GB dual-rank sticks, which are MUCH harder on the Zen IMC than their 8GB single-rank cousins (though DR DIMM's do preform better, clock for clock). Despite using the fabled Samsung "B-die" DRAM, up until just very recently (the f22b BIOS) I was stuck at 3066MHz CL14 no matter what I tried/did (prolly bc they are 16GB dual-rank DIMM's and my 1700's IMC isn't the best). Thankfully, with the most recent BIOS & AGESA update (concerning the latter, it's the first official ver w/ Ryzen 2 support) I've not only been able to FINALLY reach the DIMM's rated 3200MHz clock-speed, BUT I was able to significantly tighten the timings every FURTHER than the already tightened 14-14-14-36 (vs 16-15-15-38 using XMP) to a totally bandonkers 14-13-13-26 (with the rest of the subtimings equally as tight, all using Stlit's "Fast 3200MHz" timings for Samsung B-die.
GPU - XFX's AMD R9 Fury X 4GB HBM (Cost=$275) I got this card originally for use in my prior rig last November, practically new in the box (taken out and used once, then put back in) off my local classifieds site for just $275!!!! I'd had an R9 290X before that, so it wasn't like I was desperate for more power or anything, but at that price/condition (esp compared to GTX 1070 prices at the time) I simply just couldn't resist it's glorious allure of 1440p, 144Hz, FreeSync pushing potential. Needless to say, I had replaced by 1080p/75Hz display with just such a monitor by the year's end. What people say about adaptive sync tech (FreeSync/G-SYNC) is 110% true; once you go, you can NEVER go back, and for that reason alone I'm glad I went this route over a Pascal card for instance. Not to mention the fact it has killer built in water-cooling (it's a March 2016 production model with the revised pump) and was also a flagship AMD part perfect for the future Zen build I was planning. Basically I've been happy as a clam with it. Outside of a very tiny handful of corner cases where the 4GB of HBM just isn't enough to cope, no matter how insanely fast it is, Fiji has aged BRILLIANTLY (only slightly less so the legendary FineWine mascot that is Hawaii). Anyone who bought a Fury/Fury X when they were going for crazy discount prices last fall made a damn good choice in hindsight.
CPU Cooler - Corsair H110i 280mm AIO (Cost=$70) I needed a good AIO that would work with AM4 right out of the box, and this more than fit the ticket. Now the reason the price I paid is ≈1/2 the MSRP is because of 2 reasons; 1st being that it wasn't an H110i I originally purchased/paid for, but an H100i (Corsair's smaller, cheaper AM4 compat. model); 2nd is that it was a manufacturer refurb from Corsair's official refurb eBay page. Thing is, the H100i I ordered ended up having a janky pump (didn't work right, made crazy noises) so I shipped it back ofc. When I did, I sent a message to their eBay account asking if I could just get an H110i as replacement instead and just pay them the ≈$30 price diff. (the refurb H110i's were $100 iirc), but I never heard back. A couple days pass and the replacement shows up on my doorstep. Opening it, completely expecting to see another H100i, my jaw practically hit the floor when I saw that whomever Corsair had running their refurb eBay store had obviously read my message after all, and had sent me an H110i as a replacement instead. This all at absolutely no extra cost to me. Not gonna lie, that was ****ING AWESOME!!! and improved my image of Corsair as a company (sure, their products are all actually designed by other companies, but I don't care if the actual hardware and customer service are good). Anyways, badass story over; onto talking about the cooler itself. It's really simple really; the CoolIT designed AIO hardware is fantastic; I have next to no complaints about it; Corsair's software (CorsairLink), and the internal fan controller that it uses otoh..... Some of the worst garbage I've ever had the displeasure of using. Finicky, buggy, over-complicated, you name it, and it sucks. Thankfully with GB's new Smart Fan 5 system on my mobo, I had an easy way to ditch the crap ENTIRELY (once I realized I could that is), and all without having to buy an external fan controller. I took the CorsairLink USB cable completely out (which looks MUCH better btw), then unplugged the fans from the block and into the Hybrid Fan headers on my board, which instantly knew what kind of devices were being plugged in and how to control them. From there I just went into the SF5 settings in the BIOS (works in Win too if you'd prefer), and set all the various temp curves for the pump & rad fans exactly the way I wanted. Been completely gravy ever since, and the cooling performance is KILLER! Like 20-25°C at Idle and around 50-55°C under AIDA64's system stress test. Haha at this point I actually couldn't go back to using CorsairLink/ the internal fan controller anyways even if I wanted too, as I accidentally drilled a screw straight through one of the rad fan's cable while connected to the block/internal fan controller while my PC was on (this happened during an hours long headbanging against wall session trying to get CorsairLink to work the way I wanted). As screwdriver = metal, this instantly shorted out the AIO's internal fan controller (which I don't give 2 craps about), along with the block's LED "Corsair" logo (which I'll admit, was def. a bummer). This WAS the impetus for trying out the vastly superior board & SF5 method instead though, so at least some good came out of my idiot mistake hahaha.
Case - Fractal Design Define R5 - Titanium Window (Cost=$90) This is another area where I lucked out HARD, simply by being in the right place, at the right time. In the same Newegg Ryzen launch sale that I bought my DDR4, a random smattering of cases were on sale too so ofc I took a look at what was available; not moments later I saw the Define R5 in Titanium Window which not only watched my motherboard's color scheme EXACTLY but was a whopping $55 off the normal price ($145), and knew there was just no other possible choice. Lol and surprise, surprise, I was right! It matched my board so well, they looked professionally color matched. The build quality (as with all Fractal Design cases) is through the freaking roof. The soundproofing for a windowed case is easily among the very best available today. Most of all though, what made me fall in love with this case, now and forever, is it's adaptability/modularity. Practically EVERYTHING that's not a part of the case's outer frame can be moved, removed, or adjusted in some way (drive cages, the roof panels, etc...). This makes being able to uniquely modify your PC cases' layout to match your needs, far more of an actual reality than with many, if not most other similar PC cases. The motherboard plate's back panel deserves some special mention too, with an ingeniously hidden space for 2x, 2.5" drives, and some amazing cable management/routing design and features as can be seen in my rear case pic. All in all, a dream to work with, and quite possibly my favorite PC case I've ever built in, and I've built a LOT of PC's (5 so far this year).
Monitor - Pixio PX277 27" IPS, 1440p, 144Hz, 4ms, 55-144Hz FreeSync with LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) (Cost=$400) Uses the exact same LG IPS LCD panel as ASUS' like $800 (iirc) 1440p 144Hz, FreeSync display among others (it's a popular panel) just in a cheaper/bulkier housing and with a slightly inferior display controller (4ms vs 1ms G2G response time). To get the price so low, Pixio uses B-grade versions of the panel, but they are surprisingly well-binned (aka they're B-grade, but quality tested/sorted for the best of them before use). What this means is that the panel does have some minor-moderate light bleed (which is common for IPS panels, even on the best A-grade panels), and a single dead pixel it took me almost half a year to discover, but for being nearly 1/2 the price of the name brand equivalents, IMO that's WAY more than a worthy trade off. On the FreeSync side of things the supported range is 55-144Hz which isn't the biggest, but DOES include AMD's newer LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) feature so that FreeSync doesn't actually turn off when you drop below that range, and instead uses frame-doubling to keep it there artificially (which takes a hit in the quality of the FreeSync'ing, but is VASTLY superior to having it simply turn off when your fps drops below 55). It's here that I ran into this monitors only serious problem, but thankfully it's something extremely easy to fix. Current Windows display drivers incorrectly read the panels FreeSync range as being 50-144Hz instead of 55. This caused major glitching and artifacting when the fps/refresh rate dropped into that unsupported 50-55Hz zone. Solution? Easy, just bust out everyone's favorite display setting's utility, "CRU", aka "Custom Resolution Utility, and used it to change the display driver's FS range from 50-144Hz to the correct 55-144Hz. After that, it worked 110% perfectly, LFC and all. I do have to re-apply the CRU profile everytime I update my GPU drivers, but it only takes all of 5 seconds to do and is DEFINITELY not something I'd spend an extra $300-400 more because of. Outside that little road-block, and the minor light bleed I have next to nothing bad to say about this display. The IPS panel's display quality (contrast, color accuracy, brightness, response time) are all very good to absolutely fantastic, 144Hz is freaking wonderous, adaptive sync (FreeSync) is a complete and utter game changer, the menu's and software's fully featured and well designed, inputs are plentiful, the stand/housing is actually surprisingly decent/functional, and BY FAR the most important part, the sheer value/$ ratio is literally off the god damn charts. If you can figure out how to download and change 1 number in CRU to fix it's 1 major bug, I would whole-heartedly recommend this monitor to anyone looking for a killer, budget 1440p, 144Hz FreeSync option (and with a legit name brand IPS LCD panel to boot! (i.e. not VA or any of that crap).
Looks great, fits great, and uses some of the best filter mesh I've ever seen. For the $22 total I paid for it, I could not be happier. My only real complaint is that they only offer it with a glossy black frame and not with a matte finish to better match the case (despite offering a large variety of other frame colors INCLUDING one that comes in 2 different finishes [metallic silver, and brushed metallic silver], so I'm sure it'd be possible), but even so, it still looks great and with it's fittingly minimalist design, along with the mesh's color & quality does so w/o looking out of place in-spite of said glossy frame.