oh boy, this was a journey and a half.
It all started back when I received a Retina MacBook Pro 13 inch as a gift. I was absolutely blown away with the sheer speed of the SSD within, as I'd never had a computer with an SSD before (my personal rig was running off 3 mechanical drives). The speed difference was so immense that I resolved to purchase an SSD for my personal rig. Right around this time, I remembered the Cryorig OLA, their mITX case that was very mac pro esque, and was overcome with the ridiculous notion of rebuilding my personal rig in mITX. It would have been quite simple, as I already had a spare mITX case and LGA 1150 motherboard, so I could simply downsize my system into a smaller form factor. But, naturally, I figured that as long as my PC was being disassembled, I might as well upgrade to better components. I had been running an i5 4590, 16gb of RAM, 980ti, and WD Blue drives for about a year. It served me quite well, running pretty much anything I threw at it. My only complaints were those of noise and overall system slowness, thanks to the triple mechanical drives I had in the basement of my S340. After watching too much Salazar Studio, I decided that my ridiculous notion to upgrade to an i7 6700k, 16gb of DDR4, and mITX Z170 motherboard was in fact a great idea, and set about selling off my old rig. Surprisingly, this was the easiest part of my build odyssey (thanks r/hardwareswap!), and I set about ordering parts for my new rig. Now, as I've said previously, the Cryorig OLA wasn't available at the time of building, and I was considering an Enthoo Evolv ITX to temporarily house my system until the release, but then I remembered the NCASE M1, and just had to have one. I submitted my preorder for a silver v5 on November 6, 2016, and set about ordering the rest of my parts. Thanks to microcenter's dank black friday and open box deals, I ended up with a 6700k for 250 and a Maximus 7 impact for 150. However, when thinking about my build one afternoon, I realized that since my open box Impact didn't come with the fan extension card, I wouldn't have enough fan headers to connect all my NF-F12s. I ended up returning the open box Impact and purchasing a new one, but, upon testing the board at home, I came to the conclusion it was a dead board. This was getting ridiculous, so I headed back to microcenter one last time, returned the maximus, and picked up a gigabyte z170 gaming ITX board, only to find that this board was dead as well. At this point, I basically decided to abandon the mITX dream, cut my losses, and go all out on an X99 ATX system. Luckily, the black friday deals were still on, so I snagged a 5820k for 309, and an open box X99 Pro, with all accessories still sealed, for 117 after MIR, which was pretty insane. It was kind of funny because the X99 mobo and CPU ended up being 50 dollars cheaper than my previous Z170 plan. I was debating between an air or liquid cooler for my CPU, but after seeing the R1 ultimate on sale for 69 dollars, I grabbed it and the white customod cover. The two RAM sticks are a consequence of mITX with only two dimm slots. They look downright comical, taking up just 2 of the 8 RAM slots. The 850 evo was an amazing deal used from r/hardwareswap, and ended up giving me enough for the evolv ATX. For my previous mITX plan, I had purchased a Corsair SF600, and traded it for the RM850x on r/hardwareswap yet again. The Hue+ was a bit of an afterthought, because my original cheap white NZXT LED strip had the molex connector snap off, and once I found this used on r/hardwareswap for 40, it was perfect. The Strix 1080 was gift from my parents for Christmas, and man, it's an insane card. So fast, so quiet, and looks so good with the Aura lighting. I was originally going to purchase the Enthoo EVOLV TG, but was 20 dollars short after selling the NCASE, so I just bought the acrylic one in the interest of finishing this build. IMO, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. The acrylic one has these wonderful side panels that swivel out and stay attached, which is fantastic, and absent on the TG version. It's also easier to hide the Hue+ cables on the acrylic version, but you do miss out on the beauty of tempered glass. Oh well.
Alright, onto the building process and completed build.
I ran into no issues at all with CPU, RAM, and cooler installation. Cryorig's instructions and mounting mechanism is why I've owned 4 of their coolers in the past. You install two retention bars on the socket, mount the cooler, screw in two screws with the included screwdriver, and that's it. So simple and easy. I will caution against high profile dimms like dominator platinums, as those will interfere with the front fan. Motherboard installation was super straightforward, thanks to the preinstalled standoffs. It was a bit hard to get to some of the top screws, but removal of the top radiator bracket makes this much easier. Phanteks placed grommets and holes in the perfect places for proper cable management, even better than my old S340. I'm using silverstone white sleeved extensions for my video card and 24 pin, and may pick up an 8 pin EPS for my CPU connector at some point as well. Video card installation was super simple, and the cable cutout below makes running those cables super simple. I do have a few complaints, however. Installing the SSD in the front position isn't exactly easy. Phanteks gives you a cutout to the left of the mount, presumably for the sata data and power cables, but this positions your drive upside down, with stress being put on the drive from the sata power cable pushing against the mount. Not exactly ideal. You can, however, flip the drive around so it's the right way up, and route the cables through a small hole in the front of the case, which removes cable stress as well. Unfortunately, this means the 3.5 inch drive cage down here has to go, as it interferes with the cabling. Since I'm only running SSDs in this system, it doesn't bother me, but YMMV. Also, when installing my Hue+, I had nowhere to put it because I removed the 3.5 inch drive bay. The unit is to tall to fit behind the motherboard tray, so I screwed it into the bottom panel through the pump mount, which luckily lines up with 3 of the 4 mounting holes on the hue+. I love the integrated fan controller, as it removes cable clutter and allows me to control all case fans off one header.
So, all in all, a simple build with easy cable management and overkill components for what I do, which is mostly gaming and homework. I'm going to hackintosh this beast at some point once SSD prices come down to the point where I can buy another 500gb SSD for my OSX install, and someone finds 10-series drivers for OSX, because I edit using final cut, and my macbook pro isn't the fastest when doing color correction or rendering. I'm extremely happy with how it turned out, and it destroys any game I've thrown at it. What do you guys think? Feel free to leave criticisms in the comments below.
For about the same price as a 6700k, and less than a 7700k now, this CPU at 4.5 Ghz is a beast, absolutely destroying anything I can throw at it. Highly recommend.
Man, I love this cooler. Not only does it look better than the likes of the NH-D15 and Dark Rock Pro 3 (imo), it's dead quiet at idle, and barely audible under load. Keeps my 5820k nice and cool, and is basically silent. At 70 dollars, it was too good to pass up.
Micro Center open box deals to the rescue! Seriously, they're amazing. I pretty much only picked this board because of the color scheme and the fact it was in my small price range, and I'm not disappointed. It may not be RGB (such a loss I know), but it does a great job of keeping my 5820k at 4.5 Ghz, has a great onboard audio solution, and a metric boatload of USB ports. Highly recommend.
XMP profile worked perfectly. I unfortunately can't take advantage of the quad channel capabilities of my board, but still nice RAM nonetheless.
Amazingly fast coming from mechanical drives, looks good, and says samsung on the side so how can you go wrong
Holy cannoli this card is fast. GTA5 with 8x msaa and all settings maxed at 1440p gave me a silky smooth 60fps, all while staying below 65 degrees. The Aura lighting is so well implemented, and imo the new line of strix coolers are the best ASUS has ever made.
Fantastic case. I removed the 3.5 inch drive bay from the basement of the case so I could route my front SSD cables to the right so the drive is facing the right way up. I don't know why Phanteks doesn't make this easier. You basically have the choice of upside down ssd and 3.5 inch bay, or right side up SSD and no 3.5 inch bay. Oh well. Also, there isn't anywhere to mount a hue+ once you remove the 3.5 inch bay below, so I ended up screwing mine into the bottom of the case through the mounting strips and holes for a pump, which works fine. The built in velcro ties are fantastic, and build quality is top notch. Highly recommend, despite the idiosyncrasies of design.
It's a power supply that works. Flat black cables, and fully modular interface. Not much else to say here.