I originally built this PC in March 2017 prior to starting a Games Design course at University to have a gaming PC with me that could also handle 3D Modelling and 3D Engines work. The system was outdated quickly by the release of Ryzen as it originally had a ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming Motherboard and i5-6600K, opting for an i5 processor due to it primarily being a gaming PC. At the time I used pieces of an old i5-3750K based PC I had built 5 years prior to complete the build, namely the 3 SATA drives (1 SSD, 2 HDD) and an MSI R9 270X 2GB GPU.
I upgraded my GPU to the EVGA GTX 1070 SC Black Edition in July 2017 before prices were too badly inflated by crypto currency mining; I had originally been looking at RX580s and GTX1060s but the prices of these had inflated and stock was already low, putting a 1070 at about £50-£60 more for a serious increase in both Gaming performance, and Course-related workloads. The choice of going with Nvidia for the GPU was also made simpler due to Autodesk applications working best with Nvidia based rendering applications, whilst AMD still required additional software to work with Autodesk applications.
With the release of Coffee Lake and Ryzen 7 CPUs, my PC was starting to show its weaknesses with its quad-core 4 thread CPU bottlenecking the GTX 1070, and restricting my workflow to long render times and high load scenarios when working with particularly complex 3D Models and environments. I spent a few months researching whether I should go for the Ryzen 1800X or i7-8700k, but put off the upgrades due to the large cost, around £800 total. Eventually I bit the bullet, and with the release of Ryzen 2nd series processors the jump to the 2700X seemed most logical. In May 2018 I purchased the Ryzen 2700X, Asus Prime X470-Pro MoBo, WD Black 256GB M.2 SSD, Phanteks Eclipse P400S Tempered Glass (I already owned the original P400S with no window, being upset that the gorgeous NZXT Kraken x62 was unseen plus purchase of an AURA equipped Motherboard, and RGB PSU), and the ThermalTake ToughPower Grand 850W Gold PSU.
The system was built on the 11th of May, but I am still waiting on NZXT to send me the AM4 bracket for my water cooler - thankfully the 2700X comes with the Wraith Prism Air Cooler which is keeping it at reasonable temperatures in the mean time. The Idle temperatures as far as CPUID's HWMonitor reports are around 43C with a fan config of 120mm 1 front-pull and 2 rear/top-back push exhaust fans. When the AM4 Bracket is delivered this will change to 2 140mm Pull intakes at the front, and 3 120mm push exhausts mounted at the rear and top of the case. The most intensive load I have tested so far is streaming Max settings Overwatch at 1080p 60fps for 30 minutes with Spotify, Discord and multiple Chrome Tabs open. This is roughly as extreme of a stress as the system would experience. The CPU Temperature was recorded at around 82C. Hopefully these temperatures are lowered by the Kraken x62 cooler when installed.
A problem I had with the case is that the included RGB strip is hard to attach to any headers on the board and still be usable. The female header of the strip is about 2cm away from the end of the strip itself, meaning that the lead would essentially have to be perpendicular to the board to be connected for AURA controls. Instead, I connected the strip to the RGB controller of the case lights themselves, though this limited the colours to those of the case settings.
This PC is intended to last me through University and afterwards, so I will likely be upgrading the GPU again to set this PC up to last a few years before another major upgrade is required.
Update 13/09/2018: Since posting this completed build list I have upgraded my GPU to an MSI Gaming X Trio 1080ti purchased from a computer fare in my local area for £700. This upgrade while likely not necessary for my typical workloads was necessary as I move into my second year of university. 3D Animation workloads are incredibly intensive and my practice work over my summer break showed my GPU hitting 100% load consistently when rendering animations. As I had the budget to upgrade, I made the jump to bring this workstation/gaming PC combo up to the best hardware available without making the extra leap to Threadripper. I've updated the price listing with the prices I paid for most parts, and have since installed my Kraken X62 cooler after a back and forth with NZXT over the AM4 mounting bracket. My Idle Temperatures are around 30C with the Kraken installed, whilst load temperatures hit 55C (Streaming Overwatch 1080p 60FPS, spotify, chrome tabs, OBS on hardware streaming, Discord). My temperatures were taken from HWMonitor rather than CAM as CAM reports temperatures about 10C higher.
I may be biased as this is my first high-end CPU, but so far there isn't anything I've come against that this CPU couldn't handle even with its lower clock speed than its rivaling coffee lake CPU. I made quite a leap from a 4-core, 4-thread i5-6600K to an 8-core, 16-thread Ryzen 2700X, but did not expect such massive performance gains. The CPU doesn't even hit 50% load when streaming 1080p 60fps footage at 6000kb/s to Twitch. I haven't done any course-based work since upgrading but I imagine it'll handle that just as well and significantly increase my workflow.
This cooler has served me well, managing to keep my old 6600K within standard temperature ranges even when overclocked to 4.7GHz on all cores. Its a gorgeous looking AIO, and the ability to alter the out-angle on the pump of the pipes makes it much more flexible in installing. The 140mm fans also work well at keeping the whole system cool.
The only problem I have with this cooler is the software. CAM can be a great tool when it wants to be, but often resets the lighting settings at random intervals and occasionally the software won't open at all, requiring a clean install to get working again.
I will update this when I install it in the Ryzen 2700X build. Updated Temps: Idle - 30C~ Load - 55C~
This motherboard is gorgeous and has lots of options available. The PCI-e slots are reinforced to prevent GPU sag, though this is never something I have had a problem with. There are many fan/pump headers as well as 2 RGB headers on the motherboard, and two M.2 slots. One of these has a headsink over it, though I had issues with this.
There is one major problem I had, and that is that the M.2 Heatsink screws was almost impossible to remove in my case. I tried a multitude of screwdrivers to loosen the screws to no avail; I finally got one loose with some major effort to find that the screws appeared to have been coated with some form of thread locker. I had by this point stripped the other screw due to the difficulty removing it. I had to replace one of the screws with an M.2 mounting screw from my old motherboard.
As of BIOS-4011 revision, the BIOS also does not show any drives in the M.2 slots though this is likely due to the WD Black M.2 drive I used being an NVMe SSD, and the BIOS main screen only lists SATA devices. The drives are listed in the boot menu however, and can be set as the priority boot device.
Storage devices have come a long way over the years, and M.2 drives are an amazing innovation. The fact that a 256GB drive can be so small now is astonishing, and the read/write speeds of this particular drive are amazing compared to the Samsung 840 SSD I was previously using as my boot drive. Even with the heatsink, the drive can get a little hot, more so than the SATA SSD and HDD drives, though nothing too extreme and after researching online the temperatures are not abnormal.
I have yet to go against a task that this GPU couldn't handle. I often play at downscaled resolutions due to my monitors only being 1080p 60HZ, using Nvidia Geforce experience to achieve the best quality to performance balance, and the Gaming X Trio handled this like a champ. It rarely passes 80% load even when streaming or screen recording using the card, and I have no doubts that if I upgraded to a dual 1440p monitor set up to replace my current dual 1080p monitors I wouldn't have to lower any of my settings. CAM software complained of high temperatures for this card for a while, however after altering the fan curve this is no longer an issue. My only complaint about this card is the weight - The card sags to the point of coming with a reinforcing bracket in the box. While I have no doubts that the card is durable, the triple fan design makes this a very beefy card, taking up 2.5 slots. The RGB lighting isn't as nice in the preset designs and a little bit limited through MSI Mystic Light, but it still gives a nice contrast when coupled with the Kraken to the case lighting and RGB strip.
This case is a more modernised variant of the old P400S, featuring a tempered glass side panel in order to show off the interior of the case. The internal expansion slots and cable management makes this a great case for first time builders, and as I built this PC alone this time I found that the cable routing and many possible paths made it very easy to manage cables. Though the pictures don't show the cables too much, this is mostly due to me knowing I will be swapping out fans and the cooler soon once the AM4 Bracket for the Kraken cooler arrives. There are small expansion panels in the case that can be removed, intended to be used as additional hard drive slots or 5.25" bays, I found these to be very useful when managing the cables as it gave more freedom in routing compared to the rubber grommet slots.
RGB is taking over pretty much every component nowadays, and though I did not buy this power supply specifically for its RGB elements, there are major shortcomings related to this feature. The RGB fan can only be set to 5 settings - the typical colour cycle option, red, blue, green, and white solid colours. There is no way to address the RGB LEDs through software and the lack of customisation options makes it seem very tacked-on just to fit in with the RGB component hype.
My PC definitely doesn't require 850W of power, but if I intend to add more storage or GPU upgrades to the rig it affords these, with plenty of slots of spare cables afforded.