Chapter 1: The Beginning
This build started on September 16, 2013. That day I created a document in Google Drive describing the build details. Planning and research took around a year and a half, but the wait was worth it.
When I realized that my HP Pavilion dv6t laptop was not capable anymore of playing any games, even the FIFA franchise, I decided to buy the Lenovo Y510p. I waited for some time for the laptop's price to drop, but it ended up getting out of stock, and then out of production, thereby shifting my attention to Lenovo Y50. Best Buy had it on display, so I checked it out, but didn't like it at all. It was clunky, ugly, heavy, and flimsy. Tired of waiting for another laptop within budget, I decided to build a desktop.
Initially my aim was to build a gaming desktop, but I kept changing the desired configuration to accommodate a more generic usage for family. It became more important to build a simplistic, minimalistic, and elegant desktop than a gaming rig.
Each part listed at $0 was already owned. The operating system's was the most curious of tales. I had downloaded all possible ISOs of Windows OS from Dream Spark when I was a University Student. But, like an idiot, forgot to copy the serial numbers. Since then I graduated and subsequently lost my student status along with the Dream Spark account. Frustrated, I was about to buy Windows 8, but luckily found a serial number for Windows 7 in a backup external hard drive. After the installation I realized that I used the 32 bit ISO of Windows 7. That meant the OS used only 2.96GB out of an available 16GB RAM. Face-palm ensued. Further research revealed that the same serial number could be used for either 32 or 64 bit operating system installation. All smiles and no harm done. Another half an hour was spent on reinstalling Windows 7 using a 64 bit ISO.
The best part about getting NVIDIA GTX 970 was the promotional codes for Witcher 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight, and while buying the card I had no idea that such offer existed. It fit well in the Define R5 case, and didn't hinder cable management. I don't like zip ties, so instead I got Velcro ties. My wireless router is quite far away from the desktop area, so getting a Wireless Network Adapter was a must. It has a magnetized base so it sticks on the side of the case, which is fantastic.
Choosing a monitor took some time because of the available choices. I had liked ASUS VG248QE for its cost and refresh rate of 144Hz. Being a TN panel, its color reproduction is reported to be below expectations, so I chose Dell U2414H, which has an IPS panel. I'm very happy with that choice because of its thin bezel, minimalistic yet elegant looks, variety of ports, tilt/swivel/height adjustment and cable management capability, superior colors, great viewing angles, and amazing images.
Desk had to be small due to space restrictions, so I had chosen the Mainstays Basic Student Desk from Walmart. It took 2 weeks to be shipped to store, and was very difficult to assemble with its misaligned screw grooves. Midway through assembly I realized that the desk could not accommodate the Define R5's width. I promptly returned it and went for a simple IKEA table. Again, its top panel is not wide enough to allow the case, monitor, mouse, and speakers to coexist. As I have a carpeted floor, I bought a case stand. So far, so good.
Most of the assembly went smoothly. I had some trouble with the installation of the CPU Cooler as I had already installed the motherboard in the case, and had to work awkwardly without damaging any parts. First boot didn't work as I didn't connect the additional 6 pin connector to the video card. It took me another 2 weeks to finally set the desk and get cable management done. I played FIFA 14 to test the machine, and except some stuttering (perhaps due to game settings), the experience was incredible; crisp images, smooth game-play, bright colors, and quiet as a butterfly's flutter on a silent day. The Windows Experience Index came out to be 7.8 out of a possible 7.9, bringing to light the potential of this caged animal.
I tried to prepare this build as carefully as possible. Still, it can improve further. Do let me know if you find any mistakes, including grammatical, constructional, technical, or otherwise. In the meantime, here are my reasons behind the components of the build.
Chapter 2: The Background
Name: Nightfury is the dragon in the movie 'How to Train Your Dragon'. I loved its colors, black body and blue flame, and its silent yet ferocious flight. I like to think that this desktop is characteristically similar. The power LED is blue, the body is black and white, and its operation is quiet but powerful. I love working with this beast with the perfect name.
Motherboard: ASUS Z97-A has all the required features and has a beautiful layout.
Power Supply: JonnyGuru's review claims EVGA 750W SuperNova G2 is one of the best Fully Modular 750W PSUs.
Processor: According to a Tom's Hardware post, i7-4790K has an almost perfect performance per dollar. Main purposes being moderate gaming, video-editing, and graphics design, there should be no need to upgrade for a while.
Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 Gaming G1 has a really good cooling performance, and is perfect for moderate gaming.
Memory: Crucial is a very good and reliable brand, and 16GB is sufficient for current requirements.
Wireless Network Adapter: It's great to have dual band wireless network functionality with Bluetooth on a desktop.
Keyboard: Logitech K800 has all the desired features including illumination and wireless capability at a reasonable price tag.
Mouse: Already owned. Wireless, simple, fits the theme.
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i was the initial choice but seems like Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO does the job well enough. Liquid cooling can be pursued as required in future.
Case: Fractal Design Define R5 Black is clean, elegant, has good cable management and good airflow, looks magnificently minimalistic, fits the theme, and contrary to PC Part Picker's incompatibility suggestions about size, the case is able to easily accommodate G1 Windforce without having to remove Hard Drive cages.
Case Fan: Fractal Design Define R5 includes two 140mm fans which became the two front intakes. The Noctua NF-A14 is utilized as a rear exhaust.
Case Stand: CPU Case should not be kept on carpeted floor as Power Supply is bottom mounted with fan pointing downward.
Storage: 500GB SSD is for OS, and installation of games and programs. Hard disk of 1TB is dedicated to storage.
Optical Drive: Newegg had a deal of Crucial RAM + Samsung SSD and included the LG Super Multi DVD Writer for free.
Card Reader: SD and MicroSD card reader is preferred to quickly and reliably transfer data from phones and cameras.
Monitor: 24 inch with 1080p resolution is optimal, and IPS panel is great for good color reproduction and wide viewing angles.
Speakers: Already owned; small and decent sound quality for a desktop.
Headphones: Already owned; production currently discontinued, similar to Bose SoundTrue Around Ear.
Operating System: Received for free through University programs.
Cable Management: CableDrop allows routing cables outside the case. There are other amazing products by the same manufacturer, and should ease the burden of cable management for the masses. Velcro ties can be used anywhere, and are extremely cheap for the quantity and quality provided.
Desk: This desk accommodates a 24" monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, and is perfect for a minimalistic desktop experience.
Surge Protector: A must have for any PC user.
Anti-Static Wrist Strap: Probably not needed, but carpeted floor prompted the purchase.
Internal Drive Bay Storage: Perfect for storing USB drives, extension and charging cables, and small miscellaneous items.