Last week I completed a huge milestone in my life: I successfully defended my PhD dissertation and finished requirements for the degree. To celebrate, I completed my biggest PC splurge build ever. It's beautiful, unnecessary, hedonistic, and includes a case I haven't seen many builds in yet: a Cryorig Taku.
These are my initial impressions after only a couple days and only a few games. I'll update this if anything changes.
I chose a locked Coffee Lake i7 because I wanted to keep thermals down and I've never felt like overclocking a processor yet, but I still wanted headroom to avoid replacing it for several years.
CPU Cooler: Cryorig C7 CU I very nearly chose the Noctua L9i instead, but I have to admit I love the look of copper. So far the fan noise isn't as bad as I've seen reported, even running with everything maxed in Doom, Overwatch, and GTA V. During synthetic load, a single CPU core once edged up to 83°C briefly, but in gaming I'm staying within 75-80°C. No throttling yet. (See edit below)
Motherboard: AsRock Z370-ITX
Simple choice. I wanted something that could overclock if I ever choose to swap out an unlocked processor, and could let me tune memory values if I wanted to.
Memory: Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB 16 DDR4-3000
I had intended to get a non-RGB memory kit, but I caught this on sale direct from Corsair and gave into the RGB splurge.
Storage: Western Digital Blue 1TB M.2
I wanted to avoid cables as much as possible in the new build, and seeing as this was solely for gaming, a 1TB M.2 SATA drive seemed perfect. This drive has an overall excellent reputation, and I'm booting to desktop in under 20 seconds with it, and loading Overwatch and Doom maps in only a few seconds.
GPU: GTX 1080 Ti Nvidia Founders Edition
I wanted a 1080 Ti if this was going to be a splurge build, but knew there was potential for the case's airflow to create a problem for CPU temps if used with open-air GPUs. I decided to stick with a blower card, and found this direct from Nvidia in early June when they briefly restocked on their website. During synthetic load, it crept to 87°C, but never throttled. During gaming so far it hasn't passed 85°C.
Case: Cryorig Taku
It's impractical. It has no room for large coolers, so no CPU overclocking potential. I knew it could be a problem if I didn't manage the temps. But it was beautiful and unique, and I wanted it the first time I saw it. No regrets.
Power Supply: Corsair SF 600W Gold Modular
Way more power than I need running everything at stock, but I wanted the room to mess with overclocking the GPU in the future, especially if I decide to mod it with an aftermarket radiator setup.
Dell S2716DGR 27" 2560x1440
I had budgeted ~375 for the 24" version, but I lucked into this on sale at Best Buy in late May. It's beautiful and smooth. I did experience a stuck pixel in the first 24 hours, but I've been able to restore it since, so fingers crossed.
EDIT October 2018:
Overall this system has been great and I have no complaints. It's chewed up Black Ops 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, GTA V, Overwatch, and No Man's Sky on beautiful 1440p Ultra/Very High levels with fluid frame rates.
I did continue to see the stuck pixel on the Dell S2716DGR, but Dell tech support was pretty quick about approving the RMA. I had a brand new monitor within a week and it's been perfect so far.
As I thought may be the case, the Cryorig C7 Cu's fan does indeed spin up kinda loud in bursts to knock the CPU temp back down, but I'm working on tweaking that with some custom fan profiles. Even at its loudest, it is rarely noticeable during gaming – and that may even be more noticeable because the unusual case does place the fan closer to my hearing than a traditional tower case, but I do know some people hate fan sounds and may want to try another fan. Overall it's been no major concern to me.
EDIT February 2019:
The system continues to perform well. I've since played Fallout 76 (forgive me!) heavily, as well as Elder Scrolls Online and Apex Legends. The 1080 Ti and 8700 continue to chew these games up and spit out high frame rates and beautiful visuals.
I'm thinking about reapplying my thermal paste on my C7 Cu. Others have reported better temps with similar airflow and with presumably hotter CPUs, so I'm wondering if I was too stingy during the initial install.
LARGE EDIT March 2019 – Thermals finally fixed:
I tried reapplying my thermal paste on the C7 Cu, but actually ended up with temperatures slightly worse overall. Reluctantly, I swapped in the Noctua L9i cooler, but with a 25mm fan in place of the stock 14mm, hoping greater airflow and pressure would make the difference. It fit beautifully - but temps skyrocketed an average of 15ºC over the C7, reaching 99ºC on 1-2 cores during sustained Fallout 76 gameplay - meaning I had clearly reached the throttle point of the 8700's temp sensors.
Just to check, I tried running the game with the case drawer open, and sure enough it was nearly 25 ºC cooler after an hour, so I'm forced to conclude that air just couldn't move enough around the CPU, so hot air was getting trapped. I noticed no difference whether I set the front right case fan over the empty 2.5" bay for intake or exhaust, so I think I've figured out the true culprit here: the memory. The Corsair Vengeance RGB DIMMs fit under the height limit of the case, but I realize now that they just fit. Combined with the GPU riser, I realized there was effectively a perfect box all around the center of the mobo, effectively walling off the CPU's heat with no real egress.
Solution: Corsair H60. As seen in the updated full build picture just added to the gallery, I managed to squeeze a Corsair H60 AIO water cooler in the case by removing my unused 3.5" HDD tray. I set the fan to pull through the radiator in the front left side of the Taku's drawer, and the case fan to the front right as exhaust. It was a tight fit getting the tubing between the riser and the memory and then underneath the GPU, but orienting the radiator to be flush with the top of the drawer left me about 10mm beneath the H60's stock fan. Unexpected win: the gentle bend (NOT kinked) to the hoses at the radiator and a simple command strip on the opposite wall make the mounting job super secure AND mean only soft rubber/plastic is touching the case, dampening vibration.
New Temperatures: My previous stress test maximum (83º) has been beat by 14º - during several CPU tests I maxed at only 69ºC. More importantly, my gaming load tests in the CPU-hungry Fallout 76 after 2 hours sustained play are FAR, far better, maxing at only 73º, down from ~88º on the C7 Cu, and 99º+ on the Noctua L9i with 25mm fan – a drop of 15-27º from the C7/Noctua! Bonus: my m.2 SSD and the CPU-adjacent memory DIMM temps dropped by 15º and 20º respectively now that the box of trapped heat is gone.
Bottom line: For anyone building in the Cryorig Taku, I recommend watching your memory heights, because there may be a difference between what fits, and what helps cooling. It's also technically possible that my i7 has unusually shoddy thermal paste under the heat spreader (as I've seen reports of hotter chips running with lower temps than I ever saw on the C7 Cu), but delidding a non-K processor seemed like an absurd step I wasn't really willing to take. I'm disappointed that the Taku needed such an aggressive solution for a locked i7, but it is a good, manageable solution. I was ultimately prepared for having a thermal battle when I selected the Taku, albeit later than I anticipated. Ultimately, no regrets on the case. I still love it, but it's not for the timid.