Description

With the advent of VR just around the corner I decided that my laptop just wasn't going to cut it anymore. I needed a rig that would meet my needs as built for the next 5 years and with some upgrading 10 years or more. It had to be relatively small and aesthetically pleasing because it would be the centerpiece of my living room entertainment system. It would be not only my VR driver but also my standard gaming machine and multimedia entertainment server. I also had a tight budget of around 1k. I am extremely pleased with this unit. It is powerful, efficient, quiet, and looks awesome!

Overclocked from 3.5ghz to 4.5ghz. Core temperatures never exceeded 65C running Prime95 torture test with fans on their lowest setting (see last screenshot picture)!

Part Reviews

CPU

I debated going with a locked Haswell build over a Skylake K chip for cost effectiveness, but for the sake of less than a $200 difference the Skylake offered much better future proofing and also better performance. I picked this one up for $219 from a Microcenter about an hours drive away.

Stable overclock to 4.5Ghz. Temps never exceed 65C with fans on low! CPU-Z has it outperforming a i7-6700 in single core by 10% and 2% in multicore! Overall a 29% performance boost!

CPU Cooler

Liquid cooling or air cooling? I went back and forth on this one. All things equal liquid cooling is more efficient at heat transfer than air coolers. But all things aren't equal. I don't like the idea of liquid inside a PC case no matter how unlikely a leak may be. The case I had picked out had great ventilation and the Cryorig H7 came at a great price along with great reviews. Simple installation and simple operation, reliability, quietness and price won out over any slight performance edge that liquid cooling may have offered. Incidentally It fit PERFECTLY, leaving only a few millimeters to spare!

After overclocking to 4.5Ghz the temps never exceeded 65C in a 3 hour stress test! All my concerns about going with air cooling are put to rest. $35 for such an effective cooling solution and its designed to not conflict with tall memory modules. Unlike some air coolers where you actually have to remove them to change out your memory sticks!

Motherboard

I chose this board over the Asus Z170I Pro Gaming board based on reviews. Honestly I could have gone either way but this board was $10 cheaper. I have not been disappointed! Everything works perfectly after installing the drivers from the website, not the included CD. The only complaint I have is the placement of the USB 3 header which is squeezed in next to the CPU socket, so close that the cable actually barely fits! Other than that this board has performed perfectly and looks great. Some have complained of wifi issues but mine has worked perfectly.

Memory

No problems. I chose this speed so that any overclocking I may do in the future will not be bottlenecked by memory instability. The price was good and it matches my color scheme. I debated with going with 2x8gb but its inexpensive enough to upgrade later when the need arises.

Storage

Got this one for $99. I was contemplating using a SSD for the operating system only in a smaller capacity and also using a 1Tb HDD for program/app/media storage. 1/2 Tb isn't a lot of storage nowadays but with the cost of SSD storage falling rapidly I decided to get a moderate solution temporarily and upgrade to a higher capacity later, Perhaps with a RAID or M.2.

Video Card

Amazon had this factory overclocked card for $309 with a $20 mail in rebate, and also a free copy of The Division game! Had to grab it. This card is quiet, powerful and much more energy efficient than comparable Radeon cards. I contemplated going with the Radeon 380 instead but more power consumption = more power needed = more heat = bigger power supply = more airflow needed =more fans! Ill take the cost performance hit for the power/heat efficiency. BTW I havnt been able to throw anything at this GPU that it cant run at 60fps+ on ultra!

Stable overclock from 1241 Mhz to 1410 Mhz. Core Tmax never exceeds 74C with case fans on lowest setting! Just for some perspective, Turbo on a reference GTX970 is 1150 Ghz!! Thats almost a 30% performance increase over a reference board! What a deal this card is!

Case

What a great case. This case is so well thought out and well designed. Although It may be a little big for an ITX build it is easier to carry and transport than most other smaller cases due to its handled design. This case is also beautiful to look at especially in a living room setting. It definitely has a WOW factor to everyone who sees it especially when its running with its red glowing fans.

Power Supply

Almost universally positive reviews on this unit. 650 gold+ fully modular PSfrom a well trusted manufacturer utilizing all Japanese capacitors for only $79 with a free game?...yes please! Its also a somewhat short unit that fits perfectly in an ITX case. In operation its quiet and cool. 650w was almost double my power estimate on pcpartpicker which allows future expansion and overclocking with plenty of margin.

Case Fan

A red glowing 200mm fan in the front of an ITX case, talk about wow factor! quiet and efficient slow rpm fan just looks awesome and perform equally as well. I chose this because it was one of the thinnest 200mm fans available at less than 20mm thick.

Comments

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice part choices, good prices, overall nice build!

  • 44 months ago
  • 3 points

Thank you, I did a considerable amount of research before purchasing parts. I had to relearn the computer parts market again since the last build I did was over 10 years ago! pcpartpicker.com was a HUGE help.

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

Temperatures of the CPU and GPU when idle and under load?

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Ran Prime95 torture test for 3 hrs. Maximum temp reached was 65C! Fans on low and overclocked to 4.5Ghz!

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  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

GPU temperature?

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

74 Max with overclocking (+170 mhz on gpu, +500 mhz on memory clock, +5% voltage). Ran Valley benchmark with full AA. Went from 56fps to 65fps, score from 2377 to 2701! Using MSi Afterburner.

Case fans always on lowest setting! The limiting factor was video integrity. I OC'd below the point where there were absolutely no artifacts or tearing. Never came close to Tmax. I think the only way I could overheat this thing is if I lit it on fire!

See picture!

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

Looks great, I love my 380t. Any plans for fans on the side? I went with a AIO cooler and plastered the case with fans, it runs very cool.

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

I just did my first upgrade! Put a 200mm in the front, replaced the rear with a 120 led and installed 2 side mounted 120 leds! See the new pictures!

You should post yours!

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice, the new fans look great.

Here's mine that I built about a month ago: https://au.pcpartpicker.com/b/BtzMnQ

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Really nice. The led fans look awesome against the white case.

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

Just wanted to say thanks for being so thorough in your build, part reviews, and pictures! This really helped me out. I'm in the process of minimizing my full tower gaming computer into a more portable, VR-ready machine. By the way, I received my HTC Vive a few days ago and I've found that all of the games run flawlessly on my current full-tower rig (i7 920 @ 4.0GHz, ASUS STRIX 970 GTX, 16GB RAM). So the 970 is totally capable of running VR games right now at their max specs, despite what ImRedish says.

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad to hear everything worked out with your build and appreciate your letting me know about how it performs. I'm still waiting for my Rift which is expected to be shipped in July :( I thought and debated about going for the Vive but decided to go with the Rift instead because of limited space in which I felt I couldn't really take full advantage of the full motion VR experience offered by the Vive. At $200 less the Rift also fit my budget, and by the time I get my headset hopefully the motion controllers will be available. Thanks and enjoy your Vive!

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Got my VIVE and I concur that the 970 is more than capable of running VR flawlessly! Cancelled my rift because of Occulus promoting exclusive titles and I am glad I did! Room scale VR is awesome. I never even knew what I was missing!

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

Hey man save up $100 more and go for the GTX 1070

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

Already completed the build wit a 970. I'm pretty happy with it. I can always upgrade when I have to, which I don't right now. The 1070 is a GREAT value, true, but only if you can make use of the extra performance. When I hit that bottleneck Ill be ready to upgrade. If I were building it today instead of 2 months ago Id probably go with the 1070 but chasing the latest and greatest can be futile let alone expensive!

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

That's a smart choice!

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

UPDATE! Finally got my VIVE! Cancelled my Rift pre-order because I didn't agree with Oculus/Facebook's business philosophy with regards to exclusivity and DRM, and am I glad I did. Room scale VR is amazing. I really didn't think it would make a difference until I tried it. I had no idea what I was missing!

Anyway, the reason for the update is to let everyone know that this rig has absolutely no problem with VR. There is absolutely no noticeable lag or stuttering at all on any application I've tried so far!...and that's with it down clocked to factory specs! The GTX970 doesn't even break a sweat! Sure I could have waited for the 1070 but I haven't even found the limits of this card yet at factory clock! The only upgrade ive made is add 2TB HDD for media storage at a cost of $70.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

nice one.. gonna make this **** happens !

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

It looks so good! I just started building my 380t. Did you have a molex or SATA for powering your 3-speed fan connector? The corsair build log showed that I should have a molex. I didn't see it.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

I used the multi connector SATA power cable supplied with my PS. Thank you for the compliment. Good look with your build. Don't forget to post pictures!

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Will do! Got it all done with the exception of the graphics card. Come on end of May!

  • 29 months ago
  • 1 point

It's been a long time coming, but it's finished! Check it out, Bud!

https://pcpartpicker.com/b/vXyXsY

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Any problems with the headphone jack? I tried mine for the first time last night and it wasn't working. Is it the HD audio that powers that? I didn't really check. Went back to stereo.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

no, but I had an issue where one of my front USB 3 ports weren't working. I got a warranty replacement front panel board from Corsair. They were very good about it. No questions asked and shipped second day air! Had to tear down the computer completely in order to install the new front panel circuit board though. Took about 2 hours but everything works perfectly now.

  • 44 months ago
  • 0 points

please don't buy into vr before it's a proven gaming technology. Don't get disappointed by an expensive gimmick and give zuckerberg money.

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

I agree and disagree with you. The only reason I wouldn't buy into it right now is because the only graphics card that is going to for sure run everything you want (excluding the Titan) is the 980ti. You need to get a locked 90fps in vr to avoid motion sickness and the 970 that is recommended isn't enough to power these games at good details and good framerates. If you're playing vr, I think that it is very important to have details cranked up higher than the lowest settings. This is all just my opinion of course, but having used it myself already, I know what the comparison between the two are. Trust me, don't skimp on your graphics card for a vr rig.

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

Agreed, thats why I built with an emphasis on future expandability. This computer is a multi use machine and I had a budget. Sure I could have gone with a 980ti but that would have cost more. As it is the 970 can provide the optimal (not minimal) VR experience for the equipment available today as the native resolution of the rift/vive is only 1080x1200. As new generations of VR systems become available new hardware will also be available to upgrade with. This rig is built with the future in mind. The limiting factor is the form factor, but then an ATX tower wouldn't look all that great in my living room!

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Just a reply to your comment since Ive been using the VIVE. The GTX970 has no problem rendering VR at maximum settings in every game Ive tried and thats without any overclocking!

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

I just think it is going to be another thing that designers won't be able to figure out properly and will never become an important part of gaming.