This is a build I've been building since very late 2018 up until now. It could be final, it could still be changed, not sure quite yet. In any case, I want to share it for my own posterity and also I think it turned out great!
I was previously using an i5-3570K & GTX970 SLI and while I got a lot of mileage out of that, it came time to upgrade to keep relevant. And when you upgrade CPU, you usually have to upgrade mobo and RAM alongside, so that's already halfway there. Why not just build a whole new PC?
Wants (or needs!) were the ability to drive 3440x1440/100hz or higher. Considering the expensive monitor, I didn't want to let it go to waste. of the games I've played, the results are quite nice maintaining a max or close to max graphics quality ranging anywhere from 90fps to 150fps depending on the game.
Resident Evil 2 - mix of max and very high - 110-120fps GTA5 - mix of max and very high - 80-110fps Doom - max - 100+fps Far Cry 5 - mix of max and very high - 90-100fps Metro Exodus - high, no RTX - 110-120fps Devil May Cry 5 - max - 120+fps
Previously I used a Silverstone FT02. I loved the airflow and build quality, but not using SLI anymore, I could sacrifice a little airflow to cut down on size. Plus I never used optical bays anymore, so that could be culled, too.
I originally had a Corsair 400C, but decided to swap it to a Meshify C due to the (slightly) smaller dimensions and better cable management options. Everything fits, so that's a plus! In retrospect, I should have gone mATX considering all that dead space below GPU, but I'll leave it open for the future for now.
My wants in this build were as the title suggests: clean, quiet, minimalist. As a bonus, these three lend well to low noise, too. I wanted a PC I could put on my desk and be inaudible.
Installed in the case are two Noctua Redux NF-P14s for intake and an NF-S12B for exhaust. A Noctua Chromax A15 is on the CPU cooler alongside a Chromax F12. I love Noctua and these were economic while still being excellent performers. All the fans in my case are below 650rpm at idle and 850rpm at load, so you can imagine it's quite quiet!
I chose my fan curves by finding my typical load and setting the maximum fan speed to be inaudible (typically 50-55% total RPM). It took a little trial and error but my build has virtually no fan noise even at high loads. The only noise I really hear is the fan pump, and it's whisper quiet in any case.
CPU & Cooler
I think at this point I was done with Intel. I wasn't a huge fan of constantly changing sockets every gen it seemed when I had the i5-3570K, so I knew next time I'd give AMD a try. The 2600 is my first AMD CPU and it performs pretty good! I got a great deal and it seemed to be highly recommended, if a little more on the budget side. In any case, the 2600 is just what I needed.
I had an NH-D14 before on an i5-3570K and loved it. It was a behemoth but it worked. I wanted the same thing but in came the D15, the same deal with some improvements and compatibility. It looks snazzy and is an all around excellent performer while being quiet.
GPU & Cooler
Previously in this build I had an RTX2070, but shortly thereafter I made the jump to 3440x1440/100hz. While the 2070 was adequate in this regard, it wasn't much to upgrade to a 2080 to push it a little further. My monitor OC's to 120hz, and the 2070 could push 100fps very well, but not much higher. The 2080 gives me a little more breathing room. On average I see 10-20fps difference which is great.
Another reason I like the 2080 is it's compatible with the NZXT Kraken G12, an adapter mount to put a CPU AIO on your GPU. The 2070 was not compatible and I found the temps to be pretty high in the mid-70s at load. Plus these GPU fans are loud, so any kind of fan speed cut is a big deal. I paired the G12 with a Kraken X62 mounted on the case intakes.
Motherboard & RAM
I'm ashamed to admit this is where my build was happenstance. I did zero research on motherboard or RAM other than making sure they were compatible and fit my needs (at least 3000mhz RAM, and enough fan headers on the board). I couldn't tell you how these are good or bad or if an alternative was better or worse, I just grabbed what was on sale and fit the bill.
Drives & PSU
This is the area where I've reused old parts from my last build. The PSU is more than adequate for me, plus it's fully modular.
I used the 2.5" SSDs from my last build but the NVME drive is new. Why two 2.5" SSDs versus one larger one? For my last build, I bought one of the drives and eight months later got the second. If I could go back, I'd have just got the 1TB versus two 500gb, but it's not a big deal.
Keyboard: Coolermaster Novatouch Mouse: Steelseries Sensei Speakers: Logitech z337 Headphones: Sennheiser HD598 Primary monitor: Dell AW3418DW Secondary monitor: ASUS PB238Q
I'm pretty happy with the build as is, but that doesn't mean it can't be improved.
I could remove a few cables (two SATA data, one daisy chained SATA power) by removing the two 2.5" SSDs and instead getting one M.2 drive. It would be have the same capacity and performance as now, but I could clean up the cables a little more. An expensive change for no real functional value, but who knows?
I don't think any major hardware changes are necessary, just ancillary things like fans and cables. I'm anal about temperatures and sound level, too many times would I adjust fan curves to see what could be better. This is an ongoing ordeal and hopefully I can get it to a point where I don't need to fiddle anymore.
If I had to change hardware, I'd likely replace the PSU as it's fairly old and the cables are a bit rigid. Alternatively, I could just replace the cables, get something color coded so I don't need the extensions anymore. I could also upgrade the CPU when next gen AMD releases. Admittedly, the weakest part of this build is the CPU, as I went with something "good enough" and budget oriented.
Great value for money. Performance is great if a little behind some contemporary Intel processors in gaming. You can't beat the price:performance ratio, though. Overclocks well and maintains great thermals paired with a good cooler.
Having previously used an NH-D14, I knew what to expect. Great performance in both the thermal and sound level department. The D15S is offset slightly for better RAM and PCI-e clearance. This one is functional yet is very plain looking, just what I desire.
I'll disclaim I don't use this on my CPU, I use it with an NZXT G12 to mount on my RTX2080. Thermals are excellent, dropping a good 30-40c over stock cooling. It's also monumentally more quiet. I docked one star because the tubing could be a little longer for my needs and the tubing is fairly rigid. This is a function of mounting it to the GPU and I'm sure for CPU uses these are a non-issue.
Not really much to say: it's thermal paste. I can't comment on whether it's better or worse than some of the alternatives, I just know it's a solid performer on its own. I'm a big fan of Noctua, I usually go for their CPU coolers and fans, and the coolers always come with a tube. I just keep using it because I always have it on hand and I'm never one to think "maybe something else is better" because it's already great as is.
Lots of fan headers, in good positions, too, but it seems two separate chips control the headers. One chip is BIOS and software controlled whereas the other is only BIOS controlled. A little frustrating as the "controllable" ones are all on the left of the board, meaning you need extensions for some fan configurations (eg. front mounted fans). It's but a small gripe and otherwise the board is great. UEFI menus easy to navigate if a bit dated.
No benefit for NVME? Despite benchmarks (found online or done personally) showing monumental boosts to R/W speeds, in practice this does little for typical use or gaming. Games load the same, Windows boots the same. File transfer is faster but existing 2.5" SSDs are good enough for almost everyone. I give it a 3/5 because the utility for gaming, etc is low, but the small form factor and cableless installation is a benefit to cable management at least.
There's not much to say other than the RTX2080 is a top (but not very top) performer. We can argue about nVidia pricing all we like but to remain within the nVidia ecosystem, this is much better value in my opinion over the 2060 or 2070, but your budget dictates what you should get. Thermals on this Gigabyte card need work, as I hit mid-70s in synthetic loads. Fan revving issues also exist below 30% RPM, plus the fans are not particularly quiet. Compared to my Windforce 970, this seemed to be a step down in cooling but it does little to sway the value.
Excellent cable management options. It's also extremely minimalist and plain, exactly what I like. Cabling in this case is a literal dream, and it has just enough room to fit a typical build. It's been minimized to fit without excess space, so for some it might be too small, but for me it's ideal. Would have liked to see a TG door like the Corsair 400C does with an acrylic window, but otherwise it's perfect.
Noctua needs to take care when printing serial numbers. Mounted in the D15S, you can orient it in any four directions, but two of them are wider than the others when mounted, making it bulge a bit. The two shorter orientations: one has airflow indicator on it and the other has a printed serial. For aesthetic reasons, it'd be better to not have the serial there, but a little rubbing alcohol got rid of it after 10min or so. Otherwise it performs great, dead silent in the 650-850 range, even up to 1000rpm it's fairly inaudible.
A touch of whining noise when above 1000rpm when mounted on the D15S. Not sure the source but it's a nonissue since 1000rpm is fairly high. I keep within the 650-850 range and it's an excellent performer. Dead silent.
A revolutionary piece of kit. Aftermarket coolers for CPUs, especially AIOs, have existed for years and years and the GPU cooler aftermarket may have been neglected. This is a wasted opportunity and a typical CPU AIO on a GPU performs crazy good. 30-40c delta over stock GPU cooler. I'll say it's a little expensive for what is not much more than a piece of metal in a specific shape and form factor, but the performance is definitely worth it.