A quick disclaimer: I had absolutely no requirement or need to modify or improve upon my build. This mostly came out of angst and enjoyment of spending copious amounts of money on things that lose their value faster than I can install them. Without further ado, I present my 4th platform PC.
About All Those Other Components...
Here is the meandering story of how this build spawned out of me having the two Noctua fans sitting around my bedroom for a while.
My system is always on and rests at ear-level next to my bed. It's always been relatively quiet, but still audible to me when going to sleep. I bought two Noctua fans to replace the stock NZXT case fans; I had also been meaning to exchange my Xeon 2697 V2 for an i7 (the Xeon would go into a system dedicated for rendering). The plan was to go to a 4960X, but I managed to get my hands on a 5930K (Solidworks enjoys DDR4).
ADATA did me a great favor with a deal on their XPG Z1. With the radiant red memory in hand, the color scheme was set and it was motherboard time. After spending an hour at Fry's, I found out that one of my buddies had an EVGA Classified X99 he'd trade for one of my previously-used-for-mining AMD HD7990s.
The Story of the Case
It was time now to choose the case – the single thing I know more about than any other component, which makes for indecision. The S340 has been on my desk since it launched, preceded by an H630. The S340 originally surprised me with its silence, so I was open to trying something new again for this build. When I say "something," I really just mean NZXT's Noctis 450. I love the Noctis' look; it was something NZXT refined for over two years. My brain kept telling me the Noctis in black and red would be perfect, but my heart still felt unsure. I grew to love my companion-like S340.
I made the jump and bought the Noctis.
I had already begun the build before recalling that the H440 has low tolerance for over-sized motherboards. Additional fitment issues arose at the USB3 header. EVGA's angled connectors are nice, but the ones in the south of the board are difficult to access on a 7-slot case, much less one with a PSU shroud. I didn't have the patience to wait for the arrival of a low-profile adapter. Mid-build, I realized the build (still) wasn't fitting together the way I'd hoped. Beyond just the over-sized board, the 440 chassis was showing its age.
NZXT chassis suffer from a rather short life-span inside their own ecosystem. Starting with the Switch 810, NZXT has pushed the limits of chassis design well beyond what anyone else in the market could do. The Phantom 820 was then launched using the 810 chassis and was still a completely formidable – albeit pricey – contender. From then on, each subsequent NZXT chassis fronted vast superiority over its predecessor. Oddly, each subsequent NZXT chassis also found vertical positioning below its last. The newest chassis was always cheaper and better than its "superior.”
- The Phantom 630 was smaller and more capable than the Phantom 820.
- The Phantom 530 was smaller and more efficiently executed than the Phantom 630.
- The H440 was a significant evolution, more efficient, and better featured than the Phantom 530.
- The S340 was an even further evolution and highly more efficient than the H440.
The descriptors above are used simply as a rough comparison, with “efficient” meaning “better use of square volume and unit cost.”
Citing the tangent above, the 440 chassis felt old to me. I even got a little emotional and drummed-up memories of just how ecstatic I felt when I first built my S340. (More specifically, the cable management method of the S340). I've always despised the use of cable management cut-outs. It feels like a very static way of routing cables and wastes significant space; moreover, the look of the S340's interior adds a touch of personality, as if to set the stage for the components.
To help settle my decision, I attempted installing the new motherboard in my old S340. It fit perfectly. The angled connectors on the board matched fantastically with the cable management cover and the USB3 header sat squarely above the cable management hole on the PSU shroud. It was now clear: an S340 would remain on my desk. I returned the Noctis and took home a red & black S340.
Buy More Stuff, Build Computer, and Buy More Stuff.
After all this chassis drama, I grew concerned that the platform leap wouldn't yield much perceived difference. I quickly settled that adding an Intel 750 SSD was the best way to squash that concern.
There it sat – complete and operational. Life was great... Until bed time. The system was inexplicably louder. In a 3AM frenzy, I began stuffing clothes around the various openings on the case. Plugging up the bottom seemed to make the biggest difference. When I blew out all the dust from my PSU (S340 dust filter isn't that amazing), it must have caused the PSU to be slightly louder. Not as if it were broken, just like it ran 10% faster and was slightly less tolerable. I never truly believed PSU fan noise was all too audible, but it wasn't anything I ever explored. After ordering a Corsair AX760i as a replacement (and finding installation to be breezy), I booted it up again and had my mind blown: my PC was dead silent.
All these years of "suffering" through PC hum during bed time, upgrading fans, upgrading coolers, and I had never once thought to upgrade my PSU. I was ecstatic.
- The NZXT S340 my favorite case on the market and I highly recommend it for builds of all sizes.
- The NZXT S340 and EVGA motherboards are a match made in 90 degree heaven.
- Dust filters need to be cleaned to work effectively.
- The power supply can be an unsuspecting generator of noise.
- The Intel 750 SSD is stupid fast.