I decided that I wanted to upgrade my aging 5 year old tower, and the more I looked at it the more I wanted to do something a bit different. I decided I wanted to build a new system, and that I would have a pretty specific set of constraints.
1) It must fit in the 11" tall built in bookshelves in my apartment.
2) It must destroy games at 1080p and must fare well on 1440p (i plan to upgrade to 1440p in the near future.
3) It must be as quiet as possible.
4) It must be able to overclock - not for any terribly practical reason but because i want to.
Microcenter experience: Generally MC was pretty good, I am lucky and live a 10 minute drive from one. Thier price matching policy was explained to me as follows "If you find something online at a major store (e.g. amazon, new egg, tiger, walmart), and it is in-stock, and it IS SOLD BY THE STORE IT IS LISTED WITH (i.e. sold and shipped by amazon) then they will price match it. I was also told that if it was "too crazy a deal" like below their cost then they would not match it. I got my AIO cooler, case, RAM, CPU, motherboard, and power supply here. They will have the best CPU prices anywhere, and there is a $30 off if you get motherboard and CPU together. The sales associates will bug you about every 2 minutes, but if you sound knowledgeable they don't seem to try and sell you on things and will just help you find what you need.
Rationale for Parts:
CPU: 6700k - I honestly don't have a great reason for picking this processor over the 6600k. I can do better on cinebench, calculate pi significantly faster, and uh, do computer things faster? I am hoping that there will be some future increased usage of multithreading in games, but i could have used the 6600k and done just fine. I did want to go with this gen due to the added features of the new chipset.
CPU Cooler: I was looking for the best cooler I could fit in this case, and it seemed like the h80 was likely about the best. Some people had raved about the corsair link software as well, but honestly I am not that impressed. I wasn't as worried about the noise since I wasn't going to use the included fans. If there was one thing I learned reading build guides it is that noctua fans are both made of and equal money. I chose the high static pressure variant for the two radiator fans. It says there is an issue in compatibility between the case and the h80, and while it is super close, it does fit. Honestly, with all I had heard of the issue of building in mini ITX, it wasn't quite as bad as i feared. That said, it did take me about 6 hours.
So this CPU I was able to get a stable overclock of 4.5Ghz with a bump up in voltage to 1.345v I tried stabilizing at 4.6 and it simply wouldn't. I tried with the voltage as high as 1.41v (while watching the temps like a hawk) and it would crash out during cinebench. That said 4.5 is rock solid stable, and the temps max out at about 80-82c while running AIDA 64 stress tests. I was hoping for a bit higher of an overclock, but honestly i didn't really even need to overclock. My gaming temps usually run mid 60's.
I didn't want to give this product a starred review because honestly i have nothing to compare it to. My CPU cooler seems to be working, I can't really say much more than that.
I really like the mobo - it has great features, the wifi and ethernet have both been super fast. The sound seems to be pretty good though I haven't tried any high-def audio. The Bios UI has been easy to use. If I want I can add a M.2 stick to the back of the board, but as I read more I found that there wouldn't be that much more of a performance boost it what I am doing over a regular SSD. Instead I saved a bit of money and got a 960Gb SSD instead.
I have these running at the stated 3200Mhz. I was a bit torn as to what I should have gotten for RAM, it seems that right now more than 8Gb is good, but currently more than 16 won't really show you any improvement. It is likely a faster speed than I need, and I am still wondering if getting a slower speed 32Gb kit might have been better. That said no issues with it.
I knock it one star because this is not the best value RAM kit, but I got it at microcenter and I wanted the RAM that day so I could start my build.
I tested and I am getting the speeds advertised. I got this on amazon prime day for $169 - I was pretty happy with the deal. It is big enough that I will likely be the only system drive I need for a long time. IF I need to add a drive down the road I might add an M.2 Drive and change this one over to more of the "storage" drive.
ASUS RoG Strix 1070 OC
By far the most expensive component - I thought about the 1080, but I couldn't justify it especially since right now it seems like the 1080 can't really max the setting on 4k gaming, and at 1440p the 1070 seems to do pretty well. I love that it has a zero RPM fan mode, this means that for large parts of the time that I am gaming the fans don't even come on. When they do it is still very quiet. I got the factory overclocked one because I knew that I would be guaranteed the overclock advertised, though I do realize that I likely could have gotten the same results if I had overclocked the regular one myself.
I considered getting an older card such as a 980Ti, but the fact that the performance is so good on the 1070, PLUS it is more energy efficient (less heat in my shoebox of a computer) made this one the one I picked. I looked at other 1070's but there didn't seem to be a huge variation in them at the time I bought this (mid July) and the 1060's wernt out yet so I never even considered them.
I had one really annoying issue when I installed. There was an issue with the .dll file on my install that caused the visual studios software to not work. I spent about 2 hours downloading installing and uninstalling files from the windows website to try and get it tow work. It was a serious issue preventing me from running 3d simulations such as games and benchmarks. The solution? Turns out that it actually needed a 2012 or 2013 (I forget now) version of the .dll FROM THE 32-BIT VERSION. Seriously?
As a humorous aside, I tried to buy this at a windows store nearby. I asked "Do you have the Windows 10 OS 64 bit OEM copies? It Might be called a system builder copy? For people building their own computers?" I got a look from the girl at the Windows store like I was nuts and that wasn't a thing.
I choose the two fans because for the AIO cooler I wanted something with good static pressure for the radiator. Not as many CFM, but it is supposed to be better for the radiator. A heck of a lot quieter than the stock corsair fans, and higher static pressure, and more CFM. Like seriously these fans are better in every way I can think of. Amazingly quality product. I am definitely a noctua fanboy. (sorry)
I chose this as my exhaust fan because it moves a lot of air quietly. Like it is basically silent. Amazing.