This build was all about trying to find a balance in building a good looking system that is all about 1080P high refresh rate gaming. With this in mind I decided to center the theme of the build around ASUS’s TUF Gaming line. TUF Gaming is the entry gaming and PCDIY enthusiast series from ASUS. It is positioned under ROG STRIX and ROG. The goal of TUF Gaming components as well as TUF Gaming alliance partners is to offer components that have a lower price point while still offer a distinctive design aesthetic, solid quality and reliability as well as durability and ensuring a level of consistent interoperability and compatibility.
With this in mind, I settled on the B450 chipset a popular entry chipset option for those looking for the price to performance & features while also supporting moderate overclocking. With the B450 PLUS in hand the CPU was a pretty easy choice the extremely popular and solid Ryzen 5 2600X. This is an outstanding CPU that has a little extra overclocking range, great stock performance than can be enhanced by upgrading the cooler and offers a lot of threads for the growing number of applications and games that benefit from thread count. It also comes with solid cooler out of the box and can be upgraded to a very solid, compact and efficient cooler from AMD with the Wraith MAX. For this build as you will see I actually built with both the MAX and higher end 240mm AIO closed looped cooler.
Rounding out the core components you have the GPU, I decided ont he GTX 1660Ti a great choice for gaming at 1080P with high image quality and high frame rate. It also offers advanced hardware encoding and decoding for those interested in streaming. Last but not least is readily supports G-SYNC compatible monitors which allows you to maximize the benefit of a synchronized display but at a lower price point that Adaptive Sync monitors offers.
Last but not least of course with this being a TUF Gaming build throughout ( featuring the TUF Gaming chassis GT501, TUF gaming motherboard B450 PLUS, TUF Gaming graphics card GeForce GTX 1660Ti ) as well as matching components including cooler, and RAM I wanted to add in a little visual flair and consistency through RGB lighting. Of course this is note a requirement but I think works will with the overall aesthetics of the components being monochrome as well as the chassis being open and visible and coming with 3 RGB fans by default.
Aesthetics & color scheme - I wanted to have a monochrome color base to allow for flexibility in really being able to pick any color and have it work in the theme whether synced across all components or whether selective colors were used for some components. So if you want green, blue, red, purple or pink it all works in this system. The yellow color present on TUF Gaming components is subtle enough that even with other colors it does not detract much if you go with a contrasting color. Personally i think the colors that work best are Yellow and Green although some other mixes which i included visually for reference held up pretty well. Again the generally monochrome aesthetic of most of the components work will allow for allow for flexibility in defining your look and feel. I would recommend if looking for specific color focus outside of yellow you should consider going with RGB based DIMMs. The default DIMMS i used are heavily TUF Gaming color branded so have a lot of yellow.
Chassis - I built the system in the new TUF Gaming GT501. This large open and roomy chassis easily fit all the components and allows for a lot of flexibility in cooling allowing you to mount up to 360mm radiators or triple fans in the front as well as on the top. You have enough support for standard rad in the front along with a hidden bottom mounted pump / reservoir for watercooling. The top mount works outstanding with a lot of room for cable routing and double thick rads or push pull fan configs. In addition you have a PSU shroud and 4 HDD mounting points outside of the three visible 2.5inch drive mounts which are to the right of the motherboard. Overall it really hits a great balance in regards to aesthetics, features and functionality. Seasoned builders as well as new builder will appreciate the stop built into the tempered glass side panel so it does not fall when the thumb screws are loose. The thumb screws also have the benefit of being permanently attached so you cannot lost then. The rear has lots of routing space and tie points and has a lot of depth allowing for easy closing of the rear panel. Last but not least and important in any build is airflow. There are two massive grills in the front for intake airflow and also allow for some nice spill lighting from the integrated 3 120mm RGB fans. The rear has tons of venting and PSU, top fan section and front fan section all have removal fan filters. Last but not least you have a PSU shroud to quick the bottom section clean of all your cables. This area also hides the bottom portion of a pump / res combo or the 2 HDD hard drives you can have in place as opposed to a pump / res combo.
Motherboard - TUF Gaming B450 Plus - This is solid entry gaming board has everything you need for a solid and stable system while giving you some solid upgrades like good fan controls, RGB connectivity ( 1 header limited to 12v ), M.2 support and moderate overclocking ability which works will for mid range CPUs like the 2600X. Additionally you get gamer specific improvements for audio and networking with an isolated audio design and audio software suite as well as packet and priority software for the network control
The only immediate item missing would be Wi-FI which we add via a PCIe wireless adapter.
CPU Cooler - AMD Wraith Max - This is an outstanding compact cooler which installs easy is pretty quiet and looks good and offers RGB control and sync. For the vast majority of users it is an outstanding option due to its simple installation and solid cooling performance. The main advantage of going to a higher end cooler is generally to help extend the TURBO performance and attempting to push higher voltages for sustained aggressive 4.0+ GHz overclocks across all cores ( whether it be a 2600X or 2700X ). That being noted you cannot overstate the simplicity and clean aesthetic this cooler brings while also having great mechanical clearance as it will not affect any type of DIMMS being installed or cables being routed.
The alternate cooler was the ID Cooling AuraFlow X 240 - This is TUF GAMING alliance version which has some subtle TUF Gaming camo on the radiator in monochrome colors. The pump and block head features the TUF Gaming logo and support RGB control and sync. The tubing is long and flexible and looks good thanks to sheathing. The included fans are solid and have a good design in that they feature translucent fan blades allowing for diffusion. They also have an anti vibration dampening pads that can to ensure smooth and quiet operation even at the higher end RPM range these fans support. The lighting is bright and even and support control and sync as well whether you us the included controller or route to the motherboard via the include RGB splitter which works perfectly for the motherboards single RGB header.
DRAM - For this build we want to go with a TUF Gaming alliance option that also was reasonable in price. This can in the form of the T-FORCE VULCAN TUG Gaming Alliance DDR4 DIMMS. They come in speeds that are best suited for AMD ( up to 3600 ). I went with 3000 as it the most compatible option and will run without issues. 3200 is possible but on occasion can require a little more tuning due to variance in the memory controller. Furthermore, for first time builders it is nice to know this are validated to work with TUF series motherboards.
Should you want to go RGB I would recommend the DELTA TUF Gaming RGB edition modules which have the great TUF aesthetic on the side but on the top offer a clean diffused RGB light bar. Furthermore you have multiple LEDs where you can customize contrasting colors which really helps to add pop to the look and feel of a build.
Power Supply / PSU - Seasonic Focus Gold 650 Watt - This is a semi modular PSU that is compact, efficient and features the outstanding PSU topology and design Seasonic PSUs are known for. Furthermore you can easily get extensions from Cablemods for their PSU (which is something I did for this build ). At the same time the clean fully black cables would great for the build and allows you to save money unless you really want the aesthetic of individually sleeved cables. The included fan is 120mm FDB bearing design and is extremely quiet and extremely durable & reliable. The specialized S2C mode of operation is also great as the unit is truly silent when under 50c operating temperature which for most loads is going to be the case. All the way around a great choice for the build.
Fans - As I wanted this to be a streamlined build and did not want any secondary controllers or third-party software for control I decided on fully compatible ASUS AURA SYNC fans. This means these connect to the headers on the motherboard and they are controlled directly through the AURA software. The GT501 helps here as it already comes with three 120mm RGB AURA compatible fans that come with a splitter you can connect to the motherboard or via an included controller and powered by the PSU. As such you just need to decide if you are going to include fans at the top for an intake or exhaust as well if you want add RGB to the included rear mounted 140mm fan.
Depending on the config i think it depends. If going with a 2600X and the Wraith MAX I think you are fine without additional fans. If you want to add more lighting or extend possible OC by cooling the VRM a intake works well. Optionally if you upgrade the CPU cooler to a AIO like I did you take up two fan mounts due to the use of the radiator ( although the Z height easily allows for push and pull fan configs without running into the motherboard.
In the end I went with fans from ID Cooling along with the AURAFLOW X 240mm cooler.
The 12025 RGB fans look good and have AURA 4pin connections and come with a splitter for easy connection to multiple fans. They are PWM fans which I like for smooth and low RPM for quiet operation. They can operate up to 2000RPM to help extend cooling performance and the fan blades are translucent for a nice clean diffused level of RGB lighting. You also can add the included vibration dampening pads to the corners to ensure the quietest level of operation even with the RPM at higher levels.
Graphics Card - Here it was all about offer a cool, quiet and fast card. The TUF gaming GTX 1660Ti checks off all those boxes. It is compact and super easy to install, has a nice clean aesthetic which includes a black plate. You have a little overclocking range if you increase the power target and fan duty cycles on the dual fan cooler via GPU TWEAK. Add to that you still get premium assembly due to the use of SMT Auto Extreme production used on ASUS graphics cards. This ensures superior accuracy and precision in the placement of board, chip and power components on the card. Ultimately ensuring a more reliable and durable card. In practice this card offers up very solid FPS performance for just about any game at 1080P even with high image quality settings. Add to that advanced encoding and decoding hardware and support for G-SYNC compatible based displays and you have a great midrange gaming card.
Storage - Team Group PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD 512GB - This is a great value faster than SATA M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. It uses a high speed PCIe Gen3x2 interface. The maximum read/write speed is up to 1500/800 MB/s, offering more than 2 times better performance than the SATA III. Overall it does a great job of giving you a good amount of room for the OS, Games, and various local files. The firmware has also been extremely reliable.
Monitor - Is the VG278, this is a great monitor for the money. Thin bezels, 144Hz, 1ms response, as well as G-SYNC compatible. It perfectly complements the GTX 1660Ti and is an easy to drive 1080P resolution. It also has ASUS’s exclusive game fast low input lag implementation ensuring the entire display chain is optimally suited for gaming and responsive gaming. Another area that is appreciated is the height and tilt adjustment not generally found in entry gaming monitors.
Misc items - Beyond this, there are few other items present
1 - Phanteks Halos 140mm frame for rear fan - This is allows us to make the rear fan RGB at a lower cost and it looks great. Thanks to its 4pin 5050 AURA RGB header we can also connect it to our splitter and sync it up with all our other AURA enabled components.
Cablemod RGB LED strips - 2 strips one in the front and one in the back. Thanks to the chassis steel frame we can take advantage of the magnetic design of the LED strips and add a little ambient fill lighting.
2 RGB splitters - The ones used in the build are from AKASA but you can get various ones online that allow for splitting from one header to generally 4 devices making connections to fans, strips and other items extremely simple.