Overview of the build:
The intent of this build was to create a highly performant PC for a friend, to steer him away from buying an iMac. However you feel about Apple's hardware game, his intention to play video games on the iMac was far off the mark, so after some convincing, and some offering of used, good-value parts I had from previous builds, we embarked to create his 'Tuxedo' build.
What worked well:
To be frank, this build was extremely straightforward compared to my water cooling build. My buddy didn't want something he'd have to maintain too much, but wanted the performance my build had, and All In One (AIO) coolers are seriously good at providing fantastic cooling out of the box. All parts fit well into the Meshify case and it looked wicked at the end, despite it being a plug-and-play kind of ordeal. Also, dual intake with top exhaust is for sure the way to go - fantastic 52c on the cpu under 100% after 4 hours of Prime95, and 62c on the 970 after a few trials of the 4k 3DMark sim. Under normal 1080p simulations, a 45c peak was observed.
What didn't work well:
Turns out the north-most .m2 slot on this board got fairly hot during low-load times, due to the excessively low 600 rpm fan speeds maintained by both intakes. There just wasn't enough air getting to it! Instead, ASUS in their great wisdom (no sarcasm intended) put a snazzy heatsink that more than keeps the .m2 cool. During heavy operation, we brought peak temps on the .m2 from 52c down to 40c, which was a decent diff just by switching slots.
Certain fan headers on this board were not really used for what ASUS intended... For instance, the 'm2 fan' slot ended up powering a third Silverstone 120mm slim fan which blew air over the lower section of the build, and through the lower / back of the case. All fan ports soon became occupied, though even with the large amount of fans on this build, no PWM controller was needed!
The Corsair HG10 does NOT support the ASUS GTX 970 DCMOC Mini / ASUS GTX 970 Turbo models directly, however, it can be modded to work with the cards. If you're not afraid of voiding warranties, or of a Dremel tool. Review the card you intend to use before going that route, and verify the blower fan does not interfere with a) the fan cable, or b) the power pins. It's a fantastic mod paired with one of the Corsair / CoolIT Hydro Series AIOs (only have successfully used h60, due to inlet/outlet tube positioning).
Thoughts on the modern PC build ecosystem:
New builders looking to get into system building - the landscape is really great, at least in the ASUS world! There was no shortage of hybrid GPU support, RGB header support, the latest in USB tech, etc on the Z370-E. This kind of feature set used to be reserved for the top of the ROG series, but these mid-level boards are beyond excellent. Coming from a z87/z97 build era, the game has really improved for system builders, and in my eyes, the future is looking pretty good :) And geez, what two great cases I've been able to work with also - hats off the Phanteks and Fractal Design for both making excellent cases! Had I not needed the extra length in my build, the Meshify would have been my first choice hands down (offset holes on the top fans? yes please, every manufacturer).
Hope you enjoy looking through the gallery and got some good takeaways from the build!