So it's finally built. I've built probably around 10 custom computers, so I'm not new to the custom computer game, but this is the first computer I'm building for myself, so I went pretty high end. Project Red Saber is done and I will explain all of my decisions for my parts now:
CPU: Went with this cpu as it's the best cpu that you can get without going into DDR4 territory which would require a lot more money invested into the RAM and motherboard.
CPU Cooler: I went with the kraken because of it's customizable lights on the cpu block, I really wanted to match my red light theme plus it performs great. Another good alternative could be the cooler master 280L, but like I said, the lights on this one won it over for me.
Thermal Compound: It's thermal compound. Made sure to get something non-conductive (Arctic Silver is overrated)
Motherboard: This is more or less the MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Motherbaord, but will a few less features such as mSATA on this board vs M.2 on the Gaming 7. With that said, this one is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper AND looks better (in my opinion). This is a very good overclocking board with some nice features that is a practically a steal for the $125 I picked it up for.
Memory: Yes, this is overkill, but I went with 16gb because I have had issues with 8gb personally in the past, I just didn't want that possibility, plus I can get 32gb if I feel like it in the future rather than being stuck with 2 4gb modules. 2400mhz because it's really solid and around the same price as high quality, low CAS 1866mhz RAM, so why not.
Storage: I like my fast storage. I was originally going to go with a single 512gb M550, but decided to spend just a little more to get 2 of the 256gb versions and stick them in RAID 0. I get sequential read AND write speeds of over 950MB/s with these bad boys, plus I can add more later if I want. I went with m550's because they are arguably the 2nd or 3rd best SATA SSD's right now only topped by the 850 pro. I went with a mechanical hard drive to back up my entire RAID 0 then have additional space. Went with the WD Black because it's arguably the best performing 7200RPM mechanical hard drive.
GPU: Yup, 2 GTX970's. These cards are beasts. I still wonder if I should have gone with the ASUS Strix versions of the 970, but I'm pretty confident that the performance would be comparable between these 2 different models of cards, plus the MSI version matches my mobo. Only drawback is that there is no backplate, not even an optional one to buy, but oh well. I can push both these past 1400mhz which is insane considering that they practically cook each other. I went with 2 970's instead of a single 980 because they will perform better at only a little bit more money since the 970's have such a great value.
Case: I liked how this one looked, wanted an integrated fan controller, 5.25" bays and had to be a full tower case so I could get ample cooling and airflow. Plus this is pretty cheap for a full size tower too. Great deal in my opinion, would highly recommend this case, very easy to work with.
Power supply: I'm not expecting to be pulling more than 600 watts even when pushing everything to the max with this system, which is right at 80% of 750 watts which is perfect. (You shouldn't really push a psu below 50% or above 80% for optimal efficiency if possible). Also the fact that this PSU is gold rated, fully modular, quiet even when stressed, and has the feature to turn off the fan at low loads is a plus. Definitely the cheapest power supply with all these features.
Optical Drive: It's more or less the best CD/DVD drive and cheap too
Monitor: I knew that I wanted a 144hz monitor since this thing would be able to push out frames like mad. I stayed away from multiple monitors because my desk is too small, but that's something to think about for the future. I got this monitor on a great sale. It's normally $250, although if I were to buy it again, I would go for the cheap ASUS 144hz monitor because it's about the same price but has more features. This monitor is very lacking in terms of tweaking the color. Regardless, it's a great monitor
Fans: Red fans everywhere. The 200mm fan is to replace the one that comes with the case and the other 2 are extras that I will add. I need to cool this thing.
Keyboard: Solid MX-Brown keyboard. You can get it for cheaper than I payed, but I got this keyboard a while ago and it was a good deal when I got it.
Mouse: Not an optical mouse, but it's an amazing laser mouse, especially for only $30. The customizable weights are a plus too.
Headphones: They were a good deal and I've only heard good things about these. Supposed to be enhanced because of the headphone amp on my mobo as well.
Other Stuff: Got a smaller SLI bridge so it looks better, got some fan filters to so that all my intakes are filtered, got some sata cables, even though the mobo comes with 4 (all I need), I'm glad I got these because 2 of the cables that came with the mobo were defective. Got a few different lights, but I didn't end up being able to fit the 12" light bars anywhere. The sound activation works suprisingly well and still has the feature to be solid on or off as well. The LED light strip is also a nice touch.
I have changed the internal layout of my case slightly since I took those pictures. Basically I just moved the hard drive cage and attached it to the bottom of the 5.25" bays and had the extra fan blowing in between the 2 graphics cards. If you have an SLI setup cooled on air, having a fan blowing in between your graphics cards is NOT optional. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I could push another 400mhz out of the top card after I moved that fan. Now while they peak at 1418mhz for each card (put your card that OC's better on the top where it gets hotter), they run around 1300mhz when stressed under a constant load like furmark.
My house is pretty old (over 30 years old), so the wiring is a little old. When I'm stressing the system, my lights flicker lol. Also my room is about 20 degrees (F) hotter than the rest of my house when I let it run a stress test overnight.
Anyways, I'm extremely happy with this system, and if I were to build it again, I wouldn't change much except MAYBE getting the STRIX version of the gpus for the backplate and getting nicer fans to cool this thing (but I can still get more fans to upgrade later). I'm sure I will add more M550's and probably another 16gb of identical RAM in the future and add a few more fans and MAYBE another mechanical hard drive, but other than that, there's not much left to upgrade.
Here are my Fire Strike results for good measure (ran this running at a stable OC): http://www.3dmark.com/fs/3481262
Any questions and Comments are welcomed!
Amazing Z97 board, really sad that they stopped making it. I managed to get this when they were trying to get rid of them, so I got it for under $130 which is a steal. It lacks some of the more modern features, so no USB 3.1, no M.2 slots (it does have MSATA), no NVME booting, but looking past that it's an amazing board. This is one of the last MSI "gaming" motherboards where MSI used a brown PCB. I'm not going to lie, it would definitely look better with black, but as long as you're not using white LEDs, you won't even see the brown. I really like the aesthetic of this board with the red accents, and the Black and Red I/O shield+I/O looks great with a black or red case. This board is packed with great enthusiast features that tend to get left out of boards under $175 or $200 these days. It has voltage checkpoints, dual bios, Debug readout, dedicated go to bios button (you have no idea how nice this is when you have fast boot enabled), buttons to start the computer from the motherboard, and voltage checkpoints with extenders that make it really easy to use. Maybe best of all is the 12 phase power design that's practically unheard of for a cheaper Z97 board like this one was. If you can find one of these, I would highly recommend it, as it's an amazing all around enthusiast board.