I call it The Toaster because it's a metal box that glows red and makes a lot of heat.
TL;DR: Programmer and former Xbox fanatic gets mad at Microsoft and whips out the credit card... a lot.
Edit 7/8/2016: Replaced the AWFUL blue RAM with some properly red Corsair Vengeance.
Edit 11/5/2016: EVGA Supernova 650w PSU failed. My fault. I was pushing it too hard and I left it on carpet. This kills the power supply. Grabbed this very red 860w Corsair 80+ platinum deal at a local retailer for future-proofing and vanity reasons.
Double Edit 11/5/2016: A friend of mine was lusting over the 25" ASUS monitors for her photography business. I donated them to her cause. I "upgraded" to dual 28" 4K Samsung monitors which are regrettably TN panels. Hard to go TN when you're used to IPS but I've been doing less photo work and more productivity stuff recently and the extra space is a win. Pros and Cons I guess.
I've been casually tinkering on PCs for several years now, but this is my first ever ground-up build. For my day job, I'm a programmer. As a hobbyist, I'm into photography and graphic design. This build suits my needs nicely, and I'll summarize some of my purchasing decisions below.
Hey look! Benchmarks and Scores
I was an avid xbox fan in the past. I waited in line on launch night in 2013 and picked up a day one edition Xbone for nearly $700. That was a mistake. After a time, I grew tired of the constant frustrations and limitations and decided to go all-out on a no-compromises PC. This build has seen many iterations through the year or so I've been working on it, but I would consider this close to my initial vision from over a year ago. I game a lot, I code a lot, I take a lot of photos, and I generally ask a lot of my components. I like my PC because it seems to keep up with everything I ask it to do.
I sold the xbox one in the spring of 2015 to buy the first 980. Since this was early 2015, the 980ti wasn't yet released. I knew EVGA had a great reputation so this was a no-brainer decision. This card is wicked fast, and has served me well for the tasks I ask of it. The second 980 came about a year later after the release of the 1080 and the subsequent flood of 980's for bargain prices on eBay. I hadn't originally planned on SLI a year ago, hence the non-reference cooler. However, I find the temps reasonable on both cards even in this confined space and the white LEDs really go better with my build.
At the time, the 4790k was the fastest single-threaded execution chip on the market. It's great for gaming, it's great for some light virtualization, It's great for overclocking, and it is relatively inexpensive for the performance. Speaking of overclocking, The Corsair H110i GTX gives me plenty of overhead, so that's why I chose it. Also, 140mm fans are generally quieter than 120's, otherwise I would have went with the H100i.
I hadn't heard of Phanteks before, but hey, I'm new to this. I stumbled across the Enthoo Evolv line and I loved the aesthetic immediately. It looks like a tiny, angry Mac Pro, and I love it. You get a lot of aluminum for the price of this case, and it shows in the sturdy construction of this design. I needed a case that could accommodate an mATX board and the 280mm rad that was also reasonably attractive, and I think Phanteks nailed this one.
I have a fairly large fileserver at home so storage isn't a main concern. Obviously the 950 pro is blisteringly fast, so that was the main deciding factor here. Also, space is at a premium in this case, so I was forced to remove my 3.5" cages to make room for all the cable management in the basement. This leaves two 2.5" slots behind the mobo for storage, and once you go SSD, you can't go back. I added a 1TB Samsung 850 here for good measure.
Three things are important to me here: amazing color accuracy, reasonably compact design, and high pixel density. 25" and 1440p is a pretty sweet spot and is a good compromise between real estate and desk space. For good measure, I added a second display. Yes, it's only 60hz. Yes, it suffers from IPS motion blur. But damn if it isn't pretty. This is a Dell Ultrasharp panel, wrapped up in an Asus monitor. I am patiently waiting for a good, 34," 1440p, 144hz monitor to be revealed... But until then, I'll stick with these bad boys.
Miscellaneous other considerations
Desk: My dad and I built this from scratch. It's made from a reclaimed hardwood butcherblock top and has black cast iron pipe for legs. Very sturdy and I had it waterproofed so no amount of
excitement spilled coffee will ruin this thing.
Sound: If you have the means, I highly recommend picking up a set of open-backed Sennheisers. I went a little nuts with these, where a pair of 598s would have sufficed. I like these though, despite what the audiophiles say, this is a great set of headphones when properly driven.
RAM: the one thing I dislike about this build. Doesn't match my red theme and can't be overclocked. Will be swapped for 32GB of red Corsair Vengeance ASAP.
Case fan: Kept the stock 200mm intake fan at the front because it's quiet and why not? Added a red Thermaltake Riing fan in the back not because it's a good fan, but to keep things looking gorgeous. Turns out, it's a decent performer and I wish it were PWM so I could buy two more to replace my stock Corsair radiator fans which are too loud.
Conclusion You're still here? Thanks for reading. I love this build but am always open to suggestions for improvement. On second thought... I really shouldn't spend any more money on this...