NOTE: My case is a bit dirty right now. The glass has fingerprints all over it. And, my desk is still in the process of being added to due to a recent move. I will work on getting better pictures on this within the next couple of days. I will also work at getting some benchmarks posted. If anyone would like anything in specific, feel free to ask.
EDIT: I cleaned the glass a bit and took some better pictures. I still need to add a few more, though.
So, this build has been about a year in the making. I started by purchasing an old FX 6300, 8GB of DDR3, MoBo, and a RX-480 4GB (got it before the price surge - regret not getting the 8GB). I've tried to keep prices good where I could. That means a lot of my parts were either refurbished or bought used from /hardwareswap.
At first I had custom modded an old XPS 720 case. That turned out to be a real pain, and I annointed it greatly in my blood (as all serious mods should be). But, it was a pretty lousy set-up. It had a lot of entrances for dust and was hard to hit a positive pressure. Not only that, but it was massive.
So, as time went on I bought a new case (Phanteks P400 - regret not getting the S, but oh well). A little more time went on and I decided I wanted to up my CPU performance. That's when I bought the Gigabyte Gaming 5 off Newegg refurbished for $95. Felt like that was a solid deal. After a couple of months I found a deal on the 7700K and picked that up to pair with the board.
Intel i7 7700K. I decided to go with this because I managed to pick it up for a great price ($200). At this price, it was really hard not to go with. I believe I have gotten a pretty good chip, because I am able to hit a stable 4.8 GHz @ 1.3V while not exceeding 76C. I haven't tried to hit the magical 5GHz mark, but I'm going to try that soon and see if it can do it. I should mention that my CPU is not delidded.
Cooler Master ML240L. I have been very pleased with this so far. I have only had it a couple of weeks, but it's managed to keep very quiet and cool quite well (keeps the 7700K under 77C @ 4.8 GHz). The price was great at $49.99 due to a sale Newegg was having. I definitely recommend this AIO if you are in the market for a cooler that looks nice, is quiet, innexpensive, and cools effectively. I use it in a push-pull config, with 2x140mm fans as push and 2x120mm as pull. This works very well and doesn't require an aggressive fan curve.
Gigabyte Z270 Gaming 5. Bought from Newegg for $95 refurbished. I am very happy with it. It's managed to OC the CPU quite well. The temps on the board stay relatively cool. I was able to OC my cheap RAM on it to 2666 MHz @ CAS 17 without issues. The RGB on the board is nice, although I wish I would have paid a bit more for the Gaming 7 (has multiple LED controllable zones whereas the Gaming 5 has a "all one color" approach).
Crucial 2133 MHz DDR4. I found this on here in "For Sale or Trade" for a great price ($100 for 16GB). I wasn't really expecting much out of these, but I have been thourouly surprised. On my board I was able to get them to 2666 MHz @ CAS 17, which I thought was great. I was even more surprised with my wifes results. She was able to get the RAM to 2800 MHz @ CAS 17 on her B350 Bazooka + Ryzen 1600 build. So far, we haven't seen any instability and I think there might still be some headroom left with these. As I do more tests I will update the information here. One thing I do plan on doing is buying these heatsinks simply for aesthetics,
Intel 320 160GB. So, this was kind of a screw up, but still worked out fine. I bought this used for $30 before realizing that it was a 3GBps controller SSD. That limits it's potential quite a bit, but I still get very fast boots and game load times. So, I can't really be too upset.
Seagate 2TB Pipeline HD. This was an interesting find. I had previously settled a bill with Dish and they, surprisingly, didn't request I return my box. So, I took it apart and pulled out the DVR HDD in it. And, boy does this thing do work. It is actually faster than my older 7200 RPM drive. According to Userbenchmark it performs in the 95 percentile group for these HDDs. I mainly use this for a media NAS drive, which I run PLEX on.
Seagate Momentus 1TB 2.5". This I salvaged from an old laptop that crapped out on me. The drive isn't fast, that's for sure. But, it works well as mass storage for thigns that don't really need to load fast (pictures, videos, text files, etc).
Gigabyte Radeon RX 480 4GB G1. I have been very pleased with this GPU. I picked it up before the crazy cryptocurrency induced price surge. But, I kick myself for not paying $20 more for the 8GB version. Well, live and learn I suppose. It has done very good as far as overclocking goes. I was able to get a stable 1380 MHz GPU clock and 1900 MHz VRAM clock all while staying under 75C (moderately aggressive fan curve, but pretty quiet still). I think there may be some headroom left, but I have yet to really push it to see where it fails. It does very well in VR, 1440p (with appropriate settings in AAA games or at max settings on most Indie games), and even 4k on most Indie games.
Phanteks P400. I'm pleased with this case. It is often stated that it doesn't have great airflow, which I don't entirely agree with. The two ports for intake in the front (top and bottom) combined have a decently large area, which allows decent airflow. My temps stay within a reasonable range without really cranking up the fans. I have my AIO in the front as an intake aswell as two Cooler Master 120mm RGB fans in the top both as intakes. That means I only have 1x120mm fan serving as an exhaust, which gives me a solid positive pressue.
Okay, this is an area where I really screwed up. It's going to be changing soon. I had a very...interesting experience with PSUs on this build journey.
I started with a generic chinese "AK" 700w PSU. That lasted about 2 weeks before it died in a spectacular fassion (sparked itself to death).
Then, I bought an EVGA 500B. That had very bad ripples which caused PC crashes anytime moderate strain was put on the system (gaming or anything as or more intense). So, I returned it to Amazon (which let me return it after recieving the replacement - thanks Amazon).
I then bought an EVGA 550w B3. This seemed a lot better, but I still hadn't learned the importance of professional PSU reviews. So, I didn't realize that this PSU is a fire risk due to a misconfigured OPP and prone-to-fail fuse. On top of that, when my system loses power quickly it has to but disconnected from the AC power and given about 5 minutes before it will turn back on. I'm not sure if this is due to the fauly OPP, or what, but it's damn annoying. I'll be replacing with a SeaSonic FOCUS PLUS soon. (moral of the story; don't cheap out on PSUs, and do your research!)
Windows 10 Pro OEM. This I transfered from an old Windows 10 tablet I had. I know that since the original was OEM this shouldn't have worked without issue, but dammit if it didn't work flawlessly. After 12 months I still haven't had the "Please activate" message and still have full control of my system.
Cougar Dual-X 140mm. These fans have been pretty good. Their LED is permanently on, which is okay, but I'd prefer a switch to turn them off and on. I might end up hardwiring one in someday...maybe. They do run quiet though, and I have my push and pull fans all connected via a splitter, so they are all controlled together.
Phanteks case fans. I use these as the radiator pull fans. I chose to use them instead of the included RGB fans since they wouldn't be able to be seen much there. On top of that, the Phanteks fans have proven to be very solid little fans. They cool well and stay quiet while doing it. I don't know how well they do in regard to pressure, but they seem to work fine based on my observations.
Cooler Master ML120 fans. These are great, actually. They look good, run very quietly, and pull in a lot of air from the top of my case. But, on there own they are expensive, so it almost makes it advisable to just buy their AIO instead of the fans alone, lol.
AOC I2279VWHE 21.5" 1080p 60Hz. This monitor is pretty nice. It's IPS and the color recreation is outstanding. There is no noticeable light bleeding. It natively goes to 75 Hz without overclockign or setting custom resolutions. This is nice. The one thing I wish I would have done, however, was pay $15-20 more for the freesync version since I have an AMD GPU. Just one more novice mistake I made, lol.
Hcman H01. I absolutely love this keyboard. The tactile keys are very nice to the press. The board looks nice with the brushed stainless steel finish, which matches my monitor base and RGB mousepad metal strip. The one downside to this keybaord, however, is the loudness of the keystrokes. They are pretty loud. I recently ordered some O-rings to reduce / eliminate the sound of the bottoming out, but I don't know if the "click" of the switch actuation will still be somewhat loud. Will update there. For the price, this board has nice RGB effects, although it's LEDs colors are not controlable (regions are locked to certain colors).
Hiraliy F300. I can't say enough about this mouse. Great acceleration sensor (much better than you'd expect for $15), nice RGB effects, great ergonomics (copies the deathadder), and a nice braided cable. All in all, I don't think there is a better priced mouse on the market that peforms even nearly this well. I'd definitely recommend.
Hcman RGB Lighting Hard Gaming Mouse Pad. I had never used a hard mouse pad, so I didn't know what to expect. But, I liked how large this was and how it looked, so I orderd it. I fell in love with the hard style and don't see myself ever going back to a soft pad. The mouse just glides right across the pad like a puck on a shuffleboard table (or curling flood, for our Canadian brethren - lol).
Sades SA-810. I bought these off of a friend for $15. They aren't bad, a bit big, but not bad. Sound quality is fine, and the microphone works quite well, actually. I will likely look for a better set down the road, though.
Logitech S210. These were just some cheap *** speakers that I picked up from WalMart. I don't really use them much. And, I'm definitely no audiofile, so they serve me fine.
Well, I didn't expect to go into this much detail. But, I got bored so I decided I would try to be thorough. If you all have any question, please feel free to ask me. The goal of this was performance for a budget, and I think I achieved that. I'd like to help anyone else do the same if they want.
Thanks for stopping by!
Very solid CPU. Does what I need it to do and OC's well. I haven't had as many issues with high temps as others have. Managed to hit 4.8 GHz @ 1.3V while staying under 77C.
For the price, this AIO cannot be beaten. Regularly goes for 69.99, but often drops to 49.99-59.99. It keeps my OC'd 7700K running @ 4.8GHz below 77C, which I think is pretty good considering it's not delidded. On top of the performance the aesthetics is quite nice and it was easy to mount. I don't know what else I could say good about this AIO. If you are on the fence about it come on over to my side. ;)
Love this board. It looks great and has managed to OC both my CPU and my RAM quite nicely. Board temps stay low. Picked it up for $95 refurbished, so I can't attest to if it's worth it at full price, but based on my experience unless it's priced quite high new ($160+) I'd say it's worth it. The only downside I see (and this is purely aesthetic) is the RGB is all or nothing as far as color. The gaming 7 has changeable light zones, whereas this has one large zone that has to be all one color. Not a big deal, but could be important to some.
This RAM has impressed the hell out of me. Bought 16GB for $100, which makes it pretty great right off the bat, lol. I've managed to OC this RAM on my 7700K + Gigabyte Gaming 5 to 2666 MHz @ CAS 17. On my wife's B350 Bazooka + R5 1600, we were able to get it to 2800 MHz @ CAS 18. I think there is still some heardroom, but I have yet to do a more thorough test on them. I'll update in the future with the results and their failure point. If you can pick these up for cheap, I'd definitely recommend them. Add in a heatsink for $15-30 and you have some nice looking, fast running, budget RAM.
It's old. And, I wouldn't have bought if I had known that it was limited to a 3GBps controller. But, even with that limitation, it's performed admirably. It boots quickly and opens games/apps much, much faster than my HDD. I honestly barely notice a difference between my boot times and my wife's boot times (she has an ADATA SX6000 NVMe SSD). And, I really can't be mad, having had bought this at $30 used in good condition.
Slow, but oh well. It works for mass storage. Salvaged from an old laptop. Hold up time has been nice, at least (6+ years).
It's often stated airflow on this isn't good. I have to disagree. Airflow has been fine for me and temperatures have remained at good levels. The two front intakes have a moderate amount of area for intake, and if the top is used as intake (as I did) it has plenty of airflow. It looks nice, comes with everything you need, and is built soundly (not bends or weak feeling metal). The tempered glass is nice. I would have liked to get the P400S, but oh well, not a big difference (mainly the fan controller/top port hard cover).
Can't give it more than two stars due to the misconfigured OPP and prone-to-fail fuse, which makes this unit a significant fire hazard. On top of this issue revealed in professional testing, my unit, in particular, must be unplugged for five minutes after loss of power or it won't turn back on. I know the issue lies in the PSU as it's followed me across builds with completely different equipment and components.
If you're shopping around this budget, I'd recommend you go with a Corsair CXM PSU. It's not fully modular, no, but it's much more reputably constructed.
It's Windows 10, lol. Does my review really matter? Well, it did transfer OEM to my new system even though it shouldn't have. So, I have to give it that, at least.
Good fan. Stays quiet. Would be nice to be able to turn off LED, but not a major issue.
For $5, these can't be beat lol. Not great, but sounds fine.
Amazing HDD given that I salvaged it from an old DVR. Runs very fast (faster than my old 7200 RPM HDD). Makes a great NAS drive.
This mouse has completely impressed me. It has very solid professional reviews. The acceleration sensor in it is very good. It copies the DeathAdder ergonomics, which is considered one of the best designs out there. The RGB is very nice but it looks really good with it turned off too. I would definitely recommend to anyone wanting a very quality mouse on a budget.
Not much to say about it. It looks really nice. It isn't 16.8m RGB, but has (IIRC) seven adjustable colors including 2 multicolor patterns. The material is very nice and it appears to be of good quality. It comes with a nice braided cable and a touch switch to change the colors.
Not a bad headset. Paid $15 for it, but I think it goes for more like $20 new. The speakers on it are nice, and the microphone works surprisingly well. For the price, they were a good buy.