Description

So, this all started when my 13 year old got jealous that his best friend was getting an Alienware computer for Christmas. I spoke with the kids father about it, and he ended up spending $2,400 out the door for JUST THE BOX with a 960 gpu. Granted, he got the extended warranty and the white glove service plan but ZOIKS, that seemed like a lot of money for a box. So I decided to do some digging and eventually stumbled upon this wonderful site.

What started as my quest to save a few bucks turned into a personal obsession. Constant price checking, part picking and re-picking, benchmark comparisons, YouTube videos... As far as my wife was concerned, I had pretty much lost my ****. But I was on a mission. Build the best, coolest gaming PC with all the bells and whistles that would smoke my son's friends Alienware, and to do it for at least $1,000 less.

After 4 months of research and, well, insanity, I finally started purchasing parts. Yesterday, the last of the necessary parts arrived and the build began. After a few hours of frustration trying to get my large hands and 52 year old eyes lining up fan header plugs and dealing with a DOA RAM stick, I finally got Windows loaded and everything installed.

I'm still waiting on the PNY GTX 970 before I finalize cable management and post pictures. For the most part, very pleased with all of the components and how they function.

Pretty sure I accomplished my goal. All in including taxes and shipping, this rig came in at a hair over $1285 and I didn't feel like I really skimped anywhere. For what my son plays, anything more powerful than a 970 would have been overkill (believe me, I had to restrain myself - the 980ti in SLI sure do look nice in a rig, don't they?).

Going to get the windowed panel for the case and throw in some magnetic RGB LED strips and take advantage of this ridiculous motherboard. Thoughts, opinion, snarky comments all welcome. Pics to come, but feeling a little shy posting before I put in the gpu and tidy up the cables.

General thoughts: love the M.2 drive, what slick technology (I know, I didn't get the 950 pro, sigh...). Memory - DOA RAM sucks. I'm going to mess around with it a bit more to make sure it's not me, but that definitely added a couple hours to the build. Motherboard - Thick, sturdy, and cool looking. I like. Cooler - way easier to install than I thought it would be. Love that it came with thermal paste already.

Followed a YouTube video to overclock. 4.6ghz - no problem.

Update - gpu installed :-). The boys did a head to head competition on Minecraft bogged down with shaders and Mods and (insert drum roll here)

108fps to his 22fps! Victory is mine (insert maniacal laugh here)!

Now to cable management. Any helpful suggestions regarding the annoying little fan wires and cooler wires? I was thinking of getting a fan controller for one of the bays just to help hide them.

2nd update - So, unbeknownst to me, lots of people have had trouble with 2+ RAM sticks in their Z170 motherboards, in particular Asus motherboards. Unfortunately, I did not avoid this trouble. What was originally thought to be a DOA RAM stick is actually a compatibility issue. Further research into the matter led me down two paths, switch the RAM or try to tweak the RAM settings in BIOS. RMA's are in hand and new RAM is ordered. For anyone that cares, this RAM is supposed to work well with the Maximus VIII Hero motherboard - G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2400. I'll let you know.

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/r63BQ7

Part Reviews

CPU

What to say? Not sure a review of this outstanding processor is really necessary.

CPU Cooler

Easy install. Looks great. Seems to be doing the job.

Motherboard

I don't have any prior experience building computers, but this motherboard sure seems sturdy and well made, and it looks great in the case. Probably overkill for the job, but better safe than sorry, right?

Memory

One stick DOA. Lost a couple of hours figuring that one out...

Video Card

More than enough card for the 1080 gaming my son does (and way faster than his friend's 960 :-) )

Case

Great case! Easy to cable and looks great. Bought the rubber grommets for this, thought it was something that should have come with the case, but certainly not complaining for the price.

Power Supply

Quiet. Looks nice. Fully modular. Got great reviews. Guess we'll see, right?

Case Fan

Screws were a tight fit. Not fun.

Comments

  • 44 months ago
  • 6 points

You, sir, are the definition of an all-around father. I would love to see your son's friend's reaction when he sees how bad his Alienware is compared to your son's build.

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

They went head to head playing a heavily modded Minecraft with shaders and my son did 108fps to the other kids 22fps.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

LOL his dad must have been messing his pants thinking of all that money lost. Good job. I'd give you a cookie if I could.

  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point

hey man i really like your build pretty beefy beast haha yes

but i plan on building something cheap just to mess around with parts and such, but right now i am using my alienware area - 51 which is a Beast getting 400++ FPS usually in league of legends etc... so i mean i support alienware even if it's a bit pricy

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

For the price of an Alienware Area 51 you can build a custom one that absolutely smashes the before mentioned alienware...

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

yeah, i'm thinking about also building my own but however my alienware area 51 is still a beast i really like it lol

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Sweet build +1.

How's the motherboard, run into any problems with it?

Looking to get the same one.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

thanks OP

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

How did you get Windows 10, did you buy it from the operating system option?

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

I bought a Windows 7 license (used). You can do a search and find them. The Windows 10 upgrade is free. I think I bought it for $13 on ebay from someone with a stellar feedback rating.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Not that I'm aware of. It seems pretty beefy, and I really like the look.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Keep your eye open for an open box deal at Newegg

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Ordered a Corsair 450D windowed side panel. After a bit of research, I happily discovered that the 450 panels will fit the 300R. I had a real aesthetic problem with the 300R windowed panel because of all the vent holes in it for fans - 450D has a solid window :-)

Also ordered 2 strips of RGB LED lights. The strips are extra wide, the LEDs are spaced really close together, and they are magnetic which I think will be particularly trick in the steel cabinet.

I finally felt brave enough to post pics of the inside. I know my cabling could use some work, but I'm hoping the Vegas-style light show will draw attention away from the seedier sections of The Strip. More pics to follow.

  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for this update! I've been looking for a solution for my 300R that didn't involve the ugly windowed panel designed for the 300R. :)

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

Really great build. I personally would have gone for a cheaper processor and semi modular power supply to then get a better video card, but given that you said that it would be overkill, I suppose you made the right choice. Love it.

Also, there need to be more fathers like you...

  • 35 months ago
  • 1 point

Look like an AWESOME build! We need more people like you who know that building something yourself is way cheaper than getting it through a place like Alienware or Origin PC. You da man! And lol, they paid twice as much for 1/5 the performance! That's what you get when you don't look stuff up!

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Great job! The cable management can get some improvements but overall it is very well done! You also showed the boys a way to achieve a greater results with less resources! Just curious though, what is the sound panel thingy in the 7th pic (it's installed where an optical drive usually is)? It look soo cool.

  • 26 months ago
  • 2 points

ROG Front Panel

"Dual-Bay Gaming Panel

Ultimate audio companion- Enjoy true-to-life gaming with awesome sound quality One-click overclocking- Your one-button supply line for instant extra performance Hit the button, hide your game- ‘Escape Mode’ instantly hides your gaming activity — any time Monitor your system and control multiple fans– real-time management of the CPU cooler and up to four other case fans – and all can be controlled individually!"

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! It looked really cool!

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  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks, JF.