Description

A couple weekends ago I built a PC for the first time since high school, and I thought I’d share some photos and details on the build.

This is a long post, because it’s a Saturday and I’ve had my caffeine and, like, why not? If you’re just interested in the details of the build, go ahead and skip down to that section.

Why build a PC at all?

The last time I built a PC was in high school — we’re talking 13 years ago. I just haven’t needed one since: in college I switched to Mac, and afterward I wound up using an iPad for most of my computing. The idea of dedicating a desk, and a monitor, and just all that physical space to a computer is something that doesn’t appeal to me.

But I still love playing console and VR games. Especially weird, indie stuff. And that weird indie stuff often doesn’t make it to the Playstation store.

So about a month ago I started thinking about whether there’s a way a PC could fit into my life. If it could basically just be a console — under my TV, dedicated to gaming, controlled by (ideally) a controller — maybe that’d be something that’d make sense.

So I started doing my research.

Finding the perfect case

Getting the right case was key. I needed something that’d fit in my living room, both in terms of just size and shape, but also aesthetically.

For a while I wasn’t sure I was going to find something. There seem to be just plain thousands of PC cases, but they run the narrow gamut, stylistically, from “steel and glass with neon lights” to “steel and glass without neon lights.” God bless the gamer aesthetic — I genuinely love how needlessly extra it is — but it wasn’t for me.

Then I saw the Cryorig Taku.

Lordy, it took my breath away. So simple. So understated. So IKEA. It looks oddly similar to my coffee table, but maybe that works. I knew this was my case.

The next challenge was finding it. It didn’t seem to be in stock anywhere in States (I’m guessing it’s been discontinued). But, thankfully, Newegg in Canada had it. They’d only ship to Canadian addresses — but the company I work for has an office in Vancouver, and a designer there volunteered to bring the case down in his luggage next time he visited SF. Perfect.

There’s a very real chance that if I couldn’t get this case, I wouldn’t have built a PC. Nothing else out there really caught my eye the same way.

Putting together a parts list

Like I said up top, I haven’t built a PC since high school. I had tons to learn. Even simple things, like: how do fans connect to a motherboard? How do I know if X part is compatible with Y part? Maybe they’re all standardized?

My key considerations were...

  • Thermals. The Taku is a small case. Airflow is an issue. I knew I’d have to contend with that, and I wanted to be proactive about it: with a blower card to get air out of the case, and an AIO so cooling the CPU wasn’t so reliant on airflow in a tight space.

  • Power. I didn’t want to have to wonder if I could run the latest, most intensive VR games.

Not listed? Cost. If this building a PC is a “size, power, cost — pick two” situation, I knew which two I wanted to pick. It’s been a good year for me, so this whole thing was a treat-yo-self situation.

Building it

My best friend is this guy I’ve known since preschool. He helped me build a PC in high school, so I just had to invite him down from Portland to help with this one.

It doesn’t hurt that he works at Intel, and knows his ****. We made a (long) weekend of it.

We started by assembling everything outside the case, to make sure it ran — no reason to spend time carefully threading cables through tight spaces just to find out some key piece is a dud. Hilariously, at one point we tossed the whole mess of parts in the case, in a pile, and got a great picture out of it.

The trickiest part of the build was making room for the AIO’s tubes. Squeezing them under the video card was tough, and to make it work we had to be smart about where we routed other cables — some we sent along the back side of the case, others along the front. It too patience, for sure, but it all worked out.

My one regret right now is I haven’t found a good way to secure the radiator. It’s just sort of resting on its tubing — which seems fine, but doesn’t look as neat as I’d like. I’m definitely open to suggestions for that. (I tried hanging L brackets off the side of the drawer, but they got in the way of the runners.)

Finally: how’s it running?

In a word: perfectly.

It’s possible I over compensated for thermals. I’ve never seen the CPU get above 57° C, and it’s pretty dang silent overall. I can run anything out there, which is fun, and I’ve been playing through some lovely, weird indie stuff that I couldn’t play otherwise.

A coworker of mine gave me a Steam Controller he’d never even opened, and that turned out to be really perfect — combined with Pulse Eight’s CEC dongle, it lets me grab a controller, sit on my couch, hit one button and have everything (TV, computer) turn on at once.

The Steam Controller is an OK controller (it takes some getting used to, for sure) but a great mouse replacement. It’s an unbelievable pain to set up with any non-Steam games, but I’ve finally got it working with basically everything.

In short: I’m happy. This computer was a blast to build, and it looks great, and it’s fitting in to my life (and small apartment) rather nicely.

One last thought...

...I’m going to try my best not to make a hobby out of this, but dang, it is fun to build small form factor PCs!

Comments

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

This might get featured. Love the size. A well deserved +1 from me

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Thanks so much!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

I love the minimalist theme when combined with your living room. Well done.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Thank you! I feel like it fits in nicely, even if it does look a bit like a coffee table.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

where did you get the case and for how much?

also, feature +1!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

I think I included this in the write up: Newegg Canada still had them in stock, for something like $280. They only ship to Canada, so I had it shipped to my company’s Vancouver office, then a coworker brought it down in his luggage when he visited SF.

Certainly a roundabout way of doing things, but I couldn’t find the case anywhere else. Seems like it might be discontinued.

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

I looked, its on Newegg Canadaa for 391 CAD!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

You know, I was fine having forgotten that X)

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

lmao

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Really interested in this, I may build one for my wife. Doesn't the fan mount to the rad and the whole assembly mount to the bottom of the drawer? really well done by the way!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

The fan mounts to the rad, but I don’t think there’s any way to mount the whole thing to the bottom of the case.

You’d need some sort of supports — because you need to elevate the rad enough to let tubes bend without kinking — and the case doesn’t come with any. What’s meant to go in that space is an HDD cage, which I just removed to make room.

If you figure out some other solution, please let me know! If you could find a way to use a smaller rad — like Asetek’s 92mm AIO — you’d have more options, I think. But Asetek’s particular product has shorter tubing than the Corsair I used, and I’d be pretty surprised if it’s long enough to get under the video card and to the other side of the case.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Standoffs come in all sorts of sizes, maybe mounting some standoffs to the bottom of the case would be a solution.

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

Thaaat’s interesting. I think that would work. You might have to drill a hole in the drawer — I can’t remember where the holes are on the bottom — but that could work.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

clean job! I really do love the aesthetics of that case. +1

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Thanks so much!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

I was looking at that case at one point for the same aesthetic reasons as well, but the sticker shock was high at the time. It is a really beautiful setup though that even Linus Tech Tips had built for one of their interns.

I do have a question regarding your current setup with the AIO and so forth. How many, and what size, hard drives can be fit in there for expansion since this case is ideal for HTPC setups?

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

The case comes with a cage to mount HDDs, and a place to mount SSDs. I removed the cage for HDDs to make room for the rad — and there's nowhere else it'd fit, so you're definitely not going to be able to use those.

I also removed the cage for SSDs, which is normally in front of the motherboard, just to make it easier to work with the cables and tubing. But I don't think you'd have to — it feels like if I'd been just a bit more clever (and a bit more willing to bend the tubing in weird ways), I could've kept that cage in there.

I'd suggest trying that, because it'd give you space for at least a couple SSDs along with whatever M2 support your motherboard has. I've resigned myself to just using the two M2 slots on my motherboard (and actually already added a 500 GB stick to the slot on the bottom of the board).

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Lately I have been obsessed with small form factor builds. This build is superb! Everything looks so minimal and compact. I have checked out the Sentry 2.0 and it is very similar. Well anyways, great build man!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Ooo, yeah, that is a slick-looking case. Definitely post if you build in that thing!