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My Build - "The Pretty Kitty"

post #1 of 4
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Hello All!

SORRY THIS POST IS SO LONG! I just love what I've done and wanted to share about it!

Glad to finally have joined this thread. Back in the summer I built a PC with the Air 240 I have called "The Pretty Kitty." The name is in no real connection to the build, I just like cats, find internet activities around them amusing, and am generally a strange person. What I think users here will find most interesting is that I have a full custom water cooling loop including the GPU inside my build. Below I will post a complete and full description from what I have just posted on PC part picker. (https://pcpartpicker.com/b/hrxG3C). I would love to hear any comments, thoughts, or criticisms about my build!

Hello all!

After months of planning and pouring over parts lists I present to you, what I have lovingly named, The Pretty Kitty.

(Sorry for the novel I've just written, I'm sure almost no one will read it all, but thanks if you at least read some! Please leave any questions, thoughts, or criticisms below!)

I've tried to break things up into sections if you're curious about just one part of my build. The sections are in all caps as follows -

1. INTRO
2. ON THE MATTER OF PART SELECTION
3. ON THE MATTER OF RGB LIGHTING
4. ON THE MATTER OF OTHER RANDOM AESTHETIC PARTS OF THE BUILD
5. ON THE MATTER OF COOLING
6. ON THE MATTER OF HOW ARE YOU WATER COOLING YOUR GPU IN A CORSAIR AIR 240 IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE!!!
7. ON THE MATTER OF OVERCLOCKING AND THERMALS
8. ON THE MATTER OF MY FINAL NOTES



INTRO:

This is the second PC I have built for myself, and likely the last for quite some time. I know that many who see this build (if anyone sees this build) will think that I could have come up with a much more powerful system for around the same cost or less. You are absolutely correct, but I have accomplished exactly what I wanted and set out to create, a somewhat compact build that went incredibly overboard on RGB lighting, and balanced performance with aesthetics.

ON THE MATTER OF PART SELECTION:

I chose the Corsair Air 240 for it's ability to easily make a beautiful compact build, while still housing a smaller design.

The Intel i5-6600k needs no explanation I believe.

The GeIL Super Luce ram looks sick in my humble opinion and I really wanted ram with lighting. I just saw that Corsair showed off some RGB lighted ram at CES so I may pick that up if it's not too crazy expensive when it comes out. If you can't tell, I love Corsair and their products and it would be nice to round out my build a little more with some of their ram.

For storage I have a refurbished 480 GB OCZ Intrepid SSD. I took a lot of gambles on this PC with refurbished products and Ebay stuffs which I discuss more at the bottom of my post, but I got this 480 GB SSD for 90 DOLLARS! A pretty sweet deal if you ask me, I took my chances and it has been running totally solid for 6 months. The WD 1 TB extra is pretty vanilla and uneventful.

The motherboard fit my color scheme and requirements. Wasn't looking for anything over the top fancy here. Part of me wishes I had gotten a mini-itx board, but I don't lose much sleep over it.

I spent a lot of time on the power supply as many do. I was tempted to buy a cheap power supply as many are. I chose the 650 G2 as it was higher end without breaking the bank, that I believe is well regarded as a totally solid PSU, that wouldn't give me too much flack from enthusiasts or critics.

Onward to what I believe is the most controversial choice, the Sapphire R9 Nano. I will reiterate that I wanted a build that balanced aesthetics with power. I couldn't put a larger card in and achieve the custom loop design and overall look I really wanted. Simple as that. And for all my haters out there, the R9 Nano kicks major booty, and has been working great for me. I'm running plenty of games at 60-75hz on my ultrawide on high to ultra settings. Someday, I may snag another for crossfire, but maybe not. By the time I have the money desire and willpower, it may be more reasonable for my to simply grab a higher spec single card. This was also an Ebay purchase. I got it for $500... WITH THE EKWB WATERBLOCK! Basically I got the waterblock for completely free. It was a total deal.

ON THE MATTER OF RGB LIGHTING:

Again a main goal of mine was to go way overboard on RGB lighting and create a build covering a lot of ideas I've seen in other builds but never all at once. For starters I'm loving my Cherry MX Blue Corsair Strafe RGB keyboard. It's totally fun to type on and pretty on the eyes. I would highly recommend. My Corsair Scimitar Mouse is another controversial choice. I was using my friends Razer MOBA mouse on my previous build and really enjoyed all the buttons on the side. To be completely fair, I don't really use them that much, but I had already gotten use to the feeling of a MOBA mouse, so I went with Corsair's. I do use the buttons on occasion and find them very helpful in certain games. Also as a side note, certain games have their own color schemes that automatically start up when I launch a game. For example, I have recently been playing Diablo 3, and my mouse and keyboard automatically enter into a new color layout when I launch the game, and they will do things like change colors when I activate an ability or level up. It is very cool and requires no setup. I look forward to more games implementing it as it's a really neat feature. My mousepad is the Razer Firefly (if only Corsair made an RGB mousepad!) It feel great to the touch and looks great, and I love the size of it. I had never used a hard mousepad before but I'm totally on board and will likely only use hard ones moving forward. In the top of the case are Thermaltake's RGB Riing case fans. I like them a lot and regret not putting them on the front of the case. Why didn't I? Too long of a story.

Now to talk about the real highlights of my RGB build! On my monitor if you notice it has RGB back lighting. I'm using a strand of RGB controllable LED's called BlinkyPixels. It has it's own controller baked in at the end of the strand so I don't need anything like an Arduino to control them. I have them evenly spaced out on posterboard, taped to the back of the monitor. In the photos I've posted they're just running through a color spectrum, but I really did this to run a program that matches the colors of the led's to the colors on the borders of my screen. It looks AWESOME, except... something funny is going on with the program and the colors are not coming through accurately. There's a forum on BlinkyLabs website, which I have posted in, but life happened, and I did not continue to try and work out the problem, even though I was getting help on the forum. Someday, maybe this summer, I will get back on the forums and try and get to the bottom of the problem, but even so, the spectrum cycle looks real neat-o all on it's own so it's not the end of the world or anything. Inside the actual case around the edges of the window I have another product from BlinkyLabs called BlinkyTape. Again, they are fully customizable and individually addressable RGB led's. I do have some patterns I have made for them, but I just posted pics of it again running through a spectrum cycle. I also had to cut the blinkytape and solder wires between the strips myself for them to go all the way around the inside of the case. I had never soldered before, and let me tell you, it was an experience, VERY difficult, and I hope to not do it again soon, although I feel that I did learn a lot from it. Finally, just a fun extra tidbit, you can see in the photos my Dualshock 4 controller, which I use for gaming on The Pretty Kitty, is also running through a Spectrum cycle!

I just want to point out one more time, that the BlinkyPixels and BlinkyTape are truly awesome products, if not cheap. Every single LED is completely addressable. There is a program called Patter Paint that is easy to use to make your own patterns and such. It's really fun to play around with. If you want completely control over the lighting in your PC and are willing to put in the time and effort, this is a fun and exciting way to go.

ON THE MATTER OF OTHER RANDOM AESTHETIC PARTS OF THE BUILD:

The Oppressor is a nickname given to me as a joke by some friends at the church I was attending in middle school, and I have stuck with the nickname for gaming purposes since then. The i/o cover was 3D printed using my own design, which I made on tinkercad. I had never done any kind of 3D designing before, so the sketch itself is very rough and I'm sure not at all up to professionals standards, but it worked. Some of it's flare and character is completely lost inside the case (it basically looks like a rectangle, but it's not), but I love it and am very proud that I designed it myself, and it feels very much mine. The letters were printed raised up, and I painted them white. IT LOOKS BAD. If you get up close and look the paint job is pretty horrendous, but most people aren't inspecting it too closely so it doesn't bother me too much. Maybe someday I'll try and fix it.

The white cables were acquired on amazon and not very expensive.

Do the stormtroopers make my build look more childish? Probably, but I think they're a fun touch, and super easy to remove if I ever hate them. If you didn't notice there's also a Darth Vader magnet stuck where the rear exhaust fan should be.

ON THE MATTER OF COOLING:

I wanted a custom loop. They're cool looking and I wanted one. But I also tried to do it on somewhat of a budget and think I succeed. The Swiftech H220 X2 is a bargain. A reservoir, pump, and radiator that allows for complete cusotmization for only $140? Crazy. Also, I took a chance and got it on Ebay for $100. Even crazier. The tubing and fittings are Primochill and the liquid is Mayhem. The bends are far from perfect, and I made a lot of mistakes and was worried I might run out of tubing, but I'm really happy with how it all turned out.

ON THE MATTER OF HOW ARE YOU WATER COOLING YOUR GPU IN A CORSAIR AIR 240 IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE!!!:

Phew. I took a major gamble when I decided I was going to watercool my GPU inside the Corsair Air 240. I read everything out there on it. I saw the horror pictures of people cutting holes in the plexiglass to fit it. The Nano has a much smaller profile compared to most cards, so I went for it. I will now try to explain how I did it and how it only kind of works... If you look closely in the photos, right at the edge of the GPU waterblock on the left is a real ugly looking spot. That's where I had to do some modding to get everything to fit. The plexiglass on the Air 240 has a raised rim all around the edge on the inside. The raised lip runs right into the water block. So I took my dremel and took the lip out, right where the block goes. It looks bad, but is another part of the build that your eyes are not naturally drawn too. You have to really get close for it to bother you. With the lip gone, the block BARELY, and boy do I mean barely, fits. It pushed against the glass and the whole side panel buckles out on the bottom. You know how side panels are supposed to be flush with the side of the case? On the bottom it's not, but the top and bottom both close, and it's tight, but it fits. I would not recommend trying this yourself, as every other person who has tried it also recommends, but I got it to work out in the end.

ON THE MATTER OF OVERCLOCKING AND THERMALS:

Maybe it's because it's my first time overclocking or something, but I don't believe I won the silicon lottery. I'm running completely stable on Intel's burn test at 4.3 Ghz at 1.27 volts. I feel like most people on forums and such are able to hit at least 4.3, but to maintain a stable 4.3 I had to bump my voltage WAY up to like 1.4 volts, which I just wasn't comfortable doing, and seemed silly, considering I don't really NEED to overclock or anything. Again it's my first time overclocking, so maybe I'm missing something, but I'm completely happy and proud of my overclock, and think it's just dandy.

My r9 Nano runs totally stable at 1070 Mhz with memory at 555, with a plus 50 power limiter. I used Furmark to stress test and also ran tests on unigine valley and heaven. The Nano is crazy power efficient for its generation, using only one 8 pin, and after doing some research, trying to up the voltage on this card only hinders it, so I didn't mess with voltage at all.

On Unigine Valley, at 1920x1080, directx11, ultra settings, with 4x anti-aliasing, my average fps was 96.4, min fps was 44.8, max fps was 182.1, and overall score was 4031. Not too shabby if you ask me! And a good bit higher than stock settings on my GPU.

Now for thermals.

They're really not as good as most custom loops are. Why? Not sure exactly, probably a few things, but since my CPU and GPU are completely solid at load and never go above 70C I'm ok with it. CPU at full load is in the mid 60s and GPU at full load is in the mid to high 60s. Some high demand games will put my GPU to those temps after playing for a while, but it's not often, at least with games I'm generally playing. As a side note, I did use the Nano in my old computer for about a month before this build and it would top out around 81C, so again, not even breaking 70 I view as a win.

ON THE MATTER OF MY FINAL NOTES:

Well, here we are. At the end. If even one person reads all, or heck even half of what I've written, I'll feel somewhat okay about the time I spent writing this. Some final notes. If you were to buy everything new exactly as I currently have it, it would probably be about $2500. But I will say again that I bought some items refurbished, some things on sale, and I bought some things on Ebay. Out of my own pocket I saved hundreds of dollars. I also want to say that a lot of the things in my build were very lovingly gifted to me by family members. I graduated from college right before building this and my parents and sisters were very generous with their graduation gifts and it made many of the things I didn't think I'd be able to afford for this build possible.

Fun side note, I love my ultrawide monitor and it's awesome to game on(when games actually support the resolution...). 75hz is great, and freesync is great. My speakers are an older Logitech model I found at Goodwill, but they sound great (especially for the price). Also, what better contrast than to put a thrift store monitor next to my top end ultrawide. It was like 10 bucks at a local thrift store.

I'd love to hear your questions, comments, concerns, or criticisms in the comments!

Happy building!









post #2 of 4
Couldn't even make a start on the text wall lol.. I'm guessing it says something along the lines of "i really like rainbows".

It's a clean build, but my taste is more for builds that pick one or two colours and run with that.
Edited by spinFX - 1/11/17 at 7:19pm
post #3 of 4
Lol I tried to read your novel as fast as possible and I think I didn't understand it at all, but...

Temperature wise, I'm no watercooling connoisseur, but shouldn't a pump over 50c maybe at danger or unsafe to operate ? Your hardline tube routing is nice!

Rainbow-and-all-that-stufd-wise, I actually like your build 😁
     
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CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
beQuiet! SILENT WINGS 2 92mm PWM beQuiet! SILENT WINGS 2 92mm PWM Thermalright APX-100 unRAID 6 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
intel xeon 1231v3 ASUS z97i-plus ASUS GTX 980 STRIX OC G.SKILL TridentX 2x8GB 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingCooling
SAMSUNG 850 Evo 2.5' SSD 500GB SAMSUNG 850 Evo 2.5' SSD 1TB Noctua NH-D15s CPU cooler 2x bequiet silentwings 3 120mm pwm fans (case f... 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
Raijintek Morpheus 2 GPU cooler 2x Fractal Design Dynamic X2 GP-12 120mm (GPU f... Windows 10 craptimate edition DELL U2414H 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
CM quickfire TK Cherry MX black (custom keycaps) Corsair RM550 Fractal Design Define C mini window version  Steelseries Sensei RAW 
Mouse PadAudio
steelseries QCK+ Plantronic Gamecom 780 
CPUMotherboardRAMHard Drive
Intel i3 4130 Gigabyte h97i itx HyperX blue 8gb SAMSUNG 840 Evo Series SSD 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
Seagate barracuda 7200 2tb Wd Blue 1tb WD Red NAS Hard Drive SATA 6 Gb/s - 3.0 TB WD30... Toshiba Desktop HDD SATA6Gb/s - 3.0 TB DT01ACA300 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
beQuiet! SILENT WINGS 2 92mm PWM beQuiet! SILENT WINGS 2 92mm PWM Thermalright APX-100 unRAID 6 
PowerCase
Seasonic G-Series 550W Fractal Design Node 304 
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post #4 of 4
Love it! Especially the RGB LEDs and the Stormtrooper protective detail. One bad ass build here. Cheers and respects.
UV Siamese
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Logitech M325 Asus Xonar DX Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Darkside UV Rev4 LED Strips 
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UV Siamese
(23 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Pentium G4400 Gigabyte H170N-WiFi Intel HD 510 Kingston HyperX FURY DDR4 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingCooling
Crucial MX300 M.2 SSD Transcend 370S SSD Thermaltake Engine 27 Noctua NF-S12B redux 1200 PWM 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
Samsung SF350 21.5" LED Logitech K810 HDPLEX 160W DC-ATX + 80W Internal AC-DC Silverstone Milo ML06B-E 
MouseAudioAudioOther
Logitech M325 Asus Xonar DX Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Darkside UV Rev4 LED Strips 
OtherOtherOtherOther
Darkside 5mm UV LED Logitech HD Webcam C525 Kobra Cable 24pin M/B + 4pin CPU Power Extensions CableMod ModFlex Molex to SATA Power Cable 
OtherOtherOther
CableMod ModFlex SATA to Floppy/Molex Power Y C... Prolink HDMI Cable Silverstone Magnetic Fan Filters 
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