Hey man, glad to see someone else jumping on the desk build train
Me and my family overcame a LOT of random quirks with desk builds, and I'll do my best to cover them for you and hopefully have you make yours preform better than ours
I'll start off by listing a few principles we learned when building:*Minimal hardware in your "main box"
( in and around the motherboard, this is for heat reasons), strategically place your equipment in relation to heat dissipation*Plan your airflow,
your intake air should be NO WHERE NEAR your exhaust
....I cant stress this enough (will explain more in detail)*And think outside the box.
90% of marketed cases are heat boxes, DO NOT copy their designs if you want better preforming and cooler equipment.
Now that I've offended a few people with that last statement, let me smooth things over...if I can
Having been a member for less than an hour, I'll try and land on my feet while possibly offending most PC users (honestly, I do apologize). Half the computers I use are in cases. I have no issues with them other than they do pose a heat issue. I LOVED my CM Storm Enforcer.
Okay, first things first, placement of hardware. You really cant talks about one aspect without mentioning the other building aspects, but I'll try to keep them separate. Anyways, placement, think and rethink your design. Think about why you are putting your equipment the way you are (preferred looks, showing off hardware, simply don't care what it looks like as long as its in a desk, ect). Your airflow
will dictate your design a LOT. Well, it will if you want your rig to preform at its max without burning your desk down, lol. Phillips build is cool...........thats it, just cool, IMO
. I can tell you hes not getting the best performance out of his equipment with that hardware and cooling layout. but It is cool and I want one like his! If you look at the hardware placement in relation to his airflow, you'll see that hes pulling air over some equipment, and blowing it over other equipment and coolers. All his components are sharing the same air....not good if you want cool equipment :/
While your thinking about component placement, think about airflow. This is actually a simple step most people don't consider. You don't want to pull your fresh cold air into your case and blow it over hot equipment, then pull it over over more equipment and finally through your cooling equipment like Phillip did (air came in the right of his desk, mixed with the power supple, over the MB, over the hot cooling tubes, over the reservoirs, then finally through the radiators). Think out the airflow path first and how equipment lays out. There is nothing wrong with his layout per-say, just as long as your airflow is correct. And by correct I mean not having air flow over hot equipment and then over more components before exiting next to your intake.
I have found it best to keep your components compartmentalized. Phillip should have sectioned off his case (with plexiglass IMO) into compartments that where each separately cooled. Motherboard and adjoining hardware in one 'box'.
Graphics card is best kept on the board because the PCIE extension cables either hider performance or are unstable. If you are using air cooled graphics (I am) then you'll need to consider airflow over the board appropriately. Phillip has the air blowing over the wrong side of his graphics cards (if he where using air cooled). Cool air needs to blow over the 'front' of the MB ( parallel to the PCIE slots, 90 degrees to RAM) and vent out the rear (much like modern cases do today with front intake and rear exhaust setups). This provides optional airflow and doesn't leave hot spots in the case. Right now, Phillip has hot spots and dead air between and behind his graphics cards. This is a BAD air flow pattern for air cooled cards and he will have an easy 20+ degree temp increase (noted from experience). This is not good for liquid cooled either, but its not the end of the world if its left in this configuration. Basically, keep unnecessary components OUT of the motherboard 'compartment', the CPU and graphics will heat the air plenty even if they are liquid cooled (the heat blocks and rear of the card will still get hot!!! Also noted from experience).
Looking at you're sketches, your HDD and optics drive dont necessarily need to be in the same cooled area as your MB. Your HDDs are nothing but little heaters, those suckers get HOT sometimes, so best to put them elsewhere. Mine are outside my case and hanging under my desk. They dont necessarily need to be cooled by a fan. Then just dont need to be in a sealed box or have hotter air blown over them. Same with optics, those things do get warm if you burn disk or simply use them. Personally i say its okay to leave optics where you have it because its not something used much these days. but if your one to always be playing disk or burning onto them, i'd advise moving it elsewhere or not incorporating it in with your MB/graphics/CPU combo. Its a heat source thats not needed.
I'd advise not putting too much thought into your PSU as its fairly self sufficient by itself....unless you really want to look at it. I have seen no more than a 2≈ degree temp increase on the output with my 500 watter. Again, no need to heat up your box any more than what the CPU and GPU will already do. Personally, mount it out of sight and close to your MB so you can have easy cable access. You wont realize how short those pesky cables are until its time to run them lol.
I'll try to hit these last three all in one as they relate to airflow. I personally advise agents your current flow setup. Pulling in air from one side, mixing it with components, pushing it into another compartment with more components and then venting it is IMO a "no no". You want direct, cold air over the components that need it the most. CPU and GPU are the #1 in this case. And seeing that your planning on an i7 as the main thinker with a GTX970, your heat issues will be about equally spread (I have a 970 and she gets warm from time to time). (Helpful hint:
Look at the cooling fins of the graphics card you choose. The GTX970 has fins that direct air directly down on the MB, and in my case, onto my M.2. I need to move a lot of air to keep my M.2 cool. The GTX760 and lower however have fins that direct air out the rear of the card.........IDk why the built a card to vent super heated air onto the MB) Look into direct airflow to the parts that need it, section off and cool everything separately if needed. HDD, optics and PUS are lower priority, they shouldn't have first/coldest air. ( I assume thats how your air flow will be). Lastly is the fan controller. I will NEVER turn down more hardware to look at and play with, but unless needed for some reason, a controller is not really necessary. If you set up your intake and exhaust correctly, you wont ever need to manually adjust your fan speeds...ever. I'd advise setting up a custom power curve on hardware monitoring with graphics, but other than that, its not necessary. (if your looking to save money on something). Me personally, I want one because I want to look over ans see cool lights and knobs to touch and turn.
I've glassed over quite a bit here, but I want to mention one last thing we're learned. A push-pull airflow is the BEST for performance and cooling.
If you have air cooled graphics (all 4 computer builds I've helped with are air cooled 760s and 970s), and a push-pull works the best. I have one thats a push only (200m push with a 4 inch outlet). Mine is a pull only with two 80mmm helping a 120mm with a 2inch by 6 inch intake. But my brothers is the best so far with a 200mm pushing and a 120mm forcing exhaust. Yes yes, 200mm in and 120mm out doesn't sound like it make much sense, but it does. The goal here is to slightly pressurize the box so that the cool air has time to longer and mix with the components, absorbing as much cheat as possible. Then to be assisted out by the 120mm. Its weird but its basic physics (there is a video somewhere of it, I'll try and find it and post for you). The basic concept is this, larger intake (slow air) with smaller outlet (fast moving air). Its weirdly cool but it works.
I'll throw up a pic or two of my rig and try to get more of the others later. Please ask and question everything, let us make the mistakes so you can have a better preforming rig
I've got the testing equipment and the physical parts to mess around with and tog et physical data if you need it. Dad, myself and brother are all in the AC business (dad has some 30 years more experience than either of us), this is what we do for a living
Some eye candy
Old images that I've since upgraded a few parts. Will get more later.
I do apologize, its late and sleep got the best of my proofreading
Will correct and edit after a few winks.