Ah yep. In the trailer for T2 Transpotting Ewan McGregor, waxing philosophic, says “you’re an addict. So be addicted. Just be addicted to something else!” Well I think its debateable if HEDT PC building is actually a better addiction than narcotics, but here we are!
I have to say that I really did enjoy the Alienware 15 + Titan X in AGA build and highly recommend it, but after my recent move, with a bit of creativity, hydraulic arm assist, patient spouse, and willingness to make a room look ridiculous, I was able to successfully deploy a full desktop monitor:
With a desktop monitor and keyboard tray in play, suddenly the AW AGA combo seemed less compelling. Particularly since these days I don’t travel and a tower case doesn’t really take up more room on the floor than the AGA. And then of course there is the fact that even a Titan X Pascal isnt a 4k@60@max card consistently enough.
And so a new build it is! Deciding whether to wait for x299 was very tough. In the end, I decided that Z270 and the 7700K are delivering the perf I need for the long haul which is maxed 4k at a steady 60 when paired with high end SLI. Down the road the x299 is doubtless going to give better core density, but I also have my Xeon build for real work and the game machine rarely does more than game/stream. Plus, the Z270 has every feature update in recent history (USB 3.1 C, M.2 PCIe x4, etc) and also now has respectable PCIe lanes with the 7700k. Who knows what may happen in a year, but for now the Z270 seemed a solid choice vs going back to X99. Anyway, let ‘s get a closer look at the parts list!
- CPU: Intel Core i7 7700k. Tough choice going back to consumer grade, but consumer grade keeps getting better and Im only doing mild OC these days. Maybe enthusiast no longer matters
- Mobo: Asus Maximus IX Code. Ditto
- RAM: 32GB Patriot Viper Extreme 2800Mhz
- Cooler: Corsair H100i. Standard issue, still solid
- PSU: EVGA Supernova 1000 P2
- SSD (OS): OCZ RD400 500GB NVMe. Open box and a good deal so had to grab.
- SSD (bulk): Samsung 960 EVO 1TB NVMe. At $100 more than SATA3 and the promise of a build with no disk cables, couldnt resist.
- GPU: oooooh yeah! EVGA GTX 1080Ti FE SLI
- Case: last but not least, the Corsair 570X all glass showcase!
I have to say I absolutely love the idea of an “aquarium case”, but was cautious about the weight and potential fragility of all of that tempered glass. Well I am happy to report that the 570x is really a thing of beauty. Ay 25 lbs its nor a lightweight, but not so bad compared to steel towers with similar dimensions. The carton was as plain brown as possible, with no inner box, but the case itself is tucked away in a very nice cloth sack:
The case itself is very close to tooless. 4 nicely finished and solid steel thumb screws hold each side panel to the frame, and both need to be removed to set the system up. And yes, both front and back are glass, which is bold, but Corsair did a good job providing cable routing tunnels and chambers, so the final effect can be a very nearly cable free experience (especially with a pure M.2 build!)
The first job is to mount the PSU under the power supply shroud. The shroud is fixed and non removable, so it’s more of a power supply cave actually. The best bet here is to cable up rhe modular connectors first, rhen fit the PSU into its housing. There is a decent bit of shroud space left to hide slack even with the EVGA 1000.
Much like the case, the 1000 P2 comes in a nice cloth sack and also includes an even nicer bag for holding the spare cables. In my case I only used VGA1-4 for the 1080Ti connectors, 1 SATA for the 570x fan controller, and the motherboard and EATX CPU connectors. I keep my original boxes and so stashed everything left over there, but the cloth sack is still a nice touch:
With the PSU mounted, next stops were motherboard, H100i cooler, RAM and CPU.
The Maximus Gene IX Code, despite the really idiotic name, has some pretty nice packaging. At least the $300 Z270 boards class it up a bit X99 style:
The board itself is a black PCB in keeping with cureent l337 trends and is covered in plastic shrouds, some of which are LED features. Its starting to remind me of modern cars a bit, where no one even remebers what an actual engine looks like since all you see when you open the hood is plastic dress up, but the aesthetics definitely work. Especially in a glass case!
Of course when you need to do real work, the shrouds have to come off. So for a mechanic that means an extra 10 minutes of wrestling with plastic before the tuneup and for PC mastah race that means 2 minutes removing a shroud to get to the M.2 slots. One screw and some plastic fasteners holds it in place:
One M.2 is designed to be horizontally mounted to the board and screwed down with two metal couplers, the other is designed to attach vertically, sticking up perpendicular to the board like a little tower, fitted into a metal carrier with a dubious plastic fastener that seems to do nothing but apparently is supposed to hold the M.2 in place.
One potential risk with the 570x was clearance for a top mounted radiator according to forum discussions. Luckily, the H100i fits perfectly well with Patriot Vengeance DIMMs. As for the H100i itself, it’s the usual thing. This is well trod ground at this point and closed loop coolers are more about iterative refinement.
Mounting the cooler is a matter of releasing two thumb screws and removing the bracket, then mounting the radiator itself to it. Screw channels are provided rather than holes, so the rad can be freely positioned if clearance does become an issue:
The finished product is pretty clean. The piping on the H100i has good slack and free movement and mounting the water block is easy. The DIMMs cleared with plenty of room and the bracket mount provides another hide away spot for the fan and pump power cables:
The rear shot here may not be Instagram quality, but it’s pretty nice nonetheless. Gives an idea of the cable mounting options. Noteworthy is that the CPU mounting bracket remains accessible with the board mounted. Not shown is the steel cable tunnel shroud which encloses the bundled vertical run completely, and secures via two thumb screws, to finish off the look:
Next up, the real star. You know theres one thing to be said about the massive premium of the Titan line. For all of that money you do get a package that feels special. The Titan X experience starts with the box itself. The 1080Ti? Not so much. The FE might as well be a 1050Ti for the way its packed and presented. Still, in the end its the perf that matters right? All the usual bits are there; display port to DVI and VGA converters and SATA power to EATX 8 pin:
SLI in all its awesome, if diminished by DX12 and spotty support lately, beauty:
With everything physically in place it was time to close her up and fire her up. Mmmm… LEDs. Next step, benchmarks!