I use my computer a lot, for work (software development), gaming and music production. I wanted to build a high-end computer setup, as I’ve always lagged behind with upgrades before. So I gradually have been accumulating and swapping bits around to make the setup above.
Case – Fractal Design Define R5 Black ATX Midtowerr
I finally got rid of my Thermaltake Level 10 GT Full Tower case. It lasted about 4 years before the fan started making horrible grinding noises; the case had become slightly bent out of shape. It also didn’t help that someone that visited my house spilled a full cup of tea with sugar into the air intake. Thankfully all the components were fine, but I thought it was time for a new case without the tea stains.
I got the Fractal Design Define R5 Black ATX Midtower because I wanted a near silent running computer, and I quite liked the styling of the case. It hasn’t dissapointed and there are no more annoying buzzing fans. The only thing I would mention is that the case is heavy even when it’s empty, as there are soundproofing padding that weighs the case down.
Motherboard – MSI Intel Z270
Upgraded in August 2017 to replace my ageing 2012 motherboard. It has DDR4 RAM, will sit the i5-7600K and has 3 PCIE 3.0 slots, which will be used for my wifi card, graphics card and sound card. It also has the option of SLI. If I want to go down that route I could get another Nvidia GeForce 980 and SLI them.
CPU – Intel Core i5-7600K 3.8 GHz QuadCore 6 MB Cache CPU
Finally upgraded my CPU in August 2017 from an ageing i7-3770 to this processor. At the time I bought it, it was the best value vs performance ratio for a gaming processor, and would be more than enough to power the Oculus Rift and other VR headsets.
CPU Cooler – Noctua NH-U12S
I replaced my previous CPU cooler because it was a bit old, plus it was quite heavy and I was worried it was having an affect long-term on the motherboard mountings.
RAM – Crucial 8GB DDR4 2133 MT/s (PC4-17000)
Had to upgrade the RAM because.. new motherboard, so I got 8GB of DDR4 RAM, which should be enough for most things.
Wireless Card – Asus PCE-AC68 Dual Band Wireless PCI Express Network Interface Card
5GHz really makes a difference, especially compared to the saturated 2GHz wireless network at the house. Since I got a BT Homehub 5 router with BT Infinity, it supports the latest AC1900 standard, which means I can get 975 mbps per second on average, which is 25MB/sec, transfer on the local network.
Optical Drive – Pioneer BDR-207DBK 12x Internal BD-RW Burner
I didn’t really need a Blu-Ray burner, but it’s useful for backups and I thought I could write some discs to be played in my PS3. It has a very fast read speed for reading Blu-Rays and burning DVDs. To be honest I could have gone for a Blu-ray reader and DVD writer combo and not really noticed the difference.
PSU – 850W EVGA Super NOVA G2 Platinum Modular
850W allows a lot of headroom for graphics cards’ power requirements, and extra components in the future. It is a good quality PSU and is fully modular which is a lot nicer to work with.
3x Hard Drives –
I now have 2 250GB SSDs, one for the OS and one for applications and games. I have a 3TB storage drive for backups and my music collection.
Monitor – BenQ EX3501R 35″ Ultra WQHD Curved Monitor
I previously had a 27″ Gsync TN monitor, but quickly realised I preferred more screen real estate, and didn’t like the colour reproduction/viewing angles of the TN. So I got this monitor. The ultra-wide aspect is really useful when you have lots of windows open on the desktop at once, as I tend to do when working. The curved screen is useful when watching films/videos, and the 100hz refresh is great when playing games, although I find myself having to turn down graphics options in modern games as the increased pixel width means my current graphics card cannot cope at max settings. However I’m glad I bought the 1440p instead of the 4K monitor otherwise there would have been very little chance of good performance on new games.
Graphics Card – Asus STRIX GTX 980 4GB GDDR5
I had to upgrade my old Nvidea GTX 660TI, and just went for the absolute maximum I could afford. The STRIX 980 is an amazing card and comes slightly overclocked compared to the reference model. It plays all current games on maximum settings on 1440p at over 30FPS, which is no a mean feat; on this resolution there is more than a million pixels being drawn to the screen on each frame.
VR Headset – Oculus Rift + Touch Controllers
This is a great addition to a gaming PC. I especially like the seated VR experiences such as Google Earth, but also games like Eleven Table Tennis VR.
Headphones – Sennheiser HD 25-1 IIs
Good headphones. I bought them for DJing but they have been useful for audio production work too. They are meant to have quite a ‘flat’ response but I find them quite heavy on the bass.
Soundcard – Asus ROG Xonar Phoebus Solo
Good 7.1 surround sound card, with headphone amplifier.
Gaming Headset – ROCCAT Kave XTD 5.1 Analogue
It is quite difficult to find surround sound headsets with analogue inputs, most headsets are USB only, and contain their own soundcard. This is not ideal when you have a really good soundcard already that you want to use, such as my Xonar Phoebus Solo. Previously I was using the Razer Tiamat, which was terrible. It had a consistant high-pitched electrical whine when you were wearing the headset, and you couldn’t get rid of it. The Kave is much better in this regard, and is more comfortable too. It is ‘only’ 5.1 compared to the Tiamat’s 7.1, but really, 7.1 surround sound in a headset is just a marketing tactic anyway, you are never going to be able to appreciate the extra two channels when the speakers are that close together.
Surround Sound Speakers – Logitech Z906 5.1 Speakers
Upgraded my old speaker set for these, which are quality THX certified 5.1 surround speakers with a decent subwoofer. The sound quality for games is pretty amazing, much better than my KRK 5 Rokit studio monitors, and you get the surround sound spatial percpetion which is good. They sound great with music too. Definitely a worthwhile upgrade.
Webcam – Logitech C920 HD Webcam
I use a webcam for Skype often, and I want to get more into recording for YouTube, so I bought a good quality HD webcam.
Keyboard – Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016
This is a great gaming keyboard, with ‘clicky’ keys and some fun backlighting, see this video I recorded:
Gaming Keypad – Razer Orbweaver Stealth
This is the ‘Stealth’ model with the Cherry MX Brown key switches. I was initially doubtful whether it was worth getting a gaming keypad, but so many people have recommended it, that I had to try it out. I actually have found it very useful, much more comfortable and accurate than using a normal keyboard for gaming. It also forces you to get into the habit of remapping keys for your own preference.
Mouse – Logitech 602
I upgraded from my G9x to this, the G602. It is a wireless mouse, which initially I experienced latency with, until I moved the reciever nearer the mouse. Now everything works really well, and I don’t need to worry about the cable wearing out or getting caught. It takes 2x standard AA batteries which power the mouse for a reported 250 hours, so it shouldn’t need much maintainence.
I use the Corsair Vengeance mouse matt, it is made of metal unlike my previous Razor Golliathus cloth one, which I didn’t like because the edge of the matt would get stuck in the mouse when you moved it too far.
Gamepad – Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller
This is the Xbox One gamepad with some added features. You can customise the controls, swapping in and out parts such as the joysticks, for your optimal configuration. It is a pleasure to use, and the materials and build quality are all top of the range. Definitely the best gamepad I’ve used.