New Monochrome AMD Gaming/Workstation
This is a build I put together to get back into gaming with my kids, and also to have a better place to work from home than my laptop on the couch. It’s my first Windows machine and my first AMD based system since my Win2K/Athlon Thunderbird build in 2001.
I work as a Linux “devops” administrator, so I do a lot of work with virtualization, databases, data analysis, and automation, and am frequently bottlenecked by CPU, so I was very excited about Ryzen’s affordable 8 Core/16 thread 1700 CPU. I decided to keep the build 100% AMD because of their better track record with the Linux community, better open source drivers, and because the RX 480/GTX 1060 was about all I wanted for graphics performance anyway.
For gaming, I play Minecraft, Terraria and Roblox with my kids, and Warcraft with my wife. I’d like to play some first person shooters and strategy games as well.
With all the excitement around the Ryzen 7 launch, I started toying around with build ideas, following /r/buildapc on reddit and IRC, and watching my local microcenter’s sales. I decided on the Asus Prime X370 motherboard and the NZXT s340 Elite Matte White to get a nice monochrome aesthetic going - All the other X370 boards had gaudy killer/racing/gaming graphics, and I liked the more minimalistic look of the Asus Prime. Since so much of the capabilities of the board are defined by the X370 chipset and the CPU, I decided that all the boards had basically the same capabilities for what I needed, and the Asus Prime was one of the cheapest X370 boards available, which was nice. Unfortunately, when i finally got approval to buy the system, X370 was sold out everywhere. One weekend I even drove in to Microcenter twice (Saturday and Sunday) when their inventory tracker mistakenly showed a single Asus Prime board in stock. I finally got the board and CPU off Newegg for $10 cheaper than Microcenter was selling it, and without sales tax.
The XFX RX 480 8 GB GTR was a bargain with the free blue LED fan kit and $30 MIR. I’ll say that Jayztwocent’s review factored into my decision on this one. Newegg got my money on this one as well, due to availability and no-nonsense pricing.
The NZXT s340 Elite was something I’d been fawning over since I saw some of the build videos using it from bitwit and others. It was on sale on Amazon for $90 for a while, but I hadn’t put together the rest of the build, so I missed that sale and then had a lot of trouble finding it for that price again. I ended up getting it from SuperBiiz for $90, but they tacked on $16 shipping and took forever to ship it. I bought it before the rest of my parts, and I had them all sitting on my desk for a week before the case arrived, the box all scuffed and broken on one side. Luckily there was no damage done to the case in shipping.
I decided on the Corsair CS550M Power Supply for the semi-modularity, good 80+ Gold efficiency, and good brand reputation. I’ve had bad experiences with cheap power supplies destroying components, being noisy, or sucking down lots of power, and I felt like this was a good performer in all respects.
I went with Corsair AF140 and AF120 fans because they fit well with the black and white theme, and then picked up the NZXT Grid+V2 fan controller when I realized the motherboard didn’t have enough chassis fan headers to handle all 4 fans. Amazon had good prices on all of them, and with prime shipping I had them all in a day. The grid+V2 was a little tough to fit in the space behind the rear panel of the s340, but I successfully sandwiched it next to the power supply for now.
I had used Sandisk SSD Plus drives in laptops, my ShieldTV and in builds for my kids and was happy with the performance and reliability, so I went with this one as the main drive. I decided against an NVME M.2 Drive because I think there should be data wires connecting components in a PC, especially if it’s going to have a huge glass side-panel.
My work was trying to get rid of older hardware, and these Dell U3011t 30” displays from 2012 were a good price. They’re 2560x1600 TN displays with low latency, good color, and the right pixel density for my eyes. A big upgrade from the pair of 22” 1600x1050 LCDs I had on my desk before.
I bought a bunch of white sleeved extension cables from Phanteks, Bitfenix and NZXT. These were cheaper than cablemod and were easy to make look good. Unfortunately, using them in combination with the PSU’s existing cables and tiny basement on the s340 elite meant that it was a very tight squeeze to get everything actually in the case. In the end, the rest of the cables in the case (front panel I/O, CPU Cooler, LED headers) were all black, so there’s black cables running all over the place inside the case anyway, but I feel like these cables were a good decision and make the build look better.
The whole build came together in about 3 hours, including help from my wife and kids, and having to install most parts twice. I originally put the exhaust fans in backwards, the motherboard was mis-aligned with the IO shield, and I decided not to mount the SSD backwards to keep the logo facing upright because it made cable routing difficult, so I just removed the label from the SSD and mounted as the case expects. The only major issue was that the front USB 3 cable from the case was very tight in the header seat, and when I tried to re-seat it, the plastic header seat came off the motherboard leaving just the bare pins. We were able to separate the seat from the cable with a screw driver and re-mount the seat on the pins. Luckily, USB3 front ports worked fine.