You may have noticed that I haven’t been writing too much in recent months. On December 28th, my PC of eight years decided to bite the dust. Being as old as it was, it wasn’t really a matter of easily replacing one part, and it needed a full overhaul. I’ve always wanted a gaming PC, so it took some time to get the cash, but now it’s built and it’s a beauty.
Cooler Master CM Storm Stryker ATX Full Tower Case Black & White 9X5.25 8X3.5INT 13X2.5INT USB3.0
[singlepic id=9826 w=320 h=240 float=left]
Cooler Master has been a trusted brand for years and I fell in love with this case the moment I saw some photos online. The first thing I wanted in my new tower was space, and full tower was the way to go. Secondly I wanted the ability to show it off – and with a large side window and grated fans featuring LEDs I was content with the Storm Stryker. Of course I wanted the case to look sexy as hell, and with the combination of the side window, LEDs, cold cathodes, and a sexy overall design, Cooler Master won me over with this case.
The case weighs in at just over 30 pounds which is a little on the heavy side, but it’s primarily made of steel. If you’re into LAN parties though, this is by far the best case to own as it has a fantastic ergonomic handle on the top of the case and the texture rubber grip makes it pretty easy to carry it a short distance.
The case features multiple fans including 2x120mm fans in the front featuring white LEDs, a top 200mm fan and another 120mm fan on the rear of the case. You can install two more 120mm fans on the bottom, but frankly it you’ve got some quality parts in the case then you won’t find the need to cool it any more than it already is with the included fans. Worried about dust buildup? Don’t be. The case also features multiple removable dust filters that can easily be rinsed and dried in mere minutes!
Looking to keep things clean? Cable management is pretty much a dream in the Cooler Master Storm Stryker as the case has more than five slots to run your cables in behind its popped out side panel to keep things looking very clean and it helps to keep great airflow in your tower.
The HDD cages and an optional SSD cage allow you to install a ton of drives easily and cables can be easily hidden in behind and in the front of the case. You’ll find a multitude of drive bay on the front, but if you plan on only keeping one or two drives such as a Blu-ray writer, the drive covers are very easy on the eyes.
The top of the case features 4 USB ports (2×3.0, 2×2.0), headphone jack, power/reset buttons, and fan LED controls, and a microphone jack. Also located on the top front of the case is slot to quickly throw in an SSD.
Multiple fans, dust filters, cable management options, lots of space to work inside, fantastic outer design, and multiple external features on the case make the Cooler Master Storm Stryker a beautiful case to own, especially if you’re a gamer.
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo Direct Touch 4 Heatpipe Heatsink AM2 AM3 1366/1150/1155/1156/2011 120mm
[singlepic id=9822 w=320 h=240 float=left]
Intel chips are fantastic, but they can run hot and their stock heatsinks are really nothing to write home about. After doing some research I decided to go with Cooler Master again for cooling my CPU. The Hyper 212 is a beast with its copper heatpipes and massive aluminum fins. With the included 120mm fan I’ve had no trouble keeping my CPU at fewer than 65° Celsius under full load.
Installation was pretty simple considering it’s the first time I’ve ever put together an aftermarket heatsink. The mounting bracket attaches quite easily and you can put the fan and cooling block onto your CPU in a matter of 5 minutes. Due to its massive size you’ll need a fairly large case to use it, but it’s a quality piece of equipment that it around the $30 range. Optionally, you can even install a second 120mm fan on the opposite side of the aluminum fins to keep things ever cooler in the case.
Corsair Vengeance Black CMZ16GX3M2A1600C10 16GB 2X8GB DDR3-1600 CL10 1.5V Dual Channel Memory Kit
[singlepic id=9824 w=320 h=240 float=left]
I wasn’t too picky about RAM when I was ready to buy, and I was looking more at the price to be honest. These sticks received very positive reviews though, and at the time I purchased them for only $57.99, and they’re currently $148, but as you likely know memory can fluctuate week to week.
Regardless, the sticks both work perfect and they’ve been tested with memtest just to make sure. Speedwise they’ve given me no issues, and for those interested they score 7.8 under the Windows 7 performance test.
ASUS Sabertooth Z77 ATX LGA1155 DDR3 SLI 3PCI-E16 3PCI-E1 SATA3 HDMI DisplayPort USB3.0 Motherboard
[singlepic id=9829 w=320 h=240 float=left]
The motherboard was an area that I didn’t want to go cheap, and while some may argue that I even went overboard for what I’m running, it’s a damn beautiful board just for its cosmetic design. ASUS’ new thermal armor gives it a super sleek design inside the case, and it’s extremely helpful for keeping away dust from the board and the rest of the components too.
The location of all slots on the board is pretty standard. The RAM slots are situated within 1.5mm of my heatsink fan so anything large than a Cooler Master 212 likely wouldn’t be ideal, but it my personal case my RAM stays extra cool. The Sabertooth also has features two small turbo fans that help to push heat away from the board and into the standard case fans which push it out of the case.
Frankly I don’t know a ton of the inner workings of the board, but for the gurus out there, here’s a full list of technical specifications:
Intel® Socket 1155 for 3rd/2nd Generation Processors
Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU
Supports Intel® 32 nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
* The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types.ChipsetIntel® Z77Memory4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 MHz Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
* Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).GraphicIntegrated Graphics Processor
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DisplayPort ports
– Supports HDMI with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
– Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 1696 MB
Supports Intel® HD Graphics, InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™Multi-GPU SupportSupports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports LucidLogix® Virtu™ MVP Technology *1Expansion Slots2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8) *2
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black) *3
3 x PCIe 2.0 x1 StorageIntel® Z77 chipset :
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), brown
4 x SATA 3Gb/s port(s), black
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology *4
ASMedia® ASM1061 controller : *5
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s port(s), redLANIntel® 82579V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)AudioRealtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
– Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
– Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
– Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
– Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panelUSB PortsIntel® Z77 chipset : *6
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
ASMedia® ASM1042 controller : *6
2 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue)
Intel® Z77 chipset :
10 x USB 2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, black, 6 at mid-board)Special FeaturesTUF ENGINE! Power Design :
– 8 +4 +2 Digital Phase Power Design
– TUF Components (Choke, Cap. & MOSFET; certified by military-standard)
– ASUS DIGI+ Power Control Utility
Ultimate COOL! Thermal Solution :
– TUF Thermal Armor
– TUF Thermal Radar
Safe & Stable! Guardian Angel :
– Dust Defender
ASUS Exclusive Features :
– USB BIOS Flashback
– AI Suite II
– USB Charger+
– ESD Guards
– ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
– Network iControl
– USB 3.0 Boost
ASUS EZ DIY :
– ASUS O.C. Profile
– ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
– ASUS EZ Flash 2
– ASUS MyLogo 2
– Multi-language BIOS
ASUS Q-Design :
– ASUS Q-Shield
– ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
– ASUS Q-Slot
– ASUS Q-DIMM
– ASUS Q-ConnectorBack I/O Ports1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0
4 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)Internal I/O Ports1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin, moss green)
3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
4 x Optional Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
2 x Assistant Fan connector(s) (3 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)AccessoriesUser’s manual
2 x SATA 3Gb/s cable(s)
2 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
2 x Accessory Fan(s) ( 35 mm )
1 x TUF Certification card(s)
1 x TUF 5 Year Warranty manual(s) (by region)
1 x TUF Inside sticker(s)
1 x Accessory Package(s):
– 1 x 40mm I/O Cover fan lid(s)
– 3 x PCIe x16 slot dust cover(s)
– 2 x DRAM slot dust cover(s)
– 3 x PCIe x1 slot dust cover(s)
– 2 x Short fan screw(s)
– 4 x Long fan screw(s)
– 1 x Adhesive Sponge(s) for 35mm FanBIOS64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS,
ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3, F12 PrintScreen Function, F3 Shortcut Function and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory informationSupport DiscDrivers
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
ASUS Utilities Form FactorATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm ) Note*1: LucidLogix Virtu MVP supports Windows 7 operating systems.
*2: PCIe 3.0 speed is supported by Intel® 3rd generation Core™ processors.
*3: The PCIe 2.0 x16 slot shares bandwidth with PCIe 2.0 x1_1 slot, PCIe 2.0 x1_2 slot and PCIe 2.0 x1_3 slot. The PCIe 2.0 x16 slot default setting is in x1 mode.
*4: Supports on Intel® Core™ processor family with Windows 7 operating systems.
*5: These SATA ports are for data hard drivers only. ATAPI devices are not supported.
*6-1: Supports ASUS USB 3.0 Boost UASP Mode.
*6-2: The USB 3.0 ports only support Windows® 7 or later versions.
Intel Core i7 3770K Unlocked Quad Core Hyperthreading Processor LGA1155 3.5GHZ Ivy Bridge 8MB Retail
[singlepic id=9818 w=320 h=240 float=left]
Intel was pretty much a given this time around. My last system was AMD and I was never truly pleased with it. Since I was building as a gaming PC I wanted to go with something that I knew would be both reliable and respected in that community. Plus I wanted to ability to overclock if I find I really need that extra boost, though it’s not something I’ve done as of yet. The i7 3770k clocks in at a stock speed of 3.5Ghz but can be overclocked safely to 4.5Ghz if you’ve got the equipment to do so. Required? Not really for most gamers, but it’s nice to know you can do it.
The chip itself is quality, but the included stock heatsink is garbage – spend that little bit of extra cash and get the HSF that I mentioned above, or even any other decent aftermarket piece of equipment.
As for the cost, even with the newer HASWELL on the market, it’s about $ 350, though I picked mine up new on eBay for $288 shipped, a pretty awesome price if I do say so myself.
Corsair TX750 750W ATX 12V Single Rail 60A 24PIN ATX Power Supply Active PFC 80PLUS Bronze
[singlepic id=9827 w=320 h=240 float=left]
750 watts of pure power on a single +12V rail, the TX750 is a great affordable PSU backed by its great brand. Corsair impressed me with this PSU from its clean design and pre-sleeved cables, and the fantastic Zero RPM mode. For those unfamiliar, if you’ve got a low load on your PC, the fan won’t even spin which helps to keep things as quiet as possible.
When the system is under various levels of load, the fan adjusts itself according so it’s never creating more noise or wearing itself out for no reason.
Western Digital Red 3TB SATA3 64MB Cache 3.5in Internal Hard Disk Drive HDD
[singlepic id=9828 w=320 h=240 float=left]
Western Digital has always been my trusted brand so it was no question that I wanted to stick with it. This time I’ve gone with the Red series for its three year warranty. Not to mention the drives features a 6GB transfer rated compared my old SATA2 drives which had a 2.3GB transfer rate.
A little pricey, but if you want quality, this is an ideal drive for storage.
LG WH14NS40 14X Blu-Ray Writer BD-R SATA M-DISC Support Black OEM
[singlepic id=9823 w=320 h=240 float=left]
LG has always been a brand I’ve loved. Their drives are affordable and they last for years. Since I found this on sale at only $73 the Blu-ray writer was an easy purchase. It’s got a sleek front design and up to 14X writing speeds for Blu-ray discs.
ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II 1019MHZ 2GB 6008MHZ GDDR5 DVI HDMI DisplayPort PCI-E Video Card
[singlepic id=9821 w=320 h=240 float=left]
The holy grail of a gaming PC is it’s video card – and this was my choice. I wanted to go somewhere in the $350-$400 range initially – oops. It went on sale for a really good price, and I realized that if I went a little overboard for current generations games, this would put me ahead for the next generation of PC games.
The GTX680 runs everything that you can currently purchase at Ultra settings without any signs of even pushing it to its limits, and yes that includes Crysis 3. Since video cards have a very low failure rate, I can see myself using this card for a minimum of 4-5 years so I’ll easily get my money’s worth out of it.
The card itself is a monster. It’s just under a foot long, over 2 inches thick and over 5 inches wide. Yes, it’s a damn beast. Keep that size in mind and know that you’ll need to cover up three slots to fit this thing into your motherboard. Considering the power in this case, it should run pretty hot but the dual fans on the case actually keep it running extremely cool and surprisingly quiet.
ASUS is quality and this is by far one of the best video cards on the market, and it runs pretty close to the TITAN in terms of specs, for about half the price.
Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5in SATA3 MDX Solid State Disk Flash Drive SSD
[singlepic id=9825 w=320 h=240 float=left]
SSD is the way to go they say. This is my first SSD and I bought it based on price and customer reviews on NCIX.com. Windows boots ridiculously quick and I’m browsing the web in under 22 seconds. Not bad at all considering my old HDD had me browsing in about two minutes after my background programs loaded and finally let my browser open.
Currently the drives a little pricy for the small amount of storage you get, but if you just want it for your OS and maybe a couple larger games at any given time, it’s a very highly recommended investment for a gaming PC.
Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard + Logitech G700 Wireless Gaming Mouse
[singlepic id=9820 w=320 h=240 float=left]
Logitech has been a long-trusted brand by anyone who uses a PC. Their design of input devices over the years has proven that the company knows what they’re doing and they’re damn good at it. This time I decided on going with the Logitech G710+ for my keyboard because I wanted to stick with the G series for gaming goodness, and the fact that it’s a mechanical board was a huge bonus.
The G710+ is a very sturdy keyboard that appears to have virtually no flex to the board, and it’s rubber pads on the bottom keep it extremely stable on your desk so no worries about having it shift in the middle of an important battle or whatnot.
It features a pretty comfortable wrist rest bar though I wish it had an adjustable height as it would makes it just a little more comfortable if it was a couple millimeters higher for me. The G-keys are conveniently located on the far left of the board while profile keys are located along the top above the first row of Function keys. It features standard media keys and backlight controls near the top right as well. The backlighting on the board has varied levels of brightness including a mode to only light up WSAD if you prefer that. There’s also a single USB port on the top front edge of the board, which I find perfectly idea for my accompanying Logitech G700 Wireless mouse receiver.
The board itself feels very responsive, largely due to the mechanical design where every key has its own mechanism to register the keystroke. While many mechanical boards can be very loud with that audible click, the G710+ uses Cherry MX brown switches which reduce the click quite a bit, but it still makes enough noise to differentiate it from a standard silicon keyboard. Personally I love the noise, and I this board is at a perfect level.
Priced at over $150, the G710+ is a pretty pricy piece of equipment, but you can get it on sale for around $90 if you keep your eyes open. At that range it’s really worth owning. It’s built really well and it’s got perfect response for every keystroke, and there’s a ton of customization just waiting to be done for your games.
Logitech G700 Wireless Gaming Mouse
[singlepic id=9819 w=320 h=240 float=left]
Contrary to warnings in the past, I decided to go wireless with my mouse this time around. Including the wheel functions and buttons, the G700 from Logitech offers 13 programmable buttons to use in games. While I honestly haven’t set anything up yet, I’ve taken a look at the software and it seems pretty simple to use, a must-have for me when you want to get it working without too much frustration.
The battery life is pretty decent and I find myself switching out the AA rechargeable Sanyo Eneloop (1 comes included) every 3 days if I forget to turn it off, and a little over a week when I remember to turn it off when I head to work. Rather than a power button underneath though, I think it’d be idea to have a small power button on the side that requires a 2-3 second hold – a minor feature but mention-able.
The mouse itself runs super smooth on its gliders and the laser tracking is spot on in everything I’ve been playing so far. You can easily switch DPI levels on the fly as well, so if you’re switching between gaming and browsing you can easily select a speed that’s right for you.1