Embracing Windows 8 With A New PC System Build
To accompany the motherboard, processor, graphics cards, and storage array, I still needed some memory, a case, power supply, a cooler, and an assortment of other components and accessories, especially since I’m a stickler for cable management, fitment, and build quality. Simply stuffing components in a case willy-nilly just won’t do. If I’m building a machine for myself, along with being fast it’s got to be clean, cool, quiet, and sturdy. The sturdy part is even more important now that I’ve got two curious and adventurous little ones running around the house, but that’s a story for another day...
For memory, I turned to enthusiast favorite Corsair. A Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866 16GB quad-channel kit (4 x 4GB) would be more than adequate, and support for X.M.P. makes configuring the ROM to run at its optimal settings quick and painless.
As for cooling, I chose a Cooler Master TPC 812 for a couple of reasons. Although liquid coolers can offer better performance, I’m still fond of high-performance air coolers. With liquid coolers, if a fan or the pump fails, you’re screwed. Although rare, they can leak and cause damage to other components, too. With a high-end air cooler, especially one like the TPC 812 which is huge and uses two fans, both fans could fail and the air circulating through the case may still be enough to keep a processor running reliably. The TPC812 is interesting in that it uses vertical vapor chambers and heat pipes, along with a solid copper base and a large array of aluminum thin-fins to dissipate heat. I did ditch the stock Cooler Master fans, though, and instead used a pair of Corsair Air Series SP120 fans in a push-pull configuration. I particularly like Corsair’s high performance fans not only because they’re very quiet, but because the corner mounts are surrounded entirely in vibration dampening material. If you’ve ever mounted a fan and heard annoying, repetitive vibrations, you’ll appreciate Corsair’s rubber mounts because they don’t transmit vibration. The fans have customizable color rings, too, which can be used to personalize a system a bit.
As you can see in the shot above, even with the huge cooler, relatively tall RAM, and dual cooling fans, fitment wasn’t an issue and the RAM actually benefits from the air circulated by the CPU cooler’s fans.
To do justice to components as nice as these, they should be installed in an equally awesome case and fed ample power. My choice of power supply was easy; after reviewing the Corsair AX1200i a few months back, I knew that puppy was going into my next rig. Not only does it provide copious amounts of power, but it’s fully modular and ultra-quiet, too. Choosing the AX1200i was a no-brainer.
As for the case, I wanted a high-performance head turner with plenty of interior legroom. There were plenty of nice options on the table, but ultimately I chose the Cooler Master Cosmos II. I had previously owned the original Cosmos and a Cosmos S and had enjoyed those cases. The Cosmos II not only looks the part and offers high performance, but some of its features come in quite handy. For example, the sliding panels that cover the front panel and external 5.25” drive bays are perfect for keeping chubby little fingers away, and I dig having one-touch control for individual case fans (which were also upgraded with Corsair fans) and lighting. The Cosmos II proved to be very well designed and great to work with, though the thing is massive. At 13.5 x 27.7 x 26.1 inches, the Cosmos II can swallow lesser mid-towers—seriously.
Other components in the system included a pair of optical drives (one Blu-Ray and one DVD-R) I had available and a Sound Blaster Titanium HD.
Physically assembling the system was mostly uneventful—thankfully. There were no issues to speak of with any of the components and the Cosmos II’s ample space and myriad nooks and crannies to hide cables made cable management a snap. The Gigabyte motherboard’s slot configuration keeps plenty of space between the graphics cards, and there was plenty of space to route and mount everything without significantly obstructing airflow. Considering the multitude of nylon zip ties, tie-downs, and Velcro straps I used to secure everything, I dread the day when I have to pull this baby apart and replace or upgrade a component, but for now she looks great, and everything’s as secure as Fort Knox.
The only hardware-related issue I ran into had to do with the motherboard and Seagate Savvio hard drive. Although the motherboard includes a SAS controller, all of the ports on the board are of the SATA variety--and the board doesn’t include any SATA-to-SAS cables. I had to order a couple of SATA-to-SAS cables after the fact, but once I did, the drives plugged right in and were identified and worked properly.