Introduction: Gaming PC Build I5 6600K / Asus Ranger VIII / GTX 980 (Work in Progress)

I'm building Gaming PC for my kid (and me obviously). After quite a bit of research I settled for following configuration. There is quite a bit of reviews available for each component and I'm not going to go into too much details, but I want to share experiences when building it and show all concerns and decisions I made during this build.

Procesor: Intel i5-6600K, Skylake, 3.5GHz do 3.9GHz

Motherboard: Asus ROG MAXIMUS VIII RANGER, Skylake 1151, Intel® Z170, DDR4

Memory: Vengeance® LPX 2x8GB DDR4 DRAM 2666MHz C14 Memory Kit

HDD: Crucial MX200 500GB SSD, Micron 16nm MLC NAND, SATA 2.5”

Power Supply: Corsair CS650M Modular PSU, 650 Watt, ATX

Case: Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-03 Mid Tower Case, Orange Led

Processor: Corsair Hydro Series H75 CPU Cooler

Graphics card: Gigabite GeForce GTX 980 WINDFORCE GV-N980OC-4GD


External DVD Samsung SE-208GB, DVDRW Slim

Windows 10 Home Edition

Step 1: Components Review

Choosing components could be excruciating pain. With so many options these days it's had to pick up the right one.

My guidance was that this is to be:

R1. Gaming rig
R2. Learning process for my kid
R3. Relatively small footprint (size, power)
R4. Optimize budget / performance
R5. Make it look cool

So based on that here is short explanation for each of them:

Procesor: Intel i5-6600K, Skylake, 3.5GHz do 3.9GHz
I didn’t want to have locked processor. Having an open one will allow to play with overclocking and explain couple of things to my kid (R2). Skylake is new generation with smaller heat footprint (R3) and being the gaming rig preferred graphical card vs main processor (R1).

Motherboard: Asus ROG MAXIMUS VIII RANGER, Skylake 1151, Intel® Z170, DDR4
After reading few reviews I was thinking to buy Asus Z170 gaming MBO, but price of Ranger VIII was so close that it was no brainier. Again, all things relate to previous one, overclockable processor with right options to play with (R2). And last but not least, it's very good looking MBO (R5).

Memory: Corsair Vengeance® LPX 2x8GB DDR4 DRAM 2666MHz C14 Memory Kit
This might have been overstatement and could have gone with lower speed, but price difference between 2133 and 2666 was very small. I wanted a red one but it was not available (R5) and being xmass present no time to wait.

HDD:Crucial MX200 500GB SSD, Micron 16nm MLC NAND, SATA 2.5”
At home I have 1GB Ethernet and NAS, which means all multimedia and "unimportant" things will be anyhow stored there and there is no need for large HDD. Why MX200, price difference between BX and MX was very small. Why not 2x250 in Raid 0? There is quite a bit difference in speed but I wanted to be flexible and be able to move disk between PCs, having a Raid locks to this rig completely. Why not M2? Price and flexibility. If I choose to upgrade to bigger HDD I can still use it in older laptops or wherever. Again this is gaming rig (R1) and stepping up from spinning HDDs to SDD is good enough ;-)

Power Supply:Corsair CS650M Modular PSU, 650 Watt
Price performance ration was good (R4) enough power because I do not plan to do SLI. Semi modular which will keep the case clean (R5).

Case: Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-03 Mid Tower Case, Orange Led
Good price (R4), quite compact (R3) with aggressive look and I suppose that is how gaming rig should look like (R5). Other option was Corsair Vengance V70 Military green but it's twice the price (R4) and size (R3). I wanted the one with red leds (R5) but it was not available and being xmass present no time to wait, plus orange one comes with 2 front fans and there is not so many of orange builds around.

Processor cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H75 CPU Cooler
I wanted a water cooler, it's fairly small (R3) and good to explain how such things work (R2). Price between H55 and H75 was not so big. Anything with 2 fans will be challenging to fit and almost twice the price (R4).

Graphics card: Gigabite GeForce GTX 980 WINDFORCE GV-N980OC-4GD
It was either this or Asus Strix GTX 970 OC. Asus really looked cool, much better that his one but I got Gigabyte at really incredible price (R4). Card is already overclocked (R1) with good potential to play with it even further (R2).

External USB DVD Samsung SE-208GB, DVDRW Slim - Didn’t want internal optical drive, no need for occasional use and they all look ugly (R5)
Windows 10 Home Edition - Skylake and USB 3.x support.

Step 2: Build Process and Challenges - Case and Power Supply

Corsair Carbide Spec 03 is relatively compact Mid Tower case. I has received favourable reviews throughout the Internet. Being somewhat compact imposed some challenges while building it.

First one was related to CPU power cable. CS650M comes with fixed 8pin connector which does not pass through suggested hole. Few unscrews and hole was opened, connector and cable passed through and than screwed back into the place. Being semi modular PSU, this was done before motherboard was put in place.

Also related to Asus Ranger VIII MBO, audio connectors are in bottom left corner, so passing the front panel audio connector before installing PSU was required. Watch out not to cut cable when installing PSU.

Gigabyte GTX 980 card requires 2 x 8 pin PCI-E connector. This PSU will provide with 2 cables with 2 heads, 6+2 pins each. This is ok for this graphic card. Since no plans for SLI I'm using both cables for graphic card for now.

Step 3: Motherboard, CPU, Memory

I have installed PSU first because in order to have it fixed firmly to the case in order to rotate and manipulate case easily. This made installing MBO a bit tight but not challenging. Ranger VIII is sexy looking MBO and fitted perfectly. Back plate is shiny and well cushioned to minimize the vibrations. Installing memory was easy and I used A_2 and B_2 slots are recommended by MBO documentation.

Installing CPU was easy but not as expected. ASUS expects that CPU goes with special CPU installation kit.

Step 4: Cooling

As with all mid to small cases, cooling is always a challenge. This is my current setup but not at all final one. I intend to play with number and direction of the fans.

First question was where to fit H75 cooler. It's relatively big and from the air flow of view it would be perfect to fit it in the front as intake installation. This would bring cool air to the radiator and keep the CPU cooler. H75 pipes are long enough to fit, bit I think that all HDD drive bays would need to be removed from the case. If you look at the pictures they clearly obstruct position where cooler could fit. Maybe removing 2.5" bays is enough, but I haven’t had the time to test it. I'm interested if someone has modded the case so it could fit it into the front.

This was the reason why it was moved to the back, but this time as exhaust installation. This would keep overall temperatures inside the case lower, but CPU will be bit hotter.

The back fan that originally came with the case was moved to top right position. In current orientation of H75, it is not possible to install 2 x 120mm fans to the top. H75 obstructing top back fan location in the case.

I'm not 100% happy with installation and would be much happier if H75 was in the front, but this would jepardize quite a few things. Looks, because H75 does come with led fans so new ones would need to be purchased. There are no orange SP120L that are part of H75 configuration, so you will need to choose red or blue cases or mod and remove orange completely.

I intend to add one more fan to the bottom of the case but this will take some time ...

Step 5: HDD, Cabling ...

The rest of the build was more or less routine except for the HDD. Ranger VIII MBO coolers are blocking the entrance one of the 2.5 bays. It's not big problem since you can unscrew the bay, put HDD in and screw it back.

Organizing the cabling in the back was easy and clean and I'm really glad how it ended up.

I still have not installed GTX since it's a xmass gift but I tested it and it fits nicely. I will update the instructions one that this is also done.

Ah, and not to forget, skip Windows 7, go to Windows 10. USB 3.x are pain in the a.. to setup with Windows 7.

My further plans are:

- add additional fan to the bottom of the case

- some leds to light up the case

- mod the case so H75 will fit in front