So last week I went into detail on the case, power supply, and the fans I went with in Iris. Those are cool, but it’s the components inside that determine how fast the computer is going to be. So today I’m going to go over the “go fast” goodies so to speak. I will talk about the reasoning on the motherboard and CPU and what else is going with it. Considering that my wife ends up playing more games than I do, making sure this build was extremely fast was important. I don’t need her getting angry at me when her games don’t work!
Article Name: Project Build Iris – Part 2
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE
Links to the rest of the project: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4
Motherboard and CPU
Obviously locking down the CPU for the build was important. This build actually started all the way back at the start of the year. At the time the options were a little more limited, but AMD's plans were starting to come together. As of the Ryzen 7 launch I still hadn’t officially locked down the platform and CPU and I was seriously considering going with a Ryzen 7 CPU for the build. The problem was the lack of ITX boards being available at the time. I actually waited until April because at the Ryzen 7 launch everyone was saying that X300 boards would be coming in April, as you can tell months later those never actually came. So I eventually went with Z270 and the i7-7700K. At the time, especially with our 7700K vs the R7 1700 article, gaming performance was looking better on the 7700K. With this being for my wife, she isn’t really needing video production performance or streaming, it just needs to be fast when browsing the internet and playing games.
So once I established that we were going to use the i7-7700K I had to pick a motherboard. ITX options are a little better than AM4 but I was really only considering two motherboards. The Strix Z270I Gaming from Asus and the Gigabyte Z270N Gaming 5. Honestly, either board is a solid pick. I especially love the metal cover that Gigabyte uses but while the orange is my preferred color it didn’t really fit the pink/blue/purple look we decided to go with on this build. The Strix board, on the other hand, had a neutral theme with the RGB lighting to let us set it to match. Because of that, I went with that board, but it was close. The open design of the Core P1 case forced me to heavily weigh aesthetics.
Even with the AIO kit installed, the board looks great installed in the case.
You can check out more details on the Asus Strix Z270I Gaming in my full review HERE. I also covered the Gigabyte board as well HERE. If I were picking out the components today, not months ago would I still be going with the same configuration? Ryzen 7 would be getting a lot more consideration, that is for sure. It is powerful and would allow more flexibility in the future, the only problem is there still aren’t a ton of ITX options. What is available are mostly in the black and red themes as well. I’m hoping that Asus still brings out an AM4 ITX option or two to potentially have a Strix color neutral option as well as potentially having more features and connection options on an Impact model. If they do, I would even consider changing her to it later on.
Just like with the CPU I knew that my biggest focus with this build was to make sure it would handle any games thrown at it now and over the next few years. The secondary focus was making sure the card would match the rest of the build. My wife plays a surprising amount of ultra demanding games so I needed to go a little over the top but given her gaming resolution of 1080p, I didn’t have to go with the top of the line. A GTX 1080 would do just fine and it just so happened the perfect card came in. Asus sent over the GTX 1080 11Gbps Strix card.
After testing it I found that anything, even with settings completely cranked would be an issue at 1080p and it also ran cool. Given that the video card in my wifes PC is really the only part that gets regular updates I wanted something that ran cooler and quieter than a Founders Edition because I wouldn’t be including it in the water cooling loop. You can check out my full review but the Strix was solid in all of my testing. The noise wasn’t the best with the fans turned all the way up, but at normal speeds it was quiet and it was literally the coolest running card that I had tested at the time.
As for aesthetics, I planned on having the card sitting vertical, facing out of the glass side of the Core P1 so the card did need to look good as well. It just so happened the Strix theming here does well with the Strix theme of our motherboard. In addition, Asus also including some lighting without going overboard with it. All in all, other than maybe going with the Strix GTX 1080 Ti I don’t think we could get a better card for this build. It is fast, cool, and quiet on the performance side and it is going to look great as well when lit up in RGB lighting that matches the theme.
Memory and Storage
It's funny how sometimes companies are jumping at the chance to be involved with a build, but when you get to cheaper hardware you sometimes can’t get ahold of anything. The original plan was to go with RGB memory for this build. Specifically the Corsair or G-Skill models. Both were all for being involved but had to back out later because of a lack of availability. The DRAM shortages this year left stock short and us without memory to go with. I dug through what I had in the office and the HyperX Fury kits that I use on our test benches were a good choice. They don’t light up or do anything fancy, but they are reasonably quick and the black heatspreader on top will at least blend in with everything else. The two sticks give her 16 gigs of ram and run at 2666MHz. I, of course, can never leave things alone though, I may order an RGB kit later as I finish up the build.
For an SSD the NAND shortages are even worse than the DRAM shortages. I literally couldn’t beg for a drive if my life depended on it. None the matter, to at least get things rolling I pillaged a large capacity Patriot Ignite from my Fridge build. It isn’t NVME or M.2 but it is still quick for a SATA SSD and that’s really all I need. My wife has been living off of a normal hard drive for years now. Her SSD died and after everything was installed on a hard drive she wouldn’t let me wipe it and start over. So I imagine it is going to be like she crawled out of the dark ages even at these speeds.
Then to cap things off I did still need more capacity for all of her games. I upgraded her from a 1TB drive to a much faster 6TB Seagate SSHD. Not only does it have MORE than enough capacity for the next few years for her, but it also is going to be quicker on transfer speeds than her current drive. All in all, I was still able to gather together solid picks for all three of the needed components. There are still a few more things to finish on the build though, who knows what I might find or buy!