I could really bite myself in the butt right now

Somehow, I managed to lose the Intel mounting bracket and standoffs for my Corsair H100i v2 liquid cooler. To be honest, I’m pretty sure I sold them together with the Intel motherboard when I switched to AMD Ryzen. Yes, you read that correctly.

Sold. With. Motherboard.

I can’t find that stuff anywhere in all the packaging that I always keep around until I throw away or sell the hardware. So that’s the only logical conclusion says Mr. Spock.

I could really bite myself in the butt right now.

You know why? Because I have a beefy Core i7 8700K waiting to be outfitted with a cooler. It’s already mounted in its socket of the motherboard which itself is already mounted in a new case. I’ve paid extra to have this nice piece of unnecessary luxury shipped overnight just in time for a long weekend of PC building and gaming. And now that. I could go out and buy a new cooler, sure, throw (a whole lot of) money at the problem. I might even go with an NZXT Kraken one, only because of the really nice looking cooler/pump unit – which is much more aesthetically pleasing than the bland, outdated Corsair variant (and I’ve already bought custom sleeves for the Corsair kit 😉).

And even though this whole computer thing is ridiculously expensive just for the sake of looks, to be honest, adding an additional 180€ for the NZXT or 130€ for a replacement Corsair 100i v2 is nothing but bananas. I can’t justify this in any way. 15 years ago, looks didn’t matter a bit. It had to be fast and for a reasonable price. Good looking computers were something for the real modders, people who got their skilled hands dirty to build custom cases or modify existing ones by cutting and welding and all that hand-crafting goodness.

Today you can buy the finest looking cases for good prices – with real glass panels! The so-called tempered glass trend for which I have fallen as well. If you were to buy your components carefully, i.e. watch out for matching colors, it’ll look good without breaking a sweat. And that’s what I was going for as well. When I look at my current case with its polycarbonate window, I see a whole lot of color anarchy. There’s no theme other than the pump and graphics card LEDs both being set to match the white of the case. Apart from that, every piece in that machine looks how it wants to.

For example, there’s a typical black motherboard, red RAM, yellow and black SATA cables, “rainbow” for the ATX power, a beautifully red sound card (with an additional freakin’ bright red LED!) and the ugly Noctua fans (which, luckily, are covered by the frame of the case) to name a few. It’s chaos.

So, this time around I wanted to consider my choices more carefully. The reason I am doing this is this damn beautifully red sound card. The Corsair Carbide Air240 is a µATX case which means I’m limited in space. Not a problem per se, but the unfortunate layout of the MSI motherboard forces me to install the sound card beneath the graphics card and thus blocking the first of three fans. I don’t like that. To solve that, I have two options:

  • Remove the sound card and use onboard sound
  • Buy a new motherboard

Removing the sound card (a Creative Soundblaster Z if anybody’s wondering) is not an option. I like its output too much. The drivers are crap, always have been with Creative, but when it’s working it sounds awesome. To me at least. The two killer features besides the sound are a headphone amp and – this is so great – a separate headphone jack. Why is it great? Because I can use the driver to switch between speakers and headphones without the need to plug or unplug anything. While some ASUS mainboards now also come with headphone amps, I haven’t seen this convenience feature anywhere. I really thought about getting the ASUS X470 ITX board and use the onboard sound (SupremeFX they call it), but I like the Soundblaster too much, despite its flaws.

Which leaves me with option #2. There are, again, two possible solutions to this. Stay on µATX and find a board with a proper layout or got to ATX. The first isn’t that simple, unfortunately. Either sound card and graphics card are tight buddies, or, if the PCIE slots are far enough apart, the bottom one is often a PCIE x16 which, when used, drops the top PCIE slot, the primary one, to PCIE x8. I don’t want that.

Which means upsizing to ATX. For that I need a new case and a new motherboard. Then began the thinking process. Should I stay with AMD Ryzen, only upgrade to X470 and wait for Zen 2, or get the fastest gaming processor that’s currently out there and switch back to Intel? I pondered and researched for about two weeks and ultimately the lower power consumption and higher gaming performance of the Core i7 persuaded me. Otherwise I might have gone with a Ryzen 2700X.

As a side note: I’m currently running a 1700X which is fine but since a new motherboard was necessary any way, I really wasn’t sure if it was worth buying a new motherboard and stick with the slower gaming CPU all the while hoping Zen 2 will kick more ass for less power and support all its potential features on X470 – which Zen+ does not on X370/B350.

Now I’m wondering “What’s my point?”. I think I’ve made it earlier when I basically wrote that I’m a moron. Somehow, I always get side-tracked when I’m writing and then I start spewing words into Word until I get to the end of the second page and then ask myself how I got there. It’s like alcohol. All’s nice and shiny in the beginning and it seems like a good idea to continue and later on you think how you got to this state and why you let it happen.

I digress, again. At least this post has more theme to it than my current PC build…

Anyway, here I am, with a new case, motherboard, CPU, RAM, NVME SSD, Cablemod extensions for my power supply and a Cablemod sleeve for the AiO. But nothing to mount the AiO. If you’re as stupid as I am, or just clumsy and you misplaced or broke it, Corsair sells mounting kits in their store. Of course, I ordered them with express delivery, because I want it now. Let’s see how fast “express” is to them, because when I ordered the AM4 mounting kit with standard shipping it took about two weeks. So “express” may be one week?

Now that I’ve teased what I’m trying to achieve I might write another post when the computer is fully assembled to show how it looks. Until then, I guess I have to thank you for reading over 1000 words for something that was basically done after 200.

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