Joined on 12/19/12
More than I could have hoped for!
Pros: This card is bullet proof. It's quiet and reliable and I can't seem to get it to run above 59 degrees Celsius, regardless of what I throw at it. I've looked at countless YouTube videos and have read as many reviews as possible, but I haven't encountered coil whine, out-of-control temperatures, fragmenting or any other problems described by people, ALL of whom are probably much more experienced than myself at building a gaming PC. The ONLY thing which I did which might seem to be unusual, was to order a back plate for the GPU. So many of the videos and written reviews complained about the "missing" back plate and the possibility of the card bending due to it's weight, that I went the extra mile and ordered one (thank you, Performance PCs!!!) The exhaustive installation How-To video, produced by Tiny Tom Logan of OC3D, was a Godsend to this complete PC noob...
Cons: The only possibility which I can think of might be the non-included back plate. There was a $20 rebate from EVGA, and that covered the cost of it. So, all in all, it cost me an additional $3 USD in shipping and handling. The back plate looks great and I know that it will help to keep the card from bending, so it's all good.
Overall Review: People are going to love this card, and people are going to hate this card. Human nature is just that, and we all have different experiences and opinions. My opinion of this card is that it's first-rate. I'm a complete PC noob; the instructions to install the card were perfectly written and easily understandable. So maybe a back plate should be included with this card. I'm not going to complain about it as the EVGA rebate covered the cost of one and I was out a whopping $3 USD to have it shipped when all was said and sifted. Should I have ponied up the extra cash to order the GTX980 Ti? Perhaps, but I am happy with this perfectly working product from EVGA and I can recommend it to anyone who wants a superbly designed and functioning graphics card.
Fractal Design S Silent -- Noob proof and a great first-time case
Pros: Caveat - This is my attempt to build a PC. My former gamer PC was built for me by my brother, who designs both computer hardware and software. He put me onto NewEgg, as well as different YouTube channels and told me that I was going to have to learn to do it myself for my next gaming PC. After watching a few hundred YouTube vids from NewEgg, LinusTechTips, Hardware Canucks, OC3D, JayzTwoCents and others, I finally got up the nerve to go ahead and purchase everything that I would need to build a decent gaming PC. The list: Define S Case Asus Z97-Pro WiFi MB Intel 4790K CPU 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws X Series RAM EVGA SuperNova P750 PS EVGA GeForce GTX980 SC w/ACX 2.0 Back plate for GPU (GREAT recommendations from Jay and Linus here!) Corsair H105 CPU cooler (being a total noob, I didn't want to have to contend with dealing with programming of the thing!) w/2 extra Corsair Air Series SP12 120mm fans for push/pull Samsung 850 Evo 250 Gig SSD Swiftech 8-Way PWM Splitter Box - SATA From the computer which my brother had built for me, I already had two WD 1-TB Black HDDs and an Asus Xonar Essence STX Sound Card, as well as an incredible supply of Velcro ties and straight SATA connectors (I read about the dilemmas some people had regarding this, and was VERY glad to have them!) So, to the build... Not knowing what I was doing, I did the unthinkable and READ every manual which came with all of the components and watched another few dozen YouTube videos on assembling a PC from scratch. I was grounded by two different grounding straps, as the static electricity builds up to extreme levels in my area and I didn't want to fry anything. I did the initial build/testing on the MB box, as has been fully explained in almost every How To Build vid, and the components passed with flying colors. I was very nervous about cleaning the thermal paste off the CPU (using the included CPU fan for the initial test), but the isopropyl alcohol/coffee filter method worked a treat, and everything was ready to go. For the Corsair H105, I took the LONG screws with me and went to the Ace Hardware near the house to purchase an additional 16 screws w/washers (extras just in case), to be able to attach the fans in push/pull config, and mounted them to the upper portion of the front of the case, with the 140mm fan on the bottom (LOADS of air flow, to be certain that things would remain cool). The case allowed for VERY easy positioning of the PWM splitter on the top rear section where one of the 3 HDDs could be located, as well as routing the 5 fan cables to it. I kept the second 140mm included fan where it was originally located as the air exit fan. The MB went in flawlessly, as Fractal Design had included everything necessary to install the MB, and there were two stand offs extra, which was a very nice touch. Also, the Power Supply was a snap to install, as the case gave me so much space in which to work. The SSD and two 1-TB HDDs were extremely easy to mount in the back of the case. I was intimidated when it came to attaching the CPU cooling block, and was pleasantly surprised that it was a snap, again due to the room provided in the case. Next came the RAM, GPU and Sound Card. All went in without a fuss. The "hard" part was installing all of the cables, as I wanted a "clean" build both front and back, and so it was back to the YouTube videos on cable management... Five hours in all, I had a PC which posted perfectly. A call to Asus Customer Support put me in touch with a CSR who really knew what he was doing, and he talked me through the steps to locate all of the correct drivers, and instructed me as to the order in which to install them (he even went further and helped me with installing Windows 7 Ultimate and then overclocking the system. I know that most people want the latest and greatest, but I had been warned to go with a tried and true OS, since I was a complete noob). The BEST thing of all of this was the fact that there was so much room in the case and that it all worked flawlessly from the very beginning. Fractal Design has created a Computer Case which is so convenient and is truly Noob Proof! I have to doubt that I could have managed this in another case, even though most people would disagree with this sentiment. I've read the reviews, both good and bad, regarding this case, and I have to say that I am more than pleasantly surprised. Dust management is excellent, and I have yet to be able to get the CPU above 58 degrees Celsius, even when under high load. The push/pull fan set up on the radiator, coupled with the two incredibly efficient 140mm Fractal Design case fans, are remarkable in their cooling abilities and are amazingly quiet. Kudos to Fractal Design on creating a case which is so user friendly!
Cons: Perhaps the only criticism, if it is one, would be that there are only two USB ports on the front of the case, and that the front cover is plastic, but that's just knit picking, considering the extremely good price point. The build quality of the case is excellent and I can't fault anything, to be honest.
Overall Review: I've waited a few months since building this system, just to be sure and certain that everything was running as it ought. I cannot say anything bad about this case. It's extremely quiet, elegantly designed, and doesn't shout for attention with garish colors or extravagant lighting pyrotechnics (I would leave that to the window version!!). I'm happy in the extreme and will look to Fractal Design in the future when it's time to build a new PC.