My Custom Gaming Computer
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(updated December 02, 2016)

What I'm Playing my Games on

A custom gaming computer can be pretty expensive, but I had been saving up for one for a couple of years, so I had a pretty good budget. I spent a lot of time checking out computer companies.  I also researched all the individual components that went into my computer . . .  and I read through a ton of information to figure out how all the various parts work together in running a demanding game. Putting together a top-end gaming computer is way more than just picking the latest processor and the latest graphics card. And a awesome looking case is worthless if it doesn't provide adequate cooling (as heat build up will greatly shorten the lifespan of a computer).

Like so much else, this is all about balance. The idea is to pick components that mesh well together (it makes little sense to pick the faster processor, and then not add enough system memory). My computer is fairly expensive, but you are not going to get a high-end custom gaming computer for the same price as a mass-produced computer (that competes with all the other mass-produced computer companies, where a low price is often the biggest selling factor). If your budget is only $1500 or so, you can still get a pretty good system, by you're not going to be able to afford a top-end gaming computer. Having said that, there is point where spending more money begins to have little impact on actual gameplay performance. You can spend $9000 on a custom gaming computer, and it will likely be faster than a $3000 system . . . but it will NOT be 3 times faster . . . and (unless you are running VERY high resolutions on multiple monitors), it may be difficult to see any difference in real gameplay between the two systems.

Initially I had budgeted $2500, but this ended up being a bit low for what I had decided that I wanted in this build. Rather than settle for a lessor build, I increased my budget to $3000, and waited another couple of months, until I had enough saved up. The additional $500 basically covered the extra cost of a upgrading the graphics card from GTX 770 to a GTX 780 SC; and upgrading the SSD from 256GB to 512GB.

Why didn't I just build my own system: Ok, I happen to know the detail specs of every single component that went into my computer, because I picked every single one. So I know exactly what the same computer would have cost, if I had ordered all the separate parts and attempted to assemble it myself (which would have likely resulted in hours of frustration). Yes I would have saved some money if I had done that . . . but it only cost me about 15% more to buy a ready to use system.  For 15% more, I got a team of experts (instead of me, pulling my hair out) who assembled, overclocked, and stress tested my computer. I also got a 4-year warranty, and life-lime free tech support.

A little warning: There are less expensive gaming computers than my Digital Storm ODE system. But please take the time to do a bit of research before you place your order. Look VERY closely at what you are getting (look at every single component, and read ALL the fine print ... some available options by some companies will actually void their 30-day free return policy). I have been ripped off before because I was uninformed and because I trusted the owner of a company (who took advantage of my lack of technical knowledge).

On August 15, 2013, my new custom gaming computer arrived!  As you can see below, this is a MUCH faster computer than what I had been using.

Old Gaming Computer (2007): Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core AM2 5200+ @2.6GHz; 4GB DDR2@800MHz; NVIDIA GTX 260 Core 216 896MB@2106MHz; Vista 32 bit
New Gaming Computer (Aug 2013): Intel Quad Core i7 4770K@4.2GHz; 16GB DDR3@2133MHz; NVIDIA GTX 780 SC 3GB@6008MHz; Windows 8 64 bit
Upgrades made in 2016: after three years, I made the following upgrades to my system:
- Video Card Upgrade:
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming 8GD GPU @ 1860 MHz in OC Mode
- Added a second SSD: Samsung 850 EVO 1 TB internal SSD
- New Speakers (my old ones were pretty worn out after 6 years of gaming): Logitech Z623 Speaker System with Subwoofer, 200W.
- Upgraded to Windows 10.

Current Desktop (Gaming) PC:

- Computer Company and Model: Digital Storm ODE (Level 3 initial configuration)
- Case: Corsair Special Edition White Graphite CC600TW Mid-Tower
- Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell 3.5GHz Quad-Core (overclocked to 4.2 MHz) [PassMark CPU Mark = 11,531]
- Motherboard: ASUS Z87-Deluxe
- Memory: 16GB DDR3 2133 Digital Storm Certified Performance Series CL10 (10-11-11-30)
- Power Supply: 1050W Corsair Pro Silver 1050HX (Dual/Triple/Quad SLI Compatible)
- Expansion Bay: Internal Digital Media Card Reader (Black)
- Hard Drive: Samsung 512GB 2.5-inch SSD 840 Pro Series
- Second Hard Drive: 1TB Western Digital Black
- Optical Drive: ASUS AD-7241S 24x DVD±R/RW
- Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming 8GB
- Sound Card: Integrated Motherboard Audio [Realtek ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio]
- Extreme Cooling: Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 Extreme Performance
- Operation System: Windows 10 - 64 bit
- Speakers: Logitech Z623 Speaker System with Subwoofer, 200 Watts total (added in 2016)
From my previous system:
- Monitor: Viewsonic VX2439wm 23.6" Widescreen Full HD 1080p LCD (1920x1080 - 16:9) [Jan 2011]
- Mouse: Razer DeathAdder – Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

- Keyboard: Logitech G110 Gaming Keyboard [2012]
- Headset: Corsair Vengeance 1500 USB Connector Dolby 7.1 Gaming Headset

This is a VERY fast gaming computer. I selected every single component that went into my build, and special ordered my motherboard and graphics card. My goal was to make sure that all the components would work well together, in giving me the best performance I could afford. Here are some of the reasons why my build includes the following specific components:

- 16GB of system RAM (instead of 8): X-Plane 10's 64-bit version can actually use all 16GBs (also true of other 64-bit games).
- 2133MHz high-speed RAM: may not necessarily increase FPS, but it will reduce stutters.
- Overclocked CPU: all 4 cores run up to 4.2GHz (with Intel's turbo mode, only the primary core is increased, up to 3.9 GHz). Having my Haswell 4770K overclocked by about 10% was also included for free.  And one reason why I chose the 4770K processor was because it could be overclocked. X-Plane 10 also benefits from the additional virtual cores I get with hyperthreading.
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming 8GB: When I ordered my computer in 2013, it came with an EVGA GeForce GTX 780. This worked great with all the games at the time, but it only had 3 GB of VRAM, which I discovered was not quite enough for my most demanding flight sims (Prepar3D and X-Plane 10). So, after 3 years of dealing with out-of-memory (OOM) crashes, I upgraded to this high end card (after finding a great 'Black Friday' sale price). This took care of the weakest part of my PC, basically doubling my frame rates in most games and sims, and solved my OOM issues.
- ASUS Z87-Deluxe motherboard: I wanted the best motherboard I could afford (it was the motherboard that failed in my previous computer); I also needed WiFi (plus Bluetooth), which is on-board (instead of a separate card), and this motherboard has better on-board audio than what you get with all but the most expensive sound cards. This special order was much less expensive than if I had gotten the standard motherboard, and added a WiFi card, and a Sound card.
- 1050 watt Power Supply: need if I want to add a second GTX 780 in SLI (which my motherboard also supports).
- Windows 10 OS: You will only get the full benefits of DirectX 12, if you have Windows 10 (I upgraded from WIN 8.1 in May 2016).

The knob on top is the speed control for the fans. The 8" stool raise the fan intakes out of range of dust bunnies.

Current Laptop  - purchased in June 2010 (mainly used for work, but I do have a few games on it):

- Computer: Dell Studio XPS 1645
- Operation System: Windows 10 Home Premium 64 bit (2016 upgrade)
- Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU Q 720 Processor at 1.6GHz (4 cores, 8 threads), 1.33MHz Bus, 1MB X 2 Cache
- Memory: 6 GB DDR3
- Graphics Adapter: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5730 1.0 GB
- Monitor: 15.6" Widescreen (1920X1080) Active Matrix LCD

I have the Red one.

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