Build a 1080p gam­ing



WE’LL BE HON­EST, even if AMD hadn’t sent us two cards to test “by ac­ci­dent,” we would have prob­a­bly still had a crack at stack­ing an RX 590 into our monthly “Build It.” It’s an in­ter­est­ing re­lease, at least on pa­per, if only be­cause it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We gave the RX 580 a lot of flak when it first launched, due to the fact that, spec for spec, it was iden­ti­cal to the RX 480, al­beit with a lit­tle ex­tra clock speed. Fast-for­ward an­other year, and bam! We’re wit­ness to a card with the same in­ter­nal hard­ware spec­i­fi­ca­tions (although, ap­par­ently, it’s a 12nm card now), and a slightly higher clock speed. Yay! Just kid­ding— it sucks. This isn’t progress, but more on that later….

So, our ha­tred of ob­vi­ous re­badges aside, AMD is the name of the game with this build. We do en­joy a bit of the ol’ Ryzen love, and as we have a swanky new ROG Strix X470-F Gam­ing in house, along with a few more bud­get com­po­nents, stack­ing them to­gether seemed like an ob­vi­ous choice. It’s time to pro­duce some­thing pos­i­tively midrange, and hope­fully 1080p-bust­ing, too. Com­plete with a 250GB Sam­sung 860 Evo, a 1TB WD Blue, and 16GB of DDR4, this hex-core sys­tem should kick some se­ri­ous booty in the world of the 1080p gamer.


LET’S BREAK IT DOWN into those sweet com­po­nents. The big one is the Ryzen 5 2600X. This no-non­sense chip from AMD packs six cores, 12 threads, plenty of cache, a base clock of 3.6GHz, and a boost clock (sin­gle-core only) of 4.2GHz. It also comes with a cooler, but we’re go­ing with the not-so-low-key Cooler Mas­ter MasterAir G100M RGB, be­cause it’s rel­a­tively af­ford­able, RGB, and looks darn baller.

On top of that, we’re pack­ing in two sticks of 8GB G.Skill SniperX 3,200MT/s in ur­ban snow cam­ou­flage, so there’s no chance any­one will see it stor­ing our volatile in­for­ma­tion, at least dur­ing the win­ter months in those built-up ar­eas. We’ve also added a 250GB Sam­sung 860 Evo SSD and a 1TB West­ern Dig­i­tal Blue, to back it up with some­thing a lit­tle more con­crete. It’s the go-to gam­ing sta­ple now days, but still not some­thing to be sniffed at. 250GB of solid­state flash for the op­er­at­ing sys­tem will see our rig per­form­ing smoothly, while the ad­di­tional 1TB of slower spin­ning plat­ters will keep our game li­brary run­ning nicely. We would see it as a me­dia li­brary, too, but as more of us in the of­fice are turn­ing to streamed sources of both mu­sic and films, we do won­der just how ac­cu­rate a description that is any­more.

The weak link in the chain has to be the case. The BitFenix Enso is a fairly bud­get ATX tower that has some nice frilly RGB fea­tures em­bed­ded into the front panel, and the usual plethora of mod­ern­day crea­ture com­forts lit­ter­ing the in­te­rior, but it has one mas­sive prob­lem: air­flow. In short, the en­tirety of the front panel is solid, from top to bot­tom. The only air in­take at the front is a wedge­shaped cut-out, lo­cated be­low the feet, run­ning up to the front. It’s not an in­tu­itive de­sign at all, so you have to ei­ther be in a very cool cli­mate, be tout­ing some se­ri­ous air con­di­tion­ing, or just not care par­tic­u­larly about ther­mals.


WE DON’T AL­WAYS do it our­selves, but if you’re build­ing a rig, it’s good prac­tice to test the main com­po­nents out­side the chas­sis first. Use your moth­er­board box as an an­ti­static test bench, care­fully lay the mobo it­self on top, and start in­stalling your hard­ware. We’ve taken this op­por­tu­nity to care­fully in­stall our mem­ory, CPU, and cooler first, be­cause it’s eas­ier to do this out­side the case than in. The MasterAir’s a funny old thing; the mount­ing so­lu­tion, although se­cure, is dif­fi­cult to ac­cess. There’s a wrench in­cluded to turn the top nuts, but we found it far eas­ier to tighten them by hand.


OUR NEXT STEP was to strip the Enso down as much as we could. This in­cluded yank­ing the rather stub­born front panel off, along with the side pan­els, be­fore be­com­ing em­broiled in a bat­tle with the “Aura Sync” sticker stuck to the side of the PSU shroud. It’s all fun and games un­til it leaves a nasty white residue be­hind when you re­move it, and you spend the next 30 min­utes try­ing to clean it off with lighter fluid and a mi­crofiber cloth. As an aside, we’re also haul­ing that front 120mm fan out of the chas­sis, and re­plac­ing it with two 140mm fans we had ly­ing around, in an at­tempt to bol­ster the in­ter­nal air­flow.


THANK­FULLY, BE­CAUSE WE’VE al­ready pre-in­stalled the CPU cooler and RAM, in­stalling the moth­er­board into the chas­sis is a rel­a­tively pain­less pro­ce­dure—just make sure you find the stand-offs, which are hid­den in a lit­tle clear bag along with the case screws, tied to one of the hard drive cad­dies, first. For­tu­nately, the ROG Strix X470-F has its back­plate pre-at­tached to the moth­er­board, so there’s no for­get­ting that.


WE’VE ALSO AT­TACHED our SSD to the back of the moth­er­board tray, with the in­cluded caddy lo­cated here. There’s only one as stan­dard, but it’s a fairly pain­less ex­pe­ri­ence. It may sound ob­vi­ous, but make sure you use flat-ended SATA ca­bles for your 2.5-inch de­vices here. Also worth point­ing out is that, although you can tech­ni­cally fit a 2.5-inch HDD or hy­brid drive, it’s not ad­vis­able, be­cause the ori­en­ta­tion can lead to ad­di­tional stress on the drive and more over­all noise, due to vi­bra­tions against the rear side panel. In­stead, use the cad­dies lo­cated in front of the PSU, for 3.5-inch drives.


NEXT UP ON THE LIST is the PSU. In this case, we’re run­ning with a 600W Be Quiet! Pure Power 11. This new PSU from the Ger­man com­pany is a semi-mod­u­lar beauty, com­ing in at an im­pres­sively af­ford­able price point. Only down­side? The EPS power is a bit short, and the case isn’t that great with rout­ing, so we’ve had to thread the power ca­ble up and through the CPU socket cut-out. To do this, you have to re­move the screws that se­cure the moth­er­board, run your ca­ble through the cut-out, plug it in, then rese­cure the moth­er­board back down. It’s a bit tight, but will run ab­so­lutely fine.


LAST BUT NOT LEAST is the cen­ter­piece of our build: the XFX Radeon RX 590. It’s a beast of a card, and looks ab­so­lutely stel­lar in our sys­tem. From the an­gled GPU block to the car­bon fiber and black ven­ti­lated back­plate, it cer­tainly looks the part, and is re­ally clean, too. We also took the op­por­tu­nity to tie the two PCIe power ca­bles to­gether, be­fore cut­ting the loose end off; be­cause it’s all black, it should look fairly in­con­spic­u­ous, and keep ev­ery­thing tidy and to­gether. The last thing to do is plug in the front I/O head­ers, and we’re good to go.



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