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.
1 OUTSIDE THE BOX
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.
2 NO FERRARI
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.
3 MOTHERBOARD IN
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.
5 SOLID-STATE SNEAKINESS
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.
6 RADEON FOREVER
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.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: EASY
LENGTH OF TIME: 1–3 HOURS