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The Messy but Functional Build


The Fractal Design Node 202 is a really nice case, so I wanted to build a really nice PC in it.

It was originally conceived 3 years ago, when I finally got sick of my trusty but aging laptop and wanted something more. Back then it was a simple build, with a i3-6100, 8GB of RAM, and a hand-me-down GTX 750Ti.

But I wanted more, and as prices dropped and performance increased I also expected more from that computer. I tore out everything and replaced it all with a new Corsair PSU, Asus Z170I, i5-7600K with a Cryorig C7 Corsair H75, and a GTX 970 that I eventually swapped for a Founders Edition GTX 1060.


Here's a pic of the 7600K/970 build:


It was great! Until it wasn't. For a long time 4C4T was enough for me but that all changed recently, so here's my new build, in the same goshdarned case because I love it even though it's a massive pain to build in.


Intel Core i7-8700K

Corsair Hydro H75 (One fan)

Asus Strix Z390I Gaming

Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2x16GB 2666MHz)

MSI Aero GTX 1070Ti

Corsair SF450 Gold PSU

Samsung 970 Evo 500GB

Samsung 850 Evo 500GB

Samsung 860 Evo 500GB

2x Noctua NF-P12 Redux

zTy8CN0l.jpg(Just a quick pic of some of the components)

Whew, alrighty, that was one hell of an upgrade, and it's so much faster than my previous setup. You might be wondering why I deemed it "Messy but Functional", and that's because the Node 202 does NOT support liquid cooling. The only fan mounts are in the GPU compartment, so I had to get creative. Down the road, however, I plan on getting a EK Fluid Gaming kit and see what I can do with it, but that's a story for another day.


This is where I wish I took more pictures, but that simply wasn't on my mind as I was busy fighting a tangled mess of cables and wires (and I cable managed it before, too!).

I installed everything just fine, and that wasn't the hard part. I installed the CPU and RAM into the motherboard beforehand, and four screws later they were in. Old SSD and HDDs came out, new ones went in. Mounted the cooler and rotated it 90 degrees relative to the previous setup as the vrm heatsink ended up kinking the tubes otherwise. I plugged it in, as well as my mouse and keyboard, and it booted up first try.


Yes! I was gonna finally have a baller machine that could both play games and play youtube at the same time! I'm just going to dial in a basic OC and we'll be off to the races! 


That wasn't what happened.


You see, the 8700K is a HOT chip, and a small 120mm aio ain't gonna cut it. The CPU was idling in the BIOS at 60 degrees C. From what I garnered from the internet, you either want a large tower cooler (nope), or a 240/280 rad (also nope). You might also want to delid and LM the thing, while you're at it.




The hard part was the next two hours of me taking everything apart and putting it back together, swapping thermal compound, slamming my head on my desk as I realized I was going to have to liquid metal the cpu, and all sorts of good times :D 


I used Phobya LM under the IHS and Arctic Silver 5 on top. To maximize contact and heat transfer I ended up lapping the IHS with 400 grit sandpaper on glass. I almost went too far as a teeny bit of copper shone through on the side. Then I remembered that I had yet to swap out the fans, and spent another 15 minutes routing the cables for those. After one final check over everything, I plugged it in for what I hoped was the last time in a good long time.



Well, crap.


Let me explain. The Node 202 only has 2 internal 2.5" drive bays, which had housed the WD Blue SSD I was using as a boot drive. It was replaced by 2 Samsung SSDs intended for RAID. I had the WD Blue on an external hard drive dock, not knowing that windows doesn't like booting the entire OS off of a USB device. So guess what...




I had to open it up again, plug the old SSD into the motherboard, boot and transfer files with Samsung's software (Which took an hour, holy!)

In the end, after about 3 hours of pain and suffering (first world problems, I know) I got it into Windows. Finally.


Then I spent the entire weekend tuning the snot out of it and settled on 5.0Ghz at 1.195v, which only gets up to 80C at load. RAM I kept stock since there was little airflow and I didn't want any more heat than necessary, and the GPU was a massive upgrade from my 1060, able to drive 3 1080p monitors at 144hz no problem :) 


(15 minutes of Aida 64 later)


So, what do I have to show for all this? A black box that looks nothing out of the ordinary, ignoring the external fan, and is crazy powerful but stupidly quiet. Would I recommend this to anyone? No, unless you want to drive yourself crazy because oh my god was this a hell of a lot harder than I expected it to be.


Thanks for reading!

Current Project: Xbox 360 Ryzen Sleeper Budget Build

Daily Driver: Asus ROG Flow X13 - 5900HS/3050Ti

Gaming Desktop: NCase M1 - 5800X/3060Ti


Past Devices:

Razer Book 13 - i7-1165G7, 16/256GB

Gigabyte Aero 15x - i7-8750H, GTX 1070MQ, 32/512+512GB

Dell XPS 13 9360 - i5-8250u, 8/256GB

Mi Notebook Air - i5-8250u, MX150, 8/512GB

Ideapad S500 Touch - i5-3337u, GT720M, 8/256GB

Macbook A1181 (Late 2006) - C2D T7200, 4/512GB


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the amount of time people are willing to spend to have a small machine blows my mind... 


but, this is still very very nice. 


MacBook Pro 13" Early 2015 | i5 5257U | Intel Iris 6100 | 8GB Ram | 120GB SSD | macOS Monterey

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