This build log is going to be a bit on the personal side. The fact is, at its core, Corsair is a cadre of geeks with shared interests trying to make cool stuff. A lot of companies want to project being “cool” or “rock stars,” but the reality here is that our products are conceived and designed by a bunch of people who are just trying to produce something they’d use. Why am I laboring over the notion that Corsair is ultimately a fairly human organization? Because, well, human things happen to us.
At the end of August, I had a very good friend die in a motorcycle accident. He was in his early thirties, driving home from work as a district supervisor for DHS out of Oakland, California. Hit a bad patch of asphalt, lost control of his motorcycle, went under a semi, and that’s all she wrote. Odds are you don’t know him, but given the number of people I saw at his memorial service, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of you did. His name was Benjamin Moreno.
Ben was a fairly serious gamer. We got into Mass Effect 3 multiplayer together, then graduated to MechWarrior Online with some of our friends. He and his wife were into Star Wars: The Old Republic and Elder Scrolls Online, and near the end had spent considerable time playing Dota 2 and Heroes of the Storm. He got me to give Dragon Age II another chance (and was right on the money). He was also a big part of my choice to join Corsair.
Outside of that, he was – regardless of your politics – an exceptional cop. Tough-minded, fair, and directly responsible for saving many lives. Before that, he was in the Air Force. Through his life, he had friends who he’d set on the right path when they’d strayed, and was generous with his time and attention. There are an awful lot of people who would be far worse off today if it hadn’t been for him.
Unfortunately, Ben left behind a widow, Risa, and a very young daughter, too young to really comprehend that her father’s not coming home. His family lives on the outskirts of the bay area, which unfortunately played a role in his passing due to the long commute. Gaming was and is a very large part of how they stayed in contact with friends.
He and I often talked about someday building him a ritzy custom loop system when circumstances and finances permitted. Since Risa is an avid gamer and plays a healthy amount of Dota 2, it seemed like building her a proper, custom loop gaming machine was the right thing to do. It didn’t have to be as fancy as his would have been, but should have plenty of horsepower for gaming, photo editing, and coding. You’re going to find the custom loop is excessive for this build, but I haven’t built a custom loop for performance reasons for a long time. The fact is that it looks cool – not just to fellow geeks, but to just about everyone.
With that said, here’s the component breakdown for the “Blight” Memorial Build, after his handle:
Corsair Carbide Air 240
His old gaming PC was built in an Air 540, so it seemed appropriate to go with its more compact cousin for the new one. This would also be an opportunity to show a custom loop operating inside this substantially smaller chassis.
Intel Core i7-5775C
We had a couple of spare Broadwell chips from internal testing. These are both remarkably powerful and remarkably efficient, and while it’s not the latest and greatest available, the i7-5775C is mighty close. Four cores, eight threads, that massive L4 cache, second in IPC only to Skylake, and a 65W TDP. The odds of being CPU limited with this chip are very low.
ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac Mini-ITX
We did our internal testing on Broadwell using this platform and found it rock solid with good overclocking potential. Given the cramped quarters of the Air 240, it seemed necessary to go with a smaller motherboard.
Corsair Dominator Platinum 2x8GB DDR3-2400 C10 with Lightbars
In my testing, I’ve found 2400MHz to be the perfect speed for DDR3 on Haswell and to a lesser extent Broadwell. 16GB of DRAM provides plenty of memory to work with for almost any task.
EVGA GeForce GTX 970
It didn’t make sense to put some monster graphics card in the build, but we definitely needed one that would be plenty powerful for gaming for the foreseeable future. NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 970 was that card, and we went with an EVGA model because of EVGA’s tendency to adhere to NVIDIA’s reference design (improving waterblock compatibility).
Corsair Force LS 960GB SSD
The Force LS was our budget line up until our TLC-based Force LE drives, but make no mistake – these drives, and the 960GB one in particular – are plenty fast. We’re at the point now where nearly a terabyte of solid state storage is no longer outrageous, and the 960GB Force LS is a highly capable drive.
Corsair HX750i 80 Plus Platinum Power Supply
The HXi series isn’t quite as popular these days with the more affordable RMi and RMx series floating around at 80 Plus Gold efficiency, but the HX750i was chosen for its compatibility with our Type 3 sleeved cables, its higher efficiency, and its ability to run fanless at the loads this system was likely to produce.
Corsair Link Commander Mini
A powerful system need not be loud. The Commander Mini lets me spin the violet SP120 LEDs in the system at minimum speed as well as control the RGB lighting strips placed on the inside of the side panel, surrounding the window.
XSPC 240mm Radiator
For this build we’re looking at a rated maximum combined TDP for the CPU and graphics card of just 210 watts. Since even an H100i GTX can cool a 350W overclocked i7-5960X without too much difficulty, I felt a single 240mm radiator in the front would be fine for these highly power-efficient components.
EKWB FC970 GTX Waterblock
The PCB of the GTX 970 is so small, and the EKWB block really shows that off. The clear acrylic surface lets the end user see the coolant running through the graphics card, which is very cool. Because the block is so much shorter than the stock cooler, it affords us room in the case to optimally place the pump/reservoir combo.
XSPC Raystorm CPU Block w/ Violet LEDs
Since this build was intended to be more showy as opposed to a crushing performer, I opted for XSPC’s Raystorm water block and violet LEDs to give the CPU the right glow.
EKWB D5 Vario XRES 100 Pump and Reservoir
I’ve had great experiences with the D5 Vario pump in my own liquid cooled build, and this combo seemed to be the perfect choice for an attractive, efficient system.
In addition to the parts used in this build, we also included a Corsair Vengeance K70 RGB keyboard, Sabre RGB Optical mouse, and our new Void RGB headset in black.
With all of the components installed, the “Blight” build looks like a fun size version of a more beastly Air 540 liquid cooled build, and that achieves exactly the intended purpose. Because of the highly efficient components, the fans never have to spin up, and everything still stays running cool and fast.
The violet (which I confess can look pink in some light) coloring was chosen for its significance to both Risa and Ben, as it’s their favorite color.
It undoubtedly seems at least a little unusual to build a computer as a memorial for the passing of a dear friend, but gaming is fast becoming an integral part of our culture. I can think of no better tribute to a community gamer than to keep his wife connected with their friends and loved ones.