After living with an ancient Phenom-II 965BE-based system for years, I decided to finally treat myself to an upgrade. I'd had most of these parts earmarked for quite a while, but I only had a budget of $800. Luckily I managed to take advantage of some really great Black Friday deals and, once I included taxes, I managed to just barely squeak in under the $800 mark. Despite the usual holiday-time shipping fiascos, it was a pretty streamlined build experience and I'm really pleased with the end result. The system plays games like a champ and looks so great in person!
I realize I could have skipped out on the RGB fans and the liquid cooler and probably could have used the price difference to bump up to a Zen+ processor and a 580, but I decided that since I'm only gaming at 1080p and I'll likely be upgrading to the 3000 series chips and Navi in a year or two anyway, I'd treat myself to some RGB goodness and use the AIO to dial in a nice strong overclock to get the most out of my $130 CPU as possible. Besides, I've never had a liquid cooler before and with it on sale for $50, this seemed like a great opportunity to pop that cherry. Looking at the completed system and the fact that it still manages 1080p@60 with zero issues on all of the games I play, I'm happy with my decision to splurge on a little cosmetic flair.
Pros of the Build:
I apparently got very lucky with the silicon lottery on my CPU and GPU. I was able to dial in a rock-solid 4.0ghz at 1.325v on my CPU with plenty of thermal headroom remaining. My GPU was able to get an 11% overclock (to 1420mhz) with a 100mv undervolt, a memory overclock to 2250mhz, and never tops 75C even with the fan limit set to 2,500rpm, which is barely audible. Extremely pleased with my final overclocks on each component.
So quiet! Even with a total of 8 fans (3 intake, 3 exhaust, plus the GPU), at full load, I can barely hear the fans in this system running. The RF120 case fans are an amazing value in terms of airflow, noise, and lighting quality. Not only that, but they move plenty of air, keeping internal temps nice and col.
The Geil memory was a bit of a gamble, but I put my faith in that 'Ryzen Approved' sticker and it paid off. Utterly stable and worry-free after activating the built-in 3,000mhz XMP profile. And the RGB is very slick. Not as well diffused as the Trident Z or Vengeance RGB kits, but still very attractive in person. Pictures don't do it justice. Awesome value at the price I paid.
I didn't know I could be more in love with the Meshify C than I already was, but somehow I am. Between the aesthetics, the airflow, the zero-wasted-spaced dimensions, and the simple but effective cable management options, it just makes building a system such a streamlined experience.
The UpHere! PSU cable extensions are absurdly high quality for how little they cost. They feel and look great and even come with cable combs included, all for less than $30! Awesome value.
The RGB really pops in this case- including the front fans, which shine through the front mesh in such a way that they really highlight that unique front panel design. I'm really happy I chose the white version with the clear tempered glass, as I feel it really helps diffuse and maximize the light spill of the components. Really makes it feel like a showcase piece instead of just another dark box with some LED's inside. Also, you can set a separate RGB profile in the bios and another one in the app, meaning my system does the whole mult-colored disco dance while it's going through the boot procedure, but then switches to the nice clean two-tone theme once the desktop is loaded. Just a stupid little thing that makes me happy.
Cons of the Build:
That being said, RGB Fusion is a horribly clunky and outdated piece of software. Even accounting for the fact that I went into this knowing that a B350 motherboard would not feature addressable RGB headers, I still expected more customization options in terms of controlling different segments of the RGB-equipped hardware. Thankfully I was able to get the color scheme and separation I was hoping for by playing fast and loose with the combination of RGB headers and the sync cabling and splitters that came with the CoolerMaster AIO and Deepcool case fans. Now the AIO pump is on the same circuit as the motherboard RGB, while all of the fans share their own circuit.
If I could do it again, I would have bought sleeved replacement PSU cables instead of extensions. Don't get me wrong- I LOVE how the extensions look, but boy do they add a lot of cable length! Even in a case as focused on cable management as the Meshify C, there's only so much room for that much excess PSU cable.
Speaking of cable management, be sure you pre-plan your cable routing and make sure everything is going to match up right before you commit to parts- especially RGB components. RGB adds a TON of extra cable clutter, on top of the usual PWM and SATA connectors. You're going to have to get creative when it comes time to wrangle all of that spaghetti into something even remotely organized.
The Geil DDR4 memory is deceptively tall and the Cooler Master AIO is deceptively thick. This almost turned out quite badly for me, but I was able to adjust the AIO position just right to where the RAM heatsinks just barely clear the radiator fans without actually touching them.
It doesn't matter how careful you are, what kind of gloves you wear, or how well you wipe it down- that tempered glass side panel WILL smudge.
The one way I would improve the Meshify C is that I wish the PCI bracket area was more like the Cooler Master H500 series cases or the Lian-Li PC-011 cases where there are no built-in dividers outside of the removable covers. In those cases, if you remove all of the covers, there's a nice clean full size opening that lets you use an aftermarket vertical GPU bracket if you wanted to. If that had also been a feature on this case, it would be absolutely perfect in my opinion.
An absolute workhorse of a CPU and an amazing value. At 6 cores, 12 threads, it was a good deal at $200 when it debuted a year ago and so when I saw it on sale for $130 on Black Friday, it was a no-brainer to snatch it up. While the 2600 is a bit faster, it wasn't enough of a performance jump to justify the additional cost.
I also got very lucky with the silicon lottery on this one. I was able to very easily dial in a rock-steady 4.0GHz overclock at 1.325v without any hassle whatsoever.
For $50-$70, depending of what the deals are when you're picking this up, it does its job and does it well enough I really can't think of any reason to not recommend it if you're wanting a solid AIO on a budget.
The long thumb screws make installing the fans to the radiator a simple affair, even if I would recommend tightening them a bit farther with a screwdriver once they are in place. The mounting hardware for the CPU was also easy to figure out, though I had to fish around in the Intel baggie for the proper machine screws for the AM4 brackets. Mounting was easy enough and the swivel fittings on the pump for the hoses are invaluably convenient for final organization and aesthetics.
The fans are a good compromise between airflow, static pressure, and noise. Like the rest of the unit, they don't excel at any one thing, but they're decently competent and above grade for the price. They're not as quiet or as brightly lit as some other fans, but considering the price I have no complaints. However, please pay attention to the total thickness of the radiator with the fans screwed in. At 52mm in total thickness, I just BARELY had enough clearance for the heatsinks on my RAM modules when top-mounting the radiator, so keep that in mind when deciding on placement and fitment for your components.
The non-addressable RGB is suitably bright and evenly spaced on both the fans and the pump. Be aware that the pump and fans all use their own separate RGB cables and PWN cables and if you want your fans to be able to do a different color than the pump, you'll need to put the pump on a different RGB header like I did. I didn't have to use the inline controller, as my motherboard includes 4-pin RGB headers, so I can't comment on the controller.
In terms of cooling, it does its job and does it well. I have the radiator mounted as a top exhaust on my case and even with my Ryzen 5 1600 overclocked to 4.0GHz, I have never seen more than 63 degrees Celcius when running a CPU+GPU stress test for multiple hours.
So in terms of performance, build quality, assembly, and lighting, it's an awesome value and I can easily recommend it for those things. My only complaint is the installation instructions- they're simply awful. In typical Cooler Master fashion, all you get is a simple multi-fold pamphlet with vague illustrations and almost no written instructions. However, since that doesn't actually affect the performance of this cooler, I decided not to deduct a star.
I picked this up for $60 on Black Friday, but I'd had my eye on it well before then after reading/watching a fair number of reviews. For that price, it's an obscene value, but once it goes back up to the $90+ range, it has to deal with some steep competition in the B350/B450 arena. But at $60? I couldn't be more pleased.
I'll tackle the one weakness first: The VRM's aren't the most amazing, but so long as you have decent airflow in your case and you're not dialing in absurd overclocks, they should be fine.
As far as the rest of the board, it's really solid. The ports are plentiful with a good selection, the installation instructions are clear with a really well-made manual, the BIOS is easy to access and navigate, the audio codec is fantastic, and the RGB looks great. The only thing I could have any level of complaint about is the fact that there are only 2 RGB headers on the board. A third header would have been nice, but for the price I can't really complain. There's also no Type-C port but I don't really care about that.
On the topic of RAM compatibility, since I know that's a concern with B350 boards, I updated my drivers and the BIOS before dialing in any sort of overclocks on the CPU or RAM, but once it was up to date, it had zero issue accessing the built-in XMP profile on the RAM, so no worries about that.
Overall, with the B450 boards already on the market and the B550 on their way as well, the time is up for this board. However, if you can get it for anywhere under $80, I wholeheartedly recommend it as a true value proposition.
I didn't know a whole lot about this company before I bought this RAM. I was trying to get some Team group RAM on Black Friday, but they were out of stock and this was one of my alternatives. After checking a couple reviews and researching the general reliability, I decided to give it a shot- mainly because it was within my budget, was 3,000mhz speed, and was apparently 'Ryzen Approved'. It was also RGB, which was an unexpected bonus for this price range.
Having used it, I have to say it's great. The XMP profile for the 3,000mhz overclock loaded without a hitch and the RGB looks fantastic. The heat spreaders for the modules are pretty tall, though, so you may want to check clearances first. I almost didn't have enough room for my top-mounted AIO radiator with this modules, but it just barely fit with less than a mm left.
I tried overclocking it to 3,200mhz just to see if it would take and it didn't. 3,133mhz seemed pretty stable, but didn't show much of a performance increase, so I just set it back to the 3,000mhz profile. I'm not going to knock a star off for this though, because the modules are rated for 3,000mhz, not 3,200mhz, so they do exactly what they're advertised to do.
Also, the RGB lighting synced up perfectly with the RGB Fusion software on my motherboard and was easily controllable. If you don't have any sort of software to control them with, they do a simple smooth color cycle that I find pretty tasteful.
Overall, for $105 I think these are a really good value.
It's fast, lightweight, surprisingly affordable, and the software for it is intuitive, effective, and isn't a resource hog. I use this as my primary boot drive and I'm really happy with it. From OFF to Desktop in under 10 seconds. Less than 5 seconds if I have Fast Boot turned on in my Bios.
I haven't done any data transfer rate tests or anything, so I don't have any hard numbers for that area, but you can check pre-existing reviews for that information. For myself? It's plenty fast in everything I've used it for and I'm very pleased with it.
Alright, so I wasn't expecting amazing things out of this card. It's known to be one of the lower-end cards out there and it was only $150 on Black Friday, so I knew what I was getting into and my expectations were appropriately realistic. While decent-looking, the heat shroud is standard plastic, there's no backplate, no RGB or lighting whatsoever, and the heatsink and heat pipes feel a little undersized, but for basic 1080p60 gaming and light video editing, I figured it would be fine until the Navi GPU's were released and I could upgrade to one of them.
After playing with this for a few days, I have to say I'm really surprised at the level of performance I was able to squeeze out of this thing. I'm guessing I got really lucky with the silicon lottery on this one, but I was able to get a stable 11% overclock, all the way up to 1420mhz, with the voltage dropped from 1150mv to 1050mv, and the memory cranked up to the max of 2250mhz. With the undervolt in place, temperatures never exceed 74 degrees, meaning the fans rarely go past 2,400rpm, which means they are barely even audible. These settings proved stable after hours of Heaven Benchmark, MSI Kombuster, and various games such as Destiny 2, Warframe, and Overwatch.
Outside of a difference of a couple hundred stream processors, I basically got RX 580 levels of performance out of a $150 RX 570, along with 2 free games. My gaming FPS backs this up too, as I'm easily hitting 80-100fps at highest or ultra settings on nearly every game I play. Overall I'm pleasantly surprised at the performance of this card. I realize a large part of that is luck, as most other people I've talked to have only managed about a 5% stable overclock, but for my personal experience? It's been great.
I am still a little disappointed at the lack of a backplate and lighting, but I understand why they're not there and at this price range I can't really knock them for the lack of those features. The card is lightweight enough that sag is minimal, meaning the need for a backplate is minimal as well. In terms of lighting? Yeah, a backlit logo or something would have been nice, but again, it's understandable considering the target price and demographic. Since those are mostly cosmetic issues that don't really affect performance, I won't be detracting from my rating because of them.
I am utterly in love with this case. It is an absolute dream to build in, with just the right balance of form and function. Airflow is amazing. Cable management is easy and simple with the included velcro straps, grommetted cutouts, and enlarged front channel area. Fan mounting points are plentiful, appropriately offset, and the dust filters are easily accessible. And while I love that this case isn't as long as most other mid-towers, be aware that the truncated length can limit the size of GPU you can use, especially if you're using a front-mounted radiator, so just check those measurements. If something doesn't fit, it's on you.
Overall, I think this is one of the best cases ever made for under $100 and I couldn't be happier with my decision to use it for my build.
I grabbed this puppy for $40 on Black Friday and I'm so happy with it. It's admittedly overkill for my system, but it gives me plenty of headroom for expanding and upgrading down the road. The packaging is super high-end, the modular cables are high quality, all-black, and clearly labeled. The PSU itself is dead silent and very efficient.
Best value 1440p high refresh rate monitor on the market, hands down- At least at the time of this writing (July 2019). I picked this up for $300 and it's been worth every penny. The panel has beautiful color accuracy, nearing IPS territory and beating many VA panels I've seen, with a wonderful 1ms response time that has minimal ghosting if you keep it at the 'Normal' or 'Fast' settings. Freesync through the HDMI 2.0 port works flawlessly on the 'fast' setting, giving a very smooth gaming experience with no tearing to be found. Viewing angles are good but not great, which is going to happen with a TN panel. Same with contrast and brightness- good but not amazing.
Another added bonus- using a proper DisplayPort 1.2 cable, I was able to use G-Sync without a problem via a 1080ti FTW3 that a friend let me borrow/test. I didn't experience any flickering or visual artifacts in Forza Horizon 4, Apex Legends, Destiny 2, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, or Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The only difference is the sync floor- 55hz vs 40hz with Freesync. But from 55hz all the way up to 155hz, it performed perfectly.
I can't comment on the stand, as I immediately mounted the display on a monitor arm using the available VESA mounting points.
The built-in USB 3.0 4-port hub works great and is the perfect place to put wireless dongles for bluetooth, mouse, keyboard, etc.
The buttons on the bottom right are hard to see, but easy to feel. The UI is standard fare and functions as needed, even if it's not flashy.
The build quality of the panel itself is fantastic. It feels sturdy and well put together. A simple, professional aesthetic that eschews the typical 'Gamer Flair' that can look childish at times means this monitor will fit in fine in any environment. The physical bezels, aside from the bottom chin, are small, but there are larger in-display bezels that aren't visible when the panel is off. These bezels aren't overly large and are what I'd consider 'standard' size. The screen is matte with what seems to be a decent anti-glare coating.
The monitor only ships with an HDMI 2.0 cable in addition to the power cable and USB 3.0 pass-through cable. If you want to use the 155hz refresh rate or G-Sync, you will need to purchase a DisplayPort 1.2 or better cable yourself, so keep that in mind. The provided HDMI 2.0 cable, when plugged into the appropriate port, works great all the way up to 144hz, but will not allow you to overclock the monitor to the 155hz max refresh rate.
For the picture quality, feature set, and G-Sync compatibility, if you see this thing anywhere close to $300, grab it. You won't regret it.
Dead silent, pushes plenty of air, and the RGB lighting is bright, smoothly diffused from the hub along the fan blades, and syncs up with zero problems with my RGB Fusion software. Comes with anti-vibration pads pre-installed. The PWM and RGB cables are a little on the short side, so make sure you plan your cable routing accordingly.
I can't believe these are under $30. They look and feel like a much more expensive set of extensions. The sleeving is a very tight weave with a slightly glossy look, making the white versions great at reflecting ambient case lighting. The sleeving is also a thicket gauge than most budget kits, giving them that full appearance that everybody wants.
The connections are very secure and they included plenty of cable combs to keep that nice tight grid pattern that everybody is looking for. The cables themselves aren't overly stiff, either. They're flexible enough to be easily routed, but still firm enough to not be floppy.
Overall an excellent value for the money.
These fans are dead silent, push plenty of air, and the RGB lighting is very bright, smoothly diffusing from the hub along the fan blades, and syncs up with zero problems with my RGB Fusion software. Comes with anti-vibration pads pre-installed. The PWM and RGB cables are a little on the short side, so make sure you plan your cable routing accordingly.
The PWM fan hub is triangular and a little tall, meaning I couldn't just adhere it to the back of my motherboard tray and instead had to tuck it down with the PSU cables to make sure the back panel would close. The RGB sync splitter and extension cables result in a lot of clutter, but that's par for the course with RGB fans these days. The proprietary non-standard connection type for the RGB cables is something I think should be changed, though. Not sure why they couldn't just use the standard 4-pin connector style. Other than that, I just connected the sync cable to the 4-pin RGB header on my motherboard and everything sync'd up right away.
I think these fans are one of the best values on the market for quality non-addressable RGB fans.