This was my first build in more than 15 years and I have to say it was a lot of fun to get back into the world of PCs (we're an otherwise 100% Apple household). My son is a huge fan of Fortnite and I wanted to build him a monster rig for his birthday and thought I could use the excuse to teach him a little bit about computers at the same time.
I started my research back in August 2018. And boy oh boy, has the world of gaming PCs changed since 2003! I literally watched hundreds of YouTube videos (Bitwit, GamersNexus, Hardware Unboxed, HardwareCanucks, JayzTwoCents, Joker Productions, Linus Tech Tips, Optimum Tech, Paul's Hardware, PC Centric, randomfrankp, and TechSource) and looked at dozens of builds on PCPartPicker in order to handpick every single component.
As a longtime Apple fanboy, design and aesthetics are very important to me, so I was looking to build something Apple-like where I could get all the main components (case, cooling, motherboard, and power supply) from a single company. I was very impressed with what NZXT had to offer and I eventually landed on the NZXT H700i (White) case, NZXT N7 Z370 (White) motherboard, NZXT Kraken X72 CPU cooler, NZXT Aer RGB fans, and NZXT E850 power supply.
Armed with a solid base, I then started looking at video cards. I read a lot of great things about EVGA products and their customer service so picking a brand was pretty easy. However, I debated for a long time between getting a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, a GeForce RTX 2080, or a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. Ultimately, due to the lack of data on ray tracing and the extremely high prices of the 2080 cards, I decided to go with the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 Gaming as a bridge until the next generation of Nvidia cards comes out.
I then turned my attention to the monitor. I first looked at 27-inch G-Sync monitors (Acer Predator XB271HU 27" 144Hz IPS, AOC AG271QG 27-Inch 165Hz IPS, ASUS ROG SWIFT PG279Q 27" 165Hz IPS, and ViewSonic XG2703-GS 27" 165Hz IPS). But I was also intrigued by 34" ultrawide (21:9) monitors. I considered the Acer Predator X34 (UM.CX0AA.P01) and the Asus ROG Swift (PG348Q) before landing on the Alienware AW3418DW 34" 120Hz IPS and I have to say it is an absolute beauty. You haven't lived until you've played games on a 34-inch curved monitor!
After I had all the main components nailed down, I went on to pick memory, storage, keyboard, mouse, headphones, and speakers, again going for top performance and that cohesive look. Add to that an Arozzi gaming desk and gaming chair, the obligatory Ikea ALEX drawer unit, and some Nanoleaf light panels, and I think we ended up with a pretty cool setup.
The building process itself went pretty well despite me being a little rusty. By the way, absolutely, positively use a magnetic screwdriver to install the motherboard and wear protective gloves when installing the IO panel. I've learned my lesson the hard way!
All in all, I'm really happy with how the build turned out and it was definitely a fun learning experience to build it with my son (the swearing was minimal!). It's probably the most expensive Fortnite rig in the world but I'm sure we'll eventually expand our gaming horizons to take full advantage of what this beast has to offer!