Hardware Hands-On: NZXT Noctis 450 Complete PC Build

This article was created in partnership with our friends at NZXT.

When I started working at Newegg in 2009, the first big purchase I made was for the parts to build a new gaming rig. I had built gaming PCs for myself in the past, going through the now-defunct PC Club, but once I was surrounded by my PC enthusiast coworkers at Newegg, I knew I had to build a new system using the vast wealth of knowledge around me. That and I got a discount for being an employee.

Now that so many years have passed, it was time to give the outdated rig to a family member and start anew. After perusing several modern PC cases, I finally settled on the Noctis 450 by NZXT (check out a super combo deal here). They were kind enough to donate a unit for this build. I won’t go into the technical specs – you can check those out on the Newegg product page – but I will focus on what I liked about the case. Here are some highlights:

When it comes to building a PC, it’s the little conveniences that really begin to add up to a fun experience. For instance, most of the thumb screws cannot be fully detached. So while you can unscrew parts, you won’t have to go chasing thumb screws because they’ll stay attached to the parts. Additionally, the plastic front and top panels pop off with just a couple of good yanks, which I’m thankful for, so that I don’t have to fight the case just to get to the magnetically attached dust filters. It’s also worth noting that the Noctis 450 is a pretty light chassis, especially when it’s stripped down. Moving the case around to get parts inserted never felt like a chore.

Finally, and I didn’t realize this until after the build was complete and powered on, but NZXT even included handy LEDs around the I/O plate to help you find ports in a dark room or when your case is near a wall and it’s just hard to see which way you have your USB cable oriented. Overall, the Noctis 450 is a very smartly designed chassis that was essentially painless to work with.

Before I get into what I ended up putting inside the case, allow me to briefly explain my considerations for picking parts. First, was price. While it’s fun to daydream about firing up a beast every time I need to review a game, the limitations of my wallet always snap me back to reality. So I bought what I could afford that I felt wouldn’t need upgrading for several years. Second, was color scheme. I know that this is pretty vain of me, especially when I could have shaved whole percentages off the final price tag if I could just stomach mismatching colors in my case. Alas, it would have been too much for me to bear.

Here’s my list of components:

CPU: Intel Core i7-5820K Haswell-E 6-Core 3.3GHz

I always hate upgrading when there’s a new model right around the corner, but I needed a system and I couldn’t wait around for Skylake. Comparatively, the 5820K is on the pricier side of CPUs, but I was able to get it at a good price, so this component was kind of a no-brainer. And, if necessary, I can always overclock down the line for some extra juice.

Motherboard: MSI X99S Gaming 7

Since the CPU uses the LGA 2011-v3, that immediately narrowed my selection. With my color scheme requirements, my choices were further reduced to just a handful of motherboards. This one was the most affordable with the most amount of features, like Killer NIC and quad channel memory. But what sold were the red and black I/O ports. I’m not sure if I’m joking.

Memory: CORSAIR Vengeance LPX DDR4 16GB (4 x 4GB)

I don’t know how it is for other people, but for me, finding a brand of memory I trust is like finding a doctor or mechanic I trust. I tend to stick with what works. The few times that I haven’t have always resulted in RMAs. I know that this is probably a silly way to shop for PC components, but over the handful of builds I’ve completed for myself and friends and family, Corsair has never let me down. These are low-profile models for better airflow, and the heatsinks are red for obvious reasons.

GPU: MSI GTX 970 GAMING 4G

Let’s face it; I wanted a 980, but it was out of my reach financially. Still, this 970 is more than adequate with 4GB GDDR5 and a Core Clock of 1140MHz. Plus, it comes with MSI’s Twin Frozr fan technology, which won’t spin up the fans unless the GPU is reaches a certain temperature, minimizing noise, which is always a plus in my book. The card also has a red and black aesthetic; I just wish the “gaming dragon” and MSI logo wasn’t white.

Power Supply: EVGA 120-G1-0750-XR 80 PLUS GOLD

It was enough power to run all of my components and fully modular so I could cut down on cable clutter. The color didn’t mean anything here since the Noctis 450 keeps the PSU hidden.

CPU Heatsink: NZXT Kraken X41

Another component graciously supplied by NZXT, this all-in-one water cooling solution didn’t take much space and was easy to install. There’s also available software for it that allows you monitor temperatures, adjust cooling profiles and change the color of the logo on the CPU heatsink. Guess which color I chose! Look for my Hardware Hands-On article about the Kraken X41.

Overall, I’m very pleased with how this build turned out. I haven’t performed any formal benchmarks, but the few games I’ve thrown at it were no trouble at all.  The aesthetic is what I was going for internally and the red LED rails underneath the case cast an ominous glow that really adds to the mood. I even made an impulse buy and picked up a Corsair K70 gaming keyboard with the red LED backlit keys. But while I love all of this red and black everywhere, I have to confess that I get mild flashbacks of the eyestrain I felt after playing the Nintendo Virtuaboy for too long.