Though you don't necessarily have to put Windows on the system, we also accounted for an OEM copy of Windows 8.1 here. If you've already got a Windows license available or plan to use an alternative free OS, knock $100 from that total price.
At about $1,646, this system isn't exactly cheap--despite costing about half as much as our previous two Intel-based builds--but it does represent one of the most powerful, single-GPU all-AMD systems you can build today.
Turning the screws
Although it may seem daunting to the uninitiated, building a PC is actually pretty easy. Virtually every part of the system is keyed to fit into their respective sockets, connectors, and slots only one way. For the most part--save for the odd electrical shock--you'd have to be a brute and force something in the wrong way to actually break something. Just follow the directions in the manual and you'll be OK, we swear!
If you'd prefer to dive a little deeper with more detailed, visual steps on actually assembling a PC, check out a couple of PCWorld's past articles. Our PC building best practices can walk you through piecing together a system, and our instructions on how to properly install a CPU cooler will help with that somewhat tricky process. Of course, there's plenty of variation with products from different manufacturers, but if you get the fundamentals down, assembling any system is a piece of cake.
We didn't run into any particular issues with this build, but some of our component choices--like the cooler--did require some additional work to install. A couple of the Corsair Graphite 780T case's features were a bit unusual, too.
Installing the Cooler Master Seidon 120XL liquid cooler took a few special steps. First, the stock cooler mounts had to be removed from the motherboard to make way for a metal mounting bracket that sits behind the motherboard and holds the cooler's CPU water block securely in place. The cooler's fans and radiator also required mounting in the case.
Removing the stock mounts from the motherboard was as simple as disengaging a few screws and popping them off the board. Mounting the radiator and fans, however, was a bit of a puzzle. The Cooler Master Seidon 120XL's fans should be configured in a push-pull arrangement--one fan pushes air through the radiator, while the other pulls it. We first had to position the fan properly in an available 120mm mount at the top of the Graphite 780T and then feed the included long-screws through the fan, while holding the radiator underneath. Then we had to tighten the screws to hold the radiator in place. The second fan was mounted to the bottom side of the radiator. A couple of brackets also had to be screwed to the water block, which in turn, get screwed into the metal mount positioned behind the motherboard.
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