Well... it is done.
When I started my Vox Caster build I had such detail plans, but now that it’s come down to making the thing more than a painted case, a lot of the hardware has drastically changed. At its core, the Caster is still built around a Lanboy Air, G1.Killer Sniper and a 990X CPU, but pretty much every other part is something other than I originally put aside.
So, let’s walk through what’s ended up in here and how it looks when it’s all installed, and – just as important – turned on.
Shiny, shiny tech
So, lighting is an important part of any good build that you want to set apart from the run of the mill, and the Vox Caster is no different. We start ahead of the pack, in a lot of ways, because both the case we’ve painted – the Air – and the Killer mobo feature distinct blue and green lighting. Yes, according to the fashion doyens blue and green should never be seen, but this is brutalist Imperial technology, and if the waveform of vital energy sources should happen to clash, then the Machine God will ultimately forgive us.
However, we wanted a little bit more light shed on our build. The open construction of the Air certainly lends itself to illumination, and with all the juicy tech we wanted in the case, more light couldn’t hurt. That said, when we had all the kit installed, we were also rather... in a hurry to get it working. So we improvised.
Antec, who spared is the Air to play with, are also pushing a neat little lighting rig to sit on the back of your monitor to boost ambient lighting and take a mess of strain of gamers’ eyes. It’s made by soundscience and is called a Bias Lighting rig. You simply plug it into a USB port, tape it to the back of your monitor, and you’re done. It works really well, too, but we’ve kind of, well, brute forced a case lighting rig out of it.
And it looks FAB! However, you might be wondering... “But it’s USB!”
That’s a good point. To make it work, you do need to have a cable trail out of the case; but that’s cool. You see, we already have a cable passing through the case from the USB3 port among the IO ports on the case, so why not one more? This is meant to be a piece of 41st Millennium tech after all, not something sleek and modern.
That makes for green lighting flooding the video card from the mobo, blue lighting from the fans, and white lighting from the Bias rig, set to the left of the left-hand panel. I like it, and that’s what counts.
I’d like to say I used my awesome abilities with tech to hand-pick nothing but the best in gear. But, that would be lying. Instead, I used my abilities to scrounge the labs for gear that will hopefully not be requested back any time soon, and that I know and trust. This was more difficult than I thought.
The graphics card... well, I said last week I was aiming for Nvidia, but as it turns out, I am much more attached to AMD/ATI than I realised. My last Nvidia card was a 9800, and since then I’ve been using dual-GPU cards of the 4- and 5-series exclusively. So why change? Especially when I was able to find a 6990 hanging around the labs! Of course, John Gillooly wants it back, and likely so does AMD (they are rare as hen’s teeth in the Australian testing world), but possession is nine tenths and all that. The RAM is a 12GB kit of Kingston HyperX T1, which is neutral enough to look good, and the power supply is a curious FSP Gold 750W.
Because, well, it’s got a black and gold colour scheme.
The thing with a rig like this is that it’s not all about performance brands. Sometimes, you just want something that looks the part, and if you’ve been painting the damn case to match some weird obsession to a made up world, then you may as well make sure the parts you choose fit in – especially if you’re lighting the kit.
That also covers our choice of heatsink. There’s nothing wrong with Coolermaster’s V6 GT setup, but it’s not TRUE 120. But what it is is a solid block of plastic, metal and spinning fans that really, really looks the part. And it does its job – so that’s what we’ve gone with.
The storage is a no-brainer, kinda. We’ve got a nice LARGE 3TB WD HDD, paired with Silicon Power SSD, and an ASUS optical drive that we Vito Cassisi will kill us for when he discovers we nicked it from his test rig.
Is that it?
Currently, the rig technically has no input, nor a display. We’re using a 7.1 Plantronics headset which, by the way, IS THE SHIT, but everything else is a bit in flux. In terms of input, we are desperately waiting for Corsair’s new FPS keyboard and mouse, as the design aesthetic – not to mention our faith in their mechanical capability – fits perfectly. The screen, however, is tough. We’re tempted by Samsung, but I also have fond memories of my last CRT monitor, a Viewsonic model. I’m kind of tempted to get one of theirs.
But that’s all mere detail.
As our first test, we tried the BF3 beta. And... well, I’m drooling just thinking about it. Smooth; sounds like heaven (shooty, but beautiful heaven); looks... the... shit. That was on a Benq monitor held over from our old game labs, and man... I really want a new screen for proper reviewing. The Benq is great, but, again, it was stolen from one of our standing test rigs. But it looks so good!
However, beyond all that is the knowledge that this system will tackle pretty much anything I throw at it. My old 5-series-based test rig (in terms of AMD graphics) can run BF3 just fine, and I feel that’s pretty much the most demanding PC game we’re going to get for a while. At least, I think so. But this much power is really a mess of clock cycles and graphics power – I dare any game to defeat this rig. More than that, it’s one of the most satisfying builds I have ever undertaken. It combines brute computing power, effective cooling (the Air really is a supremely cool case), and a custom paint job that speaks to my very heart.
That said... there’s a lot of cases in the labs, and there’s a lot of paint schemes stuck up in my head... But for now have a look at our gallery to see to final build in all its glory.