Back in the day, when I was traveling to LAN’s frequently, I really wanted to do an ITX build. In those days, we definitely didn’t have as many options as today. So when Fractal Design sent me the Nano S to check out, I jumped at the chance to throw together TWO ITX builds. This is the first as a budget build that comes in under $500! It came out very ‘basic’, so you know I had to flash it up a bit with some DIY mods. PSU Shroud, CPU cover, custom sleeved cables and I/O covers all made by me using acrylic sheets, a heat gun and spray paint.

Specs and Amazon links with US prices:
Fractal Design Nano S case: http://amzn.to/2nqkjqm
Pentium CPU: http://amzn.to/2mMN9UU
Gigabyte H110N Motherboard: http://amzn.to/2mdvIts
Zotac gtx1050 GPU: http://amzn.to/2mTElNj
Ballistix RAM 8gb DDR4: http://amzn.to/2nqvGif
EVGA 500W PSU: http://amzn.to/2nqkkur


   

 

Affiliate links are used in this post.

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I set the bar high with my first venture into the line of Z270 motherboards. This thing is quite the looker! You all know that I’m a sucker for a sexy PCB, and this one definitely hits the nail on the head. Looking past its pure beauty, it would be impossible to deny this is also a solid board. See my video below for full overview.

Brand: MSI
Model: Z270 Krait Gaming Motherboard
CPU Socket: LGA 1151
RAM: DDR4 3600(OC)/ 3200(OC)/ 3000(OC)/ 2800(OC)/ 2600(OC)/ 2400/ 2133
Max Memory: 64gb
Form Factor: ATX
2 M.2 slots
Link to purchase or see price (US): link


 

 

Affiliate links are used in this post.

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To begin with, what I’ve done here is not for everyone. You may or may not like the ‘bling’ ‘sparkly’ ‘glitter’ effect that the rhinestones gave this PC, but I LOVE it. The way the led’s reflect off each gem adds a special touch that I’ve never personally seen before. This is VERY DIY and obviously not very professional looking. Looking back a few months later, there are definitely changes I would make. I’m sure eventually a Bling 2.0 build will happen to make it look even blingy-er.

SPECS and Amazon links with US prices:

CPU: i7-6700k http://amzn.to/2kqBmbN
CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken x61 http://amzn.to/2l1NsLB
Motherboard: Gigabyte z170x-ud3-Ultra http://amzn.to/2l1E2zt
RAM: Corsair Vengence 16gb DDR4 3200mhz http://amzn.to/2jI3AkY
SSD: Samsung 950 Pro 256gb http://amzn.to/2l1JLWd
PSU: EVGA 650w Supernova P2 http://amzn.to/2jMvAzl
GPU: Nvidia gtx 1080 Founders Edition http://amzn.to/2k58RiM
Case: NZXT s340 Elite (white) http://amzn.to/2kqHgd0
EVGA Cable Set: http://amzn.to/2kqEmVF
Corsair AF120 fans: http://amzn.to/2l1BuSa


       

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Note: I adore indie games. Specifically, ones that think outside the box and bring something new to the world of gaming. If you know of any great ones I missed or new ones for 2017, please send me a message via Twitter or the contact page. I’m always looking to check out more games! Here’s the list of my favorites released in 2016.

Inside

First up is one of the most popular and award winning games of 2016.  I had to include it on the list just for the fact that I had my doubts about it, but honestly could not put it down once I started playing. In fact, I shamelessly finished it in one sitting. Granted, it’s a short game at just a few hours, but wow.. and the ending.. jeez. Yeah it got a lot of buzz across other sites and award shows for being the best indie game, and while it wasn’t my absolute favorite, I definitely can’t leave it off this list.

Steam link

Abzu

I did NOT like this game at first. In fact, I had to check like twice on the steam store page to make sure it wasn’t a VR game and I was just missing it. You start out just swimming around looking at fish with generally no direction, so it’s easy to mistake it for a VR title. I put about 15min in and quit, thinking this just wasn’t the game for me. But then I heard someone else talking about how great the game was on a podcast, and I was like what the.. what am I missing. So like a good lil gamer, I went back. And they were right. The game suddenly turns into a game, a very simple one, but a very touching one and one that I am SOOOO glad I not only went back to, but finished. Bravo to those devs. Abzu was unique, refreshing and felt very special. Even if small. It normally sells for $19.99 but that’s a bit steep for the only 4hr game, so I waited for a steam sale and got it for 5.99 which felt perfect. Highly recommend playing with a controller.

Steam link

Oxenfree

Oxenfree was one of the next games I heard about over and over, but about which I knew next to nothing. I didn’t see it streamed nor did I read about the story before playing. Thankfully, I was very glad I didn’t. It’s not the type of story you want to have spoiled or spoil for someone else. It’s of the ‘choose your own adventure’ sorts. Like an Until Dawn 2d scroller. The story and the characters really pull you in, and I felt their fear while on this island of horror. The devs did a great job with the unique art style, the dialogue, and the unique story. At times I felt the controls were a bit rough and the long paths of nothing got a tad old, but the game is short enough to not be too much a pain. There are different possible outcomes and endings, so choose your answers wisely.

Steam link

Firewatch

Firewatch was the 3rd title that I saw repeatedly mentioned in top indie games lists and it also made mine. If Inside or Oxenfree didn’t hit you in the feels, then maybe Firewatch will because it is not a light game. It deals with some heavy topics and has some nice twists. Go into this game not reading anything about it for the best experience. Another game with great art style and dialogue between the two main characters. It’s short, almost too short. I would have enjoyed more days in the forest just completing meaningless jobs. I may have enjoyed that more than the way the story took the game. I will say that the beginning and ending of the game could almost be two different games in a way. It could have been better, if longer, but overall another must play.

Steam link

Turmoil

I never thought drilling for oil could be so fun or addicting. This game is relatively simple but does have some strategy elements. I spent WAY too much time playing this game not to include it on this list.

Steam link

 

Icey

ahhh I want to talk about Icey, but I don’t because I want you to be surprised. So don’t read about this game, just play it. I can compare it to a few other games that took a similar route, but that would give it away so I’ll just say I highly recommend picking up this game if you see it on sale.

Steam link

Salt and Sanctuary

If you want a game that’ll make you break a keyboard (or controller) with violence and great gameplay to boot, then I highly recommend Salt and Sanctuary. I died a lot with just the first boss, so if you’re a fan of Dark Souls and boss heavy games, then get this game while it’s cheap. While I didn’t get too far in this game, mostly because I knew I needed a break when I pounded my desk so hard that I got nervous for my tempered glass case sitting next to me, I do recommend it if this style is your jam. I’ll be sure to revisit it with a glass of wine next time.

Steam link

 

Other notable mentions:

Hyper Light Drifter: Great soundtrack, pixel art and old school zelda style gameplay. Steam link

Plague Inc (finally full released): This one has been around for a while. You destroy the world by creating a plague. Surprisingly hard. Steam link

Owlboy: I didn’t get too far into it, but I can see the appeal. Steam link

Reigns: Chill and hilarious card game. Very unique. Steam link

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I spoke about this game during Content Overload Ep 1. To sum it up here:

The facial graphics, especially for the default female character Sara, are pretty darn bad. My theory is that it’s something with the eyes. They’re just not.. correct and it makes her look like she’s on drugs. It definitely takes you a bit out of the story, but not enough to stop me from playing the game. I’m just past EOS, so this is a very early game review. Overall, it plays a lot like Mass Effect 1 & 2, which I loved. Definitely not for everyone, but I found myself hooked and not wanting to stop. Too bad life gets in the way of games these days, so I haven’t gotten too far past the 14hrs or so I played the first weekend. Some parts are a bit tedious, but weren’t they in the first two as well? Why should we expect anything different. Farming the planets can be time consuming just simply for the travel time between them and the tram on Nexus brought me back to gaming years ago where a load screen appeared every time you opened a door to a new location. Thank goodness for skippable subtitles as well, as some of the interactions can take a bit of time. I’m one who would rather read through them quickly and click on then wait for the actors to fully complete their sentences.

A follow-up/complete review will comence once the game is complete. But as a painfully annoying completionist, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Pros:
always fun exploring space
cool story
combat is straightforward
the warthog, or whatever it’s called, is fun to drive.. except when it won’t go uphill

Cons:
oddly long load times (on a speedy pc nonetheless)
sometimes tedious quests
some facial graphics

Overall:
If you liked the 1st two games, ignore the naysayers and give this one a try.

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On YouTube I received a considerable amount of hate for using a dual core processor in ‘this day and age’, but I’ve done builds with i7’s since i7 first released and wanted to check out an unlocked i3 for the first time. NOTE: this is not my daily driver PC.

Except for the fact that it’s about $50-60+ overpriced, I’m fairly happy with the i3-7350k! I could play all of the games I tested on high or ultra settings while maintaining decent FPS using a RX480. Overclocking it to 4.9ghz (ran too hot at 5.0ghz at full load, so I dropped it a bit) also gave it a few more FPS and a nice boost in benchmarks like Time Spy and Cinebench R15. This is also NOT a budget build, as I obviously focused more on aesthetics than price by using an AIO, flashy RAM and a custom cable set. Cutting out those options for more budget friendly components would have dropped the price closer to $1k (if not under). If you’re looking for a budget processor, I wouldn’t recommend the i3-7350k until after Intel drops the price in the near future (it’s inevitable) and only if you plan on overclocking. Otherwise I’d probably suggest an older i5 or even the G4560 (which will be in my next true budget build).

Specs and Amazon links

CPU: i3-7350k 7th gen intel processor http://amzn.to/2l6CNv2
Motherboard: MSI Z270 Krait Gaming http://amzn.to/2l6DaFW
Graphics Card: XFX Radeon RX 480 4GB RS http://amzn.to/2l1JqTu
CPU Cooler: DeepCool Captain 240 EX http://amzn.to/2k5d1HD
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LED 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 http://amzn.to/2jMvesc
Storage: Samsung 850 EVO-Series 250GB SSD http://amzn.to/2l6olmK
Case: Fractal Design Define C with Window ATX Mid Tower http://amzn.to/2kBIjJ0
PSU: EVGA SuperNOVA GS 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX http://amzn.to/2jMuR14
EVGA Cable Set: http://amzn.to/2l6HCEF





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