YIDIY: James Walter & His Parvum Warfare Custom PC
Welcome to our first YIDIY (Why I DIY) feature where we will highlight custom built rigs and get some questions answered by the mastermind builders behind them. In this edition we speak to James Walter, a.k.a. jameswalt1, to learn about his Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare custom PC, and to discover why he loves DIY.
Parvum Warfare Specs
|Chassis||Parvum Systems custom mITX|
|Graphics Card||NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN Black|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-4790k Haswell 4.0GHz LGA 1150 Quad-Core|
|Motherboard||EVGA Z97 Stinger mITX|
|Memory||Corsair 8GB DDR3 (1600MHz)|
|Storage||Samsung EVO 500GB|
|Power||Corsair RM Series 650W 80 Plus Gold Full Modular|
|Cables||Ensourced custom cables|
|Cooling||CPU Block: Swiftech Apogee XL
GPU Block:Swiftech Komodo NV LE
Pump: Swiftech MCP35X
Pump Housing: Bitspower
Reservoir/Pump Top Combo: Bitspower
Fittings: Bitspower True Brass
Tubing: E22 12mm OD acrylic tube
Radiators: Darkside 120mm and 240mm
Coolant: Mayhem's Aurora 2
Fans: Noiseblocker Multiframe 120mm (5x)
Where did you draw your inspiration from?
Fresh off of completing the Parvum Titanfall custom PC, which was inspired by the aesthetics of a limited edition Titanfall themed Xbox One controller, I was set to do a completely different build than this with a totally different direction. Then when Microsoft showed off the limited edition Call of Duty Advanced Warfare themed controller at Gamescom I knew I had to retread similar territory and do another custom PC inspired by the aesthetics and color scheme of the Advanced Warfare controller to tie in with the release of the game.
How much time did you spend on the rig?
I reached out to Parvum Systems with my idea, with the intention of having them build another custom case based on the design I would then create. I used a prototype ITX case layout they had previously shown as the base for the case layout and form factor. For two nights I worked on several different 2D drawings for all of the panels until I settled on my final designs. Most sides of the case have a fairly simple, clean design with the front of the case being the most complex - as it was to represent the face of the controller's aesthetic.
As with Parvum Titanfall I designed all of the panels with the intention of incorporating custom vinyl decal work for the final look. So for the front, for example, I designed 45 degree patterned grooves on each side where I cut and layed in grey and gold vinyl mirroring the side designs of the controller. Also a shape was cut towards the top for me to lay in a custom made decal of the Sentinel Task Force patch. These concepts carry on throughout the rest of the case exterior, keeping with the design and color balance of the controller.
I immediately sent my final designs to Parvum Systems who then cut the case and had it in my hands within 4 weeks. From that moment to build completion was roughly 4 more weeks.
Are there any specific details on the rig that you really want to point out?
Beyond the meticulously detailed exterior of the case, the interior's build design was of equal importance. Maintaining the same color scheme and balance on the inside, as well as presenting the parts and watercooling loop with a visual that's inspired by the controller and game universe was absolutely crucial.
Several factors play a part in the interior's final look. The balance of color was extermely important, the right balance of black, grey, and gold had to be perfect. Too much of either would ruin the look and throw the whole thing off. As a result no matter which angle you view the build from as a whole, the balance of color between the interior and exterior is perfect. The next key factor of the interior is branding from the game universe - custom cut "AW" logos that light up on the Swiftech CPU block and GPU block, the power supply now branded as being made by Atlas as well as the SSD and Ram. The design of the watercooling loop is another factor, with only single 45 degree bends in the acrylic tube that mirror the 45 degree design elements of the exterior and a custom metallic grey Aurora 2 coolant from Mayhem's that looks futuristic and otherworldly. Beyond the aforementioned there are other subtleties that complete the look - Swiftech blocks that have a military grade finish, Darkside radiators with army stencil lettering, as well as the metallic charcol paracord sleeving from Ensourced, plus much more.
I spent many, many nights planning the interior while waiting for the case from Parvum. My builds are always planned and designed with a perfect visual appearance in mind and I often drive my self crazy running circles in my mind - and on paper - with ideas for the final look. But the results are worth it. I believe that when you plan and execute your builds with a focus on perfection and never settling, the results will come.
So what got you started with PC building in the first place?
The first time I messed around with upgrading GPU's back in the very late 90's I became quickly addicted to performance tweaking PCs. The basic building and upgrading hobby continued for years until around the late 2000's when I started to get interested in liquid cooling and very quickly interested in the aesthetics arena of custom PC's. I think what really sparked my interest from early on until now, from both the upgrading/tweaking/building aspect to the liquid cooled custom monsters of today, is the limitless possibilities - the fact that there's truly no limit to what you can do and create, and every creation is a different adventure.
What were the most valuable skills you picked up or learned?
Besides basic hand tool skills and working with my hands in general (alot of which I learned doing bodywork on cars), I think one of my personal skills is an eye for aesthetics, which is something that develops, grows, and matures over time. I have a good ability to visualize something and produce it, as well as the ability to see what works and what doesn't - I can see it and feel it in my gut. This helps fine tune the looks of a build to my own standard of perfection. From the balance of colors, parts selection - and placement, tube routing, themes etc... Every visual aspect is important for the end result - and the aesthetics of a build is my number one priority when doing what I do.
What do you enjoy most about DIY? Why do you DIY?
I enjoy the freedom to create and this hobby gives you the opportunity to create infinite pieces of art, limited only by your imagination. I also enjoy that so many others share the same passion and create lots of different visions for us all to watch unfold. It's just an awesome platform for creative people to have an outlet in lots of different ways. Designing and building works of computer art with your own hands delivers a sense of satisfaction that buying an "off the shelf" system can never match.