Vallutaja, formerly RELOAd, is a pro-gaming veteran who has accumulated years of experience playing Enemy Territory, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and Battlefield, before transitioning to Overwatch. He currently plays for REUNITED.gg.
In this entry of Specs, we're getting under the hood, up close and personal with the machine behind the man to see just what keeps Vallutaja playing.
The foundation of Vallutaja’s PC rig is the ASUS Z170M-PLUS motherboard. This flagship motherboard has everything that any pro-gamer could wish for, including industry-leading circuit protection technology for maximum stability, small micro-ATX form-factor for easy carry, and DDR4 memory overclockable to 3466MHz. Right out of the box, the motherboard comes with high-end gaming audio with precision analog/digital separation and premium Japanese audio capacitors, as well as SATA Express, M.2 with support for up to 32Gbit/s data-transfer speeds, and up to 4 front-panel USB 3.0 connectors.
Vallutaja then fitted the Z170M-PLUS motherboard with an Intel Core i7 6700K quad-core flagship Skylake processor. This puppy uses the latest 14nm technology to pack in four CPU cores with Hyper-Threading, 4.20 GHz maximum Turbo Boost frequency, and 8 MB of last-level caching. Guru3D described the Core i7 6700K as “a terrific 14nm desktop CPU with improved instruction sets, better performance, DDR4 compatibility and decent overclocking headroom.”
To keep this beast of a CPU cool even during long gaming sessions, Vallutaja went with the NH-U14S from Noctua. This 14cm top model from Noctua’s classic U-series single tower CPU coolers features a six heat pipe design and the NF-A15 140mm fan with PWM support for fully automatic speed control. Needless to say that this is one hell of a cooler.
If you were expecting a similarly high-end graphics card, unfortunately you might be disappointed. Vallutaja still relies on his old MSI Nvidia GTX 770 with 4GB of GDDR5. The thing is, the card can run Overwatch at Ultra Quality in 1080p and reach as much as 100 fps. So, for a relatively performance-friendly game like Overwatch, the GTX 770 is still a fine option. And even more so when you consider that the card now only costs around $200.
As far as memory and storage go, Vallutaja trusts the stable performance of the Samsung 850 EVO Series 250 GB solid state drive and Kingston HyperX FURY 16GB. The main advantage of the HyperX FURY DDR4 is that it can be overclocked to 2666MHz even on stock voltage.
All this hardware goodness is kept inside a Fractal Design Define Mini Case. This micro ATX version really has a lot going for it. Not only did Fractal Design produce a truly stunning, minimalistic case, but they also pre-fitted it with noise absorbing material, their proprietary ModuVent System, and a removable and rotatable upper HDD bay.
The case supports PSU's with a maximum depth of 170mm, which is more than enough for Vallutaja’s Seasonic X-Series X-650W, a fully modular power supply with fantastic reliability.
When in the comfort of his room, Vallutaja rarely plays without his Sennheiser HD 598 headphones. It’s refreshing to see a pro-gamer who appreciates the potential of audiophile headphones for gaming. The HD 598 are lightweight, very comfortable, and their level of sound detail is astonishing.
One the other hand, as audiophile headphones, they do come with a few caveats that you need to be mindful of. These are open headphones, meaning that passive noise isolation is virtually non-existent and sound leakage is a major issue. That shouldn’t be a huge problem if you are playing alone from your home, but there’s no way you could use these headphones in a tournament. Another issue is the lack of microphone.
If you decide to go with a pair of audiophile headphones, you basically have to options here for sound input: use a stand-alone microphone or go for the Antlion Audio ModMic 4.0 Attachable Boom Microphone. Vallutaja went with the second option and we would probably do the same. The ModMic is an easily attachable and removable boom microphone that can be used with just about any pair of headphones. Its sound quality is stellar, and the dedicated mute button is a nice touch.
No surprise here - the BenQ XL2430T, the monitor of choice for many pro-gamers. This 24” gaming monitor has a refresh rate of 144Hz and a fast 1ms response time for ultra-smooth visuals. It also comes with an assortment of neat features, including Motion Blur Reduction, Revolution Eyes Technology, and Black Equalizer.
Vallutaja's mouse of choice is the Razer DeathAdder Chroma. Yes, the Chroma's 16.8 million customizable color options are impressive, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And luckily for anyone thinking about buying this mouse, the carpet definitely matches the drapes - the Chroma delivers on its promise as a high end performance mouse. Check out our full write up here.
Last but certainly not least is the SteelSeries 6Gv2 mechanical gaming keyboard. This rather plain looking keyboard is more about performance, less about aesthetics. Think old beat up car packing a serious v8 engine. The 6Gv2 comes with Cherry MXBlack switches, which are medium stiff, linear, non-clicky mechanical keyboard switches in the Cherry MX family. The predicted lifetime of these switches is around 50 million operations, more than 5-times as much as what you get from a regular keyboard. At $89, you get all the benefits of a mechanical keyboard, minus some of the bonus features like macro recording, customizable lighting, etc. (which, let's be honest, you probably don't need anyway).