Note: This was made months ago, just never got round to uploading it ~ laziness and also didn't have a good camera and all the stuff finished the way I wanted... oh and WALL OF TEXT
Intro: This is my personal computer at home which I use for pretty much everything on a daily basis. It’s also my first computer build and one of which I’m proud of as it went very smoothly in terms of assembling it and also performance wise it’s a work horse. The main reason I needed this computer was for productivity as my laptop was running slow with some programs such as MATLABs, Visual Studios and some VMs. I wanted a fast and reliable machine I could use at home which also would be used for work in the future. This computer system is more than what I needed but I wanted to somewhat ‘future proof’ it. Now after having used it for a while I am extremely happy with the performance and it’s working wonderfully to meet all my needs.
CPU: I was set on getting an i5 processor from the start as it would be somewhat future proof and powerful all-rounder. It was also down to price as the i5 is very good value for the money compared to the i3 and i7. If I did a lot of rendering I would have opted for the i7 but I don't so the i5 matched my needs. I went for 4670K for the simple reason of the overclocking potential and price. You get that boost from overclocking at the cost of heat/energy thus a I bought the Corsair H105 AIO (All In One) Water cooler. This would not only keep the CPU cool but help keep the noise level low as the Intel stock fans aren't all that great. Though on default settings neither is the H105, you'll need to change the fan RPMs.
I managed to get the i5 4670K to overclock to 4.5ghz however the temps where higher due to the required power needed to keep it stable. I also did some benchmarking and found that at 4.2ghz it performed better and more efficiently so I tuned it down to that. 4.2ghz is the sweet spot for my CPU and the temps are within a nice range which won’t cause me to worry, however when it comes to overclocking results vary as each CPU yields different results.
RAM: I was going to only get 8GB of RAM but the prices at the time were confusingly high, about £60+ for 8GB of branded ram at 1600MHz. I found the Kingston HyperX Beast set of 4x4GB for £90 which seemed a steal as it was basically £45 for 8GB of RAM. I thought I could always take two of the sticks out later for another computer if needed in the future. At the current time of writing this RAM is still expensive and no way would I get this for price I did then at the current time. It should be noted that having 16GB of RAM makes for much smoother use of VMs. I can easily set aside 4-6GB of RAM for a VM or even run several at once though depends on which you run. In the end having the 16GB has been pretty useful and I’ve not had to worry too much about my PC running slow, though with general use I only seem to use 4-6GB so 8GB would have been fine multi-application use such playing a game at 1080p while having a few task running in the background.
Motherboard: Knowing I would overclock I would obviously need a really good motherboard to match with it and the MSI GD-65 caught my attention for number of reasons. One, it’s absolutely beautiful! I really like the black and red combo and dragon heat sink design. Two, the price at which it was cheaper than other boards offering similar specs minus the gigabyte G1 Sniper board however I did not like the design of it and ASUS ROG was priced for more. Finally it is highly rated and solid for overclocking. You can achieve high overclocks with this board due to its number of power phases and stability. The UEFI BIOS is also clean and user friendly. I also found some of MSI’s software to be very useful such as ‘Live Updates’ which was what I used to install all the drivers. This is a real time saver and helps keep everything up to day. The ‘Command Center’ is also very useful to set fan speeds and monitor the system temps, however I did find some updates of this software to crash there and then but seems more stable with the current version. The ‘MSI Intel Extreme Tuning Utility’ is brilliant as you can monitor all the temps, voltage and resources usage, moreover it has profile setting you can save for Overclocking and benchmarking. I found the benchmarking to be pretty useful as it could be used for stress testing and comparing results to which I found my 4.2ghz to be the best.
GPU: I then wanted a GPU and this came down to the price really. The R9 280 for around £180 at the time was a steal as it was usually well over £200 so I snapped it up. Now you probably could get it at around £110 if you find the deal for it, technology for you and how things can change drastically. THE GPU being MSI as well matched perfectly with the motherboard as they are both from the same range so look complete together. The MSI Twin Fozr is also highly rated for its aftermarket cooler which is brilliant even at high loads as its very quiet. The MSI ‘Afterburner’ software allows for a simple and easy overclock on the GPU to squeeze more performance out of it. It’s just simple sliding and testing to see if stable for use, though with this card you cannot up the voltage for more power to get a higher overclock.
PSU: The PSU was chosen over the EVGA SuperNOVA for the main reason of noise. The Corsair RM650 is practically dead silent to me; I cannot hear it over my radiator fans which came with the water cooler. It is fully modular and gold rated meaning it’s very efficient and will save on the electrical bill. I do have major gripe with it, the cables! They connect alright to the PSU but the cables connecting to the motherboard doesn’t connect all that well to my liking. It does stay in but there isn’t a tactile click or locked in feeling and it has actually come loose a few times when I’ve moves it out to clean. This is alright for me as I don’t move my PC much though I really feel they could make it more secure. The cables also don’t come with any sleeves but they are all black and flat which make them easier to work with but you’d want to be more careful with them.
Case: The case was also at a really good price considering the windowed model goes for quite a bit more than the plain case. Anyone who’s built a PC would have come across this case due to it being the best at the time it was put on the market. It was hit with its sleek design and features. I could go on about this case, how it’s quiet, how it’s spacious and big, how well built it is but you could probably find tons of Youtube videos showing you exactly why this case is regarded as one of the best. I will however say it is wider than your average PC case and heavy, about 12kg with no handles (another reason why I am not keen to move it much).
Peripherals: Finally we come to the peripherals which are the longest part of the list. The 32 inch TV was something I already had at home so I decided to use it as my monitor as it was sitting on my desk. I used a VGA connection as it gave the best image quality and was able to adjust the settings to get the best out of it over HDMI which was more washed and grainy.
Having 32inches of space is also wonderful, I have so much workspace that I now find anything smaller a bit annoying when it comes to work and using several applications. It is also great for playing games and watching movies with family as everyone can see the screen and combined with the sound system I have its excellent. I am aware a monitor probably would be better for image quality and so on but I already had this so I am just making use of it. Another thing I had was an old broken laptop from my sister to which I made use of by taking the spare parts out including the screen. I had bought a cheap board to turn the old laptop screen into a second monitor which is really handy. It also doubles up as a nice desktop/picture frame for my desk. I had to build a stand/frame for it myself to sit on a desk made of wood to which I then painted a nice matt black… this also hid my bad craftsman ship as I’m a rookie with woodwork. It does have HDMI input aswell as DVI, VGA and headphone input so possible to maybe make a stand-alone mini computer with the frame.
The keyboard was a cheap one I had from before but is actually really good for the money and easy to clean and lasted ages. The headset and mouse was on sale, a real bargain as the headset cost normally £80+ I got it for £60 with the mouse free which also cost £50+ alone! Maybe buyer’s impulse a little there but it really was a great deal. I love both bits of hardware but the mouse is my just so comfortable and versatile, probably the best mouse I've used so far.
The webcam is just a cheap HD camera I got on sale again (can you tell I love a bargain) and the blue tooth USB was something I randomly found at home which works perfectly fine. The Powerline kit was bought due to the annoyance of disconnection when using wireless via a USB dongle. I got tired of it randomly disconnecting me from time to time. I got Powerline adaptors to connect it via Ethernet cables and my connection has been far more stable and only on occasions do the adaptors go out of synch but 95% of the time its working just as it should.
Conclusion and Future: In conclusion everything I bought to build this computer was to meet my needs and with a goal to have this as my main system for a few years (I hope). Building it was pleasure and a pain at times, particularly fitting the H105 as the CPU header was a tight fit but it all came together better than I expected and is joy to use; it’s quiet, quick and quality. It’s used every day and hasn’t let me down with its performance and I have a large amount of storage to store everything and make backups. In the future I probably upgrade the GPU to maybe a GTX 970 as it seems beat anything in range of the price and I would also probably change the CPU thermal paste as I feel it would help knock the temps down quite a bit. The AIO is also something I would upgrade as it louder than I wish, not sure if it’s just my setup or the AIO.