I've been using Intel based laptops for a number of years now, my current Sony Vaio is a 2011 model with an i5 and switchable graphics that have stopped working since the Windows 10 upgrade. The discovery of PCPP several months ago inspired me to build something new, from scratch. With parts purchased since September and built this month, here is my new home PC, much of which owes a lot to the PCPP community; from forum advice to comments on builds, inspiring photos, write-ups and of course reviews too. Thank you, all!
My other build listed on my profile was basically an upgrade of old parts to make something functionally useful for a specific purpose (video capture). This time I would start completely afresh, directed by several key factors: my longstanding loyalty to AMD; quality of components; budget and efficiency. These are all subjective of course, but that is the great thing about building your own PC, you are afforded that luxury.
This PC won't set any performance records, nor would I even recommend its now aged CPU and motherboard infrastructure. This said, I am pleased with the end result in as much as it's turned out at least as well as I'd hoped. Hours spent making cable extensions from scratch was, I think, worth it in the end - if only for the challenge of learning a new skill. The overall look really is better than I expected, and I really hope to get many hours of use out of this PC before considering upgrades.
Uses will include extensive photo editing (Lightroom and Google's Nik Efex), light programming (Visual Studio), light gaming, video capture and the usual web browsing, e-mail and admin tasks. The larger SSD holds my entire photo collection plus Lightroom RAW cache. I'll admit this is was an expensive luxury to add to a build like this, but given the size of RAW files that I process (25-30 MB, and size of TIFF files generated for export to Nik Efex (150-200 MB), this actually works really well for this purpose.
Aside from making the cable extensions, I also painted the metal cable management bar blue as I had originally intended to get the blue version of the S340. I found the black version cheaper one day so figured I’d paint this part blue, and it’s actually a deeper blue than on the blue version of the case.
The GTX 960 was my preferred option over the often-recommended R9 380 simply because of lower power consumption, aesthetics (that backplate) and in the end price, as I found this one for a steal on Amazon Warehouse Deals.
Motherboard and processor are obviously contentious options which I can’t defend on performance grounds at all - yes, an i5 would have been a better option for many reasons. This said, I still feel that these are inexpensive, reliable and perfectly capable parts. For £60 (USD$90) the M5A97 EVO was a steal, and will allow me to try out some moderate overclocking in the near future. I picked the 8370E purely on the grounds of it being the most recent FX model to have been released, and I also found it intriguing that so few people seem to have used this model in builds!
Once I’d seen the Megahalems on a Google Images search for black CPU heatsinks I knew that this was the one. Ridiculously expensive in proportion to my budget, this is premium air cooling that also looks the part and should continue to work flawlessly on any future build. A quick forum question on cooling for this beast ended up with me a taking a bit of a risk on these German high static pressure, PWM fans made by Alpenfohn. They’re just about right on noise, and visually they are perfect for my black/blue theme.
I think I spent the most amount of time researching power supplies, for whatever reason leaving EVGA out of my equation until the very end. I’d wanted a unit actually made by either SuperFlower or Seasonic, but in the end EVGA beat them both on price and support, with the splendid G2 550 sporting SuperFlower parts and a 7 year warranty. I cannot recommend the PSU tier list on Tom’s Hardware Forum highly enough.
As and when I attempt an overclock I’ll update this page with details. Idle CPU temperature as-is at 3.3 GHz is a constant 26 degrees celsius. If there’s anything more anyone wants to know then please leave a comment below .. this has been an absolute pleasure to build!