Of course, I spent a lot more money on this build than originally planned. However, I think it was definitely worth it.
This PC was my attempt at making as high-end of a system that I could on a reasonable budget; finally upgrading from my Optiplex 780 (Core2Duo, GT 740). A ridiculous amount of time and research went into this, and I came out the other end with a gem. Let's take a look at the parts!
-=-= THE CPU: i7 3930k =-=-
This was a bit of a no-brainer for me. The 3930k is a sandybridge-e chip with 6 cores, 12 threads, and an unlocked multiplier. Reading online, people tend to get at least 4.5GHz oc, with many going up to 5GHz. unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing when it comes to overlocking, but I still managed to squeeze out an extra 10-20 FPS in VRMark without upping the voltage. Maybe someday i'll come back and learn this properly so I can really see what my CPU is capable of. The 3930k is a pretty beastly processor, as you can see from the stats, and chews through everything I can throw at it. Plus, it was released 7 years ago, making it very cheap! I picked up mine for £80 on ebay, but you'll commonly see it go for even less. Here's the spec sheet: https://ark.intel.com/products/63697
-=-= THE MOTHERBOARD: GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD3 =-=-
X79 is the Sandybridge-e chipset that allows for overclocking. The problem with this chipset is that there just aren't very many motherboards that use it! This drives up prices, with the low supply to demand ratio. The cheapest you'll tend to find them for is around the £150 from ebay. I just waited and picked up the cheapest X79 I could, which happened to be just under £140, and I got combined postage with my CPU (I bought from the same guy, funnily enough) as a little bonus. The GA-X79-UD3 is quite a nice mobo, with beefy heatsinks where it matters, support for PCIe Gen. 3 (which was released AFTER this platform), and plenty of IO.
- Really nice, friendly BIOS GUI
- Plenty of USB 3s
- 4-way SLI and Crossfire support (though I'd love to see anyone try in 2018)
Here's the spec sheet: https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/GA-X79-UD3-rev-10
-=-= THE MEMORY: HYPERX FURY 2X8GB DDR3-1866 =-=-
Here we have yet another case of "wait and pick up the cheapest model that fits my spec". I'm sure everyone on here is aware of the BS going on with memory pricing at the moment. to get around this, I spent far too much time on facebook marketplace searching through the various listings, until i stumbled on this. Facebook marketplace is an absolute GOLDMINE, you would not believe the stuff thats on there. Anyway, the Fury kit looks sexy as hell with those heatspreaders, and has acceptable performance at 1877MHz and CL-10 stock. I've heard of great success in the overclocking scene when it comes to RAM on X79, so if you're planning an X79 build, do try to get a decent memory kit as you'll probably be able to squeeze a fair bit out of it. Again, I'm clueless when it comes to overclock, but maybe some other time. I bought my 16GB kit shipped for £53. Here's the spec sheet: https://www.kingston.com/datasheets/HX318C10FRK2_16.pdf
-=-= THE SSD: CRUCIAL BX100 250GB =-=-
I had this leftover from my last PC. I didn't have any extra storage drives, so I had to buy the cheapest SSD i could find with an acceptable capacity. I have no frame of reference really, but it's an SSD, so it offers far greater performance over my old hard drive. I bought this for £45 from ebay. Here's the spec sheet: http://uk.crucial.com/gbr/en/storage-ssd-bx100
-=-= THE HARD DRIVE: WD BLUE 1TB =-=-
Essentially following the advice of youtubers like the sheep that I am, I went with a 1TB WD Blue, and I have not been disappointed. The drive has great performance for a HDD, and I haven't run into any issues so far. I bought this secondhand, for £28.90 on ebay. Here's the spec sheet: https://www.cnet.com/products/wd-blue-1tb-sata-600-64mb-buffer/specs/
-=-= THE GRAPHICS CARD: KFA2 HOF GTX 980 =-=-
This is widely considered to be the best GTX 980 on the market, with its triple fan cooling design, and spectacular overclocking. I wanted this PC to be capable of VR to some extent, so I looked up what people believed to be the minimum required. I watched the market for months on end, trying to find one of the following around £150: GTX 970, GTX 980, GTX 1060, R9 390, R9 390X, R9 Fury, GTX 780Ti Then, after finding out my power supply was not powerful enough for any of the R9 cards, I reverted to just the NVidia cards. I lost my patience, and dropped £200 + shipping on a GTX 980 on facebook marketplace (I'm telling you, its a GOLDMINE), and i have not been disappointed. This card destroys everything I play; I play all of my games on max settings with huge Supersampling. Most games play nicely with 4K supersampling (hence, the '4k' in the title), with the most demanding titles requiring me to drop down to 1440p supersampling (still crazy), and GTA V being the stubborn kid of the group, needing me to use native 1080p like some kind of peasant. unbelievable. I do fear for the future with only 4GB of VRAM, but we shall see. Again, I don't know what I'm doing with overclocking, but with my measely understanding, I was able to get a good 190MHz boost to core clock, and about 600MHz on the memory. Some day I swear I'll learn how to overclock properly. Here's the spec sheet: http://www.galax.com/en/graphics-card/galax-geforce-gtx-980-hof.html (KFA2 and GALAX are the same company)
-=-= THE POWER SUPPLY: ROSEWILL CAPSTONE 650W =-=-
Hoping that 650W would be enough to run my system, I took the cheapest new power supply I could find with acceptable efficiency. I don't trust buying power supplies secondhand. To do this, I used my secondary home, PriceSpy. Seriously, this website is an absolutely miracle. Imagine a car insurance comparison website, but for almost anything; compare prices from a ridiculous number of trustworthy retailers, based on individual products, catagories, or specs. Anyway, this psu seems pretty incredible for the price; with semi-modular cables (is there any real need for full modularity over semi??), 80+ gold efficiency, and oh yeah, it's made by Rosewill. I got this for £61.79 shipped, from CCL. Here's the spec sheet: https://www.rosewill.com/rosewill-capstone-g650-capstone-g-series-650w-modular-power-supply-80-plus-gold-certified-single-12v-rail-sli-crossfire-ready.html (what is up with rosewill's website??)
-=-= THE CASE: COOLTEK TG-01R =-=-
After much research online, I finally decided to search on YouTube: "cheapest tempered glass PC case" and boy did it pay off. This BEAUTY of a case features 2 (yes, two) tempered glass side panels, USB 3.0, 4 included fans, and if you want, you can have 3 of those fans be RGB-capable. Now that's what I call high end. It it cost me £48. Unbelievable. I'd highly recommend you check out Baecher Computer's review (where i discovered it) of this case to see just how gorgeous it is: https://youtu.be/52_u3hrqkWQ Moreover, Baecher Computer claims to have gotten his for just 30 euros; about £26. Utterly insane. CoolTek are a German manufacturer who go by many names, you may also have heard of Jonsbo and a few others. They tend to make more unique designs at a variety of pricepoints. They even featured on LinusTechTips in a fairly recent event. Can't remember for the life of me which event but.
This was my first building experience, so I can't REALLY comment on the build quality/experience etc as I have no frame of reference. However, I can tell you that I had no problems at all. There are no rubber gromits, but I'm not bothered in the slightest at this pricepoint, and it even looks a bit cleaner without in my opinion. Please note that to remove the front panel from the case, you just pull it. I struggled with this for far too long... The only problem I encountered (apart from those GOD AWFUL snap-out PCIe covers... why.......) was CoolTek's HORRIFIC mounting mechanism for the glass side panel... It's literally just four thumbscrews and that's about it. I would have REALLY appreciated a little lip just below the window in order to catch it as it tumbles off when unscrewed, but no. It's just the thumbscrews. Then again, are you really going to be opening your computer much? I honestly don't care, it's especially worth it when compared to the good features of this amazing case.
Now, you've got a couple of options if you're interested in this case (and you should be). 1) Be a peasant like me and go for the LED fan edition. Can't believe I did this, its definitely worth the upgrade to RGB. Get it shipped from Reichelt (they have other colours too) for as cheap as £47.47 with the blue LED version: https://www.reichelt.com/gb/en/Computer-Cases/index.html?ARTICLE=197668 They've got other colours too; I picked up the red version because it fits with my RAM and cooler. 2) Be even more of a peasant and get the unlit version. I didn't look up pricing, but I imagine it'll be considerably cheaper. 3) Get the RGB version! Its worth the teensy price bump for sure. The cheapest place I found without shipping was from Alternate UK, who are selling for just £48.49: https://www.alternate.co.uk/html/product/1321035 BUT, that crept up quite a bit when I continued to checkout for postage reasons. Give it a go and see whether postage is worth it for you. However, you CAN get it considerably cheaper that Alternate's ridiculous shipping costs, if you buy from German Amazon! This is a German manufacturer, after all. After messaging them directly, I found out that the cheapest seller on there (JACOB EleKtronik) CAN in fact post to the UK, and have it up for sale for just £49.52! Bargain! I can't believe I didn't go for this, I just rushed my purchase with Reichelt. https://www.amazon.de/dp/B01N4DXSLW
cough cough AAaaaaanyway... moving on.... sorry about that....
-=-= THE CPU COOLER: GAMERSTORM MAELSTROM 240T =-=-
I knew that I wanted to get a decent overclock out of my CPU, so i decided to go with a 240 AIO. Again, searching for the cheapest I could find with appropriate specs, I ended up going for this red LED version for £37 from ebay. With no real frame of reference I don't think I can comment, but from what I've seen, water cooling is definitely what it's hyped up to be; a high performer. When i finally decide to properly learn how to overclock I'll update this thread with the thermal performance. I actually ended up buying some thermal grizzly cryonaut to use, but it turns out this cooler comes with thermal paste pre-applied! What a nice touch! When i decide to overclock my CPU, I'll probably be replacing this with cryonaut for performance's sake. Here's the spec sheet: http://www.gamerstorm.com/product/CPULIQUIDCOOLER/2016-03/1286_4946.shtml
-=-= MY TOOLKIT: KOOTEK 63 IN 1 =-=-
I'd just like to quickly touch on this, as it has proven incredibly useful to me. Unlike many other cheap amazon toolkits, the screwdriver bits are not made of the typical "chineseum" metal that seems to strip almost instantly. The kit has plenty of bits, a detachable magnetic head, and that flexible attachment is an absolute LIFE SAVER, helping you get in really awkward spaces. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MXEQBJ6
-=-= Conclusions =-=-
I ran VRMark's orange room test, and achieved a fantastic result of 7302 points; 160FPS. Then after applying a little overclock, I got 7900 points; 172FPS! Just fantastic. I can't wait to get my hands on a headset to test this thing out. After running furmark 126.96.36.199 for 10 minutes, I achieved an average of 80 degrees, with a little bump near the end hitting a max of 88 degrees.... i'm honestly a bit uncomfortable with that. Maybe time to set up a custom fan curve. I then ran furmark's CPU burner for a good 10 minutes (immediately after the previous stress test), and the CPU levelled off at 61 degrees, hitting 100% usage on all cores. Basically, I have a lot of overclocking headroom.
This PC was an absolute success, even though I ended up spending far more than originally planned - the original plan was around £500-600 with a 970, a slightly cheaper mobo, cheaper RAM, and no extra storage drive. But I think it was definitely worth it. So, to anyone else planning a new system, I have three recommendations: 1) use X79. The motherboards may be pricey, but the CPUs are not, and they perform spectacularly. 2) get the Cooltek TG-01RGB! It is an INCREDIBLE case! especially for the money! I'm surprised this thing doesnt cost upwards of at least £100-£200, considering today's case market. 3) use pricespy! it is a stroke of genius, not only for PC parts, but for pretty much anything. I commonly use it for browsing monitors and electric guitars.
I'm planning on fitting some RGB strips for the inside of the case because, as you can see, you pretty much can't see anything at the moment. I'm also going to be hackintoshing the hell out of this thing, because apparently its compatible! woohoo!
If anyone has any feedback for me, I would love to hear it! I'm also happy to run benchmarks and check in game FPS for those who wish to hear it. Just let me know. Here is my userbench page for this build: http://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/7768881 (ignore that extra HDD, that will be moving to another PC I'm selling very soon) I hope this article has been useful to you <3 ~ Jasper
A beastly CPU, I got mine for £80 on ebay (usually goes for cheaper). Absolutely chews through games, VR and 4K titles, and productivity tasks. Only problem is you'll need an X79 motherboard if you want to oc. These are usually very expensive; I got mine for £150 on ebay. easily worth it though. Only thing comparable is the R5 1600.
Brilliant motherboard. Everything stable as can be, and still running like new. It's got some nice and beefy heatsinks on the VRMs, so no worries for overclocking. IO is brilliant. PCIe 3.0, even for an old board. 4-way crossfire and SLI support. Only issue - as with all SBe mobos - is its quite expensive for an old motherboard. I got mine for £150 shipped on ebay. couldnt be happier otherwise.
Great RAM, no issues! Haven't tried overclocking. Looks great, and the metal feels really good in the hand. Really nicely built. I got mine shipped on facebook marketplace for £53.
It's an SSD! I don't really have a frame of reference since this is my first and only SSD, but after buying it second hand, and then using it for at least a year afterwards, it's still running like new. Couldn't be happier! I got mine for £45 on ebay.
It's a hard drive, 'nuf said. Runs nice and quiet, still working good as new after nearly a year of use. I got mine for £28.90 on ebay.
A beastly card! Chews through 4K titles with ease on max settings, and achieved double the minimum spec in VRMark. I got mine for £200 on ebay. Huge overclocking potential, google it!
Fantastic! easily enough wattage for my needs, plus overclocking headroom. Gold efficiency. Semi-modular - I don't see a need for full modular. Still running nice and quiet after nearly a year of use. Made by Rosewill (obviously), so I expect high quality components. I got mine new for £61 on CCL. couldn't be happier!
A legendary PC case. two TG panels, USB 3, and its cheap af. Looks gorgeous. Two downsides: The TG panel has a stupid mounting method, of 4 rubber padded screws and literally nothing else. it's a bit of a pain, but you get used to it. Also, the PCIe covers are snap-out. WHY. It's ridiculous. Baecher Computer (youtube) claims to have gotten his unlit version for €30 (~£26) which is absolutely astounding. You can get the RGB version, new for £49.52 from JACOB EleKtronik on German Amazon. I've asked and they do ship to the UK. I very stupidly got the single colour LED version from Reichelt for £48. HIGHLY recommended.