This is my small-form long-awaited first build. Sweet-Looking i3 Computer Knockout. As all you part-pickers know the first build is a great one because there’s so much research, time, problem solving, and tweaking that goes into the first PC, and that’s exactly how my experience was with this machine. I wanted a computer that could perform well with the select few games I love (Fallout series, Half Life, Just Cause, Starcraft, Deus Ex) and was fairly inexpensive. I couldn’t be happier with the result! I bought several parts from private sellers and saved a ton that way. Then I just waited for the right parts to go on sale and made a few changes when good prices came around. Flexibility is the key to airpower!
**First pic is the finished product. I tried to put them in chronological order as I updated fans, lighting, etc.
Insight and thoughts: Building a computer for the first time is awesome for so many reasons, but my favorite part was the problem solving. I spent so much time on this site looking at all these clean builds with their cable management and nice colors and thought “That looks simple enough!” Not so. But again, that’s the beauty of the First.
Case: This was the first thing I knew I had to have. I wanted a small computer case with a cool window and good cable management. From what I’ve seen online, this is one of the best for the mATX size. I may also mod the case a bit, paint it or slap on some vinyl, then I’ll update the pics.
Motherboard: I was planning on the MSI H110 gaming pro, but this one went on sale and it has 4 instead of 2 RAM slots so that’s a nice expansion option. I have read a few articles online that say performance with RAM and CPU speeds actually decreases a bit if you run 4 RAM sticks instead of 2, so I may just upgrade to 2x8 at some point instead of 4x4. MSI has excellent BIOS options and software for their motherboards. The BIOS controls fan speeds, and Afterburner lets me view my CPU and GPU temps and fan speeds as well as lots of other options.
**THIS FACT is also online is some places but it caused me a lot of anxiety before I found it. I bought the new i3-7100 because it was on sale and same price as the 6100. I didn’t realize the mobo did not have the BIOS update to work with this processor, so when I had it ALL built and turned it on, the monitor said “No Signal”. I read online and spent a day or two thinking I had fried something or that a part was defective and I hated the idea of having to send a part back because I WANTED TO PLAY NOW!!! But then I read about the Kaby Lake/older mobo problem. So I found a local computer shop and they flashed+updated the BIOS for me, and then it worked perfectly. The only workaround for this would be to send the mobo in to the manufacturer and they do it for free, but the turnaround time was like 2 weeks. Or you can drop in an older processor, update the BIOS yourself, then put in the new processor.
Graphics Card: I wanted this to be the part I could most future-proof if I had the money. Had some extra cash and found someone selling a used one so I jumped at the opportunity. Otherwise I would have gone with the GTX 1050 Ti which was around $120.
**NOTE: Is there a way I can increase my FPS with this GPU/monitor combo? Pretty much all the games I’ve played sit right at 60 no matter what settings I use.
Fans: With my configuration, the front two fans and bottom fan are intake and are connected with the CPU to the CPUFAN header; the top two fans are exhaust and are connected to SYSFAN 1 header; small two back fans are exhaust and are connected to SYSFAN 2 header. I can control each header from the BIOS menu.
Keyboard is a Razer Blackwidow I think, found it used online.
Storage: Corsair Force GT 120 GB SSD (OS), and Crucial M500 512 GB SSD (Games, music)
Let me know what you think, feel free to give advice on aesthetics or function!
I probably read the most about CPUs because they are a big investment into the whole system and I didn’t want overkill or bottlenecking. Didn’t care for overclocking and read great things about the i3-6100 even paired with a GTX 1060. So I planned on that, but then the 7100 came out and went on sale, so that was fine with me. I know there’s not really a significant performance increase, but whatev
Looks great, silent, easy to install and control
Great size and functionality, sturdy, good-looking. I wanted a small mobo with only one PCI slot that had good BIOS functionality. Sturdy components, good placement of headers and ports, and EZ Debug LEDs are nice for troubleshooting.
This thing performs incredibly on anything I’ve thrown at it. Ultra/max settings it’s comfortable at 60 FPS, and most times the fans on the card don’t even run because it never heats up that much. I was concerned with this at first, but then I started running a temp monitor while I played and it never gets above 50 C really. Dual fans and backplate make for a nice look.
Lots of space for cable management, great airflow, removable panels on all sides. Yes, the power cables from the GPU barely touch the plastic window, but it doesn't bulge or compress anything.
I LOVE the modular-ness. Saves so much room and makes things very simple. Super quiet and has nice black cables.
Wireless Network Adapter
Surprising reception, small and simple to install.
Quiet, looks cool
Best value for 4-pin PWM fans, in my opinion. Almost can't hear all 7 fans running at idle temps. They have this handy parallel connecting feature (see pics) so I don’t need a splitter or anything.
Works very well, I love the size, simplicity and features. Has the ability to mount on a wall. Can’t beat 2ms response, very clean picture when moving around in games.
Great mouse, goes up to 10,000 dpi which can be adjusted through the Razer software.
Cheap but very effective lighting and simple. I don’t need a rave going on in my dang case. They attach magnetically which makes them very easy to re-position.
It's RAM, works well, bought it on sale. I feel likes it looks a little out of place, but it's fine for now.