Back in 2008 I looked to pick up a decent gaming rig and eventually I chose Dell to supply me with such a machine.
The original spec of my XPS 630i was:
CPU - Intel Quad Core Q9450 @2.4 GhZ Mobo - Stock Dell mobo PSU - Dell 500V(non-modular) GPU - Nvidia 9800GT x2(SLI) RAM - 4GB HDD - Seagate 500GB O/S - Windows Vista Fans - Stock front intake fans x2, stock heat sink fan Case - Dell XPS 630i(Aluminium)
So, 8 years have passed since the original spec was delivered to my door and throughout the years I've upgraded various parts to try and keep the rig as competitive as possible. The GPU was changed to a Gainward GTX 560Ti 1GB Golden Sample, the RAM was upgraded to an 8Gb kit and the operating system changed to Windows 7(64 bit). All was pretty much well until the Windows 10 'free upgrade' was offered and eventually taken up by myself, this is where everything changed. Once the upgrade was complete my pc would continually loop which after much research I found out that the old stock mobo wasn't viable for Windows 10 as the manufacturer had ceased to exist well before Windows 10 was ever conceived which in turn gave me one massive problem, the bios simply could not be updated in order to run Windows 10 successfully.
In all honesty it was probably way past its best anyway so, I did my research, mostly on My630i.com and set about picking the parts for a new build and there were many possible pitfalls along the way so I tried to complete this build with the minimal amount of modding as possible. I would like to thank Springrolls build,TakeyoV2 (2015) Dell XPS 630i REBORN as this was another fine example of how to get it right especially when using the XPS 630i case. I stripped out the old gal in an afternoon after taking many pictures just in case, leaving a bare shell and lots of dust.
The following were the fundamental changes required to achieve better airflow than previously:
- First off, I did research into fitting a water-cooled system but I didn't want to be limited in terms of space so I decided to put this off until my next build which will be using a modern case, and as you know will give me much more room to have a fully loaded water-cooled system. Bottom line, I didn't want any half measures with regards to water-cooling and the 630i case would force many.
- As the old rig didn't have an exhaust fan instead opting to use the PSU to do the job I needed to have a good 90mm rear fan otherwise I was just going to cook the build plus that old PSU was probably not powerful enough to run what I needed anyway and it just wasn't worth the risk.
- The old build used x2 hard drive racks allowing x2 hard drives to be fitted in each rack, removal of the top rack therefore would help airflow and as I only wanted x2 hard drives anyway it was a no-brainer.
- The stock intake fans needed a quiet but effective replacement and although Noctua instantly came to mind I didn't like the aesthetics compared to the LED options available.
- The size of the CPU heat sink had to be researched and measured fully otherwise I could easily attempt to fit one only to find out that the door would simply not close.
- I opted for x2 Bitfenix Spectre Pro LED (blue) 120mm for the front intake fans and a Noctua Redux 90mm as both had good quality airflow and were relatively quiet especially the Noctua.
I did notice online that if I chose an Asus mobo there would be problems fitting certain front panel connectors so I opted for any non Asus mobo's to prevent any shortcomings as I wanted a straight forward build as possible. Whilst on the subject of mobo's I have got to mention the debacle over 3, yes 3 brand new MSI Z97 Gaming 5 mobo's from 3 different online sellers, all of which had RAM dimm slots 3 and 4 as faulty after a little testing. The pc would go into a boot loop until I took out the RAM stick in dimm slot 4. Beautiful mobo but marred by these events which would have a knock-on effect when choosing a new GPU as my confidence had been totally lost when thinking of MSI. My Gainward GTX 560Ti 1GB Golden Sample was also surplus to requirements as it didn't support Windows 10 so unfortunately I had to look to replace that too (with a grin on my face), and with the recent release of the 10 series of Nvidia cards some of which are giving GTX 980Ti performance I went with the more affordable 6GB 1060 series.
Once everything but the internal 3GB hard drive and the GPU had been ordered and received I set about building my first rig. Opposite end of the door taken off first, then fans fitted,PSU, DVD player, SSD fitted to hard drive rack with cables routed as neatly as possible. Mobo was then sat in place on its mounting risers, one riser removed as would be touching the back of the new mobo. All cables routed in place and the surplus threaded via the previously removed panel and taped to the case. The same panel which sits opposite the opening door then refitted taking care of the cables that were taped to the chassis. CPU fitted to Mobo, Thermal grease added, heat sink on, RAM sticks installed, mobo fitted to case although tough at first I was a dab hand by the time I'd fitted the 3 previous MSI mobo's haha. Cables from PSU fitted to mobo along with the front panel connectors and fan cables and zip ties used to tidy and untidy cables.
I decided to cut out the viewing window myself as I figured being a metal worker it would be lazy of me to pay to have it done. I left around 20mm of metal to be fixed to the perspex on the inside of the door, marked out in pencil as the case is made out of aluminium and drilled 4 10mm holes near each corner of the markings out on the door then cut out using a jigsaw very slowly about 2mm away from the cut line as I filed down the remainder. The perspex was then cut then filed down to just enough to fit inside the stiffeners on the inside of the door, adhesive added and allowed to set for about an hour with paint pots sat on top. Protective film removed from perspex, once cleaned door was complete.
Pc was updated and tested using on-board graphics and before long I bought the GPU, fitted, updated and tested fully. Currently I am only missing the Western Digital Black 3GB and the NZXT Hue+ to fully complete this build, which when I do I will take new pictures once finished. The current sound system is a Creative 5.1 surround and its something to consider upgrading even though its still works great. I am contemplating buying a new keyboard and mouse along with a new screen although its not essential as the current Dell screen kicks out 1920x1200 resolution and the keyboard and mouse work fine at the moment.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this build even if the mobo issues were a pain but it all in all it has shown me that with some research, a steady hand and a modest amount of funds you can build a decent pc yourself.
UPDATE July 2018. Since the first time I added this build onto PCpartpicker I've changed the spec a fraction by fitting a Western Digital Caviar Black 4TB instead of the previously mentioned 3TB version, I then bought a Vultech trolley for it to sit in safely as this feels sturdy, I finished the build off by adding a NZXT Hue RGB lighting system, as you can see it has illuminated the inside quite well.