Beware, the Wall of Text
This is a light gaming and general use system cobbled together from components lying around, as well as some additions that needed to be bought. The catalyst for this was when my best friend replaced his mATX board with an ATX board, and handed the old one to me. Previously, the house had a very old machine, a 775 socket running Vista(I know, it's terrible), with a GT 210 providing video output. I cannibalized all the usable parts from the old build- the case, PSU, and HDD. I needed to get a CPU and RAM, and threw in an SSD just for the amazing speed benefit- I had replaced the failing drive in my laptop with an SSD, and was used to that speed.
- This case isn't the worst, but it isn't anywhere near as good what's being made today. It has front and rear fans, a clear side panel with an integrated LED fan, and a top mounted PSU(beware falling components?). All of the fans are molex, so no fan control without jury-rigging something. The build quality is iffy at best- it's all steel, and almost none of the edges are folded over; pretty easy to get some scrapes in. In addition to this, all expansion slots use the punch-out single-use cover plates; ick. The rear of the motherboard tray is sealed off as well- wasn't too pleased when I rediscovered that.
- The HDD is a tiny bit noisy as it is pretty old, but it still works well. No complaints here.
The PSU is Antec- you can't really go wrong here, they're a legendary company.
The new motherboard was an item hoarded from a friend when he upgraded to an ATX board(why not get all the parts you can?).
- The Pentium I got because it was on sale and unlocked(OC'ed to 4.0GHz on the stock cooler, maxes out at 65 degrees, not bad). Planning on getting a CM Hyper TX3, because it fits in the case with the side fan. The fan is secured with plastic rivets, so I'm not too keen on trying to remove it.
- The memory, because I didn't have any DDR3 laying around. Yes, I know it was overpriced, but I mistakenly bought it on the markup period before Black Friday. Won't make that mistake again.
- The SSD for fast boots and for more storage-250GB on a hard disk isn't much nowadays.
First, I had to clean out the old system. Removing the old system components was easy- but removing all the dust was not. Cleaning up took about a day of work. Popping new components in was easy after that.
These parts all worked together in relative harmony- after taking a WEEK to install Windows. This motherboard is terrible, and I don't know how my friend got Windows installed the first time. Using the SAME USB install drive that he did(it's mine, I let him borrow it),I started the machine- annnnd this board didn't recognize it as a bootable device. I tried every port, nothing worked. I also tried creating install disks- which all but one of crashed on install. I finally got Windows installed, and everything worked for awhile- until the system locked up. Rebooting, the SSD was gone. I rebooted many times, and each time it wasn't there. I finally pulled it out, thinking it was dead and needed to be RMA'd- but to check, I connected it to my laptop. And it showed up. After popping it back into the machine, it booted right up. After it happened again a week later, I tried leaving the drive in place and just re-seating the SATA connector- and it worked! How happy! Unfortunately, the board has a crappy SATA controller that doesn't like SSD speeds. It'll be the next upgrade.
Speaking of upgradesThe 950 STRIX was a Christmas gift- and it is AMAZING. Overclocked, it'll do just about anything I ask it to do, and stays pretty frosty while still being quiet. Custom profile running a 1450MHz core clock, 6620MHz memory clock, and fan speed set at 65% constant.
Another Christmas gift was the PCI wireless card. Previously, I had been using a USB nano-sized wireless dongle stolen from the back of a Blu-Ray player- that little enabler maxed out at 300kb/s. This is a very nice upgrade for when I need to move it to a spot without a LAN connection.
EDIT: Added pictures of cable management, both in the case as well as under the desk.
EDIT 2: Updated partslist to what I currently have as a total setup. M+K, monitor, sound, everything. Both the keyboard and monitor have a dual USB2 hub built into them, but the one on the keyboard is unpowered.
EDIT 3: Updated clocks and temps to reflect what I'm currently using, 1/18/16.
MASSIVE EDIT, 19th MARCH 2016
Had a budget-minded system overhaul. The Biostar board started giving me frequent crashes, with the(very rare) bluescreen indicating heat issues.
Basically the day after I decided on and bought the Cryorig to hopefully solve this- I start getting voltage errors. Turns out that the VRMs on the Biostar were not the best quality in the world. Shop around for a month or so, found this wonderful Sabertooth board for a steal. Buyer said it had a few bent pins, decided that the risk was worth it.
Got it today, straightened out the ones that I could(broke two voltage pins, kinda sad but oh well), annnnd the rest of the day was weird as hell. Ten hours of troubleshooting is fun.
As it turned out.... The 24-pin cable needs to be unplugged and reseated every time you remove/add a component. I have no idea why, but it does.
Now this system is super stable and overclocked a little further- 4.3GHz. If I had those two voltage pins it would probably be stable at 4.5 without adding a nuclear power plant to it, but it's fine where it is.
More pictures! Slightly worse cable management! Yay!
Also added a tiny fan I found laying around. Spliced it in series with the other, because it made way too much noise trying to suck air through the tiny acrylic holes at 3000+RPM.
Swapped the G3258 for a Xeon E3-1231v3, because hyperthreaded quad core. Duh. All of the chassis fans have come off, replaced by two 80mm PWM fans. I couldn't deal with the steady noise outside of gaming. Swapped the Antec for an RM750, because vanity. That's about the only changes I made this time. Pentium featured in a new build here.
For a Haswell CPU, this is amazing. Low temps, decently fast, ALL OF THE THREADS. ALL OF THEM.
This thing is great. Compared to the Hyper TX3 that my friend has, it kills basically everything. The Noctua offering at this size is a little better, but that may or may not be down to thermal pastes- and at $20USD, it can't be beat.
Absolutely amazing board for Haswell.
Feels like I stole it at this price though.
Great card at sub-1080. Draws a loooooot of wattage though.
This is possibly the best thing I have ever seen. Removing the case from the plastic wrap and the box... I legitimately lost my train of thought and just stared at it.
It also happens to be a beauty to build in and is below whisper quiet too.
Epic. Running Prime95 and Furmark simultaneously, I can't get the fan to spin. This power supply is epic, and I need more graphics cards to fully utilize it.
Very good mouse. It's not a fullsize, but has a decent weight to it and the battery lasts a surprisingly long time. Try not to move too many things between the mouse and the receiver, though- the connection will brown out.
Best headset I've ever had, and the mixer is amazing. It's a bit on the heavy side, but the mic quality is very good and the functionality is top-notch.
Really good speakers for the price. Beware the thin 3.5mm connector and it's small gauge wires- they break if you bend it more than a few times. It's mean for emplaced systems, not something that moves around a lot or simply gets disconnected sometimes, like a laptop.