Description

~$2000 CAD MicroATC gaming PC with fun extras.

The Tobii EyeX doesn't have a PCPartPicker page, but it's a cool toy. Maybe I should've given the tech another year or two, but it has some extreme potential as an input device. I especially enjoy using it with a keyboard hotkey on the left side of my keyboard to teleport my cursor roughly to where I'm looking, and then doing the fine-tuning of cursor position with my right-handed mouse--on its own, it's still too inaccurate for pinpoint positioning at a reasonable screen resolution, but it's great when I've lost track of my cursor on my second display.

My hopes for eye tracking in the future are in window-focus and multi-display functionality; I think the concept of modern OS application focus, as it pertains to hotkeys and understanding which program is reading keyboard input, feels clunky and outdated in the era of multiple displays where your intuitive sense of which app is "most in the foreground" is subverted by something happening on another screen.

My secondary display, a tablet monitor, is unusually far off to the side, but it's more of a dedicated writing desk setup instead of something to remain in the peripheral vision while gaming. I shifted both monitors and case around several times, from desk to desk to floor, trying to come up with the best compromise for comfort, workflow, and cable reach, and I'm actually very satisfied with the way things are positioned now.

Future options for this PC:

  • Adding a UPS system would be the wisest thing to do, though I doubt I'll regret it too much if I wait to see a good deal. Just something cheap to cover me for 450 W or so ought to be fine, honestly

  • A webcam could come in handy, since I don't think the eye tracker's cameras can be used in place of one

Part Reviews

CPU

It's a 6600K, it's good.

As for mine: Overclocked 4.6 GHz @ 1.28 V, at pretty comfortable temps too, around 60 C. Definitely could go higher if I wanted to make my cooler work harder. These seem like good silicon lottery numbers.

CPU Cooler

It's definitely holding up, but it's by no means quiet when it's working hard. I like it though, great budget choice for overclocking.

Motherboard

Babby's first motherboard; for $140 CAD I got what I paid for--a kind of cheap-feeling Z170. The place where its flimsy back slots through the case hole where I plug in my video cables is without question the cheapest-feeling part of my case, but in terms of supported ports and overclocking and all that--the stuff that I looked at when I bought it--it hasn't let me down at all.

I've had some hangups with audio quality (volume too low through the front jack, crackling sounds through the main Line Out on the back), but I think I've got that all sorted out on the software side without having to buy a soundcard. To be honest, I don't know how I solved it; I just hope the problems don't come back. Knowing how to fix this kind of thing feels a bit like knowing the future after having divined it using the entrails of livestock.

I didn't really think about bundled firmware quality or anything like that when I chose my motherboard, and probably should've--some of the APP Center things, like the included Backup utility, inexplicably fail to run and while I don't have anything to compare the BIOS to, it's not the most intuitive thing. I also know this mobo doesn't support some of the fun lighting options in the provided Gigabyte software, as it just has a single red light that can pulse at most, but that doesn't really matter to me as I'm not trying to light up a dance club.

Memory

This was the cheapest 16GB DDR4-2400 available on the day I went shopping. Red wasn't my first choice, but it fits in my case and my mobo knows what it is.

Storage

Decided to splurge for M.2 (M) and I'm not disappointed with this "budget" one. You'd probably double the read/write speeds with a Samsung 950 Pro, but as fast as this thing already is and considering that storage gets so much better every year, I think making up the current price difference would be asking a lot unless money is no object for you.

Storage

I think I chose this because it had the best price of any 1TB drive at the time, at ~$0.06 per gb. I can't find anything wrong with it, and generally speaking, I don't think I'd be hearing it over my fans.

Video Card

It seems legit. I dunno--I like white, is all. I was a little concerned when I found that the fans were always running even while idle, but Asus had a bios update that fixed this on their website.

Case

It remains pretty when seen up-close. High enough in quality to make my motherboard look bad.

Power Supply

I didn't settle for a cheap-*** power supply in my build, and this has been a big source of comfort for me when messing around with overclocking and the like.

Operating System

Windows 10: I hate it, Five Stars

Wireless Network Adapter

Note that the 4.0 version I ordered on Amazon was actually the Rev 4.2, though PCPartPicker splits the items (you can see the "4.2" on the Amazon page's box image). I was able to get a better deal once I noticed. Working great so far.

I'd just note that I have no idea how much it works to my advantage to go PCIe instead of USB for my network adapter. This stuff is witchcraft to me, but I think if I were to throw in a soundcard into my other free PCIe slot now, I'd be reducing my GPU's performance, so I'd recommend knowing more than I do about how those lanes work.

Monitor

Couldn't ask for a better monitor. Well, I mean, sure, I could ask for double the pixel density, gsync, IPS, and a unicorn, but seeing as I only paid $300 CDN for this, I might as well be happy with what I got.

The only video cable that comes in the box is dual-link DVI, but that's just fine by me. If you use anything else just make sure that it'll support 144 hz, and that you're actually set to use 144 hz in your Windows display settings > advanced display settings > display adapter properties > monitor settings.

Keyboard

There are many reasons I liked this keyboard enough to keep using it when I switched from an old iMac to my Windows gaming PC. It's not too loud and doesn't take up a lot of space on my desk. It has a numpad, USB ports, and function keys up to F19.

What sucks is getting the volume controls and fn modifier key to work in Windows. I tried to install Boot Camp drivers, which "worked" after further registry changes, but was extremely hacky and ended up breaking everything else. My backup utility kept failing, which was traced to some Apple file system drivers. My clock became offset by 5 hours because Apple BIOS clocks are always set to GMT or something. And my computer kept waking itself up in the middle of the night, which I finally traced to a device identified as vid_05ac & pid_024f, which was... my keyboard again. It's my fault for trying to do this hacky ****, but it's only a keyboard, god damn it, it should've been doable.

Anyway, if anyone else ever finds this while trying to do something similar, don't try to use the drivers. Just try to live without the volume keys. Get some headphones that control your system volume, or set up some kind of autohotkey script or something.

External Storage

I see nothing wrong with this drive at under 4 cents per gb, unless you're reading this in the far future where people use gigabytes as toilet paper, in which case: how does that work and where did all the trees go

Custom

I wasn't sure what I was getting into with this weird Chinese tablet monitor that costs about $1500 less than an equivalent toy from Wacom, but its digitizer honestly outperforms the Cintiqs I've used from the same generation, in terms of both latency and fidelity. The colors look washed out from slanted viewing angles, but if you're using it to draw rather than to slouch in your chair watching Netflix, you've got nothing to worry about. Just make sure to pick up a VGA adapter and to have AAA batteries on hand for the stylus.

The default resolution of 1440x900 doesn't make for a very high pixel density, but I'd think twice about paying another thousand bucks to crank that up. Note that I've had this since April 2013 and while it's held up fine as of January 2017, I also have no idea what else has come out onto the market in the meantime.

Custom

Bought this for my tablet monitor. It was cheap and it rattles when it's shaken--which made me say "uh oh" before plugging it in--but so far it's done exactly what I've asked it to do.

Comments

  • 34 months ago
  • 3 points

To do for this PC: Add more/better photos to this build page

Yes please do. This looks nice. I'd love to see more.

Thumbs up.

  • 34 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks. And, done--photos are the easy part.

  • 34 months ago
  • 1 point

This looks awesome. Great build.

Thumbs up.