What will this computer be used for?
A single use for this computer is kind of hard to pinpoint. I really just wanted it all for as little amount of money as I could get. I will use this as a family PC, a gaming PC, a workstation, a Plex server, and an audio recording PC. I need it to do everything pretty well. And I know that having a non-specialized machine means you do a lot of things, but nothing great. I'm willing to settle for 1080p gaming if it means saving money and having everything else that I want. In the future I plan to have a specialized HTPC / Gaming PC that will connect to this computer, but for now here it is.
- Crush 1080p gaming
- Be able to develop code and edit photos for my job as a web developer
- Lots of storage for games, photos, videos
- Ability to record and edit audio recordings in the future.
What was my budget?
My budget was supposed to stay reasonable. My Macbook Pro was losing it's appeal and I proposed building an upgrade that would DESTROY any Macbook Pros on the market while staying close to a 13 inch Macbook Pro price. So I tried to be VERY savvy about my price purchases just to make that performance difference as obvious as possible to my wife who doesn't care about GHz as much as caring about how easy it is to use. (fast boot times, put web browsers on SSD because I know that's mostly what the family will use).
Overall budget should sit between $1,200 - $1,800
I love this computer. Building it with my son was incredibly fun. It helped give a 3 year old a passion as well as a confidence that he can do anything he sets his mind to. It's everything I wanted it to be.
Found this CPU for a great price at Micro-Center. This was less money than the non-overclocked version. I really wanted a reliable CPU since audio editing and development was going to be a part of this machine. I think this CPU has been incredible. I still have to play around with overclocking, since my overclock profiles aren't exceeding the normal boost on this CPU. That's more of an issue with me than the CPU itself.
So this part was a pivot point. I originionally had the idea to have a wind-cooled system; and most of my parts reflect that. But one of my friends, user Brethren2k here, convinced me that a liquid cooler would give me a better performance than a mid-level air cooler. I chose teh H75 on sale because it seemed like a good mid-level liquid cooler. The push pull configuration is really when I start to take cooling seriously. That's why this part was chosen.
After hearing about, and experiencing, some quality issues with ASRocks motherboards I looked into an alternative motherboard provider. I got a VERY good performing motherboard from MSI on a server build so I decided to see what they had. This Krait motherboard looked incredible. With all the features I wanted in a really nice black and white color scheme that fits perfectly to the asthetic I wanted to achieve. It performs well, was easy to set up, and just looks amazing. I've seen a lot of people posted builds with it since I bought mine in february. That just goes to show that great minds think alike?
I wanted 16GB for my multi-tasking and audio recording needs. I wanted fast but easy to use ram. I wanted it to look nice in my board. Kingstons Fury White 1866 DDR3 ram was perfect. It is smart enough to run at the max frequency the CPU allows, and since my CPU allows 1866 Ghz ram, it was the perfect choice. It felt good to hold, seems sturdy... I just love it.
So for the SSD I really wanted something nice, like a Samsung EVO. But when I saw this SSD on sale at Amazon for $80, I decided to jump on that. It performed well. Only one thing I didn't like and that was that the person who shipped it sent the wrong mounting hardware. But that has nothing to do with the SSD itself.
I was going to get a 2TB WD Black. But for the same price I saw a 4TB Toshiba. I understand the quality is a bit different, but twice the hard drive space on a drive that's whole purpose is to have a lot of space seems like a no-brainer kind of deal. Picked this guy up at Micro-Center.
So originally I wanted an airflow build, so the Windforce 970 G1 from Gigabyte seemed like an obvious choice. Since I plan to also use Adobe products NVIDIA was a must. And the 970 seemed like more than enough to crush 1080p gaming. The blue lights help accent the black and white case. Painting it white REALLY made it feel like home. And I got it on sale for $287.
Ok so this was hardly a savvy buy. I wanted good airflow, and easy cable management. I wanted a window and compartmentalization. Then I saw the lights outside and the LED strip you could get and well... common sense went out the door. But this case really gave more than it took and I wouldn't change my decision here. It came with a great little hardware box and so much extra hardware that I was able to use some of that to mount that SSD that came with incorrect mounting screws.
Also it's modularity allowed me to open airflow to my graphics card from the front, as well as clear some space for my cable extensions that I measured incorrectly when ordering. Apparently banana for scale was a joke? There's a photo of what I'm talking about.
I really wanted modular because cable management. At the time that I was buying these parts I never did a build before. Since then I did some for my work but this is the first photo build nice enough to share. This power supply was on sale at Newegg with a MIR and seemed great. Power efficiency does matter to me and it gives plenty of head room for my rig which was calculated to need about 361W.
That headroom means my PSU lasts longer and can reduce any PSU related issues.
Wireless Network Adapter
By the time I chose the Wifi adapter I made the decision to use Ubuntu as my operating system (I was gonna get windows but I decided a free and more flexible OS was better for me. I also do Linux all day at work and like it more). This was a $20 wifi card that fits the specs on my router. And the ubuntu bit is important cause Ubuntu's ISO already comes with drivers for it.
But eventually i went back to Windows. It still works decently.
So 1080p gaming, 1ms response time, 24 inches, 80,000,000/1 contrast ratio... for $160 after MIR. I mean... yeah!
Note: Newegg says this doesn't come with speakers.... it does.... just want to let you know.
I wanted a mechanical keyboard. I wanted a quiet keyboard with RGB profiles and programmable keys. Quiet and mechanical are an oxymoron. I went with a mechanical feeling keyboard and got the raptor k40 and saved some money. Great keyboard!
After my Dynex cheapo mouse died I wanted a very clean and simple mouse. The Logitech G100s is awesome! This is my first real gaming mouse and I absolutely love it.
Wanted a headset to talk to people while i pretend to listen to them. A white $60 gaming headset was really nice. But the sound is... meh. I have in ear studio quality earbuds that really bring out the awesomeness in games and the mic on my webcam is better.
Again Newegg said my monitor didn't have speakers. So i bought some cheap ones used on Amazon. They ended up being pretty nice. Really good buy for the money.