Description

About a year and a half ago, I got back into PC gaming via my wife, when she lured me into Skyrim. We dropped 300 some hours on it, playing on a 2008 Macbook Pro running windows... because it had the 512 megs of video RAM to handle, well, about 15-20 fps on lowest settings. I started dreaming of better times, higher frame rates, HD textures... so for christmas she gave me a wad of cash and said "Go crazy." We're a frugal pair, and game on the couch at all times, so the requirements were: as close to $800 as possible, pretty well future-proofed, quiet, and should run most things at 1920x1080 on maxed out settings at playable fps.

I'm happy to say we did it. Taking advantage of some nice local and online deals, we put this together. It's worth noting that while neither of us are strangers to PC builds, having upgraded plenty in the past, this was our first from scratch. There were some harrowing moments (Yes, the CPU is supposed to make a sickening "crunch" when levered into place... No, that big air cooler isn't going to fit both fans... Yes, the computer is booting up properly, you were supposed to plug in two power cables to your video card... you get the idea), but we're now running heavily modded Skyrim at the target resolution with all setting maxed out at 60 fps, and it's everything I dreamed it would be.

Best wife ever? Best wife ever.

Comments

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

D'aww. +1 for the love story <3 Also good parts, but the ram sticks aren't placed right, those should be in same coloured slots.

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for both the comment and the advice. I figured that out when the on-board display was throwing me error codes on boot... Wish I'd had you around to tell me I'd done it wrong when I took this photo – would've saved me a headache!

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

I'm pretty sure the motherboard manual would've told you the same thing ;)

  • 55 months ago
  • 3 points

Indeed it did. But you know how it is... OMG I WANNA PUT THIS TOGETHER NOWWWWW, right? Next time a measure of patience and careful reading will save me plenty of trouble, and I'll get to honestly say "booted on the first try!"

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

I DO know the feeling. I made the mistake of incorrectly plugging in the front panel cables. Probably tried 3 times until the manual told me which cables were positive/negative.

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

Great build!But one thing: You put you your I/O shield on backwards! You want to put it on from the inside. Other than that, +1!

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the props! Weirdly, that is from the inside. I agree it looks nutty, but it's got a few leaf springs to pop into place from the inside, then has that unappealing lip... I took it out and put it back in a few times, trying different ways, but ultimately, it's like you said: from the inside.

I think it's just a poor design. It looks flimsy and ill-fitting... given that this is ASRock's "extreme" series, and they know with all that heatsink cladding and blue anodized flair that the market for this board is likely folks who care about how things look and fit, they'd have put more effort into something that doesn't look like it was made out of an old Folger's can.

Do you know if there are like, good aftermarket I/O shields? I can image that would be tough to market, but I'd be interested!

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

I couldn't agree more on the poor design of it. I actually have the Extreme6 motherboard, and I love it, but the I/O shield feels like it's made of aluminum foil! I've also been in the search for a new I/O shield, but so far I haven't found any.. I'll keep you updated if do!

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

Why did you go with the HTPC case?

  • 55 months ago
  • 6 points

A few reasons. First, we both have pretty modern, minimal taste. Of all the cases I looked at, that led me to pretty much the most conservative HTPC cases or stuff from, like Fractal design (almost went with this Core 1000 model, but the microATX restriction meant "future-proofing" was pretty limited). This one is pretty much the most minimalist case I could find... like a chunk of black rock. Love it.

Second, we wanted something that fit in with our current media setup. Initially, before deciding that future expandability was something we wanted, I was looking at small form-factor options (and prebuilt systems like the Alienware Alpha). For the first version of this build, I almost went with this case from Silverstone, because it's almost console-sized but still fits a dual-slot, full-length video card (which was non-negotiable once I locked in that insane price on the 290x), and if I had waited a bit and seen Silverstone's next SFF offering at CES, I probably would have waited to buy that. But again, this would severely limit future expansion... but it would fit in our TV bench. Decisions, decisions.

Third, that future-proofing I keep talking about. I wanted the option to stuff in more disk space once I can afford an SSD and/or hardware RAID, to add a tray-loading optical drive if I wanted, to add a dedicated sound card if it ends up being our A/V hub, to go for Crossfire, to tweak cooling beyond just what fits... So something that held a full ATX board with room for at least two video cards and a third free PCIe slot was mandatory. This got me there.

Last, just personal preference. This is a couch machine, and I've always preferred stacks of A/V equipment to a tower (or cube) just hanging out there, looking out-of-place. Even if we do decide to make this a proper mouse & keyboard machine in the future, I won't want to stuff it under a desk. It looks classy, modern, reserved. To anyone not looking for it, you'd never know it was a pretty powerful gaming rig. I like it that way. I like looking at case windows and fluorescent water cooling tubes and LED fans, too, just not in my own house.

I'd highly recommend this form factor, and Silverstone in general to anyone who wants something that looks pretty reserved.

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

Are you interested on installing XBMC or perhaps PLEX that will serve as your media center? I like the silverstone HTPC case. +1

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for your comment – and heck yeah on the case! Silverstone is getting it right here, though I only wish the fascia were actual brushed metal instead of plastic. It looks good and was a reasonable price, so no regrets.

I was super interested in that, yes...I'd love to have a 10-foot display from which I could access my Amazon Prime videos, Hulu, Xfinity TV, HBO Go, and Netflix... and launch Steam big picture, all from a single, boot-up interface. That's the dream, right?

Then I found out that you can't get Amazon Prime or Hulu on either XBMC (now Kodi) or PLEX, officially or unofficially, at least not in anythings better than (apparently buggy) 720p. Netflix is apparently kind of dodgy as well. There are nice Steam launchers for both, though!

If anyone reading this has insight into making my dream a reality, let me know. Until then, I'll still be running those apps from the WiiU, and starting my Deluminator up directly into Steam, switching to a browser for all the other stuff.

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

i think you need to fix your ram, you have one in the wrong slot. but other than that i love the build and of course the little story behind it. wish I had a wife like that xD

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I caught the RAM issue after I took the picture (but not before getting errors on boot... oops). I'm sure there's a good reason ASRock alternated the RAM slots, but I don't get it... Oh well! It's fixed and working quite nicely now!

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

i think its like that on most boards, i know its for the dual channel but im not sure why the placements like that

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

Were you able to fit the CPU cooler in the case with the drive bracket in place. I have the same case and the stock cooler I have is too loud. I just bought the same Noctua cooler, but it looks like it can't possibly fit with the drive bracket (I haven't yet taken everything apart).

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi there – there's a page in the manual about using big-air coolers that suggests many won't work with the drive bracket, and that is the case for me. If you need an optical drive or have to use the hard drive enclosure on the drive bracket, I don't think most coolers (including this Noctua) will fit with both fans installed, blowing front-to back. If you have them blowing left-to-right it will fit (though as with so many of these coolers, RAM clearance is an issue).

Since I wanted to use the drive bracket, I went with only one of the two fans on the Noctua, and extra case fans. So far, I'm running a very modest overlock with no issues, though I haven't done a lot of stress-testing.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

I'll post another photo showing the arrangement I ended up with.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

See the last picture. It's not ideal, and maybe in the future when I've got some spare cash I'll put a sealed water cooler in there instead, but for now this works just fine. I wouldn't push the processor much further with it as-is, but the Noctua is near-silent. In fact, the only loud thing in here is the video fan, as you might guess from the name "WINDFORCE"...

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

thanks so much. I was able to fit it in just barely. I have an amd chip and on my motherboard the cooler mounts 90 degrees different than yours. I originally had an optical drive in but it wouldn't fit with the new cooler. I chose low noise over a drive I never use. But the cooler did just fit with the drive bracket in place (and a hd mounted). thanks again for the advice. enjoy the machine.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Rad. If that works for your airflow, that's great! Glad to hear you made it work.

For me, I had the option of mounting either way, but blowing left-right would have poor airflow blocked by the video card. I went front/back with a single fan instead.

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

I'd be cautious with the water cooler, I bought a H55 only to find there isn't enough clearance between the fan mount and the motherboard with the bulkier fan + radiator

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Love the questions and feedback, y'all! This has been an awesome learning experience, and I'm super happy with the results, and engaging with people makes it so much better. keep 'em coming!

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh, and I couldn't possibly have done this without, first and foremost, the comments and builds of this amazing community. What an insanely positive and constructive community! You people are great.

Also, for anyone just getting started, I highly recommend starting your research at Tom's Hardware, specifically this guide to building a PC. The reviews and comparisons there helped me make my final selections after using the comments and builds here to make short lists.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

I am taking a survey and asking everyone what their serial number begins with I am looking for trends as to which boards serial number are BAD I have found that some boards start with a 46 47 48 are BAD My serial number starts with a 48 PLEASE HELP ME thank you info found on reddit post here http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/comments/2jrt1b/psarequest_possible_reoccurring_problem_with_the/

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey, so sorry you've had a bad experience, but glad you're looking for trends. Mine has had no issue (after checking out your thread, I tried to recreate the problem, and mine seems rock solid). My S/N starts with 49, but here's something you might take note of – when I bought mine (in person), I took it off the shelf and noticed that half of the boxes said "Made in China" and half said "Made in Vietnam." I went with the Vietnam model... I'd guess that different plants have different S/N's, but this might help you in your trend-seeking?

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

OK thank you

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Great story and build that looks similar to mine. How are you finding the noise with the cards and cooler?

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks so much! I'd love to see your build, too. The noise is quite manageable. I actually stuffed three more Enermax 80mm fans in there because they were on sale, and even with now three 80mm, two 120mm,and a 92mm fan on the cooler, idle noise is pretty minimal. When I'm playing music or games, I don't really notice it. The noisiest part is the Windforce cooler on the Video Card. At idle, it's near silent, under very heavy load (Like, say, Skyrim with ultra textures, ultra presets, MSAA cranked all the way up, Edge-Detect...all the bells and whistles, 1080p), it gets going loud enough to notice, but not loud enough to bother me. I've been playing Bioshock Infinite all weekend with ultra presets, and the fans haven't gone much above idle at any point.

This is also with a very mild CPU overclock (4.0 GHz over the stock 3.5).

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build dude! Question for you: How much space do you have left above the graphics card? I'm trying to use a Gigabyte GV-N760WF2OC-2GD with this case, and I'm worried that extra top part will interfere with the top of the case. I know my hyper 212 evo won't fit, but I'm hoping the GPU will!

Thanks!

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Very nice setup- I have the same case myself. My focus has been on max performance + complete silence (or as close to as possible). That has led me to a Zalman CPNS9500 CPU cooler with the fan completely removed (!!), with the 2 case fans- Zalmans ULV fans pushing air directly onto the cpu cooler- temp's don't top 70 deg. Have you found cooling performance is fine with the fan grates on? I think its due to my low airflow fans but can only really maintain reasonable temp with them off. I've got it quieter than my TiVo box when running idle :) at 3am when the house is dead silent you can't tell if its on or off! only the GPU cooler cranks up @50deg when gaming (AMD 7950)

As for media centre.. I would hugely recommend investigating the Logitech Smart Hub remote, its fantastic, switching between all devices is a breeze, I can fully control Kodi to launch games/multimedia, control my xbox for netflix (does wii U have apps?) with a wireless xbox controller and synergy (remote mouse/keyboard control from my mac) I very rarely connect a mouse/keyboard to my pc these days :) perfect for the lounge.

Another point to make, you may be able to tidy things up in the HDD mounting space, with SSD's being 2.5" there is a 2.5" mount to the floor of the case behind the PSU, I'm currently utilising it + a vertical mounted 4TB at the front, no need for the big HDD mount- and who needs optical these days :p The 2.5" mount is no got for spinning drives as theres no way to mount it quietly- not a prob for SSD :)

  • 51 months ago
  • 1 point

man, i love your wife!

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