It has been about a month since I built a new PC. Maybe 2. The days sort of blend together. As a result I’ve been able to use the new system and can perhaps offer my thoughts on my component selection. This is hardly a ‘budget” build- it is, for all intents and purposes, ridiculously extravagant. Total cost comes to around $2600. For contrast, however, here is the system it replaced:
- Gigabyte GA-EP43-UD3L LGA 775 Motherboard
- Corsair XMS2 DDR2 (4*2GB)
- Corsair TX750 750 Watt Power Supply
- Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @2.33GHz
- BFGTech NVidia GeForce 9800GT
- Cooler Master Centurion 514 Black
- LG Super Multi DVD RW + Lightscribe
- Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
This system served me well. When I originally built it, I bought a 750GB Seagate hard disk drive, then later I purchased an additional 1.5TB Hard Drive for it as well. This build took place in 2009. Components were from 2006 or so ( a step behind the latest) for money-saving reasons (I was replacing a 1.6Ghz Single-core P4, so it would be easy to improve anyway). Since I used this system for a long time, I’ll offer my review of each component above:
When purchasing a motherboard, my main concern was, at the time, gigabit ethernet. In the price range this was one of the few that offered it. Also since I intended to purchase an additional Graphics card, I aimed for a motherboard that did not have on-board graphics, since that would be cheaper than one that included it. It was a motherboard and served as a motherboard what can I say? The one thing I have noticed is that it is very finicky about what situations it will boot in. For example, I diagnosed a problem for nearly 30 minutes where it simply refused to boot at all- system would start, then shut off immediately. Suspiciously like an overheating CPU. But turned out- after all the effort of repasting the CPU, remounting the fan, etc. that it was because I had one of the case fans disconnected. As I recall this was however a BIOS option that I simply never changed, though it seems a bit silly to prevent booting in that case, but oh well. The non-existence of SLI capabilities was a non-issue since that was never something I intended to pursue at the time.
Corsair XMS2 DDR2 (4*2GB)
There isn’t a lot one can say about Memory. The long-term plan was to eventually upgrade to 16GB, which would max out that board. Unfortunately what I didn’t consider fully was the fact that I would have to not only discard that RAM but buy 4 new 4GB DDR2 sticks, which as I write this runs something like 400 dollars. Far from ideal and hardly a worthy upgrade, IMO. the 8GB was however 8 times larger than the 1GB P4 I was using at the time I built the machine, so it was was a lot of RAM at the time.
Corsair TX750 Power Supply
Aside from reliability, there wasn’t much I was looking for in a Power Supply. The Model I chose was chosen over a Modular Power Supply to save money. It did the job so I can’t complain- that’s all you can really expect from a Power Supply.
Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @2.33Ghz
For the Processor my selection choice was aiming at a CPU that was, like the rest of the system, just behind the leading edge. This is typically a good price/value ratio. For this particular CPU one disadvantage I found was that it lacked support for certain virtualization Extensions. In the long run this really only prevented me from installing and running OS/2 within most Virtual Machines.
BFGTech NVidia GeForce 9800GT
This proved to be an… interesting… choice in the longer term. For one thing- BFGTech went out of business. For another, the card runs incredibly hot. I’m not sure if this is because the card typically runs really hot or due to changes BFGTech may have made (eg Overclocking). But idling at around 78 Degrees seems a bit on the high side. At first the system was causing bugchecks when the Video Card overheated (beyond 100 degrees). I repasted the Graphics Adapter with Fresh thermal paste which helped bring the termperatures down around 10 degrees, which seems to have worked until I replaced the system.
Cooler Master Centurion 514 Black
For the system case what I was going for was basically something simple and ‘plain’. This case worked great for that. It looks plain but also has a nice aesthetic. The only downsides I can think of are that it’s rails are easy to lose, and that the fan that is mounted on the siding needs to be disconnected and reconnected when working within the case.
LG Super Multi DVD RW + Lightscribe
At the time I had a crapton of Lightscribe discs, so it made sense to try to use them. On the other hand, I’ve ended up seldom using lightscribe capabilities. I find the printed output looks OK but it fades easily and quickly with a short time making them more difficult to read. They do look better than using a felt marker, and burning MSDN ISO files and then being able to provide useful labels that approximate the originals or in some sense try to provide the visage of the originals.
Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
The on-board sound was alright, but I had this in my previous system so I brought it forward. This is an older card (in computer terms) and I believe Creative has reshuffled their naming scheme since to avoid people figuring out which models don’t actually have the DSP chip in them. This one does. You really do need to be fairly careful with some manufacturers- their cheaper offerings might have the same brand or label, but sometimes those budget models are not what they appear. the Audigy SE, for example, doesn’t have an Audigy Sound processor; There is an X-fi card that has the same problem but I have no idea what it’s called now- because Creative shuffled their names again.
This system served me quite well- I clocked countless hours using it with great success. However I started bumping into limitations and problems so decided that investing in a new system would probably be a good idea. Besides, it would give me new fun stuff to fiddle with- what’s not to like about that?
Additionally, unlike that previous build, I could afford a heavier investment- particularly since I will be using it for my work- whereas previously it was something I used entirely in my spare time. The new system components:
- ASUS GeForce GTX 770 OC 2GB
- Corsair XMS3 16GB DDR3 1600MHz 2x8GB
- Intel Core i7-4770K Processor (8M Cache,3.50 GHz)
- Corsair RM650 PSU
- ASUS 24X DVDRW SATA OEM
- THERMALTAKE COMMANDER G42 CASE WITH WINDOW
- Seagate 480GB SATA 2.5 SSD
- WD RED 4 TB 3.5″
Since Gigabyte had proven itself to me with the earlier build I decided they would be the motherboard in my new system as well. I couldn’t find a system with no on-board Video capabilities, probably because they are really just motherboard features supporting the CPU’s on-board Graphics capabilities. That works fine, on-board video can be useful for diagnostic purposes if I encounter problems with the Graphics card. I’ve since also added an extra USB 3 front panel which adds two USB3 plugs and some card readers- now both my USB3 Front Panel Headers are used which I like- I somehow use up a lot of USB ports with Keyboard/mouse/controller/Hub/Printer/Network Adapter/headset/External hard drives. More is always useful, especially on the front panel. This board also happens to support SLI; though I’m not sure if I’ll ever use it. I barely even use the Graphics card I already have, speaking of which..
ASUS GeForce GTX 770 OC 2GB
I think it’s fully possible I went rather overboard with this- I hardly ever play any games, let alone any that would in any case use the full capabilities of this graphics card. I did test it out with some newer games when I first set the system up, but the novelty faded pretty quickly and I went back to the games I usually play which do not require that sort of power. It’s a strange case where I can’t seem to play games; I just end up playing a few minutes, than come up with some idea for something to try to add to a program, then 5 hours later it’s 4 AM. Of course if you believed the hours I actually file I work the bare minimum hours so it may be the case that this approach will not end very well either way. I hope Paula doesn’t read this.
Corsair XMS3 16GB DDR3 1600MHz 2x8GB
Again- Corsair’s memory didn’t give me any problems so I saw no reason to try another brand. In this case I went with 2x8GB sticks, giving me a total of 16GB with only 2 sticks; the motherboard maxes out at 32GB so I have room for expansion in case it turns out that 640K is not, in fact, enough for everybody. 16GB seems like a lot of memory but I’ve already had Out of Memory errors. I guess with more memory I just expand the set of programs I launch all the time and don’t bother to close.
Intel Core i7-4770K Processor (8M Cache,3.50 GHz)
Remember when I said this system would be overkill? Well here’s a testament to that. In particular, I have to specific desire to Overclock, so I’m not sure why I got a 4770k. I guess the same reason people buy Corvettes. 4 cores with hyperthreading at 3.5Ghz works ridiculously well. Further still, it’s a different generation- a newer one, of course- from the CPU I was using, so I get that “boost” as well, as well as new instruction sets, including the fabled extension required for emulating Programs like OS/2. At which point I promptly installed OS/2 then never touched it since. Worth it.
Corsair RM650 PSU
“With great power comes great responsibility”.
While I have to say advice on purchasing power supplies was definitely unexpected in a Spiderman film, particularly completely out of context, I can’t help but agree. And in this way the RM650 helps yo uresponsibly cable by using a modular design. Of course, that only helps people who use it, considering I just sorta plugged stuff in and hoped it worked rather than fussing about with routing cables behind the motherboard or something, I’m not sure I got the full benefit. But at least Uncle Ben can die knowing that I sort of followed his advice on Power supply purchasing decisions. Though for somebody who makes his living devising various ways of cooking and presenting rice I’m not sure if he is a reliable source for this sort of information.
ASUS 24X DVDRW SATA OEM
Optical Drives are a commodity now. I needed a SATA Drive because my Lightscribe was IDE and my new motherboard didn’t provide an IDE Host Adapter. Thankfully they are cheap. I was considering a Blu-Ray drive but then considered that might not be the wisest option, particularly considering that I had no intention of ever using a blu-Ray disc. I’m sure one day I will eat my words, wondering what logic caused me to make the foolish decision to not purchase a Blu-Ray Drive, and perhaps if I had purchased a Blu-Ray drive the computers would not have risen and taken over humanity and enslaved us all. Which I suppose would itself raise additional question such as what purpose computers would have with human slaves. Perhaps they would act as sentinels for pressing any key.
THERMALTAKE COMMANDER G42 CASE WITH WINDOW
For some reason this time I decided on a case with a Window. Even though it is never in a position to really be viewed at all, and is in many ways pointless. On the other hand, it’s very easy to see the LED Boot-up lights so that awards some points. Unfortunately despite my great expectations it did not infact make me attractive to the opposite sex. I think maybe they tag me as a real playa when I start talking about my windowed PC case. I can always see them roll their eyes, no doubt thinking “ugh, the old ‘My PC Case has a Window’ Pick-up line”. My main concern is if I end up getting married now, I will never know if she liked me for who I am or if she was just after my windowed PC case. The uncertainty would eat away at me until finally she reveals her agenda, taking out my heart and giving it to a pigeon with a bad sense of direction who then get’s lost in a nearby bank while trying to find the bathroom. A common problem with pidgeons.
But back to the PC-Case itself. It’s not as roomy as I would like- in fact the SATA Ports have so little clearance between them and the Case drive mounting chassis it practically requires toddler hands. unfortunately none of the hands I had in my toddler hand collection seemed to do the trick. It uses a front-mesh design which coincidentally (and quite by accident) ended up also being the design of the enclosure I bought, thouh I purchased it after so maybe I did it subconsciously.
Seagate 480GB SATA 2.5 SSD
WD RED 4 TB 3.5″
I actually purchased these two drives and used them in the previous system, but I had no intention of keeping them there, explicitly making them something of a “first-pass” at the type of things the released album might end up being used for. I had to get an SSD if only for the claims to speed (which have proven quite true) as well as a ridiculously large 4TB drive.
I summary the system is excellent and runs everything I throw at it so far at the maximum settings, which is more than I could have asked for.