After countless hours of watching PC building tutorials on YouTube (thank you Carey Holzman!) and browsing the Tom's Hardware forums, I decided to go all out on a new gaming PC to replace my 5 year old Acer laptop that would literally get hot enough to heat up a small room whenever I tried to game on it. After much hesitation, I pulled the trigger and purchased a bunch of brand new shiny computer parts. I was worried about how difficult it would be to install a few of the parts, namely the water cooler and the case wiring, considering I'd had no previous experience aside from putting a graphics card in an old Compaq PC many years ago.
Reasoning behind my part selection and installation horror stories (in order of installation):
CPU: i7 4770k - I had originally planned to go with the i5 4670k, but wound up with the i7 4770k in the end. While the 4770k might be overkill for my uses, I couldn't pass up Staples' price match guarantee. After a 10 minute phone call, I was able to get them to match Microcenter's price of $249.99 and they even gave me free 2-day shipping! At that price, I figured $30 more for the 4770k was well worth it.
Installation: Right off the bat I was worried about installing this due to the sheer amount of pressure that was required to lock it in place. I had to put A LOT of pressure on the little metal lever to lock the CPU down to the motherboard! I was actually convinced that I had ruined something and was nervous about it right up until the first test boot.
Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws X - Once again, 16 GB is probably overkill for my uses but I couldn't pass up the deal Newegg was having. The RAM was also red, and since I was going for a red and black theme, I couldn't pass it up. It looks great in person and matches the MSI motherboard perfectly.
Next, I installed the Motherboard into the case. This was fairly simple and I had no problems. The LG Blu-Ray player also went in without a hitch.
PSU: Seasonic G-750 PSU - I heard that SeaSonic was a good brand of PSU so I went with it. It was also on sale.
Installation: I don't know if it was an issue with the case or the PSU, but the mounting holes on the PSU and case did not align. They were just a hair off. I got the drill out and modified the holes on the case and installed the PSU. The 8-pin power connecter could have been longer. The PCI-E cables were extremely stiff and it ended up being a pain to plug them into the graphics card. This item was on an extremely good sale.
Graphics Card: ASUS GTX 780 Direct CU II 3GB - This was the single item that I wanted to splurge on more than anything else. Not a single complaint in this department. It handles anything I throw at it with room to spare, it is whisper quiet, runs cool, looks great... I could go on and on. Came with a free copy of Assassin's Creed Black Flag.
Installation: I was scared to death handling it but it was very easy to install.
H100i Water Cooler: I thought it looked cool. Simple as that. Well, the idea of having liquid to cool the CPU also intrigued me. This item was also on a small sale when I purchased it.
Installation: Oh man. Installing this thing was an absolute nightmare and the stress caused by it probably took a few years off my life. I don't know why I had so much trouble to be honest, but I just did. I wont even go into explaining what happened here because I'd just like to forget it.
Hard Drives: Samsung Evo 120GB SSD boot drive, WD Blue HDD - Not much to say here. I wanted the OS to load off the SSD and the WD for game and music storage. The Samsung SSD did not disappoint - the computer boots incredibly fast. The WD drive is also great and loads applications pretty fast too.
Installation: Quite simple, no complaints.
Now, I wired the front panel (which wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be), did some cable management, and got ready to test boot. I plugged the computer in and pressed the power button. Nada. My heart sank and I just knew I had messed something up. Turns out, in my haste to get things going, I had forgotten to flip the actual power switch on the PSU to the on position. I couldn't believe it. After flipping the switch and pressing the power button the beast came to life and it felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. Immediately I noticed how quiet the system was... I could just barely hear the case fans. The OS installation and driver installation went smoothly.
A few days later, I noticed an awful sound coming from one of the fans. It turns out, one of the H100i fans was faulty. I did some research and ended up going with 2 Corsair SP-120 "Quiet Edition" fans to replace the stock H100i ones. I had to do some research to figure out what the difference was between SP and AF fans before making a purchase.
THE CASE MOD:
While waiting for the new fans to arrive, I stumbled across a thread were someone had installed a clear acrylic panel in place of the mesh panel that comes with the case by default. It looked great and he had said that getting rid of the mesh side panel and attached fan greatly cut down on dust intake. Made sense to me since I had already noticed a thin layer of dust inside the case after only a few days of use. I figured I would give it a try (only after checking to see if a replacement side panel was available from Corsair in case things went terribly wrong) and promptly ordered some rubber u-channel from BESTBYTE. I then made a run up to Lowes to get an acrylic panel and double sided tape. Once the U-Channel arrived, I borrowed a neighbors Dremel and got to work cutting the case and causing a shower of sparks. I then cut U-Channel to length, installed it around the opening, cut the acrylic to size (10x13" in case anyone's interested), and finally installed it onto the interior of the side panel with double sided tape. All things said and done, it's hard to tell that is not stock. Dust intake has been significantly decreased as expected, and the computer is pretty much silent without the side case fan. The idle temps have risen 2C on both the CPU and GPU now that the side fan is gone, but I feel that the massive reduction in dust is worth it. I also purchased an NZXT HUE LED system to light everything up inside the case. No complaints at all, except for perhaps the sticky backing on the LED strip, which is starting to come loose. Nothing double sided tape can't fix.
Final Thoughts: I can't thank the people of Tom's Hardware enough for all the help as well as Carey Holzman on YouTube. I haven't had this much fun gaming in years and I love being able to play any game I want. Sorry for the "Wall of text" but I wanted to describe my experiences from a beginners perspective.
Btw, I took most of the pictures outside because it was the only place with decent lighting.
Thanks for looking.
|Date Published||April 25, 2014|