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Chicolom's First Build
by Chicolom
Permalink:   (35 comments)
Description

UPGRADED GPU TO GTX 970!

HIGH RES PICS!

My 6 year old laptop was struggling, so I decided to build a new computer. This is my first time building a PC.

The machine is used for photo, video, and music editing. I'm also a gamer, but up until now I've been doing all my gaming on consoles. I haven't played a game on a PC since 2001, with Max Payne 1, Halo: CE, Oni, etc. Before that...it was Mechwarrior 2 (...'dat nostalgia...Hnngg!!) Anyways, I DO have a huge backlog of games I need to play through though, so I might as well play them on this. Looks like I'm joining the PC Master Race...

I tried to squeeze as much computer as I could out of my dollars. Some parts were purchased during Black Friday weekend. Others were purchased before and after Christmas. Overall, it took about 1 month to acquire everything. The prices listed are the actual prices paid after tax/rebates/etc. Scroll down to the very bottom for a couple money-saving tips.


PARTS

CPU: I picked up a 4770K from Micro Center for $280. Exactly 14 days after I bought it, the 4770K dropped down to $250 (just within Micro Centers 15 days price protection window), so they refunded me the difference and I got it for $250 :)

COOLER: I grabbed a Hyper 212 EVO, as what's the point of buying an unlocked processor and only using the stock cooling?

MOTHERBOARD: I went with the Asus Z87-A (bundled it with the 4770K at Micro Center for the discount). The Z87-A had all the features I need. Just like with the CPU, Micro Center ALSO dropped the price on the Z87-A fourteen days after I bought it, so I got another price protection refund for it as well as a new $10 rebate offer.

GPU: I originally bought a Radeon 7870. However, soon after I got it, the lightcoin mining craze exploded and people starting buying up AMD cards like crazy. So I flipped the 7870 on eBay for a $50 profit. I used that $50 to get my Sound Blaster Z, for free. After that I went with a GTX 770 as it seemed like the ideal card for some 1080p gaming. I picked up a PNY 770 OC for $280. It came with the Nvidia Holiday Bundle, and I sold those games for another $45, bringing the total cost down to $235.

SOUND CARD: A Sound Blaster Z, purchased for free . I already have some external soundcards (ODAC, FiiO E10) so I mainly wanted the Sound Blaster Z card for two things: 1) Its "SBX Pro" HRTF virtual surround sound DSP. I game with headphones and I am a huge fan/advocate of HRTF based surround sound DSPs. SBX Pro is one of the best ones out there right now. And.. 2) For its ASIO driver for low-latency music production/virtual instrument playback capabilities (I use some DAWs and programs like Kontakt, UVI workstation, etc.)

MEMORY: 16GB of some G.Skill memory to handle some photo/video editing. Got it for a nice price ($109). It's blue, and stands out a bit from the rest of the parts, but I'm fine with it.

STORAGE: I grabbed a WD Blue 1TB for $55, and a Samsung EVO 250GB SSD for $150. One is for storage, the other is for OS and programs (I'll let you figure out which is which ;)

POWER SUPPLY: An XFX 650W "semi-modular" PSU that I got during Black Friday weekend for $40. After using it, I would definitely recommend the modular/semi-modular route, as it's nice not having to wrestle a bunch of cables while building.

CASE: I went with a Fractal Midi R2. I fell in love with this case when I first laid eyes on it. Very sleek and elegant looking, unlike most cases which look like rejected Michael Bay Transformers. I love the windowed side panel on it. The day I started shopping for cases, this was one of the first ones I ran into - and it was also on sale for $50, so I bought it right then. It was a very easy case to build in - well thought-out, nicely designed, and feels very high quality. I highly recommend it (or its sibling, the Fractal R4).

NZXT HUE: I got this purely for the bling. What's a windowed case with no case lighting?? I like the easy front access to the controls and the multiple modes on it.


The building process went pretty smoothly, and the only problem I ran into was one of the IO shield tabs getting bent the wrong way. Setting the CPU cooler on top of the chip+thermal compound is probably the trickiest part, so take your time with that.

Overall, it was fun picking out parts, customizing things, and putting the pieces together. The machine runs fast and quiet (much quieter than I was expecting), and every game I've tried has been buttery smooth. Also...it looks pretty damn sexy for a metal box full of metal. I'm very pleased with how it turned out.


BUILDING TIPS:

1) Have a large clean workspace for building. Clear off a large table area so that you have plenty of room to work and spread parts out if needed.

2) Use PLENTY of light. Bring in some extra lights temporarily while building, and use some kind of flexible gooseneck-type light that you can aim INSIDE the case while working on it. I started by using a flashlight to look inside the case, but half-way through I switched to a gooseneck lamp and it made a world of difference.

3) I'd recommend spending a little more to try and get a modular or semi-modular PSU if you can. I'm glad I did, as it wound up being easy to work with. It also looks nice and clean, instead of looking like a snake-pit of cables inside the case.

4) Get a case that you like. Unless your doing some kind of "maximum value budget build", I wouldn't worry about saving $10-20 by getting one of the lower end generic cases. Cases aren't that expensive in the grand scheme of things, so don't be afraid to get one of the mid-tier priced cases as they're often better designed on the inside (better cable grommets, airflow options, etc.) and look better on the outside. And your going to have to look at it for a while, so...


SOME ADDITIONAL BUILD PLANNING/MONEY SAVING TIPS:

If you want to save some money, instead of buying everything all-at-once spread out your part purchases over a short period in order to pick things up as they go on sale. Don't spread them out TOO far though, as you don't want to be stuck with an incompatible build and be outside of any return windows/rebate windows etc. Buying parts during holiday sales (Black Friday especially) helps out here, as you get more deals popping up closer together.

Try to research and plan your parts out in advance. That way you can be ready for hot deals when they pop up. Some deals go FAST, and you want to be ready to pounce on them as they come up - instead of scrambling to try and Google/research those on-sale-parts in realtime before the deal expires (happened to me a few times). Tom's Hardware's "Best [PART] of the Month" articles were very helpful for researching and picking out parts. They present components in very helpful tiers of price/performance. Also pay attention to some of the parts that other builders repeatedly buy, as there's probably a reason for that ;) <- Sorting by "most reviewed" helps reveal those parts.

Once you've decided on some things like your CPU and GPU, you can set up some price/deal alerts on the parts you want (e.g. "4770K", "GTX 770", "EVO 250GB", etc.). That way you can sit back and pick them off as they came up on sale. I set up some deal alerts on slickdeals. Also, DO check reddit's r/buildapcsales often, as there are some great deals on there. And, of course, DO use THIS site (PCpartpicker) to help track prices on your parts, check compatibilities, and just overall organize your build. PCpartpicker was immensely helpful in organizing and planning everything out.

Happy building!

HIGH RES PICS!

Part List
Details
Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Clock Rate3.5GHz
CPU Temperature While Idle-
CPU Temperature Under Load-
PNY GeForce GTX 770 2GB Video Card
GPU Core Clock Rate1.15Ghz
GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate7.2GHz
GPU Temperature While Idle-
GPU Temperature Under Load-
Comments
When commenting on a completed build please keep your feedback polite and constructive, particularly if commenting on part choices and possible alternatives.
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Sorted by:
 
 
EngageTheSun [1 Build] 4 points 10 months ago

Love the time you put in taking the pictures! +1

 
 
Catharist [3 Builds] 3 points 10 months ago

Awesome deals, didn't skimp on quality just for sales either. Really good job.

Can definitely tell you're a photographer, originally thought those were stock photos... "Why is this guy just posting stock photos of his purchased componenents?! Oh... Oh... Oh my!"

 
 
Alhammadi [1 Build] 2 points 10 months ago

Wow!! Thats a very clean build. Very impressive, especially for the price tag! +100

 
 
joshpetiet [1 Build] 2 points 10 months ago

You sir have the nicest pictures on here! Better than mine even and I haven't seen many better than mine ;)

 
 
PacificNic [2 Builds] 2 points 10 months ago

Oh my god! That is clean! The lighting is nice and not gawdy at all and you took lots of pictures (I love pictures ;D ). Absolutely fantastic.

 
 
peterb [1 Build] 1 point 10 months ago

How do you like the NZXT HUE?

 
 
Chicolom [Submitter] [1 Build] 2 points 10 months ago

It's pretty cool. Having the controls so close to hand is nice as your more inclined to play with them, and I like that you can dial in your color manually as opposed to cycling between preprogrammed colors. The LEDs are spaced a little farther apart than usual, so the light probably isn't quite as bright or diffuse as some of other LED kits, but it's no big deal as it still looks great.

 
 
Dubesta11 [6 Builds] 1 point 10 months ago

First time build with an i7 and a 770, for just over 1000? Very good price points for everything bought, and amazing build with even lights. May I ask where you got your 770?

 
 
Chicolom [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 10 months ago

Thanks! I got the 770 from Tiger Direct, from this deal.

 
 
Dubesta11 [6 Builds] 1 point 10 months ago

sweet, im waiting for a sale like that myself.

 
 
Orthithian [1 Build] 1 point 10 months ago

OMG. This is an awesome build! only thing that I didn't agree with was the PNY GPU but other than that everything else is perfect!

 
 
BazzarCoffee 0 points 10 months ago

DON'T LIE

 
 
FreeFireXI [3 Builds] 1 point 10 months ago

Those are some excellent pictures. The PC is also very nice for the price. Great job. Share some pointers on how to do the pics :)

 
 
Chicolom [Submitter] [1 Build] 2 points 10 months ago

Thank you!

A COUPLE PHOTO TIPS:
1) Make sure your white balance is set correctly.
2) Use a tripod, a self-timer mode, and crank the ISO down low to get sharper and cleaner shots from your camera.
3) Try to take photos with a clean background that doesn't distract too much.
3) Use plenty of light!
Try to use soft diffuse light if possible (not pop-up flash!). Try putting a DIY diffuser, like tissue paper, in front of your light source to soften it up, or bounce your light source off a large white object such as a wall, ceiling, or a white poster board and back towards what your photographing. Try putting an extra bright bulb in a torchiere lamp and bouncing it up off the ceiling and back down into the case (how I took some of the pictures here).

 
 
cam9 1 point 10 months ago

Beautiful

 
 
LookTopHats [2 Builds] 1 point 10 months ago

Just getting ready to build in that case :) Excited!! Nice build by the way +1

 
 
icebottle 1 point 10 months ago

This is one of the cleanest builds I've seen on this site, and I've seen a lot because I have no life. Would give it +10 if I could, but anyway +1 awesome build!

 
 
ArrKayCee [1 Build] 1 point 10 months ago

Wow, looks great (except that damn cooler, its adequate, but c'mon, a little more on looks), and the prices you got are amazing! +1 from me :)

 
 
nada190 [3 Builds] 1 point 10 months ago

Dig the looks.

 
 
aludka 1 point 10 months ago

Nice build. I really appreciate a person who takes the time for good presentation. I find that too often the builds that get the most "up votes" are the ones with the more expensive parts (I7's, 780Ti's, etc, etc)regardless of presentation. +1 from me, and only from the pictures, I didn't even look at the parts that went into your build.

 
 
juheebus [1 Build] 1 point 10 months ago

Beautiful pictures! I have that case and I'm planning on getting the nzxt hue. I thought the smoked window would be too dark but it looks amazing!

 
 
Chicolom [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 10 months ago

FYI it looks brighter in pictures than it does in person, but I think it's fine still, and I would buy it again.

 
 
Bronah [1 Build] 1 point 10 months ago

What do you have below your tower to separate it from the ground? I'm needing something to set my tower up on so it's not right on top of carpet. Any help would be appreciated. Really love the nzxt hue.

 
 
Chicolom [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 10 months ago

It's a tier off one of those stackable plastic shelving units. You can get them at Walmart, Target, etc. and they're about the perfect size for raising a desktop case up off the floor.

 
 
ITneto 1 point 9 months ago

Awesome! and thanks for the tips!

 
 
ITneto 1 point 9 months ago

Thank you for the tips!amazing!!!!! build I would give +10

 
 
ITneto 1 point 8 months ago

I want to set your build photos for my smartphone wallpaper!:c

 
 
ITneto 1 point 8 months ago

Spot Halo xbox 360 games :3

 
 
skiskate10 1 point 3 months ago

What kind TV are you using as your monitor? That thing is huge and awesome.

 
 
Chicolom [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 3 months ago

It's a Samsung 40" 1080p, model UN40EH5000.

 
 
skiskate10 1 point 3 months ago

I really want a 40" monitor but I would want the resolution to go with it. I know Seiki is releasing some super cheap 40" 4K 120hz monitors with DP 1.3 this December. http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/seiki-reveals-28-inch-32-inch-40-inch-4k-pc-monitors-2015-release-date/

 
 
Chicolom [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 1 month ago

Yes, those look promising. I'll look into them...

 
 
Zirthh 1 point 1 month ago

may i see where you put the led strips?

 
 
Chicolom [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 1 month ago
 
 
BazzarCoffee -3 points 10 months ago

I DON'T LIKE IT TO HIGH MONEY....