I built this PC to replace a 9 year old HP Pavilion. The motivation for building this PC was so that I could get the experience of building a PC, and have a ‘modern’ machine for everyday use. I started out with a budget of $500-600, and I almost came in under it...almost.
I bought as much as I could at Microcenter. Microcenter has nice bundle deals, so I actually did pretty well on the core components. I used Newegg for the remaining items. In the end I paid about $20 in tax, but it gave me peace of mind that I wasn’t likely to have to abandon the project returning parts through the mail. Anything with a price of $0 was a gift.
Processor: AMD FX-6300. Good price to performance CPU.
CPU Cooler: Hyper 212 Evo. Great match for my other 'value' oriented parts. No complaints here.
Motherboard: ASUS M5A97 R2.0. I went ATX for ease of installation. This board has all the features I need, including USB 3.0 and SATA III. I don't plan on having multiple GPUs so didn't need the fancy board.
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 2 x 4 GB 1600mhz. Standard RAM speed, CL9, best deal I could find at Microcenter.
Storage: Western Digital Black 1TB 7200RPM HDD. When I first bought the components I bought an SSD, but I ended up needing a storage drive too so I will get an SSD later.
Graphics: MSI Radeon HD 7770 GHz edition 1GB GDDR5. Plenty of horsepower for me, got it at a good price.
PSU: Antec VP-450. Good quality unit that isn't super expensive. It has all the connectors I needed, all I needed to do was get a 4+4 extension cable so I could route around the back for the CPU supplemental power.
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912. Good case for $50. I purchased the KKN4, which has USB 3.0 and a blue LED front fan. This particular model has very little coverage compared to the previous KKN1 model. It’s the same price as the USB 2.0 case, so I didn’t see a reason to get that model.
Optical drive: The only part I was able to salvage. It works.
Windows 8: Metro is silly but otherwise it's fine with me.
After watching several build videos online, I had a pretty good appreciation for what to expect. The first part of the installation was way easier than doing all the work in the case. The AMD heatsink/fan is screwless, so I didn’t even have to worry much about that. I had to fiddle with the RAM for a few minutes before I remembered how you are supposed to seat it, but no harm done.
After I had the core components together, I set up a test build on my motherboard box. Since my mobo has no on-board graphics, I had to get the GPU out for the exercise. The computer recognized everything and I was relieved / excited that I got a POST beep and didn’t have to immediately return anything.
The first thing I installed in the case was the motherboard / CPU / RAM. The Newegg instructional video I had pulled up in the background was in the middle of describing the things he likes to install in the case before the motherboard while I was screwing it down, oh well. I got the PSU in there next and then it was a few hours of plugging in and cable routing.
The PSU I chose has the right amount of cables for this build. I think I am using every cord for at least one object, but there are still extra SATA and Molex plugs should I need them. The main power connector is the only cable that is sleeved, but that wasn’t too much of a bother to me, even if it doesn’t look pretty. All the cables were long enough with the exception of the 4+4 cable I already mentioned.
Overall this case is a solid choice for the price, and met my expectations. It’s sturdy with solid side panels, nice mesh design, and several configuration options. The version I got came with a 120mm fan in the front and a 120mm fan in the back. It’s a pretty open case so I don’t anticipate any airflow issues for this build (do keep in mind that this case will be noisier than other cases with solid panels).
For cable management, my goal was to avoid having cables crossing the motherboard area. I mainly used the hole in the bottom of the case to route PSU and case connectors. I used a technique I saw in other builds with this case and tried to stash some of the cabling in the lower bay. This worked out pretty well, although like I said, the PSU didn’t have too many cables.
The computer had some fan/noise issues. The front intake fan didn't have a long enough plug to reach the motherboard chassis fan header, so it was going at 100%. I fixed this for $2 by getting an extension. The other was the stock CPU cooler on the FX-6300. It wasn't cutting it, so I replaced it with a CM Hyper 212 Evo.
I also noticed some coil whine from the PSU. Got a replacement unit which solved the problem.
I got a new 120mm fan (gift) so that my case wouldn't glow blue anymore, and I finally got around to installing it. I also removed the middle HDD cage and put my HDD in the lower bay.
Improved cable management. Pics now include multiple versions of the cable management and hdd config. Moved the HDD back to the middle cage because I was having some vibration issues. Most recent pic is last.
This computer brought to you in part by:
PCpartpicker | Tom’s Hardware Systems Forum | Newegg How to Build a PC videos | Microcenter