As of July 13, I have added the new GPU and storage options. Not listed is a Ducky Zero 2108 mechanical keyboard with Cherry Black switches.
Many of you may have seen me in the past giving complements/advice, but until now I never got around to posting my build... well, here it is for all to see. Unfortunately, due to the quality of my bedroom and the camera in question (I was actually using a camcorder because my cell phone is not a modern model), I'm refraining from a full desktop shot, but this should give you a good idea of what I've got.
Anyways, I built this for gaming and some development in mind, although I'll admit I haven't been able to get around to either with college and life getting in the way. However, since my younger brother wants to get into PC gaming soon, I'm giving him most of the parts to this and buying a whole new platform I like to call 3 Minutes 2 1mpact.
Onwards to some justifications of the equipment and future upgrades:
- AMD FX-8350: even though the architecture is a bit old compared to the Intel equivalents, I'm surprised by how much multi-threaded performance I can get out of it. Just for the lulz, I ran six 1080p videos in VLC (software rendering) and Battlefield 3 at the same time; I only went up to 75 percent utilization with all eight threads active and everything was still running fine. Even CPU-bound games like Skyrim were playable at around the 45-60+fps range. I've had it overclocked at 4.42GHz (as reported by CPU-Z), but due to the motherboard that's about as high as it can go without severe throttling. About the only thing I wouldn't recommend for this CPU would be for Gamecube emulation; even with optimizations and performance enhancements, most of the games I've tried simply didn't work well enough. I recommend at least a modern dual-core Intel CPU if you want to do emulation.
- Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO: this is my first-ever aftermarket cooler, and it lives up to its 'hype'. I bought this with my motherboard and CPU at Microcenter, and the total came out to around $300 including tax. I'm quite impressed I managed to get a 10 percent overclock while remaining within the recommended thermal limits imposed by AMD, although I do kinda wish I could get more out of it. Still, even at full speed, it's still very quiet.
- Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3: out of all the components in this build, this is my most disappointing component. I bought this at Microcenter with my CPU in a great bundle deal (hence, the listed price) and had the unfortunate luck of getting a Revision 3.0 board, which has been known to suffer throttling due to bad MOSFETs; enabling HPC is all I can do to stabilize the voltage, but it not only drives up the temperatures even at the same voltage (+0.025 in the BIOS), it's still subject to even more severe throttling after only 5 minutes of Prime95. Having it at 4.4GHz is about the best I can do without severe instability, yet even then I still see dips. Note that the rating only applies to the Revision 3.0 version and not the newer 4.0 version.
- 4x4GB Crucial Ballistix Tactical Tracer DDR3-1866 RAM: yes, I know this is expensive RAM; yes, I know 16GB is overkill for gaming; yes, I know 1866MHz is overkill on a non-APU component; no, I'm not getting rid of it... because it's flashy. I bought 16GB because I was planning on using RAM drives and video editing (assuming I can get a hold of some video editing software early enough to justify the use of everything else). Also, for those who are curious, they are in fact running at their advertised speed (1866MHz) and advertised timings (9-9-9-24) even with all four slots occupied. All I needed to do was enable the XMP profile to get them out of stock speeds, then manually set the timings to their stock configurations and then bump up the voltage slightly to 1.55V.
- Asus DirectCUII Radeon R9 290: I bought this through Amazon's WarehouseDeals for this ridiculously amazing price! The only thing that was affected was the packaging, but the product itself was scratch-free. This is great, because this has no problems with playing games at 1080p (I realize 1080p is overkill for an R9 290 but A: I wanted proper Mantle support and B: dat price). It's also SOOOOOOOO much cooler and quieter than my GTX570, which sounded (and felt) like it could be used as a hair dryer when in full force. The difference, graphics-wise, between Mantle and DirectX is minimal, but I was more impressed by how well Mantle handled CPU utilization, which was much more evenly distributed than DirectX. Overall, after tinkering with the custom settings (HINT: turn off motion blur and you'll see a twofold performance increase in DirectX), I was able to get both APIs to work smoothly for the most part, with DirectX getting between 50-60 fps and Mantle between 70-75 fps. We'll see how a game like Bioshock Infinite holds up to this beast of a graphics card.
- Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD: Honestly, I find the performance of an SSD to be underwhelming on my desktop, and that's coming from a SATAII WD Caviar Black HDD that I've used for at least three to four years. The only thing I've noticed are that games and programs load slightly faster and going from Windows login to desktop is significantly improved. That's not to say, however, that my AMD-powered laptop would benefit from an SSD, and its overall improvement over a standard hard drive has convinced me to think seriously about doing that.
- Western Digital Red 4TB HDD: I was very impressed by Western Digital's NAS-designed hard drive, not only because it's near-silent but because I have more space on a single drive than all of my other drives combined, past or present. It's like going from a bunch of trailers and apartments to one big mansion. Little did I know I had only about 660GB of unique data, with over half of it being videos and anime.
- OCZ StealthXstream 2 600W PSU: this was a part from Frankenstein. It was bought mostly as an at-a-whim purchase three years ago see my Frankenstein build for the full story and is still running today. Even in a cramped and hot environment like Frankenstein, it's still running after 3+ years, although for any future upgrades I will likely replace it with an equivalent-wattage unit from Corsair. For those who still think OCZ PSUs are not that good, a review from Hardwaresecrets has a very favorable rating for the StealthXstream 2. Link to review: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/OCZ-StealthXStream-2-600-W-Power-Supply-Review/1058
- Cooler Master Storm Scout 2: if computer cases were clothes, this would fit me like a glove. I've already hauled my system to a LAN party and to a friend's place a few times, and boy has the carrying handle come in handy. For the first time in my computer-building career, I'm able to practice good cable management. In every way, it's superior to the Raidmax Smilodon I had for Frankenstein (arguably excluding aesthetics, but that's just me). My only gripe is that the positioning of the CPU power cable hole is a few inches too short to route behind the motherboard tray, but that's moreso a PSU problem that I couldn't do anything about, and certainly nothing a $10 extension in the future can't fix. My advice: if you are buying any case with cable management and a bottom-mounted power supply, buy an extension anyways just in case.
- Asus VE247H: I bought this before the platform upgrade to replace my ancient 1440x900 LCD monitor, which died completely a few months after I bought this. It's got scratches and blemishes because I've been taking it places with my desktop, including a couple of big gashes on the upper portion, but in a game it doesn't bother me. I hope to get a 1440p panel or, more ideally, a 4K panel.
- Logitech MX-518: funny story to this one. One of my friends had this in their junk drawer, and I asked if I could have it. Now I have a $40 gaming mouse for free. It feels great, especially in an FPS game where the side buttons come in handy. For a game like League or WoW, I'd recommend a mouse with more side buttons.
What I have in mind for the future: this will go to my younger brother, minus the storage and graphics. My new build will be 3 Minutes 2 1mpact, which will feature a Maximus VI Impact and an Intel 4790K. Will I liquid-cool it? Maybe.
All but the last three pictures were taken with a potato camcorder at the time; the last three pictures were taken with my new Nexus 5 potato.
Questions/Comments and constructive criticism appreciated! :D