Title: "Frankenputer" was chosen as the name of this rig because during the planning and building phase, I felt like I was assembling Frankenstein. Half of the parts in this build were reused from other computers and some of the other parts were selected because of their relatively low price tags.
Summary: This rig was built around the SLI 660's that I bought off a Galaxy clearance sale for $20 each including shipping. I reused the storage devices and the power supply from other computers, so all I needed was the CPU, CPU cooler, motherboard, RAM, and case. The goal of this build was to keep the CPU and GPU combo below $100 with the most performance possible. I really wanted to try out the G3258 because of its absurd overclocking potential. I bought the Pentium for $50 at Microcenter with the motherboard for a discount. That brings me to $90 for the CPU and GPU combo, which is fantastic for 60fps gaming at 1080p. I chose the Kingston Savage RAM because it was reasonably priced and it matches the motherboard very well. I have wanted a case from the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV line since they came out. I really like the innovative design of the exterior. I decided to go with the white microATX version because I miss having a white case from my corsair 500R. The Phanteks CPU cooler was chosen because I needed a decent cooler for overclocking my G3258 along with the fact it matches the theme of the case very well. I ran into a lot of difficulties with this build, but in the end, I had a blast. I hope you enjoy it. Below is a mini review of each component in this build.
CPU: This CPU is so much fun! Overclocking the G3258 is a blast. This chip is great for beginner overclockers because the core clock has such a large amount of headroom, and it's really cheap, so it's not the end of the world if it gets fried. After several attempts, I finally have my G3258 stable at a core clock of 4.5GHz at 1.28 volts and an uncore clock of 4.1GHz at 1.175 volts. I also had to increase the VRIN voltage to 1.9 volts to stabilize the overclock. My G3258 seems to have a hard wall at 4.6GHz that would require a dangerous amount of voltage to keep stable. This CPU handles gaming just fine. I actually noticed the increase of performance from the overclock. Now time to address the elephant in the room. Yes, of course the G3258 is bottle necking the SLI 660's, but it doesn't impact gaming enough to bother me. I am happy with my CPU choice.
CPU Cooler: This thing cools like a champ! Even with the hefty overclock on my CPU, this cooler doesn't let it go over 65 degrees under load. The instructions were very easy to follow and installation was very quick and smooth. The cooler is very well designed and looks fantastic. Unfortunately, since my video cards are so small, when people look at my rig, the cooler is first thing they notice. Time for a GPU upgrade I guess.
Motherboard: The backup BIOS on this board saved my *** too many times! I was really greedy during the overclocking process which resulted in a lot of boot failures. Luckily, this motherboard has a great dual BIOS utility. The overclocking utility is also great and really easy to use. The instructions were very helpful and installation went smoothly. Ascetically, this motherboard looks amazing. The red brushed aluminum heat sinks along with the red LED stripe that runs though the left side of the south bridge really complete the stunning look of this board. I have no complaints with this component.
Memory: This is where the problems started. The G3258 at stock is designed to be compatible with 1333MHz RAM. I bought 1600MHz RAM because I figured it would be stable with an overclock on the CPU. It took several tries to stabilize the system with 1600MHz speed RAM. I currently have the XMP profile disabled. I might try to fiddle with the timings a bit more to stabilize the system with the XMP profile. The RAM itself looks incredible and it matches the motherboard so well.
Storage: Both of the 840 EVO's and the Western Digital Caviar Blue were reused from my "Three Shades of Blue" build. They work just as great in this system as they did in the previous. I had to buy an SSD bracket for the back panel mount because the case only comes with one. I have the operating system on the 120GB SSD along with some core programs. I have some games on the 250GB SSD, and I have the rest of my games on the HDD along with miscellaneous files.
Video Card: The video cards in the parts list are not accurate to the ones that I own. They are simply place holders. The model I own is a black and red version of the one in this image. It has a core clock of 980MHz and an effective memory clock of 6008MHz. SLI 660's have a lot more power than I initially thought. They are able to handle the new Star Wars Battlefront Beta on high settings at 1080p at 60fps. I have had a real hard time overclocking these cards. I can't get anything past stock stable. I know the 660 is not an overclocker's card, but I figured I would be able to squeeze a little out. I have considered flashing the BIOS on my cards to increase the voltage input, but I am a bit hesitant. I cant complain considering the price I paid.
Case: I am very happy with my decision to go with this case. I was worried that the case would appear almost too white. Now seeing it in person, it is absolutely gorgeous. My favorite part about this build is this case. Besides the H440, this is the closest you can get to perfection. The airflow in this case is fantastic. The stock fans are much quieter than I expected. Installation and cable management in this case was a breeze. The exterior design of this case is beautiful. The case came with a plastic case that contained all the hardware required for assembly. This is something I have never seen before. I think its an excellent idea and made the building process much more enjoyable. I would like to see other case companies start to do this. I have a couple gripes with this case. I don't really agree with the location of the front I/O. I would have much more preferred it to be on the front of the case for improved accessibility. Also, the side panel window is heavily tinted making it very difficult to see the internal components. A clear window would have been more optimal. I really didn't like the fact that I had to buy a second SSD bracket to mount both of my SSD's. The bracket was fairly cheap, and it would have been very easy to make two brackets standard in every version of this case. Other than that, I had a lot of fun building with this case.
Power Supply: This power supply was reused from an older build. It was five years old, and it was fairly beat up, and the socket was loose. I ended up sending it back to Corsair because it had a seven year warranty. I got a brand new PSU for this brand new build. I know the wattage is overkill for this system, but at least it leaves room for upgrades.
Operating System: I was able to get a Pro version of Windows 10 for free through my school. I wasn't a fan of Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 is so much better. It fixes most of the problems that Windows 8.1 had. However, Windows 10 has Cortana, One Drive, WUDO, the XBOX app, and many other new problems. I am considering messing with the registry to eliminate as much as I can.
Problems: As previously stated, most of my problems had to deal with the RAM. To stabilize the system at the stock timings, I had to mess around with a lot of the clock speeds and voltages across many attempts. I also had a lot of problems overclocking my CPU, mainly because I was getting too greedy. I had many unsuccessful attempts overclocking my GPU's, but I will give it another try in the near future. Finally, the system is stable and preforming better than expected.
Future Plans: Because my system is on the Z97 platform, I have room to upgrade to the 4690K. I could also add an AIO liquid cooler to achieve a better overclock. I will want to switch out the stocks fans at some point. I am considering the new Thermaltake color ring fans. I also have the option to add another 8GB or RAM. That is at the bottom of my list, considering this system is only used for gaming. One of the slots is open on the hard drive cage allowing for the addition of another HDD. I won't be upgrading any time soon because so far I am very impressed with the performance of this system.
Final Thoughts: I appreciate it if you've made it this far. I thank you for reading through my build description. I hope you enjoyed it and make sure to check out the pictures. I look forward to reading and replying to your comments.
Thank you for your time.