My rig's primary purpose is a video editing workstation. As a videographer and digital video editor, I needed something rock solid I could edit on. My aging 2011 MacBook Pro 15" has served me well over the years, but I wanted something with at least four cores and at least 16GBs of RAM - roughly double what my MBP has. After upgrading it to 8GBs of RAM some years ago and adding a 1TB SSHD, there really wasn't much more I could do with it to increase performance (well, a full on SSD, but I needed the space of the 1TB - and really, who has money for a TB SSD?). Plus I wanted to be able to play a few games as well. Future-proofing my investments has always been something I'm conscience about; so leaving room for future upgrades helped me lower my initial costs. Being that I haven't used a Windows machine since Vista made its debut appearance, I wasn't quite ready to totally commit to Windows. I decided I wanted the best of both worlds; OS X, Windows 10, a powerful rig, and a great cost-performance ratio. In the end, I feel I hit the nail right on the head with this build.
FHD, not UHD I made the decision as an editor to work essentially exclusively in a 1080p work space (720p when it's called for). This isn't to say I won't branch out eventually, but I'm not really all about spending nearly what I paid for this whole rig on a single 4k monitor. My GPU is more than capable of supporting 4k, so I definitely have room to expand here. Additionally, 4k is a bit unnecessary, and way overpriced currently. In a year or two, and once 4k becomes the new norm, 4k monitors will be much more affordable. This is when I'll transition into 4k. For now, I have a great 1080p monitor. My Canon DSLR tops out at 1080p 30fps. My DJI Phantom 3 Standard is capable of 2.7k, but I mostly set it to 1080p. I initially decided to shoot in 1080p to keep file sizes down, since I only have an 8GB card at the moment. I will, however, set the resolution back to 2.7k in the future. Although I'll be working in a 1080p work space, I will still end up shooting in 2.7k. I can easily scale my footage down to 1080p with no loss of quality, and while that'll require some additional rendering, the flexibility is worth it. No doubt I'll end up doing some project in 2.7k, but sometimes the propellers will end up in the shot. If I'm making a 1080p video I can easily scale my 2.7k footage, removing the propellers from frame, and retain my image quality.
Operating Sytems So wait, wait, wait, what was that thing about OS X? Yes, I created the ultimate video editing workstation for the money, complete with Windows 10 Pro and OS X 10.11.3 El Capitan. On one SSD I have OS X, and on the other I have Windows 10 Pro. On my TB 7200RPM drive I partitioned it down the middle to give Windows and OS X 500GBs each. I will absolutely be upgrading my storage space in the future. Considering how I have room for 8 more drives in this gigantic case (albeit only six SATA headers), I'll eventually be dedicating entire HDDs for each OS (and probably additional SATA headers via some kind of PCIE SATA controller). I know a lot of people will be asking me "WHY ON EARTH DO YOU WANT TO RUN OS X?!?" and while that's a totally valid question, I really don't have a great answer for it. I simply like the OS X environment. I also think it's great "sticking it to the man" by running OS X on non-Apple hardware; so I get my jollies out of it. Comparing my system to that of the cheapest MacPro, spec wise they're incredibly similar, but my system cost less than half a new MacPro costs. And that's including my 23" 1080p monitor and UPS. Plus you have little to no upgrade potential with those prebuilt Apple computers.
Future Proofing For my first system I'm incredibly happy with it. I have a lot of upgrade potential here, and a lot of "future-proofing." I won't need to upgrade my GPU for a while. I can easily add more storage drives as I go. Eventually I'll be adding another 16GBs of RAM for a total of 32GBs. In a year or so I can upgrade to an i7-4790k and take advantage of the i7's hyperthreading. This will enableme to reuse my current i5 in my next build. In the meantime, this 4690k is all set up for overclocking. The ASRock motherboard I have has some built in UEFI options for overclocking too; but I'll probably mess around with that stuff later.
Experiences One thing I learned is to stay away from ASRock motherboards. While reasonably priced, it gave me a headache dealing with UEFI boot devices. It seems that they have wonky support or only partially implemented UEFI as far as boot devices go. I got it working so I don't really care too much now, but I'll probably go with MSI or Gigabyte in whatever my next build is.
Real World Performance In Windows 10 I can play Fallout 4 on Ultra at 60fps - this is more than I could have ever wanted. Again, I'm using a 1080p monitor because I don't care about 4k currently. The new Tomb Raider game I got for free with my GTX 970 is also maxed out to Ultra and plays at 60fps. This has given me a much better gaming experience than my PS3 ever gave me. The real test will be to run the same games I ran on my PS3, so I'll eventually end up buying Fallout NV and FO3 to really compare the two (New Vegas was insanely laggy and buggy on PS3).
In Adobe Preimere Pro CC, I can playback 1080p footage at full quality with no lag at all. This is simply amazing. I could never do this with my old MacBook Pro. While messing around with playback, I can jog forwards and backwards (J-K-L) with no performance stutter. This is also something I could never do with my MacBook Pro. Long gone are the days were I needed to set my preview quality to 1/4 or LOWER to avoid performance hiccups. I hardly even have to render anything in my timeline, this thing plays it back with no issue. Even playing back 2.7k video on my MacBook Pro was enough to bog it down, just using Quicktime (to be fair, VLC didn't get bogged down with the higher bitrates). However, on this machine even Quicktime plays back 2.7k footage without a care in the world.
Not only that, but my load temperatures don't even break 50° C while exporting video! Compared to my old MacBook Pro, which liked to run as hot as 101°C while exporting a video. It would even idle sometimes around 70-80°C, and that's even with me manually maxing out the fans to try and cool it down. I used to stick a small house fan next to it when I'd export video to try and keep it cool. I haven't worked on any super long videos just yet, but I can't wait to see what the export times are like for videos over an hour. My MacBook Pro once took 8 hours to export a 1080p video that was about an hour long.
Final Ramblings So, in conclusion, I learned a ton about computing during this build. More than I would have imagined. Not only did I end up with a great system that meets my needs as an editor (and a gamer) but it was also just a great educational experience. I had set a budget for this build at $1200, and I only went over that by $100. All in all, I really could not be happier with this machine. And I'll have this machine for years to come.
EDIT: Wish my cable management was a little better. After getting the 24pin power connected to the motherboard, I didn't want to mess around with unplugging it. That sucker is really in there! Airflow seems to be good, temperatures are low at least, so I think it's fine. Just doesn't look super pretty. Never mind the mess of cables/wires I have looped up in the ODD bays. There were a ton of wires I didn't need connected to my case's top I/O board (just about the only thing I did use were the USB 2 and 3 cables). I'd like to get an additional intake fan on the bottom of the case; I'll probably mount a blue LED fan in the bottom to give it a little more of that "custom" feel. Plus it'll light up the insides more too. If anyone has any tips or advice for better looking cable management, I'm all ears!
EDIT: 1/9/2017 i7-4790k I originally intended to sell this computer after a year and use the proceeds to fund my new build, which was going to be an X99 machine with either a 6800k or 6850k. I have instead decided to hold off on the new build, as I saw Intel is going to release a new line of 6 core CPUs, Coffee Lake, sometime at the beginning of 2018. In the meantime, I found someone who wanted to buy my i5-4690k and took the opportunity to upgrade to the i7-4790k. This will give me a nice performance boost while holding me over until next year (hopefully). I may end up doubling my memory sometime later this year as well; we'll see how things go. I just installed the 4790k this weekend and haven't been able to play around with it too much, but so far I've already seen a noticeable difference. Games I typically play at 1080p60 at high or ultra are now running smoother. The biggest difference I've noticed in my limited time playing around with my new i7 is, according to my resource monitor stats, my i7 is running around 90% total utilization instead of 99% compared to my i5. This is just my initial observation as so far all I've done with my new i7 is play a few rounds of Battlefield 4 online. Looking forward to editing some 1080p video in the near future here to see what kind of performance increase I can notice with Premiere.
My main reason for holding off of building my new system: I rushed into this first build. I dived right into the deep end without fully researching the market. I ended up building a nice system for sure, but if I could do it again I would have gone with the then current gen technology. I built this system in 2016 using Intel's fourth generation of processors. While the i5-4690k and i7-4790k are, without a doubt, good processors - and the 4690k served me well for the year I had it, I was already two generations behind the current generation of CPUs. Now I'm three generations behind. If I were to build a 6800k/6850k system today I'd be in the same boat (well, a similar boat). I'd be a generation behind and next year I'll be two generations behind. Granted it's impossible to ever be ahead, I can be current. Also Intel has not released a new 6 core processor in a few years at this point, and their new Coffee Lake line will likely be released with a new socket as well. For these reasons I am holding off and building my new system next year. Not only does this give me plenty of time to research new tech and components coming out before and around next year but it also gives me plenty of time to save a little extra in case I feel like splurging on a 2k or 4k monitor, or a fancier GPU (right now I was planning on getting a 1070 or 1080 to go along with that 6 core CPU). I learned a lot from my first build, and I really do wish I had gone with a 6000 series processor last year. But this was a huge learning experience for me, and I do not regret my decisions and how I ended up where I am right now.
Also I updated my parts list to reflect exactly how much I actually paid for each item; prices reflect any discounts, credits, promotional pricing, and mail-in-rebates I may have received. The Samsung EVO for example I got from Best Buy after they price matched Amazon, and I had an additional $10 off code. Prices do not include any extended warranties I may have purchased for the item at the time. Mostly everything I bought from Newegg though since I opened a line of credit through their store card so I could use their 12 month, interest free financing option. I just paid off this computer this month! Some of the prices I paid were more expensive than what pcpartpicker found, while others were significantly cheaper. My GTX970 for example was more than $100 less than what pcpartpicker had found (I paid $300 after MIR and pcpartpicker had it listed for over $400). Also I think it's interesting that my memory drastically went up in price. I wish I would have bought 32GBs last year while 16GBs was only $60 because that same RAM is currently $111 on Newegg (which is ridiculous, and also still more than the price was a month ago; 16GBs of DDR4 RAM is cheaper than that!). The 4790k only cost me $110 after someone bought my 4690k for $170 (Micro Center had the 4790k for $280 - beat Newegg by $60)
I bought this motherboard as a backup, since I apparently waited too long to make my purchase, the original motherboard I had chosen for my build became sold out. It works well, it does what I need it to do. I had a terrible time simply trying to enable UEFI only mode. There is no option. Building a Hackintosh off this board made it unnecessarily difficult because of this lack of UEFI mode only. I eventually found a "fix" or work around so that it would recognize and boot Clover from my SSD. Once I did that everything has worked perfectly and I have no real complaints. Changing options in the UEFI is super annoying because it won't save the changes you make sometimes! I'll have to exit and save, then reenter to make sure the settings have actually been changed. More than a few times I've booted all the way into my OS to realize I'm still having the same issue, just to reboot back into the UEFI and realize the settings I changed and SAVED didn't actually save. Sometimes the ASRock splash screen/logo is displayed in some wonky resolution. The other day actually this "fixed" itself and now, for seemingly no reason at all, the ASRock splash screen and logo are now displayed in 1080 (or 720, can't really tell, at the very least it doesn't look nonHD like it did).This is a minor nuisance if anything, but I feel it's worth mentioning. For those who are looking at this board for Hackintosh purposes, I suggest looking into other boards if you have other options. If you're like me and this was your only option, then definitely Google "ASRock UEFI boot fix" - you'll find a guide by WonkeyDonkey that will fix not being able to boot OS X from your SSD/HDD. Pros of this board would be the built in HDMI (if you plan on not using a dedicated GPU, which is not recommended for a Hack build), many USB 3 ports (only two USB2). Otherwise, it's a board. It functions. If I could go back I'd probably get a Gigabyte board just to save myself a few headaches.
I read some reviews about dead RAM and other things. I never saw those reviews before I made my purchase (oops) but I'm happy to say that I've had no issues with this RAM. It works well in my build. I have a rig dual booted with OS X El Capitan and Windows 10 Pro and have no issues in either OS with this RAM. It's a good price for what it is. Soon I'll be buying another 2 x 8GB kit for 32GBs of RAM.
Less than spectacular. I get around the same read/write speeds as a 7200RPM drive, perhaps 40MB/s higher read/write. This is alright, but it's not great. If you have the money I'd suggest looking at other brands. I ended up buying a Samsung 850 EVO 250GB to replace this drive and I've been very happy with the performance (nearly double the read/write compared to the V300). I paid $80 for the Samsung SSD, so the price to capacity ratio is about even - double price and double capacity (actually a bit better/cheaper when doubling, in favor of the Samsung). I still use this SSD for Windows 10 Pro and it performs adequately. Like I said, it does give better performance over my 7200RPM mechanical (albeit, not by much). Just if you have the choice, choose a different brand. I repurposed one of these I bought last year (yeah, Kingston got me twice with this) to revive an older HP 8000 SFF I had and it makes a great difference for that older system.
Great SSD! I get over 400MB/s write and nearly 540MB/s read! I have this as my boot drive for OS X in my Hackintosh dual boot build. It offers fantastic performance at a competitive price point. I'll probably eventually buy a second one of these to replace the awful Kingston V300 SSD I'm currently using as the boot drive for Windows 10 Pro. In OS X I primarily use Adobe programs for editing 1080p video, back up large files to my mechanical storage drives, and sometimes transfer files through my home LAN network.
Does what I need it to. I get the expected read/write speeds and I'm very happy with the performance I get out of it. I currently have it as a storage drive in my dual boot system, so I have it partitioned 50/50 formatted in NTFS for Windows and OS X Extended Journaled for OS X. Eventually I'll buy another one of these so I don't have to split my storage space between the two OS's and have entire drives set aside for a single OS. Great price too. I bought mine for ~$46 but I've seen them now for slightly cheaper. Can't beat the price!
Fantastic, just absolutely amazing. I have this paired with an i5-4690k and these two together are just unstoppable. I've been able to play every game at Ultra settings, 1080p at 60fps with zero issues (Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Star Wars Battlefront, etc). I will be getting my second monitor soon to really start taking advantage of all this GPU has to offer. I have this running in a dual boot system, and in OS X El Capitan with the latest Nvidia Web Drivers and CUDA drivers it performs admirably in Adobe Premiere Pro. I work mostly with 1080p footage and nothing slows this thing down. A timeline full of 1080p footage, some graphics and effects, and I can still jog (J-K-L) forwards and backwards without a hiccup. I can set the playback resolution to Full and still have this level of fluidity. I've been editing some 2.7k DJI Phantom 3 footage recently as well, and again no issues at all with the super high video bitrates. What's interesting is the fans don't run until it gets up to 60 C. It gets up to about 60 C when exporting video from Premiere and only 3% fans. In Windows, while gaming, it gets up to 75 C. Even then the fans have only been pushed to 30%. I'd prefer the fans do more work, as 75 C is getting up there. I imagine this is to keep noise down, but noise doesn't really bother me that much when I have my sound system turned up (really can't hear it anyway). I'd rather have the GPU cooler, so I'm looking into ways to change this. Performance wise, I could have gone with a 960 and I'd probably still be just as happy, but this thing is really worth the price I paid for it. For $300 you're getting a hell of a card that can handle up to 4k, up to four monitors (Dual link DVI), has HDMI 2.0, and is nearly silent! Lots of future proofing potential here. I won't be upgrading GPUs for a while.
This thing is huge. It's gigantic. It's almost too big. However, I have since come around to its size. After receiving my GTX 970 in the mail I was glad I went with such a large case. For my first build, the large case made installing everything super easy as well. Cable management in this case is pretty good. Lots of room to hide cables behind the motherboard. It comes with all the screws, stand off pegs and whatnot you'd ever need. The middle cage of 5 HDD slots can be easily removed with thumb screws for airflow/liquid cooling, leaving three HDD slots on the bottom still. The HDD trays are hardwareless, which is really nice. The HDD just pops right in. SSDs will still need to be screwed in to the trays - if you use trays for SSDs. It has three 5.25" bays which are also tooless. I installed a DVD drive in a matter of seconds which was awesome. Just slide it in and slide the lock mechanism closed, done. Comes with 5 fans preinstalled, dual fans with blue LEDs in the front, one exhaust fan in the back and another dual fan on top for exhaust. The top is cool as it has vents you can open and close. It has four USB2 ports on the front, two USB3, and headphone/mic jacks, as well as power and reset switch. It also has two switches for its built in fan control. Call me a noob, but I could not figure out how to utilize the built in fan control. This was one of the reasons I bought this case, so it is disappointing that it's not mentioned at all in the manual that came with the case. As my first build there were many things I ran into where I needed to seek assistance from the Internet, and sadly this build in fan controller has still eluded me. The fans default to 64%, not 100% like I initially believed. The fans are 3 pin, not 4 pin PWM. There are ways to raise the fan speeds with software but for whatever reason I cannot seem to get that to work. This really isn't much of an issue as the airflow in the case is superb and I have yet to run into any heat issues. There are ways to control the fans within my motherboards UEFI, I have yet to see if they work or not. Really wish Rosewill would have explained how to wire up the built in fan controller. I'm taking off a star for no instructions on it, not because I can't figure it out. If there were some basic instructions I'd be able to figure it out. I wouldn't pay more than ~$100 for this case. I bought it for about that much with a mail in rebate. It is super sturdy, being made mostly out of metal/steel. This makes it heavy, but it's not really meant to be portable - it's a full size case! I like that it came with the option to add one more fan in the bottom, and that it came with a dust screen for the PSU fan.
Should have gone for a fully modular, but this semi modular still works very well. No issues with it, does what it needs to do. Wish I had gone with a larger wattage as well, but that's no fault of the product!
About to buy a second one! Really though, I wish I had bought two to begin with. Just a really great monitor. Has a bunch of preset color settings (I mostly use sRGB or "Normal" as the gaming setting seems too contrasty/saturated). The screen wakes up quickly which is nice. The stand is a BIT wobbly. This, I think, is mostly due to my desk. I had been using this monitor on a desk in a carpeted room. I have since moved my desk to a room with a wood floor and the monitor doesn't wobble as much. This is a bit annoying, however I fully plan on buying a second monitor and installing both using a VESA mount/bracket so the built in stand won't really matter. The stand is preinstalled which is nice.
Does what it needs to do. It found out my plug has a wiring fault - not even my receptacle tester caught on to the wiring fault.
Set it up once I opened it, haven't really messed with it since. It has a nice amount of features (a few surge plugs and a few surge + battery plugs). It also has USB ports to charge mobile devices from, which would be great in a bad storm if the power goes out.