Disclaimer 1: To understand this build a bit, you'd have to watch this video from the snarky (but cute) YouTuber, ScatterVolt
Disclaimer 2: I live in Argentina, so prices are higher here and depreciation is M.I.A.
The hard reality in this country I live is that you can't always be safe and expect not to get mugged, which is why I can't always lug around my little white elephant. It's also quite difficult to lug around the PC, and the WACOM Cintiq, and the cables, and my Model M, and the mouse and headset, all in a backpack. I clearly didn't foresee all I had to lug around. However, it has to be said, I can take everything around in a better backpack, but I don't want to carry anything with wheels, that makes me more vulnerable out on the streets.
So another alternative had to be thought. That and I then noticed I didn't have a backup machine should something go awry with my main workstation. Adding, I have been ball-busted to the nth degree by my friends ever since I built the PC because I wasn't going to use it for games despite the GTX1080. In the end, what I needed was:
- A backup PC
- A LANBox
- A luggable, more understated PC
I remember watching the video linked above and it was a fun experiment, but heck I didn't expect myself to end up with a very similar build! One thing though: Ryzen is being elusive right now, and yes, I don't feel interested in going with the Red Team, despite my constant recommendation to ~90% of the customers who come to me with a PC budget.
I had the plan of picking a Sandy Bridge-based platform, but people are charging top dollar for it, so I avoided it. I also thought of leaving my prejudice/experience behind and go for a cheap FX build like my former Overwatch PC, but I said it before and I'll say it again: the AMD FX is ****.
One day while surfing Facebook, I found three people: One was selling his GTX760 for only USD100 (i.e. at R7 260X prices), another one was selling for USD50 his ASUS P5QC Motherboard and Core 2 Quad CPU combo (I could pick between the Q6600 or the Q9550, and I picked the latter because of the extra cache and the crazy FSB speeds it has), and the third one was selling for USD50 an 8GB DDR3 combo. So I snatched all those deals and had half a PC already with me.
The CPU Cooler was an unexpected surprise for such small amount. I dislike tower coolers, but this one with two fans I couldn't pass up!
For the case, I searched for my favourite case form factor, one I wish it returned to the marketplace: the old case with handle, like this one, or this one. Got it for free, and my best friend gave me the white DVD RW drive. All I had to buy related to the case was a 92mm fan.
As for the PSU, and taking a page out of my former Pentium G4560 build, I evaluated my choices, and the end result was a Sentey PSU, which while not listed on that build post, was picked right away because of two reasons:
- Sentey PSUs with 80PLUS certification are either Sirtec or SuperFlower platforms, i.e. very reliable and performing. If you still believe in that ****** Tier list, fear not: SuperFlower Sentey PSUs are between Tiers 2 and 3.
- Cheap and Semi-Modular, and for the price I paid, they had 550W, i.e. 100W more than competing PSUs in this price range
Finally, and the easiest choice was a 1TB WD Blue HDD. SSDs are out of the question because this motherboard is SATA 2. Won't add a SATA card, nor a Sound Card. Only the GPU.
The Build (or how to get extremely pissed off in 2 hours)
Well, I get it, the case wasn't built for this kind of setup but I needed to make some sort of sleeper. And boy does that Pentium 4 GO FASTER Sticker look deceptively nice! All I have to say was, it was a hectic build process, so let's get down to brass tacks.
First order of business was to clean everything. Guys, please learn to love your hardware and look after it! The motherboard was full of gunk, the CPU also had thermal paste even on the contacts... And don't get me started on the dust bunnies inside the GTX760's blower.
It took painful disassembly, a lot of cotton swabs and Isopropyl up the wazoo to clean all the used components. I believe I felt dazed after inhaling all the alcohol and the WD40, man, if this is how popper users feel like (even though we're talking about completely different compounds) then I guess they're crazy ********.
A quick smoke test ensured not only that everything was working, but that also both the HDMI and DVI ports on my GPU were working. This was key to having a truly portable computer, as it meant I could simply use a VGA to DVI converter and plug it into any kind of monitor outside my house.
Now it was time to put everything together. Prepping the case was as simple as 1-2-3. We put the PSU and the ODD on the case. Notice that I didn't install the case fan or the HDD yet because that goes last: This Mid-Tower ATX case is too tight for the immense P45 ASUS board.
Let's move on to the ATX motherboard. Installing the 775 chip is simple, just don't touch the socket pins. RAM is a wee bit less trivial. Since this motherboard has the novelty feature of both DDR2 and DDR3 support, I had to pick one type of RAM and install it in the correct RAM slots. I went with DDR3 for the sake of more modern components. Be wary, though, that if you want the full 8GB of RAM, you need to install RAM sticks with two ranks of 256MB chips. The cooler was almost a perfect 10/10... if it wasn't for the way it had to be attached... Yes, those lame Intel clips and posts that can break quite easily, I ******* hate them!
Now it was time to put the board in the case, but first, let me tell you: No I/O shield/backplate, so we have bare board exposed thru the rear. I had to use some plastic clips on some corners because this board couldn't line up with many of the holes intended for the brass standoffs. It certainly felt weak, especially given the weight of all the components, but I guess it will stay mostly together.
Before continuing with the last three parts, I started wiring some of the parts. I have to say it: I overused the zip ties, but the complete lack of cable management meant that I had to keep everything under control, both to avoid any entanglement around the fans, and to aid thermals since there is no intake fan nor grill. (Note that there are two sets of photos of the finished PC, and that was because I didn't like how I tied the cables at first, so restarted the process).
Once that was done, it was time to finalize the build with the GTX760 installation, the HDD and last, but not least, the case fan. That ZOTAC Reference Card fit quite tight, you can clearly see some of the 3,5" mounting supports interfere. You can say goodbye to anything close to 10" long, in fact, I tried to install a dead HD7970 Reference Card I had laying around and it was impossible. Then came the HDD, which was a bit too difficult to install but was quickly done so. The fan installation wasn't difficult at all, but it had to be done at the end, photos clearly tell you why. With everything installed, I had to plug in the last cables and then zip tie the **** out of everything and test the finished build... BEEP!
The tweaking, the Software, and the hurdles (or how this part will lead to my not so promising conclusion)
Onto the BIOS, and, with the Multiplier locked to 11, increased the frequency to 300Mhz to reach an effective and stable 3.3Ghz, then proceeded to install Windows 10- OH SHIIIIIIIII...! Windows 10 would BSOD like crazy, and not because of the overclocks (because I tried it even with stock clocks). Lack of Drivers and having to exercise my patience with Windows Update ended up with me trying to get this stable. After two days of constant tweaking, I managed to do it. I then configured Windows 10 so as to have a slimmer footprint and less ******** installed. Thanks to Barnacules Nerdgasm and Brian from TechYESCity for their contributions in making it simple to remove some Windows 10 ****.
Over at MSI AfterBurner, I cranked the GTX760 Core Clock to a true GigaHertz (1024Mhz) and its memory to 6 true GigaHertz (6144Mhz), and then installed the obligatory Adobe CS6 and the games I wanted to play: PU:BG, Overwatch, CS:GO, Forza 6: APEX, Quake Champions, Sonic Mania, GTAV, as well as some benchmarks (sorry, I didn't post any screenshots).
CS6 performs predictably okay, thanks to Kepler, the very last GPU generation that didn't have any kind of compute performance castration performed on their dies. (psst! It's Kepler, not Kelper, the former is a reference to Johannes Kepler, the latter are the squatters who stole the Falkland Islands from us...). So yeah, CUDA is helping me a bit.
Benchmarks feel mediocre and game performance is not so good, but I'll say it out loud: I don't mind playing games at low quality or 720p. I care about the framerates and the content of the game, the plot, the quality of the game as a product, as an experience. I'm not a console peasant, I stopped playing on consoles in 2012 when I sold my last Dreamcast and moved onto PC Gaming with my build from back then.
We can definitely say that Yorkfield is a bit hamstrung. Lower your expectations and it will do well for eSports. Try to punish it with more demanding games and you shall pin it to the ground and curse at the screen.
So, ScatterVolt's build, Freedom, was replicated here, so why the name? Well, George Michael, duh! I wish he was still around. At least I learned something from him:
how to cruise on public toilets without showing my shamestick to the Cops Ok, no.
Jokes aside, I would like to call that boy out, and be honest here; you want to game at 1080p on a shoestring budget? For USD100? Please do yourself a favour and go with a Sandy Bridge Prebuilt with a GPU slapped in. Do you want to build it all yourself? Then I guess you'll have to mow lawns, wait tables, clean floors, or
suck-(Woah there, let's not be that NSFW! >:( ) because you'll have to go either Nehalem or Sandy Bridge to warrant yourself a solid entry into low-end 1080p gaming. (If you love Team Red, for low cash pick the Phenoms, not the FXs, if you need those 8 fake cores too much, at least get the AM3 chip but an AM3+ board)
This PC, as a secondary productive workstation, will do just fine if you need to do light editing and some coding. If you want to game, either you'll have to crank that Yorkfield ***** up to >3Ghz and hope for the best or restrain yourself to 720p and mostly eSports.
As of today, I'm waiting for my Xeon X5472s and pin mods to go past Customs, so we can see if 1600Mhz of FSB and 12MB of Cache will do us any favours. Both the motherboard and the Cooler support high TDP chips, so I guess this will be as hard as I'll push the platform.
Now, onto a more realistic/optimistic side of things, I'll tell you what I feel about this PC as the project I had in mind, for the little money I had (prices on this list are what I paid for everything): I feel satisfied. My expectations are not as high because I'm not an enthusiast, I'm not part of the Master Race (thankfully, I hate those elitist scumbags), and I'm a power user who loves retro parts and humble performers, that deprecated silicon that could, and can do stuff when fallen into the right hands.
No, it's not a PC for anyone, neither is it for everyone (see above, and you'll see what I think about it if looked at with ScatterVolt's glasses), but I like it. I like its subdued looks, I like how noisy it is, I like how portable it feels. And I hope to take it with me everywhere and make money. Make money coding with it, make money doing logos and telestration videos, and game on with my friends on a Saturday night, after doing volunteering work at the IT Museum here in Buenos Aires.
If you have any questions, inquiries, thoughts, etc. to pour into the comment section, please do so, I'll bite back with love and care (:P), and thanks for reading this papyrus scroll-long wall of text. XOXO.