Description

Build Rationale

The first time I build a computer of my own, I did little of the actual part picking myself. It was an odd combination of situations: My previous computer had bit the dust, with the motherboard and hard drives all biting the dust at the same time and I had just gotten my first full time job and was more interested in having something up and running so that I could enjoy the Internet and my games more than anything else. My dad, as a network admin in his job, knows a fair bit about computers and helped me choose compatible parts, but, knowing what I know now, the part selection of the time leaned more toward the functional rather than the optimal. The quad core processor (the Athlon II X4 630) was a great processor, but it's started to show its age more recently, especially in processor-intensive games like Minecraft and Planetary Annihilation. That, accompanied with the fact that my solid state drive was being hampered by SATA II and the motherboard I had was MicroATX, only had one PCIe slot, and support for DDR2 RAM and, thus, offered very little in terms of upgradability, I felt it was time to move on.

And so I did.

Despite my fondness for a few titles, I'm largely what John Bain (TotalBiscuit) would call a "monogamer"--I tend to stick with one game for large stretches of time, though occasional bouts of bouncing between two titles has been known to happen on occasion. That said, despite having three screens on which I could game, I only ever game on one at a time as I tend to have other things going on on my other screens. The games I play (Minecraft, Planetary Annihilation, Total Annihilation, Banished, and [occasionally] World of Warcraft) aren't terribly demanding on the GPU side (not enough to warrant getting a new card, at least), and I don't often get to play them for long stretches of time anyway, so other key aspects of the build took a bit more in terms of priority.

As I'm living in dorms for my university, the build had to be quiet. My previous build was quite loud: back when I lived with my dad, it could even be heard downstairs--when the door of my room was closed. AMD's stock coolers are notoriously loud, and the default Fractal Design case fans that came in my last upgrade to "Dukhat" (Delenn's predecessor) weren't exactly quiet either, though they were a big improvement over the Thermaltake fan that I had in my previous case. I needed my machine to be able to multitask spectacularly well, handle graphic design and occasional video production with ease. So were the influences on my part selection.

Name

Yes, just like my previous build, Lennier, the name Delenn comes from the 90s TV show Babylon 5. Delenn was the Minbari ambassador aboard Babylon 5 and was a core, critical character and, in several ways, the successor to the Minbari leader Dukhat. Though Delenn will be replacing Dukhat, Dukhat won't have quite the miserable end that the character did in the show.

Parts Rationale

With the exception of the Noctua NF-F12, which I got from my mother for my birthday, parts priced at $0 below were salvaged from "Dukhat". The price on the case was included because of its close proximity in purchase to the rest of the major upgrade.

CPU

Intel Core i5 4670K. The lower power consumption and better per-core performance of Intel's processor made them tempting and the floundering state of AM3+ on the AMD side basically made the choice for me. I've been wanting to try Intel for a while anyway, so I went with the Intel Core i5 4670K. I just couldn't find any justification for the Core i7, as much as I wanted to be able to brag about having it.

Motherboard

Asus Z87-Pro. It had to be Asus for their reputation for durability and the features the board offers made it quite the piece to behold. Onboard Bluetooth and WiFi almost sold me alone as it frees up a PCIe slot or two for future upgrades. The board is quite nice to look at, too.

Memory

G.Skill Trident 16GB. As I said with my Lennier build, I love G.Skill and have never had any of their RAM go south on me. G.Skill was a given, and the price was right for this set of RAM. It's got a reasonable speed and good CAS latency. Couldn't ask for much more. 16GBs gives me plenty of room to let this build go without a RAM upgrade for quite some time.

Solid State Drive

Samsung 840 EVO 500GB. I had a 250GB version of this drive that I hope to put to use in a future build for my dad (his desktop is a rotten little bugger that first had Windows 2000… It's running 8.1 now, but boy is it slow.) Anyway, I was happy with the performance of the other drive, but wanted to be more comfortable with installing more of my core applications onto the drive without fear of it filling up so quickly, so I bumped it up a notch from what I had. You can see the old drive in most of the pictures because I've still got to rip some stuff from it before I wipe it for later use.

Hard Drives

WD Blue 1TB and WD Black 3TB. Salvaged from Dukhat. The 3TB drive runs uncomfortably hot, but otherwise, both are good drives.

Case

Fractal Design Define R4. A great, well-respected, well-reviewed case that has lots of silencing tech built-in with a build quality that anybody can respect.

Power Supply

Corsair RM650. I used this power supply in a video production build for my mother back in December. It is dead silent and made by a respectable manufacturer. Its 80+ Gold rating and modularity didn't exactly hurt it, either. Despite complaints on Newegg and Amazon about the cables, I didn't have much of an issue with them either time I've built a system with them. Maybe I'm just too used to the crappy old power supply cabling, but I like them.

Video Card

MSI GeForce GTX 660 2GB. The card works well enough for my purposes. It handles my games perfectly well and is able to drive all three of my monitors without batting an eyelash--and not just because it doesn't have any. I'll probably get around to upgrading it if and when I have a chance to upgrade my monitors.

CPU Cooler and Fans

Noctua NH-U12S, Noctua NF-F12, and Noctua NF-A14. Everyone always gushes about Noctua. From Linus to Wendell and Logan to Joe Nobody in Nowheresville, Noctua is always highly regarded. When Wendell (Tek Syndicate) said that the NH-U14S and NH-U12S were among the quietest CPU coolers he'd ever heard, I was sold on Noctua and went all out. I'm very glad I did. Even with over twice the fans I used to have in this case, you can only barely hear them--and only if there is nothing else going on in the area. If I so much as have my window open, I can't hear them anymore.

Optical Drives

Hitachi Blu-ray Burner and LiteOn LightScribe DVD Burner. Salvaged from "Dukhat". I watch lots of Blu-rays and occasionally have to Lightscribe labels onto CDs for people. I'd just have the Blu-ray drive if I didn't use Lightscribe, but, since that tech is dying, once I run out of disks, I'll probably just pull the drive and maybe put in a card reader or something. Who knows?

Operating System

Windows 8.1 Pro. I love Windows 8, and 8.1 even more. It's fast, it's flexible, and it runs on low-end hardware better than Windows 7 ever could. Not to mention, as a student, I was able to get the product for a mere $70.

Future Upgrades

Monitors

Something nicer than the crappy LG TN panels I have now. I'd prefer to have a higher-end IPS display, maybe something in the realm of 1440p or 4K. I'll need to upgrade my video card for those, obviously, but it'd be nice to have a clearer picture that doesn't wash out if I turn my head a few degrees the wrong way.

TV Tuner

I almost picked one up for this build, but so many of the TV Tuners that Amazon sells are either quite old or are exclusively made for cable cards--I'd like one that can do both, and is well-regarded, just in case I end up in another dorm later down the road that provides cable. If anyone has some suggestions here, I'd be quite open to hearing them.

Keyboard

I currently have a pretty low-end Logitech keyboard with a broken riser clip. I'd like to replace it soon, but I'm honestly just waiting for the Corsair RGB. I know it's overkill, but it looks freaking awesome--and it'd be my first mechanical keyboard.

Mouse

Something a little more ergonomic would be nice. Again, I'm just using a very low-end Logitech mouse at the moment. It functions well enough, though. Not sure this is really that much of a priority as most of the "upgrades" in this area either suck ergonomically or have way too damned many buttons for my taste.

Other Stuff

I'll get around to overclocking the processor properly eventually, but the first tick on the TPU switch didn't do half bad. At this point, I'm just glad to have it up and running so I can get back to my homework at university. X.x

The rig is quite silent and very speedy. I'm pretty happy with it.

Fun bit of information, too: just to show how CPU-heavy Minecraft is, even with the same GPU, this upgrade to my processor/MOBO caused a 250-450FPS jump.

TL;DR

Old computer was a drag, but it had enough for gaming, usually. Upgraded for speed in other stuff and to have a computer that wasn't a freaking banshee and for future upgradability.

Oh, yeah, and I know I'm not the best at cable management and all that, but it was like 3 AM when I was doing it. I'll pretty it up more later.

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Comments

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build. Good balanced system. The GTX 660 is what I plan to use as well. If you haven't already you may want to remove the middle hard drive cage for better airflow. Love this case. I have it on my list as well.

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

I love the system and the GTX660 is really great for what it is, but if you're going to be purchasing a new card, it'd probably be better to go with something a little more current, like a 700 or 900 series card.

I'm actually going to have to rebuild this system as a Mini-ITX build pretty quick here--I just bought an EVGA Hadron Air to start the process off. Unfortunately, while the Fractal Design Define R4 is an amazing case, it's just too big for a college dorm room--or for carting around on a plane.

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

Good to know its a great card even for being a 2012 relase. Trying to find a similar card that is newer I guess 700 series is the newest option, but the 750 ti was rated as being slightly lower. My budget for a GPU is $200.

I agree its a big case especially if you have to move it. I also think 16gb is a nice choice makes for longevity.

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

If you can go over $200 a little bit, you probably should consider the GTX 760. EVGA's version is $220 on Amazon at the moment.

As for the 16GB--yeah, I chose that 'cause I didn't want to have to do too much in the way of upgrading in the future (but I wanted options to upgrade if I chose to). Ended up having to shrink ray it instead of upgrading.

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

Ok, so the price has ticked up some, I think I can swing that especially since its a much newer card. Makes sense this is the replacement card for the 660. Thanks for the tip. Is the ASUS mobo working out nice as well? no complaints I take it...

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

No, I haven't had even the slightest of issues with the motherboard. I love the MOBO but will have to sell it when I complete the shrink. It goes without saying that its replacement will also be an ASUS board.