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Build

No Woman No Cry

by jellobeast

24
38 Comments

Part List View full price breakdown

Details

Date Published

Aug. 26, 2015

Date Built

Aug. 12, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

4.3GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

30.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

75.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.02GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

5.4GHz

Description

This was my summer 2015 hobby project and my first build. My thanks to all the pcpartpickers out there whose builds informed mine. Kudos to this site & logicalincrements.com. To all Reddit buildapc subredditors: keep up the great work.

Back in April, I helped a friend assemble his Reddit AMA gaming build--a $2,700 CDN beast--and was inspired to try my hand at making my own. The plan had been to build something in the $600-$800 CDN range (approximately $450-600 USD). My baseline criteria was to keep it simple, and be able to play better games on it than what I could on my laptop.

I lean towards games that sell at a discount, so rarely will I buy the cutting edge of gaming. That said, I wanted something respectable that could hold its own. Otherwise I would have been better off with a console. There's always that tension: the consoles are streamlined machines to which developers calibrate their games, getting the best performance possible, and the console price is less than a comparable PC build. Of course, building a PC is more than just using it: the ideal is that you learn from the experience, and get something out of that as well.

The name of the build? I knew that I'd be without my girlfriend for the coming year, so I would have evenings to spend on my own more often than not. You can only go to the gym so much, and even then, that doesn't use up the entire night. And playing games at the end of the day is both healthier and cheaper than going to the bar several times a week. Never mind that winters can be long in Canada.

Price-wise, I feel I went over my budget. The total price reflects two rebates from EVGA on the PSU & GPU, $20 off both items. I bought all parts from Canada Computers and had them delivered to my local store, eliminating all shipping costs. There's a slight price advantage in buying from different vendors, but shipping costs and the potential difficulty in dealing with different merchant warranties made it more reasonable to deal with a single retailer. End of the day, go with what makes you comfortable, and Canada Computers has been a solid retailer with great customer service.

Before getting into the item-by-item breakdown, a final criteria: I wanted to have the capacity to upgrade this computer down the road, and this informed all my parts purchases. Future-proofing is difficult, given the future is uncertain, but some careful thought can insure against likely technological dead-ends. In that vein, read on and please enjoy.

Case: Corsair 250D Mini ITX Tower Case

I like small and compact technology. In my mind, technology is size related: the smaller it is, the more advanced. It's arbitrary to think this way, but that's also the inspiration behind a lot of science innovation: make it better, make it simpler, make it more efficient. And, if you've ever moved more than once in your life, you appreciate that less lifting is more happiness. I also prefer the absence of clutter in my home, and having a build that tucks away and is unobtrusive is attractive for interior design.

Without a doubt, a normal case tower gives you ample room for working in, managing cables, and allowing for air passage and any sized third-party CPU cooler. Since I wasn't going for the biggest, baddest, beast out there, I went for compact case while maintaining good airflow, dust-control, and potential for future upgrades. What tipped the scales in favour of the 250D as opposed to the worthy Thermaltake Core V1 Extreme, Coolermaster Elite 110, Fractal Design Node 304, EVGA Hadron Air, or the NCase M1 were the built-in magnetic-attached dust filters (front intake, both side intakes, and the PSU intake on the bottom), ability to handle any sized ATX PSU, full-sized GPU, and how well it was built.

Overall, it's a very solid, well-machined case, and has been very easy to work with. Quality costs something, and I was lucky enough to get this at a 25% discount.

PSU: EVGA 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply

Overkill? I actually went down from the 850W edition, which had been recommended by a knowledgeable friend--shout out to Sony--though it was only another forty dollars. The reasons why I went with this PSU had to do with power supply physics and longevity. The fact is that my build won't draw nearly as much as this PSU can provide. Fair enough. What I've learned though is that this will keep my PSU in a lower temperature range, extending its life span. This PSU also has an eco setting that keeps its fan off until the PSU reaches ~40C, keeping noise levels low as well. Being environmentally-conscious, efficiency is worth investing in and the Gold rating made a lot of sense to me.

If I do decide to increase my power draw down the road with a more powerful CPU and, or, GPU I'll have ample headroom to manoeuver. That this PSU has a ten year warranty and is from a well-respected OEM made this purchase a sensible buy. It added another $80 dollars to the base price of the build, but you can't have your cake and eat it, too. For that matter, paying more provided for a modular PSU, quality black-sheathed cables, and velcro ties.

MOBO: Asus Z97I-PLUS Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard

This is the other component that ensures future updates are possible. While the mini-itx form does limit multiple GPUs, amount of RAM, number of fan headers, SATA drives, and so on, this mobo is very well made and does feature a M.2 slot (albeit hidden on the rear of the board, requiring a full removal should I ever go down that road) and a very good, very fast, dual band wifi card. It's odd that many full-sized mobos don't come with a wifi card, so another plus for the mini-itx form.. Like with the PSU, I could have saved a further $80-100 on a cheaper mobo, but I again wanted quality to allow for longevity and greater potential for CPU upgrades. I also wanted to overclock the CPU, and a Z97 mobo allows for a more efficient and stable overclock environment than lower end models, though they can also achieve similar overclocking speeds . With overclocking in mind...

CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor

High value, high overclock potential. Being my first build, it's also my first overclock. My research showed that the Pentium's two threads is fine for the time being and, while four threads is the future, the number of games I would want to play that absolutely require four threads is less than the fingers on one hand. Around 30% of these chips will unfortunately not overclock as well as the other 70%, due to variable nature of manufacturing. I was lucky with mine and have achieved a Prime95 tested 4.3Ghz @ 1.25V using the auto overclock settings in the ASUS UEFI BIOS. Very easy, very stable. Core temps are well within norm; using Real Temp, the temperature sits around 30C at idle and 70C under game conditions. A 33% increase in performance is impressive; let's just see how long the CPU lasts.

RAM: Kingston HyperX Fury Blue 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory

It is from a reliable manufacturer, occupies only one slot, and was well-priced. What surprised me was that 8Gb is considered (for now) more than sufficient for all games. Technological plateau I suppose, but goes to show that even a sandbox game will only require so much memory to display the visible game world on a screen of any caliber. I wonder if RAM will jump up once virtual reality becomes common...

GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Video Card

The ideal would have been an MSI R7 265. Problem is, everyone else wants one, and the base price of an R7 265 has skyrocketed with demand for this as (what I presume is for its use as) a digital coin miner, eliminating the price-to-performance advantage. The next best thing within my budget was the GTX 750 Ti, and the upside was the high power efficiency, quality, and good performance. Bottlenecking at the CPU was another consideration other than price point, of course. Otherwise, the small form of this GPU allowed for better airflow in the case.

CPU Cooler: Stock Intel Duo Core Cooler

This was an interesting topic to learn about. The Intel stock cooler rates very well for low noise at frostytech.com and while it isn't very strong as a cooler according to silentpcreview.com, it is free and specifically designed for the chipset. According to the forums, the stock cooler also allowed for ample overclocking, provided you had good airflow in the case. I counterbalanced the heat and airflow considerations against the case and GPU I chose.

Storage: Crucial mSATA 240Gb SSD

A nice little part from a laptop of yesteryear, may it rest in peace. Technically, I should include the purchase price in the build, but this seems a debatable point. The cost of the adaptor case was included, so in any event a quality 1Tb disk drive would have set me back by $70, or $22 more to the total listed build price. I will add an old 2.5" 7200 rpm Toshiba hard disk to the build down the road, also from the laptop of yesteryear.

Fans: Stock Corsair 140mm and 120mm fans, plus Gelid UV Blue 120mm

The stock fans are relatively quiet and the case being well-built dampens fan noise. The Gelid I found on sale and I like the blue colour: it matches the RAM. Having two 120mm fans on the side of the case takes advantage of the available slot that was there. I reversed the stock 120mm fan so that it is now an intake fan, making all of my fans intakes, PSU and GPU included. With so much positive air pressure, this is a passive exhaust configuration that, to all appearances, works very well.

I may eventually change all the fans to Noctuas (even upgrading from a 140mm to a 200mm fan, should Noctua ever produce one), add two 80mm exhaust fans, and purchase an after market cooler. For now, temps are within tolerance and noise-- even under load--is low. Not silent, but quiet all the same. I've tried to be as good as possible about cable management to improve air flow, and the spacious case design has been helpful in this respect.

OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro OEM (64-bit)

Linux would be ideal, but driver compatibility is an outstanding issue. It'll likely come around with Steam's OS initiative. Until then, compatibility between my laptop and desktop matters and, as much as Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is great, I was getting tired playing with Wine and having to micromanage drivers.

Build time: Two hours

It's like playing with Lego, and it costs more than Lego. But not that much more, mind you: do a search for the Lego Deathstar.

Part Reviews

CPU

High value, high overclock potential. Being my first build, it's also my first overclock. My research showed that the Pentium's two threads is fine for the time being and, while four threads is the future, the number of games I would want to play that absolutely require four threads is less than the fingers on one hand. Around 30% of these chips will unfortunately not overclock as well as the other 70%, due to variable nature of manufacturing. I was lucky with mine and have achieved a Prime95 tested 4.3Ghz @ 1.25V using the auto overclock settings in the ASUS UEFI BIOS. Very easy, very stable. Core temps are well within norm; using Real Temp, the temperature sits around 30C at idle and 70-75C under game conditions. A 33% increase in performance is impressive; let's just see how long the CPU lasts.

Motherboard

While the mini-itx form does limit multiple GPUs, amount of RAM, number of fan headers, SATA drives, and so on, this mobo is very well made and does feature a M.2 slot (albeit hidden on the rear of the board, requiring a full removal should I ever go down that road) and a very good, very fast, dual band wifi card. It's odd that many full-sized mobos don't come with a wifi card, so another plus for the mini-itx form.

Memory

It is from a reliable manufacturer, occupies only one slot, and was well-priced. What surprised me was that 8Gb is considered (for now) more than sufficient for all games. Technological plateau I suppose, but goes to show that even a sandbox game will only require so much memory to display the visible game world on a screen of any caliber. I wonder if RAM will jump up once virtual reality becomes common...

Storage

Quick, small form, reliable mSATA drive. Since I bought it a couple years ago, it's been leapfrogged by the MX200 250Gb model which sells for half as much and provides far, far, superior data transfer speeds.

Video Card

The ideal would have been an MSI R7 265. Problem is, everyone else wants one, and the base price of an R7 265 has skyrocketed with demand for this as (what I presume is for its use as) a digital coin miner, eliminating the price-to-performance advantage. The next best thing within my budget was the GTX 750 Ti, and the upside was the high power efficiency, quality, and good performance. Otherwise, the small form of this GPU allows for better airflow in a smaller case.

Case

I like small and compact technology. In my mind, technology is sized related: the smaller it is, the more advanced. It's arbitrary, but that's also the inspiration behind a lot of science innovation: make it better, make it simpler, more it more efficient. And, if you've ever moved more than once in your life, you appreciate that less lifting is more happiness. I also prefer the absence of clutter in my home, and having a build that tucks away and is unobtrusive is attractive for interior design.

Without a doubt, a case tower gives you ample room for working in, managing cables, and allowing for air passage and any sized third-party CPU cooler. Since I wasn't going for the biggest, baddest, beast out there, I compact size while maintaining good airflow, dust-control, and potential for future upgrades. What tipped the scales in favour of the 250D were the built-in magnetic-attached dust filters (front intake, both side intakes, and the PSU intake on the bottom), ability to handle any sized ATX PSU, full-sized GPU, and how well it was built.

Overall, it's a very solid, well-machined case, and has been very easy to work with. Quality costs something, and I was lucky enough to get this at a 25% discount.

Power Supply

The reasons why I went with this PSU had to do with power supply physics and longevity. The fact is that my build won't draw nearly as much as this PSU can provide. Fair enough. What I've learned though is that this will keep my PSU in a lower temperature range, extending its life span. This PSU also has an eco setting that keeps its fan off until the PSU reaches ~40C, keeping noise levels low as well. Being environmentally-conscious, efficiency is worth investing in and the Gold rating made a lot of sense to me.

If I do decide to increase my power draw down the road with a more powerful CPU and, or, GPU I'll have ample headroom to manoeuver. That this PSU has a ten year warranty and is from a well-respected OEM made this purchase a sensible buy. It added another $80 dollars to the base price of my build, but you can't have your cake and eat it, too. For that matter, paying more provided for a modular PSU, quality black-sheathed cables, and velcro ties.

Operating System

Linux would be ideal, but driver compatibility is an outstanding issue. It'll likely come around with Steam's OS initiative. Until then, compatibility between my laptop and desktop matters and, as much as Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is great, I was getting tired playing with Wine and having to micromanage drivers.

Case Fan

I found this fan on sale and I like the blue colour, though if I ever buy a UV light it may just blow my mind. Until then, I rely on it being quiet, having sheathed cables, and it being quiet. It has a low startup speed and moves air well. The added bonus is that the fan is easily removable from the housing, allowing for it to be cleaned without hassle.

Comments Sorted by:

Elias7235 4 points 23 months ago

I like the name (omg i beat jipster!!)

Jipster69theSecond 2 points 23 months ago

Or have you?

Jipster69theThird 2 points 23 months ago

Think again

[comment deleted by staff]
Da_Real_ZeRo 1 Build 2 points 23 months ago

No mate. Jipster let you beat him.

Nice build. Same case as me too. +1

I like to see the mini GTX card as well.

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

I appreciate it!

JBoxPC 1 point 23 months ago

:O

ROG2000 1 point 23 months ago

The f*** is with all these Jipsters???

pegotico 2 Builds 4 points 23 months ago

BoB Marley all the way!! +1

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 3 points 23 months ago

One love, brother

Growliff1234 1 point 23 months ago

This made my day XD

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

Kind of you to say! And many others on this site made mine :)

ZeNinja864 3 points 23 months ago

Heh, I saw that Pentium G3258 and I immediately upvoted! :P

It's nice to see a person who loves to use the Devil's Canyon Pentium and overclock it to the "maximum" potential.

Also inb4 Jipster :P

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

If I invest in an aftermarket cooler, I'd like to run it to greater potential: 4.4 to 4.8...

ZeNinja864 2 points 23 months ago

True, and for that I say go for it

xPat 3 Builds 2 points 23 months ago

It's a nice little build tho I think the psu wattage is excessive, to the extent it will actually hurt it's power efficiency, even taking possible future expansion into consideration I prolly woulda gone for 450-550w myself (iirc Falcon Northwest had a build with a 4690k (or 4790k, I forget tbh) and the original gtx Titan powered by, again iirc, a 450w psu).

rainysky 2 points 23 months ago

I thought the most efficient point of a psu is when they are running at about half their peak wattage. So if he wants to over-clock, than that should be in the right spectrum.

xPat 3 Builds 3 points 23 months ago

Overclocking a g3258 & a 750ti is gonna add about 200w? I'm not convinced tbh.

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

Too true. But a 4790K OC with a Titan? The PSU is fodder for my dreams... ;)

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

You totally beat me to it, dude.

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

Thanks! And for sure: I've had some reservations as well about the power. My understanding was that generally you don't want to operate near the upper wattage limit of a PSU for a couple of reasons. The major one is that the listed power supply won't be achievable years down the road. A 750W PSU won't be able to reliably hit 750W in, say, five years of steady use. Entropy is inevitable, especially with wear and tear. The other is that running the PSU near max will wear it down more quickly, leading to a faster degrading of its maximum power supply.

One thing I didn't realize was that a low power draw on a PSU undermined its efficiency; I thought that wasn't a factor. Do you have a link I could check out?

Otherwise, having more power may also mean I have a lot of wiggle room to upgrade down the road to a point where the computer makes me coffee, toast, fried eggs, and can still manage 100fps on whatever's going to be hottest then...

xPat 3 Builds 3 points 23 months ago

A 750W PSU won't be able to reliably hit 750W in, say, five years of steady use. Entropy is inevitable, especially with wear and tear. The other is that running the PSU near max will wear it down more quickly, leading to a faster degrading of its maximum power supply.

There was a jonnyguru (one of the premier psu review sites) video interview a few months back and iirc at one point he said that a good quality psu should be able to deliver its max rated load for it's life span, or something along those lines anyway. Sure, but you're nowhere near max load, as per the site estimate, 162w / 750w = 21.6% load.

If you check almost any psu review that breaks down loads you'll see that a ~20% load gets lower efficiency than pretty much any other level^ and unless you're running it overclocked and highly stressed 24/7 I would imagine you'll be operating at an even lower than 20% load in many cases.

Otherwise, having more power may also mean I have a lot of wiggle room to upgrade down the road ... and can still manage 100fps on whatever's going to be hottest then...

The general trend is newer parts will be more efficient, consider the 970 (or entire maxwell range) for example, both considerably more powerful & more power efficient than it's predecessor, and that's without dropping a process node (manufacturing size) which is where the big power savings have traditionally came from.

Too true. But a 4760K OC with a Titan? The PSU is fodder for my dreams... ;)

Nothing wrong with dreaming ofc :D ... tho considering your hint that you play older games is a 4790k & Titan a realistic possibility? :P

Anyway, I'm not trying to bust your chops, it's just not the psu wattage, upgrade plans or not, I would've aimed for.

^ tho to be fair on a good gold rated unit it's usually only a handful of percentage points.

Curcuma506 3 Builds 2 points 23 months ago

Cool build. Wise choices.

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

Cheers! I hope they all work out, too :)

Curcuma506 3 Builds 2 points 23 months ago

I'm intrigued by the G3258 performance. I'm definitely considering it for a budget gaming/htpc build.

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

You can definitely OC the G3258 using a cheaper mobo...the manufacturers allow for it...the only tradeoff is that the stability might be compromised, long-term. Or so the forums reveal to the curious. End of the day, it's a powerful low-end chip that fights well above its weight class. Plus you get to learn about overclocking without fear. Have heard anything about delidding an Intel chip? Now that's the next level.

Curcuma506 3 Builds 2 points 23 months ago

Seems pretty much like a kamikaze modification to me :P ! I would really like to try it though, it's intriguing, but I don't have this money to put at risk, and even if I had, I don't want to take the time to do it :)

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

Yeah...it's like an end of days kind of move. Upsides are terrific, but then again, so much to risk...unless you're very confident of your handiwork and line of attack.

erickdiaz84 3 Builds 2 points 23 months ago

You got that little sucker to 4.3Ghz on stock cooling? Very nice!

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

That's what I'm talking about!

shawshank 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

Glad to see your build come together so nicely! I like the logical progression and selection of parts. Nice work :)

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 22 months ago

Thanks! It's a work in progress--I'd like to have neater wire work, some quieter fans, a bigger better heat sink...all the usual increments. As it is, though, I'm happy with how things turned out. This site rocks.

gamer8844 1 point 21 months ago

First of all nice pc... I have kinda same specs could u help me out with overclocking...thanks in advance

Processor: Intel Pentium G3258 MOBO: Gigabyte b85m-d3h GPU: Sapphire R9 270 RAM: Kingston HyperX 8GB PSU: Circle 500W(Going to upgrade soon)

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 21 months ago

Thanks! I'm no expert on overclocking, but I can try to help. What do yo need to know?

[comment deleted]
jellobeast submitter 1 Build 2 points 23 months ago

Thank you GZ! If I had had a larger budget, I would have gone with the Noctua NH-L12, or the Zalman CNPS 9900 MAX Dual Fan...

End of the day, I'd love to have lower temps (if only to OC a titch more), but one thing at a time. If I do get to the next level of investment, I'll be sure to update.

[comment deleted by staff]
jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

Thanks, Radox! I'm going to add a couple of glory shots to up the fun factor.

[comment deleted by staff]
Growliff1234 1 point 23 months ago

I'm hoping the first one... But, I couldn't tell you.

jellobeast submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

My girlfriend read this, rolled her eyes, and asked: "are there any women on this site?"

Growliff1234 1 point 23 months ago

Haha, Eltech is the only one I know of