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Build

The Consolation Prize

by andrewaltogether

14
15 Comments

Details

Date Published

Aug. 28, 2016

Date Built

Aug. 25, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

3.2GHz

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.63GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

8GHz

Description

This was my first build. I use an iMac for daily work, entertainment, etc., but the GTX 680MX was starting to show its age, so I've been planning this for about a year.

This summer, I got selected to teach high school social studies (for which I have a Master's degree) at one of the best schools in the entire state. Very long story extremely short, they decided to go with an internal transfer instead and had no intention of telling me. I was very frustrated, but I decided to spend some of the money I'd been saving on this computer as a consolation prize (hence the name). Better luck next year.

I set a budget of $1,400, and I only went $180 over, so I think I did pretty well. I decided to go to a local computer parts store rather than buy online for a number of reasons: 1) I could get all my components on day one; if I missed anything, I could go back and get it right away; if I needed to return something, it would be quick and easy; and I could actually touch and manipulate cases to see what they're like. Instead of paying for shipping, I paid taxes, and I also got some good deals out of it. Minus the components I already had, I saved over $250, even accounting for taxes. I did have to buy a monitor, which cut into my budget substantially, because you can't use iMacs in Target Display Mode anymore (but a 27" 1440p IPS monitor would've been awesome).


THREE THINGS I LEARNED

  1. Anything that can be zip-tied should be zip-tied. Not only is it great for keeping track of cables, but it makes a really satisfying noise when you do it. Get yourself a cheap pack of these so you can be really unreasonable with how much you zip-tie.

  2. If you're like me and you sweat a lot, be very careful and have a cloth or something handy. Summers in **. Louis are hot and extremely humid. Building in the winter would be a bad idea, though, because it gets very, very dry.

  3. To keep cats from getting all up in everything, toss them the empty boxes as you open stuff. Cats love boxes. Also bottlecaps: I kept a few at hand to distract the rambunctious one.

THREE PROBLEMS I HAD

  1. The stock Intel cooler: getting all the pins through to the other side of the motherboard and making sure you have enough penetration to satisfy the manual is very difficult. I had to keep picking up the board and looking underneath to check, and I had to redo the pins many times.

  2. It may just be on my case, but there's a little panel above the expansion slots that you have to take off first, and I hadn't seen that in any building videos. It runs along the top of all the slots, and you have to unscrew it before you can fit the video card in.

  3. The instructions were not clear at all about which way 'round to put the front panel connectors (HDD LED, PWR LED, etc.). They had some pictures, but I mostly had to guess.


Even though it was kind of exhausting, nerve-wrackingly expensive, and time consuming, my first thought after I finished was, "I want to do that again!". I think I've found a hobby. And although this little machine can't make up for me not getting my dream job (and being treated with breathtaking disrespect), it sure is nice. That's why I've dubbed it The Consolation Prize.

Thanks for reading.

Part Reviews

CPU

My only issue was with the stock cooler being difficult to install properly. It's tough to make sure you've got the correct amount of penetration below the board, and I had to reseat the pins many times.

Motherboard

This was my first motherboard, and it was easy to build on and felt like a quality product. The chassis fan connectors aren't in ideal locations, but it's not enough to knock off any points for. The bundled software is a bit of a hassle, but I was expecting much worse. The RGB LEDs are a little gimmicky, but I like how you can use them to visually monitor CPU temperature.

Memory

The pictures don't do this justice: the black part is a solid, thick metal, and the X logo is reflective and silver in a really pretty way. They're heavy, which always makes electronics seem more substantial.

Storage

Works great, speed is as-advertised. It's a bit boring for putting on display in your case, but at least it's not covered in some lame sticker.

Video Card

At 1440p, I can turn up the graphics all the way on most anything and still get 40+ FPS. I can even turn up the draw distance in ArmA 3 to over 5km! This one is overclocked and has cool RGB LEDs what you can use to monitor GPU temperature. It also has two 4-pin fan connectors onboard so that you can hook up case fans to respond specifically to a hot graphics card.

Case

I haven't had a problem with the matte finish scratching off. I treat my electronics with kid gloves because I want them to seem like-new forever (got a 4-year-old iMac what looked brand new to the guy at the Apple Store). It lost one star for two reasons: 1) no dust filter on the top fan; and 2) I would've liked an extra 2-5mm clearance for the back panel.

Power Supply

I got this refurbished. So far, so good. Full modularity is wonderful and I'm never going back. The included cables are a bit stiff and plasticky, and mine didn't come with SATA cables that weren't 90-degree, which made mounting my SSD flat against my case difficult. Don't know if that's because I got it refurbished, though.

Operating System

Windows is a necessary evil for me. I'm not an Apple fanboy anymore, I'm just extremely comfortable with Mac OS. I find Windows clunky, obtuse, a bit boring, vulnerable to attacks, and over-communicative.

Case Fan

They are very quiet, but they move a good amount of air. The rings can get warped if you screw them in a bit too tightly, though, and the cables could be longer.

Monitor

I took off one star for three reasons: 1) it's a bit too bright at night in a dark room, even with the brightness turned all the way down; 2) I had to do some calibration to get it looking right; and 3) the back panel is very staticky and attracts a lot of dust and cat hair.

Mouse

Best mouse ever, only now they make an RGB one.

Comments Sorted by:

Rory__ 1 point 22 months ago

Nice build with a cool story, also i like your idea of buy parts at local, may be a bit more expensive, but atleast its more efficient and safe.

SH4W 1 point 22 months ago

Filthy Mac peasant xD Jks, i'm in the same boat, just without the PC haha. Looks like a nice build though! Definitely buy an aftermarket CPU cooler such as the Be Quiet dark rock 3 or Cryorig H7 when you can though. You won't notice a massive improvement in performance, but aesthetically, it will make it look so much better.

+1 for the build ;)

tamnhucanh 2 Builds 1 point 22 months ago

Nice build +1. MORE PICTURESSSSSSSSSS

andrewaltogether submitter 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

I had some more, but I thought they were superfluous. I forgot to take pictures while I was building it, though. I got one of the motherboard and then I was just way too wrapped up in the process. I forgot to eat!

Lyrix 1 point 22 months ago

i recommend a good looking cpu cooler. maybe take the hyper 212 evo and but a black piece of paper on the top or something elso so you sont see the silver but everything is a improvement over the stock cooler.

SG.118 1 point 22 months ago

The Cryorig H7 is exactly what you described but actually preforms better than the 212 evo it looks really nice and sleek, its quiet and it is in the $30 price range.

Lyrix 1 point 22 months ago

thanks for the tipp

andrewaltogether submitter 1 Build 1 point 22 months ago

Cryorig H7 is what I've got my sights set on for now.

qanastek 1 point 22 months ago

+1 very nice build

andrewaltogether submitter 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

Thanks! When I put my finger on the switch to turn it on for the first time, I paused and reminded myself, "It's probably not going to work, but then we'll just be patient and take our time troubleshooting." Then I hit the switch, and SURPRISE! IT WORKS! That was a great feeling.

mark_kakuzo 1 point 21 months ago

i have the same board ... where sould i install my 2 rams? 1A and 1B......OR......2A and 2B

andrewaltogether submitter 1 Build 1 point 21 months ago

I don't know, check the manual or download the manual online.

Anchovies-of-Terror 1 point 18 months ago

+1 for supporting your local shop! Nice build too. Stupid question but what kind of LEDs are those?

andrewaltogether submitter 1 Build 1 point 18 months ago

The only LEDs I have are the ones that were on the board and VGA card to begin with. The board has a strip of software-controlled LEDs down the side; they're a little gimmicky, but I still like them. The video card also has software-controlled LEDs, but even though they're from the same manufacturer with the same "Aura" branding, they can't be made to work in tandem, which is a bit disappointing. The LEDs on the card are also brighter. Also on the board separating the audio chipset in the back is a line of LEDs which can be made to "flow", where they light up in order for a neat effect. Then there's a standby power LED that's always on and very bright.

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andrewaltogether submitter 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

Maybe I'll leave the cooler on, then. Thanks for the tip!

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