NOTE: The pictures are currently out of order. It appears it randomizes them..
Hey, so this is my first build. I started designing and planning it near the end of May and finished it in the beginning of August.
Here are the hopes and goals I had with this PC:
• A little bit after I decided to build it, I decided to make it a “deal-finder” PC. This involves getting as many parts as I can at the best deal or price I can find them for. Sounds fun? It definitely was for me.
• PC that’s good at gaming and that allows me to overclock when I want/need to.
• I also decided to make it a low-noise/low-heat based PC with the best price/performance ratio possible (goes along even better with deal-finding). Low-heat increases its longevity as well.
• A mild blue/black theme.
• To not spend over $1,000.
• I wanted this computer to be mostly dust-free and have low-maintenance cleaning, which is what the dust-filters are for. This also increases its longevity and appearance.
So I’m going to write a little about why I chose each part and what deal I got that part for and where. They will be in the order that I purchased them. I will include a little bit of math at the end as well to better show the great deals I got on some parts.
Austin’s Build Log (long, but I know some people will enjoy reading it):
5/25/13- I first purchased the case. I decided to go with the NZXT Phantom 410. I went with the mid-tower version because I didn’t have the room for a full-tower, any reason to get one, and it was about twice as much as the mid-tower version. I chose the Phantom 410 in particular because of its myriad of features, its customization, fan options (up to 8 including 1 pivotal interior), looks, cable management areas, and many other tiny things that makes me love this case. I recommend this case to anyone who wants options, features, (and loves fans) for a decent price. I got this case for $69.99. Normal price was around $85 without any deals. $20 savings and 83% price paid. Not a great deal, but cases are harder to find deals on since you can’t really get them on eBay/forums for good prices since shipping costs so much.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: Great case, can’t imagine I would have liked any other case better than this one. It was a joy to build in, and I had little problems with it, even with this being my first build. The case has so many customizable options and different things you can do with it. Recommended completely to anyone who wants to have fun building their new computer.
6/07/13- I purchased the HDD, ODD, and RAM together. A bunch of Newegg deals here. I got an ODD just in case my family or I ever need it (more likely my family will), and it’s only $17 as well. Only saved $3 on the ODD, considering it’s usually only $20, not bad. Saved a little under $10 on the HDD, chose Seagate because it’s a reliable manufacturer and a little cheaper than WD. Saved $7 on the RAM. I originally purchased the Corsair Vengeance with the big heat spreaders, more on that later.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: All good here, RAM explained further below.
6/11/13- Okay, this is where the real deals start at. First of all, I decided to go with an AMD GPU because of their overall cheaper price (and this upcoming deal) and I had one in my previous computer and liked it as well. I got this particular GPU because it had the best price/performance ratio of any card I could find even more so with this upcoming deal. I purchased my GPU for $175.90. That’s an okay deal itself, but 4 games came with it as well as part of the AMD Never Settle Reloaded bundle. I sold all of those games for $60 (actually a little less because of PayPal fees..). That makes the actual paid price of the GPU only $106! Now tell me how I could have gotten a better deal anywhere else?
AFTERTHOUGHTS: GPU working great. Performs good in every game I’ve tried with it so far. Recommended, especially if you’re looking for a cheap, well-performing crossfire build.
6/26/13- I got two more case fans for my build. The case already came pre-installed with three NZXT Performance fans (2 120mm/1 140mm w/ blue LED) which are pretty good. I decided to go with 2 Gentle Typhoon Ap-15s for their good static pressure (2.06mm/H2O) and low noise. I needed good static pressure for my build because I am using dust filters for all the intakes. I purchased them for a total of $30.80 from an eBay buy-it-now listing. That meant $15.40 for each fan, so I saved a few $$ (normally $19.75 apiece). They also came sleeved, so that was an added bonus of a few dollars’ worth.
6/30/13- Okay, so here’s the deal with the CPU. I decided to go with Ivy for the lower temperatures and pretty much the same performance as Haswell. The lower temps wouldn’t need as much cooling and therefore lower fan noise, following on one of my goals for this PC. I could also find better deals on Ivy CPUs/mobos because of its age and it being commonplace by now. I found two of my best deals on these two components, so I saved almost $125 going with Ivy over Haswell rather than the normal $20-30 without looking for deals on these things. It would have been near impossible for me to have found great deals on Haswell due to its newness. I chose the 3570k due to its awesome performance overall and similar performance in gaming as the 3770k. It can be overclocked as well, who wouldn’t want it? Anyways, I found this deal on the fairly popular site, Tom’s Hardware. It was in the Deals section there (I totally recommend going there if you’re looking for a great place to buy/sell stuff). A guy was selling a bunch of them and I got one for only $155. Keep in mind this is BRAND SPANKIN NEW. It came with everything it would normally come with. The guy was great and awesome to do business with as well. He might still be selling some, so if you want to get a similar deal, I recommend heading over there.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: Working great, no problems at all. Haven’t tried overclocking yet, but will report back when I do.
7/4/13- Ah, the Noctua NH-D14. Massive, yet strangely elegant. I originally was going to purchase the cheap yet ever popular and hardworking 212 EVO. What made me chose this cooler was the deal I found it for. It also might have been effected by me viewing this as my dream-cooler as well ;) (color and girth aside). I wanted to get an air cooler mostly because I just wasn’t comfortable with water with this being my first build and all. I know overall they’re very reliable and easy to deal with, but for the price, I felt air would be better and more reliable. The NH-D14 is also VERY quiet, which satisfies my want of low-noise. I found this cooler for the nice low price of $45.78 from an eBay auction. It was a little over two years old, but when I received the box in the mail, everything looked brand new. A shout out to the seller for keeping it in great condition :).
AFTERTHOUGHTS: Quiet as can be and cooling like a boss. Haven’t overclocked yet, but will report back when I do. Recommended.
7/5/13- The motherboard, the heart of the computer (emphasized by the throbbing CMOS battery ;)). I got this for the low low price of $71.30 from an eBay buy-it-now listing. Buy-it-now you say? Yeah, I was surprised too. It was used, but came in perfect working condition with all the accessories and original box. I chose the Gigabyte for their popularity and features. Gigabyte motherboards also allow voltage regulation of case fans which helps with the ones I got that aren’t PWM compatible. I plan on buying a fan controller later (separate from the one that came with the case), but the feature is still nice. I chose the UD3H because it is a great price/performance performer. It is also good for overclocking with its various voltage regulation options and power control.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: Allows good control and customization. I haven’t messed with all the features and probably won’t, but the ones I have used, worked well and were easy to understand. Recommended.
7/5/13- Okay, so one of the reasons I originally went with the EVO 212 was because of the Vengeance not being compatible with the NH-D14. I still faced this problem after buying it. So I decided to take the easy way out and just sell it. I sold it for the same price I bought it for on eBay, so all is good. I then purchased the Vengeance LP sticks instead. I got them for $49, a pretty good deal indeed. I also saved extra money by switching ($49 instead of $63).
AFTERTHOUGHTS: I’m still undecided on the performance of the RAM sticks I got. I had some problems immediately after finishing the build and re-installing Windows that could be attributed to the RAM (see here: http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-1771956/solutions-problems-building-computer.html), but after re-installing Windows again, that solved almost all of them. The PC still froze for a few seconds occasionally, but it works fine now. It seems the problems just disappeared, so I’m choosing to keep the RAM and hope it will continue to work fine. Anyways, other than that, the RAM works fine and is a good-looking, low-profile set. Recommended.
7/9/13- The PSU. I decided from the beginning to go with Corsair for their good reputation and customer service. I went with the HX750 model mainly for its modularity (better airflow and cable management), 80 PLUS Gold rating, it’s build quality, and it’s blue color. I originally was going to get the 650W model, but couldn’t seem to find a good deal for it. So I purchased this one for cheaper. 100W more and cheaper? Why wouldn’t I go for it? I purchased it for $77.50 from an eBay OBO, asking price was $84. I then got priority shipping for a dollar more.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: No issues at all with this. Can’t hear the fan and haven’t had any power problems. Recommended.
7/9/13- Purchased the dust filters from DEMCiflex. Cheapest place on Earth I could find them (I searched everywhere to try and find a lower price on those filters). I chose these filters because they were custom fit for the Phantom 410 and looked pretty good on it. It was important to find custom fit filters because the Phantom has some irregularly shaped openings (ie: the front). They’re doing their job pretty well.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: The dust filters are working well. They require cleaning about once or twice a month though, as they collect dust rather fast (which is good I guess because it means they’re working). I’d recommend them to anyone who wants good quality dust filters that look good.
8/2/13- Time for a little story: I won the sound card on an eBay auction for a little under $22. I chose a cheaper sound card because sound is important to me, but not enough to spend $50+ on. This also gets reviews saying it is a great card for its price point. So those are the two main reasons I got it. Plus it would go along well with my new speakers. Well when I received the package from the guy I was excited as usual, a new part and everything. Well I opened it up and it had everything inside of it, original packaging, accessories.. but no SOUND CARD. Of course I was confused, so I messaged the seller on eBay and questioned him about it. He said it was a big (embarrassing mistake), and that he would send the card to me immediately and also refund my money. So that was great, I got the card for free. It suits my deal-finding build perfectly now.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: I didn’t actually notice a difference in sound after installing the card, but it’s nice to know I didn’t pay anything for it. Not sure whether to recommend this or not, as it could have varying results for different builds and people’s opinions.
8/3/13- I got the SSD from a BIN on eBay today. It is the best deal I’ve seen yet on the 250GB model, but after buying it I found out what the catch was: it doesn’t come with its warranty. The buyer had a guaranteed promise that it’s in working condition though, so I shrugged it off for now. Samsung SSD’s fortunately don’t have a high failure rate, so hopefully that will prove true with mine as well. I got the 250GB model of the 840 series, because a.) 120GB is a little bit too small for me and b.) I won’t benefit that much from the high write speeds of the 840 Pro series.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: I have around 70-80 gigs free at any given time now, so I’m glad I got the 250GB version. Performance of the SSD is impressive as well. Recommended.
8/4/13- I got the Corsair Vengeance M65 because I needed a new mouse upgrade anyways. I got this mouse because it looked cool, is made well, lights up blue, is USB, and I liked the sniper button on the side. You can also customize the weight of the mouse with the optional weights on the bottom. Overall I am happy with this mouse, but am still getting used to it. I got it on Newegg for $50, it’s usually $70+.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: I just have to say that I LOVE this mouse. I didn’t like the feel of it at first, but I’ve gotten used to its grip and weight. I also use the sniper button on the side all the time (mainly on World of Tanks). The mouse also has a nice glowing blue light which I find attractive. The removable weights are a nice feature, but one I probably won’t be using as I like the weight. The only thing that bugs me about this mouse is that the bottom of it and the cord accumulate dust rather fast. Other than that, I love the mouse and definitely recommend it.
8/5/13- I purchased a bunch of items today: 2 more case fans and the NZXT HUE. I just bought them off of Amazon brand new because I wouldn’t have saved much money getting them somewhere else anyways. I chose the NZXT Performance fan to match the other one of the same type on the top of my case, And I chose the NF-A15 PWM model for the side fan because it’s actually a 150mm fan instead of a 140mm one (so it performs better and is quieter), it uses PWM (so it can hook right into the fan header right in front of it on the mobo), and it won’t make the fans on the CPU cooler stick out as much. I got the NZXT HUE because it’s cool, what else needs to be said?
AFTERTHOUGHTS: NZXT Hue working great. A plethora of colors and modes at your control, what more can be said? Well, the LED strips could be a bit stickier, that’s really my only complaint. Recommended.
8/5/13- I decided to go with the Logitech Z523 Speaker System because they seem to be the best bang-for-your buck speakers that don’t make you spend a fortune for great sound quality. I won the speakers on an eBay auction. So far I am happy with the results. The speakers are a definite upgrade from my old Compaq ones, they look great, and the sound quality is also great (especially the bass).
AFTERTHOUGHTS: Coming from my old Compaq speakers, these new ones are amazing. I love the look of them and the sound quality. The bass is also amazing and you never forget that it’s there. While I’m playing World of Tanks or Batman: Arkham Origins, you constantly feel the cannons and explosions coming from the bass box (or w/e it’s called). Actually, the first time I plugged these speakers in, got into a World of Tanks game, and the tanks started firing their cannons, my sister called up from downstairs and asked if there was a thunderstorm outside. The difference these speakers make compared to my old ones is amazing. I definitely recommend these if you’re looking for a serious speaker upgrade.
8/9/13- I wasn’t really planning on purchasing a third-party fan controller with the case having one built-in and all, but I saw a deal on the BitFenix Recon fan controller on eBay, so I just went ahead and purchased it. If I was going to get a fan controller I would have either gotten this one or the cheaper, simpler NZXT Sentry Mesh. I liked this one for the touchscreen and features. Plus it looks really cool.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: I haven’t really used this that much since getting it. I mainly still have it in there for the looks. The way this thing looks in your computer is a reason worth getting it in itself. It looks that good (besides the mess of cables inside of course). Recommended for it’s looks.
Okay, now here’s the math and how much total I’ve saved on this “deal-finder” PC:
PP= Price Paid
Case: 69.99/84.50 = 83% PP --- New
RAM: 49.00/69.74 = 70% PP --- New
ODD: 16.99/23.98 = 71% PP --- New
GPU: 115.00/199.99 = 57% PP --- New
Case Fans (x4): 15.40/19.75 (x2), 12.91/12.91, 18.79/18.79 = 78% (x2) PP, 100% PP, 100% PP --- New
CPU: 155.00/219.99 = 70% PP --- New
CPU Cooler: 45.78/78.99 = 58% PP --- Used (so normal price can be arguable)
Motherboard: 71.30/137.99 = 52% PP --- Used (so normal price can be arguable)
PSU: 76.95/129.99 = 59% PP --- Used (so normal price can be arguable)
Case Filters: 47.18/47.18 = 100% PP --- New
Sound Card: 0.00/25.38 = FREE! --- New
Mouse: 49.99/69.99 = 71% PP --- New
SSD: 127.40/164.99 = 77% --- Used (so normal price can be arguable)
Speakers: 49.98/69.99 = 71% PP --- New
HUE: 28.19/28.19 = 100% PP --- New
Fan Controller: 31.42/39.99 = 79% PP --- New
= $996.67/$1462.08 <-Amount Paid/Part Sum @ normal price
=== 68% paid weighted, 72% non-weighted (part-number-wise)
So I saved around $465. The HDD isn’t included as I received that as a “gift” before I started building the actual PC.
About the other things on my list down below: The OS I got for free from my technical trade school. I also got that Samsung SyncMaster for free from there as well. Not really deals, but since I got them for free, it’s still saving money ;). If you want to get technical, I guess I saved around $200 from getting that stuff for free. I am using the other monitor, mouse, keyboard, and speakers from my previous (pre-built) computer.
Building the computer wasn’t hard at all for me. The hard part was managing the cables.. took me about 8 hours total for the whole build and about 4 of those were spent trying to figure out which cables go where and how to manage them the best way possible. I am definitely glad I got a modular PSU as I only used 2 cables (besides the built in power cables), a Molex and a SATA. I don’t know what I would have down with all of those extra cables. The back isn’t too clean, but it was pretty much the best I could get with all those cables running back there. The fans on the computer are super quiet on medium settings (even on max) and there’s 11 total including the GPU/PSU/CPU cooler (not including the NF-A15). I’m really happy with them. I haven’t put the NF-A15 on the side yet, I’ll probably put it on when I decide to overclock the GPU. The games I’m playing atm don’t need the GPU to be overclocked, and I’m happy with their performance. Some of them are: World of Tanks (max graphics, getting a consistent ~30-40 FPS), Portal 2, Mirror’s Edge, StarCraft II, Batman: Arkham Origins. I don’t recall the FPS for most of them, but I doubt that they go under 30 often (maybe during some intense, actiony cutscenes). I also find it nice knowing that if I get a game in the future that I’m not content with the performance of, I can overclock my GPU and attach the side fan for extra cooling and increase all of my case fan’s speeds (if needed).
Just a few more things. I said I wanted to spend under $1,000 and I (to my surprise) accomplished this by spending just a few bucks under that! I actually accomplished this because my dad paid for the HDD which was $60. I could have spent more money on some parts if I wanted to, but I am happy with what I got and can’t imagine needing more atm. I wouldn’t have used a 79XX GPU to the fullest, so it would have kind of been a waste to get one as I’m not a hardcore PC gamer. You can’t beat a $115 7870 GHz no matter what you tell me anyways ;). I guess I could have spent more on a better motherboard, but since higher end motherboards are mostly for hardcore overclockers, I probably wouldn’t have used it to its fullest anyways. The items I chose, I chose on what I thought would fit me best and that I would personally use to their fullest or near it (excluding the parts I got only because I saw a great deal on). So I’m happy with all of them atm :). I think I did a good job on my first build.
Let me know your thoughts, criticism, and suggestions in the comments below!
EDIT: I’ll include overclocking and benchmark tests in the future, or sooner it they’re requested. I don’t have much desire to do them for myself atm, but I might if people want to see them.
EDIT2: There are quite a few time gaps between when I started writing this until I finished, so there might be a few mistakes. Just tell me and I’ll clear them up if they cause confusion.