Description

First build, hence the obligatory blue LEDs haha.

EDIT: Please note that this build was initially completed in September of 2013. The only recent changes have been the motherboard and power supply. All parts were purchased from Newegg. I know I can get them cheaper elsewhere, but they gave me a line of credit, so that was that, I suppose.

I started off with a budget build mentality, but that didn't work out too well. My impressions of the next-gen consoles were poor so I decided to move into PC gaming (with some nudging from a friend, of course). Price is high for being an average system due to me owning nothing PC related, so I needed all peripherals.

Technically, this is an update. When I first built the system, I opted for an MSI 970A-G46 due to relatively positive reviews and it could seat a FX chip. However, let me be far from the first or last to tell you, do not buy this board with any kind of overclocking hopes. The VRM section will just about catch on fire. My initial overclock on that board was 4.2 @ 1.4v. The VRM would peak at over 75C during prime95. I acknowledged my mistake (and spent money twice... learn from my mistakes) and bought a higher quality board to actually have a stable OC. Another change from the initial build was the power supply. I bought a OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W at first. I can't think of anything really negative about that PSU aside from it is only semi-modular and it doesn't fit my planned upgrades. Onwards...

CPU - Feels super snappy. Last new PC (laptops excluded) my family bought was a POS eMachines back in 02, so this feels like lightspeed. I'm quite pleased with this little guy. AMD is always lumped into the budget category but with a good overclock, it can hang with the Intel chips. Well, up until you bump the Intel to the same clock speed that is. I digress. I'm not quite sure how to test if your CPU is a bottleneck (during gaming) but based on the benchmarks I ran, there isn't a whole bunch gained in the GPU benches. But that would make sense, wouldn't it? ;)

Cooler - For $35 it can't really be beat. You could pick up the giant Noctua if you want top-end air cooling, but at that price point, spend a couple more bucks and grab an AiO watercooler. 5 egg review with over 8,000 people saying it's good. Grab it until you get a liquid cooler and you'll do fine.

Thermal Paste - I got some AS5 off the computer buddy and I bought some MX-2 just for comparison. At stock clock prime95 testing, the temperatures were within a degree or two. I'd chalk that up to ambient temp, mounting and application errors or something similar. Personally I like the MX-2 just a bit more. Little easier to clean up, and, in various tests I've found, it's a tiny bit better thermally.

Motherboard - Having gone from a "budget" board with the MSI to the second best AMD board that ASUS offers... WOW. The build quality is outstanding. The soldering on the PCB is so clean. Just a thing of beauty. I almost didn't buy it based on the color scheme. But I also didn't feel like spending an extra $50 for a Crosshair. The look of the board has grown on me though. It is a fantastic board. It handles overclocking so much better than the MSI (VRM goes to 60C max).

RAM - As far as I can tell, it works just great. I tightened the timings a little bit and it works just fine. I haven't bumped the speed up yet as I've only been playing with the CPU and (to a lesser extent) the GPU. Some people might not like the heat spreader or the color might not go with what they're planning but it's got a lifetime warranty, so I'm not complaining.

Storage - I'm pretty sure the SSD opens programs before I actually click on them. In all seriousness, buy a solid state. It's flippin great. The WD is a nice value spin drive. Lots of storage for the price, so I'm down for that.

GPU - I was initially going to buy the 7870 but when I went to place the order, it was sold out so I had to find something close to it in about 5 minutes. The XFX fit the bill. I didn't know a couple of things when I bought it. First, it is vcore locked and therefore pretty limited in overclocking. HWBOT reports the average overclock to be over 1.1ghz, so that bums me out slightly. Second, while the double dissipation fans work well, they are quite loud once they really get spinning. With headphones on, you can't really hear it, but if there is anyone else in the room, they might get annoyed. Finally, even when overclocked, you're not turning everything up to max settings. But that's not really a fault of the card itself, rather me wanting crazy detail. I'm gonna hang out until Maxwell gets released and see what that does to prices. Even then I'll probably still get video card envy and want the latest and greatest. :P

Wireless adapter - Don't much feel like snaking ethernet through the walls so this will do just fine. Cheap, always connects to my network, and it does okay speeds (~5 mb/s down). Comes with a USB extension cable so you don't have to have a heavy (by USB standards anyway) device hanging off the back of your tower.

Case - This is a pretty good case for the money. Lots of airflow, can bit a 280/240 rad up top, number of HDD trays, etc. The front fans attach with clips and the first time I was cleaning the filter (which is integrated into the panel, boo) I snapped one of the clips off very easily. Maybe I don't know my own strength or something, but I would have been happier with a removable filter and fans that attach with screws. A few of the motherboard standoffs wouldn't screw in easily, but it was nothing a pair of pliers didn't fix. The cable routing is good I suppose. No grommets on the holes but no biggie there. Just a few minor issues, it is a fine case overall.

Additional fans - BLUE LED FANS AHHHH!!!! Seriously though, they move an acceptable amount of air for the price. Not very loud but noticeable.

PSU - Seasonic guts, full modular, jonnyguru approved, and it was on sale. What's not to like? Very, very nice quality. Plan to make my own individually sleeved harnesses at a later date which I'm sure will be both soothing and mind-bogglingly tedious at the same time.

Blu-ray drive - I watch a large amount of movies and would like to backup my personal collection. I could've had a DVD burner for less than $20, but where's the fun in being cheap when it comes to computers? Maybe I'm just far more careless with my money than I should be... Hmm.

Monitor - Fairly cheap, well reviewed, and best of all, I like the way it looks. Might bump it up to 1440p in the coming two years but in the meantime, I'm very pleased with the display.

Keyboard - Always read that mechanical boards were the absolute business so I decided to find out if they were telling the truth. The answer is an emphatic yes. I opted for the brown keys and they have a brilliant click without being obtrusive. Typing is now a thoroughly enjoyable experience (doing a long review like this is quite a nice time). Some people like different keys so try them all out. You won't go back to a membrane board. Ever.

Mouse - Cheap, laser, dpi switch (never knew how useful that would be until I started gaming), comfortable. The scroll wheel isn't as stiff as I'd like and I needed to download the drivers to get the side buttons to work. Why this isn't built into Windows by now I have no idea. Also, when I downloaded them, the Gigabyte site wouldn't work (select drivers from list, click download, routed back to main page), so I had to get them from a third party. Worked fine after that.

Fan controller - Another purchase that I didn't think all the way through. It works just fine but I don't care for the design anymore. Beeps after every touch, which can get on your nerves if fine tuning your fan speeds. The temp sensors probably work, but I just tucked them out of the way. Probably go for a manual slider style controller next time.

Cable management is maddening if you try to make it nice. I tried a few different ways but ultimately settled on what is pictured. I know you guys are sticklers for cable management.

Couple notes on the pictures. One shows the CPU power cable routing. It was just a tight fit to be aware of on this case. Another shows the bundled up fan controller wires. Third from the end shows the CPU fan connector. The reason for this was that I had wrapped the wire around the housing of the fan due to the proximity of the top exhaust fans. I had to plug the wire in, clip the fan to the heatsink, and then secure the wire to the fan housing. Second to last picture is testing results. Final photo shows the clearance between the side panel and the 212 Evo (slightly over 1/4").

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I had a lot of fun and am looking forward to modifying it in the future. Any and all comments, criticisms, and advice are welcome. -Alex

Comments

  • 70 months ago
  • 4 points

Nice build, though you could put your storage drives in the lower drive cage and remove the top one to allow better airflow to your video card.

  • 70 months ago
  • 2 points

I was going to make the exact same comment.

  • 70 months ago
  • 2 points

Ditto...while you might not see a degree of change in temps, it would really clean things up aesthetically. Good build, +1 from me.

  • 70 months ago
  • 1 point

Absolutely true. When I had the MSI board in there, I did have the middle cage out. Based on temp readings I have from that previous setup, I have only increased maximum GPU temps somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-5C. While gaming I haven't seen it over 75. I ran it the current way simply because I wanted only one SATA power connection attached at the PSU, rather than having to manage two of them. I may move them and rerun some tests to see how much of a difference there would be. Thank you for the input.

  • 70 months ago
  • 2 points

Honesty I'm not sure you would notice a difference in temps. Yes it doesnt hurt to have the HDD's on the lower cage then the top but air will still get to the GPU via Bernoulli's principle. Personally i rater cool the HDD's more then a GPU that has a blower type cooler that just shots air all over the place inside the case. If this was a exhaust type cooler than yes.

  • 70 months ago
  • 1 point

I may do it just for posterity's sake. If I had a way to test CFM through the case I would love to do with and without the bays. I wouldn't think there would be a very large gain however. Maybe a couple degrees under full load, but nothing to lose sleep over.

  • 70 months ago
  • 3 points

Average build you say but above average description!!

  • 70 months ago
  • 0 points

Thank you. I wrote the description after I had been up for 20-some hours, so it may ramble at points. Looking through other builds, I hadn't seen many where they overclock, and give before and after test results to show the gain. So I thought it would be neat to do.

  • 70 months ago
  • 3 points

Too bad you didn't get that 7870. I would have gone with a 660 in its place. Nice build and excellent description.

  • 70 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you. It definitely would have been nicer with the 7870. For whatever reason I didn't get a Nvidia card, despite plenty being in stock. Due to the mining prices, there is a good chance that I will be going team green when the time comes. I don't imagine that I'll be disappointed.

  • 70 months ago
  • 2 points

i would personally flip the PSU around so it isnt intaking all the warm air from inside the case.

  • 70 months ago
  • 2 points

I always do it that way too :) however it could be that he doesn't have a fan filter on the bottom of the case and/or its going on carpet. Personally I agree with you though :)

  • 70 months ago
  • 1 point

Based on testing done by techPowerUp, even at 40+C intake temperature and 110% load, efficiency remained above 90%. It doesn't help that it sits on carpet. There is a side intake fan blowing directly above the PSU, so hopefully that will mitigate any ill effects.

  • 70 months ago
  • 2 points

ah so it is sitting on carpet makes sense then.

  • 70 months ago
  • 2 points

great build except i find the SSD useless with the 990FX R2.0 as it loads windows 7 comparably fast as an SSD does and i would have put an Asus R9 270 instead for a GPU and the CPU is quite a bit overkill for gaming, 6-cores are far from going to be integrated yet, gonna take at least 5 more years as Quads have yet to be completly supported by most games so the 6-core is a bit of waste of money for gaming unless you do image/vids editing but overall excellent build, +1 for sure :)

  • 70 months ago
  • 1 point

You reminded me to put some very important information in the main description. Concerning the GPU, I built this back in September, so the new AMD cards hadn't been released at that point. If I were to have to make a choice right now (as if I were doing a clean build), I would probably go with a $500 range enthusiast card. Always want bigger and better I suppose. As far as the SSD, I can see where you're coming from. But it sure is nice for program load times (basically nonexistent). It'll definitely be nice when the developers take full advantage of multi-core CPUs. I do some video editing (mostly remuxing things) so it does help some. Thanks for the input. It's so nice to talk to knowledgeable people online for a change haha. Those Youtube comments, I swear...

  • 70 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice build, you could have saved a bit of $$ getting a lower wattage psu. 860 is overkill imo, for that rig.

  • 70 months ago
  • 1 point

I wholeheartedly agree. With my ultimate goal in mind (custom loop and dual cards) however, it makes a little more sense. Also, a full modular Seasonic-based PSU for $140? Hard to pass that up. Thanks for looking!

  • 70 months ago
  • 2 points

Question: I have my PC built, and I was doing some cable management today, I discovered the area above my CD Drive to be empty, so I shoved my extra cables and slack into there (like your picture shows), now is that what it is supposed to be used for? and also, does that CPU cooler use a 4 pin connector to the mobo?

  • 70 months ago
  • 1 point

Cable management is a bit odd in that there is no exact method for every single build. I put my extra wires above my disc drive because it was a large area, and the drive would act as a shelf of sorts. Is that what a 5.25" bay supposed to be used for? No. Will it work and make everything look better? You bet. I experimented with routing the cables several different ways before I settled on what I thought would work best for my particular situation. It can be fun if a bit tedious. The fan on the CPU cooler is a 4 pin (PWM) fan. Stock Cooler Master that came with the 212 EVO. Couldn't tell you what the part number is however.