Finally, I had to retired my 32bits XP machine that I bought from 7 years ago. It is time for me build a new PC and will be used for Flight Simulator, Photoshop and video editing and a little bit of everything else such as email, web browsing, and words document, etc. with $1,000 budget in mind. This is still a work-in-progress built, but it is consider the first phase of this build is completed.
This was supposed to be my "first" build in a long time. But I will leave this part of the story later if you are interested in reading more about this. I was glad I was introduced to this site that offer such a fool proof tool to pick out the parts that fit my need; the community here has been very helpful by offering tips, inputs and advices as well. The success of this build will have to thanks mostly to a user named “Sed8Op8” who offered so many buying tips and his lesson learned so I can build my first build with confident.
CPU and Motherboard: I started out by looking at the Build Guides; it was called $1,000 build guide at the time; then I started to modify for my own preference and went with Intel Core I5-4690 3.5GHz Quad-Core processor and the AsRock Z97 Extreme4 as a starting point for my part list. But I encountered some problems that were out of my control with these two parts and will leave this portion of the story for later as well; I ended up with Intel Core I5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core processor so I may be able to experiment with overclocking which I have never done before.
CPU Cooler: The CPU came with a stock cooler fan and it does have pre-applied thermal paste. I could have use the stock cooler fan or gotten a traditional aftermarket cooling fan if I am not going to OC the CPU; since I am going to experiment a little bit of the CPU OC, I decided to go with liquid cooling. Plus, I want to experiment with liquid cooling which will make this my first box to use liquid cooling. “Sed8Op8” had made a strong recommendation for the Corsair refurbish Hydro products at a very good price; he said he currently has a refurbished H100i in his build and has been very happy with it; he convinced me that many testing were done before these refurbish products passed the QA & QC and put back in the market so I went with the refurbished Corsair H80i. When I opened the box, everything looked brand new. So far, I am extremely happy with the hardware; it also has a LED color changeable lighting for the Corsair logo with the Corsair Link software to monitor the temperature of the pump, fans, CPU, and mobo and customizing the LED light color; if you are going with a windowed case, this is another little flashy thing to show off the guts of your PC. For anyone who is new to liquid cooling technology, a pre-filled and self-contained liquid cooling such as the Corsair Hydro series like the Corsair H80i is strongly recommended; and buying the refurbished one will save you a lot of money.
There is one hiccup in the H80i liquid cooling installation manual. The Y-connector cable came with removable plastic piece to protect the male pins during shipping; the installation manual did not show this detail. This protected piece shall be removed before connecting to the two fans attached to the radiator; this way, the cooling pump and the radiator fans can work in-sync with the Corsair Link software. These two radiator fans should not be connect to the mobo fan header.
Memory: I have seen many reviews and the G.Skill Ripjaws X Series seems to be a good balance between the price/performance so I got one stick of 8GB. The AsRock Z97 Extreme4 mobo has four slots with 32 GB max, so I will eventually upgrade by getting additional stick of 8GB later as I get more into Photoshop and video editing. In order to take advantage of the Dual Channel, I will have the get the same exact brand and speed; otherwise, I won’t be taking full advantage of Dual Channel.
Storage: This is my first box with Solid State Drive (SSD). The research I did led me to a minimum of 240 GB. I was recommended the Crucial mx100, but didn’t see it on sale at the time. So I ended up with Crucial M500 for a decent price instead. SSD is great for boot up drive; this boot up in 10 seconds or less after I pressed the power button. Now there is no more wait for PC to boot up and startup, I would have to get my coffee or drink first now. The same SSD drive will serve as temporary storage in my phase 1 build since I have a 1 TB network storage for most of my data; I will put in a second mechanical drive in this box later while I waiting for more reliable 2 TB or more of a mechanical drive. From my research, most of the mechanical drives that are bigger than 1TB seems to be unstable and/or unreliable. Once I get one, I will swap out my 1 TB drive network storage for upgrade with the new and bigger drive and bring this 1 TB drive in this box as local storage.
GPU: I have plan to put in one GTX 970 card, but I am going to wait out as long as I can until the manufacturer fix some of the random problems that have been described by some reviewers. Some reviews saying their card works great and haven’t have any problem, some said it works perfect for the first three months and then the black screen and the cooling coil noise problem starting to occur. It doesn’t matter whether the card was made by EVGA, MSI, Gigabyte or Asus; all of them seems to have these random problems; it’s a hit or miss whether you got a good card or a defected one. The fourth generation Intel Core I5 come with integrated graphics; for I5-4690K comes with Intel HD Graphics 4600 and I am able to run up to three monitors without a GPU. Since I am not playing any game or doing anything that is graphic intensive for now, I am going to stick with the integrated graphics for the time being. I will upgrade later when there is a huge visible processing speed decrease when I get into more flight simulator, Photoshop and video editing.
PSU: It is vital to check the PSU tier list when buying a PSU. When there are so many manufactures, series, and models, you will need a fact check to make sure you are getting your money worth; http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-1804779/power-supply-unit-tier-list.html this is an on-going updated list of all the PSU out in the market. Don’t get anything lower than tier 2A; I have heard people had done it and end up frying their whole system. For the budget, I would only want the Tier Two class A and want something that is Gold rated for the efficiency. I was planning on getting only one GPU, but I also want to leave enough extra wattage for future expansion; so I decided on a minimum of 700W. I saw Rosewill Capstone went on a promotion sale so I went for it and end up getting the Rosewill Capstone 750W.
Optical Drive: I had the Asus DRW-24f1st DVD/CD writer when I upgraded the XP box; at the time I knew the technology was changing from PATA/IDE to SATA so I got this drive and a SATA to PATA/IDE Hard Drive interface adapter to go in the XP box then. So when I take it out from my XP box and took out the adaptor, it fit perfect in this build. I ordered the same exact one for another build. Highly recommended this one if you don’t care for a Blu-ray drive.
Case: I was highly recommended Phanteks Enthoo Pro case; I checked out the reviews and a lot of people have only good things to say about this case, but I was torn that I really didn’t want that big of a case. I only want a big enough case to fit any one of the GTX970 graphic card I am planning to put in; I kept searching and came across with Rosehill Blackhawks on a promotion. This case came with 5 pre-installed case fans; 3 of them has blue LED lights; this interior pc lighting thing is all new to me. The steel part of the case is pretty solid; I had great experience working with this case and highly recommended this case to anyone who is looking for a mid-tower case.
OS: I really don’t mind the new layout in Window 8.1 which a lot of people complain about. In time I will get used to it the more I use it so I went with this.
Misc.: After watching Newegg’s “How to Build a PC” tutorial, I went with it suggestion by getting an Arctic Silver 5 High-Density Polysynthetic Silver 3.5g Thermal Paste and Arctic Silver Arcticlean Thermal material Remover & Surface Purifier so I can do the pre-build as shown on the tutorial video and install my CPU liquid cooling fan for the final case build.
Pre-build: As I mentioned, I followed the Newegg tutorial video by assemble the “out of box” build. After I installed the CPU, its stock fan, plug the fan to a 4 pins cpu fan header, memory stick, plug the power to the 24 pin power connector and the 8 pin 12V power connector, I pressed the power button on the motherboard, nothing. Then I tried to use the screw driver to “short” the power on the system panel header, nothing. I thought it was the new PSU that broke, I hook up to the new PSU and was able to power my XP box so it wasn’t the PSU. I went on the forum to ask for opinion and I also sent message to AsRock Technical support; they all said that I need to contact the place where I bought the mobo for a replacement. So this was one of the two delays on this build. The online filing for RMA at Newegg was easy. The duration of the shipping took a while. This was one of the lengthy delay that I end up finish building another build.
After I received the same model of mobo replacement, I did the out of box pre - build assembly. I was nervous when I was going to push the power button, but the light turned on, fan started to turn and the monitor showed up the bio setup screen so the test start was a success. I unplugged the power, detached the stock cpu fan, and cleaned the thermal paste off the cpu surface with Arctic Silver Arcticlean Thermal material Remover & Surface Purifier and begin my case build.
Case assembly: The mobo was set and secured on the standoff. The PSU slot is at the bottom of the case and I went with the manufacturer recommendation by facing with PSU’s fan facing down; this makes sense when this case has a pretty tall legs so there is plenty of room for air circulation. The cable management for this case is pretty good; 24 pin power connector was the easiest part; the 8 pin 12V power connector was the farther away. Thankfully, there is a hole in the upper left corner of the case where the cable can get through from the backside of the case.
The optical drive is pretty straight forward; the only thing is connecting the data cable to SATA3_0 slot on the mobo to minimize the boot up time. For the SSD drive, I use the Hard Drive Saver cable to connect to the HDD Saver header so the mobo can manage the power of the hard drive. Then I used one of the cables that came with the PSU to connect to the SSD and optical drive for their power.
When installing the CPU liquid cooling, I had to move the top case fan to the other spot in order to make room for the cooling radiator and the attached two cooling fans. I also went with the recommended airflow by blowing air into the box; then I just have to make sure the top case fan is blowing air outward.
Here are couple things to watch out for:
1. 2 - USB 2.0 headers on mobo is not enough. The case front panel I/O has 4 USB 2.0 which would have connect to these two mobo headers, but I had to use one of the headers for the H80i Corsair Link. So I can only activate 2 - USB 2.0 for the front panel. I figured I can always use the mobo rear panel I/O if I need more USB.
2. Case’s side panel pre-installed fan has a little conflict with the H80i fan attached to the liquid cooling radiator. After I have installed everything and was certain that I can close the case, this is when I realized that the plastic frame of the two fans are rubbing against each other; I couldn’t close the side panel correctly; so I used my power drill attached with filing tool to trim down enough so I can close and re-open the side panel with ease.
Beside one of the front panel USB 2.0 cable, I connected all the other front panel cables to the appropriate mobo headers; the USB 3.0 connection is the only one that is a little loose and it pop off many times while I was working on cable management.
Overall, I spent most of the time working on the cable management and routing the case fans’ power wires to connect to the mobo chassis fan connector to take advantage of the mobo hardware monitor; I could go in the bio to further adjust the fan speed. I would need to install the Corsair Link software to monitor the pump and system temperature; this also allow me to fine tune the radiator cooling fans speeds and preferred setting by creating user profile. Don’t forget to play with the LED lighting the Corsair logo.
After the case assembly is completed, I plugged in the power cable, keyboard, mouse, and monitor to begin the OS installation. Once this is completed, I inserted the driver disk that came with the mobo to install all the drivers.
Advice: I was referred to this wonderful site that offers awesome tool to pick out the pc parts I would like to have at the beginning of the Fall. Eventually keep an eye out for these products to get some deals from Black Friday. I saw a lot of good deal and promotions came out a week before and during the week of Black Friday. If you see good deal on the part you want, don’t wait for the day of Black Friday.
Without seeing what other people had done with their build and getting helpful input from others in this community, I would have wasted a lot of money like my very first build back in the days when my pc still need 3 1/4 plastic disk; that was a disaster. So big thanks to Pickpcparts.com and the community for building my confidence in the success of this build; this has been a much better learning experience.
Regarding the other build delay story you have been waiting for, here it is. Originally I was going for a non-K cpu for mine, but my order was stuck in some sort of technical order issue at Amazon, so this item has never arrive to this day; I placed the order paying mostly with money from my Amazon gift card and remaining balance with credit card; the shipment was never fulfill and they are holding my payment money; I had request the order cancelation after it had past the last day of estimated delivery date, but the online request was denied stating the order has been processed. I called Amazon customer service to sort this out, they confirmed the order was stuck in a technical problem and the order is not being fulfill for shipment. According to Amazon customer service, Amazon they are still sorting out this problem to cancel this order and refund my gift card money.
Knowing the item would never come after the first phone call to Amazon customer service, Amazon put out another promotion on over-clocked I-5 cpu, I was hesitated thinking this could be another scam or problem with the order, but the customer service rest assured that the new order will go through and it did. The other delay was the defected motherboard that was DOA (dead on arrival) as I mentioned earlier; I have to send it in for RMA. While I was waiting for the replacement motherboard, all the parts for my wife’s build had arrive. So I ended up finish assemble that together.