Mission: Build a PC from scratch for the first time Objective: Build a good-to-solid gaming PC Secondary Objective: Don't blow myself up or electrocute myself. Actually booting would be nice. Third Objective: Buy parts to make a second build sensible. Fourth Objective: Don't break the bank ($900 or less) Fifth Objective: Build a PC that can handle running multiple OS via VMWare at the same time
This was my first complete PC build. I’ve tinkered here and there, switched out and added, but never undertook the nail-biting task of building a PC. When I got my CPU (last item shipped) I was ready. Or at least I thought I was ready. I installed everything beautifully, cables hidden and tucked away – went to go power on with a smug smile and….
Have you ever gone to start your car and the ignition just sort of turns over without turning on?
That’s what it felt like when I pushed the power button. My fans clicked on for a second. The CPU fan sputtered. The motherboard light flickered. A cable got caught in the case fan somehow. The sky was falling. Martians were invading! My world came tumbling down. It was the stuff of internet memes.
So a very long story shortened somewhat – I tried every troubleshooting method in the book. I unplugged everything. Removed the graphics card. Removed the ROM, hard drive, and unplugged the case fans. Fiddled with the RAM; removed the RAM. It was just me, the CPU, mobo, and PSU. I felt like a Samurai going into battle armed with a screwdriver. Frantically, I unplugged, re-plugged, fastened, checked, double checked, quintuple checked everything. I hit the forums at TomsHardware.com, I asked my friend what he thought. I did voodoo, danced around a fire, seriously wishing I had a live chicken to sacrifice. My masculinity was gone; I was barren and dry. My wife threatened to find a real nerd! Tears brimming, I finally came to my senses and bought (and returned) a PSU to ensure my PSU was fine (it was). Then I returned the mobo – praying this was the problem. If I had fried my CPU, I was seriously going to consider giving up on this idiotic mis-adventure. I got my MSI mobo at 10:55AM (thanks to a late Amazon Prime delivery). I had my BIOS screen up at 11:25am! I was alive with joy! The sweet, beautiful red dragon danced across my monitor! OH ****! I didn’t have an OS to install!!! LOL
Ok guys. If you’ve read this far, thank you. I hope my, presumably common, first build story gave you a chuckle or two. On to my decision-making process for my components:
CPU: After reviewing feedback from PCPartPicker and NewEgg, I determined to upgrade the CPU to an i5-4690K. With four cores and what looks like the best graphics in this series at 4600, I thought it was the best bang for my buck. Purchased for $239, seemed fair.
Motherboard: What a disaster this turned out to be. After returning the brand new ASUS Z97-E because my PC wouldn’t boot (after testing the PSU) I went with the MSI Z97 and literally my PC booted a minute after install. So the MSI cost about $40 less and actually worked! Hooray! I don’t think I’ll go with ASUS for anything…ever…again.
Memory: Really annoyed that my G.Skill Ripjaws X Series (2 x 4GB) dropped $9 in price; I paid $42. This will be an upgrade down the road, but for now, I think it will work.
Storage: I have an SSD and may eventually use that as my boot, but I went with the WD Blue 1 TB with 7200RPM, so it will suffice for a while. At $47 and based on the reviews, this seemed pretty safe.
Video Card: After reading some reviews, I wanted to add some ‘umph’ to my system and went with the EVGA GTX 960 – but not break the budget. With a nice rebate and price drop, I paid about $150, and coupled with the nice feedback, I feel good about this. I expect some of you guys might say I could have upgraded to a better card for a bit more $, but I was getting close to my budget, so…maybe down the road.
Case: I opted for the Cooler Master HAF 912. I now completely regret the decision! It’s not because it’s a bad case, although cable management is a joke – it’s because I really want a glass panel so I can see my sweet parts! I think I will spring for another case once I get my wife onboard…
Power Supply: Boy, did I dodge a bullet here! I paid $60 for my Corsair CX 600W and now it’s $119! With an expected estimated wattage at around 315W, I feel this will be more than capable. It had great reviews and definitely fit the budget. (See secondary objective)
Other: Went with the basis ASUS optical drive for $16 to eventually upgrade down the road, but this will be fine. Also sprung for some new, inexpensive-but-decent speakers with Logitech’s Z323 30W 2.1 ch with subwoofer. It’s the first time I’ve gone with Logitech and after hooking them up to my laptop – I am actually impressed. The bass is better than you might think. My only complaint is that I do hear some interference – nothing major though.
Freebies/Owned: I have two old-school Samsung SyncMaster 204B monitors, and while old, they will definitely be upgraded – just not sure what I want – and new monitors would definitely break my budget. Will probably upgrade next year (tax season baby!) Also using Logitech K520 wireless keyboard and mouse set I bought from Wal-Mart, of all places, two years ago for price match of $20!