My laptop was getting frustrating slow and loud after owning it for nearly 3 years, I got fed up of all that wasted time waiting for things to load. While searching for a new laptop, there were several frustrations. These were the amount manufacturers were charging for an upgrade to SSD's or how it's really only high end laptops that have SSD's. Secondly, most laptops still come with a cheap 1366x768 tn screen with poor contrast and back-light uniformity, even many 1080p screens on laptops are tn albeit with better colours and viewing angles.
I had read an article titled "Don't be fooled by laptop cpu's" http://www.bit-tech.net/blog/2013/05/25/don-t-be-fooled-by-laptop-cpus/ The author shows in single threaded tasks, even a desktop i3 can outperform a laptop i7qm, and claims with multi-threaded tasks the i3 was only slightly beat by the i7qm but a desktop i5 would comfortable beat the qm. I was also curious to try the pentium g3258 as it seems like a bargain for an unlocked cpu (Intel has locked the multiplier on all but high end CPU's for several years), I believe that most of what I do is highly single-threaded and when overclocked to 4.8ghz which I won't achieve, it performs as well as the basic i3 in multi-threaded benchmarks, albeit with higher power consumption under load.
Technology is always progressing and as someone who intends to use this for htpc purposes, we are at a transition period regarding video compression standards. Youtube on Chrome has switched to google's VP9 codec which is more efficient than h264 (the current standard) but isn't hardware accelerated, therefore the cpu must do the decoding. For 4k video, HEVC which is the successor to H264 isn't hardware accelerated either (except with the Nvidia GTX960) and HDMI2 which is essential for 4k60 output and hdcp2 copy protection is only available on the GTX960. Displayport output (which my motherboard has) is capable of 4k60 output but only high end laptops have it. Once a suitable graphics card comes along, I can easily just place one in my desktop pc, but a laptop is stuck, and would mean purchasing a new one.
I do not game, however desktop gpus are far ahead of laptop ones even if the nvidia 900 series has closed the gap. The superior OpenCL and CUDA performance of a desktop gpu is useful to me, and I can decide if I am better off with a gaming or workstation card.
I chose 16gb of ram as I tend to have lots of browser tabs open, often over 100 which would cause a ram overspill on my laptop with 8gb of ram, and when the mechanical hard drive is used as a cache you can guess there are frequent hang-ups and the system slows to a crawl. I bought the ram in february when the price had fallen by £25 from December (about 23%) which was what it was for most of 2014, I am concerned that Skylake won't accept standard ddr3, just lpddr3 and ddr4, we'll have to wait. I have also limited myself to 16 although 16 is admittedly a lot, this is the part I was most apprehensive about purchasing because of the expense and the upcoming transition to ddr4, however it's serving me well so far despite the poor value compared to the Pentium G3258.
The Z87I AC motherboard was on sale, it probably won't support broadwell though it'd be great if it did, but compared to the h81i I was going to use this has more overclocking options and integrated ac wifi and bluetooth. The layout isn't great especially for cable management but it'll do.
The SSD is great, it's fallen a lot in price and here in the UK is a fair bit cheaper than the crucial 250 bx100. OCZ has the SSD Guru now.
Regarding the Pentium, I think I've been unlucky in the Silicon Lottery, even with the OC genie, I would get the BSOD. It takes 1.3v for a stable 4.3 ghz. I have mine at 4.4ghz at load using a dynamic multiplier and adaptive voltage to minimize the time spent at 1.35v. I almost fried my chip trying to get a stable 4.5 ghz overclock, with prime 95 running for 10-15mins, at 1.42,143 and 1.44v, the system seems fine, but the stress test that really kills my cpu, and killed what I thought was a stable 4.5 ghz overclock is this youtube video.
Using Google Chrome for VP9 playback and 60p, I use the 4k60 option as a stress test, in fact 1440p60 with many tabs open killed by last overclock.
My Regrets regarding this build is definitely the size of the Thermaltake especially since I don't have a large GPU to put in there. It was far larger than I thought, and using a desktop PC isn't as personal as using a laptop. The case looks much nicer in renders with two windowed side panels and looks very bright and airy inside but actually the window is fairly small. I am not settled in life, while I could probably bring this in a car, it'll be a challenge on public transport or a commercial jet if I move country.
Choosing the Thermaltake has limited me to a cpu cooler no taller than 140mm in height, I was going to choose the Raijintek Aidos from the positive techpowerup review but it wasn't replicated by other sites. I chose this cooler master which I believe isn't available in the USA, because of the cool led lights which as a minor distraction at night. It's very quiet if not inaudible most of the time, only under load is there a mild roar. This is much quieter than my laptop and I can now hear my external hard drive which is annoying. The original fan's pwm function was broken and was running at full speed, cooler master agreed to send me a new one under warranty which was nice of them but I had to run my pc passive at stock for a week and a half. The stock thermaltake 200mm fan which came with the case is quite noisy at a rated 28db, my motherboard doesn't have voltage fan control, it happens the day my Zalman Fanmate 2 arrives, I accidentally damaged the 200mm fan just before the post man comes.
The NEC IPS monitor I pruchased off ebay for much cheaper than the retail price, it really exposes everything and on high quality material I see detail I didn't see but with youtube videos or even many 1080p videos, the compression artifacts are plain to see. I also notice judder for 24/25p content that I didn't on my 15.6" laptop screen. Black levels are poor just like most IPS panels, I don't want to buy another monitor, even a 4k one until OLED or a better technology comes along.
Last things last, I've probably missed some things, there are still some niggles to fix such as the windows 8.1/10 dns problem, the mouse pointer occasionally freezing at idle despite low cpu usage probably from the low multiplier/voltage from dynamic/adaptive settings, but for what I've spent £440, that buys a mediocre budget laptop. I have a professional IPS monitor and high single-threaded performance, plus a fast ssd and 16gb of ram.
I've given it 5 stars even though I am convinced newer ones don't overclock as well as the new ones given to reviewers and early adopters. Single-thread performance is among the best, but more applications are becoming multi-threaded, dx12 and spartan browser will better take advantage of multiple cores.
Also regarding the igpu, for a non-gamer it does the job, and for video scaling intel's dxva algorithm is the best, but newer drivers don't have 4k h264 decode which I am disappointed about.
There has been dual core bottleneck especially with a lot of applications and chrome tabs open, but nonetheless for the money it's not going to set the world on fire.
Very quiet most of the times but a mild roar at load, for those trans-coding video overnight in their bedroom, it's too loud. The LED lights are cool however and it's cheap. As to how well this would cool an overclocked i5 and i7, there are reviews out there, but I don't have any personal experience
I haven't owned it long enough, from kitguru.net they've killed the 5 ssd's OCZ challenged them to kill at 300tb+ which is less than the tech report for their batch of ssd's. It's not an apple to oranges comparison though as their probably racking up writes differently and under real world use we're not constantly writing to them. I am racking up quite the writes, especially hibernating my pc with high ram use, but overall speed is fantastic to me, I never want to go back to a mechanical hard drive. It's silent and everything is so much snappier and instantaneous, I wish I had gotten one sooner.
This is a bit harsh, it's a well designed case especially with interchangeable panels and the chambers concept. I docked a star for the drive cages which are fiddly and difficult to remove/install. There's also a lot of wasted space especially if you're not using a powerful gpu but as a mass produced product it has to fit in the needs of as many people.
Edit: Like I mentioned above, I also felt the marketing was a bit deceptive with the renders showing a bright airy interior with the illusion of multiple windowed side panels.
Before I forget, the power button and reset button placement are poor, I accidentally reset my computer pulling out my headphones once which really annoyed me, others have reported hitting the power switch removing usb cables.