The idea to build my first PC came to me in Jan 2015. I updated my Lady's PC which she got in 2010 from Costco. It was a first gen i3 230 and that's about it. We wanted to play Magic with some friends on Steam and could not play. So we purchased a R7 240 for $60 and installed it, and it made a world of difference. That began it all. I then purchased an SSD and it runs silky smooth for a PC from 2008-2009.
I am a big Amazon shopper and I'm sure, like many of you, appreciate getting a steal of a deal. I am always price tracking and making sure I get the "Best Price". Well, as I began to research parts and deals, there was a part of me that said to wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to see if anything actually went on sale. My rationale was that if things went on sale, well great. But, if there were no sales, then I could just pull the trigger knowing that I didn't miss out on any deals. Therefore, about 11 months after deciding to build a PC, I finally took the leap.
That said, waiting for sales was a ridiculous idea. It was seemingly impossible to wait for sale that could potentially never happen and although some things did go on sale, other things went up in price. Case an point, the i7 6700k. I tracked it for a few months leading into Cyber Monday and was consistently at about $349. Well, around the holidays it sold out and was being resold for up to $500!
Anyways, this machine is meant for gaming and software use such as CAD and Simulations. Mainly gaming.
The first purchase I made was the SSD. SAN DISK Ultra II 480 GB was on sale on Amazon for $110. Pulled the trigger. I feel an SSD is absolutely necessary for me, so I went with it. I die a little when a PC takes more than 10 seconds to boot or shut down. I knew a little sumthin about SSD's having had installed one on the aforementioned PC.
Next was the GPU. EVGA 980 Ti SC ACX blah blah blah. This I had no idea about. Basically watched as much Linus, Austin, TekSyndicate, NewEgg guy,... everyone. Then, there seems to be a thousand different types of the same GPU which boggled my mind. Well, the real issue was I was torn with spending so much on a GPU, but I figured I was willing to give in to this beast because my budget wouldn't drastically change, maybe +$200 from the GPU's I had been looking at. Plus, in the end, I think I would have been disappointed having not done so. Again, I saw this thing go on sale on Amazon for $589, so I pulled the trigger.
Next was the PSU. Originally, I figured this is where I could save some money. I pulled the trigger on a bronze rated 80+ Corsair 600W PS for $50! It was a steal. then, as I perused the builds on PCPP, I couldn't help but notice people kindly telling other builders that a high end cpu and gpu is a bit risky to combine with a lower end PS. Well, I had no idea about this either. And, as much as it irked me, I returned that PS and upped the ante to an EVGA 850P2 Platinum rated. Now, I don't know much about power supplies, but I pulled the trigger on this guy because it was on sale for $110 on Amazon. Plus it was fully modular which was my only real detail I was looking for in the PS. So thank you PCPP commenters, you saved me on this one from looking like a complete baboon.
Then I got stuck. The i7 6700k was either sold out everywhere or crazy overpriced. I began looking in to x99 chips and for all intents and purposes, they had great deals. I think I came across an i7 4790k on Tiger Direct for $289 at one point. I almost did it, but I decided to be stubborn and began emailing all the outlets that carried the i7 6700k. Mainly I needed to find a place where it was available and if it was a reasonable price, I would do it. I found some website that tracked stocks of all major stores that carried the i7 6700k, and lucked out when Tiger Direct got it in stock one morning around 6AM. I got on the site and it was $400 even, tax included. Which was only about $15 above what the $350+ $35 tax would have been. So I did pay a bit of a premium, but it was something I was comfortable with. Also, Tiger Direct includes tax in there prices, so the $400 even was exactly that, $400.
Things got more simple for a bit.
Next was the CPU cooler. I went with the Corsair H110i GTX. Only reason for this was it was on sale for $110, so I pulled the trigger. I was looking into more affordable water cooler, that were only about $70, but according to the Amazon price tracker, they all had gone up in price recently, which really irks me. So, even though it was more pricey and not to practical, I went with the best deal as opposed to the best price per performance. Plus, a double radiator looked pretty cool IMHO.
Ram was easy. Chose the lowest price DDR4 2x8 GB sticks that were running higher than 2100. Those were the Corsair Vengeance DDR4 2666. $82 on Amazon.
Case I got on Tiger Direct because it was on sale. This was another place I figured I would save a few $$ because I could care less about looking at my computer. I honestly figured I would spend $30 on a case and be done with it. But, having spent the time on researching some high end parts to shove them into a dinky looking case, I just couldn't do it. Somehow, by this point in my build, I had turned into a person who wanted to display their PC with pride. So I went with the R5 Define from Fractal. A very beautiful case with elegance and modularity that somehow now I wanted and needed. Bought this for $75 on Tiger Direct.
Then things got tough again. Selecting a motherboard.
Again, my initial rule was, having heard I think Linus saying this, that motherboards are all really the same from across the spectrum. And, the little research I did, seemed to confirm this. My only necessity was that the board need to be able to support overclocking. So I needed a Z170 board. Simple. But, another guage of mine is reviews on products. And try as I might, there seems to be absolutely ZERO motherboards that have more than 3.5 stars. Every mother board I looked at was rated average or poor, and there seemed to be as many horror story reviews as there were ones that went well with no issues. Actually, the one motherboard that had respectable reviews was the Asus Z170 A. The problem was, that this MB was on sale leading into BF and CM for about $130 on Amazon, but when the holidays came around, it had jumped to $165! And even though the reviews were the best, I couldn't bring myself to purchasing something I had seen for $40 cheaper. So, like a baboon, I decided to find something in the comparable price range. Closed my eyes and pulled the trigger on the Z170 MSI Gaming M5. I hate the Red LED's but, that's a different story. Purchased for $160 even on Amazon.
As for the build, it took probably 10 HRS! I had an old laptop that was no longer in use that had Windows 7 and I figured I'd save money there. Problem was, like many horrific reviews I had read, there seems to be issues with Windows 7 and Z170 boards. Everything almost worked for me, except when I connected my audio and speakers, there was no sound. No drivers were detected at all. I was so disappointed. Having bought so many shiny things and for them not to work perfectly is shattering. I tried plenty of fixes, mainly involving installing every driver possible, but to no avail. So in an angry stir, not wanting to try any more fixes, I purchased Windows 10 hoping that it would fix everything and it did!
I haven't overclocked anything but the RAM yet. I do plan on doing that as soon as I have properly set up my build in my room.
This was an ordeal to say the least. But in the end, the money I did save, I spent on Windows 10, which is probably, hopefully, worth it in the long run.
Please let me know what I did wrong or did right. I definitely felt like a baboon many times during this build, but I like the outcome so far. I've gained a lot of knowledge and can't wait to see, some years down the road, how I can upgrade this thing.
Total Price: $1755