This is a build to replace a 12 year old dual Xeon machine that I had been using for graphics/photo editing and some light gaming. The Xeon machine was definitely showing its age, and programs light Lightroom were getting increasingly frustrating to work with. It was time for a change, but I wanted to keep my spending to a minimum (admittedly, might not have kept to that overall). All the items with a $0 purchase price were pulled from the old system.
Noise, size, and weight were heavily considered when deciding on upgrade options. I was highly considering going the ITX route with the NZXT H210i as the case as it had the potential space for multiple hard drives. The deciding factor, however, was catching the Asus ROG Strix X470 motherboard on sale, and knowing it was one of the few boards besides anything X570 that included a connector for the front panel USB 3.2. RGB lighting was a consideration, but by no means a deciding factor until the board was purchased. I had a couple reasons for wanting to avoid the X570 boards, though I was interested. 1st point was that I had purchased the Ryzen 7 1700 on Craigslist for $60, and X570 boards were listed as not compatible with 1st Gen Ryzen. 2nd was that I was not interested in monitoring or potentially hearing a chipset cooling fan. 3rd was price for newer tech. Also decided on the X470 so I could have the room to upgrade within the next few years to a newer Ryzen CPU.
The overall system build went fairly well but was slow. The used CPU I found on Craigslist was a bit interesting. I spent quite some time cleaning excessive amounts of thermal compound off it. A very small amount had even spilled over onto the pins (I should have taken pictures). I was concerned it was potentially conductive, so I took my time to carefully remove it all. It was not fun... The PSU was the hardest part of the build as there were plenty of cables I simply did not need (definitely no room for pretty extensions either). I was able to get things crammed away, but worry it is affecting airflow to cool the PSU at this point. I do need to upgrade the PSU in the near future, however, as the lineup was released in 2006 and it's quite likely it was on the market not long after. For now it was tested and is working, but Friday is on the way.
Windows installed quickly and the rest of the system setup fairly easily. I ran into a nightmare with activating my Win 10 Pro OS, though. I had a key available as I was replacing my old system with this upgrade. I had anticipated it would not activate automatically, but figured I would be able to use the troubleshooter and then specify I had upgraded the hardware. 2 hours of time with MS Support proved futile. It was recommended to me to tear apart the new build and just use the old one if I wanted to have windows activated, or (Microsoft's favorite scripted response) "you could buy a new license!" Things I learned from the process though:
Unless the license was purchased through the MS Store, Digital License Keys are not actually stored with MS Accounts. MS simply verifies the hardware matches what's listed with the MS Account and okays it. The reasoning I was offered was that it was too much information to store... MS has absolutely no issue storing all the details of the hardware down to name of hard drives, so I find this one hard to believe.
Backup Windows 10 product keys while Windows is Activated (before the tear down). Windows will provide generic keys when attempting to use key extractors if Windows is not in an Activated state.
Keep your product keys for previous versions of Windows (when upgraded to Win 10 digital license) as proof of authenticity. Verified digital licenses in your MS Account for devices are absolutely pointless when attempting to prove to Microsoft you have a valid license to use. Without emailed receipts or original product key stickers as proof (and where MS designed the digital license system to work against storing purchased keys), MS won't consider your verified digital license as applicable to a new machine.
Update: I recently was able to purchase a SeaSonic Focus 750W Gold Rated PSU. I've since replaced the aged Silverstone SST-ST75ZF 750W PSU. The SeaSonic works great and is wonderfully quiet! It has been a great addition to the case! Being fully modular, the PSU has worked wonders in allowing me to clear out what was a nightmare of a rats nest of cables under the PSU shroud. I may upload updated images in the future.