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Build

The Black Lightning

by horizon21

7
13 Comments

Part List View full price breakdown

Details

Date Published

Nov. 18, 2015

Date Built

Nov. 18, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

3.3GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

34.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.01GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

6.0GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

43.0° C

Description

I’m a 90s kid who’s always dreamed of having a proper gaming/media system. The time finally came when I had the money to splurge on my first custom build. Exciting!

I wanted to fit my build within the budget of roughly £1000. I believe I am very slightly over budget at the end. I also planned to gut my laptop and take its shiny 512 GB SSD which would go into the PC. The plan was for the laptop to be fitted with a HDD (the one I got surpassed my expectations).

What I will be using this system for: 1080p gaming on settings as high as it will allow, and media consumption. Games: Path of Exile, Diablo 3, The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, and all the AAA titles I have missed in the recent years.

A lot of research went into my choice of parts – I thoroughly enjoyed that process. I like to think that this system is a bang-for buck, but that will simply not be completely true. I could have saved money by buying a different case, different monitor, and finally I feel like my choice to fit the system into a mini tower form factor made an impact as well. I struck a few good deals here and there, so I think I balanced things out. All in all, I am proud of how this system turned out.

CPU: I snagged the Core i5 4590 for £150. I feel quite happy about that as it is about £5-10 more expensive at the time of writing. The goal I set for this CPU was to support my R9 390 through its lifespan and perform the way I’ve read the i5’s perform – without compromise. I have no interest in overclocking at this price point (or at all really) – so this CPU seemed to fit the bill quite well. While I was browsing pcpartpicker’s completed builds section I stumbled upon a discussion on the Intel Xeon E3-1231 V3 (about £196 atm), maybe in the future I will upgrade to that CPU, though I see no reason to at the moment as the i5 is a trooper!

Mobo: I had quite the experience with mobos. Firstly I got a MSI H97M-G43, which while being feature-rich shared a shortcoming of 99% of the H97 mATX boards I came across – the space between the PCI-E slot and the latches for the RAM is not wide enough to allow a beefy R9 390 to fit (without filing/sawing off the latches). Fast forward a few swear words and I returned the MSI. Instead I got the Gigabyte H97M-HD3 – spacious enough to fit a PowerColor R9 390 no problem! It has a single system fan header, though, so beware if you are building a beefy system with it – you will need a fan splitter adapter. Not an issue for me as I did not plan to overclock, hence no need for an extra fan.

RAM: Nothing special here, in fact, it has “Value Ram” in its name. Does what it says on the tin. I decided to get the cheapest RAM I could get my hands on, as I read that it really does not matter that much for my uses.

Storage: About 1 year ago I decided to breathe new life into my trusty Acer Aspire 5740 when it’s HDD failed by getting an SSD for it. I believe it cost me £150 at the time. I used it in my build and continue to enjoy the snappiness and increased responsiveness it offers.

I also added a standard 1TB WD Blue for my Hello Kitty colle… I mean storing documents and the like.

Graphics Card: Aah... this is where a huge chunk of my budget went, and it well should have! Enter the PowerColor Radeon R9 390 8GB PCS+ Video Card. Best priced R9 390 at the time, it was a no brainer for me. Unfortunately I did not luck out with the first unit – it had some horrible coil whine. I RMA’d it and got a working one not long after.

Case: This was one of the parts I was most enthusiastic about. I wanted a clean-looking mini tower case with good airflow and good cable management. I hesitated between the Fractal Design Define Mini and the Silverstone Temjin TJ08B-E. Finally, I decided to go with the Temjin as silentpcreview pinned it as the quieter option in spite of the Define Mini’s noise dampening foam. I am very happy with the case and can recommend it to any future builders! I found it very easy to organise and make it look clean as evidenced by the photos.

PSU: This is another component that gave me some trouble. Initially I bought an XFX XXX Semi-modular Bronze 650W unit which exhibited the oh-so-lovely coil whine problem. I returned it and went with the Antec TruePower Classic 650W 80+ Gold at a slightly higher price. Both PSUs are manufactured by SeaSonic, so in theory should have performed similarly. However, my brief use of the XFX XXX indicated that it was too noisy for my liking. Definitely a stark difference between the noise levels of the Antec and the XFX – the Antec is quieter.

Anyway, I knew I wanted a quality PSU because of positive experiences I have with an old Fortron unit which saved my old system on numerous occasions when my area had intermittent electricity flow, causing 1-second blackouts several times per day.

Monitor: Another item that I enjoyed researching. I knew I wanted an IPS panel. Good viewing angles and better colour reproduction are very important to me. The 4.9 ms response time or the 60Hz frequency rate do not bother me that much as I do not play FPS games. I decided to invest in this Japanese beast of a monitor and could not be happier! I’ve rambled on long enough, if you want to learn more about the Eizo Foris 2434 feel free to bing it.

Keyboard: It turns out that it is quite tricky to obtain a US layout keyboard in the UK. This Dell, however, is easy to use and fits the bill nicely. Nothing too fancy, mind you.

Mouse: The legendary Logitech G400, a remainder of my feeble attempt to better the gaming experience on my laptop back in my university years. Still going strong and had to make an appearance here!

Speakers: I got this 2.1 channel system for a measly £25. It costs over £34 now, and I feel good about my sniping skills. Whad’ya know, the sound is bang of buck king, too! Only thing missing is the “remote volume control” wired thingy that comes with more expensive models. For the price, however, the Z323 are hard to beat.

Honourable Storage mention: The Hitachi Travelstar HDD. This bad boy cannot be heard over the sound of a thousand snoring ants. I expected that it would be just as chirpy as my previous WD Blue 2.5” HDD but it rivals SSDs in silence.

Wireless Adapter: Please disregard this antique that I barely got to get along with Windows 10. I am waiting to receive my powerline adaptors and Ethernet cables.

Part Reviews

CPU

I snagged the Core i5 4590 for £150. I feel quite happy about that as it is about £5-10 more expensive at the time of writing. The goal I set for this CPU was to support my R9 390 through its lifespan and perform the way I’ve read the i5’s perform – without compromise. I have no interest in overclocking at this price point (or at all really) – so this CPU seemed to fit the bill quite well. While I was browsing pcpartpicker’s completed builds section I stumbled upon a discussion on the Intel Xeon E3-1231 V3 (about £196 atm), maybe in the future I will upgrade to that CPU, though I see no reason to at the moment as the i5 is a trooper!

Motherboard

I had quite the experience with mobos. Firstly I got a MSI H97M-G43, which while being feature-rich shared a shortcoming of 99% of the H97 mATX boards I came across – the space between the PCI-E slot and the latches for the RAM is not wide enough to allow a beefy R9 390 to fit (without filing/sawing off the latches). Fast forward a few swear words and I returned the MSI. Instead I got the Gigabyte H97M-HD3 – spacious enough to fit a PowerColor R9 390 no problem! It has a single system fan header, though, so beware if you are building a beefy system with it – you will need a fan splitter adapter. Not an issue for me as I did not plan to overclock, hence no need for an extra fan.

Memory

Nothing special here, in fact, it has “Value Ram” in its name. Does what it says on the tin. I decided to get the cheapest RAM I could get my hands on, as I read that it really does not matter that much for my uses.

Storage

About 1 year ago I decided to breathe new life into my trusty Acer Aspire 5740 when it’s HDD failed by getting this SSD for it. I believe it cost me £150 at the time. I re-used it in my build and continue to enjoy the snappiness and increased responsiveness it offers.

Storage

A standard 1TB WD Blue for my Hello Kitty colle… I mean storing documents and the like.

Video Card

Enter the PowerColor Radeon R9 390 8GB PCS+ Video Card. Best priced R9 390 at the time, it was a no brainer for me. Unfortunately I did not luck out with the first unit – it had some horrible coil whine. I RMA’d it and got a working one not long after.

Case

This was one of the parts I was most enthusiastic about. I wanted a clean-looking mini tower case with good airflow and good cable management. I hesitated between the Fractal Design Define Mini and the Silverstone Temjin TJ08B-E. Finally, I decided to go with the Temjin as silentpcreview pinned it as the quieter option in spite of the Define Mini’s noise dampening foam. I am very happy with the case and can recommend it to any future builders!

Power Supply

This is another component that gave me some trouble. Initially I bought an XFX XXX Semi-modular Bronze 650W unit which exhibited the oh-so-lovely coil whine problem. I returned it and went with the Antec TruePower Classic 650W 80+ Gold at a slightly higher price. Both PSUs are manufactured by SeaSonic, so in theory should have performed similarly. However, my brief use of the XFX XXX indicated that it was too noisy for my liking. Definitely a stark difference between the noise levels of the Antec and the XFX – the Antec is quieter.

Monitor

Another item that I enjoyed researching. I knew I wanted an IPS panel. Good viewing angles and better colour reproduction are very important to me. The 4.9 ms response time or the 60Hz frequency rate do not bother me that much as I do not play FPS games. I decided to invest in this Japanese beast of a monitor and could not be happier! I’ve rambled on long enough, if you want to learn more about the Eizo Foris 2434 feel free to bing it /s.

Mouse

The legendary Logitech G400, a remainder of my feeble attempt to better the gaming experience on my laptop back in my university years. Still going strong and had to make an appearance here!

Speakers

I got this 2.1 channel system for a measly £25. It costs over £34 now, and I feel good about my sniping skills. Whad’ya know, the sound is bang of buck king, too! Only thing missing is the “remote volume control” wired thingy that comes with more expensive models. For the price, however, the Z323 are hard to beat.

Comments Sorted by:

Eddie0711 1 Build 2 points 23 months ago

Awesome parts selection I think this rig will serve you well for quite a while! I wouldn't upgrade the CPU if I was you as you don't really need hyperthreading for games unless you plan to do other things as well. Also very clean set up!

horizon21 submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

Thanks for the feedback! Indeed, unless I turn into a graphics designer overnight (unlikely), I might as well keep the 4590.

Ropota 2 points 23 months ago

that sub woofer placement scares me. if it thumps big time, might screw with your HDD or something. nice build though. +1

horizon21 submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

Thanks! The woofer is on the weak side and I have not cranked it up. But valid points though. I couldn't figure out where else to put it so that it will not get in the way. If I put it on my desk, it vibrates quite a bit. I genuinely wonder if you can think of a better place?

ivan134 1 point 22 months ago

What are your GPU temps at load?

horizon21 submitter 1 Build 1 point 22 months ago

68C under maximum load, around 45C at idle.

The post is now slightly outdated. I added an exhaust fan and flipped the PSU upside down to help with the hot air buildup at the top of the case, as per SilverStone's instructions.

GangstaGoat 1 point 16 months ago

lol eizo is a Japanese brand, not German. Nice try

horizon21 submitter 1 Build 1 point 13 months ago

You are correct and I've fixed it. No need to be rude, though.

bayonetta4life 1 point 13 months ago

This is a really cool build. I especially love that case, in fact I may base my build around it. How is this computer holding up?

horizon21 submitter 1 Build 1 point 13 months ago

The machine has gone through some transformation. I've sold the R9 390 as it was too loud and AMD drivers are hellish when it comes to Path of Exile. I've since replaced it with a MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING Twin Frozr. I still cannot believe how quiet it is, as in, I can hear my case fan but not the GPU, even under load.

If I were to build a PC today, I'd go for full ATX and a mid tower case. I feel mATX is too restricting. However if mATX is what you are after, the Temjin fits the bill nicely. Whatever you go with, make sure that it has dust filters. I'm so glad I paid a bit extra for the Temjin, as it has awesome filters. In short, the machine is going strong with all of the titles that I want to play on it. Recently I've had a retro gaming fever and I've been emulating some NES and SNES titles - the CPU handles the emulation without problems.

bayonetta4life 1 point 13 months ago

Interesting, thanks for the reply!

I am interested in the small form factor. As long as you arent experiencing heating problems or anything else crazy, then the Temjin looks like a good case to me. Plus build in dust filters is always a big plus. Many cases dont have them, surprisingly.

horizon21 submitter 1 Build 1 point 13 months ago

The case is good, but try to get a mobo with more fan headers. I had to purchase a fan voltage regulator in order to set it up at the perfect rpm. Also flip the psu upside down, so that it draws from the hot air inside the case. This resulted in lower temps when I had the R9 390. The gtx 970 is quiet and cool.

bayonetta4life 1 point 13 months ago

If I were to put more fans in the case, I would get a fan splitter anyway. Most mobos dont have many fan inputs.

That's interesting about the PSU, I will have to read into that.