Description

This was my first build in about 15 years. I'd been buying off-the-shelf since then. Many thanks to my Acer Aspire ASE380-UD421A for many, many years of flawless service since late 2006. Not a single problem in nearly seven years of service. But I was feeling saucy and wanted to build my own.

My goal was to create a gaming machine, balancing good quality with savings where possible, but at the same time allowing for a bit of ability to upgrade. The hardware side of the build had no problems whatsoever. Installing Windows 7 64-bit, surprise surprise, had a few hiccups. My first gaming experience has been Metro: Last Light (came free with the video card), and I have to say the difference was jaw-dropping compared to my old system. Scary good.

BEST EXPERIENCES: The motherboard and the case (see desc). The mobo is smart, well laid out, and up to date in features. And the case has been the best expenditure I've made, even though my original thought was "Why would I want to spend that much on a case?" So much I didn't know. Cable management is easy, the space is ample, and I love the look. As you can see, I still need to do a little cable tidying on the interior, but even so, it's pretty open.

WORST EXPERIENCES: The installation guide for the Zalman CPU heatsink/fan needs improvement. There was an online video that wasn't exactly spot-on. I also would've preferred some sort of bracket for the rear of the mobo. I wish they'd warned me in advance that a great deal of pressure would be required to install the heatsink/fan -- especially after so many ZERO INSERTION FORCE warnings on the CPU. I kept thinking I must surely be crushing the chip beneath me. Also, Windows 7 (64 bit) had all sorts of hiccups in installing updates. I had to repair a number of errors just to get to the latest and greatest, and I still have a couple of updates for which the error code has no reference at Microsoft. But it all seems to be working... for now.

MIXED FEELINGS: On the one hand, the i5 3470 (Ivy Bridge) CPU is a great value for the money, but I regret not being able to overclock it. The fact that I have an Intel motherboard means that BIOS doubly dampens that ability (unlike other boards that might allow you to faux-overclock it). The good thing is that none of that is necessary, as I'm pushing software on max settings, and this setup is doing a remarkable job.

PART BY PART: CPU -- Great value for the money; regret that I didn't forethink the ability to overclock CPU Cooler -- Love the design, but the install and instructions were lacking. Feared I was crushing the CPU, especially with no rear bracket. Motherboard -- Wonderful. Onboard power/reboot switch with digital error display. Lots of current features and accessories. Memory -- Seems to be doing its job well. Storage -- Love both the SSD and the HDD, but the 120G SSD gets eaten up quickly. Should've gone one click larger. Video Card -- Thoroughly impressed. Puts off a ton of heat, which justifies the three onboard fans. Case -- BEST item of the build, by far. Thoughtful design, great cable management, lots of room. Don't skimp on case. Power Supply -- Love the ease of use. Wish I'd gone 850 in case I want to use SLI (just to be safe). Great extras and so easy. Don't skimp on this, either. Case and Power Supply, IMHO, should be the foundation. Optical Drive -- Doing just fine. I should've pulled one from an old machine though. Still, wonderful value. Operating System -- Leave it to Windows 7 (64 bit) to be the one nuisance in the build... (sigh)

I will update benchmarks when I can.

Comments

  • 78 months ago
  • 4 points

saw1833, I totally agree. Again, this was a first build in 15 years, and there are definitely things I would do differently. The first being the CPU (see original comments). But I do love the Intel mobo, price be damned.

Most all components were chosen considering not only price and performance, but also reviews and history. I erred on the side of tried-and-true (and well-reviewed), especially since this was my first build in so long.

I have no complaints on the system so far, but I'd definitely do things differently for the next build. Thanks for the comments and the keen eye.

  • 78 months ago
  • 1 point

Better than I can say about my system. I'm always trouble-shooting. :P

  • 78 months ago
  • 2 points

The board you bought doesn't have a price listed but I know the Intel boards tend to be a bit on the pricey side, that combined with the 3470 and the aftermarket cooler leave me with a bit of confusion.

I'd like to think that for the money you spent you could have likely purchased an unlocked CPU and mobo combo on either the Ivy Bridge or Haswell platform.

I'd be interested in knowing WHEN you built it as well, since you could have just as easily put in a GTX 770 as well if this was a recent endeavor.

  • 78 months ago
  • 2 points

Is the title a Talladega Nights reference?

  • 78 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh, yes. ;)

  • 78 months ago
  • 2 points

It's the magic man now.

Now you see me... Now you don't.

  • 78 months ago
  • 1 point

Also, I agree on the GTX 770. Water under the bridge at this point. That first build (or first one after a long time) is always a learning process. Thanks again.

  • 78 months ago
  • 1 point

Ok build, but not he best for the money. You could have bought a very good Asus or MSI motherboard for a cheaper price, the Hyper 212 EVO would have been a better cooler (but you could use stock because you aren't overclocking), and you should have bought Haswell.

  • 78 months ago
  • 1 point

Odd choice of parts here as almost no one chooses an intel OEM motherboard. The thermaltake power supply is good but for the price you probably could have gotten a great power supply from xfx, seasonic, PCPC, or corsair. I think you were almost there in terms of parts, like the cooler is nice, the SSD, memory, case, and video card are all great choices. But if you chose a quality aftermarket motherboard, you could have gotten an unlocked CPU.

And as an aside, you can slightly overclock your CPU even though it is locked. You can overclock it to four steps above it's stock speed to 3.6GHZ and that's before turbo boost. Might as well get the most out of your system since you paid for it.

You did a great job on the cable management and build itself.

  • 78 months ago
  • 1 point

I think I'm the only person in the world who likes this motherboard. Is it a cost issue -- that you can get the same mobo performance for less money? Money wasn't my biggest concern, but I do tend to prefer slightly older (and time tested) hardware. As I said in the original description, I screwed up on the CPU. Live and learn. It's pushing everything I want it to at the settings I want, so I'm a happy camper.

  • 78 months ago
  • 1 point

Motherboard performance is a moot point as all motherboards will perform within a margin of error for the same chipset. The most important things are features and reliability and overclocking. You could have gotten a gigabyte motherboard for $130-140 which is great at overclocking and has more features. The reliability is also solid. If money wasn't a big concern you could have gotten even better motherboards for about the price you paid. The problem with intel boards is that they usually lack in features and options and are extremely expensive. They perform the same and have the same reliability as boards from other manufacturers. That's why you're probably the only one in the world who likes it. For the money, people can get better. Otherwise, overclock your locked CPU by 4 bins and you have a great system.

  • 78 months ago
  • 1 point

Didn't read your whole post but got to give a thumbs up for the name. Excellent movie!!

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