I'd been considering building a PC for a number of years, and after opening my laptop up for the first time recently to replace the fan I finally decided to take the plunge.
I bought all my parts during the Christmas and Jaunary sales, trying to stick to my £450-£500 budget and looking to build a mid-range PC. I pretty much game on all platforms, though I've neglected PC gaming for a number of years now because the PC's and laptops I've had in the past weren't really powerful enough and it wasn't really a neccessity at the time. This time it's the primary function, and I'm looking to play a lot of the (now older) games I've accumulated and couldn't quite run properly on my laptop, as well as newer releases.
Initially I had some issues with the processor I bought: I got an open box Intel Core i7, and a GA-Sniper-B6 motherboard but then had to send both back as I'd realised the motherboard wasn't quite the same sniper board as I'd been looking at and was an 1150 socket instead of a 1366 socket. Luckily I realised before either had been opened. I eventually decided on the i3 processor as I couldn't quite stretch to an i5 (Skylake or Haswell) and compatible motherboard without compromising too much on other areas, but it meant I could spend a little bit more on the graphics card and memory. The graphics card is actually a Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB, though it looks identical to the one in the parts list; the memory went from 4GB (2 x 2GB) to 8GB. The blu-ray drive turned out to be an OEM one, but the only thing I needed was an extra sata cable to connect it.
So, the build itself. I think it took around 10 or so hours to put it all together. Installation was for the most part straightforward with the help of a couple of Youtube videos and articles (Thanks EasyPCBuilder and Lifehacker!), though the case instructions seemed a little vague when it came to the case fan setup as it had both molex connections and connections to go straight into the fan controllers. The power supply instructions also had the wrong images for it so that didn't help either.
Unfortunately it didn't switch on the first time I'd connected everything, so I then spent another couple of days re-connecting everything: making sure the memory, graphics card and cables were fully inserted, re-applied the thermal paste to the CPU, making sure the case fans were connected properly (tidied up my cables a little bit more while I was at it! See photo 4), but still nothing. Watched a couple more guides see if I'd missed anything, got my uncle to help seeing as he knows a lot more about PC building than I do, and he couldn't see anything wrong either so I was getting a bit concerned something was faulty like the power supply.
It turned out to be something really simple: the EVGA Supernova 550 GS power supply has two sockets on the power supply to plug the motherboard cable into. The cable's split into two so it's a 20+4 pin connection with the 4 pin connecting above the 20 pin, rather than a full 24 pin connection like in every video I've seen. I'd only plugged in the 20 pin part at the bottom assuming it was the full 24 pin cable and the other part was an extra like how the graphics card cable has an extra bit. I felt really dumb at the time for not plugging that 4 pin bit in, but then when the instructions are pretty much 'connect the 24 pin cable to the power supply, then connect the rest of the cables you need', and the image doesn't match the power supply there's only so much beating myself up about it I can do!
After that it was all fine: it posted, there was very little I had to do in the BIOS aside from setting which order I wanted it to check for my drives, and latest drivers installed was a breeze. I'd bought Windows 8 Pro shortly after it was released while it was still on the offer price, intending to use it on either my laptop or a new PC, so I installed that before going onto Windows 10. I had the 'activate windows' problem that quite a few others seemed to have, but installing all the latest drivers and then trying to activate it again seemed to solve the problem.
Right now it all seems to be running fine apart from one case fan: typically it's the LED one. It lights up when connected to the fan connector but doesn't spin; it doesn't light or spin when connected to the motherboard so it seems like it's the fan that's the problem. I still need to try connecting it via the molex connection to confirm. It's so quiet though regardless! All the games I've tried so far (Sudeki, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Warhammer 40,000: Regicide - all very important games to me) have been absolutely fine on the highest settings. I've still got The Sims 3, X-COM, Rayman 1, Elder Scrolls Online, Portal 2 and Tomb Raider (reboot) to try next once they've installed, but none seem like they would be problematic. The only game that's had a slight issue so far is Prince of Persia (2008): it launches fine but loading into the game takes roughly 5 mins, then it runs absolutely fine. Steam forums posts have mentioned adjusting the v-sync settings to fix it so I'll give that a try.
I would like to add an extra LED fan or something so that there's a little bit more lighting inside the case, and I'd also like the NZXT Sentry 3 fan controller, though neither of these are a necessity. Upgrading Microsoft Office would be nice too, but I'm happy to wait for a sale on that. Sorry for the long decription but I wanted to be thorough with documenting my first build. Aside from a couple of little problems I've really enjoyed building this PC: it's been a lot of fun and I look forward to upgrading parts later on!