WARNING: Massive wall of text ahead. Continue at own risk.
This build came to be because the laptop I had for gaming was absolutely deplorable for anything other than browsing the interwebs and light video playback. Processor- When Ryzen launched, and I just knew I had to have it. I debated which chip to get, with my first choice being the 1500X, based upon the common 4c/8t support in games, but using that same logic I decided I might as well just OC a 1400, but at that point I felt it really wasn't a strong enough chip to justify in this build. After years of lowest settings on the lowest resolutions on the few games I could play with more than 15fps, I wanted more. I wanted high settings, 1080p, 60+ fps. I debated the R7 1700, but I work for minimum wage, let’s be serious. Even I can't justify that beast in a gaming rig. Ryzen 5 1600 it is. My particular chip can go to 3.7ghz at stock vcore, 3.85 at 1.3v and (where I keep it, because it sounds cooler tbh) 3.9ghz at 1.385v. I tried hard to hit that golden four, but, alas, my chip could not adorn. (Poetic talents^^^^^or.lack.thereof aside, I managed to get 3.975 stable @ 1.487v but not even 1.55 could get 4.0 stable. I heard Ryzen can take really high voltages like that for short periods, but I'd rather not damage this thing and there isn't a consensus online as to what the limit is, so I’m keeping it lower for normal usage and not going past that for testing.
Motherboard- My first choice was the MSI B350 Tomahawk. Then I kept looking at it online, deciding, well, the Gaming Plus isn't that much more and I like it more, and then I saw the X370, decided, well, I'd like to SLI as an upgrade path, that looks cool and is affordable, and well, here we are. Typing this now on my new rig, running around via a MSI X370 Gaming Plus. Do I regret it? No. Would the B350 board have been enough? I guess.... but it's not as cool. A huge factor in my reasoning with a lot of these parts was bragging rights, not gonna lie. It sucked having the worst PC in the friend group, having the coolest one, the strongest one, would be amazing. I'm almost there :)
Next up, for no real reason as logically the cooler would follow, the RAM- Here I'd like to thank the wonderful Reddit /r/hardwareswap community, as they allowed me to pick up not the single 8gb stick my budget allowed, but a 2x8gb kit of CORSAIR VENGEANCE DDR4-3000. They look great, perform great (actually they're advertised as DDR4-2933 CL15 and mine only runs at CL17, but whatever close enough), and, best of all, light up. My build originally was based around a black and red theme, with no white parts, but after getting the RAM I thought a white case would go well. If you notice on the part list, I only paid $114 shipped! At the time of writing, pcpartpicker says the lowest market price is $205.
Now the order is bothering me, let's go back to that cooler- I wanted to get an AIO as I did NOT want to attempt a custom loop (both too expensive and while I know that there isn't much danger the idea of putting liquid inside my brand new PC scares me. During my hourly internet deal searchings I happened upon an eBay BIN listing that was a great deal. It was for the Corsair H100i (not the v2, sadly, but I don't care that much as I like this one's aesthetic and they perform similarly) and not two, not three, but four included fans. I found out yesterday that the reason one got reaaaaalllllyyyyy loud at high speeds with an annoying clicking was that a blade was kinda cracked off, and when it got to high speeds had enough momentum to pull away and hit the edge of the fan ring. Was weird. Anyways, he only wanted $45 for it all, and I bought it after some eBay messaging about brackets (had to get the new AM4 bracket from Corsair for $10). This worked great for me, as not only did I want an AIO, I wanted a 240mm rad (120's perform worse and look kinda ugly / budget models and 280/360s are hard to find support for) I preferred Corsair for the brand.
Next up in my retarded arrangement, the storage- Unfortunately (yet not surprisingly), I prioritized getting the processor before the SSD. As such, the PC had to use my old laptop HDD as a boot drive. Then, it turned out that the OEM copy of windows wouldn't allow me to reformat or boot from that drive, so I had to get the old Seagate Momentus drive out. I'm not sure how old it is, but it has about 69 (ha) days of powered on time according to Hard Drive Sentinel, but only an estimated 58 days left. That sounds bad, but it sounds worse when you find out that 3 days ago it was estimated to have 67 days remaining. Fortunately for me it was my boot drive for about all of a day, as my PC was running on Christmas Eve and my sister had gotten me a nice Western Digital Blue 1tb drive as a Christmas present. Definitely got her money's worth, as if the 14,718hrs of powered on time on my laptops drive (an HGST 500gb 5400rpm, not listed in pcpartpicker so the placeholder is the Hitachi Travelstar) mean anything, I'll probably be using this for a while. EDIT: (actually I’m editing a draft, do I still get to say EDIT? Tune in next week to find out) All of those numbers are a day off it took two days to write all this + edit and I haven’t rechecked.
Graphics Card- if you hadn't guessed already, this is just a placeholder. I tried using it externally with my laptop (created with a celeron n2830, I forced in an i3-4030U mobo), but HP locked the msata port to only accept their wifi card. The msata to pcie x16 adapter did nothing (fan spun up though, so I knew the card was working with the power supply), I even tested with a different wifi adapter and got nothing (thanks, HP). I got this card for the price of shipping ($8) from a generous Reddit user who saw my post on /r/hardwareswap asking for cheap graphics cards to buy. Not mentioning names, but thanks if you're reading this. I tried to OC the card, but I couldn't get it stable with much overclocking. I did manage a +50mV, +110MHz core and +100MHz men OC, but the temps rose to about 105C from the 80C before (both at load, maybe 57 idle at stock or OC as it automatically down clocks itself to 400mhz core when not under load) even after a replacement thermal paste was applied. While it may have been a mid range card when it came out in Sep. 2009, it's STILL decent for 720p or 1080p gaming and for not overly intensive titles (Assassin's Creed 4, Heroes and Generals, Skyrim, et cetera) it can run at highish to high settings 1080p and play decently (40+ fps on H&G, AC4 and Skyrim 60+). Sounds like a vacuum cleaner at high fan speeds though. I can turn up the fan manually to 100% and the idle lowers to about 46C and the load to about 80C but the amount of noise this thing produces is insane even with headphones so I avoid doing so. As a side note the card on the list is not the one I have, I have the Sapphire blower style model.
*Moving on, my beautiful case- My original plan was a Spec-04 in black/red, but if you haven't noticed already I have a weakness for shiny expensive things and the Spec-Alpha was no exception. While the color was changed, I stuck with the Spec-Alpha and I don't regret it. Wonderful aesthetic, my only complaints are that there are few spots to tie down cables in the back (I had to stick extra cables in the drive bay)and the front fan speed thing didn't work correctly (fans didn't run for some reason).
Power Supply- Probably the only functioning (looking at you, Rosewill) part I regret. It was the first part I bought and to be perfectly honest I bought it as soon as I could to force myself to continue this project. Looking back, I should have waited a bit and got an TX, CXM, or RM series one. I still want that Corsair branding ;) Nothing wrong with it, just non-modular and the wattage is too low to allow for crossfire or SLI upgrades.
WiFi adapter- The part list shows the Rosewill card I leave plugged in, but doesn’t actually work. Either the online drivers do not install correctly or my card was DOA. Will soon contact Rosewill support. Currently using a $3 usb adapter off eBay that works better. Only 802.11n and limited at 4.5mb/s transfer speeds but eh, atleast it works.
Case Fans- they were all free. AF120 came as part of a black friday deal, and the other fans either came with the AIO or the case. Prices here are split between the parts.
Monitors- Guess which one was free? The Lenovo L24q I got off eBay for only $94 after a partial refund- there is one small scratch in the center of the screen. I don’t mind, that monitor was cheap for 1440p. Only 60hz but I managed to OC it to 75hz. The other monitor was free from my mother’s friend, she had it laying around, not paying rent and unwanted. Utilizes the DVI connection on my graphics card and while very ugly I got used to dual monitors months ago and don’t want to go back.
Peripherals- The keyboard was a last-minute christmas gift, my mother decided that she disliked the ancient Dell one I was using and gave me $50 to buy the keyboard I wanted. If you haven’t guessed, my two favorite tech companies are MSI and Corsair, and Corsair’s keyboards are cooler. IT LIGHTS UP WHAT MORE COULD I WANT. This is the first big thing I’ve typed with it and it is amazing, despite being membrane instead of mechanical.
The mouse came with a black friday deal (case & mobo were bought through the same black friday order and the AF120 fan and MSI DS B1 interceptor mouse came free). Lights up, looks cool, and feels great. LED looks dim over the farthest side switch (Probably only 1-2 LEDs inside and this is too far) so that’s slightly annoying but eh, it was free.
Results- I’m absolutely amazed. I can’t wait to get an SSD and a new graphics card, but even in it’s current state I could not be happier, it’s amazing. Plays all my games and new ones much better than Intel HD ever did, and I love it. I’ve played console versions of games before (skyrim, GTA, et cetera) and never fully appreciated the superior PC graphics, until now. I literally play better in FPS now too, as not only can I see people instead of blobs I get more than 8 frames a second to gauge position with. I don’t think I can ever go back to consoles and integrated graphics, I’m just starstruck every time I boot up GTA V and can turn the resolution to 1080p without any frame scaling or performance mods
Upgrades- Soon-ish- A new graphics card, probably either a GTX 1070 or a Vega 56 (leaning AMD, because having an AMD CPU and GPU sounds cool tbh), a better power supply (either a RM6/7/850x or i version), an SSD (Corsair Force MP500 or an ADATA, not sure, but really the choice is brand preference v. size for the same price) and I’ll add 1 or 2 WD Black HDDs. Probably 2 tb. Corsair AF120s.
Definitely the golden chip of the Ryzen line up. At 3.9ghz mine managed to score a top cinebench of 1324, and for $200 I think that's amazing. 6c/12t is more than I need and should last me for years......or until Zen+/Zen 2 comes out.
Cools my processor well, looks great and the LED is RGB. What more could I ask for out of an AIO? Tubes are a little short, but that might just be my case.
Well built, looks great. No problems so far. The bios was kind of hard to navigate, however, and the SATA ports are in a really wierd arrangement, going from top middle, bottom middle, then the same for the left, then the right. Not a problem just weird. Steel reinforced PCIEx16 slots felt a little weak. The aesthetic is great, but the placement of the LEDs sit right below where a graphics card would be and in a crossfire/sli rig they would be almost, if not entirely, blocked.
I got this really cheap or I would have gotten the RGB models. Not taking a star off because it could be my chipset or motherboard, but on my new Ryzen 5 rig I couldn't get the RAM to run at the rated speed /latency. Aesthetics are nice though and 16gb is more than enough for now.
Probably the most generic hard drive in existance, and I have no complaints. Does what it's advertised to do, no more, no less. Reliable and affordable.
Somehow still decent for 720p and light 1080p in 2018. I almost typed 2017, good thing it's 2 am new year's day. Anyway, runs great, albeit slightly hot. Mine did not overclock well, but I did manage to flash to a 6770 bios. (Performed slightly better that way with near the same heat/power consumption)
Cable tie downs were no where to be found and getting that back panel on was a real struggle. The front panel fan speed thing did nothing in my case for some reason. Looks great though and does not feel cheap. Lacks dust filters on all sides but the bottom
Budget model, but it did what it was advertised to do and I have no complaints (other than non-modularity, but I bought a non-modular psu so I can't say really complain about that.). I will upgrade soon for cable management^^^^and.bragging.rights to a RM model but there's nothing wrong with this psu for a budget builder.
Wireless Network Adapter
If I could give it zero stars I would, either DOA or online driver install does nothing. Do not buy this.
Despite the name it's kinda loud. I recommend AF120s instead, but these do work fine and I got them free with my AIO.
Beautiful. Rather quiet, effective, and, well, it's a fan. Can't say much more than that. Three pin.
I got mine really cheap or I would have gone with a higher refresh rate 1080p model. That being said, I highly recommend this monitor. Looks great. Mine overclocked to 75hz
Cheap for the quality + cool branding. Lights up. Non-mechanical, but feels really good for a membrane keyboard and I would highly recommend this keyboard to gamers on a budget (or anyone with good taste ;) )
I got this free with a black friday deal and probably wouldn't have bought it otherwise. Having said this it is still a great product and I would recommend it, looks and feels great and I really like how the MSI logo looks on this mouse.