Powerful. Stable. Beautiful. Frugal.
Purpose: My Dream Machine that I've always wanted to build. I want it to look nice, and be able to handle video editing, video streaming for Twitch, software development, and gaming with relative ease. I will need USB ports a-plenty for all my gizmos. Stability is extremely important, so I'll need a good backup system in place. Losing data can cost me a small fortune. It'd be nice if the thing didn't sound like I lived next to the airport, but performance over quiet in most cases.
I plan to build this up slowly, upgrading as I go and making the most of sales and price watching. I'll be making sure to start with the bare minimum to get the system running and adding the graphics card, extra ram, SSD, and backup hard drive last. I just want to get things going because my old computer isn't cutting it.
This will be my first time overclocking if I decide to do that. I've built computers before but none were this extreme, I didn't have the money. I usually just built things where someone else picked the parts already or upgraded a hand-me-down computer.
Black and white aesthetic. I'm an artist so I may do a custom decal on it at some point to fit with my "white witch" theme.
Budget: $2k for the tower, max. Ideally I can knock this number down. I have peripherals from my old build. I would -really- like to update the peripherals at some point, but it's not my priority. I want a waterproof keyboard (I had one ages ago but it melted in a 115F summer) and a good mouse. I definitely need a new headset soon and a 2nd monitor.
NOTE: The mouse and speakers are from an old build. The mouse was a gift from a friend who had an extra. So those prices are not exact.
NOTE2: You can copy this build exactly as listed and have a fully functioning computer, no extra wires needed. You'll need a surge protector and a screwdriver, that is all. The CPU comes with a stock fan, and while I personally plan on replacing that in the future it will work.
Update 02/21/2015: I wanted to mention I can't use my dual monitors yet; the ports on this motherboard for display is 1 HDMI & 1 DisplayPort. I currently just have two DVI-- HMDI cords. I'm not sure if the motherboard can handle two monitors without a graphics card, but I'm going to wait for the graphics card simply because I'm not going to edit video til I get the graphics card, and that's the primary function of the second monitor.
Update 02/07/2015: Picked up a Gateway 27" monitor from Microcenter for $144. I'm helping my boyfriend build his computer and they had a deal where if you buy a CPU you can get a monitor for 20% off. At $179.99 that put it at $144. I still have my old monitor (which is I think 21" or 22") so that will put me at having dual monitors as soon as I get the cables in. I'm glad I have a big desk! ;A; I've also gotta figure out something with my surge protector, maybe buying a bigger one cause my current one is full since I also have the 360, modem, and router plugged in where I'm sitting. Don't wanna move my desk cause then I'd have to run wireless. Gross. XD Got a delay on tax return so still gotta wait for buying CPU cooler.
Update 01/13/2015: Bought the Razer Blackwidow Stealth keyboard. Razer had a 50% sale today on a mechanical keyboard. This is rare so I took up on it. They were out of stock of the nicer keyboards. I really would have loved a CLG one. I love Counter Logic Gaming and it would fit my scheme. But they were out of stock. Also, they charge a crazy amount for shipping, and in my state I have to pay sales tax. $99 keyboard - $50 discount + ship/tax = for $73.51 isn't too bad though. It's easily still $90-$100 otherwise so that's some money saved. The downside is it's not backlit--but to save $20-30 for a "flashy" feature I don't care about too much. Meh, whatever.
Update 12/15/2014: Upon the 2nd time I turned on the computer I had to call Windows and reactivate my product. This is probably because of the hardware upgrade. It went pretty smoothly and was done via automated phone system. I closed the case for now though I noticed some places I can improve the cable management. It's gonna have to wait for the weekend though. Note: I don't have the Swiftech cooling system in yet, waiting for it to be available.
Update 12/15/2014: 1AM and she is complete! Everything is running like a dream so far. I basically let it reinstall windows and I had to run the mobo's disc to get it to connect to the internet. I also had to make a run to walmart for a cable for my monitor-- the AsusZ97-AR only puts out HDMI & DisplayPort. (I should have been paying more attention to that.) Next opportunity I get, manage cables, close the chasis & do more software updates. (Windows Update, Firmware updates, etc.) I had no issue with Windows 8.1 itself...in fact just popping the hard drive from my old computer in it worked (except for the networking, which was fixed with the mobo's disc). I just did the reinstall of Windows to be on the safe side.
Update 12/14/2014: Trying to put this beast together now that I have the CD drive. Ohhh my gosh buy a cheap lazy susan to set this case on. I think that's probably true for any time you do cable management. I've been running in circles around this case trying to make it look neat. Total spent so far: Total: $1099.72
Update 12/07/2014: Bought a CD Drive so I can swap my hard drive to this new build from my old one-- according to everything I've read I may need the Windows Disk.
Update 12/03/2014:Started building the computer last night, found out the CPU comes with a stock fan....so unless I'm missing any cords I can call this build complete as soon as I get finished building it/testing it. Woohoo for core components! I'll continue with upgrades ASAP, which will probably be in January, partially because Christmas is coming up so my funds are low, and partially because the CPU cooler I want is still out of stock. I'd also like to post how much money sale shopping has saved me so far soon-ish.
Update 12/01/2014: Just got back from Atlanta (went to see family) so I got the motherboard for $119.99 and the processor for $249.99 from Microcenter.
Update 11/28/2014: Ordered the Z-97 AR from Microcenter (it's actually on sale for cheaper) so I guess I do get to follow my color scheme, sorta. Gotta pick it up this weekend. I wanted to order the i7-4790k before I go as well but I think it won't allow me now because of Black Friday. Hopefully they have some when I go.
Update 11/27/2014: My G.Skill Trident X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2400 RAM went on sale for $40 off! Black Friday is soooo good! Low Timings & High Frequency. This stuff is some of the best you can buy right now. So glad I waited for Black Friday.
Update 11/20/2014: Bad news. I have to return an item. The Turtle Beach Ear Force PX51 Premium Wireless Dolby Digital PS4, PS3, Xbox 360 Gaming Headset is marketed as being "PC Compatible" so I ordered it. It arrived and turns out to plug it into the computer you have to buy a bluetooh adapter-- which makes the fancy transmitter I paid for useless. ARGH! Thankfully I called Newegg and they are letting me return it for a refund. Because I have a 30 day trial of Newegg Premier I can return it for free. Phew! I can see how that service would be really nice for anyone who orders -lots- of items. It's a shame I have to pay tax for Newegg purchases or I might be more interested in keeping Premier.
Update 11/14/2014: Kissing color coordination goodbye by buying a power supply for about $100 less than it usually costs. The color matchy-matchy just isn't worth it. Having the case match my desk and chair is just going to have to be enough. I -could- paint my PSU but that would probably destroy the warranty. So forget it -- none of my inside parts will match! Rrrr! I'm going to aim for higher performance and if the guts are ugly, I'll deal with it. (This means I'm also getting the Asus Z97-A instead of the Asus Z97-AR -- the only difference in those boards is the color but the AR is $15 more for the black/silver scheme. That said, I'm a thrifty *****. SeaSonic 1250W Gold Certified Fully Modular was on a Shell Shocker for $109.99. This is insane-- a 860W Seasonic was about $188 for the platinum certified one. Sad note: Newegg's Shell Shocker deals are so far better than their "Month of Black Friday" deals....thus far. Yes, I have to wait longer to get what I want, but the price difference has been worth it. I'm curious to see how good the actual Black friday/Cyber monday sales are. Thrifty ***** moment#2: Turns out I'm going down to Atlanta at the end of the month soooo I'm get to pick up my CPU from Microcenter. That will drop the price by $50. I'll see if they have any other parts for cheaper than online, too. Update 3:27PM: That PSU I bought? Completely sold out. I'm glad I ordered it over my lunch break.
Update 11/10/2014: Bought some headphones today because they were $150 off and you can't hear out of one ear on my old one. Newegg Shell Shocker deals are pretty nice! Unfortunately they are black and blue so doesn't match my scheme. I might paint them. Sticking to my scheme and getting the best hardware is more than a little difficult. Also, this blog sums up my feelings on Mastercard Securecode. Suntrust makes it -so- hard to shop online for no darn reason. I hate and loath my bank. http://blog.chris-alex-thomas.com/2009/08/30/mastercards-securecode-is-more-like-retardcode/
Update 11/10/2014: I finished paining my desk! I can now begin to rearrange my setup. It's gorgeous next to my case. I've decided to splurge and get the Asus Z97-AR so I get the black and silver scheme. Worth it. Only problem: Newegg doesn't carry the Z97-AR, only the Z97-A, so I can't get a combo on it from there. I'm beginning to start looking into shopping on TigerDirect as well. They also have combos. CPU Research: It's worth it to get the i7-4790K over the i7-4790... The stock speed on the unlocked CPU is enough to warrant the purchase, but I can also overclock the 4790K to push it even further.
Update 11/07/2014: Buying Mobo, CPU, CPU Cooler, Power Supply, and potentially the RAM very soon. I think my processor went on sale today as part of Newegg's Black November, but I need to research a bit more. I may try to get these as a Newegg combo as that actually may save me more money. The motherboard doesn't seem to fluctuate in price very much from my research so far. Also, hate to say it but I'm reconsidering my mobo choice. I may swap to the AR so I get that black and silver look. It's $15 more but damnit every build I've seen with the gold/black looks awful to me. Also the black/silver would match the Asus GTX 980 graphics card & my overall aesthetic.
Update 11/04/2014: I am comparing motherboards now. I decided I definitely want an Asus. I think the quality of the board just beats out the other brands even if it tends to be slightly more expensive for the featureset. Looking at Asus z97-a, z97 Sabertooth, and Hero VII. I considered Asus z97-AR but I feel like I'm just paying $15 more so I can have silver/black scheme instead of silver/gold and I can't say I care enough. I'm thinking of trying to get a combo deal on a CPU/Mobo so I will need to keep looking at the prices. But generally right now Asus Z97-A is the best Asus for this price @ $140 vs the Z97-AR & Sabertooth Mark 2 both being $155 right now.
Update 11/04/2014: I picked up my Stryker case from UPS yesterday afternoon. I bought it from Newegg @$119.99. This thing is hugeee! I saw pictures but I still underestimated it. It's almost as tall as my desk. Also I've had my hard drive a few days now. I installed the Windows 8.1 and immediately had an issue with the internet only working intermittently. I fixed that by installing the driver for the network adapter directly from Broadcom's website. The auto detected driver was the wrong one. I'm also almost done painting my desk. I have to do a little bit of touchups to the color and then I just have to seal it with polycrylic. I'll make a blog post about it once I'm done.
Looks like the motherboard I wanted is also on sale, $10 off @ Newegg. It's price is fairly steady.
Update 10/24/2014: Yay! The Stryker case finally went on sale for $119.99 again today so I'll be ordering it soon! <3
Update 10/19/2014: My hard drive got lost in transit. I have to reorder it. To get it for $88 I have to pick Standard Shipping so I can't rush it even if I wanted to. Boo. Also I'm buying and making office furniture to match my computer case. I bought the desk yesterday for $20 and I've sanded and primed it today. It will take 7 days for the primer to cure, so I have time to work on the design before I actually paint it. The polycrylic for the desk will also take time to dry so this desk may be just finishing up as I finish my build. I also found some neat white leather office chairs that will work great for my setup.
Update 10/04/2014: Need to figure out how I'm going about overclocking and tweaking so I don't spend money I don't have to. If I'm not overclocking on some things there probably isn't a point. Also! My headset is broken in the right ear... I don't hear very well so while I'm playing game tournaments or Skyping friends and family I can't hear them. :( I may go ahead and buy that sooner than later. I think I'll get a stand for my headset, too so that it doesn't get so torn up. Maybe one for my boyfriend's headset, too so he's more inclined to stop stealing mine lellelelel
Update 10/01/2014: So I've pretty much settled on the Asus GeForce GTX 980 4GB being my graphic's card. That thing is sexy. But seriously, from the benchmarks I've looked at it obliterates anything else even close to it, even the 970. Being Asus, it will also match my motherboard. I was always planning on dropping a large amount on the GPU so I'm okay with that. The current price tag is about $550, but since I don't need this part right away I'm going to see what Black Friday/Cyber Monday brings.
Update 10/01/2014: Doing research-- I think my next step will to be to try to find a motherboard and CPU. They tend to be bundled and they have to match. I'm continuing to keep an eye out for a sale on the case I want -- I know that it tends to go on sale about once a month or so for 119.99. If I can get a refurb from CM I'd take that as well, but I've been watching that for like a year and haven't seen any.
Update 9/30/2014: BUILD STARTED-- My old computer's hard drive is failing, so I'm going to buy the hard drive and OS to tide me over until I can get all my parts in on sale. Just shoving them in my old Dell for now. I plan to have an SSD for my OS and another 2TB hard drive for backup in my final build, but as far as I'm concerned those are probably some of the last parts I'll buy.
The Essentials to get it running:
Hard Drive for Backup Storage:Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM. From personal experience I knew I needed to get a Western Digital or Hitachi hard drive for the extra reliability. I knew I wanted 7200 RPM, 64 Cache, and SATA 6Gb/s. After reading the Blackblaze study (Study: https://www.backblaze.com/blog/what-hard-drive-should-i-buy/) I decided on the one the study recommended because I got a good deal on it and it has good reliability and it fit my needs. I also actually need the 2TB of space for my video editing. I got this off Amazon for $88, even though it wasn't listed on pcpartspicker it looked like it was on sale. Newegg had it listed for $229.95. BOUGHT
Operating System: Windows 8.1. This is mostly a personal preference and I also use it at work. I opted for the Full Version over the OEM so that if I upgrade the Motherboard I can take my OS with me. From reading Microsoft's documentation OEM won't let you do that.
Case: Cooler Master Storm Stryker. A good brand with styles that I like. I picked this for the roominess, aesthetic, and that sturdy handle because I find myself moving my computer around a lot. Airflow and cable management are highly rated and if I decide to put LED lights in there they look great. Also I'm tired of my black computers, which are kind of the "standard thing" right now.
Motherboard: Probably looking to get a Asus (seems like the best brand for motherboards overall) (Z97 Chipset -- the X99 chipset came out recently so getting the previous generation chipset is loads cheaper) (Intel compatible: I like Intel CPUs over AMD) http://www.asus.com/us/site/motherboards/Z97/comparison/ -Asus, EVGA or Gigabyte, or MSI - Intel, not AMD - Any size, my case will hold it. Probably ATX or eATX so I can get more slots for upgrading later. - Must match CPU socket - Video card needs the correct slot on the motherboard. For the last few years, this is PCIe. - Prefer something aesthetically pleasing. Black and white or just solid black: - Min 6 USB ports. I'd like some 3.0 ports as well...but I can always get a USB hub so whatever.
CPU: - Intel, not AMD I think for the work I do I should spring for the i7.
CPU Cooler: Need to get this when I get my CPU so I don't fry my CPU. Stock will shorten the life quite a lot.
RAM: I think I'll attempt to just take the 8GB stick out of my dell computer until I can afford to get my 16GB. http://www.tested.com/tech/pcs/456423-how-buy-ram-your-pc/ I'm going to start with 8GB and upgrade to 16GB later...or just get 16GB (8GB x 2 sticks) so that I know those two sticks are tested to work together already. I just need some to get her going...but a lot of the sales bundle RAM. (How much can the rest of my system support? No point in having 16 GB of RAM if my computer can't utilize it.)
Power Supply: Make sure it can power everything. Better to go a little overboard than under. I want a modular PSU so I can have improved airflow & less clutter. Most PSU are fixed with amount of wires. Especially important since I want certain color wires. I should aim for a 850watt or higher PSU so I can upgrade later. Must make sure it's compatible with SLI/CF so I can upgrade my graphics card later when my current GPU isn't keeping up with things anymore. Probably going to want to get a Seasonic. I want Certified 80 Platinum. Must be FULLY Modular and -NOT- SEMI Modular.
CD/DVD Drive: Mostly I need this for installing or troubleshooting Windows, so I consider it an essential. It's also cheap. I want read/write capabilities and something actually sturdy. I've had quite a few drives go out on me over the years because I moved my computer around.
Internet Connection: Need to account for wireless/ethernet. This may to some degree be taken care of by the motherboard.
Building Her Up:
Graphics Card: I'll use the motherboard's stock graphics card until I can afford something nice. This will probably be the most expensive part of my computer. I may eventually upgrade to 2 graphics cards, but that would be -way- down the line. I just want to make sure what I get -is- compatible with doing that later on.
RAM: Extra RAM
SSD: For the OS.
Backup HD: For when the first fails to help save my data more conveniently in conjunction with another online backup service like GoogleDrive or something similar.
Prettier, Quieter Fans:
White Cables: For aesthetic purposes. I saw how nice this was in some of the other Stryker builds.
I already have basic peripherals from my last build so they will be the very last things to upgrade
Drawing Tablet: I have an old Wacom Graphire I'd like to upgrade to an Intuos at some point.
Keyboard: I would like to upgrade to a waterproof keyboard. I've had one before that got torn up from moving. I gotta buy one that is a legit keyborad, not one of the roll up/gummy ones-- you can't type as fast on those. It can't damper my ability to type or game-- I just want it to be easy to clean.
Mouse: I'd like to get something more suitable for gaming at some point. I don't think a claw style would be good for me because I have issues with my hands that make that kind of grip uncomfortable.
Speakers: An upgrade to something above the tin cans I have would be nice, eventually.
Headset: The LED light on mine is broken. I'd like one that rests behind the ears...it's more comfortable and puts less pressure on my sinuses.
Printer: I just happen to need one now and then.
Additional Monitors: I would like a 2 or 3 monitor setup.
Webcam: For streaming I'd like a nice one, but I may use a different camera I use for filming for that. I do want a webcam at least for talking to family and friends though.
Desk & Chair:
What's the point of having a nice computer if my desk still looks dumpy? I'd like to either build a desk that fits the theme of my computer, or buy one. Since I'm a programmer and gamer, I need a chair I can spend lots of time in. A custom desk should help show of my computer, help keep it cool, and leave it easily accessible so I can plug things in and turn it off and on. I need space for my drawing tablet along with my mouse and keyboard.