Sections and bullets are how I communicate (just trying to stick it to all my former Writing teachers). Therefore, skip to just the interesting sections by navigating via sections titles, and forget the rest! Then this massive wall of text isn't so bad...
Upgrading My 1-Yr-old Rig "GoldenEye": The Magical Journey
Primary reason and $$ in this upgrade:
(1) two reasonably-priced, nice 23" monitors
More minor stuff, low hanging fruit if you will:
(2) an additional 8GB of RAM, for 16GB total. Because it was only $37 bucks
(3) better mouse (1st one broke), Logitech-G303. Countless options for RGB LED color setting, even scrolling rainbow.
(4) Zalman CNPS9500AT, just to get something a little better than the stock cooler. Plus I really like the look, and its only $25. But peace to those that don't think it looks good.. I know public opinion is mixed regarding its aesthetics. What can I say, its an improvement :D
(5) Sleeved cable extensions and cable combs. I have Silverstone (not bad at all), but recommend Ensourced (more in Review section below).
(6) Logisys RGB LED strip. Inexpensive and easy to throw in, awesome if you like LED affects in your build.
- I also believe in as full and complete of a parts list as possible, that just does the most to help ppl who are on here looking for ideas and information. Which is often me! That's as opposed to omitting parts, sometimes pricey ones, just trying to keep your cost total as low as possible... So that's what I try to do, throw it all in!
Similar to when I did the original build, let it be known that I don't really game much. Web browsing & email is primary. Occasional gaming for old times’ sake, like maybe just Counterstrike, Warcraft III FT, as well as miscellaneous games like SW KOTOR I & II, Final Fantasy VII and XIII. Though like I alluded to before, the future may hold a Xeon E3 (thinking 1241), after which point I'd be able to bring home some CAD tasks from work...
For this first upgrade, in celebration of my spawn's upcoming 1-yr build birthday in April, I mainly wanted to upgrade the whole monitor situation. Had an old 10 inch LCD one, not even close to cutting it. At work I have a couple of 23" screens, so this feels a lot better.
Then, I took the opportunity of my looseness of wallet and also added a few smaller items. particularly, for the purpose of a lil mo bling.
Thus, ultimately I kept about $878 of my original $884 in terms of parts (1/2 of which was already aesthetics). This time, I spent an additional $486, almost all of which was the two monitors. But the inexpensive, mostly-visual items are part of what I like to look at in build posts, when I'm not researching part specs & reviews.
Review of (New) Parts
see 1st build for reviews on the rest
- Look great.
PerfectI mean, only 1 dead pixel on 1 of them, other one is spotless. For the price, idm. Also got confirmation from ASUS that they accepted my rebate package, so getting $40 back will be nice (in 12 to 24 months, jk) [X_x]. The prices shown in my part list are the final out of pocket $, so that includes that $20/monitor rebate and are post tax.
- Even though I bought the 3rd and 4th stick (as a matched 2 pack) about a year later than the original pack, I've had no issues whatsoever. I'm a little relieved, since I read that even when buying the same part # ram you can get memory that was fabricated using a different material lot, with differences in electrical properties that could affect you negatively. But issues with a lack of compatibility no longer loom over me.
- Color control feature is pretty slick, and I like it's design. Fairly comfortable. For me, the color feature alone was worth the price. Also, I didn't know it when I bought it, but it comes with a braided/sleeved cable. I thought that was a really nice touch and it makes it feel more up-scale.
Zalman CNPS9500AT, classic large-copper-radiator cooler, been around for years. Widely known to work just fine. Although from what I've seen, people either like the way it looks or else really hate the way it looks. All I can say is that I like it!
I first thought to install it while it was in the case. Waaaay too difficult since I was determined to point the fan to blow out the rear exhaust, and I also wanted to install the spring-brace-bracket vertically on the mounting base. (See Photos) Therefore, I had to put the spring-brace-bracket through the heat sink pipes, which is possible but harder than the bracket oriented other way (got the idea from this 10 yr old video, the dude's kind of funny, but props cuz the vid helped me out). So, with the bracket like that, in order to reach the screws with a screwdriver, it was almost impossible due to the heat sink spreader fins getting in the way. Thus, I removed the motherboard and proceeded from there...
Then, second challenge I encountered while installing the Zalman CNPS9500 was that the screws they provide are just no kidding too short, period. (See Photos for that too) They are metric M3-.50 screws in terms of diameter size and thread (discovered by guess and check at the hardware store), but the length is tiny. So I went to a hardware store and picked up 4 each of three longer sizes, the M3-.50 x 8 long, M3-.50 x 10 long and M3-.50 x 12 long. Used the M3-.50 10 longs in the end, the small amount of thread protruding through (shown in my photos) was just right. On the job, designed a bit of hardware including with bolted joints, so I'll just say I believe you always want 2-3 threads exposed past the insert or nut. With the motherboard free from the case, with bolts of sufficient length, along with an Allen wrench hex tool (better than screwdriver required for Zalman original bolts), it became easy enough to install the Zalman. You can see that progression in my pictures.
When I first got it, I saw that the packaging listed "Intel Socket 1155, 1156, 775 CPUs" but no 1150, so I was alarmed. Although, one benefit of such an old design is how many reviews and places vouch for it, for 1150s. But the manual lists 1150. I installed it with the new screws and all is well.
Used Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste. Highly rated, lots of good reviews, and the one thing it seemed to have over the Arctic silver was that the NT-H1 claimed to be non-electrically conductive. Figured that would be good to have, since I'm somewhat new at applying thermal compound and after market coolers.
Sleeved Cable Extensions
Important lessons learned here. I first bought yellow Kobra brand cable extensions on Amazon (24pin, 8pin ESV & 6pin PCIe), but returned them as soon as they arrived because I just couldn't tolerate how low quality they were. I do NOT recommend Kobra cables. The whole point is aesthetics, and the poor look due to such mismatched cable length was a no-go. I've now got Sliverstone Tek cable extensions (24pin, 8pin ESV & 6pin PCIe), black and gold, and I like them fine. With CableMod cable combs, I think my current set-up is acceptable. These are what you see in my pictures.
Recently, through research and looking a lot on PCPP for the best cables based on photos and reviews, I was surprised to find out that Ensourced.net not only makes extensions that blow every other brand out of the water in my opinion, but they're pretty much the same price, especially if you include what I spent on 3rd party cable combs (Ensourced includes 'em). I haven't used Ensourced yet, but seriously consider those if you're currently shopping. I believe that just the complimentary customization alone makes them worth it.
- Just browsing at Fry's, my eye was caught on the Logisys 12" RGB LED Self-adhesive Flexible & Extendable with IR Remote Control, just $13 and easily returned if needed. I don't know what it's like to try the NZXT Hue+, so though that may have some advantages, this Logisys option works extremely well in my opinion. Very bright, probably brighter than you might need, although you can adjust the brightness with the remote. 15 official constant color settings that you can change to with their individual button, as well as white as #16. It doesn't have the Hue's ability to display multiple colors at the same time.
Might eventually throw in a Xeon, maybe in 6+ mo. I can get the V3 1241 for $248 at my local Microcenter, best option in my option and pretty good price for the value [ see PCPP comparison , but note that actually for me @Microcenter they'd be $227, $248, $259 and $303 ]. With that, while still using the GTX 960, maybe you could say there will be a slight mismatch and I acknowledge that. But then the GPU might be the next thing I upgrade after the CPU, possibly to a $300-$350 one, will seriously consider a Radeon (like the 390) and not just be biased towards Nvidia. Open to either.
If I free up my i3, I'll likely get a cheap wifi-enabled itx 1150 MB along with a small thin case and other min required components, in order to give my folks a budget build for general home use. Mom's got an iMac all-in-one for graphic design, but for any random Windows need, she has to resort to some dusty 8-9yr old off the shelf HP. I'll probably cannibalize what I can from that too.
Like I mentioned, might bring home some CAD work, with which I'd make use of my 16GB RAM but for which I'd need more than the i3. Also maybe dive into Android app development as a hobby. Plus I'd love to get back into programming in general. So if I got extra juice I expect I'd find ways to use it.
PSU cover as well maybe, we'll see.
Drive Bay Racks
Hot swap rack for 3.5 HDD's, got lots of old PC's around with perfectly good HDD's and old embarrassing photos from grade-school worth digging up...
Flash/memory card rack, mainly for micro SD and SD, but most come with like a million types of slots. Ok maybe just like a thousand
Critically Important Take Aways, for those that made it this far:
- it’s all about the Pentiums (@0:44 -> he needs some sleeved cables)
Works great, improvement over stock cooler (I'm currently not overclocking). But minus 1 star because the screws (metric M3-.50's) it comes with are way too short, I went out and bought replacements that were longer and worked great, with a few threads exposed after fastening. I used M3-.50 x 10 long screws. I also mounted the fan exhausting out the back of my case, and still could use the silver spring-bracket in the vertical orientation by putting it through the heat sink pipes. I do recommend this cooler as a descent enough, budget-friendly option.
Comes with enough for quite a few applications.
Works great, even with two sticks (same model, part number) I bought a year earlier.
Bought two, both look great but one came with a dead pixel. I'm ok with it, but one star off because of that.
Really nice quality and the limitless color options for RGB, with breathing effects, dimming, and even rainbow, all pretty sweet.