Description

I haven't been able to find a factory-built machine that does what I want, so this is my first foray into custom building a computer. Holy cow there is a lot to learn!!! I wouldn't have dared it without the fantastic help of pcpartpicker.com and toms hardware and cpubenchmark.net and several other great resources on the web.

My goal with this machine is to run Revit and Sketchup as fast as possible, while on a tight budget of about $1200. Looking good is my third priority after speed, and cost. Reliability is very important too. Future expandability is also a key factor.

These programs are generally single threaded programs that require a lot of intensive computing, but can't take advantage of lots of cores. So that is why I picked the i7-4790K because of its 4.0 GHz clock speed. Since this is an overclockable processor I also got the Z97 chipset motherboard, so at some future point I can play with that, but for now I'm going to just run it stock.

This mobo has all the features I need (overclockable, 4 memory slots, PCI-e x16) at a great price and I really like the black with gold accents.

I wish I could add a video card but it isn't in the budget for now. The on-board Intel HD 4600 seems to be pretty decent and the programs I'm running really use the processor more than a GPU.

The memory is about the cheapest I could find. I had picked out another kind but it was red, it had a lower cas score, but the red would just look out of place in this machine. I like the simple black look. If there were gold add-on heat dissipators that would be an awesome touch.

I don't have much to say about the hard drives, except that the first SSD drive I picked by A-data got lots of terrible reviews on Newegg about totally failing within days or months of purchase. So I spent a few extra $ to get something that I hope is reliable. I assumed SSDs would be totally solid, but it seems like they have a fairly high failure rate.

I am just in love with this case. I first noticed it in a build by pslam called 'Simple, Powerful, Just the way I built it.' I think a computer is meant to work, not attract attention to itself, and this is a really good looking, but very understated case. Not very expensive either. I got an extra $20 rebate from TigerDirect.com that isn't mentioned in the parts list.

The power supply was on a great sale and it has enough capacity to run everything I want to eventually add to this machine, and as an added bonus the box is black and the wiring has black sheathing. Cool! It isn't the most powerful out there but I think it will suit my needs just fine.

I eventually want to expand the system. Specifically in the future I want to get a nice nvidia quadro video card, add another 16 GB of memory, add another 1 TB hard drive as a RAID 1, another monitor, and a nice water cooler to play with overclocking.

I think I'm going to need more fans than the 2 the case comes with, but I'm not sure how many or what kind, so I'm going to wait on getting those. Any advice on that would be greatly appreciated.

A few thoughts now that I’ve built it. First off, Newegg blew me away with how fast the parts got here even with their standard shipping. They even got two additional orders that I made later, included in the same shipment. Microcenter has been awesome too. Tigerdirect was excellent as well.

Now that I’ve put it all together I have a few thoughts on the components. My biggest complaint so far is the 8-pin power connector from the PSU needs a few more inches for clean cable management. It reaches for now but it isn’t pretty. Are there cable extenders for this?

The front fan has a similar problem. The wire reaches the connector on the mobo but it’s a stretch.

I bought an adapter to mount my 2.5” SSD but it turns out the case comes with an adapter. However the case instructions indicate using 4 flat head screws that did not come with the case, but there were extra mobo mounting screws that did the trick.

The Monitor came with a VGA cable only, but I wanted a digital connection (honestly I don’t know if it’s better but I guess I can play with both and see) so I sprung for a separate cable.

I also had to get an additional SATA cable since the mobo came with 2 but I put in 3 drives. Maybe the parts picker could add that as a compatibility check? I didn’t realize at first that I didn’t have everything I needed to hook everything together. So for other first timers out there, check how many cables come with the mobo, because the drives don't usually come with any wires.

I haven’t yet put in the operating system so I can’t tell you how she runs but I’m looking forward to it!

Comments

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Great start on the build.

Cable management might help with the look, and might make it easier to reach the top of the board (can you duck out the back run straight up and onto the top of the board?)

They do make fan cable extenders, makes sure to get the right length, gender connectors (and number of wires).

I'd be a little concerned on doing too much more on the power supply you have. Down the road if you do go the route of adding a graphics card, and water cool, and over clock... somewhere in there you will likely need move overhead on the capacity... but that is a problem for then. I think you made some good compromises to stay in budget.

Enjoy!

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm going to have to get an 8-pin cable extender in order to route the EPS under the back, but I would love to do that. As it is it will probably get in the way of any video card I add.

As far as the PSU, I estimated that everything I want to eventually add will need about 400W. Will that be ok or is that like maxing out the RPMs on a car, which you can do but it is hard on it?

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Delivered/Calculated wattage? I think the psu efficiency could be estimated at 80-85%. (due to losses, and conversion efficiency in the psu... not all of the wall power gets to the motherboard. If you feel the psu after is has been operating, it is warm/hot and it's why it requires a fan).

Most folks like a good healthy buffer on top of that. If a rail voltage droops it can cause irratic / unstable operation.

I believe your fine where you are at... but if you start to add good size loads (GPUs) and/or overclock you'll certainly be fully loading the psu.

I would encourage you to continue to look at what other folks are building and notice how they are sizing their psu to. I think currently a medium build is usually 500-600w, heavy loaded single gpu 750-800w. Dual gpus and up can see 1000w+.

It is great to calculate the wattage, add a safety factor, and then another safety factor :), to make sure your system doesn't misbehave. Sometimes psu fail in bad ways... taking out expensive components... so caution can save money in the long run.

Regards!

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! So much to learn. I have also noticed that this PSU has only 1 8-pin GPU connector, but a lot of the video cards I've seen need 2 8-pin connections.

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Impressive build for the price! Nice!!

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I've been really happy with it. I've particularly enjoyed the monitor, It is so crisp, vivid, and glare-free.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

A TIGHT BUDGET OF $1200? Call me poor, but dang!

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Well a lot of the PC's that claim to be good for high end CAD work cost $2400.