This build is a holiday gift for my younger sister’s family, who have been using a crappy 10 year old PC with a duo core Intel CPU and 2 GB NVIDIA video card in it. Back when I upgraded my own PC to HTPC HUB 4.3D, she told me she wanted my “previous computer,” not realizing I’d have to build another one from scratch with the leftover replaced parts. Unbeknownst to her, I was already planning on doing just that for them as I had previously installed Fortnite on their old PC and saw what a disaster it was. It actually drove my nephew right to the PS4 console (GASP! :O) just so he could play with his school buddies online. He actually told me that consoles were superior to computers based on that experience. Further, my niece was preferring to use her iPad over the PC and my sister was frustrated trying to organize over a decade’s worth of digital family pics and music accumulated from her former career as a cruise ship youth entertainment director.
Well this just wasn’t gonna fly. I had to convert the entire family into PC Master Race members and break their console and tablet addictions and show them what a decent PC was all about. Time to go to work.
In my possession, I already had the Ryzen 5 1600X CPU, G.Skill Aegis16 GB RAM, MSI GTX 1080 Aero graphics card, and Topower 600W ATX PSU. She had a 32” LG 1080p 60 Hz HDTV which was now being used as a monitor since they upgraded last Xmas to a Samsung 55” 4K UHDTV for the living room plus the Crucial 256 GB SSD and two Samsung 1 TB HDDs from the PC I would be replacing. SIDE NOTE: The old PC was so slow that I didn’t even realize my sister's family actually had an SSD in there because it throttled the SSD down to HDD speed when I booted their old PC up. I only realized there was an SSD in there when I opened it up to remove the drives. What was needed still was a motherboard and case to connect and house everything together in, respectively.
Since I had to travel for the holidays and my sister had the needed drives, there was no point in buying anything until I reached her place in Montreal. Then I bought the ASUS A320-M motherboard, Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB DDR 4 memory, and DeepCool MATREXX 30 micro-ATX case once I got there. Once I had everything, I assembled the PC in record time. Showing that I have reached the nadir of my PC assembly skills after a few short years as part of the PCPartPicker community, I did a professional “test bench” style assembly and bootup test, put together the components in the case, removed the SSD and HDDs from the old PC and inserted them into the new one, and successfully built a brand spanking new working PC in record time. I bought the last needed components on the 21st, assembled the entire PC by the morning of the 22nd, reinstalled and reactivated Windows 10 on the SSD, partitioned and organized the SSDs into separate document, music and photo drives, backed all of the reorganized data on to my sister’s external 2TB backup USB HDD, and got Fortnite installed and working with a PS4 controller on the 23rd and finally presented the beastly PC to my sister’s family on the morning of the 25th. And so this heartwarming PCPartPicker story, verifiable through all my pics above, comes to a feel good close.
Until the PC stopped turning on at 4PM on the 28th. Just in case you were wondering why the part listing and latter pics of the actual motherboard look different than the ones showing the box and the later pics of the build process. Yep, the motherboard died on me.
At that point, I rushed back to the local MicroBytes store in a panic where they confirmed to me that the motherboard which was working just fine for every one of the previous six days was now toast. In order to get an exchange, I had to remove the motherboard myself and bring it back to them in the original box and receipt which I could easily do but not before the store closed for the day. So I had to remove the motherboard, get a new one, reinstall everything and get it all up and running again. On a holiday Sunday. Where stores don’t open until 12 PM. With a train to catch back home at 5 PM. It was just one of those days. The only thing that kept me calm was that my sister casually remarked that if something was going to go wrong, she’d rather it go wrong while I was still there to fix things than it go wrong AFTER I was already gone. I wasn’t very happy but I had to admit she certainly had a point.
So I rolled up my sleeves and went back to work. I disassembled the PC and took the motherboard out. I was promptly at the store the next day at opening. I exchanged the A320-M for an ASUS B450-M and rushed back to my sisters to re-test bench and reassemble everything with the clock winding down. And I made it! With just 30 minutes to spare before I had to leave to catch the train. Whew!
Despite the last second emergency, the Xmas PC is doing quite well. It runs Fortnite for the nephew at well over 160 FPS at 1080p Full HD resolution. Both nephew and Mom confirm the PC is still running well without issue though I left them the packaging and receipt for the second motherboard in case anything else goes wrong. So far so good. And now this heartwarming holiday PCPartPicker story really does come to a feel good close. Hope everyone had a good holiday and wishing all a Happy New Year in 2020 putting together even more PCs!
This six-core 1st generation Ryzen CPU is still quite capable in less demanding family oriented tasks like web browsing, media streaming and playing Fortnite. It easily overclocks to 4.0 gHz though it isn't necessary in a 1080p full HD setup like my sister's family uses. I will overclock it when they upgrade to a 4K monitor or HDTV.
Affordable good value thermal compound. It does the job and the CPU doesn't melt. That's all that's needed.
I am a fan of ASUS again thanks to my recent experiences with their motherboards, the A320-M dying on me notwithstanding. Excellent UEFI and the AI Tweaker overclocking is pure genius. The only knock against this micro-ATX motherboard is that ASUS inexplicably placed the PCI-e slot to take up the 2nd and 3rd case slots instead of the expected first and second which really didn't make much sense to me especially since there is no standard PCI slot above it. This required me to remove the case's HDD cage in order to accomodate the graphics card. No biggie, but a rather unexpected minor nuisance.
Solid value memory kit that has been compatible with every single motherboard I've tried it in. At this point, I personally would not use any other memory kits.
Underrated SSD maker. I've never had an issue with them at all and this one loads Windows 10 particularly fast now with the upgraded CPU, memory and motherboard.
Good value micro-ATX case with a tempered glass side for a mere $40 Canadian. Solid build quality.
I have no idea where I got this PSU from. You can't buy this brand in any store and it can only be ordered online via either Amazon or Newegg. I have never ordered one from either. Lots of mixed reviews for it with some claiming it dies immediately on them and other claiming it's the best value PSU ever. So far, it's doing the job and performing admirably without any issues. Bear in mind there is only about a 250w draw on it so far and there is no overclocking. Only real drawback is that it cannot accomodate a 6 or 8 pin powered GPU which somewhat gives away its age. Fortunately, the GTX 1080 only requires a 4 pin power connection.
Solid performing fan with a touch of blue LED. I have non-RGB DeepCools in my own HTPC Hub 4.3 build so I figured they would be good enough for this PC as well.
Nice little ergonomic wireless combo that's comfortable to use.
Nifty little external USB 3.0 backup HDD that requires NO external power source. Powers via USB connection solely which is a blessing and makes it exceedingly easy to use. On the ease of use along it gets my highest recommendation. Well, that and it's pretty roomy.