The idea behind this computer was to get something that could be upgraded over time. I plan to get a GTX 1050Ti or GTX 1060 as soon as they become reasonably priced again. I'm going to use this PC for web browsing and light gaming. I have never built a PC, but was encouraged to do so and I'm glad I did. Other than the video card, the parts were easy to find. I took my time putting it together, so it took several hours over two days. Cable management was the hardest part, and the Versa N21 did not make it easy.
In addition to reusing my GT 610 graphics card, I also continued using my HP monitor, mouse, and keyboard. I have since upgraded my keyboard and mouse to models from Redragon. I also added an LED strip attached to the motherboard's "RGB Header", which only gives a limited number of colors through Mystic Light. I got an Airgoo RGB kit, which is compatible with the magnetic Phanteks strips, so I could get the orange look I originally wanted to go with the orange Riing fans. I added a Bluetooth adapter so I can connect my phone without having to use a cable. I got an XBox 360 controller that is compatible with the games I play and is good for driving games.
All together, not including the monitor and graphics card, but including taxes, I have spent $900 on this build, using Newegg and Amazon as my sources.
The only tools I used to build this computer consisted of a screwdriver and set of bits, scissors, and a knife used to cut open all of the packages.
Update: 5-25-2018 I have upgraded my GPU to the Zotac GTX 1060 6GB Amp! Edition. Games that I once played at low settings at reduced resolutions and getting 20-30 frames per second are now running at "Very High" or "Ultra" and getting well over 100 fps at 1080p. While I was at it, I also got some Phanteks sleeved cable extensions. The current amount I've spent adds up to nearly $1,500, including some accessories not on the parts list. It is disturbing how much prices for some parts have dropped, especially the CPU, motherboard, PSU, and RAM.
Update: 7-20-2018 I just installed a 500GB Samsung 860 Evo SSD. The cable management looks horrible, mostly because of the horrible cables from the PSU, but also because of the bad mounting brackets for the SSD.
Update: 3-8-2018 I am now free from the annoyance of mechanical hard drives! The sound of the hard drive spinning up randomly was bothering me, so I replaced the 1TB Barracuda with a 1TB SU800. I now have all of my Windows user folders (documents, pictures, videos, music) and my entire Steam library on an SSD.
Pros: Easy to install. It came with a cooler with the paste pre-spread. The Wraith Spire's fan is quiet as long as it is not at full speed. It doesn't get hot enough to run with normal use at 3.5GHz. Easy to use.
Cons: It was a little tricky to get the fourth screw to start threading while installing the cooler, but not bad. No on-board graphics.
Other Thoughts: I can't compare this to other products, but I haven't had any problems with it as far as regular functioning goes. It runs at 40C at idle at at 3.5GHz it gets into the low 70s at full load. I have used the BIOS on my MSI B350 PC Mate motherboard to activate "OC Genie" to overclock to 3.7GHz, but just for fun I thought I would see how high I could get it. I made it stable at 3.85GHz, but that required 1.4v and it was getting to 90C under full load, so I backed down to 3.8GHz at 1.35v and it still got to the low 80s. At 3.7GHz it stays in the low 70s under full load. I've seen a lot of people report that they could get to 4GHz, and I was hoping I could get there, but for what I do with my computer I'm ok with what I've got.
Pros: It was packaged together and labeled 1 and 2, to which I paid little attention while installing them. It is easy to install, you just slide it into the slot like you would with any other version.
Cons: The red coloring really stands out, which might be a pro or a con. Ripjaws V in DDR4 3200 are only a few dollars more ($5 at the time of writing this).
Other Thoughts: I have had zero problems with them. If I had done more research, I probably would have paid a few extra dollars to get the 3200 version. I should also add that I used this RAM on an MSI B350 PC Mate motherboard with a Ryzen 5 1500x processor, despite it having the word "Intel" several times in its name and descriptions. I have had no problems with using the XMP to run it at 2400.
I got this SSD to replace a 1TB Seagate Barracuda. Hard drives are a lot cheaper, but they are slow and make noise, and I have been wanting to go full-SSD for a while. That's why I decided to get the 1TB SU800.
Pros: It's fast. Crystal Disk Mark shows that the 1TB SU800 has about the same speeds for reads and writes as my 500GB 860 Evo that I use for the boot drive. It is quiet. At idle, the only real noise coming from my computer was the hard drive randomly spinning up, and I won't be sad to be rid of that. I now have all of my Windows user folders (documents, pictures, videos, music) and my entire Steam library on an SSD. There is plenty of room for expansion.
Cons: In daily use, I've not noticed a real difference in performance from the hard drive, not that I expected that I would. The real cons come from Adata's software. It is nowhere near the quality or as user friendly as the software from Samsung. Samsung allows updating of the firmware through their software, where Adata's software simply says to update from the downloaded file, but I apparently would have to download the file myself.
Other Thoughts: Samsung has excellent migration software that is easy to obtain and use. Adata uses Acronis. I can't comment on how easy it is to use Acronis because I didn't need to do data migration in this case because Windows and Steam both make it easy to change file locations for user folders and game files. If Samsung was having a sale where the price was within $10 of the corresponding Adata product, I would absolutely spend extra for Samsung's superior software experience and support. For a game drive, I think this will be fine. I would give it 3.5/5 stars.
Earlier this year, I built a PC with a Ryzen 1500X with 16GB of 2400 RAM. At the time, GPUs were at the peak prices. I decided to wait and use my old GT 610 1 GB. I finally caught the GTX 1060 AMP! Edition card on sale for "only" $300. I wanted a card with two fans. I could have got the Asus Dual version, but preferred this card's look, and I would hope to get similar performance from either. I will note that this card does not have any RGB lighting like some cards, which didn't bother me. The change in performance from the 610 to the 1060 has been amazing. The 1060 boosts to 1950 MHz Core, 180 more than advertised, although it usually settles in the 1920s under load. It also gets about 4000 MHz on memory. The old 610 got a score of 53 in the Heaven benchmark, while the 1060 AMP! gets 1620 at stock. I could overclock to over 2000 MHz core and 4600 MHz memory and get 1780 in Heaven (I've seen others get better results), but I run at stock. Obviously, gaming with the 1060 is much better than with the 610. Games I was playing (GTA 4, American Truck Simulator, CS:GO, for examples) at low settings in 720 resolution and getting 20fps now easily get 60fps at max settings and 1080p resolution. The reason I wanted a card with two fans was in hopes of low temperatures, slower fans, and less noise. I can start hearing the fans on this card when they are over 60%, although it isn't bad until closer to 70%. The good news is that they rarely get that high because the card stays under 65°C when gaming. Some negatives: - No RGB, so you can't make it look like a rainbow if you want. It didn't bother me, but some folks would miss it. - No back plate, which I think should be on every card now, even if it isn't decorated. What would it cost? Less than $1? At least the PCB on this card is black. - The fins at the end are easy to bend. At some point I apparently put some pressure on them and bent them. They were easy to push back apart, but that was kind of surprising how soft they are. Hey, maybe a back plate that extended over those fins would have protected them? Conclusions: This card isn't perfect, but it met my expectations. I gave it all five stars. If you are going to be gaming at 1080p, this card should do fine. If you want to go to a higher resolution or play the newest games, and you can spend an extra $150, get a GTX 1070 or 1070 Ti.
This case is pretty good, but there are a few issues. The front of the case does not appear to have much ventilation, despite having space for two, 120mm fans. After a closer look, there is a large, open area under the front of the case where air flows easily into the case. The top has space for two more, and there are open . This is in addition to the fan that came mounted to the rear of the case. There is room for a lot of air flow through the rear panel, as the extension slots have holes. The holes in the rear also let a lot of light from decorative LEDs to shine through and the side panel has a clear window panel that makes it easy to see inside. The front and top covers, however, are so dark that the light does not shine through them very well. The top of the case has two USB 2 ports and one USB 3 port. I'm not sure why they included the hole for a second USB 3. It has power and reset buttons. The optical drive slot is hidden behind a small door, which can be a little inconvenient if I want to put in a CD or DVD. That whole area is solid, so a second lighted fan on the front would be mostly obscured by the front panel on the front and the hard drive brackets on the inside. Both top fans would be visible. I removed the locking lever on the optical drive bracket so I could use mounting screws. The lever did not really lock into place that well and I didn't want the drive vibrating around when it was working. The space behind the motherboard for wires and cables is limited, and with a non-modular power supply, it was not easy to organize them. It is possible, though, and there are points spread around the compartment to use zip ties. Something to consider is that there is a mounting location for a 2.5" drive on the back of the motherboard panel, but there is hardly any room to route cables to that location. For the price, it's not bad. It looks nice. It's just the list of small things that made me take off one star. If you take the clear plastic off the front and top and replace it with some mesh that you could hot-glue in place, temperatures will be easier to control.
Bad news first: I got two of these orange fans for my PC build. I was thinking they would provide a little light inside the Thermaltake Versa N21. They don't, though. They look like a hot burner on a stove through the dark plastic of the case, and do not illuminate the inside of the case much at all. Good news: The fans themselves work pretty well. They are reasonably quiet, they move air, and they give an interesting "hot eye" look, so I'm happy enough to give four stars.
Noctua is known for good fans that are two ugly colors. I needed a couple of fans, so I decided to try two NF-P12 Redux fans made for air pressure. This one is the 1300 RPM fan, the other is the noctua NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM. Instead of the brown and tan, these are two shades of gray. Not the greatest colors, but better. They don't have rubber pads. In my case, I can't tell that it makes a difference. They don't shake around. Both fans are pretty similar. Speed Testing: If I set them under 25% they will still run at their minimum speed. The 1300s go from about 350 to1300 rpm, the 1700s go from about 500 to 1680 rpm. Sound: At or below 1000 rpm, they are silent. At 1100 rpm, I can start to hear them. At 1300, they are easy to hear. Full speed on the 1700 rpm fan is a lot of noise. Conclusions: As long as you can set a custom fan curve, I would suggest getting the 1700 rpm fan. It is only 150 rpm faster on the low end, will still be quiet up to 1000 rpm, can be comfortable up to 1300 rpm, but can hit nearly 1700 rpm if you need it. If, on the other hand, you can't control the fan speed and it will run at full power, this 1300 rpm fan is probably your better choice.
Noctua is known for good fans that are two ugly colors. I needed a couple of fans, so I decided to try two NF-P12 Redux fans made for air pressure. This one is the 1700 RPM fan, the other is the noctua NF-P12 redux-1300 PWM. Instead of the brown and tan, these are two shades of gray. Not the greatest colors, but better. They don't have rubber pads. In my case, I can't tell that it makes a difference. They don't shake around. Both fans are pretty similar. They come with silver screws instead of the black screws everything else uses these days. Speed testing: If I set them under 25% they will still run at their minimum speed. The 1300s go from about 350 to1300 rpm, the 1700s go from about 500 to 1680 rpm. Sound: At or below 1000 rpm, they are silent. At 1100 rpm, I can start to hear them. At 1300, they are easy to hear. At the full speed of 1680 rpm on this fan, it makes a lot of noise. Conclusions: If you can't control your fan's speed and it will be stuck at full power, I suggest the 1300 rpm model. As long as you can set a custom fan curve, I would suggest getting the 1700 rpm fan. It is only 150 rpm faster on the low end, will still be quiet up to 1000 rpm, can be comfortable up to 1300 rpm, but can hit nearly 1700 rpm if you need it. I do wonder if the rubber pads that cost extra would improve the sound at top speed
I got the Redragon K551 keyboard for my new PC with Windows 10. I wanted something with back lighting. As I did my research, I discovered that mechanical keyboards existed, and seem popular. So I write this review as someone who had never heard of such a thing until just before buying it. I've been using this keyboard for a week without any trouble. Windows 10 recognized it instantly when I plugged it in. The keyboard came in a box with a small information sheet and key puller, neither of which were needed to connect it to my PC. The keyboard is heavy, much heavier than my previous keyboard that came with my HP desktop. The cord on this keyboard is not braided, but I don't really understand why that matters, having never seen a keyboard in person that had a braided cord.
Keys: The buttons are easy to press. They make a loud click, which can be good or bad, depending on whether you enjoy loud clicks. It is certainly good for letting people in other rooms know you are typing. As for the "mechanical keys", it seems like a gimmick. I can feel each click and I get plenty of audible feedback, even with headphones. I can't really say they make typing a better experience than do membrane keyboards, but they are no worse. There is a lot of travel when pressing the keys, and you can repress them without letting them reset. This keyboard has a 10-key number pad, which was an important feature for me. The key layout seems pretty standard. The function keys (F1-F12 using the FN key) are a nice way to get those functions and save space, although I could see some users preferring the dedicated volume and media buttons. Being able to lock out the Windows key is also a good idea.
Lighting: It's great. I paid a little extra for RGB, and I'm glad I did. I like the different lighting settings, although I only use a couple of them. They seem plenty bright with and without room lighting, and I like having the ability to pick from a selection of colors, or have multiple colors spread across the keys. To enter the customization mode (to set colors for individual keys), you use FN plus the ~ key (actually `, but that could be mistaken for ' if I didn't explain). Once there you can use FN plus right arrow to select a color and then each key you press will be that color.
Gaming: I mostly play flight simulators and driving games. For driving, I prefer a controller. For flying, I prefer the keyboard, and this one does well. I tried using the keyboard for GTA: San Andreas, but I was not so impressed, mostly because of the long travel of the keys that led to inconsistent resets when pressing the same key multiple times.
At first, I didn't like the mechanical keys, but the more I've used it the more I like them. In fact, I can't stand using membrane keyboards anymore.
After several weeks of having this ups I am glad I have it. The power here goes out for a few seconds sometimes, especially during storms. I never even think about or see the ups until I hear that click that means it's running on battery power. I don't do a lot of important work, but it is nice to not have to restart my computer and wait for my router to come back online when the power blinks out.
I have a 500w power supply and was a little worried about only getting the 1000VA/600w model, but looking at the screen I only use around 100 watts under normal use, and even when stress testing the cpu (Ryzen 5 1500x) and gpu (GTX 1060 6GB), it doesn't go much over 200 watts. I have my modem/router, pc, and monitor all plugged into the battery side, and this is one of the few times that I've been happy I didn't spend extra for a more powerful unit.
I bought this LED kit to light the inside of my PC case. I had previously purchased the Phanteks PH-LEDKT strips, but discovered that the version of Mystic Light for the MSI B350 PC Mate motherboard has a limited number of colors through its RGP header, and orange is not one of them. After getting the Super Bright Computer LED Strip Kit, I tested and found that the Phanteks LED strips do work with the Airgoo controller. Compared to the Phanteks strips, the Airgoo strips are just as bright and colorful, but the magnetic Phanteks have the advantage of being easier to attach and move around. Orange looks good. It's not too yellow or red. White is pretty close to pure white, maybe with a slight blue, but not bad. All of the colors and modes seem to work. Some of the flashing modes give an interesting visual effect, especially when the room is dark. When the computer is turned off, the LEDs go out. When the computer is turned on, the LEDs come on with the same color/mode that was active when it was last running. A nice feature of this product is that the controller does not have to have a sensor with line-of-sight to the remote to operate, so it can be hidden with the cables. I have not tried the remote from more than a few feet, but the buttons work well with no delay. There is a wide range of brightness and speed adjustment available.
While there are most likely better options for RGB LED controls that would have more options and effects (and software control), there is nothing wrong with this set, especially considering the price.