Well it is has come to that time again, out with the old (well some of it anyway) and in with the new.
The Red Ghost (Recon) http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/b/RnvV3C, has been placed in to retirement and re-fitted for sale. The old girl had done me proud chewing through everything I have thrown at it with ease. Gaming at 1080P/60FPS at generally high settings (CoD, Elite, RaceRoom etc), CPU at 4.5GHz and R9 380 4GB at 1085MHz/1550MHz, I will add her new specs and pictures in due course, but for now I wanted to share her off spring.
The only reservations I had with her was the fan noise and size of the case. Now alone, they are not good reasons to clean her up and hand on to a new owner... key to her retirement is that I build computer systems for friends/family and for sale online and over time with the profits I made I have picked up some, what I believe to be good deals on, new hardware. My family is also growing and our computer needs change, we are moving from a requirement for purely a gaming and office based tasks to video editing and Blu-ray library backups etc which ensues multitasking. I was also getting negative family feedback on the size of the H440. I also plan to upgrade to a large single panel 1440P monitor or 3 x 1080P panel set up late 2016 for my sons RaceRoom Experience needs. My final consideration was that I wanted to be able to sell the old girl as a complete system (plus I had my cash from profits) so I approached the new build as a new platform (CPU, Motherboard and GPU).
The "Red" in the title refers to a normal preference to team red, to try and keep costs down and do my little bit to keep some form of competition in the CPU and GPU market place. AMD certainly have their place in the market and I certainly would never dissuade a computer builder building on a budget away from AMD to Intel unless their specific system demands, based on cold stone facts!!! require it.
Anyway enough of the close to tearful discussion of the old girl what I have here is a new Skylake MATX build....
The prices you see are for the new parts and those I wanted to keep from the previous system. Rather than place all my old components as 0.00 I added the original prices for those components (excluding peripherals) that you would need to get the system running. For me the price is what draws me into completed builds on PCPP so I wanted to be fair to those with the same approach so there are no surprises if a PCPP member wanted ideas for a similar build within a specific budget.....
MSI B150M Night Elf - open box (PCPP there is a gap in your library of newer boards hence added as a custom part)
This is what started me off on the Intel build. I was looking for a good, solid bang for buck MATX card, nothing brash in terms of features (I am more than happy with SSD speeds) which offered some room for expansion if my sons (and my own ;-) ) demanded it. Sadly home demands dictated no time to wait to see if AMD Zen can deliver on its promise (Which I hope they do to keep the market fresh and competitive), so my alternatives were either AM3+ or Intel. Since I believed I had taken AMD as far as its current silicon offering could go with the FX-6350 and not expecting too much added performance from a FX-8xxx series I felt well if I am going for a new motherboard and CPU, lets go with the latest intel feature set. I set myself a budget of £60 for a skylake board, I wasn't planning overclocking, and I found an open box Night Elf for sale for £55 (£20 off market price) so I snapped it up. The board had all the features I wanted (4 x DDR4 slots, generally reputable brand, 2x PCIe lanes, USB 3.1, gaming LAN, plenty of SATA 3 slots) plus more (EZdebug leds (very useful if you don`t sit your ram properly), dedicated audio lanes etc), I am very happy with the Night Elf, it is a solid board, good cooling and good gaming orientation, even though I know it is a business chipset. I expected to only find a H110 board at this price point so very happy. Only item I would change is the USB 3 header placement, bit close to the power adaptor and card placement for my liking. Finally, it also glows red, though I know it is a bit common to have a black/red build, my peripherals match the scheme so decided to stick with it.
i7-6700 OEM (3.4GHz (4.0GHz turbo) - open box
No surprises here, the chip does everything and more that I wanted the chip to do. I was initially looking for an i5-6500 or i5-6600 with a budget of £150. These two variants should have delivered most of what the household needed, though multitasking, e.g. video rendering/Blu-ray backup whilst gaming might started to show some cracks in their armour. Always looking for a deal I found an open box i7-6700 OEM chip for sale for £170 (£80 off market price), I had saved a little on the motherboard so I snapped it up. With the single core performance of the i7 I do not foresee the chip struggling to support the GPU during gaming over the next 2 years. Hence another reason not to go with a K series and the price premium you pay.
MSI Radeon R9 390 8GB - open box
Hmm, now I went a little over budget. I originally intended to place the very reliable Sapphire R9 380 Nitro 4GB from my previous build into here and pick up a cheap GTX 960 or R9 380 2GB for the old girl. Whilst looking for these replacement cards I just had the urge that well if I am building a new heart why not go with more gpu grunt..... Long story cut short, very happy with the card, all games now on maxed out settings on my 1080p panel, modest overclock on GPU chip, nothing on memory. I know there are cheaper R9 390s out there or I could have opted for a gtx 970 for similar price, but I said this was my only whimsical purchase and i do feel AMD drivers are improving and if early signs are warranted 2016 driver updates will allow this card to really stretch it's legs beyond the gtx 970. This card also provides, some futureproofing for next few years, and will help with the 1440P or multi monitor setup. Card doesn't go over 72C and fans quiet enough managing these temps. I have placed a Cooler Master JetFlo fan (using low RPM adaptor) to blow cold air directly into the card which I think helps. I may need to do some tweaking of the cards clocks and fan profile when it is powering a new or multiple panels but very happy for now. I had better start making a profit on some other systems to re-fill my coffers.
Thermaltake Core V21
Well, I love this case!! Only my opinion, but for the price you pay, this is a MATX system builders dream, you get a solid metal built case, with so many options for configuration!! You can add full length GPUs, large AIO radiators and show off your goods horizontally or vertically.... I have built with the Aerocool Dead Silence and Antec P50 cases of similar price points, the Aerocool case is better at noise management and has a slightly better build quality, however I would say the V21 (if you are happy with the look) should be a go to for a budget build with plenty of opportunity for expansion. As you see I went with the horizontal motherboard set up, but you can easily move the front panel connectors to a vertical set up as well, thus continually viewing your hard earned from the side. Thermaltake even allows you to switch their front panel logo through 90 degrees to maintain the look. The configurable fan rails are simply a great invention. If you don't use them you can just take them out. I do believe it would be a tight squeeze with large AIO radiators but this is down to personal preference. I have added my Kraken X41 to the rear output and 2x Cooler Master JetFlo fans either side of the case, one blowing onto the GPU, the other pulling air out above the CPU and across the Motherboard. The stock 200mm Thermaltake fan is to the front as an intake. Be warned there is not much in the way of sound dampening, the case is basically open, with the large vented side panels. I therefore used low RPM adaptors to the JetFlo fans to keep the system just audible. I have found the magnetically fastened mesh on the sides is doing a good job of collecting dust at the intakes, so not too concerned abut dust ingress. Perhaps some additional cable tidying solutions would help, but I am in a happy place with the result. I will do some more cable tidying in future but looks ok and works well for now.
Final note, the case I received had a fault with the motherboard power connector, one quick email to Thermaltake and they sent me out a full front panel connector free of charge. Great customer support. I was able to run the system via the reset power connector for a short period whilst waiting for the replacement which was 3 days!!
Corsair Vengeance LPX 2133MHz 2x4B
I will likely add either a pair of 8GB or another pair of 4GB in the future if I see the memory maxing out during tasks, for now they have been fine and I never see the point of paying for more memory if it is not warranted, it is such an easy part to change, swap in. I choose these sticks since they were the most cost effective with good CL timings (at this point in time though I am sure CAS Latency will reduce from 13) and they met the speed of the board.
NZXT Kraken X41
Great AIO cooler, kept my FX-6350 at 4.5GHz below 60C under stress testing, so is a lot more than necessary for the locked i7 with a significantly lower wattage, but hey I owned it so wanted it in my new build.
EVGA 750W B2
Solid PSU, good capacitors and voltage regulation, also semi-modular which helps in a MATX build. Again carried over from my old build.
One SSD for operating system and applications, one SSD for steam application and game libraries, HDD for media, photos, docs etc. System boots in 4 .5 seconds (from power on to opening Edge Browser) utilising motherboard windows 10 fast boot function. All carried over from my old build. Will likely add a few more TBs of HDD space as needs arise.
Deal on a copy of Windows 7 pro SP1, then upgraded directly to Windows 10.
Well that's my latest build, thanks for your time reading the above, I am as always at your mercy in terms of comments and feedback..