Last Updated : 5/14/2017
Hello, and thanks for checking out my PC!
I built this machine on my birthday in 2016 to replace my old and failing laptop ; that hunk of junk had an A8 5500M that throttled from power-on, 4 GB of RAM, and a hard drive that died weeks before I built this.
The laptop had a lot of trouble keeping up in... well, just about anything. Overwatch got 20 FPS on low, any major new releases were out of reach, even minecraft ran iffy. CPU intensive tasks such as video editing were a joke.
Why AM3+ Platform?
AM3+ should have died a long time ago, to be honest. I salvaged the CPU and RAM from an uncle's PC, and the CPU is a real winner - 4.5 GHz without changing the voltage very much at all! I'm very satisfied, as it's A) free and B) great at overclocking and it only falters in fallout 4 and doom sometimes. I still feel the upgrade twitch but I'm confident this whole system will get me to college (2 years remain) in which I'll see what goes on, but I never thought it very practical to play games when you're forking over most of your eventual life's income towards education.
What went wrong?
The corsair H60 took three tries to mount right ; the hose presses against the case, it's a tight fit. Small pc builders beware, seek out an AIO with a smaller hose
The seagate barracuda drive I originally purchased broke after two days. I RMA'd it and they credited me $50 back so I put that towards a caviar blue instead.
Format your drive so you actually see it, duh...
Peel the plastic off your GPU to avoid that funny look and drop some temps
Stop scrambling for drivers, use AMD AutoDetect or NVIDIA GeForce Experience to help you out.
A big mystery
I had some struggles for a few months where on the first start of the day, the PC would shut off about 5 minutes into whatever it was doing. I originally attributed this to google chrome, as google chrome would be the application I basically always opened on startup, but I think it was actually the top panel fans.
You see, the top panel fans were running high RPMs because they were fed power directly from the PSU, no speed regulation. The top panel really likes to vibrate when this happens, and you can feel it throughout the sides of the case. Right above the hard drive bracket ; I believe this caused the hard drive to go in to some sort of safe mode and shut down the system.
I eventually removed the top fans, tired of the noise, not knowing this would change that whole restarting situation, and also found that the top fans block a couple of grommets which I found quite useful for hiding the CPU 8-pin connector and the radiator/rad fan cables to make the system look a lot cleaner. I also learned that ITX board users have even more holes they can use with this case that MATX users can't.
I'd say not bad for $600, does everything I need it do and all components seem to be living healthy lives, enough to last the two more years until college.
Ryzen is still better tho.
Nice overclocker, hit 4.5 GHz on a craptastic mobo with 1.375v. I was told this was one of the best sub $100 gaming processor out there last year, very good for my needs. Only fallout 4 and doom dip below 60 FPS with this, and it handles my multithreaded tasks fine.
Decent value, but new builders might wanna spend more on a Ryzen 5 quad-core. Less TDP, better performance than an OC'd one of these pre-overclock, and more modern.
Great cooler for a mostly cramped case. Hose presses a little on the side. Keeps that +1 GHz overclock cool, with temps under 55 at load and something around 15 idle.
Dirt cheap AM3+ motherboard, a blessing and a curse.
At $50, this is one of the cheapest you can buy. It should support a 95W AM3 or AM3+ processor comfortably, and in my case I could overclock mine pretty far with very little issue, though I think that's because my chip is a freakin' champ.
The BIOS is straight out of 1984. Very visually unappealing, and I sometimes have trouble finding things in those uber-bright lists, but it works.
The 4+1 phase VRM is a little skimpy for overclocking, but good cooling will help you get there easily. My voltage was low enough to prevent VRM throttling (I originally had it set higher than necessary, it did throttle there) Zip-tying a small fan on to them will help, but it will make some noise.
This board has only two fan headers, both are 4-pin. I had to buy a PSU peripheral-to-4pin fan hub, which I didn't realize will make fans run at max RPMs. It's best to buy a fan controller of some sort, but that will be more expensive, expensive enough to warrant buying a different motherboard that will probably have enough headers anyway.
Somehow, about 3 months after use, one pin dead center in the USB3.0 header bent itself out of shape. The others are fine but I have no USB 3.0.
Does what it needs to do and looks kinda nice in a plain way.
I trust Samsung and this is super fast. Windows loads in 7 seconds from power on. I would have shaved $30 by buying an A-data, Crucial, Corsair, Mushkin, Kingston, or pretty much anyone but I pulled the trigger when I saw this one. Probably not entirely worth it but it's a speed demon.
Great drive. Quiet (compared to the clunks of the Barracuda) and has plenty o' storage, survived it's first week doing fine, of course.
Gotta put a word in for WD. They are so friendly and helpful.
Now overtaken by the beefier cousin, RX 580, the RX 480 is still a beastly video card for 1080p gamers. I was eyeing a 970, boom $100 cheaper out comes a beast with more VRAM.
I regret getting the reference cooler somewhat. No game fails to reach the thermal throttling point, but my FPS doesn't get docked too much so that's good.
It's a nice little cube case. The top panel makes an awful rattling/vibrating noise when a fan is running higher RPMs on it, which eventually moved me to remove the top fans altogether, for fear of it possibly damaging the mechanical hard drive neighboring the area.
The front panel audio headers are really clunky. My Corsair VOID headset can't seem to get in there.
Now for the good things ; airflow is, as promised, great. Dual chamber design allows for a rat's nest of cables to be routed through to the front to look nice and neat, and no hard drive cages are there to get in the way of airflow to your mobo/video card.
I hope it goes without saying that if you live with a crazy mother and/or cats, though, expect your glass window to get lots of scratches fast.
Having some second thoughts from what people have said about it, a little so so. But for now, it does it's job and it's upgrade-ability seems good. Sufficient power for the system and semi-modular is the name of the game here.
Windows 10 is good and all but if you plan on performing a fresh install later for any reason get a non-OEM version which allows you to reuse the key. If I get a new motherboard and CPU I'm pretty sure that they won't agree with my drivers and may not load Windows, so I'd have to get it again because I got the OEM version. Experience-based learning.
Originally had a CMStorm Devastator, pictured in the build. I splurged a bit and picked up this piece of work. Absolutely love it, don't want to go back to the older style ; the switch feels perfect for both typing and gaming, and the keycaps feel real solid.