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The Learning Experience

by infinitemerald



Date Published

Sept. 28, 2014

Date Built

Sept. 23, 2014

CPU Clock Rate

2.4 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

35.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

55.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.046 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

5 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

23.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

40.0° C


Alright, before you freak out by seeing that I'm still running LGA775: look at the title.

Back in October of 2013, I started out my wonderful adventure through the PC building universe, and I found my new passion for building computers. My career mindset of becoming an Automotive Electronics Engineer has completely changed to becoming a Computer Hardware Engineer, and I'm already helping out tons of other people with their PCs as well, which feels great.

Before I get to this build, let me list some major mistakes I made along the way of learning so far:

  • Purchasing a motherboard and case with no set mind on a build list (this case and a Z87-G55 I'm getting a 4770/k for soon) one month after I started learning about PCs
  • Seeking aesthetics and brand name over bang-for-buck
  • Making a red-and-black build with 4 7990s and two 4960x's (on a dual LGA2011 board) in an ATX case with "custom liquid cooling" with the total build price coming to like $8000. Yes, I was that stupid.
  • Then swapping mindset for dual 780Ti's and a 4770k, which is much better comparably, but still totaled $4000
  • Then I sought a black and yellow 4770k/780s (MSI Lightning) build which again came to $4000
  • Came up with a dual E5-2687WV2/quad-titan rig for $15,000 and tryed to go with it (but obviously got past that)
  • Came up with a "too-hot-for-one-spot" miniITX rig with a 4770k and Titan Black and all that which came to $3500

- I ran some trial and error on our old single-core Athlon Compaq that came with a single-core processor from the age of Pentium 4, 512MB of RAM, and a PATA HDD with WinXP that is still cranking out, and I got some experience with the different connector styles and where everything goes and etc, so I had at least some hands-on experience
- I began to start helping people out on the PCPP forums and forced myself to look into budget builds, and I taught myself to balance builds
- I started using eBay and Craigslist to buy used parts and save a ton of money
- I started using better approaches to breaking down bigger budgets
- I found the hardware that I really need and not too much ePeen.

Now, this all started with an Inspiron 560. It had a Pentium E5700 @3Ghz, a G43T Intel board with DDR3 slots (compared to most LGA775 DDR2 boards), 4 1GB sticks of DDR3-1333MHz RAM, a cooler, Seagate Barracuda 500GB with Win7 Home 64-Bit, and a 300W PSU in an Inspiron stock case with a DVD writer. The actual parts in this list are simply placeholders for the ones that I actually have.

GPU: Anyways, I decided to look at our family's current Inspiron, and messed around with it, reinstalling the motherboard and stuff, getting a hand of it all. I then went through on the software and found that it was a dual-core Pentium, 4GB of RAM, and a G43 graphics chipset, the reason for my awful performance in TF2. I decided to look at eBay for GPUs that would fit in my price range, I searched though the GT series of Nvidia assuming that cards being sold used wouldn't really be too significant of a price drop, and eventually came across a Nvidia GT 640 for $60. I purchased it right away, but I hadn't realized that I could've bought a Radeon 7870 or a GTX 480 for the same price used, but haul *** on games.

CPU: I threw the GT 640 in our Inspiron but then realized it was bottlenecked by the Pentium, so I looked around to my surprise finding a pretty decent quad-core for only $40 on eBay, that being the Q6600. Once that came in, I used thermal paste I bought on eBay and took out the old Pentium, used a dry towel to take off the old residue, slapped in the Q6600, a smidgen of paste on that, on went the cooler, and it was a successful dual upgrade.

PSU: Now, I realized that I was running a 260~W system on a Dell 300W PSU, and many people with PC know-how know that isn't a great situation. Plus not to mention, the awful heat I was getting in that case with only one rear fan (my CPU temps were from 60C at Idle and 90C under Load in the old case, then compare them to the ones on the right). Then, I remembered I still had that MSI Ravager I never used yet, so I decided to try setting the Inspiron system inside that. And everything lined up, except the PSU cables were too short. So then I sought for a better PSU knowing that I needed a higher wattage one anyways, and came across the 2013 Edition Corsair Gaming Series PSUs on eBay, and they offered 600W-700W models with 80+ Bronze efficiency and sleeved cables plus the optional blue LEDs and not to mention the cool look of the PSU altogether. These sold for $30-40, compared to the $30-40 you pay for the CX430 in the same price range.

Install: So I bought that, and it's been cranking out since. I dropped everything back in the case, including some Corsair AF120s I had from when I bought the case, and I had lower temps and a quieter sound, not to mention looks and lighting. I found cable management surprisingly easy considering the non-modular PSU, lack of room in the side compartment in the case, and the angles of bends I had to put the cables at. Right now the cables look ugly because of the red/yellow/white standard of cables in PSUs, but if I were to put some black tape over them, it would really slim up the look. I'm overall quite happy with the cleanliness of the cable management despite the colors, but if you have some tips you could give me on it, please shout em' out ;)

Upgrades: Now, once I want to move onto a newer socket (I've got a MSI Z87-G55 right now) and then get myself a better GPU. I just helped one of my friends nab a GTX 480 for $75, and the word of great performance compared to my GT 640 is really pushing me to get a better card.

Reasons for Ratings: The Q6600, while still a quad-core, isn't the greatest as it's still a $40 chip in an older socket. I'm sure I'd benefit from a newer-gen quad core, as it would be at least a 25fps increase. The stock cooler that came with the Inspiron (not the listed cooler here) doesn't do as well as I'd like, but it's not the worst it could be. Unfortunately the cooler is the loudest component right now, as the fan is awful. The motherboard, being a stock Intel one, doesn't have overclocking VRMs nor any real unlocking options in the grainy BIOS, but luckily it has the options to turn on turboboost and turn on multicore mode. The RAM does what it should do, but whoever put the RAM into the Inspirons should've dropped in 2x 2GB sticks instead of 4x 1GB sticks, meaning I would have to order an entire 8GB set if I wanted to upgrade from 4GB to 8GB.

The Seagate, which caught a virus several years ago and was taken to Best Buy to get repaired, has a bite of the virus still attached. While the HDD is still a 7200RPM, it takes an entire 30 seconds up to 1 minute and a half to go from the Windows Welcome screen, to actually opening the Windows Explorer (what brings up the taskbar and everything). During this time though, I'm able to bring up the task manager (control+shift+escape) and it appears to have a low load. If you think you could help me with this, I can tell you the processes that show at that time, as I'm guessing there has to be one process from the virus that is still leeching. I've got Avira installed now so there's no more virus incoming.

Moving on, the GT 640 sucks. Unless you can get it for under $25, don't get it. It barely pulls 60 fps in TF2 at high settings at 1366x768. Good luck getting it to pull 30 on BF3 on a 24-person server on low at 1366x768. I realize that $60 could have bought me a better card, but refer to the title. The PSU, outstanding for the price. Looks great, works great, is next to silent, and only costed $33. Win. The case, while pretty nice and looks badass, is simply not the greatest for the price point. I bought this when it was going out of stock, and the price was probably inflated, but there are similar cases like this in the same price range, but there are better ones in the price range as well. The cable management isn't the greatest (yet I still managed to get a hold of it), the front bezel and top pieces are somewhat brittle plastic and it's hard to take the top off if you wanted to place fans on the top to do push/pull rad configs, and even so that would mean modding the top to do so. All that aside, it's an MSI case, which is rare enough in itself, and it has a great paint job, plus toolless drives.

Thank you for checking out my build, and please give me some feedback on this! This is my learning experience so please don't judge too much, as I know where I'm going next. But, if you have any words that you think could help, please say so, as every bit is appreciated ;)

(PS. I know this isn't hardly as great as other uploads, but remember the title)

Comments Sorted by:

thunderdan602 1 Build 8 points 50 months ago

Not a horrible build, just old, which you know.

In answer to your question, with as old as your CPU is, get that i5. Any modern GPU you get is going to be severly bottlenecked by such an old CPU.

actechy 7 Builds 4 points 50 months ago

Parts aside, the execution is really nice and clean +1

Obviously outdated, as you mentioned, but the Core 2 Quad is not a bad processor. Cheers!

gugu96 19 Builds 2 points 50 months ago

Core2 Quad build never looked so clean!

Zedlox 2 points 50 months ago

Its beautiful :)

SpecificAlduin 2 Builds 2 points 35 months ago

Came to this after finding your profile on something else on this site. This looks awesome for a Q6600 build! Also, your profile picture looks familiar, like some sort of deranged flower. Correct me if I am wrong though. We also share the ambition to become a computer hardware engineer! If you have a new build by now, I'm sure people would love to see it.

infinitemerald submitter 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago

Heyo, thanks for the comment! The profile pic was actually updated recently, it's Flowey from Undertale. Check it out on Steam, it's pretty cool. It's overrated a bit, but definitely worth a few hours of playtime.

Comp Hardware Engineer, hoping to study at either Michigan Tech or UofM Ann Arbor. But honestly, I'm starting to become more interested in politics and sociology, so there's that. I'm building a computer for my senior project, and though my budget is large for a senior project and small for what the parts are in it, it's quite nice. Can't decide if I want to go with the 780Ti or jump straight to the 980Ti given a deal. I've already got it all figured out in my head, and want it to be clean. I've got the MSI X99 board already from last Christmas, here's just hoping it's not DOA. fingers crossed.

If you have any other questions, let me know!

SpecificAlduin 2 Builds 1 point 35 months ago

Hah, I was right about your profile picture then. I've already played Undertale. 780Ti classifieds are going for 300 dollars on ebay. If you're lucky, then you can get one with a waterblock and backplate for not much more. Also, with the recent price drops of DDR4, you should be able to fit a little more RAM in your build, or use the extra money to buy something else, like a larger SSD. Good luck with your build and studies!

DeathShallWait 1 point 50 months ago

I am just not sure about the 25 FPS increase with an upgrade to your processor, because most of the games are GPU bound and only some games are CPU bound (I heard an example is Skyrim). But but still i don't think you can pull an extra 25 FPS with an upgrade to processor.

Killeneminem 3 Builds 1 point 50 months ago

Get the cpu first. i5 will be a huge performance increase. Then get a new GPU. It would be very much worth it to save up more and go for a newer 270, 760, or heck, maybe the 960 (?) will be out by the time you have the cash.

concs 1 point 34 months ago

90c in case lol, RIP

infinitemerald submitter 1 Build 1 point 34 months ago


turtlesaurusrex25 1 point 23 months ago

I'm going to need time to recover from this.

Jessiahsmallwood 5 Builds 1 point 13 months ago

I have a similar system with a lower range core2 quad. In the stock case and i was wondering how your system performs. I wondering if mine is worth upgrading. It has some low end amd gpu

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