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Build

HAL 8999 (Future-Proof, High Value, Low Energy Gaming Build)

by Bozanimal

20
15 Comments

Details

Date Published

Jan. 11, 2016

Date Built

Jan. 9, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

3.5 GHz

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.076 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

6.61 GHz

Description

The primary, workhorse PC of the house used mostly for gaming at 1680 x 1050, I wanted a high-value build that could be upgraded over the next seven to eight years. The Z170 board is the latest Intel socket set, uses DDR4, and had come down to a reasonable price, so everything else was built around that.

By high-value I mean that I'm willing to spend more so long as I get proportionately more out of the money I've spent. I wasn't willing to get a GTX 960 for $50 more than the 950, since I wouldn't have gotten enough out of it to justify the increased expense at my gaming resolution, for example. I got a mechanical keyboard, but one that was low-cost considering its build-quality and key lighting.

The PC needed to have DVD and card readers for photos and optical backups of important files (I have an NAS, but want the redundancy).

I wanted it to fit inside my desk in a very particular spot, and gain back some space I lost with my prior ATX build (see pictures). I'll be either putting it on a shelf or putting a shelf above it when I get a chance.

If possible, I wanted it to be energy-efficient and quiet, though these were secondary goals.

Part Reviews

CPU

Was going to go for a locked 6500, but I got this in a bundle with the motherboard, bringing the cost to $220, which made this a no-brainer. Almost the same cost but the ability to OC? Done.

CPU Cooler

I needed a cooler for the 6600k, and this was both smaller and better-rated than the 212 EVO. It looks fantastic, and was super, super-easy to install. It’ll also let me try my hand at overclocking a little once I find time to do the requisite research.

Motherboard

I wanted a mATX board with on-board audio that could replace my ASUS DG sound card. I’ve used a half-dozen Gigabyte boards, and their QC is top-notch. This board is no exception, with quality capacitors, heat sinks, and board work. I've been especially please with the BIOS, which is light years ahead of my previous Gigabyte P43 (LGA775) chipset board.

Memory

I’m a Crucial customer for life. Crucial’s client service is based out of Idaho, so if you need to call you will typically get a pleasant woman speaking in clear English; quick story!

I had memory go bad. I called, and they sent replacement memory without question (I had to front the money, but it was reimbursed when they received the bad sticks). I did not have to go through an onerous troubleshooting process once I told them I had already run the sticks through Memtest. One of the replacement sticks was bad, and I exchanged that one, too. They overnighted it to me at no charge this time. This is memory I bought back in 2008 that still runs well today (or up until a week ago until I built this new machine). I've since built two more computers and upgraded three laptops with Crucial memory, not including this one.

Storage

I’ve never had a SSD before, so this was a treat. I got it from Amazon Warehouse, and kind of regret it because, after having it for awhile, I realized the plug port has a broken plastic retaining clip on the SATA port, which means the connection isn’t super-tight. It works great with a little jimmying, but buyer beware the refurb/return.

Storage

Cheap platter for excess storage. I’ve got an NAS, too, so this is really just for overflow storage. It's a hard drive. It works.

Video Card

I love that it uses little power, and I got an amazing deal on it. I’m also done with Radeon cards. I’ve used Radeon cards since 2007, and the drivers are awful. No more.

So far super-quiet and runs all the games I play, which aren't graphically-intensive.

Case

This case is fantastic. I got the model with the clear sides, but it wasn't on PC Part Picker, yet, so I substituted this one.

I’ve never had such an easy time installing. Everything came apart easily, was clearly organized, and the flip-top! Oh the flip-top is awesome! The only downside was that it required a short ATX power supply. I had to return the EVGA P2 750 I originally purchased (you can see where it didn't fit in the pictures) and do some research once I had taken measurements. The GS just barely fits with the cables crushed up inside the PSU spot, but otherwise the case was a dream to work with, and I'd definitely buy again.

Power Supply

It was the only decent power supply I could find that would fit in the case. Super-quiet and nice, though the packaging wasn't as slick as the P2. Still, super-solid and quality unit.

Operating System

If you’re using Windows, eventually you will be using 10, whether you like it or not. I just decided to dive in sooner. It has its quirks.

Case Fan

I’ve used the Enermax UC-12EB and its 80mm counterpart for almost ten years. They’ve run non-stop without issues in multiple PCs are are whisper-silent. I’d have bought more, but they don’t make a 140mm of the UC-12EB, so I thought I’d try these. These use a similar magnetic bearing and have twice the rated lifetime of any other case fan I’ve ever seen. So far they have been, without exaggeration, whisper-quiet.

Case Fan

Another excellent, silent Enermax case fan.

Monitor

An old 1680 x 1050 I got for $100 off Woot years ago. It’s still going strong, so I haven’t been able to justify replacing it. It's been a solid value considering its longevity.

Keyboard

This keyboard is phenomenal. I tested over twenty mechanical keyboards before settling on the Thermaltake, which only uses a single USB slot, has adjustable blue lighting, and very satisfying feel. It was also a fantastic price for its bells & whistles.

Mouse

Wired mice are the worst. Any benefit you get from supposed “decreased lag” is offset by the drag of the cord. I also have tiny Carnie hands, so I need a smaller mouse, and this fits the bill. Also, I already own it!

Comments Sorted by:

mcmattila 1 Build 2 points 39 months ago

Nice, clean build with thought-out parts! I'm digging the black tubing. Shame it's hidden inside the desk, hope you get her a spot on a shelf soon :D

Bozanimal submitter 1 Build 1 point 39 months ago

You don't know how nice that is to hear- I felt like it was super-messy relative to my prior build. But with two windows it's impossible to hide everything. So thanks for that!

PCIntake 2 points 39 months ago

Haha it looks like a convertible! +1

Bozanimal submitter 1 Build 1 point 39 months ago

It made it super-fun to work on. I felt like a trucker!

stax 3 Builds 2 points 36 months ago

+1 for awesome pics.

Bozanimal submitter 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

Thank you, stax! Looking back, it was a pretty basic build. If anything I probably took too many pictures. But I'm still very happy with it, and now game on a 4k monitor without any issues. That 950 is hugely underrated.

stax 3 Builds 2 points 36 months ago

Lots of pics in this instance has been very helpful to me, I just picked up the same case and am planning to reconfig my build into it. Haven't found any good in-depth reviews of the X-Qpack3 online anywhere, so it's user-uploaded content that wins the day :3

Bozanimal submitter 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago

I'm glad it's been useful! I had the same trouble, but it was the only case that did everything I wanted. I can't believe how difficult it's getting to find a mATX case with both a 5.25 and 3.5 front slot.

TheHammerLukas 1 Build 1 point 39 months ago

Very nice build :D +1 for it. Could you take a look at my build? I would appreciate it http://pcpartpicker.com/b/3fbj4D

wingback18 1 point 29 months ago

hi there , reallly clean build . question , what did you use to sleeved the cables ?

Bozanimal submitter 1 Build 1 point 28 months ago

Thanks; that's split loom. You can get it online or at most any auto parts stores on the cheap!

violetgil 1 Build 1 point 25 months ago

How tight was the fit since you put all 3 possible fans in your system? I also notice that you're not packing an optical drive or a card reader, so are you using the external slots for anything? I wanted to deck mine out with both and am trying to see if there's still room enough for everything else and cables.

Zombitar -4 points 39 months ago

For a better price to performance twist you should switch to an FM2+ work board with an AMD A10 APU in crossfire with an R9 fury graphics card.

vekspec 3 Builds 4 points 39 months ago

you cannot crossfire a APU with a Fury. you just cannot. the only two cards that can dual graphics (not crossfire) with the APU is a R7 240 or R7 250. The Fury would be too powerful for the APU graphics to handle in crossfire. you can run a A10 with a dedicated Fury but you cannot crossfire the two.

https://community.amd.com/thread/182984

Bozanimal submitter 1 Build 2 points 39 months ago

My understanding is that the FM2+ socket is getting long in the tooth. If I were building a pure budget build I might agree, but I really wanted something with better upgrading potential, and the Z170 chipset looks like a better value in that regard. Also, though more expensive, the 6600k is fast enough relative to current A10 APUs to justify its price premium, at least according to the benchmarks I've seen. So I paid a little more, but I got a lot more- statistically anyway. We'll see if that translates to real-world usage.

As for the video cards, I did agonize over the R9s. But there were four reasons I went with the new GTX 950:

  • 1) R9s are power hungry monsters (the R9 270 uses 150 watts vs the GTX 950 at 90 watts. So the GTX 950 is both materially cheaper to run (realistically about $20 to $30 in savings per year) AND better for Mother Earth!

  • 2) I'm tired of the bloated, mediocre driver support for Radeon cards. My last two main PCs have used Radeon cards and every driver update made the PC less stable. That, and they've snuck in crapware on me before (stupid browser toolbars!). I'm trying my had with NVIDIA this round.

  • 3) I'm using a 1680 x 1050 monitor and mostly play Heroes of the Storm, Tera, Unreal Tournament Alpha, and TF2. A bigger card just would have been overkill.

  • 4) I got an awesome deal on the GTX950 at $120, so for the lower power consumption, price, and relative performance at that price point it made the most sense.

Maybe I'm crazy! If I'm wrong, let me have it!