Black Friday and Cyber Monday I was buying parts for this computer. This is my first build and I was wanting to keep it under 900 for everything other than a mouse and keyboard. My main goal was a computer to use for stitching photographs together with.(I use hugin and GIMP a lot.) I also was figuring that I would be watching a DVD every few nights and wanted pretty good sound as I was going use this to play music or audiobooks when I am in the room.
•CPU I went with the xeon as it should have the performance of higher end i7 and I did not need graphics as I was planning on getting a graphics card as it should help with the photo editing.
•SSD This was actually the first part that I bought. Amazon had it on a real good deal, then cut $10 off of the deal price for 6 hours only. I wanted a SSD for the OS and as a working area for my art programs for speed reasons. They claim it is a lot faster and it really appears to be.
•Hard Drive I got the WD Green one to hold all of my files. I chose it because it was on sale and I liked that it does not use very much power, has a decent warranty and is fairly quite. In my build it takes a few seconds to spin up when I want to access something on it, but once spun up it is pretty darn fast. At some point I plan on testing it for speed compared to the SSD.
•Motherboard. I wanted one that should be future proof for hopefully 5+ years. There was another board that I liked a little better, but it sold out before I found it. This one does not support overclocking, but otherwise appears to have all of the newest stuff including the h97 chipset, a widely used CPU socket, lots of USB3 ports, enough expansion slots that I should be good for a long time, plenty of SATA6 ports, and one of the even faster ports that some SSD are set up for and a decent looking sound card built in.
•Memory. Not the fastest memory, but it was the cheapest per GB while still being 8GB per stick(I have read that the speed does not make to much difference anyway). The mother board has 4 memory slots and will max out at 32 GB memory. With that in mind I got a single 8GB stick for now. With a single stick I am not able to use the dual channelI think that is the phrase which claims to double the memory speed. This is the first time I have had 8GB to play with, it is a nice upgrade.
•Video Card This is the first time I have ever had one on a computer other than what is built into the motherboard, so I have nothing to compare against. I just looked up video cards benchmarks compared to their price and got the best one in my price range. http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/
•Case I am very happy with the case. There is a lot of mesh on it so there is a lot of ways for the air to flow and then with the 3 stock fans going it is very cool. Plus the fans are quieter than anything that I have had before. I like having the USBs ports(including 1 usb3) on the top, I am not too sure if that is a good idea as far as things falling in there, but sure is handy not having to stand on my head to find the port to plug in the flash drive. It has lots of places to put harddrives both inside and outside. It was easy to work in and is sturdy to the touch.
•Power Supply not much to say. It was the cheapest one that got good reviews on this and other websites. My only down comment on it, is that the 12V wire barely reached. I had to undo all of the wires from their zip ties and carefully rearrange all of the wires around the idea of getting that wire long enough to reach and even then it is tighter than I like.
•Optical Drive. Just a drive, nothing fancy about it. That said with this build I do not like the fact that the button to open the tray is below the tray. That makes it hard to find and harder to press when the tray is open.
•OS I wanted Windows 7 as I have heard of problems with Windows 8. I know Windows 7 and am happy with it. Was going to go with one of the home editions as that is what I have used before. When I looked them up to compare them I noticed that they have a max of 16GB memory. I want to be as future proof as possible and my Motherboard would do 32GB so I decided to go with windows 7 Professional. Windows is not cheap, when I saw the price I seriously considered switching to linix. Just for the heck of it I tried Ebay and found legit versions of windows in my price range so I went that way instead. I am very happy I went with the pro version. It is a lot better than the home version in a lot of little ways that I had not seen written about before.
•Speaker. This is the first time that I have had speakers that included a big box to put on the floor. I am very impressed. That likely that says more about what I have been exposed to before than this being a great speaker. That said I am extremely impressed with the sound. The quality is good and it can get loud enough to fill the whole room without losing any of the quality.
It took the better part of two weeks for all of the parts to arrive. The case was the second part so I was able to install most of the parts as they arrived. Once everything was in the case and plugged in I went to start it and nothing happened. I opened the case and redid the CPU, checked all of the wires reread the manual for the motherboard and everything looked as I thought it should. I tried it again still nothing.
Undid the power supply and did a paperclip test on it. It worked. Since nothing did anything when I pressed the start button I started wondering about the switch that starts the computer, so I started tracing out the wires and it turned out that the mother board manual thought the wires to start it and the light that said it was running should be one set of colors and in fact they were switched on the case. I do not know which part has it wrong. Either the motherboard or the case has the wrong color wires for those. Either way I figured it out, switched the wires and it started right up.
The BIOS made sense, it correctly detected my memory and other stuff with the correct speed values. Installing windows was easy and quick. I registered it by phone as that computer is not yet connected to the internet.
I am currently short one SATA cable. The mother board came with 2, but where I have two hard drives and an optical drive I need 3. So once I had windows installed I removed the cable to the optical drive and plugged it into the second hard drive.
On the sound there are places to hook up the higher and lower speakers, but for some reason they do not seem to work. Most likely I do not understand how to hook something up. Till I take the time to figure out what I did wrong I am happy plugging both kinds of speakers into the audio output jack.
When I first used it the CPU was getting pretty hot (I saw it as high as 100c) Once I noticed that, I redid the Thermal compound, using a whole lot more than I did the first time and now it never goes over 75c and only then when it has been working all of the cores constantly for a half hour.EDIT REdid it again this time using less paste and now maxes out at 69.
At this point I still need to add the last SATA cable to the optical drive, it would be nice to figure out the sound plugs and why they all do not work as expected and I need to figure out a memory card reader for my camera cards.
I was worried when it did not start aside from about an hour there, I have been very happy with this whole process and would do it again.