Date Built: July 10, 2015
I’m a retired accountant who’s been building my own computers for the last 20+ years. I like playing RPG games like Witcher 3 & MMORPGs. I do a little bit of video editing. I know my current build is far more powerful than what I need, but it puts a smile on my face. I like new technology. I’m upgrading from an Intel Core i5 750 computer, which I built a little over 5 years ago. If I’m home & awake, my computer is always turned on.
I’ve been using the same case for the last 20+ years. It was seriously lacking in the ventilation department. Poor ventilation & a dying video card started me on this new build. I knew I wanted a full sized case & the computer needed to be as quiet as possible. The Corsair Graphite Series 730T Case looked good & was only $80 on sale after rebates. There’s lots of room for several HDs & SSDs. I wasn’t interested in the higher priced cases with a window on the side door. As a senior citizen, I don’t think any of my friends would be interested in looking at the inside of my computer. If someone has a keen interest, it only takes a second to pop open the side door. The side doors are so easy to open, I’ll probably have to pay a little more attention when little ones are around. They might open the door & reach inside. So if you have young children at home, this case might not be a good selection for you. I knew the case came with 2 red LED fans (AF140l) on the front when I ordered it. The AF140l sounds quite, but the red LEDs didn’t work for me. I thought about ordering the Corsair AF140 ($30 - no LED) fan to replace the red led AF140l ($5 from Corsair). I finally ordered a couple of $18 each replacement Cougar fans with no LEDs. The Cougar replacement fans seemed to move a lot more air than the Corsair F140l. I didn’t feel like using the rubber attachments that came with the Cougar fans, so I bought some screws which were approx. 1/8 inch longer than the ones that came with my case. A latch holding the front mesh panel in place on the case didn't work properly. After contacting Corsair, they sent a replacement piece. High marks for Corsair.
Due to the large sized CPU cooler I’m using, I was concerned about the height of the DDR4 memory. I needed something with a low profile. Anything with a large heatsink sticking up would be a no-go. Looking at what others have used, gave me a good idea of what I could use. The Noctua NH-D15 CPU cooler is the same height as the Dark Rock I’m using. If you go to the Noctua web site, there’s a compatible list for memory. I considered the speed of the DDR4 memory, but my research didn’t convince me that a faster memory (i.e. 2133 vs 2400) would be a big improvement nor cost effective.
Samsung SM951 256GB:
The Samsung SM951 SSD is about the same size as a single stick of gum & mounts to the motherboard. The PCIe-based SM951 is up to three times faster than the SATA 6Gb 850 Pros in certain categories. The SM951 is an OEM product & is not sold as retail. I purchased mine from Amazon using RamCity as the vendor. RamCity has excellent videos on using the SM951. It's fairly new and many motherboards need a bios update to use it. I updated my ASrock OC motherboard to the latest bios, which was 2.0 at the time. To install an operating system on the SM951, I had to use a USB flash drive with the OS on it. I probably spent over 20 hours trying to get my motherboard to boot from the SM951. I'd read reviews of other people using the SM951 successfully with the same motherboard I have. I tried everything I could think of. I finally downgraded the motherboard bios to 1.8 & it worked like a charm. I've noticed an increase in speed in certain areas, mostly in read & write type apps. There's a certain cool factor in the SM951, but I don't think I'd recommend it to the average user. CrystalDiskMark results using the SM951 on my new built are including in the photos.
I originally purchased a MSI X99A SLI PLUS motherboard, but sent it back as defective for a full refund. I was pleasantly surprised when B&H Photo even paid for the return postage. For some odd reason the motherboard reported that I only had 12GB of memory when I had 16GB installed. I played around with the memory sticks. Changing slots, removing sticks & looking for a bad memory stick, but I just couldn’t get it to work right. It looked like one of the ram slots was defective. I’ve always used ASrock motherboards in the past with good luck, so I ordered the ASRock X99 OC Formula as a replacement. I'd also read that ASrock did a better job of supporting the Samsung SM951 per their Bios updates. The OC Formula has 5 PCIe slots, but I knew before I ordered it that PCIe 5 would be disabled because I’m using a 28 lane CPU (needs a 40 lane CPU to use PCIe 5). Also, PCIe 3 would be disabled because I’m using the Ultra M.2 slot for my SM 951. I have no plans for additional graphic cards, so I’m fine with having only 3 of the 5 PCIe slots working. If I need more than 3 PCIe slots down the road, I can either move the SM951 to the M.2 Socket (SATA 3 – slower speed) or upgrade to a CPU with 40 lanes. I could have gone with a less expensive ASrock motherboard, but the X99 OC Formula was built for some serious work and it should last many years. High quality parts, 5 year warranty, waterproof per Conformal coating & 1300W support. I also liked the idea of having two M.2 slots available (one PCIe Gen 3 x 4 & the other Gen 2 x 1).
The water CPU coolers are attractive, but having a pump next to the CPU looks a little risky & noisy to me. I know the chances of a leak are very small, but I didn’t want to take that chance. So I went with a be quiet! BK019 Dark Rock Pro 3 Silentwings CPU Cooler. I considered the Noctua NH-D15, but I didn’t like the colors & the Dark Rock just looked like a better built cooler. Even if both fans on the Dark Rock stopped working, I think the cooler itself would probably keep the CPU cool. This cooler is huge. So if you use this cooler, make sure it’ll fit inside your case. I mounted the CPU cooler onto the board before I installed the motherboard into the case. Compared to other CPU coolers I’ve installed in the past, this one was a breeze. I don’t think it would have been as easy if the memory had already been installed with the motherboard mounted in the case. When I first turned my new built on, it didn't work. Nothing on the screen & the Dr. Debug display on the ASrock OC Formula motherboard showed a code of "bd", which I couldn't find a reference for. Of course, panic set in & I couldn't understand what I did wrong. After spending several hours of trying various things (all part of the fun), I'd read that tightening down the CPU Cooler too tight can cause the CPU not to work. I'd used the little wrench that came with the cooler, so I really didn't think that could be the problem. I removed the motherboard from the case and loosened the nuts on the cooler just a little bit. Without reinstalling the motherboard, I fired it up & to my surprise it booted up. I immediately did a happy dance.