Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Building Compy, The Parts

Recently I talked about options for AMD and Intel based gaming computers, today I want to talk about my personal build and give you some rationale for why I chose this specific setup...

When my computer died a couple of months ago I decided to start looking into building a new one, first objective was to identify my needs: I wanted a sweet spot gaming rig optimized for playing World of Warcraft, specifically for five boxing. I also wanted video editing/streaming capabilities (which will be important later this year). Something relatively quiet, preferably lower power consumption, and it's got to look nice when it's finished. So let's get into this...

Sweet Spot rigs tend to be built on a budget, it's all focused on the biggest bang for your buck. As frankly, after a certain point there's diminishing returns on the amount of performance per dollar spent. It's not the cheapest PC possible, but there's not a lot of wasted money on bigger and badder. In some areas however I am willing to spend a little more, like fans for example. I'm willing to spend a little more to get a quieter/cooler experience. So, what did I pick up?

GHOST Mk 38.1
Originally I'd intended to build an AMD based computer, I suffered something akin to buyers remorse however. I actually purchased an AMD FX-8350 Black Edition with a Gigabyte 970 based motherboard. However, I had to RMA both to Newegg. Then I got the worst news possible: the processor was damaged, and I would not be receiving a replacement. So, I changed my RMA to refund for the motherboard and went back to the drawing board.

The chief advantage of AMD over Intel is about dollars and cents, you can buy a 6 Core processor and compatible board for under $200. So, why did I switch sides to Intel? Actually, part of the decision comes from my recent guide on building a computer. After a lot of research and review of comparison tests, I found that Intel processors are optimized for World of Warcraft. This isn't exactly news, but I was legitimately surprised at just how significant of a difference this can make in performance. Then I recalled my previous efforts in multi boxing.

My main rig at the time was a Q6600 Intel based machine, my secondary rig was a budget AMD equivalent that was the next generation chipset. The main rig could run all five instances of the game like a champ, but the secondary machine required more settings to be turned down, for less instances of the game. Add to this the unmistakable bad juju of two AMD systems in a row having DOA processors, and the choice was clear. Here's what I ended up with...

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor  (SuperBiiz)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler  (Newegg)
Motherboard: MSI Z97-G45 Gaming ATX LGA1150 Motherboard  (NCIX US)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory  (Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory  (Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory  (Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory  (Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 850 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5 Solid State Drive  (Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 850 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5 Solid State Drive  (Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB 3.5 5900RPM Internal Hard Drive  (Salvaged)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB TWIN FROZR Video Card  (SuperBiiz)
Case: NZXT S340 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case  (SuperBiiz)
Power Supply: XFX XTR 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply  (Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit)  (NCIX US)
Other: NZXT AC-GRIDP-M1 GRID+ Digital Fan Controller (Newegg)
FANS: 2x be quiet! Silent Wings 2 140mm 1000RPM 60.4CFM 15.8DBA Cooling Fan,
3x be quiet! BL062 Silent Wings 2 120mm 150RPM 50.5CFM 15.7DBA Cooling Fan

Not a bad setup, and for the price it's not only lean, but mean to boot.

Due to budget constraints I won't be using the MSI card starting out, instead I'll be using a PNY 560 Ti salvaged from my previous machine. It's a competent, if old card that should see me well until I can afford the upgrade. Additionally, I only have 2 sticks of memory for basically the same reason. And I'll be using some Cooler Master fans I've got laying around until I can move up to the be quiet fans listed above. Having said that, this will be a huge step up from my previous PC that was already running World of Warcraft pretty comfortably, despite it's heat throttling issues it was suffering in the end. I'll also be using the 550w version of the power supply listed, it was a mistake on my part during the ordering process but one that's actually going to be usable down the road...

The obvious place to start is the ram, and the power supply. The first 8 gigs of RAM that I'm putting in this machine were freebies provided alongside the SSDs I purchased a month ago. On the AMD board I was originally planning to use they were as good as it would get, on this one however there's room for improvement. With regards to the PSU, I plan to replace it with the 750w variety, I will then move the 550w to a server I plan on building this summer. With the extra power I'll be able to pick a solid video card, I will be sticking with an MSI Twin Frozr, but with more power I'll likely have some good single card options open to me as well as a respectable overclock. I'll also be keeping a weathered eye on the horizon with regards to the processor, I picked a solid i5 but with new releases the i7 chips will start dropping in price inevitably and there's room in the system for a stronger chip down the line...

Over a long enough time frame the life expectancy of every computer drops to zero, at some point upgrading just isn't going to be an option anymore. However, I'm looking forward to getting the thing running and to having my own PC again. Particularly, I'm looking forward to having my own PC that I built again. Because really, I could've gotten a deal on Craigslist again. I could've gotten a pre built system from Cyberpower or another company, but in the end I chose to build it myself because there's a pride in using something you made with your own two hands that's not something you can replicate off the shelf. Not everything I make is practical, this however is. And I think you need both in your life if you want to be fulfilled.

Right now, despite the headaches and the setbacks, I'm in a good place. I'll be in a better place once I install Windows again. But for now, I've got few complaints. With that, I leave you. If you have questions, comments, or criticisms feel free to share. And remember...

Always Be Closing,

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