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My first build

August 27, 2016

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Heyo boyos~

I just built my first PC. I went with a conservative budget build. Or at least that’s what I intended when I started out. Still I tried to get the most bang for my buck. Ended up totaling over $900 in the end. I’m gonna do a breakdown of what I bought, how much it costs, why I chose that part and some anecdotes about the building process.

First to start off, for those that just want the sweet and short of it, here’s handy dandy chart of my parts and how much everything costs. Green are discounts(coupons/rebates/refunds), red are additional costs like tax(NY state is 8.888%) and shipping. I bought every part except for the graphics card and HDDs at Microcenter. I had a bunch of $5 off $30 coupons at microcenter so I had the cashier split my purchase into 5 transactions. I can tell he didn’t like it, but it all worked out in the end.

Build

 

A little bit of background. My laptop which had served me faithfully for 5+ years suffered a stroke back in March. While I was playing a game of Insurgency, the whole thing froze and I had to force shut it down. It only got worse from there. BSOD after BSOD on startup. I took the whole thing apart which was an interesting experience but it didn’t really resolve anything. I narrowed the culprit down to two suspects. (1) The graphics card was completely shot and there was nothing I could do. (2) The graphics drivers are messed up on some level I can’t get to without doing a complete reinstall of windows. I know it’s definitely graphics related since I can boot into safe mode and when I uninstall the graphics drivers it can run okay, albeit in a terrible stretched resolution. It was pretty much unusable. A real shame since I had bought the laptop back in 2011 for $500~ and it was capable of playing most modern games on medium settings. A real trooper.

Big thanks to logicalincrements since I used that site to choose most of the parts. And to digitalfoundry for very useful benchmark tests. I know a lot of people use pcpartpicker for their builds but that site ended up being pretty useless for me since I bought most of the parts from a single retailer(microcenter) which wasn’t listed on pcpartpicker. Plus I could use microcenter’s own wishlist function to track what I wanted to get.

So onto the details.

XFX Radeon RX 480 DirectX 12 RX-480P8DFA6 8GB 256-Bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 CrossFireX Support GTR Triple X Video Card: Original Price $289.99 + $4.99 shipping = Final $294.98

Perhaps the instigator of the entire build. All the talk of the RX 480 got me pumped. And even though the GTX 1060 was announced, I had become too obsessed with the 480 to drop it at that point. Now I know I overpaid on the graphics card. They’re in short supply because of all the scalpers. They went in and out of stock on newegg, and when I saw it come up, I ordered it on impulse. The model I got was not a reference design. It has 2 interchangeable fans and has a slight factory overclock. I considered getting the BLACKED edition which has a higher clock out of the box but I had already ordered this one so it would have just gotten complicated with returns and delayed the build. So I went with the first one I got my hands on. I was really planning to shoot for the $200-$250 price point so it was definitely more than I wanted to pay. But ya have to make some compromises sometimes.

Intel Core i5-6600K 3.5GHz 1151 Boxed Processor: Original Price $199.99 – $5 coupon + $17.32 tax = Final $212.31

It was only a $20 difference between this and the i5-6500. I was thinking of going for the i5-6500 since they had recently found a way to overlock the non-k chips through the motherboard and it came with a stock cooler. But in the end I decided to go with the K chip to save myself the headache in the future.

Ballistix Sport LT 16GB 2 x 8GB DDR4-2400 PC4-19200 CL16 SR Dual Channel Desktop: Original Price $69.99 – $15 when purchased w/ processor + $4.88 tax = Final $59.87

Pretty standard ram. I did consider going 8gb, but decided to future proof just in case. I used to reach 7gb on my old computer after all. And I did consider getting faster ram(3000mhz) but the boost in performance seemed so miniscule, it didn’t seem worth the cost.

A few things went wrong with this part of the purchase. The bundle discount didn’t come off as advertised so the cashier had to manually override the price. At least they didn’t give me a hard time about it. And then the ram nearly drove me mad when I was putting the rig together. One of the sticks was bad so the computer wouldn’t boot. Tested both sticks, wouldn’t boot, tested one stick on each slot, boots fine, tested the other stick on each slot, doesn’t boot at all. Spent an entire day troubleshooting and fretting over it. What a nuisance to get a bad stick on my first build. I did get a replacement and the new sticks are working fine now.

ASRock Z170M Pro4S LGA 1151 mATX Intel Motherboard: Original Price $94.99 – $30 when purchased w/ processor + $5.77 tax – $20 mail in rebate = Final $50.76

After all discounts, this was a pretty good price for a good mobo. What I learned was that don’t cheap out on the mobo since it’s the heart and soul of the computer. Go z170 or go bust.

Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO Universal CPU Cooler: Original Price $36.99 – $5 coupon + $2.84 tax – $10 mail in rebate = $24.83

EVERYONE recommends this cooler. You’d think there was no other cooler on the market. The $5 coupon made a big difference on whether I would buy it from microcenter or newegg.

CX650M 650 Watt ATX Modular Power Supply: Original Price 69.99 – $5 coupon + $5.77 tax – $20 mail in rebate = Final $50.76

After I bought this I read some bad reviews on it. And then I saw a better PSU go on sale on amazon for about the same price. But it would’ve taken so long for it to ship and I was getting really anxious to do the build. So some regrets on this purchase. But I still feel like the price was right so it’s not too bad.

Cooler Master HAF 912 Mid Tower ATX Computer Case: Original Price $59.99 – $5 coupon + $4.88 tax – $15 mail in rebate = Final $44.87

Cases are more important than I realized. Besides being big enough, they also need plenty of room to breathe. This one has 2 pre-installed fans plus room for up to 3 more fans for maximum cooling. This thing was a bitch to carry home. It was huge and I had to carry it 6 blocks and on the train. My arms hurt for a few days afterwards.

PNY CS2211 240GB SATA III 6Gb/s 2.5″ Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) – SSD7CS2211-240-RB: Original Price $66.99 – $5 coupon + $5.50 tax = Final $67.49

So apparently not all SSDs are built the same. There are MLC(Multi Level Cell) and TLC(Triple Level Cell) that determine how long the drive will last. MLC is preferred so I went with whatever logicalincrements recommended. Just putting my most frequently run or long load time programs in here along with the OS.

Hitachi 2TB 64MB 7200RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive: Original Price $49.99 – $20 refund = Final $29.99

The story with these hard drives is an interesting one. I ordered them from goharddrive on ebay. There’s some rumors going around that they pull drives from data centers that have thousands of hours already on them and wipe the SMART data and sell them as new. So naturally when I got them, I looked into their logs with smartmontools. So the question is, are these logs accurate? Is goharddrive scamming people by selling used drives as new? I dunno. But I brought up the drive hours with them and got a refund out of it. He offered $15, but I asked for $20 and he complied. I’m pretty satisfied with the price/TB. I’ll be installing most of the games on this drive.

HGST HMS5C4040ALE640 4TB 64MB 3.5″ SATA 6.0Gb/s Hard Drive: Original Price $99.99 – $15 coupon – $15 refund = Final $69.99

I had an ebay coupon for this one. This one’s an HGST coolspin drive with a slower 5700RPM. I’m using this one for general file storage. Again I brought up the lifetime hours on this drive and got a refund for it. I didn’t push for the refund as hard because it was the second time in a week. And this rep took a harder stance on either offering to return it or the partial refund. Also this kind of drive isn’t as likely to be used in data centers so I started questioning if the SMART scan was accurate.

5 x Serial SATA ATA RAID DATA HDD Hard Drive Signal Cable Straight-Right Angle: Original Price $3.69 = Final $3.69

To end on a rather boring note, the motherboard didn’t come with enough sata cables for all of it’s ports and I plan to use at least 4 of them so I had to buy some cables separately. Pretty cheap at least. Just wish they’d get here as they’re still in the mail as I write this.


And that’s my build. I already have a mouse, keyboard, 2x monitors, controllers, external hard drives from before. So these were basically all the things that go in the case. And to append a final note, there are 2 things I bought around the same time but aren’t really part of the computer directly.

Linksys EA4500-RM Dual-Band N900 Wi-Fi Router with Gigabit and USB IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n, IEEE 802.3/3u/3ab(Refurbished): $29.99

A highly rated router. The 5ghz dual band doubles my wireless internet speed. Too bad I don’t have a lot of devices that can make full use of it.

QVS CAT 6 Blue Snagless Network Cable 50 Foot: $5.43

Can’t beat a good ol’ wired connection. Should’ve bought this cable a long time ago. It really makes a difference over the wireless speed. Here’s the speeds I can get on this bad boy.

That’s all folks. It’s the most money I’ve spent in a very long time. But hopefully it’s all gonna pay off and I’ll be using this computer for decades to come. I bought a certain something else at this same time, but I’ll save that for a different article.

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