Video on deconstructing and reconstructing this PC (and more).
Updates to the Overclocking section, CPU clock speed, and thermal margins posted (2/6/17)
Version 2.1 (2/22/17) Pictures 1 and 101-109
Bought some more RAM because I'm now starting to run out of it when I'm stressing my system. Also bought some new fans to replace my SP120 on the H55 because the SP120 is just terrible when it comes to noise.
My, oh my. Things have certainly changed since 1 year ago, when I posted the original version of this PC featuring an A10-7700K overclocked to 4GHz and a GTX 950. Over the course of this past year I have been slowly, but surely, upgrading parts in this system. You can look at the build updates I posted on the original build, this in case you missed it.
Also in this past year, I have learned a lot. I mean, a lot. Asking the me of a year ago a question about a part choice (or something similar) would give you a very different answer than the me of today (most likely, I knew something back then but not much).
Just before posting this build last year, I created my technology-focused YouTube channel which has just recently passed 60 subscribers. I'll admit that I haven't done much on that channel yet, however I'm going to start uploading to it more often. This channel is also one of the main reasons why I needed a CPU upgrade.
Also, enjoy the (hopefully) improved picture quality of my new phone; the BLU VIVO 5R. :)
Upgrades from version 1 to version 2
I asked for and got the 8320e as a Christmas gift. I'll be getting the obligatory "Why didn't you wait for Zen or get Skylake?!" comment if I don't address it right here: I need these 4 extra cores to help me run VMs and edit videos. I also didn't want to have to ask for DDR4 RAM (or buy it myself, since I have very little money right now) - that's too expensive for me. The A10 will now handle the Minecraft server that I run for a small group of PCPP users (and their friends) on its own. Having that job moved to a seperate PC takes a nice load off of my main PC and will allow me to shut down/restart my PC and allow people to continue playing on the server. Perfect.
Cooler: Corsair H55 AIO CLLC (no change)
For now, I'll continue to use this AIO CLLC on this CPU and use the stock cooler on the A10, since this PC needs the better cooling more than the server does. However, somewhere down the line I'll end up investing in an HSF like the Scythe FUMA to cool the CPU even more.
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-F2A88XN-WIFI to ASRock 970A-G/3.1
Already loving this board (typing most of this description Christmas Day only mere hours after getting this board and CPU, lol) just because of how it looks. A big issue I had with my Gigabyte board was it's ugly and (IMO) poorly laid out BIOS. I had to look through many parts of the BIOS to find certain necessary features, such as disabling/enabling the iGPU (due to it limiting the amount of RAM I could use, even with my 950 or 380x installed). Another nice thing about this board is an M.2 slot (which will likely never be used).
RAM: EVGA SC 8GB DDR3-1866 (no change)
Great RAM that I've used the whole year and 3 months I've had it. RAM is RAM though, so pick what you want and what looks good to you - it often doesn't make much of a difference.
Storage: Samsung 850 EVO 120GB and WD Blue 1TB (no change)
These drives have worked great. My only problems with the SSD are: 1. It costed $60... prices on 240GB SSDs are now very close to it and some are even cheaper than the 850 EVO, and 2. 120GB is not enough for me. Good thing I've got the 1TB drive. I seriously doubt that 120GB is enough for an SSD being used by someone who wants to store some of their games on it.
I sold the 950 about a month ago to my cousin, and with a little bit more money I bought an open-box R9 380X for $130 after taxes. All my driver issues have disappeared, and now that ReLive is out, I feel no need to go back to NVIDIA. However, that doesn't mean I won't recommend an NVIDIA GPU.
One reason: size. I can't exactly fit an ATX motherboard inside my cute little Core V1, so I spent my Christmas money on a new case. I've worked in this one before - great case for the price. Not the best, but not clearly not very cheaply made. I may end up doing an in-depth case review for it too, but most likely not.
PSU: EVGA W1 430W to EVGA GQ 650W
More wattage headroom in case I needed to swap in a more power-hungry GPU or 2 to test. Back in July way before I was even considering selling my GTX 950, I decided to buy this power supply so I wouldn't be limited in my upgrade choices in that regard. The only reason I was able to get it was because I couldn't decide what to get at the Wisconsin Dells as a souvenir, so this is my souvenir, I guess. Lol
OS: Windows 10 Pro (no change)
I got this from my grandparents as a birthday present last year. Provides update control over Home so I don't have to worry about it updating in the middle of something important for no reason. After all, it's happened to many people before, and I didn't want that to happen to me. Thanks, Microsoft, for your broken updating system.
Software: Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 (no change)
I originally got this way back in 2014 before building this PC so I could do some of the work for church at home, or maybe create something of my own. This has come in handy with my YouTube channel, as I need graphs for benchmark data, and I can use it for record keeping. I realize now that I could've just used LibreOffice, but I'm totally fine with this. It was $140, I'm going to get my money's worth. Lol
Monitors: 2x HP 27vx 1080p IPS monitors, Hanns.G HW173D monitor, Insignia 720p Television, and Dell UltraSharp 4:3 Monitor (removed)
I use the HP 27vx monitors as my main monitors for doing nearly everything. The Hanns.G monitor is used for testing and repairing systems I build and does the job well. The Insignia TV is hooked up to my PC, however I only use that connection occasionally for playing something like Rocket League or Portal 2. The Dell monitor was used for... nothing until I gave it to the owner of FROMSCRAP as well as the Microsoft keyboard/mouse combo because they were in a pinch and needed them.
KB/M: BlueFinger Multi-Color Gaming Keyboard and Mouse Combo to (same keyboard) and Redragon M602 Mouse
The mouse I was originally using had a very bad scroll wheel, to the point where most people couldn't even stand to use it. I was happy to see the M602 pleased me upon arrival and worked perfectly right away. It pleased me enough to make a video review - that video has brought my channel the most views out of any other video I've ever made. I'd be happy to recommend the M602 to anyone (as long as they're right handed, lol). The keyboard is nothing special at all. I was hoping to replace it with the money I got for Christmas this year, but that got spent on something else in the build cough the case cough. Oh well, it works.
The other keyboard and mouse combination has changed to a Dynex keyboard and Inland mouse, which work fine.
Headphones: Sentey GS-4731 headphones (no change)
Great headphones for $40. Sentey makes good budget products, they just aren't well known. I would easily recommend these too, however they are USB only. The microphone is decent, although I'd pick the NW-700 over the headset microphone any day.
Speakers: Insignia 2.1ch 3-piece Speaker System to Logitech Z213
The Insignia speakers just randomly gave out. Got the Z213 set for my birthday this year. Great speakers for only $25. These have yet to give out.
Webcam: Logitech C525 720p Webcam (no change)
An OK webcam that works, but isn't nearly as good as a C920/C922. I'd recommend this if you're on a tight budget, but not if you have an expandable budget that could fit a C920/C922 which are much better.
The NW-700 gave a much better sound quality than the Meteorite did, so I'm keeping the Meteorite for travel since it's still a great microphone. The original reason I wanted the NW-700 was because I wanted a real microphone setup I could upgrade later on.
Custom Desk and Shelves, added a second desk
I've gotten a second desk from my sisters. I use it for pretty much everything I can't fit on my main desk. It works well and is fully custom made by my mom. It isn't very big, but it certainly helps me out a lot.
Raspberry Pi Model B and B+ (no longer have the B here)
The Model B has been moved to church to work with THESILENCE on music for each week. It runs Volumio and uses the PC as its storage for all the music. The setup works wonderfully. The B+ is currently not in use, as I haven't found a use for it yet, however I will certainly try to find one. Probably will be used as a travel PC for long-distance trips. All it'd need to do is play movies and TV shows (which the Model B proved itself to be able to do so when we brought it with to the Wisconsin Dells).
(New) Minecraft Server PC
From the CPU section of this build:
The A10 will now handle the Minecraft server that I run for a small group of PCPP users (and their friends) on its own. Having that job moved to a seperate PC takes a nice load off of my main PC and will allow me to shut down/restart my PC and allow people to continue playing on the server. Perfect.
I got this CPU to 4.2GHz before finding out I was doing it wrong. Whoops. I'll wait for the new cooler before doing more overclocking. The GPU hasn't been able to overclock much at all, so I really don't see a point in keeping it running on an overclock when stock will do just fine.
I did some work on overclocking this CPU for 2 days. In the end, I got it stable at 4.3GHz @ 1.3625V, and 4.5GHz @ 1.45V (at lower voltages, cores 4 and 8 kept failing under Prime95). The 4.5GHz overclock, however, is too much for my poor H55, and it thermal throttles badly.
As of writing this, I'm going to buy tomtomj2's old Arctic Liquid Freezer 240 when I get some more money in the upcoming weeks. I'll be updating the thermal margins again when that comes. Would've been great if he hadn't decided to use it in his PC again.
A note on the CPU temperatures on the left
These are thermal margins, not actual temperatures.
|Game||Settings||Min. FPS||Avg. FPS||Avg. Power Draw|
|Star Wars: Battlefront 2015||Ultra, 1080p||21||66||310W|
|Rocket League||Very High Quality, 8x FXAA, 1080p||80||92||290W|
|Portal 2||Highest possible settings, 1080p||0 (I have no idea why)||342||300W|
|Program||Settings||Time Taken (MM:SS)||Avg. Power Draw|
|Sony Vegas Pro 13||02:47 (MM:SS) project file, Sony AVC/MVC 1080-30p MP4||06:10||215W|
|Idle||No programs running||N/A||73W|
The SP120 needs to go. While I had my system running outside of the case, I was able to figure out that every other component in my PC makes hardly any noise... but the SP120 is a jet engine. If the rebates on the case and motherboard come back, I'm either getting the Scythe Fuma or just some Fractal Design Venturi HP120 fans for the H55 (most likely the Fuma)As of V2.1, good riddance to the SP120. I bought 2 Cryorig QF120 Performance fans that move as much air as a blow-dryer. I'm not kidding, they are top notch fans for only $13 a piece.
- The 120GB limit of SSD storage on my PC is really starting to show that I need more... one day this 850 EVO will go in my old laptop, to run Linux. The laptop mainly serve as a basic web browsing machine for on the go for me since I've got this big behemoth that is an ATX mid-tower case.
This section will be updated as time goes on...
Yeah, 5 stars for a now 5 year old CPU. I really like the upgrade, and being able to reach 4.2GHz (even though I was overclocking incorrectly). Ryzen is almost here but I'm fine with it. I don't care as much about gaming performance as I do about multithreaded performance (and how many threads it has anyway, due to me running VMs). It works well, and I got it as a Christmas present... so I'm not going to complain.
Blech. The fan that comes with it (what I was using before) is a jet engine whether it's at idle or at load, and is a 3pin fan. The thermal performance of this cooler isn't all that astounding either, coming in at around the performance of a Cryorig M9i/a or H212 EVO according to reviews. Not worth the $60 that it usually is, but this cooler was one of the best you could get for an mITX system in a Core V1, and it was a birthday gift from a friend. It still does better than stock, but it's just meh. I hope to get a much better cooler soon with the MIRs in a few months.
My dad got this at the same time he got the 8320e for me as a Christmas present. It's $10 after the $40 Micro Center combo discount and $30 MIR. $100 total and I got an upgrade that costs only as much as an i3 by itself.
The actual board? I have absolutely no complaints about it. Others may hate the red, but I don't really mind it. This board comes with 2 CPU fan headers and 4 system fan headers (CPU1, SYS2 and SYS4 headers are all PWM, the others are 3pin headers). It supports the 9590 and 9370 (if for some reason you wanted to do that).
RAM is RAM. End of story.
I don't really see this as enough storage for my main programs, seeing as how I have only 6-8GB of storage left on this drive at a given time. I don't see how this can be enough space for anyone who decides to put a few games on here too... consider something bigger for $60. Performance is alright though.
It works. It's big enough. $40 at Micro Center last year. Good deal on a good drive. Performs alright. The Seagate alternative is no worse.
Got this at Micro Center open box for $130 this past November. It's a good card, and was a great upgrade from my not so great $200 ASUS GTX 950.
Decent case with decent build quality, except....
You shouldn't need the manual to build a computer.
After a few builds, you don't really need it. But this case would be a nightmare for first time builders, simply because of the lack of a somewhat better manual. You may as well throw the manual out the window, cause it's not like you're going to learn much other than how many screws there are and what everything is.
No, I didn't forget to mention that it tells you what the screws are for. That's because it doesn't tell you that. No mention of threading, even.
Also, there are some motherboards with the need for more standoffs than this provides - such as my ASRock 970A-G/3.1. The case only gives you 7 standoffs, but gives you 13 screws for the motherboard and whatever else in the case uses these screws. I needed 8, so I grabbed the box I had with the Cooler Master N200's screws and standoffs and grabbed a standoff and screw so I would have all 8 installed on the board. Imagine being a first time builder. Oh well, not enough standoffs. They don't have any spares from other cases. Then this supposed first-timer might be scared of not enough standoffs being installed.
On top of this, they also don't tell you how the fan mounts in the front worked. I ended up stripping one of the original fan screws from the back fan when I moved it to the front because I couldn't figure it out at first. I guess they were assuming you would look at the other fan to see how to install it first. They seem to make you imply and guess a lot.
Ironically, even the N200 (which is $40, $20 cheaper than this) has a better manual, and is made by the same company, but released 3 going on 4 years ago.
Seriously Cooler Master, I feel like this wasn't completely thought through. Mainly the manual is the reason for giving this only 3 stars.
It works well. Semi-modular. Well-reviewed. Costed $75 on Amazon at the time. 650W is more than I may ever need.
Recently I've been liking this OS less and less. Unfortunately this is necessary for a lot of what I do.
Not perfect but gets the job done. I got this back in 2014 because I didn't really like the free alternatives back then for some reason. I don't really regret this though.
Looks nice, but it's a jet engine just like the original fan on the H55 I had. Not worth the $15. Get an Aerocool DS fan instead of this.
Works well. They were a Christmas present from the previous Christmas (2015). Very nice. IPS. Even though they have a 7ms response time, that doesn't really matter for who these are geared towards.
Meh. They work well, but the sound is weird sometimes if I'm fiddling with the cord. I'll upgrade these when I feel the need to.
Got these for my birthday this year. I'm very pleased. For $25, these are great speakers. My only complaint is that the 3.5mm jack speaker wire isn't long enough to reach the subwoofer on the floor when the speakers are 4 feet apart. Get a simple 3.5mm extension cable if you need to.
These work EXTREMELY well and are DEFINITELY worth the $20 they cost. Magnetic strips, 30cm each, RGB (controlled via a small remote), and with various lighting effects. Very nice.
Good $14 mouse. I've reviewed this mouse here more in-depth.
The mouse broke after nearly 2 years of use, so I bought the Redragon M602. The keyboard is average, the mousepad isn't very good for tracking. Replaced the mousepad with a $10 extended mousepad (review) before the mouse and tracking greatly improved. The keyboard doesn't move around anymore either, so that's nice.