This build started as a Mad Max machine - a lot of power in a package that looked like hell. With my budget limitations, I assembled it piece by piece, using some reclaimed parts until the prices dropped on the parts I wanted. I’m good at waiting for sales. But since I didn’t get everything at once, the build went through a few iterations.
When you view the slide show, you are seeing a progression over 6 months of buying new parts.
I wanted a workstation that I could use for gaming. This is my personal machine. I use it for video editing, rendering, storage, gaming, and everything else I do. And I multi-task. So the Ryzen 2700X was a good choice. I wanted to be able to render videos and have a few cores left over to continue working on other things. That's what I got, and it does great.
The Old Parts
Radeon RX480 - Feb 2017. It broke late that year. This may have been my scariest hardware moment. GPU prices had just shot through the roof from the cryptocurrency boom, and the 480 I bought for $189 would have cost $400 to replace. There was no way I could afford that. Luckily, XFX accepted my RMA and sent me a new RX580. It's only the 4GB version, but it's holding me over.
8TB HGST - April 2018. Now, it's about 60% full.
Mionix Castor - Christmas in 2017.
Sandisk SSD - Christmas in 2016.
Noctua CPU Cooler - June 2016. It was a going-away present from my coworkers at the IT place where I used to work.
Icy Dock 2.5” hot swap bays - April 2016. This has been incredibly useful. I have a 1TB drive I swap between my laptop and desktop.
4TB HGST hard drive - April 2016.
Gigabyte wifi card - March 2016.
Varmilo VB87M keyboard - February 2016.
Crossover 324K UHD monitor - sometime in spring 2016.
Focusrite Forte - back in 2014. I was debating whether to include it in the part list, since it’s not really part of the rig. But it is my daily driver for a sound card, and that thing can crank out some accurate sound waves. It's a beautiful thing.
The New Parts
My main purchase happened this past July (2018). It cost a total of $800 between the CPU, Motherboard, RAM, and PSU.
The 2700X was a match for my workload, and it had a good price to performance ratio, even when it was brand new.
The MSI X470 motherboard was the right balance of cost and performance.
RAM was still expensive when I made the purchase. I got a 16GB kit for about $180.
The power supply was an easier selection than I thought it would be. I like EVGA, and I wanted all of the ports that the G2 series had. I also wanted to have plenty of room to expand with storage devices. 750W is overkill at the moment, but I might get a high end GPU in a year. I also want to feel comfortable overclocking.
The Original Road Warrior Look
The original case that I used was free. It was a trashed PC case we received from one of our customers when I worked IT in 2016. Most of the plastic parts were broken, but the steel frame was perfect. I put some padding and fabric around the front part and had myself a carry handle. Win.
The downside was that there was no front I/O, power switch, or even hard drive bays. However, there were plenty of 5.25” bays down the front, so I just got some cheap 5.25” hard drive bays. I had to "modify" one of them to allow room for some cables to pass through the holes in the case. Take a look at the picture of the cable management and you will see that it was not a good time.
Since it had no power switch, I bought a standard switch and tied the button end close to the top inside the case where I could reach in and press it. No one could have figured out how to turn my computer on, but I guess that's a good thing.
I built the desk in October of last year. The frame is just made of 2x4s and the top is joined 5/4" pine. It was a fun project, and it's the perfect size and height.
The cable management rack made a huge difference. Get that cable management going! Or your setup will suck.
The New Refined Look
The case was the hardest decision of this whole build. The carry handles and two 5.25" bays sold me on the MasterCase MC500P. It's really the only case at this price point and quality level that has them, and I use them a lot.
I was surprised this Christmas with the second 16GB RAM kit. I'm old, which means that I expect to pay more for presents for other people than I expect to receive myself, so that was a huge surprise.
The rig is running great, but there have been issues.
The biggest issue was with XMP when I put all 32GB of RAM in. The motherboard did not run stably at the 3200MHz XMP setting with all four RAM slots populated. The BIOS would boot, but Windows would continually fail to boot or BSoD. It actually corrupted my Windows installation and I had to do a fresh install. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. I thought that the new RAM may have been bad, but that wasn't the case. The original 16GB of RAM ran perfectly at 3200MHz for 6 months. The new sticks did the same when they were installed by themselves. But the motherboard didn't like running memory at that speed with 32GB installed. Let me know if anyone else had this same issue. Maybe there are some voltage and timing settings that can solve it. For now, it is running fine at the 2933MHz XMP setting with a minimal hit to performance.
The other issues are related to Ryzen 2. A number of software utilities still read the CPU temperature as 10 degrees C hotter than what it really is. I think MSI's Control Center is still reading it wrong in some cases. At the moment, it lists the correct temperature, but the fans start kicking on 10 degrees earlier than I set them for.
It's a sweet processor that does what they say it will do. Just make sure you choose RAM that is on the approved list for your motherboard. There were some compatibility issues with some types of RAM.
This was the right balance of cost and performance for my budget. I wanted to sustain a moderate overclock for forever. There is only a small chance that I will Crossfire a couple GPUs at some point, but who knows. I needed a lot of SATA ports, which some motherboards were surprisingly short on.
I have had a couple problems with it. It won't run the 3200MHz XMP setting when 32GB of memory are installed. It can run it just fine with 16GB installed. Maybe I have to adjust some settings. It is running fine at 2933MHz, which performs just fine.
Also, the fans won't respond to the CPU temperature accurately. MSI's Control Center utility can read the temperature just fine, but the fans still spool up 10 degrees before they are set to.
It's been cranking hard for 3 years now without a hiccup. The prices have definitely come down since then, so they are a good buy.
It makes some noise and takes a while to spool up, but it will last forever.
Ditto - It makes some noise and takes a while to spool up, but it will last forever.
This doesn't have the most amazing cooler. The cooler on the EVGA GTX 950 had much more surface area. Still, the rest of the package is great. We'll see how it overclocks after replacing the thermal paste with liquid metal from Thermal Grizzly.
The case has a great fit and finish. It has an elegant look that doesn't scream, "I am a gamer." It is a solid case, and it fits everything well. Cable management is good, even with all of the random wires I have going around.
Tell PC case manufacturers that carry handles should be more common. This was a major selling point for me. If I slide the magnetic mesh top off, I have two handles I can grab it by to move it to my car. The thing weighs 40lbs fully loaded, so I wouldn't want to carry it around without something to grab onto. I do take it to places quite frequently. Also, I wanted to keep my hot swap bay and optical drive (which will hopefully be upgraded to blu ray sometime), so I am very happy to have the two 5.25" bays.
There are a couple things with the layout that aren't perfect, but that's about the same for every case. There isn't a case out there that is tailored perfectly to everyone's space requirements.
The main selling point for the G2 over EVGA's other models was the number of accessory and VGA outputs. If you need to hook up a lot of hard drives and utilities, it has the space. Other than that, it's a solid, reliable power supply from a reputable company.
Wireless Network Adapter
The bluetooth was unreliable for a long time in the system I first used it in. Since I moved it to my new build, it has still had a couple issues. These might be due to Windows 10 automatic driver updates. Sometimes a Windows update will knock it out.
The wifi, on the other hand, has always worked flawlessly.
There is some kind of black magic in the ergonomics of this mouse. I have it set to a very high DPI setting, (which is great paired with UHD monitors) but I still have extremely precise control.