[25/12/2016 - merry christmas!]
This is my first time building a PC. I'm a photographer who mainly uses Lightroom 6, currently using:
Macbook Pro 13" Retina 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5 8Gb 1867 MHz DDR3 Intel Iris Graphics 6100 1536 MB 500gb Aura (OWC hard drive)
As my workflow has significantly increased and I've found some time to spend on a project, I decided to try and build a photo editing computer. After looking into multiple options, including buying a Mac Pro, a 27" iMac, a 15" Macbook Pro, a Dell XPS 15" laptop and even a Dell XPS Tower - I thought, why not try and build my own (for hopefully a little cheaper).
I've been intrigued by the Hackintosh community, and ideally would like to try and run OS Sierra off this build - but I do understand that Hackintosh builds are not exactly known for their stability. I'd ideally be running dual Windows 10 and OS Sierra boots off this rig - will keep this page up to date with how it all works out.
The rationale behind the build was: it has to be as small as possible, and it has to be as fast as possible for Lightroom particularly - hence the 6700k CPU and 32gb ram. All of the parts had to be compatible with Hackintosh, and they all had to fit in an Elite 110 Mini ITX Tower or equivalent small case.
All of the parts have been ordered - awaiting delivery and this post will be regularly updated with:
2. The Build
3. Installing Windows 10, Lightroom6 + speed and temperature tests
4. Attempting to install and run OS Sierra
5. Attempting to install a dual boot OS on an M.2 hard drive
6. Ongoing stability reports
[EDIT 19/01/2017] Build Complete!
Soz I don't know why I thought this would be noteworthy - it's not.
- The Build
The parts came and the main build was fairly simple. There's heaps of support online for building your first computer, although there were a few things that I didn't know that weren't very obvious to me:
- which instruction manual do I follow? I found it most helpful to follow the case [CM Elite 11] instruction manual as the main guide to the build, then the motherboard manual.
- do the hard drives need power from the PSU? Yes they do. This was confusing because 2.5" drives can be powered via usb, and I wasn't exactly sure where that power was coming from. The information cable obviously goes to the motherboard, and it receives power via the PSU.
- will stuffing the case with cables mean no airflow? I'm not sure yet. The computer has been running pretty smooth and at safe temperatures so far. I've left it on for a few days and it's done some pretty intense work going through benchmarks, photo editing and trying to install an OS. Will post some real figures in the next update.
- how do I use my graphics card? With windows, it was very basic - just use the motherboard HDMI output to screen first, install the driver, restart, then can use the graphics card. Hackintosh was a bit trickier, I basically followed this guide: Method for enabling Nvidia web drivers I also used Clover Configurator to edit the config.plist, instead of chopping and changing code manually. This proved to be the easiest and most reliable way to get everything working.
Overall - everything fits smugly, as you can see from the photos. It all fits! I may order custom cables soon just to neaten everything up, but other than that, the cable management is basically - where can you tuck a cable lol.
Installing Windows 10, Lightroom6 + speed and temperature tests [next update]
Attempting to install and run OS Sierra [next update]
5. Attempting to install a dual boot OS on an M.2 hard drive
After a bit of research, I found that the speed gains for installing Windows OS on an NVME drive were minimal. The main speed gains come from large file transfer, ie. video files or entire catalogs. As I do very little video work, and wouldn't have enough money to buy large NVMEs anyway I thought I'd just go with 2 SSDs instead to boot each OS. This works perfectly and runs extremely quickly.
Start time for Windows:
Start time for Mac OS:
- Ongoing stability reports [next update]
I wasn't sure whether or not it would be worth the extra money to go with the 6700k, when the 6600k was showing some great results. I can't say for certain as I don't have a 6600k, but I knew that if I didn't get the 6700k I'd always be craving more.
I'm well satisfied wit the 4.0ghz, turbo boosted to about 4.4ghz with a bit of playing around but am running it at normal clock for the dual boot OS as I'm still not sure how stable the Hackintosh is just yet. Will play with the overclocking once the OS proves to be stable enough.
Can't complain, yes it is pricey but its damn fast. Kabylakes just became publicly available, but there's no support for them yet and there probably wouldn't be any stable support for them for a while which is why I didn't get the 7700k.
I thought using this cooler would allow for easier cable management given I'm using such a small box. Look - it's significantly better than a vertically mounted fan so I can't complain, but it is a very tight squeeze with the pipes. I ended up twisting the pipes so that they fit above and below the PSU. The CPU stays at a very safe temperature under load, and I haven't had anywhere close to unsafe temperatures yet (normal clock) Will post real temps next time.
2.7g of paste is heaps ! I ended up replacing the thermal paste on 2 old computers which lowered their CPU running temp by about 10 degrees! The old paste hadn't been changed for 7 years so you can imagine why.
No complaints at all with this board - works perfectly with the Hackintosh build. Sound is really crystal clear and pushes strong and clear through my Logitech z623's. Might upgrade to audio engines or KRKs. Will update on sound quality if this happens.
The WiFi is great and reliable, no need for an additional card, and all of the ports are so handy. Potentially a usb type C would be nice, but not essential for me right now anway.
Super fast RAM. Well worth the money when I'm running Lightroom, playing music, have a browser open and am exporting an album whilst scrolling through RAW files.
They're the most popular consumer SSD for a reason, stable, reliable and fast.
Ya - I cheaped out on the graphics card because I'm not a gamer and I mainly wanted it to be able to push the 4k monitor when editing photos. This proves well with all of those tasks and even performed pretty well with Heaven benchmarking. Will post results later.
Such a tiny little case ! I was really uncertain whether everything would fit, but everything fits! Even the giant fan and radiator that comes with the H60. With custom cables, the case would look a lot more spacious - Build quality is excellent, and holes in all the right places.
Very very nice and quiet.
Oh damn this screen is so nice. The stand is pretty wobbly so I'll be upgrading to a desktop VESA mount soon.