Description

Update 2: I have made an update build that can be found here. New pictures, GPU/Wifi/Lighting reviews are there. Thank you for your comments, critiques, and recommendations!

Update: Apologies for the earlier verbose description. I have pared it down and made some adjustments based on your comments. Thanks!

Introduction: First Blood is a Ryzen red-themed entry-level performance computer built using a $750 budget and a whole lot of patience (and mistakes). I understand this isn't a perfect build, and I plan on using what I learn with First Blood to improve upon it and future builds.

Operating System: I installed Debian 9 (Stretch) with Cinnamon on the 2.5 SSD. It has been about 12 years since I have used a Linux system (early Ubuntu), and there was much unpleasantness in my thoughts for the first 48 hours. Now that I feel I have things worked out and the machine is humming, I've never been happier with an OS. The cold startup takes about 15-20 seconds, and restart takes about 10.

Upgrades for Consideration: Replace the 1050 Aero with a 1050 Ti or 1060 6 GB card here in the next little bit (I decided on the 1050 Ti - it's great for what I want, has good future-proofing, and if the kids want something beefier then they can save up for it); put an LED strip in the case for beauty (ordered, installed, and I will post a new pic when I get the 1050 Ti installed); and maybe install an m.2 SSD on the mobo, and put Windows 10 on it (still really on the fence with this one since I'm a Linux nerd now).

Statement on the Wi-Fi Card: The Rosewill wifi card was a gift from my coworker; it isn't listed anywhere, so I am unable to price it out, but I suspect it would run in the $35-50 price range new. It is a total piece of garbage though, and I replaced it with a $30 TP-Link TL-WDN4800 which has been perfect.

Statement on the GPU: I made a mistake and bought a card I didn't really want because, well, I is dumb. So far I have been very satisfied with the results of this little card (it manhandles Minecraft at max settings), but it is definitely not for the more serious gamer. I will be getting a better card shortly to future-proof the machine.

Statement on the Motherboard: This motherboard works well, but it has some rather glaring problems:

1) It's short, so the RAM, 24-pin, and USB connectors have no chassis support. Installing these was nerve-wracking.

2) Only one RAM clamp, so getting it in requires more grunt.

3) I/O cover is cheap and flimsy. Watch out for the metal tab on the HDMI hole!

4) BIOS reads a full 20 C above the actual CPU temp, and with the 3.10 BIOS update that went up to 30 C. That will screw with custom cooling profiles and may even mess with your overclocking. I recommend upgrading no further than UEFI 2.60. This seems to have affected all Ryzen chips with this board.

Final Thoughts: First Blood was a hoot to build. The NZXT case is gorgeous, the parts look great in it, and it was just plain fun to do. My kids were super excited to help me put it together, and they talk about daddy's new computer all the time. The completed build is clean and looks fantastic, it runs Debian perfectly, and I'm really proud of it. I've learned a lot along the way, and I feel stupid about some decisions, but all in all this was a great experience and the final product is the best computer I've ever owned. I am working to fix my stupid GPU selection mistake, so please keep that in mind when commenting.

Part Reviews

CPU

Champ of a processor. Missed getting it for 100 bucks, but c'est la vie. Even with the underpowered (yet very nice looking) Wraith stock cooler I haven't gotten it above 40 C, and it idles between 27 and 29 C. I thought about going for the 1200, but I'm very happy I went with the beefed up 1300X. Kudos to AMD for an amazing chip. Haven't tried overclocking yet, but I should be able to get up to 3.9 GHz with the stock cooler with this system.

Motherboard

This board performs pretty well. It looks awesome and has no problems with the RAM. It does have some glaring issues though that require me to give only 3 out of 5 stars:

1) It is not a full size ATX. The last column of standoffs aren't used, so the RAM, 24-pin, and USB cable are unsupported by the chassis. Makes installing them nerve-wracking (place a finger underneath the board for support).

2) Cheap, flimsy I/O plate with annoying tabs.

3) UEFI 2.6 CPU temp reads 20 C above the actual temp, and UEFI 3.1 reads +30 C! This screws with fan profiles and makes things inefficient. Hopefully ASRock gets their act together with a future BIOS update. For now, stick with 2.6.

Memory

This was a gamble since there were no reviews here, but I am very satisfied with this RAM. It looks awesome and had no problems getting clocked at 2667 MHz in the BIOS. This was a steal that appeared out of nowhere (and was gone just as fast). If I need to upgrade to 32 GB, I will definitely get this again.

Storage

I love this drive. So fast, so sleek, and at an awesome price. Startup in Debian 9 (Stretch) is about 20 seconds, and restart is about half that. No complications at all with the Linux system. It's the first SSD I've had in a personal computer, and I regret that.

Storage

This is The Standard. The Workhorse. You need it. Everyone needs it. Works fantastic as a storage drive to keep litter out of the SSD.

Video Card

Cute, tiny, affordable, and great for Minecraft and internetting. Produces beautiful HD images in 1080p. Fast for a 1050. Does everything it advertises, and keeps cool. Not great for the serious gamer. Can't give less than 5 stars, because it has earned them.

Case

Gorgeous. Functional. Sexy. Fantastic cable management, sufficient fan space, and designed to show off the naughty bits. Best budget case out there. I hear the glass scratches if you think unclean thoughts near it, though.

Seriously, be easy on the glass.

Power Supply

Semi-modular design was great to work with in the NZXT S340 case. Has to be installed upside-down, but I can't dock a star for that.

What I can dock a star for is the SATA power cable terminating with a right-angle connector. I had to buy a straight extension to power the SSD in the case. Boooooo.

Wireless Network Adapter

Got this as a gift, and it looks great in the build (even the magnetic-base Batman ears antenna is cool). Internet connection is trash though - barely 10 Mbps when I'm paying for 100 - and it couldn't pick up the 5 GHz band at all. Also, I kid you not, it died on me while I was typing this review and I had to do a full-on power down and remove the power cord to get the stupid thing to come back to life. Not on the market anymore, but I guess it would be about 40-50 bucks new. Ripped it out and put in a TP-Link TL-WDN4800, which worked perfectly the second I installed it.

Case Fan

Looks great, really cheap, moves air, kind of loud, no spacers provided. Fan attached to the top of the case had a little rattle that went away when I held my finger against the grill. I chopped the spacers off an old Antec fan I had and slapped them on this, and the rattle went away.

Custom

Combined both sets of Cooler Master SickleFlow fans and the stock NZXT fans using these cables to give my motherboard fan control. Works perfectly.

Custom

Extension cable. Works great. Sleeving doesn't go all the way up, though, so the colored cables kind of spoil the build theme.

Comments

  • 23 months ago
  • 3 points

Damn, thats one hell of a write-up. Well done. Looks like a solid machine, should be fun! +1

  • 23 months ago
  • 2 points

Parts selection were good except for GPU. Much better to get a higher GPU for better gaming performance. Anyhow, kudos to you!

  • 23 months ago
  • 2 points

If you are going to upgrade that gpu you should atleast get a 1070 and you don't need a liquid cooler on that 1300x it will be just a waste and your next upgrade should be a 1070 and a 1600 happy gaming bro

  • 23 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you for your feedback. I've scratched the liquid cooler off the list. I felt stupid ever since I clicked "purchase" on the 1050. Even though it has been stellar for me so far, I know it has basically no future-proofing. I am looking at a few 1060 6gb cards, with the little EVGA one at the top of my list.

  • 21 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for the notes about the RAM - not much out there on these sticks and its one of the few on my Boards Memory QVL list that doesn't cost an outrageous amount of $.

  • 23 months ago
  • 1 point

Ayyyyyy man please tell me how you got the wifi adapter to work. I bought the same thing the other day because my $3 chinese eBay USB sucks, I do not have a disk drive and the online driver download isn't working. Does it work with a disk drive? Thanks. Not gonna lie kinda saw your review on the adapter page and skipped to commenting, so if that's up there sorry lmao. From what I saw and will go back to read the build looks cool though!

  • 23 months ago
  • 1 point

The AC1200 does come with a disk, but I don't have a disk drive either. Debian had a driver already for it when I installed, and it worked from that point forward (minus the stupid thing dying on me that one time). I have heard that this card (and many others) can have some problems being recognized on Windows 10 after the Fall Creators Update. I am sorry I'm not able to help more with this.

  • 23 months ago
  • 1 point

Damn :( I might just create a Linux partition and try that, this thing is pissing me off. Thanks anyway though and enjoy your cool new build!

  • 23 months ago
  • 1 point

I wanted to give you an update. That Rosewill card was getting 1/10 the download speed, and not even picking up the 5 GHz band. I threw everything I had at getting that card to work better, and failed in every attempt. The card just stinks. I replaced it with a TP-Link TL-WDN4800 which has been perfect right out of the box. It's kind of ugly though, but it is small and unnoticeable.

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  • 23 months ago
  • 0 points

why would you get a re=yzen 3 and 16GB ram for a bad gpu i recommend youu a 1060 6gb or 1050ti 4gb but still good build

  • 23 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you for your feedback. To be frank, I made a stupid decision. The 1050 has been really great so far, but I recognize it has no future-proofing. I am looking at a few 1060 6gb cards to replace it here in the next little bit. The processor and RAM have been tremendous.