Date built: 18th of March.
Hello, dear pcpartpicker friends. I put this rig together with one goal in mind - to game. Quite mainstream, heh? Just like the build itself. It bugs me as well just how mainstream it is, but oh well. Couldn't justify spending my and my parents' money just for the sake of not being mainstream. Yes, I am still a student. And although I get summer jobs, the funds for this were saved during the period of 6 months from my allowance. I spent every penny I had saved on this. No regrets.
Building the computer itself was pretty fun and I didn't come across any difficulties aside from installing the cooler. That was probably the most satisfying part as well as managing the cables at the back. Oh, and overclocking. It's more fun than gaming! ^
I initially built it with an xfx 650W and it was h.e.a.v.y. Just the PSU weighed more than my entire previous build probably. Had to return that one though. The fan noise was not acceptable for me. At idle or gaming it was the same - twice as loud as anything else.
My girlfriend filmed most of the building process, so I might upload the unpackaging and building with some notes of my experience with the parts on YouTube. Leave a comment if you'd thing you'd want to see that.
If you have any questions, sensible criticism or want more pictures, a video or just like/dislike the build or description, please leave a comment.
P.S. Most of the pictures have the XFX PSU, which I replaced with the EVGA G2(can be seen on the last pictures).
I also kind of failed the pea method. Not a perfect dot, but it does the job quite well, I'd say.
The cat slept through most of it. After I refused to let him have the Core 2300 as a cat treehouse, he lost interest in the building process. Still uses the case as a scratching post from time to time though. He likes the mesh covers for the fans and the EVGA sticker.
P.P.S CPU temperatures were recorded after 25 minutes of AIDA 64. GPU temperatures after 10 minutes of Far Cry 4.
Unigine Heaven 61.7 @1080p, Tessalation, Quality, etc Maxed out. 1.501GHz+8.210GHz
11 074 Firestrike (1080p) Score 13 592 Graphics score 9 403 Physics score 5 152 Combined Score
Achieved at @4.7GHz core @1.3v, 2.1 VRIN, LLC Turbo, rest default and 1.501(+135) GHz on the core and 8.414 GHZ(+700) on the VRAM. 110% power target, default voltage, custom fan curve.
Best CPU for gaming at the moment. Haven't had it break a sweat yet in any game that I've played. Usually stays around 40-50% load while gaming with the highest thread at 70%. I've OCed it to a stable 4.5GHz @ 2.45v. The voltage was the tricky part. I initially had it stable @ 1.21v tested with AIDA. However while I was Folding@Home(google it, I recommend it) it crashed after 10-15 minutes or so. So I decided to test stability with Prime 95. Took 1.232v to get it stable in Small FFT with an average temp of 90C and a peak of 93C. However, when tested with Prime 95's Blend test it crashes even with 1.442v, so I have it running at a stable 1.445v. I've set the VRIN to either 2.05v or 2.1v, the rest is at default. I tried to OC the uncore as well, but no matter the RING voltage it didn't seem to go too well, so I've left that at default as the gains from OCing the Uncore are marginal and I don't have the time for it at the moment. I did actually expect to run stable 4.5GHz at 1.2v, but I guess I am using to rigorous a test to establish such a low voltage as stable. The CPU does run @4.7GHz with 1.3v, but 4.8 requires more, which I am not willing to provide, at the moment. I keep it at a daily 4.5GHz 1.245v
An absolute legend. Anyone, who cares about price/performance should look no further. Keeps the CPU @71C when it's running at 4.5GHz @ 1.245v during AIDA64. Naturally it's rubbish, when you test it with Prime95, but I'm yet to see any real world software, which would come anywhere close in temperatures to Prime95. During games it usually keeps the CPU in the 50s/60s.
I do think that this is the best investment to make if you care about price/performance or sheer performance. Luckily I think I managed to get a good application from the first try. Pea size folks. It's not a 10 core Xeon, so even 3/4 of a pea will do. Less is more. You really need tiny amounts to cover the die, once the heatsink has squished it all. I didn't spread or anything. I don't think a credit card is smoother than the heatsink. I'm just leaving myself open to air bubbles, which have adverse effects on temps.
The price of an FM2+ board, right? I'd actually say you get a bit more than what you pay for, but not much. Took me a few days to properly understand how to apply settings in BIOS. Apparently you don't need to press the Apply button to apply settings. No idea what that big Apply button is for at all. However, it's the same BIOS for all Gigabyte boards, aside from the top range ones.
What I also think it's lacking is SLI support. I had no intention to SLI that 970, until I heard about what Directx12 might be able do to. If it would let me have 3.5+3.5=7GB of VRAM, then a second hand 970 for £200 might be a fairly decent upgrade for this, once DirectX12 is out. There is an absolutely insane driving issue that this motherboard has. The PWM headers are in the bl**dy middle of the motherboard. Right between the GPU and the Heatsink. Worst place in the world to have any header(aside from CPU fan headers, maybe, just maybe). Took me a good 20 minutes just to connect my two Akasa fans.
Another gripe that I have with this motherboard is that I can't find how to regulate the speed for the 3 pin fan header(this one at least is to the side of the motherboard, where it should be). So the two 120mm Fractal case fans that came with the case were running @ 100% until recently, when I got 12v to 6v cables and now they run at 50% all the time. I would rather have it go down, when the temp is low (maybe even off, like the AKASA fans do) and then ramp up, when there's a reason to. I did update the BIOS and I found the fan settings in it, but there's settings only for the two PWM fans and for the CPU fan. The third case fan header goes completely undetected.
I do also get pretty bad coil whine through my speakers. Nothing, when the speakers are disconnected, but quite annoying, when I'm playing Far Cry 4. So I was thinking maybe if I get a new motherboard, I won't get coil whine through my speakers/headphones.
I did OC it to 1800mhz with 9-9-9-24 timings, but it failed memtest. Haven't tried increasing the DRAM voltage. Tried 1866, but it straight up refuses to boot with it or any higher.
I had this SSD from previous build. So this was purchased back in December 2014, when SSDs of the like where selling for £80+ I can't recommend getting an SSD for the OS/Browser/etc enough. It's whole new level of responsiveness. Best SSD price/performance wise. The Evo might be faster, but it also comes at a high premium.
What a beast. Managed +150 on the core, which showed 1.516GHz during benchmarking. Increasing the voltage to +35(maximum Evga's Precision lets me do) didn't let me do +160MHz so I decided to not fiddle with the voltage. It refused to run stable with any memory increase even at +140mhz, so I tried 135mhz on the core and +100 on the memory. Passed. Tried 135 and 200. Passed. 135 +300, passed. So I was pretty happy with this, but just wanted to know how much it would do. +700Mhz on the memory+135mhz on the core and it ran stable. Tried +800 and +750, but it failed both. That means 8.4Ghz memory 1.5GHz core. With no back plate and with the front heatsink not even touching the memory modules or the VRMs as far as I know.... Pretty insane. Either I hit the lottery or EVGA is king.
My old Zotac 970 wouldn't do more than +200 on the memory and +240 on the core. Resulted in around 1.45 ghz and 7.4 GHz. But this not only OCes better, but it also runs much cooler and quieter. To keep the Zotac under 70C, the fans would have to spin at 3.5k RPM. This one keeps it at 71-72c, OCed like a truck with 1500 RPM or so. The fans are off most of the time anyway. Even when I play League of Legends. Fans off and temps in the 50s. I've set a custom fan curve, where the fans don't move until it hits 60C and then scale up to 2800RPM if need be, to keep the GPU under 75C, so that it stays at its maximum boost. I don't get coil whine while gaming from the card itself, but I can hear it through my speakers. So I'm not sure whether to return the GPU or the motherboard. I would much rather return the motherboard, given how good this GPU overclocks.
I went with the 970 over the 290x as they are the same price here in the UK, and the 970 outperforms the 290x @ 1080p in most games. Especially in Far Cry 4, which is the most demanding game that I play. And it would cost me about £20 more to get the Sapphire 290x. I do not plan to upgrade to 4k in the next couple of years, so no I will not die because of my 970 not having enough VRAM to play League @ 5k. My screen upgrade plan is to go for 144hz 1ms. Whether it be 1080p or 1440p depends on how much money I will earn from my summer job this year. Hopefully I get one.
An absolute bargain. 120mm rear exhaust, 2x140 slots at the top, 140mm bottom slot, 140mm side slot, 2x140mm front slots. Support for radiators left right and center. I think I might be able to do a 240mm slimtop+280mm thick front+120mm thick rear, if I wanted to do a custom loop. It comes with two 120mm fractal fans preinstalled, which I would say is more than plenty for your average, non OC gaming rig. It has got dust filters bottom and front, but lacks such at the top, side and rear. I've covered the top so that cat hair doesn't rain into the case, and the rear is exhaust, so that's fine, but I'm not too sure about the 140mm side slot. There's no noise isolation material there, nor dust filter. Just a mesh, meaning that I can hear all the fans inside as if the side panel was off.
The space behind the tray for cable management is reasonable. I would say pretty good for this budget, but compared to more expensive cases, rather tight. The SSD mount is certainly useful, but make sure you have a straight SATA data and power connector, as my initial PSU(XFX) only had a 90 degree plug, which as you might imagine, was impossible to plug in to the SSD mounted at the back. I wish there was one or two more slots there, but alas.
For £34 having an SSD slot behind the tray is quite something to begin with. The vertical SSD/HDD cage I find is very practical. Leaves room for huge GPUs/Cable management/bottom fan/ thick push/pull front radiator, while still being able to house 3xHDDs+3x(+1 behind the mobo tray) SSDs. Perfect case for a single GPU, but I think a second GPU might run a bit tight for air with how close it would be to the PSU. Best buy for the money.
I am quite pleased with the G2's Eco switch though. Go, team EVGA. I can simply switch it while using the PC and all it does is turn off the fan, if the system is not pulling enough power to make the PSU hot. With a maximum power draw of about 350W while gaming, I doubt it ever spins.
To those, who will criticise the PSU as being too powerful: The CPU can pull upwards of 170W, when overclocked, and the 970 has been shown to pull way more power than stated by NVidia. So worst case scenario power draw for this build could well be in the high 500s. I was initially looking for a 600W PSU, but this was the cheapest that met my other criteria, so I went with it. Didn't see a point in spending more just to get less W.
These fans... Look them up. I was a bit skeptical whether they would truly match the numbers Akasa has posted for them. They do. I have not measured them with professional grade hardware, but from my personal experience: they are quiet, push a lot of air and I wouldn't doubt the static pressure they are claiming. However, bear in mind: these fans are as unorthodox as it gets, when it comes to mounting. First off, they are not 140mm. They are 145mm. So they might not even fit in same cases. I had to cram one them really hard into the 140mm slot in the front of my case. Second: they have fan mounts spaced for a 120mm fan. So if you have a fan slots, which is not 140/120mm, but just 140mm, well - you're partially screwed. And even if it's 120mm/140mm you are still screwed most likely. The 120mm mounts on my case where not centered, but rather slightly to the side so as to allow better radiator compatibility. Well, that means that I've got my front fan just crammed into the front slot with no mounts whatsoever. Frankly though it's crammed so tight, I think it's less likely to move than the 120mm one that's screwed in. Oh, and they don't come with screws. Rubber 'screws' only. Can be useful though, as I had my bottom fan mounted just through the mesh with the rubber ones. Wouldn't have worked so well with proper screws.
In short: They are fabulous fans, but make sure you'll be able to mount them. 145mm fans with 120mm mounts. They perform about twice/thrice as good as corsair 140mm fans and cost half as much. Definitely a recommendation from me, if you can fit them.