Description

[UPDATE 2] I replaced my old rubberdome keyboard with a new G.Skill KM780MX mechanical keyboard and replaced my broken Logitech headset with the Corsair Void Wireless.

[UPDATE] Since The initial build, I have purchased a 1TB Seagate HDD, as well as a 4GB Zotac GTX 960. Pictures will be added soon for the changes.

To start off a little history: I haven't owned a computer that one would consider "decent" for my daily tasks and for the date since 2007, when my family got a new store bought desktop, running Windows Vista on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 and 3GB of DDR2 (which happened to be built by cough cough EMachines. A company who I constantly hate on for the hell I went through keeping that computer working. Surprisingly enough their peripherals aren't half bad) Now I sit at a computer graveyard of a desk, housing said desktop, stripped of a few components, along with a similar desktop, an HP with an Athlon 64 x2 from 2006 which had an unknown hardware failure which resulted in it being cannibalized to keep the EMachines alive, as well as an IBM rebuild with a Pentium 3 with a dead HDD. Since 07', these have been the computers I used to "game", along with my daily driver laptop, an HP G60 with a whopping 2GB of DDR2 and a single core Celeron 900.

So fast forward to 2015. I'm the usual 16 year old of the day. Constantly online with my friends, playing games. It didn't take me long to realize I was the bottleneck of the group, limiting the group to only the games my measly laptop could run. I was desperate for some new computer to improve my dreadful gaming experience. With the help of my friends I learned all about computers and how to build my own, and eventually set off to do so.

The point of this build was not to build some fancy budget gaming rig. Hence the total lack of a GPU. The point of this was to give me a solid computer that I can upgrade over the next few years.

The Budget: Choosing parts for this computer was. Interesting. To say the least. I asked my father to give me a financial helping hand so I could build my own computer, as I am an unemployed high school student. So, thanks to my parents financial situation, my budget was nothing and infinite at the same time. We agreed that for my birthday, I would receive $10 a week until I had my computer finished. So I had to make choices not so much on price and performance, but time and performance. So. I set off to build my computer, and ended up using a budget of about $400

The Parts:

Motherboard: Asus Z170-A Shortly into the time when I was planning out the parts for this build, I realized that for my purposes It made the most sense to go with Intel's newest chipset and socket. So after a short while, I had my eyes set on this $160 beauty. (Aside from the brown traces from some angles) This is where I got a lot of peculiar looks and hate. And to be honest, for my build, this is a pretty high end board. BUT I saved $50 on it during Neweggs countdown to Black Friday sale. So for $115, this board is amazing. I was first attracted to it by its I/O, since It had good enough "future proofing" with USB 3.1, as well as its 4 different video output options. This was really good for me, since I didn't need to buy an adaptor for my VGA monitor. It also gave me great expansion options with M.2 and more than enough PCIE slots for anything I would ever use. Simply put, it is an amazing board for the price I paid, works flawlessly, has a great BIOS, and looks great with the rest of the build. My only complaint is the questionable use of brown traces.

CPU: Intel Core i3 6100 (Skylake) For quite a while I was worried about the processor, because for the longest time the prices of Skylake CPUs that weren't the flagship i56600k and i76700k were stupidly overpriced. However, eventually they became more available and the price stabilized. This CPU was a pretty easy choice, I wanted something that wasn't too pricey, because I plan on eventually upgrading to an i5 or i7, but I didn't want something that would suck in the meantime. I also wanted a CPU with Intel's HD530 Graphics so I would get the best performance in that area before I can get a dedicated GPU. Overall it works great, basically godlike compared to my old computers. My only complaint is that Ubuntu only has graphics drivers for this CPU in the latest version, which forced me to reinstall the OS after I got it all set up.

Thermal Paste: Arctic Silver 5 I bought thermal paste.. I didn't need to. I'm an idiot.

RAM: Kingston HyperX Fury Black 8GB DDR4 2400 Nothing much here. Looks good, worked fine. I was originally planning on buying the slightly cheaper 2133 mhz version, but I had a $50 Visa gift card, so I spent the extra dollar or so and only wasted 1¢ instead of almost $2.

Power Supply: EVGA 500W 80 plus This was one of the last parts that I decided on. I was originally looking at some Corsair PSUs, but at the time of purchase, this was a much better deal. 500W is more than enough for what I plan on in the near future and its 80 plus. My only complaints are these: The cables near the connectors were a bit stiff, especially the 24 pin. It made it hard to bend into the cutout. I was scared of breaking the 24 pin connector on my board. This PSU also comes with an entire cable of just Molex connectors. I'm never going to use them. Other than that. It works great. Hasn't exploded.

Case: NZXT Phantom 240 For the entire length of this build I was indecisive on the case. I decided I wanted a black and white theme so I looked to NZXT. I was stuck between the P230, H230, and the S210 E. I eventually decided that the Source 210 didn't have the future expansion options I was looking for, as well as the H230. The Phantom 240 has an interesting look that I quite like, as well as great options for cooling as well as 3 5.25 inch bays. I had little problems with this case. For some reason everyone complains about the door breaking. I had no problem with it. I've opened and closed it dozens of times. Guess I'm lucky.

Storage: 250GB WD HDD scavenged from a desktop. I took this from the aforementioned HP. Yes it's ten years old. Yes I know its idiodic to use. But hey, it works, has barely been used in the past ten years, and I won't be using it forever. I plan on buying a reliable storage drive soon.

Peripherals: The Monitor, keyboard and speakers are from my old Emachines. All of them work great. Still love the keyboard. Mouse is a cheap Dell one I got for free from my dad's work. Got it brand new. Works flawlessly.

Build experience: For my first build, it went pretty well. I didn't break anything. It did however not go without hassle. It took me ages to realize the motherboard standoffs weren't screwed in all the way. I also spent half an hour trying to screw the wrong screw into my motherboard before realizing I grabbed the wrong one. In my defense it came with a lot of screws. Cable management was hastily thrown together. (aka spare cabbles stuffed into the drive bay) The cable management pic is out of date, as I went back and did it properly a week later. Didn't take a picture of the update, however the cleaner pic of the inside is current.

OS: Ubuntu 15.10 and Windows 8.1 Pro Ubuntu is free. Works great. Love it. Got my copy of Windows from a friend. Can't use the Windows partition until I hardwire my desktop, as the USB WiFi adapter I have does not work in Windows 8. Currently the drive is partitioned with 100GB to Ubuntu and the rest to Windows.

All in all, I had an awesome time doing my first build, and I can't wait to keep upgrading this. (I'm buying a 4GB GTX 960 in the end of March) It was a really cool learning experience. I'm glad to finally be a somewhat respectable member of the PC Master Race.

Part Reviews

CPU

Awesome CPU! Perfect for everyday tasks and medium gaming. I haven't had any problems whatsoever with this CPU

Motherboard

Absolutely AMAZING board. The I/O is spectacular, even at the $150 price point it kills the other boards, let alone the $115 sale price I picked mine up for. It has a good amount of SATA ports, a SATA Express port, as well as compatibility for a 32gb/s M.2 card through the z170 SATA controller. The color scheme is great. However, the traces on the black PCB are brown, giving the board a very brown look. Thanks to lighting, tinted side panel windows, or just viewing angles this is barely noticeable when the board is installed in your case. For sure not worth dropping a star. I would have loved black traces, but its negligible.

Overall an awesome future proof board.

Memory

It's RAM. It goes fast. It looks nice. paid a whopping $1.30 more for the 2400 MHz than the 2133. Now this RAM is even cheaper. Great buy. Definitely would recommend

Case

Awesome case on a budget. I picked mine up for $65. What a steal! Amazing build quality, sweet unique design, and tons of cooling options for the price. Tons of length for a GPU with the removable drive bay. I've seen loads of complaints about the drive sleds, but I have no complaints. A whole lot better than no drive sleds. I've also seen a lot of stuff about the flimsy latch on the front door. I have also found no complaints with it. I have opened and closed it A LOT in the past two months and it still works fine. It requires a bit of force, but it is still intact.

Power Supply

It's a 500 Watt PSU. I have no problems with that. It powers my computer, it was cheap, and it hasn't blown up It also comes with 2 6+2 PCIe connectors for graphics cards. However, it's only regular 80+ efficiency, and is non modular. I would recommend this PSU in any budget scenario where you don't need a ton of Watts, superb efficiency, or care too much about the cable management. Having a whole strand of Molex connectors that I will never use is rather annoying, but not a big deal. If you have the cash to spare, definitely go with a semi or fully modular power supply. But still, great product.

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Comments

  • 49 months ago
  • 4 points

Nice first build with plenty of room to move in the future. At 16, I'd be scraping any job I could to fund the upgrades though! That's my tip anyway :)

Good luck with it.

  • 49 months ago
  • 4 points

Instead of getting a GTX 960 in March, wait a few months and upgrade to a Polaris or Pascal GPU that's at the same pricepoint.

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

I have definitely been thinking about this quite a lot. And I still am. I really hope we all get a better idea of when these cards are coming out. As much as I'd love to have a brand new card, I don't want to be waiting till maybe even the end of the year.

  • 49 months ago
  • 2 points

slow clapping proceeds

Also, don't buy a 960. A 380 or 380X is better:) http://youtu.be/A-I7Nm3a1Nc

  • 49 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for the advice. The Armor 2x version of the MSI 380 4GB looks pretty nice

  • 49 months ago
  • 2 points

Also, the comment below us about Pascal and Polaris makes A LOT of sense;)

[comment deleted]
  • 49 months ago
  • 2 points

Straightforward enough, and you get cookies for using Linux. Good luck with getting more funds.

  • 49 months ago
  • 2 points

Very nice! The i3-6100 is a little beast, almost on par with performance of some i5s and i7s.

+1

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

We're in the same situation bro. I found a guy selling his gaming setup that comprised of 3 GTX 980s and I convinced him to sell me one for only $350, but now I need $350

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

Wait wut

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

Wut?

  • 49 months ago
  • 2 points

ooohhhh wait never mind I thought you said that you convinced him to sell all 3 for 350 dollars.

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

I wish

  • 49 months ago
  • 0 points

dont take that deal. u can buy a new 980 for 400

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

It's a really nice build for you. I hope you can now game much better and enjoy the experience. Congratulations on the build. It looks nice.

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! And trust me, it is such an incredible improvement. However it was quite the scare when I first got the system booted up. As I stated I had no graphics drivers when I was running Ubuntu 14.04 and I wasnt actually getting better performance than my old computers. But now after that scare I can look back and laugh at the fact that my current graphics with no drivers function better than my old computer WITH drivers.

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

loving the case. i love all of NZXT's premium cases. i myself own the phantom 530

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh man, I have lived the same pc hell story for years! This is what worked for me,

-Old People- I'm what you would consider old people. My first computer was a Timex Sinclair They often have careers and money and want to upgrade they're store bought e-machines rig or maybe want a gaming PC for their kids but, they are highly PC hardware illiterate and afraid to jump in and try it for themselves.

Keep pictures on your phone, show off your good work to friends and extended family, you don't know who might call and ask how much you would charge them to build or upgrade something.

Dumb people with money- I found the right co-workers , friends and family to work with. I've had many dozens ask " I want a new computer, what should I get" This....is like an open door. If they listen long enough to you're explanation of how a custom PC blows away all store bought junk, They will ask " how much will it cost to have you make me one?"

Craigslist / EBay- For selling mostly, be very careful buying parts from them. I just don't. A co-worker and I would scour thrift stores and curb sides on trash day looking for computer & parts. This was the most fun part, they were free! I love the challenge of making that stuff useable again. We would get a few built and the co-worker would take them to his home village in Mexico and distribute them to kids. A lot of fun & rewarding work! When times got tough we held on to a few and put them on Craislist. There are people who will still pay $50 for a celebrants e-machine!

Sorry for the enormous reply, I was in your that place for a long time and wanted to share.

I still scour thrift stores and curbs on trash days to find an occasional useable spare part.

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

I remember those old Timex! I had a membrane keyboard and a thermal paper printer with a cassette tape drive.

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

Maybe yore not an idiot, many will agree that thermal paste should be part of your toolkit!

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

Exactly what I was thinking. I found out I didn't need it only a few hours after I purchased it along with my CPU and PSU, so I figured $7 wasn't a big deal. At some point I will probably be glad I already have it.

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

Good job on saving and building! You'll appreciate this computer more than any of your friends will appreciate theirs. Even better is when you build your next one, you'll know where, how, and what you want and what it'll cost to get you there.

+1 from me.

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

I know what that feels like, we have a 2007 e machine store bought computer

its dying out, so my brother is giving me 800$ to build him a gaming PC, ever since I converted him from console gaming hes been playing like mad

kinda sad to see him playing tf2 windowed at 480p with 12fps though :(

so hopefully i can change that, great job on the build btw :-)

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build! What are you planning on using the 5.25 in bays for? I thought it was odd that you specifically mentioned them.

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh yeah. I'm currently using the one for an optical drive. I have already used it three times, although for Installing Windows I didn't actually have to. I probably could have gone without it, but I never knew when I may need it.

  • 34 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice, i hope you can get a K series Intel Skylake or Kabylake!