Description

A long lasting GP build:

Aim: Want to get 7 years out of this PC with a mid life upgrade of the GPU (got that now), add a M2 drive and maybe increase the RAM if necessary. Maybe new monitor. Want reliability above all, and ability to upgrade. First build too, so easy build preferred.

Previous: Had a i5 2500 which lasted well. Mobo PCIe slot stopped working after 5 years so had to revert to iGPU, then temps under CPUID HW monitor were moving to 99c playing HOMM V. Also the mobo wasnt compatible with win 10 so figured once win 7 stops being supported then I would need to upgrade.

Usage: Light productivity during the day then occasional gaming during the night. Over the next 5 years will merely play HOMM V, Witcher 2 and 3, and probably buy Total War Warhammer, Mechwarrior 5. Using an old 1080p monitor. Still have some other old games to play.

Considerations: Not fussed about the budget but don't want to spend more than I need to. Used the storage from old PC and a couple of case fans and a GPU I tried on the old PC. Looking for reliability and future proofing.

Part selection:

Case: Since I have 3 drives and an optical, wanted a large case. Wanted good airflow and lots of fans to keep it cool. Also wanted something with dust filters everywhere and quiet. Easy to work in and cable manage since I am OC. The Fractal R6 fit the bill. Got it on special at 20% off.

Chip: i5 for longevity and the 8400 was best value. iGPU handy since last time i needed it, so preferred to Ryzen.

RAM: 16Gb for future proofing and G.Skill for quality. Wasn't fussed about speed but 3000Mhz same price as 2400Mhz.

Cooler: Could have gone stock but figured the M9i was cheap, easy to install and would deliver lower noise and temps.

Mobo: Wanted a reinforced PCIe slot due to previous experience and a few fan headers. Could have gone for a B360 but the H370 with the features I wanted was only slightly dearer down here. Probably overkill. Asrock good value and had a lot of power phases, which has to be good right? Well reviewed.

PSU: Focus Gold has been well reviewed. 550w gives me headroom for a 1070 in the future. Semi Modular was fine for me. Relatively good value and cheaper than a Corsair RMx550w.

Build: Took my time and tried really hard on cable management. I am pretty happy with the results, and it is a closed case anyhow. Advice welcome.

A few mistakes: -Put the cooler on around the wrong way, ie the long end for the fan at the back. Hadn't realised the sides were different. Took it off, wiped the thermal paste off with a tissue as I didn't have anything else on hand, put a small blob of paste on and put it back. Should I have cleaned it off? One learning from this was that a small blob of thermal paste is enough. A small pea manages to spread out easily and surprisingly (to me) covers a square area, not just a round area. -Putting the mobo in, I didn't get the IO cover tabs under the USB ports. Needed to take it out. Learning is: bend the IO shield tabs before inserting the mobo. -Installing Win 10 from a USB. Couldn't boot from the front panel USB, had to use the back panel ones. -Installed win 10 as a UEFI boot. Never heard of that before, thought I stuffed up, but turns out it is the future. Just looks messy in the boot menu.

Final thought: Had fun planning the build and doing it. If I had my time again I would buy most of the same parts. The difference - I would go for an external DVD drive as its only slightly dearer. I could then go for a smaller case as the R6 is really big and heavy. But would probably stick with the R6 since it is just so good for the price.

Recent Upgrade: Added a Nvidia 2060, an ASUS Dual EVO OC. The 2060 is pretty good and should be good until the next big overhaul. I will probably add a 27" 1440P monitor next. The ASUS is a bit noisy though. I run the fans at 67% and it just keeps the temps under 80deg C. I better cooling solution would be better. Also there is an annoying whine as the fans ramp up. I have tinkered with increasing the power limit and the memory speed, but the noise makes this a bit futile. I have settled for capping the frame rate at 58fps, taking power up to 120% and adding 500 to the memory speed. Once I get the 1440p monitor I will have another look at settings.

Big thanks to the PCPartpicker community. Wanted to give back by writing up this build and giving reviews on parts, after I have had a bit of time with them. With the AMD R7 370 UserBenchmarks: Game 38%, Desk 80%, Work 59% CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 - 91.5% GPU: AMD R7 370 - 31.4% SSD: SanDisk Ultra II 480GB - 83.7% HDD: WD Green 1TB (2010) - 39.2% HDD: WD Green 1TB (2010) - 54.3% RAM: G.SKILL F4 DDR4 3000 C15 2x8GB - 91.4% MBD: Asrock H370 Performance

With the Nvidia 2060 UserBenchmarks: Game 84%, Desk 79%, Work 60% CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 - 84.3% GPU: Nvidia RTX 2060 - 88.6% SSD: SanDisk Ultra II 480GB - 85.2% HDD: WD Green 1TB (2010) - 39.3% HDD: WD Green 1TB (2010) - 17.2% RAM: G.SKILL F4 DDR4 3000 C15 2x8GB - 90.4% MBD: Asrock H370 Performance

Part Reviews

CPU

Seems fast and well reviewed. Better price than the higher spec i5's, and I think this is more than enough CPU to last me 7 years. My previous i5 2500 was only just reaching its useful life after 7 years.

The only negative is the way the mobo needs to change every couple of years. I probably don't need it but it would be good to have the option of changing the chip, even if it misses out on some feature, without having to replace the mobo and the RAM.

That way I could start out with a lesser chip and then upgrade a few years down the track when i actually can make use of a better chip. Makes me think AMD is the way to go in the future.

Also the stock cooler is rubbish so additional cost to replace.

CPU Cooler

Just needed a little cooler which was better and quieter than the stock cooler. This looked like it was easy to install, was cheap and small. Also absolutely no possible issues obstructing the RAM, which was important to me for my first build. So happy with it and would buy again as I don't need a lot of performance from the cooler.

It was a little tricky to install for me, being a first time builder. Probably used too much thermal paste first time - you only need a small pea. Getting the fan on and off was tricky so I suggest anyone try it before you install it.

I am surprised how big these things are and can't imagine putting something that weighs a kg on my board. You can lift up your mobo by holding the cooler once its installed as it is so much heavier. It is definitely enough cooler for my purposes and I can't imagine needing or wanting anything bigger. Quiet enough and seems to keep things cool but haven't really pushed my PC yet.

Motherboard

Generally pretty happy with this part but it isn't perfect.

First the positives: Very well featured for the price: it had a lot of power phases, 2 M2 slots for future upgrades, 3 chassis fan headers plus a water pump fan header. Looks very nice and the LED's look good enough (but probably need an RGB LED strip if you really want it to light up).

The BIOS is easy to work with. The fan tuning utility is easy to use through the BIOS. Adjusting the DRAM frequency from 2133 up to 2666 wasn't obvious but with help from customer support i managed. The Appshop software works well, it was easy to automatically update the BIOS and the drivers.

One slight negative - the Sound Blaster software installed but at first I couldn't find it. Still not sure what it does or if it is actually working.

The other negative is the IO cover. Very tinny and cheap, though to be honest it is the only IO cover I have even used. Just felt like it should have been made from better material to match the quality of the rest of the board.

I'd buy Asrock again. BIOS and software work well. Lots of features and good value.

Memory

Looks good, cheap and worked. G.Skill gets good reviews for reliability and it seems solidly built. Would buy G.Skill again.

3000 was the same price as 2400 so bonus. Adjusting the speed up from 2133Mhz wasn't straight forward, as there was no XMP or JEDEC 2666 option. I just adjusted the speed up to 2666, left everything else the same and it seems to work.

Storage

Its an SSD so it boots fast. Any SSD is worth the money of you don't have one, but I would go with an M2 drive in future to tidy up the case.

This one was recommended by Logical Increments and has been reliable and fast. Guess I will know in a few years time if it lasts.

Storage

Been using it for 8 years now and still works so the 2 drives have been reliable for me. Not too noisy but really would just go SSD for all future needs.

Case

Simply fantastic. deserves 6 stars. Can't recommend enough. Build quality is fantastic, flexible design, good airflow and quiet. Dust filters everywhere. Heap of well designed drive trays. Great cable management. Was easy to work in.

A really neat feature is the screwless closing mechanism for the side panels. Definitely want this on any case I buy in the future.

Had a minor issue with the front panel audio and customer service straight up offered a replacement. Brilliant.

For some it might be a bit large. And it is really heavy, but I am not moving it much. Got it for a good price but worth full price ($209).

Power Supply

Well reviewed esp by JohnnyGuru. I guess I will know in 10 years time if it is as good as they say.

Got semi modular since it is cheaper. Would go semi again as I wouldn't be replacing the cables. Easy enough to work with and the ports on the PSu are well labelled. Enough cables supplied and long enough for me.

Optical Drive

Sticks a bit when it slides out. Bit noisy. Would use an external DVD drive in future as the cost is not much higher and it cleans up the build.

I can't understand how people do without an optical completely though - I always need to load the mobo drivers to get the network up and running.

Operating System

Ok, not much different to Win 7 for my purposes. Seems stable enough. Still clunky though. I hoped Microsoft would get its act together by now, but nope. Too expensive compared to the computer parts - if I did a cheap build it would be 30% of the total build cost!

Case Fan

Bit noisy and in hindsight I wish I had bought fans without lights as they don't match the lighting on the mobo (or RGB strips if I had any).

Seem to move enough air for my purposes though, which is to just blow a bit more air in through the bottom to cool the hard drives and create positive pressure. I have them running at 35-40% and linked to the mobo temp so they should stay quiet.

Case Fan

Came with the case and are pretty quiet and move enough air for my moderate needs.

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