Hi, this is my first time building a PC. I had a laptop before this with a HD 5650 gpu so it was definitely time for an upgrade!
My vision is to have the most powerful PC possible (I'm using an ITX case and motherboard), in the smallest case I could find, be quiet MAX 40dB and to cost less than £900. I have achieved most of that so far, but had its fair share of challenges, some of which still need to be sorted out - as I will discuss below.
I tried to find special offers and wait for parts to reduce in price before buying them. I would say doing this has saved me nearly £300 overall. well happy! It did take me about 3-4 weeks to get all the parts though.
CASE: I decided to go with the Silverstone case as it is tiny, can fit(I thought) all of my parts in and looks pretty smart too. I put a 500ml can of beer next to it for comparison. other cases I had in mind were the Corsair 250D and EVGA hadron. It was a pain to work with though as getting decent parts which fit was tough, but as you can see not impossible. fitting things in was tight too with not much space to work in, cable management was also a challenge but I think i did ok, let me know what you think...
CPU: I went with the i5 4670k as I wanted overclocking ability and speed to play the latest games and run applications. I was contemplating the i7 4770k but I couldn't justify the extra £50-60 for essentially little gains that I would notice. I think by the time multi-threading becomes essential it will be time for an upgrade anyway!
COOLER: This was a pain in the ***! It took me ages to find a cooler that was compact enough to fit in the case, but had significantly enough cooler power to invest over the Intel stock one. This hasn't disappointing- it is virtually silent even at max speed. I've not done thorough testing on temps when under load, but web browsing etc I'm getting temps of around 32C. One problem I had was fitting it on the motherboard as it overlapped the first stick on RAM - I found a solution to this problem though.. and it touches the back of my GPU too - got a 'fix' for that aswell!
MOTHERBOARD: Awesome motherboard, packed with features more expensive models have - supports 2400Mhz RAM, WIFI, bluetooth, WIDI etc. I found it to be a really good layout as well for connecting the components in a tidy way. Also has a fast boot mode, when used with the SSD i have I'm getting boot up times from 'OFF' in 10 seconds.
RAM: 8GB Bought this at a knock down price of £45 from Amazon, and its 2400Mhz so got a pretty good deal. One problem of these though is their height. The heatsink adds another 1cm and the first stick of RAM wouldn't fit with the cooler installed, so what i did was use a blowtorch to warm the glue and remove the heatsink. Naked RAM now fits like a charm!
STORAGE: 240GB SSD -so fast, going from my laptop to this, its amazing. No waiting for ANYTHING! 1TB of HDD is enough space for me- it was the loudest thing in the case, until I put in the graphics card!
GFX: Got this for a bargain on Ebay, the first part I bought. I was quite worried it wouldn't work as it was second hand, and i had no way of testing it until I'd got the rest of the parts. Luckily it works great. So far I can max out everygame game Ive tried- ULTRA settings all the way with every check box ticked, max AA etc, full distance. AWESOME card.
I got Geil icy coolers already installed on them and what I will say is that they are soo loud, really annoying as the rest of the system is whisper quiet.. something I will try and sort out by plugging the fan cable into a controllable connection(its plugged into the GFX card at the moment), but the motherboard only has 2 fan connectors...any ideas anyone?
Games I've tested the system are:
ARMA 3: fully maxed, full distance veiw 30 fps, I can reduce the draw distance by a 1/4 and get 60fps. This is in single player. I've not tried multi player yet.
Dirt 3: Fully maxed out, 143fps Average.
Planetside 2: Fully maxed 60+ fps
Metro 2033: Fully maxed, not seen the fps but it was smoooth.
PSU: Seasonic, great brand, silent fan and reliable. I made the mistake of buying the M series at forst, which didn't fit so had to wait for the S series to be delivered- 14cm in length. Does the job great, no problems here. I went with non modular as the way the GFX card is position I wouldn't have been able to fit the cable in. The cables are all on the right so they don't interfere with the back of the GFX card, but I had to deal with hiding about 6 wires I have no use for.
OS: Got my OS for free as I'm a computer science student - no complaints, works great.
CASE FAN: I went with the silverstone fan as it is the best one for the case. It's really good, forcing a directed stream of air onto the motherboard, I'd recommend it for any system- check out the videos on youtube to see how efficient it is. Also has a switch to control 3 speeds levels, all run quiet.
SILICON UNDERPANTS: The back of the GFX card would touch the metal fins of the cooler, so I looked for a material which was heat resistant and non conductive. I didn't want to spend a lot so found a muffin tray for a quid in the pound shop. Cut out a nice little pair of silicon underpants for my cooler to wear so it protects the back of the GFX card. Does the job well...so far!
That's it, if you've read all that...thanks, I think it was quite a lot. I know that when I was researching this build, every bit of info was useful, so hopefully you can find something that will be helpful to you!
I just remembered, the GFX cooler adds about 1cm to the width of the card so I can't close the case. I think I'll have to mod the case by cutting a hole in the side of it and letting the fans pop through then covering it with a filter, anyone with any experience or can point me in the right direction to do this would be great.
Please let me know what you think, and any question feel free to ask.