Fruit's PC Build Thread

Fruit's PC Build Thread

Postby Phauss » Fri May 18, 2018 2:34 pm

Ok, time for another build. This time, Fruit's looking to replace a pre-built that's been modded over the years with something fresh. It only really needs to handle running WoW with a side of OW every now and then, so we don't need to go crazy with the specs. While certain parts of the old computer can be reused (drives, power supply, case, etc), we're just going to build this from the ground up, so it's going to need everything, minus peripherals.

We're looking for a simple case that doesn't need to be more than it has to be. Ideally, an all-in-one watercooled CPU cooler is about the only requirement for the case, so a rear 120mm fan is preferred. A decision hasn't been made on that, though. A Noctua cooler will be more than sufficient if there's no case window. Noctua fans are tan/brown and don't match with anything, but man, are they good.

I'd love to play around with an AMD build for the CPU and GPU, but since this isn't going to be my computer, I'm going to go with what I know. An 8th-gen i7 processor and nVidia graphics card are going to be the go-to parts here, but we'll get into specifics later.

THE PARTS:
Case:
First things first, the case. I'm looking at Fractal Design's Define Mini C case for a few different reasons. It's an attractive and simple design that's not too big and not too small.While this case has the option of coming with a window or a tempered glass panel, we're going to go with the windowless version. We won't have to match part colors or make things pretty inside, so that keeps parts selection open in general. It already comes with two 120mm fans, one each for front and back, with room for four (!) more. (Total fan locations: 2 top, 2 front, 1 rear, 1 bottom). The front panel stuff is on top, which might be a concern if dust is a common problem.
Spoiler: show
If at some point a full loop watercooling system was added, there wouldn't be any issue finding a spot for a 240mm radiator. Putting a radiator in the top of the case limits the motherboard component height to 40mm, though. Something to keep in mind.

Processor:
We're going Intel, so why not an i7? 7th-gen is still alive and well, but we're going to shake it up and go with 8th-gen so that the system is forward compatible. Between the 8700 and 8700K, we'll settle for the non-K version. There isn't any big reason to splurge on an unlocked CPU. This computer will not be able to use any processors before the 8th-gen series, even if they are the same socket.

Motherboard:
The case accommodates either mATX or mITX boards. In the interest of possibly adding more to the computer over time, I'm leaning heavily in favor of mATX, since there are more slots for hardware on the larger board. The processor limits the chipset to the 300 series, and I'm further limiting it to only Z-series chipsets. On-board WiFi is also a huge plus.

In the mATX corner, I've got my eye on the MSI Z370M Gaming Pro AC, but I'm a little disappointed that there are P/S2 connections where they could have put more USB ports. 5 USB 3 + 1 USB Type-C isn't a lot. EVGA has a board for $25 more, but $190 is at the top end of what I'd be willing to pay for a decent board and I'd expect more for the price. Also, the WiFi isn't really on-board, but comes with the board as an m.2 expansion card that requires some assembly. I'm not too thrilled about the selection here.

In the mITX corner, my choice is probably the ASRock Z370M-ITX/ac. It's got 8 USB ports, where 6 are USB 3, so that's pretty cool. $135 is much more my speed as far as motherboard prices go. There's a similar ASRock board with the Fatal1ty brand for around $45 more, but it ditches the USB 2.0 ports for a single USB Type-C. Meh, I guess. The specs are otherwise pretty much the same. The drawback with the mITX board is, of course, hardware slots. One PCI Express, two memory slots, and one m.2, compared to double of all that on the larger mATX.

Memory:
Regardless of the motherboard choice, all boards I'm looking at support 2666 memory without overclocking. Considering the needs of the computer, 32GB isn't necessary and we can keep costs way down if we keep it down to 16GB. I'm opting for 2x8GB sticks since it works with both boards, and it allows for expansion on the mATX board. The selection is pretty straightforward and really just influenced by price and reviews, so I'm going with a brand I see often in the solid state scene, ADATA.

Graphics:
Time for the juicy bits. Again, the computer isn't going to be running Far Cry 5 on extreme settings, so we don't need a GTX 1080ti factory watercooled card. A GTX 1070 is more than enough for things like Overwatch, and downright overkill for WoW. The case specs state that the max card length with front fans installed is 315mm. That's more than a foot of allowance, so that won't affect the selection too much. Unfortunately, a 1070 today is going for what a 1080 was going for before the great graphics card shortage of 2017, or around $500. I'm looking at an MSI card mainly for price and favorable reviews. It measures in at 269mm, so it's within spec. It uses a single squirrel-cage fan instead of multiple conventional fans, so noise is much lower for the same temps.
Spoiler: show
Someone was talking about how they weren't able to hold 60FPS in WoW at max settings, but they were also using a 6th-gen i5 processor, fukken pleb. 2 out of 12 found the review helpful.

Power:
Good news, the case uses a normal ATX power supply! We're going to keep it simple and go with a 650W power supply from Antec. It's not modular, it's a decent price, the reviews are favorable, and it's 80 Plus certified (bronze, but whatever.) The case looks like it'll do a good job hiding all those extra cables so that they don't obstruct airflow. Nothing more to see here.

Storage:
We're going to use at least one m.2 solid state drive. Why? Because we can and because m.2 is so much faster than a SATA-connected SSD for the same price. A 250GB would be pretty reasonable. There are some pretty high performance m.2 SSD's out there with crazy read/write speeds, but we don't need to go that far. Both boards (mATX and mITX) support up to 2280 type m.2 devices, so with that in mind, the WD Black 256GB is a clear choice. This will be the drive that Windows is installed on for those tasty, tasty boot times.

Ok, so we're going to need more than 256GB of storage. We can go with more solid state, but that comes at a premium. How about a 4TB WD Blue hard disk? Hundred bucks for 4TB sounds like a good deal, even if it's a 5400rpm drive. (Anyone else feel old?) I figure 4TB is a pretty safe bet, seeing how Fruit's probably going to end up saving all my streams to watch on rainy days when he gets tired of "Friends" reruns and Hatsune Miku covers.

Processor Cooler:
Nah, we don't need to watercool. We'll just attach a huge heatsink and call it a day. Which heatsink? A Noctua NH-U14S, of course. We have a maximum 170mm CPU cooler height, and damnit, we're going to use it. Ok, but seriously, the iconic brown and tan Noctua fans are known for being the best and most quiet around. Nobody would tolerate those colors in their computer if they weren't. $70 is on the expensive side for a cooler, but it's cheaper (and simpler) than a quality all-in-one watercooled unit with a compromise of just a few degrees C. This is likely much more quiet, too.

Operating System:
Windows 10 Home 64-bit. Sorry, new hardware drivers don't even exist for older versions of Windows. Just ask Dein. Gonna have to upgrade, bruv.

Something to note, though, is that there will not be an optical drive with this computer (read: can't use CD's/DVD's/etc). You have a couple of options. You can install Windows from a USB drive, or temporarily frankenstein a CD drive from another computer to use the install disc. I'd personally recommend using a CD drive from an old computer because there are less hoops to jump through. I wouldn't recommend the USB installer to someone without PC building experience, no matter how easy Microsoft says it is.

PARTS LIST BREAKDOWN:
PartDescriptionPrice*
CaseFractal Design's Define Mini C$75
CPUIntel i7 8700$300
Mobo**MSI Z370M Gaming Pro AC$165
RAMADATA XPG GAMMIX D10$165
GPUMSI$480
PSUAntec$55
DrivesWD Black 256GB m.2 SSD
4TB WD Blue HDD
$90
$105
CPU CoolerNoctua NH-U14S$70
OSWindows 10 Home 64-bit$100
 
Total:
$1605
*Prices rounded up to $5 increments
**Made an executive decision to go with the mATX board

Conclusion:
It feels like I could've done better with the overall price. I can't help but feel disappointed that memory and graphics cards are still as expensive as they are, and there's no real way around that. Cost cutting measures could include using a smaller data drive, a different CPU cooler, finding a cheaper case (The Cooler Master N200 case talked about earlier seems like a good choice, too), going with the mITX motherboard, or even sacrificing half of the RAM. Using a GTX 1060 graphics card would drop the price even further. Going with the ASRock board ($135), N200 case ($50), Noctua NH-L9x65 cooler ($50), and WD Blue 2TB HDD ($65) nets about $115 in cost savings overall to bring the total price down to around $1490, and that's without cutting the RAM in half. Using a higher-end GTX 1060 like this one drops the price by another $160 by itself, for a computer costing $1330 total, plus tax and shipping. Getting a single stick of 8GB memory can drop it another $80 or so, but I really don't want to do that.

Le sigh. This would have been a $1400 build with all the parts I first picked out were it not for cryptocurrency mining. Oh well, at least I'm not the only one who hates miners.
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We are each a beautiful and unique snowflake that will melt in hell.

I got the words "jacuzzi" and "yakuza" confused.
Now I'm in hot water with the Japanese mafia.
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Re: Fruit's PC Build Thread

Postby Phauss » Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:51 pm

I was browsing Ebay yesterday and I noticed something interesting. 1080 GTX's are selling for around $400, half of what they were going for before and even less than half in some cases. I'd bet that it's mostly because the latest (and biggest) bitcoin bubble burst and miners are recouping some of their investment by selling their hardware. It happens all the time, but this bubble was pretty significant, as evidenced by the great graphics card shortage of 2017. (I type this while two of my old computers are mining cryptocurrency. Such hypocrisy.)

Anyways, Ebay is a good indication of what many markets are doing. I figured it's been a while and graphics cards are cheap again, so it might be a good idea to revisit the price list for Fruit's PC build, should he choose to pull the trigger and buy the parts. I'll try to stick to the original parts list, but I may deviate if there is cheaper memory or something.

ORIGINAL PARTS LIST:
PartDescriptionPrice*
CaseFractal Design's Define Mini C$75
CPUIntel i7 8700$300
MoboMSI Z370M Gaming Pro AC$165
RAMADATA XPG GAMMIX D10$165
GPUMSI$480
PSUAntec$55
DrivesWD Black 256GB m.2 SSD
4TB WD Blue HDD
$90
$105
CPU CoolerNoctua NH-U14S$70
OSWindows 10 Home 64-bit$100
 
Total:
$1605
*Price rounded up to nearest $5 increment.

UPDATED PARTS LIST (05AUG2018):
PartDescriptionPrice*Change From OP
CaseFractal Design's Define Mini C$80+$5
CPUIntel i7 8700$330+$30
MoboMSI Z370M Gaming Pro AC$160-$5
RAMADATA XPG GAMMIX D10$150-$15
GPUMSI$420-$60
PSUAntec$75+$20
DrivesWD Black 256GB m.2 SSD
4TB WD Blue HDD
$90
$105
$0
$0
CPU CoolerNoctua NH-U14S$65-$5
OSWindows 10 Home 64-bit$120+$20
 
Total:
$1595-$10
*Price rounded up to nearest $5 increment.

Keep in mind that we're comparing the same parts as in the OP. And hey, look at that! The GPU and memory came down in price! I'm guessing the power supply and processor were on sale at the time, but we can find different ones. I propose using an i5 instead of an i7 processor for $110 less. The majority of the processing load will be taken up by the GPU anyways. (And really, the difference is .1GHz under normal operating frequency.) Nothing we can really do about the OS, though, unless Fruit wants to learn how to use Linux. All that being said, here's a proposed list:

PROPOSED PARTS LIST (05AUG2018):
PartDescriptionPrice*Change From OP
CaseFractal Design's Define Mini C$80+$5
CPUIntel i5 8600**$220-$80
Mobo***MSI Z370M Gaming Pro AC$160-$5
RAMADATA XPG GAMMIX D10$150-$15
GPUMSI$420-$60
PSUAntec**$65+$10
DrivesWD Black 256GB m.2 SSD
4TB WD Blue HDD
$90
$105
$0
$0
CPU CoolerNoctua NH-U14S$65-$5
OSWindows 10 Home 64-bit$120+$20
 
Total:
$1475-$130
*Price rounded up to nearest $5 increment.
**Changed from previous list.

***At the time of this writing, the EVGA motherboard that was $190 when the OP was written is now $120 but only for a couple of days, further bringing the cost down another $40 (to $1435, change of $170 from OP).

That's a lot better. The memory cost is in a good place, as are the GPU and CPU. The power supply is ok. Under $1500 is much more like what I was expecting for this kind of computer. It's good to see decent prices for parts again. Keep in mind tax and shipping costs, so it'll probably total out to a bit over $1500, but it shouldn't be by much (unless you have NY sales tax, huehuehue.) As a side note, is a smaller data drive ok? A couple of doll hairs can be trimmed with a 2 or 3TB drive.
We are each a beautiful and unique snowflake that will melt in hell.

I got the words "jacuzzi" and "yakuza" confused.
Now I'm in hot water with the Japanese mafia.
User avatar
Phauss
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Posts: 1095
Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:30 am
Location: Here and There


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