After dealing with a very old and sluggish desktop for a long time, I finally had enough and decided to build my own computer. This decision was a long time in coming as I never really had a compelling reason to make it seeing as I had a very capable laptop. But, a computer isn’t just a computer, as I’ve learned. Desktops are not laptops. I wanted a home computer to game and work on without wanting to smash my screen. So I decided to take the leap. I’ve previously helped some of my friends pick their parts and build their computers. It was finally my turn.
Looking for parts was both exhiliarating and depressing. On one hand, I saw before me such a diverse array of possible parts that I was overwhelmed. There were so many very good parts, and each had an aura about it. However, the price tag made me scroll past them, as I had quite a limited budget. In my heart of course I wanted the best possible thing, but I knew it simply wasn’t possible so I made a promise to buy it when in the future when I’m doing well and continued looking.
Because price was such a big factor, I had to make a very hard decision. Do I go with 4th generation (Haswell) for its cheapness and ubiquity or the latest, 6th generation (Skylake) for future mobility? I initially was set on going for the i5 4690k, a very capable processor (the i7 was out of the question as it’d take nearly half my budget alone). However, while looking for CPU’s I saw that i5 6600k is actually only $20 more. In my mind, with its slightly better computing, 14 nm process, and general future support, it seemed very logical to but it. So I opted for Skylake in the end.
Even though I had chosen Skylake, it wasn’t easy finding other parts to fit it. It would need a motherboard with LGA 1151 socket and it would also need DDR4 memory, both of which were more expensive than the ones compatible with the 4th generation CPU’s. However, thanks to sales and careful searching, I was able to find parts that were close to their prices. I got 8 GB of DDR4 2400 MHz Crucial Ballistix RAM for $40. The motherboard was Gigabyte H110M-A for $30 (!!!), PSU was Corsair 650 watt CXM, and the case was a Corsair Spec 02 RED for $50. All in all, I saved a bunch of money!
You may be wondering where all my drives are, along with my GPU. I had three hard drives, so I didn’t see a point in buying it, although an SSD would be a huge improvement. I do plan on buying it in the future to increase overall performance and avoid IO capping. As for the GPU, I had a GT 630 in the old desktop, so I scavenged that as well. Because of the budget, I pushed off the GPU for another day.
Now the build was kind kind of frustrating for me, mainly because of the CPU cooler and the motherboard. I bought a Cooler Master Hyper T2 ($20). Installing it was a huge pain in the ass, partly because of its design and partly because of the motherboard. You might have wondered why the motherboard was so cheap, and there is a reason for that. It’s a microATX and it has the bare minimal. I should have done more research on the chipsets and gone for the H170 or even the Z170, but this was the cheapest I could find so I went with it. The RAM slots are located right next to the CPU, making installing the cooler as well as RAM a huge difficulty. I struggled with it alone for about an hour and a half.
Also I didn’t realize the case would come with 3 case fans, and I bought one just in case. Well it turns out I can’t use all of them anyways! Why? BECAUSE OF THE MOTHERBOARD. I am currently only able to use one fan in addition to the CPU fan. Pretty sucky. I want to use ALL the fans.
I got my computer to turn on, installed a clean copy of Windows, lost all my pictures in the process (I should have had backups), and I ran Counter Strike. Regrete #2: skimping out on the GPU. I know that Source is a very CPU intensive engine, so I hoped that the GT 630 would be enough to play at a decent framerate, but boy was I ever so wrong. I was previously getting around 70-80 FPS with a dual core Pentium @ 2.8 GHz from like 2008 at 1440 x 900. Having bought a new monitor as well (ASUS 28 in FHD), I of course wanted to try out CS and see my framerates. I was more than disappointed. ~60 FPS at 1920 x 1080. I suspect it’s because the GPU is literally unable to keep up with such resolutions and output frames at the same time, so I will be buying a GPU soon. Plus, I’d really love to play Fallout on a big screen!
All in all, I’m pretty satisfied with the build. Although I would definitely switch out the motherboard, hard drive and GPU when I get the chance. And yes, I do plan on over clocking the 6600k so I do need a new motherboard as well as better cooling down the line. Oh also, maybe a mouse? Since I already have a mechanical keyboard a mouse would be a nice addition to it as well. Maybe a Steel Series…