Oh man, where to begin?
Ever since I was around 10, I had wanted to own a computer. Until then, I had only played games on consoles and the like, but was still amazed by the things you could do with a full PC. I remember getting my first laptop around 11 or so, maybe 12; it's been so long since I could remember. It was some cheapo Toshiba with a 1.00ghz dual-core processor, 250gb HDD and 2gb of RAM. It could hardly carry it's own weight in relatively simple things such as Half-Life 2. It was OK at best, usually just mediocre and disappointing. After a couple of years I had tried to find some worth in it; I even tried turning it into a Linux Mint machine for my grandparents but that failed. So I sold it off.
Recently I had received a new, much more promising laptop: an HP Pavillion. 1.8ghz quad-core (or was it six-core?), 6gb of RAM, and 1tb of storage. I still have the thing, since I've received it roughly around late fall of last year. It's nothing incredible but certainly a pleasant experience for watching videos, Skyping loved ones, producing music and so-on. It can also handle games like Skyrim fairly well, but ONLY if lots and lots of graphical tweaks are done. Same with CS:GO, but even that has some lag to it.
So, not fully satisfied, I had decided I wanted to build a computer the next go around. A true gaming computer. From then on, I worked and I worked and I worked. Nothing back-breaking; just lots of chores and working a side-job at the local pizza parlor, making sure my grades were OK, just everyday stuff like that. And I eventually earned enough to where I thought I could begin. My family said go for it, and the race began.
I spent the past 3 or 4 months researching parts for my build, from the very aesthetic looks of each part to the clock speeds, temperatures, compatible chipsets, so-on and so forth. I needed something that could practically crush the consoles I had owned, but had a reasonable price (as we're not the type of people who can spend a few grand on a computer).
My first big break came in with a guy on Craigslist selling his old Galaxy GTX 460, along with an old Antec 430w power supply. $40. I snagged it without much hesitation. The guy was even kind enough to throw in a Blu-Ray Reader as well - though truthfully, I'm probably not going to use it all that much. I chose not to use the PSU in the final build simply because it didn't have all the proper connectors, and was VERY old (circa 2004, I believe). Didn't seem fit for my build.
Another guy on Craigslist had bought some Kingston HyperX Fury without realizing that it didn't fit his board. I snagged it for $30 from him. After all, I knew that RAM doesn't go bad very easily - and that I was quite the penny-pincher.
Then came the case, and the storage, and the motherboard, and then the power supply. I ordered these one by one new so that I would have less of a chance of getting screwed by DOA parts. One of my relatives was kind enough to buy me an i3-6100 - I couldn't have made this without them.
After gathering everything, I was finally ready. About two or so weeks ago I started building... and of course, ran into some problems. A whole slew of 'em, actually.
First of all, I suppose the motherboard I ordered is quite stingy with RAM. I had tried reseating it multiple times but the thing just would not POST. It would start up - with a blank screen, at that - then shut down, and restart in an endless cycle. Because my case didn't have a speaker (nor did the motherboard), I had no idea what exactly it was. We narrowed it down to the RAM, so I went ahead and ordered some new RAM - only 4gb this time though, and new, because I was on a budget and didn't want to get screwed by another stick again. During the wait I tried multiple things, including taking out the CMOS battery and reseating absolutely everything. No dice - but it seemed like everything else was operational. So me and my friends knew it had to be something with the RAM, but we couldn't be sure what.
Just the day before the new stick came, a miracle happened - I tried reseating the RAM one last time, and wah-lah! The thing suddenly works! I was ecstatic - after all, I had just built my first computer.
Then I run into my NEXT problem: the hard drive. Oh man, the hard drive.
I had ordered a Western Digital drive from Amazon new. 320GB, 7200RPM, SATA2, so-on and so forth. Not as much storage as I had hoped, but it would hold me off. It arrived and I kept it in the little baggie for like, a month, as I waited for the parts to come in.
So, the time comes around to install Windows, and what do you know? Dead on arrival! Infamous click of death and everything. It just refused to be formatted or anything. It was detected, but very well corrupted. Couldn't do anything with it, so I have it rotting in it's bag somewhere right now. Needless to say, I was irked at this point.
Good news is that one of my friends was actually kind enough to lend me a used hard drive from a computer they salvaged... an 80 gig hard drive. I mean, that's basically nothing nowadays, but it was better than nothing.
So I go home and pop it in and lo and behold! It's detected! It had a bunch of old files on it; I think it might have had Windows XP or something before I formatted it. But regardless, it worked, and I installed Windows 10 without much issue. 80 gigs was enough for me to install Windows 10 plus a few games. Nothing much, but again, I'd rather have 80 than 0.
I had FINALLY got everything together and began to do a few benchmarks... when ANOTHER problem arose. The hard drive suddenly stopped working. I was benchmarking CS:GO when absolutely everything froze. When I restarted, it went straight to BIOS saying that no hard drive was detected. As you could imagine, I got fed up and just went to bed. The next day, I turn on the computer, and it suddenly worked... then stopped again at the login screen. Strange. I began to suspect it was a bad SATA cable. I took the thing apart, swapped it out for a new SATA cable, and since then, everything has worked flawlessly.
With the bumpy road finally conquered, I am proud to say that I had finally built my first gaming computer. It feels good to ascend to the master race - really good. Especially with the results I've gotten so far...
Enough of me rambling, time for benchmarks!
TESV: Skyrim - 60 fps on Ultra, all the bells and whistles, a good handful of mods installed + ENB
CS:GO - 120 fps on Very High
Unigine Valley - 51.2 fps average, score: 2140; on D3D9 with Medium preset and HBAO plus volumetric shadows and DOF
Dolphin - 30 fps, 60 vps (I believe Dolphin is locked to 30 under regular conditions but that appears to change variably?? Sometimes it's locked and sometimes it's not; I'm really not sure)
This thing has completely exceeded my expectations so far. I was expecting decent performance at best but considering this monster is just under 300 USD... wow. I'm seriously impressed. It's everything I had wanted and more, in all honesty. I'll have to wait until I can get a much larger hard drive (or perhaps a solid-state drive) until I can really unleash this thing's potential. Perhaps I'll upgrade to a GTX 1050 Ti down the road so it can accomplish even more. It certainly wasn't easy, but I feel as if the end result was extremely rewarding.
Comments, questions and constructive criticism are welcome!
This thing is incredible - 4 cores (two physical, two digital) with plenty of processing power to handle almost anything I've thrown at it so far. Hardly even stutters. 60 frames all day, all night. Highly recommend to anyone on a budget!
It's a very nice budget board with a PCIe 16x slot, 4 SATA connectors, two PCIe 1x slots just in-case you need them, and a whole slew of other nice things. However the BIOS is rather underwhelming - it's good enough for beginners but doesn't have many advanced options or tweaks that power-users or gamers like me would find useful. It's also a little confusing at times. Other than that it suits its purpose well.
It's RAM. It works. I can't really comment on this one since it's, you know, RAM. It looks clean and I have plenty of it to go around, at least.
Unless you get this thing for free like I did, it would be wiser to not even consider getting storage this small when something four times it's size is about the same price. Only use when all else fails.
This thing is an absolute beast for $30. It crushes Skyrim, CS:GO, Paladins and so-on at Ultra/Very High for a buttery smooth 60fps. I can max most of my games without much of a problem. Simply put I'm in LOVE with this thing.
It's sleek, it's got a nice blue LED fan pre-installed, it has the front panel placed on top rather than in-front, and it's got a see-through side panel. The only things I'm not a fan of is that one of the legs keeps coming off, and both of the side panels are EXTREMELY difficult to "break in" the first time. They're much easier to remove after the first few times, however. The PSU holes are a little difficult to align, and the non-replaceable expansion slot thing irks me a little. It's also slightly cramped overall, but hey - make do with what you got! Also, it's a bit of a fingerprint magnet, so watch out.
This thing just LOOKS like it could blow up on me at any second. I'm not gonna sweat it just yet however; it hasn't failed me so far. It's got sleeved cables, TWO (not one, TWO) PCIe connectors which I desperately needed, and plenty of SATA power connectors, which I have a feeling I'll use in the future. Only knocking off one star because it's no top-of-the-line PSU, thus I'll probably replace it down the line with something of a higher quality. Also the blue LED looks pretty.