Please read the description before commenting, as you might end up asking questions or queries that have been already answered by just simply reading the description. (That's what the description is for!)
Hello everyone, it's nothing more than just some random person's first computer build.
This will replace my Acer Aspire 5742Z laptop, which is on the verge of death. After suffering from multiple sporadic self-shutdowns and a system slowdown after putting it under strain in any way, I feel like it's time to upgrade to a desktop, which I can hopefully use for university work in the future. (That's if I get into Uni of course!) If you're curious as to what the Aspire had, here's what Speccy found: http://prntscr.com/40awdh
I actually don't know why I called this the Noob Rig. Maybe it was because when I asked for feedback on my setup, I randomly called it that. I think it's been stuck with me since then.
I set myself on a budget of £700, including EVERYTHING. After tons and tons of research overtime, this is what I went with based on MY NEEDS.
What were the main objectives of this build? To come up with a PC that can handle some light/mild editing such as video editing and image editing primarily with Photoshop, the basic menial tasks including school work, browsing the web and listening to music without much delay, and most importantly, some light/moderate gaming. I do not have any specifics on what games I want to play, so I'm a lightweight when it comes to gaming. In simple terms, I do not currently play intensive games. But I had to keep something in mind; power efficiency, low TDP. My family doesn't want a huge electricity bill, so I wanted something that can draw not much power while still maintaining decent performance. I also wanted a relatively small footprint just so that it's a little easier to transport when I actually move out so I don't need something too big. After seeing a few of my friend's building their own computers, I decided to try and give it a go and come up with something that will suit my needs. Since this is a huge upgrade from a laptop, I want this to last a while, so I don't want to overclock.
How much knowledge did I have when introduced to building a PC? None. None at all prior to this. Had to rely heavily on research and noseying through this website just to educate myself further and choose the correct parts for my needs. It only took me a couple of months & weeks to consider this a hobby. Learning new hardware and stuff, very interesting for me indeed.
Luckily from where I live, I don't live too far from one of my nearest retailer, CCL Computers, so I got all but the CPU from there. They have a pretty good showroom to which people can try out a few gaming machines and even the mechanical keyboards they have. I didn't get one in this case, but I will save up to get one in the near future. I would've ordered online instead so I could possibly save up a bit more, but I personally find it more convenient to get all the components at once so I could get started straight away after I got them.
First of all, I really, really don't want to encourage any bias whatsoever on part choices. Whether it be fanboys of both sides, doing my own research proved to be a better choice for my needs. Since I wanted a low power build, I knew that low TDP/power and AMD do not go together. Although they often have a better price/performance ratio, they tend to pull a lot more power compared to Intel and NVidia. This did limit my options, but I was happy with the setup overall based on my needs. And for that reason, I may get disputed for my part choices, so I should get explaining as to why I went with them.
|CPU||Intel Core i5-4440 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor||I went with an i5 as games start to utilise more physical cores, the single core performance, and the lower TDP. I also play Minecraft (not ideal for benchmarking lol) which is more CPU intensive so the stronger single core performance was preferred. I could've probably went with the Haswell Refresh variant, the i5-4460 but it was a little more expensive at that time. Why did I not go with an AMD FX-6300 or better? Because 1. Higher TDP. 2. There were not many AM3+ chipset motherboards in the mATX form factor and they didn't have the features I wanted such as the lack of SATA 6GB/s ports and USB 3.0 headers. I've even heard that some motherboards can barely handle even a 6 core processor. It would've probably make more sense if I went with either an i3 or the Pentium G3258 but since I do a little bit of editing, I may benefit better with the i5 quad core. I went with the locked processor since I don't intend to overclock. This is the only component NOT brought from CCL. The i5s they had were overpriced, so I did not want to get myself robbed for such a low end i5. Instead, I ordered it from Ebuyer, which was cheaper at that time. I could've probably ordered it much earlier as it used to be priced at around £120, but prices keep on fluctuating all the time.||So far so good, no problems as of yet. For now, the i5 would suffice, but if my demands started to become too hefty in terms of the editing department, I'll have to make the jump to an i7 or a Xeon processor.|
|CPU Cooler||Intel Stock Cooler||Since I am not overclocking, I didn't really need an aftermarket cooler, so the stock cooler would be fine. It's not too audible, but it's one of the loudest components in my rig so far from a close distance.||In the near future, I could probably replace the stock cooler with an inexpensive aftermarket cooler such as the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO just to keep the temperatures down and increase the CPU life span.|
|Motherboard||MSI H97M-G43 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard||Initially, I went with a H81 motherboard since it has the minimal features that I wanted, but I realised that there isn't much room for expansion in the near future should I decide to make a few upgrades here and there. In the end, I decided to spend a bit more on the motherboard and went with the MSI H97M-G43 as it had 4 RAM slots for potential to upgrade to 16GB RAM, plenty of SATA 6GB/s and USB3.0 front headers. I am not planning to SLI or Crossfire so I didn't need an overly expensive motherboard. The BIOS looks pretty great, quite simple and MSI has the fast boot option, so the system starts up pretty quick with Windows 8.1. My only complaint is the lack of fan headers, there's only two system fan headers (excluding the CPU fan) so I can't really add more case fans.||Can't do much with upgrading. The OS is an OEM so it's tied to the motherboard so I can't reuse it again. I also noticed that there's only two system fan headers. =/|
|RAM||Crucial Ballistix Tactical 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory||Not much of an interesting pick to be honest. lol Aside from the colour mismatch on the motherboard and RAM, the case I chose has no windowed side panel. What? Nobody is going to look at it, right? I went with this because I like the heat spreaders and the fact that it has a CAS Latency of 8. (I believe that it's the lower, the better) However, it was clocked at 1333MHz at default when I first checked the motherboard BIOS, but I enabled the XMP so it was clocked at the regular 1600MHz with the latency advertised.||No problems have risen yet, it's working fine like ever. The RAM listed isn't the correct product code, but whatever.|
|Storage||Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive||Just a standard 1TB HDD that will store everything that I can think of. Because of MSI having the fast boot option available, the system boots up and shuts down in a few seconds with Windows 8.1. Not sure if I should be surprised considering I do not have an SSD currently. No problems so far.||I would've gotten an SSD if I could afford the extra £50. This is currently on my to-do list of upgrades. Right now, the more popular Samsung 840 EVO is like £55 at the moment, so I should consider getting it pretty soon. But the main thing is, how hard is it to transfer the OS files into the SSD? If someone has a clear idea on how to do this, please do say so. =)|
|GPU||EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB FTW ACX Video Card||Ugh.. fine, I am a bit of a fan boy. There is just something that I like about NVidia, I don't know why, maybe it was the features? Anyway this is easily the hardest and most controversial choices of my build. There aren't many GPUs that have a low TDP that still provided decent performance @ 1080p, but then the GTX 750 Ti came in with its Maxwell Architecture, that it provided a low power consumption while still providing pretty good performance. Yes, it is not high end and I'm not expecting to play the latest games at maximum graphics settings, but so far, it has performed pretty well for my needs. I am one of these people who do not need maximum graphics just to enjoy games. I am a lightweight when it comes to gaming so if I can play most games at Medium, I would be content. I initally stuck with the Superclocked version, but the FTW edition was only a tad more, so I couldn't pass up. Now you might easily think, Why did I not go with an AMD Radeon R9 270 or better?, well yes, it does provide superior performance compared to the 750 Ti within the same price range, but it pulls more than twice the amount of power than the 750 Ti, and one of the aims of this build was to have a low power build. So that's why I went with the 750 Ti over the R9 270. Did I regret not getting an R9 270? No, even if it's a means of sacrificing performance over low TDP, it has exceeded my expectations so far. I currently use Adobe Photoshop, and I may start exploring to other Adobe software, so the CUDA cores would benefit me here.||I have heard past reports of the ACX cooler being intolerably loud, but I believe EVGA has addressed this problem by updating the BIOS. So far, it's pretty silent, although I haven't put it under load just yet. The FTW ACX edition does require a 6 pin connector compared to the reference version, where it is only powered by the motherboard. I don't plan on upgrading the GPU in the near future. but if my gaming demands are increasing, I'll have to inevitably upgrade it as well as the PSU, but so far, it has suited my needs. Yes, I'm aware that the new GTX 970 & 980 cards have been recently released, but I am currently happy with the 750 Ti so far, I probably won't upgrade for a while now in the long term.|
|Case||Cooler Master N200 MicroATX Mid Tower Case||Not an easy choice as well. I wanted a relatively small footprint so that it's a little bit easier to transport when I move out to university. It also shows that you do not need a big case for a potential PC =P I settled in with the Cooler Master N200 as the majority of mATX towers were either, expensive/stretched my budget way too far or it lacked features and any room for cables at the back and airflow restrictions. The N200 isn't easily the most attractive of cases with its industrial appearance and the non-uniform front when an optical drive is installed, but the amount of features did drive me forward with this case. In this scenario, I went with features > aesthetics. For just £30, there's 4 dedicated spaces for 2.5" drives, there;s plenty of room to fit a really long GPU and there's direct airflow to the components with the front case fan. The build quality is great as it doesn't exhibit any flex whatsoever, even with the components installed inside.||Criticisms? Well of course; although there was some room for cable management at the back with cable tie notches, it was quite a pain to get the back side panel sit flush to the case, so it did close, just not so properly due to the cables. There was also no 8 pin cutout at the top of the motherboard so I couldn't route the 8 pin connector to the top. If you do install an optical drive, it disturbs the uniform appearance at the front, but it doesn't bother me too much. Overall this is a pretty good case, although my cable management isn't that clean so I'll have to try and improve it when I get the chance. Although I did realise later on I could've probably went for further silence by going with the Cooler Master Silencio 352 for £10 more as it has the exact same features inside. Damnit! lol xD Anyway, from where the rig is placed, the fans are quite loud, but they are not too loud if you get what I mean. I can probably hear it straight away when I first enter my room, but it's not that loud. Now I have to get into the habit of cleaning the case from dust now and again. I wish I had a leaf blower to blow the living **** out of it to get rid of dust in a few seconds.|
|PSU||Corsair CSM 450W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply||Hooray for low TDP parts, I didn't have to go overkill with the PSU. I initially went with a CX430 80+ Bronze Certified, but the CS450M was only just a little over £10 more, and the added bonus was that it's 80+ Gold Certified so better savings on those electricity bills. At least it's semi-modular, I won't have to deal with the unnecessary cable mess since I'm a noob with cables. Corsair has been reputable for their PSUs, so I know I didn't get a ticking time bomb. To my knowledge, this is a Tier 3 PSU. Still great, not ideal for overclocking.||With a 450W PSU, this limits me from upgrading the GPU, so if I HAVE to upgrade the GPU, I'll have to upgrade the PSU, but only time will tell.|
|Optical Drive||Samsung SH-224DB/RSBS DVD/CD Writer||Very unlikely that I will be using an ODD, but on the off chance that I have to use it, it will be available for me to use. I don't need a Blu-Ray drive, since I don't have any Blu-Ray movies.||Installing an ODD on the Cooler Master N200 doesn't keep the front looking uniform. Luckily, it doesn't bother me too much.|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit)||I didn't mind going with Windows 8.1 as I tried it previously on my dad's laptop. I got used to it so I didn't mind upgrading.||Only gripe is that it's an OEM and not full retail; I can't re-use it for other newly built systems and I lose out on official Microsoft support. Not sure if these should be a problem in the long term.|
|Monitor||Asus VS228HR 60Hz 21.5" Monitor||I have a weird desk setup IMO. There is a headroom with a maximum clearance of 52.2cm to which I can fit a monitor, so I was also limited on the monitor choice. Majority of the monitors that are just barely under the limit were 21.5". I went with this ASUS monitor as it has what I wanted, 1920x1080 resoltion, 5ms response time and the 60Hz refresh rate. I also knew I could trust ASUS as a company. One thing that surprised me was the sub £100 price tag. I actually got a monitor for less than £100 with all of these features.||The monitor was quite a tight fit in between the headroom. Good thing I researched the physical dimensions of the monitor and NOT the screen size itself haha xD So far, it's great and I have been able to upload videos at full 1080p now. It also has an HDMI cable so I could probably play my PS3 on this monitor. =P My only gripe is that the ASUS logo is peeling off and I don't want to take it out. =(|
|Wi-Fi Adapter||TP-Link TL-WN881ND 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter||I needed a Wi-Fi adapter as my computer is in my room and the router is downstairs. I didn't need to spend too much on it so I settled with this PCI-Express x1 adapter. Not much to say here really.||So far, it keeps the 5 signal bars full almost all the time. It does drop to 4 but it's rare. I had to install it first before installing the GPU as it was difficult installing the Wi-Fi adapter after the GPU was installed. Silly newbie mistakes as usual.|
|Speakers||Logitech Z130 5W 2ch Speakers||Clearly not the best speakers but since I don't use headphones, I'd rather have speakers as the monitor does not have built-in speakers. I do listen to music and would like to hear a lot of things. This Logitech Z130 compact speakers were priced at just less than £20 so I thought, why not?||Clearly the sound isn't at all too great, so I had to mess around with the equalizer settings just to try and get the correct sound. They are decent speakers however.|
|Keyboard||Emprex 5105GU Cheetah Gaming Keyboard||Lastly, I had to cheap out on the peripherals. Yes, the keyboard and mouse. Due to budget constraints, I'd rather spend more on the hardware components than the peripherals. However, I was browsing through the CCL Online website and noticed this very cheap "gaming" keyboard for under £10. The keyboard was advertised as having anti-ghosting support up to 11 keys with specific set's of keys having that support and a windows lock button to prevent the user from accidentally opening the start menu when gaming and such. Although it would be nice to have a mechanical keyboard, I didn't see it as a necessity at that time. I gave it a try and it's working great after a few days of using it.||The keys might not be too pleasant to type in as it has a rather quiet tactile feedback. So far for the games that I've played, the anti-ghosting works well around the WASD keys and the 4 arrow keys simultaneously pressed together. I haven't ran into any problems yet. This keyboard may be temporarily for now, and I may upgrade to a mechanical keyboard when I get the chance. Any suggestion on a rather inexpensive mechanical keyboard?|
|Mouse||Gigabyte GM-M6880 Wired Laser Mouse||Again, I wanted a cheap mouse that can handle all of my needs. So I went with this Gigabyte GM-M6880 Laser mouse because of the right-ergonomic hand orientation and for it's sub £10 price tag. I don't need multiple side buttons that I won't even use. Just a simple mouse that is capable of casual gaming.||There isn't a dedicated software for this gaming mouse, but I wasn't expecting one for a cheap price. This is a great mouse I must admit. I don't have a mouse mat/pad but it feels just right for me, and it has the forward and backward buttons that I actually use for easier website navigation. It has 3 DPI settings although I rarely use them. Overall, a great mouse.|
- I know, my cable management isn't clearly the best so I'll try to make it cleaner when I get the chance.
- I would cut the zip ties to make it shorter, but I don't have any pairs of pliers or cutters or however you call them. xD
- I'm really happy on how the process and the end result turned out. It actually turned on when I did the very first test. And surprisingly, no component was dead or faulty so I didn't have to return anything.
- I know, I could definitely do better for the money, but I'm more than satisfied with how it performs at the moment based on my purposes. I've been wanting to play a few old games for some time now, especially emulators and now I'm having the time of my life.
- I didn't find many good deals on the components, but I was just impatient enough to just pull the trigger. This turned out to be from a hobby to a personal project.
- In the end, I did spend more than I actually needed to, but I had to so I can make any upgrades WHEN NECESSARY.
- Is it even a good idea to perform any stress tests with the stock cooler? I feel like it's a bit of a risk to take so I'm holding stress testing off for now.
I took the images with the Samsung Galaxy S5 Phone. I apologise if the quality of the photos are awful. The auto-focus was playing around with me at that time lol
So that's pretty much it really. Thanks for taking the time to read through the long wall of text and hopefully understanding my justification of part choices. I just feel like building another PC again, not because my current PC is crap, (why would I say that..) but it's fun to do and people even do this as a living. Now that I'm in the year where I have to apply to university, would it be a good idea on referencing my experiences on this build for my personal statement? XD
Would like to credit a few:
- A few of my friends both IRL and online (esp. Banditvxl1911) for introducing me to building computers and helping me with part choices.
- HardwareCanucks on YouTube for their excellent and professional reviews, especially on the cases.
- CareyHolzman on YouTube for his excellent and in-depth tutorial on how to build a computer.
- My dad for helping me to buy the computer parts.
- You guys on PCPartPicker for educating me further on part choices and having a very friendly community.
Thanks for reading and checking my build. This was very fun to do, and I 'd love to build another one again. Let me know what you think.
FIRESTRIKE - 4313
- Graphics Score - 4875
- Physics Score - 6183
- Combined Score - 1862
SKY DIVER - 13050
- Graphics Score - 15691
- Physics Score - 6731
- Combined Score - 15290
CLOUD GATE - 13619
- Graphics Score - 34635
- Physics Score - 4360
ICESTORM - 125033
- Graphics Score - 226108
- Physics Score - 48754
HERE'S THE YOUTUBE VIDEO FOR IT. The video is quite **** in general, but I just had to throw it out there.