Let's cut to the chase. I used to love PCs. Yes, you read that right! I USED TO. I was a freak! I read every single thing about the computer industry that was coming out, was planned, etc. All of this while I was studying of course... you remember? That's the time that you are not doing shit and can waste time doing whatever the heck you want! Well, once that time came and went, I forgot about PCs. I stopped reading Toms Hardware, Anandtech, HardOCP, etc. I even went out (like 5 years ago) and bought an E-Machine (yes, again, you read that correctly) because I didn't wanted to build myself one (which is what I used to do before). This little machine, which still works, has been my music "workstation" for a long time but once more sophisticated software kept coming out, that PC started to choke. For a long time I've been looking for an excuse to buy a new PC, and then I figured... WHY BUY IT WHEN I CAN BUILD IT!!
And here began... "The Project"
AMD vs Intel
This was the biggest decision!
Should I go with AMD, a brand I've always used since their underpowered 486 processors? Or should I go with Intel, a brand I always hated because, like Apple, they sold overpriced CPUs? All I have to say is that the industry has changed a whole lot since the last time I bought PC parts! Right now, price/performance ratio is kind of swinging by Intel's side. Sure, AMD makes great products at great prices but for what I planned to use this PC for, there was no question, an Intel i5 750 processor is what I needed!
Now, I'm not going to bore you with benchmark charts and whatnot! If you want to take a look at those and extra info, you can go here:
I don't know when these CPU manufacturers strayed away from pins, but ... WHAT THE HELL!? (that was my first reaction!) There really are NO pins on these new CPUs!!! NICE! This boxed CPU of course comes with a Stock Heatsink + Fan combo that it's supposed to do an Ok job, but people, I LIVE IN PUERTO RICO!! It's hot in here! Instead of using the supplied fan combo, I bought a Cooler Master GeminII S!
I had never, ever seen such a big heatsink + fan combo in my life! I was afraid if that thing would even fit in the case with the RAM installed and all of that stuff! The GeminII came with a thermal paste and an extension because... guess what? You can use 2 80mm Fans on this thing! Yep, I'm telling you, this combo is a freaking beast!!!!
Now that I had made my choice, it was time for the second most important component, the motherboard!
There are a lot of great motherboard makers out there. We have the MSI's, Asus, eVGA, and my favorite ever, Gigabyte. Of course, I've been a long time without building a new PC from scratch so I was going to naturally fall back to a brand I trusted! My ATX Socket 1156 motherboard search was arduous! I spent a LOT of time looking for motherboards (you can get a glimpse of a motherboard round-up here:
Motherboard Round-Up 1 and Motherboard Round-Up 2)
But I finally decided on a Gigabyte P55A-UD4P because of the extra 2x USB 3.0 and 2x SATA 6Gb/s. I doubt I'll ever use them, but it's good to have... and it's FREAKING GIGABYTE!!! I love them. What I like about the motherboard the most though is the options on the BIOS. Gigabyte boards always have a BUNCH of options and tweaks you can do so I know that when I get bored someday I'll definitely start playing with the settings and who knows, even overclock just for fun!
The board layout I find is pretty well done. When I installed it on the case, everything just fell together real well! Hopefully the motherboard will last a long time! ;-)
Look it. I'm not an enthusiast. I don't particularly care for the greatest and best RAM stick there is, I just got one that was affordable and looked like it could take a beating and the Patriot Sector 5 memory modules looked like they could!
As you can see from the picture above, these guys have really long heat spreaders. That worried me a bit because I thought the CPU Cooler would have a rough time with these modules installed, but nope. Everything fit well together there. I haven't done any memory tests yet but this mem gets a 7.5 in that Windows Experience Index thingie, so I guess they're alright. Hopefully one of these days I'll start playing with the latency, CAS and all that good stuff the BIOS has.
Everything Comes Together
So now I had the 3 most important components: CPU + Motherboard + RAM.
You might be wondering: "Errrmmm, don't you need a video card?" And you are right!
Do you guys by any chance remember this: GeForce 8800 GTS 512?
Well, that's what I'm using! Since I know I wont game much here (keyword: MUCH) I decided to re-use this trusty card. And I have to say that I'm pretty impressed that new games work great with it (Tested Just Cause 2 @ 1650x1080 AA 4x, Anisotropic Filtering 12x, Details High, etc. and the game moves really well even when there's a lot of action -- 37 frames per second and up).
Of course, there are better cards out there, but why spend the money for a high-end card when this one is doing it's work rather well? (ran 3d Mark Vantage and 3dMark06).
Case and PSU
Now THIS was a problem!
Try ANY online store and do this experiment. Go to your favorite retailer, add a computer case to the cart, put in your puertorrican Zip Code, check the shipping options... EXACTLY A $60 Cooler Master case would have cost me almost double by shipping it home! So I decided instead to buy a case from a local PC shop here. You know, an "El Cheapo"/No-name case! And that I did! I bought an ugly case but I wanted decent airflow so I picked up the one I liked and it even came with a cheap-o 500w PSU for $55 bucks.
It has a 92mm Front Fan with multi-colored LEDs, a side 80mm Blue LED Fan, and an optional 80mm/120mm fan support on the back (I just ordered it via eBay!). The case feels cheap but I knew it would be up for the task. I scrapped the 500w PSU and attached ANOTHER cheap 500 PSU that it's more robust though. It's a Rosewill RV2-500.
It seems to be doing a great job under load so I'll keep it installed until it dies! ;-)
Now that I had my build together, it was time to put it all up inside the case, install the hard drives (a new 500GB SATA and an old 80GB SATA from an old computer) and install the OS (Windows 7 Enterprise Edition).
I was waiting for the whole thing to blow up when I pressed the Power Button. I mean, it's been more than 7 years since I had build a computer from the ground up and everything worked correctly! No beeps, No Diagnostic Lights, No shutdowns, No BSODs, not a thing! The PC is working great. Most of all, I'm really surprised at the Cooler Master combo and with the case! Temperatures are extremely good even when under load!
These are idle temps... (well, I'm downloading a game from Steam right now, while listening to music and writing this stuff ;-)). Under load, the CPU has gone up to a max of 47C! The video card is another story though :-p. The max temp the video card has reached has been 65C it's well under the 80C limit but maybe that new 120mm loud fan that I ordered will keep things even cooler (even if it's loud! I don't care!).
I have to say, it's a great feeling coming back to what I used to do and love and enjoy it! Yes I was scared shitless because a lot of things could have gone wrong (I could have messed up the CPU, receive bad Memory modules, etc. etc.) but they didn't.
If you are reading this, and haven't build yourself a PC in a while, just go out and do it, you wont regret it.
BTW, everything here (except for the video card and the case) was bought at NewEgg.com!
Any comments, etc. feel free to do so.