So last Monday was an interesting day, all in all. I had gotten the final parts of the new computer and decided to put it together. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, as I had to deal with one of the most annoying sellers I’ve dealt with to date. You can read about that experience in this post here.
Onwards to the build, here are the components I decided to use for my new machine:
Processor: Intel i5 4690 (Haswell)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA H97M-D3H
RAM: Kingston DDR3 Hyper X 1866 (24GB)
GPU: PowerColor R9 270 2GB OC Turboduo
PSU: Silverstone Strider Essentials 500W ST50F-ES
Casing Bitfenix Nova
1. WD Blue 1TB
2. Samsung 840 EVO 256GB (to be installed later)
The reason I wanted to build this machine was because I wanted to claim my tax relief that I had not claimed in many years for a new PC, especially since I’m heading into a new tax bracket soon. The amount of money you save is somewhat negligible in comparison to the total, but at the very least, I get a little discount courtesy of the government, so to speak. Aside from that, I also wanted to install OSX on the machine at a later time. Therefore, all the components chosen were selected because of their compatibility for use with OSX. A big thanks to the Hackintosh community at tonymacx86.com for that. If you’re planning to do the same, you can find the list I used here: 2015 Buyer’s Guide @ Tonymacx86
Onwards to the build. First off is the casing. It was one of the cheapest casings available, going for RM149. It’s a fairly spartan casing, I would say, with very little in the way of “tool-less” setup. It had a 12cm fan at the rear exhaust, with the option for using power from either a Molex connector direct from the power supply or from the motherboard. The outer finish looks very plastic, but I’ll admit, it does look very sleek. It’s also a very, VERY light casing. Without the rest of the parts, it felt like it weighed 2 to 3 kilos at most.
In case you’re planning to add more fans, there’s actually two slots in front of the hard drive bays. It should also be noted that there are 3 bays for desktop hard drives, and one for a 2.5″ SSD. This shouldn’t be an issue since we usually only have 1 SSD, and sometimes it’s of the M.2 SATA variant. Overall though, if you’re going for a simple SSD + HDD combo, you won’t have much problems, other than having to use good old fashioned screws to mount them.
Another interesting thing is the thumb screws (not the torture implement :P) were not fully metal, rather it was a mix of metal screws and plastic “handles”. They were a perfect fit for the screw holes though, very smooth and easy to use. Aside from that, you get your usual motherboard post stands and screws together with the casing. It’s interesting to note that the stand posts that came pre-installed were for an ATX motherboard. More on that in the motherboard section.
My assistant engineer did a safety check while I was documenting, and signed off on the technical aspects later 😛
Next in the build components is the motherboard. I chose to go with the Haswell platform mainly because DDR3 RAM is still cheap, 🙂 The Gigabyte H97M-D3H is a pretty good looking board, using the H97 chipset gives an advantage of B85 chipsets in the form of extra USB 3.0 ports, among other things. The mATX form factor was also more than enough for my uses, with 2 PCIe slots, 1 for a GPU and another for a WiFi card.
Included in the box was the manual, driver CD, 2 black SATA cables, and the usual rear panel cover. The overall installation of the motherboard was pretty straight forward, aside from moving the stand posts to the correct slots (only 2 of them needed to be moved, and I added one more for stability. Unfortunately there’s one area of the motherboard that could not be physically supported, just above the RAM slots. There were no stand post holes in that area towards the right edge of the motherboard.
Next was the RAM. I opted for Kingston Hyper X 1866MHz DDR3 modules because they were cheap, and Kingston has always been pretty reliable for me. There had been one time where I had to RMA some Hyper X DDR2 units, but aside from that I still have 2 computers running on DDR2 at the moment for other purposes, so there shouldn’t be any issue. 24GB was the amount I went for in order to run virtual machines and also to do some music and video editing, which tends to be pretty memory intensive. As noted earlier, installing the RAM meant the motherboard had a bit of flex on the right side edge.
After that was the PSU, which is a simple 80+ rated 500W power supply from Silverstone. The Strider ST50F-ESB is from the Strider Essentials series, and claims to get about 85% efficiency at 50% load, and dropping to 82% at 100% load. I’ve never stress tested one of these, but at RM199 a unit, I’m not expecting much. At the same time, I have a couple of similar models from around 2010 that are still alive today, without any warranty claims against them, so I’m pretty happy with the brand.
The GPU was from another usual suspect, PowerColor. It’s the TurboDuo Radeon R9 270. A pretty decent card for RM530, it runs most of my games pretty decently. Considering I wasn’t planning to build a Godly Gaming Rig™, I figured this would be good enough for my usual casual gaming on Rocket League and TF2, without bringing the rest of the PC to its knees 😛
Last but not least was the piece de resistance, the CPU. I chose an Intel i5 4690, which is a quad-core Haswell processor. It’s a decent chip for some decent bucks, even though the Malaysian ringgit seems to be swirling in the toilet these days. But beggars can’t be choosers, and this little engine will probably keep chugging for a few years to come, as long as I keep its heatsink clean.
Finally, it’s pretty much complete! A new rig for a new era! The final piece to be added was the wireless card, which I bought later, having forgotten about it. It ended up being a TP-Link WDN4800, which is a pretty 3 antenna PCIe WiFi adapter. Overall the casing seems to be pretty decent, it had a little bit of “cable management” friendliness, however if you’re planning to be REALLY tidy with your cables, it might put you off. The balance on the casing was better after the power supply was put in, but even then, it feels very light compared to some of the older casings I’ve used. Perhaps this is the latest trend in PC casings.
The aftermath of the build was not pretty, but surprisingly I managed to clean it up in a short bit, storing the plastics and boxes for recycling.
Pancake was also happy that the build was over, cause I had to put her in her room halfway through the build when she started arguing with me about how to put everything together. Cats are such know-it-alls, I tell you.