First build in over 15 years, and boy have things changed! I took extra care to make sure I handled each piece with delicacy and made sure to have my anti-static wristband and mat available every step of the way.
I built this system for a few reasons.
1.) I used to be strictly desktop only back in my youth and high school days. Then I purchased a laptop when I went to college, keeping my desktop around until it decided to break down. Four years later, that first laptop broke down as well, so I went ahead and invested $1100 in a more customized HP laptop, leaving my desk empty of any desktop whatsoever. Now, 5 years later, that laptop is finally starting to fail on me, despite a complete refresh of its system and dumping all erroneous junk as much as possible. Thinking about the fact that I own a Chromebook, an older Dell laptop from a past job, a new Dell laptop for work, as well as my partner having her own laptop at home - I figured it was time to delve back in to desktops.
2.) You can't customize anything anymore from Dell, HP, or even Alienware! So I just decided to bite the bullet and build my own dogonnit.
3.) I didn't want to pay a bucket load for a more advanced system just because it was built by someone else and assembled. I'm pretty tech savvy and have engineering blood running through my veins, so I thought this was would be a great project to attempt, while also having a bit of fun.
The build took a long time, longer than I anticipated essentially. I expected to work on this beast for a good 6 hours or so - start to finish (finish being that I had the computer running and got my copy of Windows installed on my SSD). It ended up taking me 9 hours (10 hours total but I took an hour break for dinner).
I ran into a huge issue on my first attempt at startup - the machine wouldn't turn on...
However, the power button on my motherboard turned on, and I checked the voltage on all of the parts - they were all running fine. So it wasn't my PSU. At that point, I figured it was one of two things - either the graphics card wasn't seated correctly, or my processor wasn't making appropriate contact.
I opened up the machine again and removed the CPU cooler. As soon as I did that, I noticed the problem. There was thermal compound EVERYWHERE!! I removed the CPU and took to it with my anti-static wristband, TONS of soft tissues, and a prayer or three. I wiped the CPU clean of all of the thermal compound, wiped the CPU cage clean as well, and cleaned off the entire surface of the CPU cooler. Once every piece was completely cleaned off, I went back to reassembling. I applied a much thinner layer of thermal compound to the CPU cooler, spreading it evenly with a soft kitchen rubber spreader (still with my anti-static wristband on), and set everything back up. I plugged everything in to the PSU again, and made sure all of the connections were completely set and seated properly.
Upon my second attempt at powering on the system, it worked! I actually exclaimed "Hallelujah!" at the top of my lungs when it burst to life, and continued on with the initial BIOS setup and OS installation (Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit).
The machine is beautiful and I'm quite happy with it. Once I get all of the drivers installed and am able to really stretch it's legs, I plan on putting my three favorite games on my SSD (Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Skyrim) for fast play and load times, and seeing what this baby can handle.
For a relatively budget friendly gaming system, I hope you'll consider this build. With all of the components, and spending more money in the right places, I hope to have this system for a long time, and build on it as I can through the years.
P.S. I will update this as I go along - with photos, temperatures, clock speeds, load times, and component features.
The go-to for the more budget savvy gamer. The 4690k is the best "bang for your buck" Intel processor, and it's a great CPU for any system.
A large piece but still gets the job done, and done well. Only reason for the 4-star review is due to its size. Almost thought it wouldn't fit in my case.
A seriously amazing MOBO, so happy that I went with this board. The reset, CMOS, power button, and LED display really helped me through the initial startup, and makes it so incredibly easy to make changes and fix errors. Not to mention the longer warranty of 5-years compared to the standard 3-year, AND the 178 hours of testing these boards go through at Gigabyte's server center in Taiwan before even being shipped out for sale to ensure quality. An amazing beyond amazing board, prompting me to forever be a Gigabyte fan.
Beautiful case - sleek, classy, well-designed, modern. All NZXT cases are gorgeous, and this is just one of the examples.