I was pretty satisfied with the PC I had built for myself. It served its purpose really well and after figuring out the difference between 32 and 64 bit OSes, I installed XP 64 on it. I eventually took part in the Microsoft ‘Windows House Party’ concept that they used when releasing Windows 7, bagging a copy of Win 7 Ultimate for myself as a reward for my shameless promotion. Hehe. Over time I upgraded the hard drives, RAM, video card, case, and power supply. It ran well and I had no aspirations whatsoever of building a whole new one for myself.
The stuff that went into my PC build
Then in August 2010 my flatmate skipped town without giving proper notice and rent. He stupidly thought that his deposit could cover his rent but that was with the landlord and wouldn’t be released unless we ALL moved out. Plus he kinda wrecked the room. My girlfriend and I managed to cover the rent and bills without too much of a hassle (we kinda figured he’d do this and had kept a little nest egg precisely for this) but were pretty financially tapped out at the end. He did however leave lots of stuff behind for me to deal with (a bunch of video game systems for starters), and thanks to eBay I was able to make back some money that we had lost because of his immaturity and lack of responsibility. I did manage to ‘serve him a cold dish’ (watch Star Trek II if you don’t get that) which he to this day doesn’t know about, but that’s a story I will not elaborate on, especially here. With the money I got from the insane amount of eBaying I did, I decided to build myself a new rig. I had to cannibalise a couple of parts from the previous build of PC (like the Logitech Cordless Desktop Wave PRO
), but I kinda see that as a ‘passing of the torch’/evolutionary sort of thing.
Though I decided to build my PC in August, I knew it would be a long process that would include tons of research, scouring of the net for the best deals (I’m kinda OCD that way) and a lot of planning. Plus it would take time to hock all that stuff on eBay. In reality, I actually started building the PC at the end of November, with the initial purchasing starting mid-November. I wanted a system that was not fairly recent but properly current when I built it. So I scoured the net for the ‘coming soon’ tech that was droolworthy, along with the basic stuff that I had already decided I was gonna buy.
The first thing I started researching was what motherboard I wanted. I can’t really say I’m partial towards processor manufacturers, Intel make some very good tech in my opinion, as do AMD. I chose to go with an AMD based rig because I felt I was getting more bang for my buck. I had also been using AMD tech for a while then and it just felt like the right thing to do. After over a month of checking out reviews, previews and a whole lot of youtube videos for socket AM3 motherboards, I created a Google Alert for the Asus Crosshair IV Extreme
, from the Republic of Gamers series of tech. This mobo struck me as not only pretty hardcore, but also quite badass to look at. It was going to be available Oct-Nov time so I set up the alert to keep up with any news and stuff that would pop up in the meantime. It gave me a wealth of information, and helped me decide on a lot of the other components that I bought for the build. When I finally bought it, I compared a buttload of online shopping sites for the best deal, finally making my order with the added benefit of come cashback from TopCashBack
. I was at work when the order was delivered, but was so eager to get my hands on it, I took a taxi into the next county to the DHL warehouse just so I could get my parcel sooner. So much for cheap delivery. Along with the mobo, I ordered a Pioneer BDR-205BK Bluray Writer
, as I was getting tired of being restricted by the capacity of DVDs.
|The Asus Crosshair IV Extreme. Pretty, isn’t it?
Once I had ordered the motherboard, I logically had to get a processor for it. The best AMD processor available at the time was the Phenom II 1090T Black Edition
, a hex core processor. It arrived aroung the same time as the motherboard. I also decided on 4GB of G.Skill Flare Series RAM
for my build; by the time I bought them, they were certified to work with the mobo and had some pretty awesome sounding timing configurations.
I had always wanted to have my system in a Corsair Obsidian 800D
case, even before I decided to build this new PC. It struck me as a case that would be fitting of the word ‘behemoth’. Not only was it one of the largest PC towers I had ever seen, I really liked how it was partitioned into separate ‘thermal zones’. Basically, the power supply, motherboard and hard drives would have their own compartments within the case where their excess heat would not interfere with the other components. I thought this was a stroke of genius. It also had removable drive bays for SATA drives. All I had to do was mount the drives into the supplied bracket, and then slide it into the case. The black, sinister demeanor of the case screamed ‘juggernaut’ whenever I looked at product pictures of it. I probably decided on buying that case about a year before even thinking about a new build, it was one of those ‘One day I will own this’ wishlist purchases. It certainly wasn’t cheap, and I don’t think that I would have even started to build this rig if I hadn’t done all that eBaying. Along with my case, I picked up my SSD (a Crucial C300 64GB RealSSD
) , a couple of cooling fans, and some Sharkoon rubber bolt
sets to install said fans.
|Intimidation meets elegance. The Corsair Obsidian 800D
As a sort of utility based purchase, I picked up a couple of Scythe Kama Cabinets. These are basically drawers the size of an optical disk drive that slot into the PC the same way a dvd writer would. I bought them because I knew the most my system would have was a Bluray writer and a DVD writer, leaving three 5.25″ bays free. I used two for these cabinets. Very convenient I use them to store stuff that I use on a regular basis. They also serve as handy storage for screws, nuts and bolts that I would probably lose in the long run, and are brilliant for storing loose USB flashdrives. In the remaining free bay, I’ve installed the Zalman ZM-MFC-3 Fan Controller that was previously installed in my older PC. It’s hooked up to 4 of the fans in the case but the things I really like about it (apart from the fact that it looks very cool) are the temperature sensors and the voltage display. It gives me a realtime reading of my watt usage and lets me keep tabs on my case temps without having to use software. Because the actual unit has a silver bezel, I’ve actually gone over the entire front with a black marker to keep in line with the case’s design. I keep telling myself to go out and buy some matte black paint to make it look better but procrastination always gets the better of me.
|Geeky tech indeed.
When it came down to cooling my processor, I was admittedly a little scared. I’d only ever used air cooled heatsinks and custom water cooling systems – though very cool – scared the hell out of me because I didn’t know where to start. The overclock.net
forums proved invaluable when it came to choosing my motherboard and all the components for it. I decided on a closed loop water cooling system for my board. I bought a Corsair H70 CPU Cooler
which worked out nicely. I had a water cooled system for my processor, and it wasn’t too confusing to set up or expensive. I already had a good power supply from the previous system for my rig, the Corsair HX-850W
which I had to buy because the old one quite dramatically blew a fuse on me. I’ve found Corsair
stuff to be very good over the years and can highly recommend them.
The Crosshair IV Extreme
has 8 SATA ports on it. Two were SATA II and the other 6 were SATA III. I used the SATA II ports for my optical drives and then hooked up 4 of them to the SATA bays that were in the case. The other two I hooked up to drives that I installed below the removable drive bays. In total, I hooked up 4TB up to my system, and they’re mostly filled with backups of backups of backups. I wanted the black theme of my rig to be all encompassing, so I replaced my monitors with twin BenQ BL902M LCD monitors
. I’d been wanting to upgrade the monitors anyway from 17″ to 19″ anyway, and this was the perfect excuse. I even got a couple of desk mounts to free up some space on my desk, which made everything look pretty slick. The last purchase I made for my build was a Sapphire Radeon 6870 1GB video card
. And there you have it. My monster of a rig, which I have named Tensa Zangetsu, a moniker I am quite fond of (bankai FTW).
Stay tuned for some reviews of the gadgets that I spoil myself with from now on, the intro is over.
So say we all,