Computer Build – Finale – The Build

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IMG_0845Here is the finished Product. She is a wonderful machine that runs fast, quiet and fairly cool. It’s a shame that I don’t get to use her more often as I can, but when I do get to use it, it’s the best machine I own. IMG_0849I’m really happy with the final product and it actually makes using Windows 10 somewhat manageable. I am using two Dell monitors for the time being which are wall mounted and then set to canvas on the G1 Gaming card. This way, you can set a panoramic photo as your background wallpaper and see the entirety of the shot. There are some great images online that folks have taken. This one on mine is of NYC Manhatten.

I appreciate you checking in on this project once a week. Hope you’ve learned something to boot!

Computer Build – Part #10 – Accessories

610Rgb0J0xL._SL1001_Happy Canada Day!!!

Ok, now on to Part#10.

When you build a computer, you also probably want some additional things. For example, you’re going to want to buy cables to plug in monitors and such. I highly suggest getting long high-quality cables to connect your monitors, machine and other items together. For example, I bought two DisplayPort to DVI-D cables (10 ft) so that I could run great picture quality to a DVI capable monitor. The picture looks great and I am happy that these cables are not banjo-stringed to the machine. I actually have the computer on the other side of the desk and the monitors mounted to a wall about 6 ft away. I love it.

pi_engineering_x_keys_xk_24_programmable_keypad_p3_1250x640Another accessory that I picked up was a 24-key Xkey device. Basically, it’s a USB keypad that you can program to execute commands. Great for starting programs quickly or if you are doing specific tasks repeatedly. I bought it because I was planning on learning some day-trading techniques and knew that with the push of one button, I could set an order with a preset amount of shares and get out of orders very quickly. I paper traded with it for about a week but didn’t have the chance to really sit down and iron out all the buttons I wanted. The three I got working are amazing and I could sell all positions with the push of a single button. I’m really excited to try it out more – and it has a cool LED background-lit function – which is also programmable. I might try to set it up for a few games too – just to see if I can simplify commands. You can tell it to operate the same for ALL applications or App-specific (so if you change applications, the same keys can be programmed differently for more than one app).

51ClW9xDmGL._SY300_Lastly: headphones. I bought a set of Audio-Technica AD-700x’s which are open-backed headphones — amazing for focused attention listening. They do allow outside noises into the area around the drivers, but they create large soundstages, so if you are playing dynamic games – you can crank them up and hear just about anything at any distance. I love these headphones – plus, because they are open, they don’t let your ears get too sweaty. Also great for movie watching and especially Binaural Audio – like the Verge’s NYC Walk-around. Check it out on YouTube with a good set of headphones. You’ll be amazed.

Anyway, those are the three main additions outside of the computer itself. For monitors, I just use standard 1080p Dell monitors – and they serve my needs well. I am looking to buy 3 and set them up together soon – but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure I’ll talk about that when it goes down.

Up Next: The final build!

Computer Build — Part #9 — Hard Drives and RAID 1

One of the things people HATE about computers is how long it takes for the operating system to boot up. When a traditional hard drive has to spin and find all the data it needs, it consumes power and time to achieve this goal.

Luckily, for you, there is a solution. SSD drives, although more expensive initially, can help reduce boot times and increase productivity. The main drawback is their size in comparison to traditional HDD drive.

Before going on, I should also explain RAID 1 configurations. In the hard drive world, you can set them to work in tandem together – and in several configurations. The following list explains the 2 most common RAID configurations:

  • RAID 0: This configuration between two or more hard drives writes the data across the storage units. It’s known as striping – meaning if someone were to steal a drive from your machine, they would only obtain half of the data.
  • RAID 1: This uses two drives of the same size to create a backup copy. When if one of the hard drives dies, all the data is copied (we call it an image) to a second drive – meaning you just swap them out and keep going. This is one of the most common uses of RAID. The only problem is, if you get a virus on one, you get a virus on both. It does not help you if you mess up the data itself on the drive.

71tpwWHXlOL._SL1500_I chose to use two SSD drives as my Windows 10 operating system, configured in RAID 1. This way if one had a problem or one died, I could easily switch them out and keep running. I also did the same with 2-1TB hard drives for mass storage. This way, again, if and when one dies, I can handle it and keep moving. I went with SanDisk’s Internal 120GB 2.5 inch SSD. They are probably the cheapest SSD’s you could go with without compromising reliability. They aren’t the best, but they get the job done and a lot faster than HHD.

71UN+Ex0ioL._SL1500_I also chose to go with WesterDigital’s Blue 1 TB drives for my mass storage. They fit well in the case and work well configured under RAID 1. I use these primarily for my gaming purposes – where read/write speed isn’t the most critical. They are great drives with a good company behind them. In hindsight, I might choose to go with a green drive instead from WD, but – meh. I don’t care too much.

It should be noted that RAID 1 takes 2 hard drives of the same size and pretends like it’s one hard drive. So if I set up my 2 1-TB hard drives in RAID 1, my computer thinks that I only have 1 TB hard drive. Same with the SSD’s because it’s copying all my files that I save to both drives (like a backup).

I’d recommend these drives as options for your machine. The SSD boots up Windows 10 in 17 seconds – from dead-cold to Go. It’s awesome. I highly recommend doing that, if anything.

Next Week: Accessories.

 

Computer Build — Part #8 — Fans

There are a ton of opinions and options when it comes to Fan choices for your computer. There are expensive ones and there are economical ones. It all depends on what you want and what your budget can allow. There are two major types of fans in the Computer-fan world. First, there is what’s called a Static Pressure (SP) fan. Essentially, these are for placing up against something (heatsink, radiators, etc) to push the air through. The other type of fan is commonly referred to as Air Flow (AF) fans designed for more open spaces like Computer Case wall openings.

ek-vardar-140I went with two main choices in this build. First, I chose to use two expensive fans for the main exhaust out the top of the machine. The photo on the right is an EK-Vardar High Static F3 120mm Cooling Fan, from EKWB. They are well known for their dependability and quietness, but at $25 a piece, I should hope so. Granted, they are slick looking and do run extra quiet, even at high RPM’s. I installed them in the top of my case and together, they make the overall look of the computer have a professional and high-quality look. IMG_4274Anyone who knows their computer fans also knows that these are a bit like the sports car of the computer fan world – but I don’t think any of my friends are that advanced with computer fan knowledge. Here’s a look at the top of the computer.

Secondarily, and primarily for budgeting reasons, I purchased 4 Corsair Air Series SP120 Quiet Edition Fans. These fans are much more reasonable in price (about half the price) and usually come in a twin pack – so I ordered 2-twin packs (4 total) from Amazon for about $50 total. They also come with interchangeable colored rings that can coincide with the case color – but I just use the white ones so if I change out the LED’s one day, they will still match.

IMG_0845Lastly, there were two clear-plastic (blue LED) fans that came with my case. They were installed in the front and back of the case, but when I installed the purchased ones, I took those out. Then my CPU Cooler-Master arrived. I got looking at it and realized that there was room for two 120mm fans on the sides of the Heatsink. So, I took those two, clear, blue-LED fans and snapped them onto the Heatsink – pointing them to the rear Corsair exhaust fan. They are probably the loudest of them all, but they do push the heat out of the case and into the room. I might end up buying some High Static ones for this eventually, but the added light in the case is welcome – and like I said, they get the job done.

Next Week: Hard Drives & RAID Options

Computer Build — Part #7 — RAM

1902733With my computer build, I wanted to be able to expand the RAM option should I ever think that I needed to up my “game.” I decided to start out with one 8 GB stick of Corsair’s Vengeance 1600 Mhz RAM and to get the computer built and running, it did the job. Soon after that, and for only another $40, I ordered a second stick and get that installed too. The current build is now at 16 GB, and according to many people online, 16 is kind of the sweet spot for Gaming right now. A lot of people go straight to 32 or more, but that is more about bragging rights than it is about actual functionality. Besides, with onboard RAM on graphics cards (like my G1 Gaming with 4 GB dedicated), a lot of the real drawdown from the RAM is now dedicated to other functions – meaning, you get back a lot more useable Motherboard installed RAM when the Graphics Process is taken care of with onboard Graphics RAM.

So currently I have 16, and for $80, I could double it. It’s not the sweetest RAM in the world, and it’s not the fastest either, but for all my applications, it makes the most sense (and cents).

Next week: Internal Fans

Computer Build — Part #6 — Processor

The processor is another topic where if you have the money, you can pay for whatever you want. Do you want AMD or Intel? Which does your motherboard support? Do you want i5 or i7? What do you want to do with it, gaming or business/home? Are you planning to Overclock? How important is peak processing power?

These questions need to be asked because essentially, you are choosing the brain power of your computer. The short of it is – if you are into gaming, you are looking at nothing less than an i7 processor. If you are into business/home applications, you might consider an i5. i3’s are strictly for computer purchases made by people who don’t know any better (think Best Buy shopper). Don’t buy an i3 – you can do better and will want better in the very soon future.

This is another topic where you need to consult the experts on YouTube, in particular, Linus’ discussion on the differences between models. He can clear up a lot of confusion and answer some of your basic questions.

In the end, I decided upon the i7-4790K Intel Chip. I spent about 330$ on it from Amazon and consider it one of two wisest choices I made with this machine. It can overclock up to 4.4 GHz and will handle everything I can throw at it – for the time being.

This part of the computer, however, is constantly evolving and new technology is coming out all the time, every new year. This chip will soon be obsolete and I will have to invest in something else one day – but today, in 2016, it does a great job. I am happy to recommend this product, should it fit your motherboard and computer specs (and budget).

Next week: RAM

Computer Build — Part #5 — Power & Cabling

 

There is a lot of discussion on Power Supplies when it comes to computer builds — and like everything, it comes down to what you want and can afford. Truthfully, I didn’t want something basic. You can easily get a 600w power supply and be fine, but I wanted a small step into the gaming world and came across the Sentey 750-watt Bronze Metal Blade power supply. This thing is pretty sweet and runs really quietly. It has more than enough power for the current build specs and my future plans for this machine. I purchased it for about 55$ at the time off of Amazon and with Amazon Prime, it was here within 2 days. Now, one of those photos indicates that the cables are long enough to reach throughout the case – but do not

Now, one of those photos indicates that the cables are long enough to reach throughout the case – but anyone who has customized a case before should know that this is strictly a marketing tactic and subjective to the manufacturer. In all reality, I still had to purchase extension cables to make most of the cable management work.

This model also comes in two styles. One is the model shown above. The newer models, however, for a few more dollars, come in modular options, meaning you can remove cables you are not wanting to use. I wasn’t too interested in this at the time, but in hindsight, I wish I would have gotten it. The case I purchased was a bit tight on extra cable management space and so hiding these extra cables is a bit of a chore.

In the end, the product does deliver what it promised and I am pleased to recommend this product to anyone who is interested in purchasing it.

Next week: Processor