Computer Build – Finale – The Build

IMG_0847
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!

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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 #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

Computer Build — Part #4 — The Graphics Card

gig980g1-5bThere is much debate about graphics cards. There are thousands (literally) of reviews on YouTube, and you would be wise to go listen to a few of them. In particular, listen to Linus and Jays2Cents. These guys have done the research, the testing and have an opinion to boot.

gig980g1-1bWith that being said, I made a decision on a GeForce Windforce GTX 980 G1 Gaming graphics card. It’s got 4 GB (….ok, fine 3500 mHz) of onboard RAM and an internal cooling system to boot. It does require a larger power supply, but my Sentey 750w Bronze does the trick (it could run two if I wanted).

What I LOVE about this expensive (at least to me) graphics card is that it does DVI-D, but then has 3 DisplayPorts and an HDMI. The Max number of screens it can run is 4 – and there are specific outputs you need to use to make that happen. Currently, I have two DisplayPort – DVI-D monitors running off of this card – and they are working in tandem to create one large screen. Can’t wait to get my hands on a third screen for gaming and day-trading.

There is an LED symbol on the side of this card which can be programmed to flash with music or indicate other things (like heat or activity). The interface/software for this card is pretty intuitive. It also can catalog your games and set itself for the optimal settings. It destroys SimCity and Shadow of Mordor – highest settings and all.

So far I love this card. There is a little controversy over the RAM-Gate thing (google it in regards to this model) but in the end, I’m fine with it. I don’t care THAT much.

Next week: Power and Cabling.

 

Computer Build — Part #1 — The Vision

IMG_0847Last year, I decided to build a Computer. I hadn’t done it in a while and thought that since I had the budget, I should give it a try.

I started researching all the options out there and tried to figure out what I wanted out of the machine. Was it going to be for gaming? Was it going to be for surfing? I recently took an interest in Day Trading on the stock market and one of the basic requirements was a Windows machine. I had a copy of Windows 10 that I wasn’t using and figured, now was as good a time as any to get in the game. Another requirement was multiple monitors, so I would need a graphics card that could create a multi-monitor canvas — at a reasonable price.

When building computers, you quickly learn that the sky’s the limit — so setting a budget is paramount — or you can quickly destroy any limit you have set in your head.

If you’re totally new at this – here is a general list of parts you are going to need to get off the ground – and the items I decided to go with.

  • Motherboard – ASUS Z-97A
  • HardDrive (HDD or SSD) – I went with both, SSD for Windows Operating System and large HDD for mass storage – configured in RAID for backup reasons (Sandisk SSD, WesternDigital Blue HDD)
  • Processor – Intel i7-4790K Processor
  • RAM – Corsair Vengeance 8GB (X2)
  • Computer Case – Sentey Gaming Computer Case Gs-6011 Blade w/ Transparent Panel (w/ two fans)
  • Case Fan (Cooling)
    • 2 EKWB EK-Vardar F3-120 High Static Pressure Cooling Fans
    • 2 Corsair Air Series SP120 Quiet Edition Fan
    • 1 Corsair Air Series AF120 Quiet Edition Fan
  • CPU HeatSink – Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler
  • Power Supply – Sentey Power Supply 750w Plus Bronze
  • Cables
    • Monoprice SATA III Cables w/ locking latch (90 Degrees)
    • 12″ PWM 4 Pin Extension Cable (for fans)
    • Silverstone Tech All Black 1 to 2 Sleeved PWM Fan Splitter
    • Silverstone Tek Sleeved Extension Power Supply Cable w/ 1X Motherboard 24 pin Connector
    • Silverstone Tek Sleeved Extension Power Supply Cable w/ 1X 8 Pin to EPS 12V 8-Pin Connector (graphics card)
    • HDMI/DVI-D/Display Port Cables (depends on your graphics card).

I think that about covers it for me. I’ll start posting every Friday about each element and why I chose the items I did. Next week, the Computer Tower Case.