Building A Custom PC 2011 Part 2: First Draft
In Building A Custom PC 2011 Part 1: The Assessment I mentioned what I'd needed in a new Pc that I was about to build. I have mentioned my expectations and other requirements in the same article. Today I'm using the information to select a first set of components that I might use to build the new PC. This is a first draft as I plan to buy the new PC in the second half of 2011. That's a long time away in terms of new components that may get released in the meantime.
Lets start with a list of components that I need to build the PC:
Core PC Components
- Motherboard - Determined mostly by the selected cpu and required connections.
- CPU - Intel or AMD are options.
- CPU Cooler
- Power Supply
- RAM - Maximum RAM may be limited by operating system and motherboard.
- Video Card - AMD or NVIDIA. Onboard is not an option for the PC that I want to build.
- Storage - SSD or conventional hard drives, or both.
- PC Case - Basic or with extras.
- Optical drives - DVD writer is a must, Blu-Ray not really needed.
- Mouse and keyboard
- Computer monitor
- Audio Card / Onboard
- Headset with Microphone
When I build a PC I usually start with the selection of the processor and go from there. When I have the processor I know which motherboard I need. From there I get the RAM, video card and the other components.
I never go for the fastest cpu available. The price difference to less powerful processors is just to steep and does not justify the price, at least not for a desktop computer. You can save lots of money if you buy a slightly less powerful cpu. That still leaves the question if it should be an Intel or AMD cpu. I do not really have a preference in this regard but have used Intel in the past which is why I stick with Intel on this one.
I definitely want to pick cpus with Intel's new Sandy Bridge architecture. You may notice that Sandy Bridge processors are offered with and without k after the number. K indicates cpus with an unlocked multiplier, which is great if you are into overclocking.
The following two cpus are my favorites currently.
- Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz - $230
- Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz - $320
The Core i7 is faster than its Core i5 counterpart but not as much as you might expect. Hardcoreware have compared the performance of both cpus. The differences range from negligible when it comes to PC gaming to somewhat noticeable for tasks like rendering or archiving. Does that justify the $90 extra that you have to pay for the i7-2600k? Not necessarily.
Now that I have the cpu, I can start evaluating motherboards for that cpu. Both processors require LGA 1155 socket type motherboards. Motherboards come in all sizes and shapes, and it is important to have a solid understanding of what you want before you start picking the first one you see. For instance, do you need USB 3.0, Firewire or Bluetooth support? Want two or four memory slots? Should it have a 1000 Gigabit Ethernet port? How many PCI Express slots should it have, and should it have PCI slots as well? What about SATA 6 GB/s?
My requirements are the following: I want a motherboard with an UEFI-BIOS which offers many advantages. I'd also like SATA 6 GB/s support and USB 3.0 support. I want it to have onboard sound, and I do not need PCI slots, only PCI Express. It should have at least one Gigabit Ethernet port.
The following two motherboards are my favorites:
- ASRock P67 EXTREME4 - $160
- MSI P67A-GD55 (B3) - $165
Both support all the features that I need and affordable enough.
I usually do not use boxed cpu coolers as they are often to loud and do not cool the cpu down as good as third party coolers. Still, I often try them out first before I purchase a new cooler. For now, it is the boxed cooler that I'll use. Selecting the right cooler is a science for itself.
One cooler that I'm currently looking at is the Noctua NH-U9B SE2 92mm.
The power supply has to be efficient and silent at the same time. It is at least 80 Plus power supplies that I'm after, preferably Gold standard.
My old PC has an Enermax Modu 87+ 700W and I want to buy the same power unit for the new PC as well. It is almost silent and very effective thanks to its Gold rating.
- ENERMAX MODU87+ EMG700AWT 700W - $180
My old Pc has 8 Gigabytes of Ram, and my intention is to double the amount of RAM on the new one. This may be overkill and I know that. Still, the price seems to be right.
- G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - $210
- CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - $210
I just bought a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 which is sufficient for all the gaming that I do. I will keep the card for now in the system, and get a new card in a year's time when new cards are released by AMD and NVIDIA.
The card is a Zotac GeForce GTX 470
The combination of a fast Solid State Drive for the system partition, and a large conventional hard drive for storage is in my opinion excellent. My intention is to buy a new generation SSD that promises even faster speeds as this generation.
My current favorite is the OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-120G. It is a bit pricey right now at $300.
The conventional hard drive should have storage capacities of at least 2 TB, better three. I only want one additional drive because of heat and noise.
One options is to wait until the new versions of the Seagate Barracuda XT are available which manage to pack 1 TB of data on one platter, making the 3 TB drive a three platter drive.
The drive currently retails for $200. Prices will drop when availability increases. I may alternatively look at a slower 5400 rpm drive.
My old PC case is a Lian Li PC-8NB with additional noise protection build in. I'd like to buy the exact same tower for my new PC. It retails for roughly $150.
DVD writers are very cheap nowadays and they are all that I need. You can get them for about $20. I have had good experience with Samsung drives in the past and will purchase one for the new PC as well.
CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz - $230
Motherboard: ASRock P67 EXTREME4 - $160
PSU: ENERMAX MODU87+ EMG700AWT 700W - $170
Ram: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 16GB - $210
Video Card: None
SSD: OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-120G - $300
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda XT - $200
PC Case: Lian Li PC-8NB - $150
DVD Writer: Samsung HD203WI - $20
The complete PC in this form sets me back $1440. If you add a $200 video card and peripherals like mouse and keyboard you end up at about $1800 for the whole system without monitor. That's a lot of money for a computer system. I could probably reduce that by half if I'd change the components.
Have you built a PC lately? What where your components?Advertisement