Lets Build – Finishing Up

The last (planned) part in this mini-series regarding the build – more may appear with further reviews or problems that I encounter if needed.

With everything assembled and working – I had a functioning computer! Windows 7 was installed, drivers were updated, some programs were on and all of the hardware seemed to be going fine, however I found myself opening up the convenient front door of the case, as well as smacking side panels off again.. but why?

8 Pin power extension

8 pin EPS12V 30cm cableBefore, my CPU 8 pin power cable went straight from the PSU, over the graphics card, and back down to the board – fairly untidy. I invested in a £4.68 8 pin EPS12V 30cm black extension cable. [I noticed you can get these in different colours from this seller, and different sizes elsewhere on eBay. Just make sure you don’t get a PCI-E one, also 8 pin]. I routed this around the back of the case by the rear exhaust fan, and over the top of the case to the port on the board. Looks much better.

SATA III (3) flat 6gbps cable I also purchased a SATA 3 locking 6gbps cable (45cm) for £2.24. This was due to needing a flat SATA3 connector for my SSD – as I was mounting it on the convenient mounting points on rubber feet located at the bottom of my Antec DF35 case. The 90 degree cables were unusable, as they tried to go out of the SSD and downwards – where the case was. Fitted this cable fine, the SSD didn’t mind it, and CrystalDiskMark showed the same read and write benchmark tests (I wanted to ensure it was a 6gbps cable!).

I also ordered a PS/2 to USB connector to try with my old keyboard – just to see if it would work. That still hasn’t come yet though.

SSD Performance

This PC boots extremely quickly compared to my old computers – although it does stay around the BIOS level a long time.

The above YouTube video is of my computer booting. When I press the power button, about a second later it turns on and activates the extension lead (the PC is the “master”) and this turns on all the “slave” ports which include the monitors, speakers etc. I timed 40.1 seconds from pushing the button to the desktop. I started Chrome and opened a website (my webmail) just to show that the internet was up and ready to go straight away. Off to Facebook in 40 seconds? Pretty good.

Macromedia Fireworks loads very quickly too – somewhere just under 1.8 seconds. The pc changes from Aero to Windows basic mode (fireworks, flight sim x etc need basic mode) almost instantaneously. Notepad++ starts in about half a second, Google Chrome starts as though it was minimized, and even Internet Explorer doesn’t freeze when it starts (not that I use it. Ever. Apart from when Hotmail forced me to use it :/ ).

Farming Simulator 2011

A game I particularly enjoy, old computer handled it very well. This one handles it perfectly with even better graphics. Rarely if ever lags, the only jolts are caused by me doing things like driving forage harvesters into solid guard rails..

Flight Simulator X

Flight Sim X - Approaching Key West (INTL?)I’d like to talk to you about Flight Simulator X – the latest Flight Sim at the time of writing (21/11/2011) – and my old computer with a beefy ATI HD6850 card would be able to handle it perfectly, I thought. I was half right – it ran it fine, but the settings were medium or low/medium to be on the safe side, to try and prevent lag and slow frame rates. I installed it to this computer (I chose to install it to the SSD – which has only 54 precious gb left free) – and fired it up to have a play. I plugged my Saitek joystick in, and luckily Windows 7 found the drivers and installed them quickly – I was notified by it’s success by my aeroplane suddenly throttling up as it began to rumble along the runway. After cleaning the dust out of my scarcely-used joystick, I took off the parking break and went for a fly. It was smooth – very smooth, and the scenery looked very good too. Once up in the air (I took off from the smaller Key West airport – Florida), I decided to check out the “Display” settings to see how high I could get them to go without it becoming laggy. To my amazement, the game had detected what hardware it was allowed to use, and had ramped every setting up to “Ultra High”. After a small flight, I turned on my second screen, and got another view (View – new view) of outside my aircraft and put that full screen on the second screen. So now the game was running 2 x 20″ inch HD screens of different Flight Sim windows, and it handled it perfectly! I touched down at the (International?) larger airport after seeing many building and even tankers docked by land. I am sure there is much more to explore with the new graphics, and I certainly will at some point. I ran Hardware Monitor and the temperatures were slightly raised, but still nowhere near hot. When I play again, I will get some figures for you.

Conclusion

Well I think that’s all for now, so I will pop a small conclusion here for anyone who doesn’t want to (and I don’t blame you) read the entire blog – as I am sure there are many thousands of words. I have tried to include as many pretty pictures as I can – not an amazingly easy feat with WordPress – but not bad. Adding that YouTube video was fine – when you upload, you get a link and a button to “Embed” (into a webpage). It will give you some small HTML code – just pop this into the HTML version of your blog (hit the HTML tag on the top right when writing a post).

So what did I do? – and some quick comments and ratings

I built a computer based around the Intel i7(10/10), with:

  • Asus P8Z68-V motherboard – pretty perfect – 9/10
  • CoolerMaster Hyper Evo cooler – quiet, slow, big – 10/10
  • 8gb of Corsair Vengeance RAM – looks good – 10/10 for my purposes
  • OCZ Agility 3 120gb SSD – annoying firmware, amazing device – 9/10
  • ATI HD6850 graphics card – great card, few outputs, 6 pin power – 9/10
  • Two 1tb Samsung Hard Disks - audible, take a few seconds to spin up – 8.5/10
  • OCZ 600w ModXStream PSU – good modular design, quality – 9/10
  • All encased in an Antec Dark Fleet DF 35 – many cool features, no USB 3.0, fans a little loud – 8.5/10

Some peripherals include:

  • Logitech MX518 Gaming Mouse – great mouse – 9/10
  • Logitech K200 keyboard – simple, standard, basic – 8/10
  • TP-Link TL-WN722N wifi adapter – fine wifi adapter – 9.5/10
  • Microsoft LifeCam webcam – good webcam, very sensitive microphone – 8.5/10
  • 2 Samsung 2033HD 20″ HD screens – great screens, many many inputs [Click to see review] – 9/10
  • Logitech X-140 desktop speakers – Good speakers, good adjustable bass, input and output on right one – 8.5/10

I am sure to write blog posts about some of these at some point – as I do take a very long time to choose what I buy, and am rarely disappointed with my purchases.

Going back to what I built – the PC runs Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit – very good, the only real choice for computer enthusiasts (especially if you have over 4gb of RAM – you need 64 bit rather than 32 bit).

Why did you build?

My old PC was getting a bit slow and out of date with its dual core. I went for an i7 due to it’s immense power, and hopefully it will not need upgrading in the near future. I opted for a 120gb SSD as I have filled 65gb already, I wanted to put some programs on it – not just the OS. I will still have to install some programs to my spinning disks, though. My documents also live on the spinning drives too. 8 gb of RAM should be more than enough for my needs, and coupled with the awesome CPU and the great ATI HD6850, they make mince meat of any games. Going to try out Portal 2 soon.

Would you do it again?

The most important question, in my opinion – to someone having done it, would you do it again, and why?
Yes. I would build this again, were this one to spontaneously combust (it shouldn’t, don’t worry). Would I opt for the same components? Yes, probably – I’d maybe consider the Corsair Force 3 SSD a bit more, but would still go for the OCZ in the end. Also make sure you have a legit copy of Windows 7, they just feel safer. I’d love a bigger SSD – but they are so expensive, a 120gb will more than suffice.
Well just a note to say thanks very much for reading, please leave any comments and I will try and get back to them as soon as I can. Alternatively email me or click here.