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Build

A Safe Bet

by StevenM

17
16 Comments

Details

Date Published

Dec. 7, 2015

Date Built

Nov. 14, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

4 GHz

Description

I wanted a replacement for my 8 year old Dell and after looking at what was available decided to build my own. This is my second build with the first about 18 years ago, boy have things changed.

My goal for this build was a powerful, quiet and energy efficient machine that will be used for productivity work, media streaming and some coding. Since I will not be gaming and wanted energy efficiency I am giving the integrated graphics a try for now.

I tried to select components that have a good reputations, presented good value and contributed to the objectives of powerful, quiet and efficient.

Part Reviews

CPU

Probably a bit overkill for what I needed but I wanted to make sure the integrated graphics were all they could be since I am trying to go without a dedicated GPU. It’s nice to know the performance is there if I need it. My pre-purchase concerns were for energy efficiency since this is not a low TDP part but so far it seems efficient with total system wattage in the 30-75 watt range.

CPU Cooler

Gave an AIO some consideration but since I am not going to over clock figured this would be sufficient. An AIO would have added a second fan and a pump so that would probably hurt my goals of quiet and lower energy consumption. For now this cooler seems to be providing enough cooling for my current needs. The EVO seems to be the go to air cooler and it is cheap and quiet. The savings here could allow for a little splurging on other components.

Motherboard

First it was going to be Asus then it was going to be MSI. After sorting thru the reviews and features I ended up on this one. At the time I choose this board the reviews were pretty good and it had the features I was looking for which included two M.2 slots. Video ports for HDMI, DVI and display port. Not too much red and was a bit cheaper than the gaming focused boards. At first I thought I had a bad unit because 4 of the 8 SATA3 ports were not working. Then I realized I put the M.2 PCIe drive in the wrong slot. There are only like 20 PCIe lanes available on Z170 chipset after the CPU gets done with what it needs... so those 20 lanes need to be divided up somehow. The M.2 slot next to the CPU shares its four lanes with four of the SATA ports. The other M.2 slot shares its four lanes with the third PCIe slot, the x4 slot. So if you are using a M.2 PCIe drive you have to decide if you are giving up 4 SATA3 ports or the one PCIe x4 slot. If the M.2 drive is a SATA drive then the compromises are different. Audio on this board sounded good to me and a big improvement over my old systems audio. The only problem I have now with this mobo is the relatively long boot time, see the Samsung 950 below for more on that.

Memory

Wanted to pick memory that was on the supported list for the mother board. Its DDR4-3000 and I was able to enable the XMP option in the BIOS without issue. Not too much red so that was good also.

Storage

This recently released SSD is a four lane PCIe NVMe which has speeds like 3 to 4 times faster then the SATA3 SSD we have been using in recent years. Windows 10 64bit (1511) installed from a USB 3.0 flash drive in about 8 minutes. Because it is NVMe the BIOS has to be compatible to allow booting from this drive. Older mobos that have a M.2 slot may not be able to boot from this drive without a BIOS upgrade. It is currently available in 256GB and 512GB with a 960GB version coming out early 2016.

Boot time with this drive is the one issue I am having with this system. My old system was slow to boot and so that was something I wanted to improve on . I see other builders reporting SATA SSD booting in 10-20 seconds... My expectations for this PCIe drive were high but so far not realized. With this Gigabyte UD5 mobo I am getting boot times of about 50 seconds. I had read somewhere that there was additional initialization for the BIOS to allow booting from PCIe NVMe which may be accounting for the additional time during boot-up. It seems like it get stuck for about 30-35 seconds before I see any sign of Windows starting up. But now I have seen builds using other motherboards with the Samsung 950 PRO which have sub 10 second boot times so I have opened a support ticket with Gigabyte to see what they have to say about this.

Storage

I wanted a big HDD to store media and not have to worry about space for a while. I plan on setting up a job to image the boot drive to this drive so I always have a resent backup of the M.2 without having to backup to external drives. The reviews for this drive seemed okay and it was cheap for the size. It seems fairly quiet so far.

Case

This case could have been my favorite part of this system had it not been for the 950 pro coming out. I wanted a high quality case that was easy to build in and was very very quiet. I had visited my local Microcenter to help me decide on a case and was very disappointed to find they didn't have this case on display although they had several in stock. In fact there were no Fractal Design cases on display. I found out that due to limited shelf space they fill the spots with cases from companies that pay them to display their cases. The reviews of this case were very positive especially for building a quiet system so I purchased it sight unseen. It has a dense material on the outer walls that hold in the sound very well. It also has vibration dampers for the rotating drives. The air intakes are filtered with easily removable for cleaning filters. It is easy to reconfigure the drive cages or remove them completely to help air flow as I did with the 5 bay gage. This is definitely a premium product. Microcenter didn't have it on display but they did do a price match to that eggy online reseller. Doing a clean build in this case was so easy it really felt like cheating.

Power Supply

I wanted a very efficient PSU from a top company for about 100 dollars. This PSU is platinum efficiency and that is likely contributing to the very good numbers I am seeing for power consumption. The system is drawing between 30-50 watts during productivity tasks and I am very happy to see that. My old core 2 duo system never went below 100 watts. I would also say this unit is a premium product because it has a very nice finish, came with a nice set of cables and was very nicely packaged.

Optical Drive

Originally I was just going to get a Blu-ray reader but there was a good deal on this drive on black Friday so why not have a Blu-ray burner just in case. I don't think it is the latest model but it was cheap and so far seems to work well. My other optical drive is just a DVD reader repurposed from my old system.

Keyboard

This keyboard probably seems a bit out of place on this non-gaming system. I wanted a quality back-lit keyboard that would be good for typing. I wanted a keyboard with Cherry MX switches which are known for their quality and after researching the differences between red, brown and blue I figured that the brown switches is probably what I wanted. Red is for gamers, blue is for typing but are considered too noisy so brown is the compromise. Then I see that Cherry has a new switch named the MX Silent. Turns out that is a switch that has the feel of the Cherry MX Red but are much less noisy then the Red. So I purchased two keyboards, one MX Silent and one MX Brown so that I can evaluate them for myself. The MX Red and thus MX silent don't have tactile feedback like the MX Brown and Blues. I have always been a fan of tactile feedback so I am leaning toward keeping the MX Brown version even if it is a bit noisier. As far as the backlight originally I was not thinking RGB but I don't think I would like to look at red all the time so I decided to get the RGB so I can mix it up a bit. You need to run corsairs keyboard software to change the colors. When the system boots the LEDs are in their default colors until that software loads which is a bit annoying. Can't the keyboard remember what colors it last used? There is a button so you can easily change the light intensity to low, medium or high.

Mouse

Been using this mouse for a while. I find it very comfortable to use for productivity work. The scroll wheel allows for crazy fast scrolling. This model unlike previous models allows charging while you are using it which I find helpful.

Comments Sorted by:

dragoon20005 4 Builds 2 points 39 months ago

holy shoot

that read write speed of the SSD

milesknight 2 Builds 0 points 39 months ago

*M.2

StevenM submitter 1 Build 2 points 39 months ago

Yes M.2 but keep in mind that not all M.2 will have these speeds. Drives like the Samsung MZ-N5E250BW 850 EVO use SATA so will have performance similar to the standard 2.5 inch 850 EVO.

KB_Evolved 5 Builds 2 points 39 months ago

Yeah, that boot time seems unacceptable IMO. IDK why it would be that long.

I literally just got done building a PC for my mom today and used a Samsung EVO 250GB SSD(2.5'') and it boots in under 8 seconds. That is on a brand new PC with nothing on it though outside of Windows obviously and a couple minor programs.

Why not buy a GPU, though? Are you never going to play a game on it? Even if you aren't. This system deserves to have a GPU in it. It's such a beautiful system and the extra $100 for a 750 ti even could make this system so much better.

I'm throwing a gtx 560 in my moms system next weekend but only because I have it laying around. I understand not needing a GPU, don't get me wrong. Your system is just too nice IMO to not have at least a budget GPU in it like the 750 ti or gtx 950.

StevenM submitter 1 Build 1 point 39 months ago

When I get a 4k monitor I will reevaluate the integrated GPU performance at that resolution. If I am not happy with it I will get a 960. For now the integrated GPU at the lower resolutions 1600x1200 and 1680x1050 are fine.

If you get 8 second boots with SATA I want 2 second boots with PCIe NVMe. ... is that asking too much?

SoberGiraffe 2 points 33 months ago

I realize how late I am to the party but I was looking into this very mobo and was wondering if you rectified those boot times since they should really be within the 10-20 seconds range as mentioned by another person.

Unuvailiable 2 Builds 1 point 39 months ago

dang, I didn't even know about that SSD. Looks like i'll have to check it out, nice speeds

StevenM submitter 1 Build 1 point 39 months ago

Yeah its a new level of performance. Check out the pcper video and see how excited these guys were about this drive. http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Storage/Samsung-950-PRO-256GB-and-512GB-M2-NVMe-PCIe-SSD-Review

BobbieL 1 point 39 months ago

Nice build Steve, thanks for posting.

I am considering a build with the same motherboard and SSD so will be VERY interested to hear what Gigabyte has to say about the boot issue. What BIOS version are your running? Did you update BIOS before installing the OS?

Also wondering about the max cooler weight that motherboard is rated for. Gigabyte seems to want coolers of around 450 g or less. Have you discussed this with Gigabyte?

Have been wondering about a GPU so will also be interested in hearing about your feelings re the integrated graphics.

StevenM submitter 1 Build 1 point 39 months ago

I will keep you informed about Gigabytes response on the boot time. The BIOS was upgraded to version F4 after the OS was installed.

I am not sure about the cooler weight, didn’t even consider that. I did hear recently that care should be taken with these new Skylake processors as they are a bit more fragile than previous generation CPUs. http://www.extremetech.com/computing/218918-thinner-intel-skylake-cpus-are-breaking-because-of-third-party-cpu-coolers

The integrated graphics with Skylake (especially with the i7-6700) are improved over previous generations and are said to be able to drive two 4K monitors for productivity work. Currently I am driving two older monitors that are 1600x1200 and 1680x1050 and so far I have not had any problems with video performance. I do plan on upgrading to a 4k monitor and will attempt to drive it with the integrated graphics display port output. If I am not happy with that I will give in and get a nvidia 960 but I am trying to avoid the extra power and possible increased noise of that option.

BobbieL 1 point 39 months ago

Thanks, will keep an eye open for your response.

Did hear about the Skylake thin heat spreader issue which is what started me looking at cooler weight limits. Have not decided what I am going to go with yet, but will probably install some kind of support if I don't go with liquid cooling.

Am also looking at the GTX 960, seems to be a reasonable value choice.

calbears24 1 point 36 months ago

Any updates from Gigabyte about the boot time? I suppose not since the F5 BIOS revisions are still betas. Though one does list "Improve M.2 device compatibility" as the description.

luckydonkey 1 point 26 months ago

Hello, I am having issues with high temps in the similar build fractal design r5 + asus z170a + gtx 1070 + i7-6700k + evo 212 cooler

What temps are you getting in this case with the pre-installed case fans?

Thank you very much in advance.

markasoftware 6 Builds 0 points 39 months ago

No GPU?

Fsylar 0 points 39 months ago

Minus the keyboard and 950 pro you have yourself a gtx 970

StevenM submitter 1 Build 2 points 39 months ago

True but I really wanted the 950 pro and the keyboard and didn't really want the 970.