When my HP computer died, I decided that it would be fun to build my own computer. In the past, the most I have done was install a new hard drive or install new RAM in a computer; I have never built a computer from scratch.
Currently, I’m not a “gamer”; however, I do plan on getting into some gaming in the near future. Other than “future” gaming and the standard e-mail, internet, Word and Excel, my needs for a computer are some light video editing and my work sometimes involves use of some very large actuarial spreadsheets. Also, this computer will probably get very few upgrades over the years and will probably last me 8+ years, so some of the parts I picked are to “future-proof” as much as possible (if that is even possible).
After doing a lot of research, I decided that I wanted to go with either an X99 system or wait for Skylake later this year. I figured that I could build an X99 system for around $150.00 – $200.00 more than a comparable Z97 system. Most of the rumors on Skylake mention “greater efficiency” and “better graphics” which don’t really matter in a desktop, so I decided to pull the trigger on an X99 system.
After reviewing a lot of builds on PCPARTPICKER, the mini-ITX systems intrigued me. I knew that I would never have more than one video card, so I figured why have some huge half empty case sitting on my desk. So when ASROCK announced a mini-ITX X99 motherboard, I was all set.
Part selection: i7-5820K – Micro Center had a special on this processor for $299.99 with in store pick-up. There is not a Micro Center near where I live; however, my sister does live near one and I picked this process up when I was visiting her in Chicago.
ASROCK X99E-ITX/ac – This is basically the only choice for a mini-ITX X99 motherboard. I believe ASROCK also makes a server grade mini-ITX X99 motherboard as well, but it lacks some features.
G. Skill RipJaws – Since X99 supports quad channel RAM, but the motherboard only supports dual channel. There are not a lot of RAM kits with two sticks in them. This seemed like good brand with a good price. 8 GB would have probably been enough, however, 16GB was only slightly more and since I was going “high-end” on the chip, I thought I would go ahead and get the 16GB of RAM.
Samsung 850 Pro – The Samsung SSD seems to be a very popular SSD on PCPARTPICKER and they also get good reviews. At the time of purchase the 850 Pro was $39.00 more than the 850 Evo, so I went with the Pro. I have a raid NAS drive for all of my primary storage, so this is mainly for the operating system and other odds and ends.
EVGA GeForce GTX 970 – The 970 seems to be the “go-to” card on PCPARTPICKER for mid-range builds. I went with this version of the EVGA 970 due to the back plate and a new display output configuration over the older 970 cards.
Thermaltake Core V1 – The case was probably one of the hardest decisions. I knew that I wanted a mini-ITX case; however, I wanted a case that was small but also easy to work in (so I didn’t want too small). I also wanted a case that would take a full size power supply (this ruled out the EVGA Hadron Air case). I did like the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ITX case; however, the case is rather larger for a mini-ITX build. The Thermaltake Core V1 met all my requirements.
EVGA 850W Power Supply – I know 850 watts is way overkill for my build; however, when the power supply is under a small load, the fan doesn’t spin or spins slower than when under full load to keep the computer quieter. Also, at the time the 850 watt was cheaper than the 650 watt or 750 watt. I wasn’t sure if I was better off with the “G2” version or the “GS” version. The “G2” version had a better warranty but I decided to go with the “GS” version since at the time it was $20 cheaper than the “G2” version and both power supplies rate about the same in performance and are both considered tier one power supplies.
Windows 8.1 – I don’t particularly like Windows 8.1 for a desktop, so I will be updating to Windows 10 when it comes out.
Surprisingly, I didn’t run into any real big issues with the build. At first I didn’t think that the supplied CPU cooler had any thermal compound on it, but then I eventually realized that the checkerboard pattern on the bottom of the cooler was in fact the thermal compound and not just a design. Also, I’m still not sure if the CPU cooler is on in the right direction. I’m not sure what direction the fan is blowing and I just installed it based on the pictures in the motherboard manual.
Now that everything is up and running everything seems to be working great. I know my cable management could be better. The motherboard’s USB 3.0 header is near the middle of the board so that I why I have the one big wire coming straight up. My only negative about any of the parts that I have selected is 1) the supplied drive bays that came with the case and 2) the supplied CPU cooler that came with the motherboard. The drive bays are very flimsy, bend easily and have some edges that are sharper than I’d like. The CPU cooler is louder than I would like it at idle.
Future plans: 1) possible adding two 80mm fans at the back of the case and 2) finding a new quieter CPU cooler. All my prices shown are after any mail in rebates but do not include any shipping and/or taxes if applicable.
Since this is my first build, all comments and/or constructive criticisms are appreciated.