I used PCPartpicker in 2013 to build my first computer to play BF4. I posted the competed build as “BF4 Computer Build”. Over the last couple of years I have upgraded the system, and most recently installed a custom water cooling loop. I decided to post the updated build. The upgrade steps are described below, and the parts list includes everything that is in the completed build at this time. I also retained the original posting with my previous build notes at the end. Pictures 1 through 13 are the updates, and pictures 14 through 52 were from the initial build. A special thanks to my wonderful bride Lorraine for taking the pictures and going along with me putting the update computer build on top of the desk in our office.
Video Capture Card Addition: One my hobbies is umpiring amateur baseball. I do mostly high school and travel ball, with a little college and Little League mixed in. In August 2014 I was invited to umpire the Southeast Regional Little League Championship. The winner of that tournament went to the Little League World Series in Williamsport. I was in five games televised on the Longhorn Network, and three games on ESPN. I had all the games recorded on my DVR. I wanted a way to save the HD recordings permanently. I upgrade my computer with a Hauppauge Colossus capture card. It worked great.
SSD Upgrade: I began to realize that the 120 GB SSD in my original build was not big enough. Even though I tried to limit its use by only putting my OS and BF4 on it, with everything else on the HD, it reached about 95 percent capacity. So my next upgrade was to replace it with a 240 GB SSD. It is at about 70 percent capacity. So I am thinking that I should have gotten even a bigger one. Monitor Upgrade: Next I upgraded my monitor with a Samsung 28-inch 4K. BF4 did not work very well on it with my current system. I had to really lower the graphic settings and resolution to get it to run. It looked terrible.
GPU, RAM, and PSU Upgrade: To improve my gaming graphics with my new 4K monitor, I decided to get a second graphics card and crossfire them. It took some doing as the graphics card in my initial build was out of production; but, I finally found one. I also installed 16 GB more of RAM. To accommodate the second GPU I also needed a bigger power supply. This time around I went with a fully modular unit. It made cable management much easier. These upgrades produced excellent graphic results. I was able to run the monitor at a 3840 x 2160 resolution with the highest BF4 graphic settings. It looks amazing, especially the water and fire in the game. However, with all this stuff jammed into a mid-tower case with air cooling, it got really hot. After about 30 minutes of BF4 play, the GPU’s would shut down. I also could not fit the video capture card on the MB anymore as the stock cooling fans of the second GPU covered the lower PCI slot.
Full Tower Case Upgrade: My next upgrade was to go to a full tower case. My goal was to open things up to get the system running cooler. I also wanted the room to go to water cooling. I went with the Corsair 760T. The hinged doors are awesome, and the see through panel is really cool. It came with two 140 mm LED fans and one plain 140 mm fan. I replaced the plain fan with an LED fan and installed three LED 120 mm fans in the top of the case and one 120 mm LED fan in the bottom. It ran cooler than the mid tower case, but still got fairly hot. After playing BF4 for about 30 minutes the CPU reached 61° C, MB 55° C, and the GPU’s 56° C and 72° C, respectively.
Custom Water Cooling Loop: I decided to go with a custom loop so I could replace both the CPU Coolermaster air cooler and the stock GPU air coolers. It all was much easier to install than I expected. The CPU water block was a piece of cake. Even the GPU water blocks were fairly easy. My GPU’s were non reference, so I could not go with a full cover water block. The GPU water block works fine. I was able to use the stock VRAM heatsinks around it. I just had to grind off about a 1/8-in thick section of one of the VRAM heat sinks on each of the GPU’s. Installing the pump reservoir was a little tricky. I finally found a mounting bracket that did the trick. I put fans on both sides of the radiators to push/pull air flow. It works great and is even quitter than the air cooling system in the initial build. I was even able to have room for my video capture card without the stock air cooler on the lower GPU. After playing BF4 for about 30 minutes the CPU reached 46° C, MB 44° C, and the GPU’s 39° C and 43° C, respectively.
Pictures 1 through 3: Complete updated build. Picture 4: Water cooling fill port. Pictures 5: CPU water block with two 3 mm LEDs. Picture 6: GPU terminal bridge with two 5 mm LEDs over two GPU water blocks. Each GPU water block has two 3 mm LEDs. Picture 7: RAM fan. Picture 8: Video capture card installed on the lowest PCI slot now that lower GPU stock air cooler is removed. Picture 9: Pump/reservoir combination. Picture 10: HD mounted in optical bay drive using a Orico bracket. Picture 11: “1U mounting brackets for open post rack SA-3201” for mounting the pump/reservoir. Pictures 12: Single 120 mm radiator with a fan on each side. Pictures 13: Dual 140 mm radiator with two fans on each side.
This was my first computer build. I wanted a computer that would rock when playing BF4. My wife and kids all though that I was crazy for taking this on as I had no existing knowledge of how to build a computer. I was frustrated because my existing system did not have the capabilities for BF4 and I was looking at close to $2,000 to get a system that would work well. So I pressed on.
I had a blast researching all the parts that I needed, reading reviews, and shopping for the best prices. This would never have been possible without PCPartPicker. Your website is awesome. It took about a month to purchase all the components, and ended with my 21-year-old triplets giving me the speakers for a X-mass present.
The build went very well. Had a little trouble getting connectors lined up with my old eyes. Eventually I got it done. The build is described below through descriptions of the uploaded pictures. I had three problems that needed to be resolved with the completed computer build. I am very happy to say that I have been able to resolve all of these problems. These problems and the resolutions are described in the troubleshooting section following the picture descriptions.
BF4 works great on this computer. I am able to set all graphic settings to ultra with no issues. The sound is also awesome. I have not tried any over clocking or anything like that yet. Not really sure where to go with that, or even if I even need to.
Picture 14: The obligatory shot of all the components arrayed in the boxes. Picture 15: Case - came with one fan on the front blowing in and one on the backing blowing out. Pictures 16 through 19: Power Supply - in hindsight I wish I would have went with a modular unit. Picture 20: 4 Extra Case Fans. Picture 21: Case fan installed on the bottom blowing in. Picture 22: Filter over the power supply intake fan and the extra case fan shown in Picture 21. I used two silver screws to install the filter to remind me that I only have to remove these two screws to take the filter off for cleaning. There are two black screws below the filter holding the fan on. So the fan will be secure even when I take the silver screws off to clean the filter. Picture 23: Front of case with cover removed showing the intake fan that came already mounted. Picture 24: Additional intake fan on the front of case. No need for a filter on the fan as the front of the case has filters on the vent holes. Picture 25 through 27: Optical drive. Pictures 28 through 30: Solid State Drive. This is a cool way to go. Wish I would have purchased a bigger one. Pictures 31 through 33: Hard Drive. Picture 34: All drives installed. Picture 35: Motherboard back plate installed. Picture 36: Motherboard with CPU installed. Notice the heat sink and radiator on the north bridge controller. Will discuss this more under issues with the sound card installation. Pictures 37 and 38: Thermal grease on the CPU. Picture 39: Installed CPU fan with the one cooling fan that came with the heat sink blowing in. Picture 40: Additional CPU fan mounted on the heat sink sucking out. Picture 41: RAM installed in A2 and B2. Pictures 42 through 46: Motherboard installed in case with video card installed in PCIE2 Express 2.0x16 slot. The sound card needed a PCI Express 2.0x1 slot. This motherboard has two of those slots. PCIE1 and PCIE3. PCIE3 is blocked by the video card. Installing the sound card in PCIE1 resulted in the back portion of the card sliding between the heat sink and radiator on the north bridge controller (Picture 36). I did not think that this was a good idea so initially I installed the sound card in the PCIE5 Express 2.0x16 slot, even though it only needed a 2.0x1 slot. I had an extra filter so I installed it on the CPU heat sink fan that blows into the radiator (Picture 43). I thought that it would be good to keep dust out of the radiator. I installed the filter with just two screws on the outside to make removal for cleaning easy. I also installed two case fans in the top blowing out (Picture 46). Picture 47: Back of completed computer. Picture 48: Side of completed computer. Picture 49: The moment of truth! Picture 50: Let down! Motherboard hangs up with error code 36. Picture 51: What to do? I know. Power it down and try again. This time - success!!!! This would be an ongoing problem that is addressed under troubleshooting. Picture 52: I had problems with the sound card. This is addressed fully in the troubleshooting section. I ended up installing the sound card in the PCIE1 Express 2.0x1 slot even though this resulted in the back portion of the card sliding between the heat sink and radiator on the north bridge controller.
Poor Text Quality:
Problem: The text quality on my monitor was very poor in all applications (explorer, word, excel, etc.) Resolution: I was using a ViewSonic monitor that is about 5 years old, and had it hooked up with an HDMI cord to my new computer build. I always had my older computer hooked up to this monitor with an DVI cord. I hooked up my older computer to the monitor with an HDMI cord and got the same poor text quality as the new computer build was giving me. I then tried an DVI cord with the monitor and my new computer build. The text now looks great. This is an acceptable solution for me as I do not need the sound capability that the HDMI cord provides, and I do not believe that there is a difference in video quality between an HDMI and DVI cord.
Cold Boot Failure: Problem: Every time I would cold boot my new computer build it would hang up on error code 36 and not boot. I would have to hard shut it down from there and then when I turned the power on it would boot up fine. I would have this problem every time I would try and power on after the computer was off for more than about ten minutes. Resolution: The mother board in my new computer build game with BIOS version 2.0. I researched ASROCK's website and saw that the latest BIOS version was 2.5. I flashed the new BIOS using the instructions ASROCK provided on their website. Since updating the BIOS my computer has cold booted up fine every time.
No Sound After Computer Sleeps: Problem: Every time I would wake the computer up from sleep mode the sound would not work. I would have to do a restart to get the sound to work again. Resolution: I took the following actions based on recommendations from ASROCK and Creative. The sound not works great, even when I wake the computer up from sleep mode. • Reinstalled the sound card in the PCIE1 Express 2.0x1 slot. • Installed driver version 22 for the sound card. • Installed RealTek audio driver version 2.73. • Disabled the RealTek audio driver in the startup menu. • Disabled the onboard sound in the motherboard BIOS.