Greetings everybody! Today I'd like to show you my recently upgraded mid-range media PC Yukipishi Samukaze Sairai, otherwise known as Snow Pixie --Cold Breeze Perfect--, the product of a mad high school girl in a developing country (Vietnam) where prices tend to be higher than in other places. This is the perfected build of the former Yukipishi Samukaze model, with so many things upgraded that I thought I should just make a whole new post...
Ok, so I know that the first thing that hits your eyes is that the cable management is one of the absolute worst in a site like this, and admittedly I'm very bad at it, but please hear me out, I have more important things to say than that. The reason I could upgrade Snow Pixie was because mom went to the USA, where parts are knowingly cheaper and more widely available than here, so she asked me if I wanted to have any electronics for my birthday and I took the chance. So, she (I call gaming PCs "male PCs" and non-gaming PCs "female". Ignore me, I'm just weird...) was meant to be a midrange media/mini-theater PC setup with light gaming capabilities, and with this upgrade, she's now completed, and should be able to continue being my companion until I can upgrade her again to an upper-midrange. Anyway, here comes the overly long and tedious parts reviews:
I went with the i5-4690 since it's currently the best midrange locked CPU right now, and I don't plan to overclock my CPU at all, not when I'm still just a high school student. Plus, I've heard from reviews and such that it's actually not much slower than an i7 unless you use hyper-threading or use a lot of cores at once, so there was no reason not to go with the i5. The CPU is great and could do anything I throw at it. But then again, it's not like there's a whole lot of desktop CPU models around anyway.
==CPU Cooler (New Part)==:
For this upgrade I bought a Hyper 212X, since I've heard of how legendary and cost-effective the Hyper 212 EVO was, and it's not like I could afford or need a dual-tower or liquid CPU cooler. However, in my area (Saigon, otherwise known as Ho Chi Minh City), I couldn't find the Hyper 212 EVO anywhere, so I went with the 212X, the updated version of the EVO. In a 20-centigrade room (...I think. Can't be sure if the air conditioner works as it should), the cooler helped keep the CPU running at 33 degrees C when idle and even when at full load (from benchmark programs) the temperature didn't exceed 50 degrees, which is good, very good.
==Thermal Compound (New Part, bought from US)==:
I actually like the MX-4 more than the AS5, but I went with the AS5 because I needed a thermal compound CLEANER to wipe off my old thermal compound for reapplication, since the old thermal compound was applied very poorly. When I bought the CPU cooler, a technician at the store offered to install it for me, and I agreed, but it turned out he was a freshman and didn't know how to properly apply thermal paste, so he just pumped the paste everywhere, but I couldn't stop him in time. Thus, I searched for thermal compound cleaners online and found the ArctiClean, and I thought I may as well get Arctic Silver 5 in the process since there was a bundle. May not be the best choice for me, but hey, no one can say that AS5 isn't a great paste!
(btw, the $4.47 price was from me deducting the price of the ArctiClean from the combo, ahaha...)
Now, this is the prime example of inflated price in my area. In Saigon, motherboard prices are typically around 40% higher than in the US, which is just ridiculous. Still, the board was beautiful and rigid, has an ATX form, and comes with the latest H97 chipset. Again, I didn't plan to overclock, so I didn't go for a Z97, which is way more expensive in this place. Also, I actually liked the H97 Pro4 from ASRock more since I wanted to go with a blue theme, but it was nowhere to be found so I switched to a "blue lights with golden interior" theme instead. It worked well nonetheless. Plus, I didn't want to build a gaming PC, so I didn't go with a gaming motherboard.
==RAM (New Part, bought from US)==:
Since I multitask a lot and am studying After Effects, I need a lot of RAM. Went with the Vengeance Pro because it was the best-looking RAM in my opinion and it has a great cooler. Plus, I wanted a dual-channel 1600MHz CAS 9 kit for optimal non-overclocking performance. Again, gold color to match with theme.
==SSD (New Part, bought from US)==:
SSD! I went with the 850 EVO because... well, there was no reason NOT to go for it. One of the fastest speed out there (as far as 2.5" SATA SSDs go I think it's only slower than Samsung's own 850 Pro...) with a dirt-cheap price. I only went with a 120GB SSD though, because I already had a 2TB HDD which is more than enough, and I just wanted a SSD to act as the system drive.
The oldest part in the whole setup (by "setup" I mean everything in this parts list, not just the PC itself). I bought it even before I built the first version of Snow Pixie --Cold Breeze--. It's a WD Black drive with 2TB of storage and top-notch stability, so there's nothing to complain about, even though it's the old 2010 (2002FAEX) model, and thus will be slower than the newer 2013 model.
==VGA (New Part, bought from US)==:
My main reason for upgrading. I originally planned to go with a 750 Ti, but then switched to the Gigabyte R9 270X 2GB because:
- It has a Gigabyte Windforce 3x cooler, my favorite VGA cooler series out there, even though this is the older 450W model.
- HOLY SH... That price! I was shocked when I found out how much AMD cards' prices have dropped since Maxwell came up. The low price made this one way more of a bang-for-buck card than the GTX 750 Ti. Just a few more dollars for nearly twice the performance.
- nVidia is evil. I like AMD more, even though rationally considering, nVidia's software support is better for me for pretty much everything I do. Plus, AMD has a red theme, which is one of my least favorite colors.
I also did a light overclock on the card (nothing much since it's very hot here so I'm shy of overclocking), and it worked very well on benchmarks. I haven't tested it with real graphics-intensive games yet, though.
Actually, scratch what I said about the HDD being the oldest part. THIS is the oldest part. Still, it's a read/write ODD that works, can't ask for more, can't care for more. Not enough money for Blu-Ray drive nor actual Blu-Ray discs.
I'll wait for Win 10 rather than using Win 8.1 again, thanks. And it's not just because of the universally hated Metro UI.
Since I wanted to build a theater PC, a sound card is important. I went with the DGX since it was the only card that I could afford that had a headphone amp, even though it's a cheap card. Still, the sound is quite audibly enhanced compared to other sources such as the PS Vita or pre-built PCs in my area (...ok, those sources are quite bad examples, but still...), and the features such as Dolby Headphone or FlexBass worked effectively.
Passed over from dad when he bought a new adapter. It works. Not much to say, not much to care about. My internet is piss-poor anyway since for some reasons my family has to use the apartment building's internet package, which is like, prehistoric.
I originally ordered 2 red Thermaltake fans from the store while cringing, because it was the only decent case fan from their catalog, but they were out of stock so they offered to give me a fan with "comparable value". I agreed,... and it turned out they had some secret blue SickleFlow X (yes, not SickleFlow, but since PCPartPicker only has red and green SickleFlow fans I put the green one in the parts list) fans that for some reasons didn't enter their catalog.
Also, apparently they mistook them for the "Standard" Cooler Master LED fans too (...not sure how they managed to mistake it, though), so they only asked for the price of those fans and returned me the "excess money", even though in reality the SickleFlow X would be more expensive than the Thermaltake fans I ordered earlier. Got one of the strongest, most value-for-money fans for the price of a cheap "standard" fan, and it's in my favorite color too. Lucky~!
==NZXT HUE LED Controller (New Part, bought from US)==:
Well, this particular part is kinda in its own category, haha... Well, I must second what everyone has said about this device: The lights work BRILLIANTLY, but the adhesive sucked and it came off easily, but I've got some tape so no biggie. Also, since my case is relatively small and tight, like a corset, I had some difficulties installing it, but in the end I managed to do it, even though the routing is pretty awkward... :S
The VX238H wowed me. Even though it's cheap and small, the picture quality and responsiveness was quite heavenly. Definitely one of if not the best monitors for this price. It also has quite an elegant, lovable look and a slim form factor!
For some reasons Logitech products can be quite cheap compared to other parts here, and the K270 keyboard is even more so. For such a price this is quite a comfortable and responsive wireless keyboard. Nothing to complain at all.
==Headphones (New Part)==
Out of all my peripherals, the unpopular HD 238 is my favorite. The sound is extraordinary for the price with realistic soundstage, strong, punchy bass and clear mids and treble. It's much better than many more expensive headphones of my friends that I have listened to, and I think that it's very under-appreciated, but I can see why. It's an open-back on-ear pair of headphones in a price range too cheap for open-back yet too expensive for on-ear, and the earpads look ugly. Despite that, it's very comfortable (one of the most cloudy ones out there, even) and portable, and even though it leaks sound quite a lot, for a purist music listener like me it doesn't matter.
I got the Hexa 700W because I was stupid back then (this is another pre-Samukaze part, along with the HDD and ODD) and didn't know much about PSUs, and the Hexa seemed cheap for the wattage while not being completely unnamed. Still, later on it turned out to not be such a stupid investment after all, because now I bought an AMD VGA and a lot of accessories for my PC...
This mouse, the Elecom XG-1 (silver color), I got from Akihabara for merely 1600 yen since it was on sale. It's a very good wireless mouse without any nonsense, just the things I need: mouse buttons, responsiveness and the back and forward buttons. Plus, most important of all, the form fits perfectly well with my hands, unlike the gaming mice I have tested.
I know none of you have heard of Thor, but in Vietnam it's quite a successful case brand. They make awesome cheap cases, and even though the Aresa (cute name) costs merely $45, it's actually their most expensive offer. Like I said, the case is quite slim, but that turned out to be more of an advantage than a disadvantage because it fits perfectly well on my table, and it looks beautiful that way, while still being able to hold the CPU cooler. It's a really good case for the price, with a HDD dock, USB 3.0 ports, dust filters, fan controllers and all. My only complaints would be how it doesn't support cable management very well (but at least it DOES support cable routing, unlike many cases in the price range...), and the front filters are easily dirtied, but that's more of my extremely dusty area's fault than the case's...
It also comes with 2 fans, one of which has LEDs, but they are not brand fans or anything... They work, though.
==Speakers (New Part)==
Went with the Edifier HCS2330B since it looked elegant and I've heard great reviews about it. It sounds great and suits many genres (genre-wise it's considered a "neutral" speakers set everywhere). The sound is quite warm with forward vocals, which fits many Vietnameses' taste, so it works well when I watch movie or listen to music together with my friends on my PC. Though, it's not as detailed as the HD 238 and personally I still prefer listening to the headphones more, but I won't be shy switching to the speakers when I feel like it.
==Mouse Pad (New Part)==
I know I know, I'm crazy detailed with my parts list. The Sharkoon Drakonia looks good (for me) and suits my theme, is large and works well. That's all I have to say.
==Gamepad (New Part)==
Got the F710 because it was comfortable and had that wireless freedom. Plus, once again the looks fit my setup and I have nothing to complain about the features, counting the Logitech software.
==Graphics Tablet (New Part)==
Got a Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch Small because I didn't have much money. Though, in the end I winded up using this tablet more for Osu! and classic SHMUPs rather than graphics designing... shame on me... o_o I...it's also very good for navigating around professional programs when I get to work and I do use it for graphics designing, I... I swear!
Phew, so that's all for this post. Thank you for reading through this whole boring lecture! By the way, the parts that are marked as "New Part" are parts I bought quite a while after building Snow Pixie --CB-- (some of them have been around for 4-5 months, some, like the speakers, are quite recent), not necessarily the new parts bought just for the Snow Pixie --CBP-- upgrade, those parts would be marked "bought from the US".
I recently found some powerline adapters from a local technician and bought them from him, ditching my wireless adapter. Dad didn't allow me to go wired because of various reasons, and normally powerline adapters are nowhere to be found here. Nothing to complain about this part. It may not be fast, but it works well and my internet package is abysmal anyway.
I also bought an UPS and a cheap Blue 1 TB drive for backup, after my hard drive got shocked from a blackout/thunderstorm and then got scratched by a faulty repair/data recovery center. It's an unfortunate event, but I managed to get a new drive for free from warranty (5 years warranty for the win!), and now I've downloaded most of my stuff from before, and even organized them in a much better way. All of my past works has been lost, though, and some things can be hard to be found again. :(
I also decided to add my thumb drive to the parts list, just because I'm bent in the mind. :P