For being my first build, it went extremely well. No broken or defective pieces at all. #Grateful.
Anyway, lets dissect this for your reading pleasure.
CPU I originally was going to go with the Xeon 1231 v3, but after much debating, and realizing that I am poor and don't need a rocking CPU, I decided to go with a cheaper, newer model that would last longer and work for now (some day I will get a killer CPU).
I went with the 6500 because of the price. the 6600 didn't really intrigue me for the .1 ghz faster speed, because I could spend that 20-30$ elsewhere. So far, this CPU has held up well and I like it. No complaints here!
Motherboard When I was originally going to have the Xeon, I was going to get this board, because I liked how versatile it was. Because I changed CPU socket size, I went with the less intense version of the newer board.
It accepted the ram just fine. Plenty of SATA ports to attach all the drives. Easy to find all of the plugs and whatnot. The build in WiFi works well - not the best signal pickup for far away routers, but it works. Would recommend for a beginner to use.
I ran into an issue when I was booting from the USB stick to install Windows 10, but it turned out to just be user error.
RAM No issues at all, works perfectly. Love the Ballistix Sport. I know there are better brands, but for the price, and considering I have never ever had an issue with Crucial, I will keep using them.
Storage First the SSD - this is my 4th Crucial SSD, and they continue to work just fine for me. Some day I might step it up to the Samsung EVO, but until then, Hello Crucial Memory.
The Spinning Disk - No complaints. It just works - like it is supposed to. Wanted the Black Series, but was budget minded.
Graphics Card Okay I will be honest, I don't actually have this part yet - but I feel like I have done enough research to justify having it. I really wanted 4GB because after looking long and hard at the GTX 950, I realized that 2GB of VRAM just wont cut it, and if I can spend $50 more, it is worth is.
UPDATE: I got the card, and I love it! The size is perfect for a Mini ITX case. It installed and fit super well, and was up and running in no time. Noticed a HUGE improvement in Heroes of the Storm - running on Extreme settings :)
Case Okay, I was worried when I was getting this guy, because I had never seen one in person, and I like to think of myself as someone who has style, so the case is super important because it is what you actually see.
Happy to report that this case looks good. The piano black front looks good, and the matte black metal around the rest of the case looks really good. It is cool to have a plexi-glass side window to see inside (wife even thinks it is cool).
As it comes standard, there is room for two 3.5" HDD or two 2.5" SSD, or one of each. There is a slim-drive bay for a CD/DVD drive. It fits full sized graphics cards (though I have heard that it doesn't hold MASSIVE cards - like the Titan etc.) The build in power supply is quite nice - all the power cables you could need. There are only 2 fans in this case - at the top sucking air out. That means it brings clean air through the bottom of the case. Something to think about if you are not going to put it on the desk next to you. (Fans aren't too loud, though I might upgrade them so the can be controlled. Right now they just run all the time.)
As far as the install, everything went smoothly. It is a super tight space (but you already knew that because it is and ITX case). But the finished product is totally worth it. I love how small it is.
PSU Built into the case. I have read reviews about the PSU fan being too loud and whinny. I haven't had any problem with it. It is quieter than the case fans.
DVD/CD I actually used the drive that I pulled out of my Macbook laptop when I upgraded the hard drive space in the laptop. Even though there is not an eject button on the drive, I can still eject CD's by ejecting them like a USB stick from windows explorer.
Operating System I love Windows 10. Coming from a Mac, I can honestly say I like it. But to each their own.
Monitor Back again to the style-focused part of me, I wanted a good looking monitor. I looked at some ASUS, but I have liked how some of Dell's monitors look, so when I found this one, I knew I would like it. And I do. A lot.
It really does have an edge bezel of 1/4", and that is it. I love it. The glossy screen looks so good. The built in speakers do a great job for built in speakers. Don't read into it. The bass sucks and they don't get very loud, but they rock for built-ins. There is some light bleed when the pixels are black, but it's not too bad at all. Having grown up in a world when screens have advanced a ton, it doesn't bother me.
It has a very sturdy base, and it tilts up and down. No up and down movement. And it has a VESA mount.
I would buy this monitor again someday if it broke (though I would hope I could afford the UltraSharp Series)
Keyboard I got this as a hand-me-down from a friend. It works great, very fast, and VERY clicky. But that is what mechanical keyboards are known for. It also sits quite high on the desk. The space bar is about 1.5" above the desk, so your hands sit quite high.
Mouse I love this guy. I have one at work, and so I got it again. I love the free scroll, and the fact that I don't need to worry about leaving it on because of it's ridiculous battery life.
Final Thoughts I am super happy with how it has turned out. I do a lot of Adobe Illustration, InDesign, and Photoshop, and it does great. Also some light gaming. It boots in about 3 seconds (after the BIOS load-up).
Someday, I will upgrade it, but for now, it is plenty of what I need.
Thanks for reading!!!
This is the first CPU I have gotten, so I don't have a lot to compare it to. Came with a stock heat sink that was rather difficult to attach (google Intel Stock Cooler install to figure it out). It is way more powerful that my old laptop processor (which is not saying much).
If it is in your budget, it is worth it. But the 6600 is only 30$ more, so if you want a little more power.
With this board being so new, I was a little skeptical, but this board has proven awesome. I wish it had more USB ports, but I knew that when I was going into it. Built in wi-fi is good - not the best signal grabber. All the ports are easy to access and install went smoothly.
All in all, a great board for the price.
This ram is great! Super fast, and haven't even been able to use all of it. This is my second time getting Crucial Ballistix and I will continue to buy them in the future.
Love this drive. 3rd I have bought and it keeps working. Try to get it on sale for a really good deal, otherwise go with the Samsung EVO if they are the same price.
This little guy is awesome. Super easy to install (maybe 5 minutes?). Got the latest drivers from Nvidia, and it works awesome! My FPS on Novabench tests went from 500FPS with integrated skylake graphics, to 2450 with the GTX. Very noticeable.
If you are worried about size, this is your GTX 960. At like 6 inches, it fit like a charm into my Mini ITX case. Love it to pieces.
Killer case. I love the simple design and how the piano black front looks nice with the matte black metal case. The plexi-glass window is a nice touch.
Fits my mobo, gpu, 2 hard drives and disk drive just fin. Kinda tight, but totally worth the size.
For the money, this is an awesome monitor. Sturdy base, glossy screen, and it really does have 1/4" bezel. There is some light bleed when the pixels are dark, but that is to be expected.
I love this mouse. It fits nicely in my hands (large-ish sized) and I like having more buttons than right and left click.