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Old Timer's Simple First Build Version 2.0

by kblackw


I built this system to replace my venerable Dell Studio 540, vintage 2008 (Intel Q8200 2.33 GHz, 6 GB ram, ATI Radeon HD3400 graphics, 500 GB SSD, 1 TB HDD, Win10 Pro). My primary goal was to see if I could actually build a working computer at my age - 79 years. Secondary goals were to make a system usable in my engineering consulting business and support my video editing hobby. Over the last several years I have been watching build videos produced by Carey Holzman to understand what I was getting into. His videos helped me pick parts from reputable vendors and determine the build sequence. My first attempt, Build 1.0, was a learning experience. After careful assembly, upon first power ON the fans spun but no POST. The motherboard for Build 1.0 was the ASUS Prime Z-270A and it only has 4 diagnostic LEDs, and the DRAM LED was lit. I started swapping memory cards around the four slots and discovered that one of the memory channels was bad. As long as I plugged my memory into the other channel it went through POST with no problem. I returned the board to Amazon (zero problems and very easy thankfully) and decided I needed a board with more diagnostic capability so I ordered the ASUS Maximus IX Hero Z270. I then reassembled the system (Build 2.0). It powered up the first time and completed a successful POST. I updated the BIOS, installed Win10 Pro, and used the method from Ten Forums to move the User Profile to D: (SATA SSD), leaving C: (NVME SSD) for System and Programs. Finally I moved my data folders/files from the old Dell and reinstalled all of my applications. I'm using the on-board graphics with my old 22" display - OK for now. All in all I feel I successfully accomplished my goals and now have a very capable system that will last me for awhile. Next year I will add a graphics board (probably Nvidia 1070 and a 4K monitor). My motor skills are adequate for this job but I did recall my days working on wire wrap back planes with the .025 pins and 0.1 spacing - couldn't do that today!

Part Reviews

CPU Cooler

This is a BIG air cooler but I didn't like the liquid AIO devices. You'll notice that I replaced the 1st fan with a smaller 120mm one. The fans supplied are 140 X150, and the 1st fan hit the heat spreader on the memory and extended above the cooler, just about touching the side of the case. It looked butt ugly to me. I replaced that fan with a 120 X120. The bigger fan was placed on the front of the case.


The ASUS software provides many options for tuning the system - a big plus since I have no experience with over clocking.

Comments Sorted by:

TheCrimsonGabe 1 point 16 months ago

Nice build! It looks really good and the cable management is a lot better than others. Keep up the nice work old timer!

kblackw submitter 1 Build 1 point 16 months ago

Thanks for your kind comments, especially about the cable management. I wasn't sure how the experienced builders would react to this novice builder. I have to admit that once I got over the initial fear of tackling the build, it was kind of fun. Even enjoyed the troubleshooting of 1.0

atree03 1 point 16 months ago

In my opinion the Maximus hero and the 32gb of ram is overkill as heck.

kblackw submitter 1 Build 1 point 16 months ago

You're probably right but given that I wanted more POWER ON diagnostics information and the fantastic memory price I found, it was a no brainer for me. Also, the building simulations I run for my business now finish in less than an hour, compared more than a day on my old system. I do appreciate your opinion however. Thanks.

atree03 1 point 16 months ago

Oh, i didn't know you were doing simulations. You're good then never mind.

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Zquigly 1 Build 1 point 16 months ago

Looking good, really great cable management around the back side and this will certainly be a great performer once the 1070 is added next year!

kblackw submitter 1 Build 1 point 16 months ago

Thank you for the kind comments. I'm glad you think I did OK with the cable management. I looked at it yesterday and think I could still make a few nitpicking improvements. I am looking forward to adding those components next year. It'll be my 2018 gift to myself.

zMadButcherz 8 Builds 1 point 16 months ago

You did an excellent job on the build. A gtx 1070 will work great in this system, you could even go to a 1070Ti if you needed a tiny bit more power. Your overall parts choice and price balancing to match the intended goal of the computer is better than 90% of the builds floating around. Just goes to show that age is just a number.

kblackw submitter 1 Build 1 point 16 months ago

Wow, thanks for the encouraging comments. I have to admit that after viewing most of Carey Holzman's videos, I thought I was making a more informed choice, considering that quality was more important than price on most of my choices. I guess one benefit of being an engineer is that we learn early on to make cost-benefit decisions in our designs. The whole time I was building this one, I was taken back to my teenage years when building Heathkits and buying WW2 surplus electronics was most of my life. I feel pretty lucky.

Minomir 1 Build 1 point 16 months ago

Great build, I hope it will serve you well. Good luck with 1070 and new monitor, then! :)

kblackw submitter 1 Build 2 points 16 months ago

Thank you, Although it's pretty early, it's performed well on the few tasks I've thrown at it. My building simulations run much faster, reducing my turnaround a different scenarios. I've tested a few video edits and they also run much faster. It screams through the transcoding tasks compared to the old Dell. Looking forward to uping my game with the new graphics stuff.

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kblackw submitter 1 Build 1 point 16 months ago

Thank you. I really agonized over the decision for this case. Although I was able to get it at a good sale price. I must have changed my mind a hundred times about the 'best' case to choose. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in how little extra space this case offered. I don't think I can put a liquid cooler in this one without some difficulty.

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