Building myself a new PC

As some may have seen a couple weeks back, I was whining about having some problems with my home PC. The short version is that, all of a sudden, my monitor wasn’t working and after diagnosing it in a few ways, it ended up that a power surge screwed up my motherboard. And, later I found out, my video card, too. The upside is that my main PC is fairly old and, while I’ve been upgrading some of the parts, it was fairly limited and I’ve been wanting to get a new one:

  • Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz
  • RAM: OCZ Fatal1ty Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500)
  • Motherboard:  ASUSTeK Computer INC. P5G41-M LX2/GB (LGA775)
  • Graphics: 2047MB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti (PNY)
  • Storage: Crucial M500 CT240M500SSD1 2.5″ 240GB SATA III MLC (SSD), 1397GB Seagate ST31500541AS ATA Device (SATA)
  • Power Supply: 730W Power Supply – Raidmax RX730SS

So I was definitely ready for an upgrade. The downside is it was some months too early. Right now it is club volleyball season and my daughter has a tournament just about every other weekend for months. I try to keep that time of year on a tight budget due to all the various expenses associated with it — driving, flying, hotels, eating out, etc. Any other time of year, I’d go a little wild and get a PC that is going to last me for a while but, due to this, I have to keep it in check.

At first, I debated just buying a pre-built. This will just be a temporary PC that I’ll end up handing down to my daughter so it doesn’t have to be a powerhouse. And, at a cursory look, building my own and buying a pre-build seemed pretty comparable.

Then I started looking into the details. While I found some pre-builts that were in a good price range, I noticed the Power Supply (PSU) was generally pretty weak… 350w. Add in a few other factors such as the RAM wasn’t from a vendor I’d prefer, the motherboards were built more for a casual user, and I already had an SSD, HHD, and video card I wanted to use and didn’t need more of them (I have a stack of HHDs around here).

I put a laundry list together of parts I wanted to get and took off for my local Fry’s (oh Fry’s, my bane… I always want to buy more when I’m in there!). Unfortunately, most of the exact parts I wanted weren’t there and I was faced with the dilemma of buying it all via NewEgg and waiting, or building another configuration based off of the parts available at the store. Since I’d already been days without my PC and having withdrawals, I opted for building a set of parts but stayed within my budget. I ended up getting:

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… and then add in my SSD, HHD, and video card I already had from my old system. I chose the S340 because I like the look of the case but, more so, it has some great cable management as you’ll see. The i5 I can upgrade later to an i7 if I feel the need and since this is a temporary PC, I don’t really need all the bells and whistles for the motherboard — and neither will my daughter, hehe. I did get a new PSU, though, because the fact that my motherboard went out makes me wonder how well my power supply aged. Better to be safe than sorry.

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It’d been some years since I built a PC… not quite the same as upgrading one. But, luckily, it came back like riding a bike and I got all the pieces properly together and the system booted up fine (sad truth, the first PC I ever built back in like 1998, I fried the motherboard because I put the power supply on wrong).

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My monitor popped on and then I realized it was on my integrated graphics chip so I popped it over to the external card… and nothing. I didn’t have a spare card on me so I went over to Discount Electronics and bought a cheapie to see if Murphy’s Law hit me (no matter how unlikely, it could of been the PCIE slot on the new motherboard) or the card. It ended up being the latter, the power issue fried both my old motherboard and my old video card.

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Part of me wished it was the motherboard because, while I’d have to return it to the store, it is cheaper than buying a new video card. But it is what it is so I ended up grabbing an EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Superclocked ACX (02G-P4-3759-KB) video card. Close to the PNY I had but this one needed to get power via the PSU instead of just through the PCIe slot. Also, since it looks like my old one didn’t work, I grabbed a new battery backup (actually two but the other one is for my wifi and network drives): CyberPower 650VA Battery Back-Up System.

Put it all together and now it purrs like a cat. Actually, that’s a lie, my cats are much louder. This PC is running around a cool 29 °C but I can barely hear it make a sound. So I am back in business… can play some (real) games again (#PCMasterRace) and get back to video editing for my daughter’s volleyball.

See you all in-game!

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