Wednesday, October 16, 2013

...does not compute! (Part One)


I'm a geek...or a a nerd.  Well... maybe a nerd.


I play hard ball when it comes to technology.  I wouldn't say that I'm an early adopter, but I do get my hands dirty with custom built PC's when the need for a new system arises.  I've reached one of those periods now.  As mentioned in a recent post, we've remodeled one of our spare bedrooms into an office space (known as "The Shire").  I fully intend to make good use of this space with many of the projects I have going currently. To that end I decided to build a new PC with a mixture of old and new components.  In an effort to chronicle the build, I've decided to post the meat & potatoes here (parts list in your parlance).

Project: Valhalla  ('s true.  I endow my PC's with Norse nomenclature (ie. Odin, Thor and Yggdrasil).  My Wifi Network's SSID is Asgard.  I know.  I'm a dork.)

Case: Silverstone FT03S - I chose this case for three reasons 1) It's smallish form factor.  Most PC cases are a traditional tower design, however this one is slimmer 2) Aesthetics.  This case is beautiful.  It's constructed mostly from aluminum with with a few plastic bits. 3) Cooling.  The interior design has two overriding themes.  Organization and Airflow.  These two concepts go hand in hand and I WILL get into the details later.

CPU:  AMD FX-8320 - 8-Cores of 3.5ghz goodness!  Do I really need to say more.  I've had Intel processors in my last few workhorses, but this time I was looking for "bang-for-the-buck".  This guy provides it in spades.  The multi-core setup will help with video encodes (which I do a lot of) and any other application where multi-threading is enabled.

CPU Cooler: Corsair H60 Water Cooler.  This is my fist foray into liquid cooling and all I can say is WoW!  I don't have empirical data about CPU temps at idle or under load, but I CAN say that the radiator and CPU cooling block both get barely warm with the processor converting an AVI file into an MP4.  ....and that's without the radiator having it's cooling fan attached directly to it.

Motherboard:  Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3 Micro-ATX.  Not the latest or greatest, but it was the only one that fit the criteria I was looking for.  USB 3.0 ports, AMD FX-XXXX CPU support and four DDR3 Slot allowing up to 32GB of RAM...which brings me to my next point.

RAMPatriot Intel Extreme Master DDR3-1866.  Four 8GB sticks bringing the total to 32GB. CAS Latency = 10 and Timing =10-11-10-30

Hard Drives:  For now...two will have to do.  I've got two 256gb Crucial M4 SSD's running in Raid 0 via the motherboard's onboard Raid Controller.  Speed is not an issue.  I will be scavenging an old 1 Terabyte Western Digital  Caviar Black drive for mass storage, but it's not a priority.

Video Card:  This was a nearly impossible choice.  There is a huge selection of GPU's to consider, but in the end I wanted to keep it all in the AMD family.  I settled on a great deal I found on an XFX HD7850 with 2GB GDDR5 RAM.  It should be more than adequate for all my uses (spreadsheets...word docs...minecraft  ;-P...).

Power Supply:  I settled in on a Silverstone 600 watt power supply.  I could have gone in many directions with this choice, but this PSU had a good price, ratings and reputation.

Thus far, I have assembled the rig with no problem.  I do need an additional 3.5" to 2.5" drive bay adapter to properly mount one of the SSD's, but is sound.  I installed Windows 8 Professional via a USB thumb drive with nary a problem, but had to resort to using a small USB wifi network adapter to grant internet/network access.  The Shire's Ethernet wiring is present, but not jacked on the modem side in our Tech-Closet.  I'll likely be working on that over the coming days, but first Valhalla has a few growing pains that need addressing....

To be continued in Part Two.

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