Gaming Computer Dream Build 2018 Spring

Introduction:

The intent and driving force behind creation of this list was to create a fully capable modern gaming computer without any bling and stupidity (transparent case / panel, lighting, custom water loop, overclocking, SLI, etc). Basically, you will be selling yourself short if you pick any less capable parts (provided that you can afford what is listed here), while you will be wasting your money if you pay any more for fancier components.

The cost of tower and accessories (but less display) is around $2,500. Unfortunately, many of these parts are dependancy inter-linked, so if this is outside your budget, it will be hard to downgrade major components without breaking dependancy (for example, chosen CPU dictates motherboard socket support, SSD requires an M.2 capable motherboard, etc, etc).

I will be using this computer in a standup desk configuration, standing far away from a large projected screen. Therefore, for accessories I will be listing wireless parts, expecting many to frown regarding "lag" and such. I worry more about my health and fitness of my body than "lag".

Expect to add another thousand if you are going silly with a monitor, but if you follow my advice below, this cost can be increased, even all the way to zero.

 

Computer Case:

Fractal Design Define S Black Silent ATX Midtower Computer Case Solid Panel

$80

http://www.fractal-design.com/home/product/cases/define-series/define-s

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16811352054

Description: I thought this was never going to happen: somebody finally realized that 5.25" optical drive bays are obsolete, and threw them out of the case! I used my optical drive just a few times last year. If I need to, I will buy a USB drive instea.

This case, as well as several more from Fractal Design manufacturer, also support massive 480mm radiators in the top position.

Also very improtantly, this is one of few powerful and fashionable cases remain which still give me and option of NOT being forced to use the idiotic transparent / glass side panel. You see, there is a reason computers used to be put in metal boxes. The metal box shields outside electrical noise from internal components, and vice versa. YOU are making your computer work harder at segregating data from unshieleded noise, as well as contributing to environmental electromagnetic pollution. I want my case electromagnetically shielded, and no damn lights on the inside!

If you want a smaller case, one which does not waste space in the optical drive bay area, look into the Define C (but you downgrade to two front 140mm fans). If you want a larger case, look at one of the following: Define R5, Define R6, Define XL R2.

Search parameters:

  • ATX motherboard support
  • Mid-tower
  • Supports 240mm+ radiator in the top position
  • Not transparent / no side window

 

Fractal Design Define S Black Silent ATX Midtower Computer Case

 

CPU:

Intel Skylake-X 7800X 6 cores 1MB L2, 8.25 L3 cache LGA2066

$380

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skylake_(microarchitecture)

https://ark.intel.com/products/123589/

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117793

Description: This is currently the most capable microprocessor. Besides being available in 6+ cores, what VERY FEW people will tell you is that the Skylake-X has from 28 to 44 lanes of PCI-Express. All other Intel processors, including the "more modern" variants have a laughable 16 lanes. Now tell me this: with each GPU consuming 16 lanes, what happens when you add an M.2 SDD? I do not want to constrain the data bus I/O bandwidth of my system in any way by downgrading to slower PCI-E channels from the Platform Controller Hub, so Skylake it is.

In addition, this is the last processor officially supported with drivers from Microsoft for Windows 7 OS. No, I DO NOT want or need Windows 10. See more on this below.

This line of CPUs also has very impressive L2 and L3 cache amounts, which is more important than most other specifications of a CPU for ensuring fast performance.

I don't have the budget to buy a more powerful Skylake-X CPU.

Another thing to know about Intel CPUs is that the price artificially takes forever to go down, even on very old CPUs. I thought Intel was supposed to have been slapped on the hand for such monopolistic practices.

BTW, don't try to overclock this processor unless you know what you are doing, and your equipment can supply and dissipate up to 500W of energy/heat. Why would you want to overclock a stable product, making it unstable and drastically increasing the cost of operating it???

This CPU choice forces us to use Socket 2066, X299 chipset motherboards, which are unfortunately more expensive than many others.

Search parameters:

  • Windows 7 support
  • >16 PCI-E lanes
  • 4+ cores
  • i7

 

Intel Core i7-7800X Skylake-X 6-Core 3.5 GHz LGA 2066 140W BX80673I77800X Desktop Processor

 

Motherboard:

ASRock X299 Taichi LGA 2066 Intel X299 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 ATX Intel Motherboard

$290

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157776

Description: The choice of the CPU forces us to Socket 2066, X299 chipset motherboards. These seem to still be more expensive and less available. As far as manufacturers go, Gigabyte seems to be on the expensive side, putting too much bling in the product, like stupid lights. Also, both Gigabyte and Asus don't seem to have the favor of Newegg reviewers, while ASRock seems to fare well in the reviews. I leave the final choice of motherboard manufacturer up to you.

ASRock X299 Taichi LGA 2066 Intel X299 USB 3.1 ATX Intel Motherboard

 

GPU:

Nvidia GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X

$550 (out of stock worldwide) -- $750 (obtainable via baby-sitting NowInStock.net) -- $1500 (price gougers and resellers)

https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/geforce/products/10series/geforce-gtx-1080/

https://www.evga.com/Products/productlist.aspx?type=0&family=GeForce+10+Series+Family&chipset=GTX+1080

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeForce_10_series

Description: Good luck finding anything right now! Because of damn cryptocurrency mining, there is a WORLDWIDE shortage (more like a blackout) of most powerful NVidia graphics cards (1060 and above). My personal wish, and recommendation for others, is the GTX 1080 (non-Ti), however you will have to do a lot of research and labor before you can find one. I personally don't think people excercise a 1080 Ti to its full potential, unless you are rich enough (or in debt enough) to have 4k monitor, etc. Then you are outside the scope of this article.

EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW GAMING, 08G-P4-6288-KR, 8GB GDDR5X, HYBRID

 

RAM:

G.SKILL TridentZ Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 3200 (PC4 25600) Desktop Memory Model F4-3200C14D-16GTZ Timing 14-14-14-34 CAS Latency 14

$229

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820232205

The CPU supports DDR4-2400 RAM speed. However, the motherboard supports much higher RAM speeds via overclocking and/or installation of future incarnations of CPUs. Another reason to get faster than immediately obvious RAM is to get fast RAM timings specs. For example, for a computer of this class, pick "CAS Latency: 14ns". NOTE: a excessive number of indistiguishable part numbers exist of RAM offerings. You may have to substitute as soon as a better choice is available.

G.SKILL TridentZ 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM 3200 (PC4 25600) Desktop Memory F4-3200C14D-16GTZ

 

Power Supply:

SeaSonic SS-750KM3 750W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Full Modular Active PFC Power Supply

$110

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151087

If you are planning on GTX 1080 Ti, overclocking, or SLI, then I would recommend an 850W power supply. I am not intersted in any of the three, so 750W will be sufficient.

The "80+" signifies a certification level.

The modular concept is beneficial (which means that the power supply has a large number of connectors on its body, and only the cables you need are attached from power supply to computer components), however the only difference between "semi" and "full" modular is that "semi" has the motherboard wiring permanently wired in. I personally do not understand the benefit of the "full modular power supply".

This power supply seems to be a brand with good reputation among others. Note that the 850W full modular version of such power supply is often twice the cost!

SeaSonic SS-750KM3 750W ATX12V V2.3 EPS 12V V2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Full Modular Active PFC Power Supply

 

Cooling:

Case Fans:

3 x Noctua NF-A14 PWM 140mm Case Fan

$25 X 3

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835608044

Noctua seems to have good reputation with others as a quiet / silent fan (the definition of "silent" varies). It is large at 140mm, has good airflow, and has a four-pin PWM speed control and read-out features. Three of these installed in the front of the case should provide ample airflow.

The exact details of that airflow matter as well. ALWAYS use positive pressure approach, because fans are better at blowing then sucking, and because this will push dust out of the case: Air should enter from bottom of front of case thru a filter / mesh, get pushed by strong fans backward in the case. As the air heats, it will rise, and will be pulled out up and out of the case by the power supply, GPU, CPU, and top radiator fans. This is the ONLY configuration you should ever use. The fans at the back which are doing the pulling actually result in a push-pull configuration, but the front fans must always have higher airflow and higher static pressure than rear fans, maintaining positive air pressure in the case.

Noctua NF-A14 PWM 140mm Case Fan

 

CPU Cooler:

Fractal Design Celsius S36 360mm Silent High Performance Slim Expandable All-In-One CPU Liquid / Water Cooler

$120

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835352030

I used to have a custom water loop for a couple of years, and it was my worst experience in computer hardware. The fan was not really silent, coolant level had to be topped up every month, and system gradually dropped in performance from build-up. I had to massage the tubes every month to dislodge the internal crap in the piping, but one a quarter I had to dis-assemble the system and blow the crap out with compressed air. The "leak-proof" fittings did produce a drop or two of corrosive liquid, which invariably dropped onto the GPU card (due to its orientation and position). I had to hunt for signs of corrosion and do solder touch-up when corrosive liquid has stopped my GPU and motherboard from working.

The recent development of "all in one" sealed water loops promises maintenance and leak-free drop-in operation, with much better performance than air (but somewhat lower than custom water loops). Besides good heat transfer, both AIO and custom water loops allow transfer of heat to a location where it is more convenient to dissipate the heat (a radiator all the way at the back or top walls of the case, for example). Another benefit is that efficient CPU radiators for powerful CPUs tend to be very large and heavy (transferring undue stress to mounting and the motherboard), while a CPU water block is usually small and lightweight by comparison.

A safe bet is to try a CPU AIO system made by your computer case manufacturer.

Fractal Design Celsius S36 360mm Silent High Performance Slim Expandable All-In-One CPU Liquid Water Cooler

 

GPU Cooler:

The EVGA hybrid GPU cards (see illustration) seem to be a novel idea of combining an AIO water loop with a small fan. Another possibility is a purchase of an NVIDIA Founders Edition GPU, and an installation of an aftermarket purchased AIO system onto the card. The advantage is that the hot spot is moved from constrained card housing to radiator on the back wall of the case, and fan speed and noise are significantly reduced.

 

Fans Hub:

10 Ports PWM 4pin CPU Cooler / Case / Chasis Cooling Fan Power Cable Hub Splitter Adapter w/Self-sticker,Power by IDE Molex 4pin

$8

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIACJF6HF8561

Even if the motherboard has enough PWM fan headers for the number of fans in your system, wires running all over and to distant areas of the case is not convenient. A PWM fan hub clones PWM fan ports (all fans are controlled as one speed setting), and should have an external power connector. Many choices exist, most of then Chinese white-label goods. Choose your own.

10 Ports PWM 4pin CPU Cooler Case Chasis Cooling Fan Power Cable Hub Splitter Adapter, IDE Molex 4pin

 

SSD:

SAMSUNG 960 EVO M.2 250GB NVMe PCI-Express 3.0 x4 Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-V6E250BW

$120

This SSD seems to be the fastest currently available. If you have more common sense than money, you won't need more than about 260GB of storage for your OS HD. Please don't put 1TB size internal drives into your computer. Only use high-capacity drives EXTERNAL to your computer (over USB or Ethernet). This isolates the drive from computer issues (hard power cycles, shocks, heat, dust, vibration, etc). Always buy TWO of the same large-capacity drive (the second is for a mirror backup), ALWAYS use an automated and comprehensive backup strategy (look into FreeFileSync), and do invest in a data recovery service plan.

SAMSUNG 960 EVO M.2 250GB NVMe PCI-Express 3.0 x4 Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-V6E250BW

 

OS:

Windows 7 for the foreseeable future for me. Windows 10 annoys the shit out of me due to privacy issues, sale of me and my data as a service to third parties, internal advertising, cloud data transfer / storage, least not last significant loss of my control over OS behavior (Microsoft doesn't give a shit about what YOU want to do with your computer today - it has an agenda of its own). And NO, I have not seen conclusive evidence that Windows 10 / DirectX 12 is considerably better for gaming. My primary non-gaming OS is Linux Mint Cinnamon. It seems that Wine application can be used for gaming on Linux, but I have not given it a try.

 

Mouse:

Logitech G602 Lag-Free Wireless Gaming Mouse – 11 Programmable Buttons, Up to 2500 DPI

$39

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E4MQODC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I needed a wireless gaming mouse, and this seems to be a popular choice.

Logitech G602 Lag-Free Wireless Gaming Mouse – 11 Programmable Buttons, Up to 2500 DPI

 

Keyboard:

Logitech K350 2.4GHz Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard - Black

$39

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIAB274D93868

https://www.amazon.com/Logitech-K350-2-4Ghz-Wireless-Keyboard/dp/B002MMY4WY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517974314&sr=8-1&keywords=logitech+k350

Unfortunately my online research shows that many people are not happy with the performance of this wireless keyboard. I have used a wired Microsoft 4000 keyboard for many years. I may try the somewhat more expensive Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Wireless Desktop Keyboard, but it does not have ideal reviews itself.

Logitech K350 2.4GHz Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard

 

Monitor/Display:

My computer is outputing to a 32" LCD TV being used as a computer monitor. I got it for free from someone who threw it away thinking it had a problem (problem was in the cabling). My wife has a 46" LCD TV which was placed next to the dumpster due to a blown component on the circuit board. TV disassembled, troubleshot, fixed, being used with no further issues. Get the idea?

If you have too much money, sure you can buy curved, wall-size, OLED, GSYNC, or 4k monitors.

If an inexpensive LCD TV as a monitor does not fancy you, what about a $1000 short-throw "gaming" 1080p projector which cost less than a TV of the 100"+ size? If I run across free money I will give projecting a try. Unless I am missing something, this technology seems to be unfairly overshadowed by cheap LCD TVs.

If your eyes get issues from long sessions in front of the monitor, try OLED or projection instead of LCD technology.

 

Headphones:

Sennheiser RS120 On-Ear Wireless RF Headphones

$73

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0001FTVEK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I was concerned by negative reviews on this product, but after trying it out for a few days I have the following to say: SHUT UP WHINERS! Product works as I expected it. True, it is not digital (crystal clear and noise-free) like bluetooth headsets which spoiled all others, but an analog product (with a little of interference, tuning, noise, hissing that goes along with analog products).

Sennheiser RS120 On-Ear Wireless RF Headphones

 

Extended warranties and data recovery:

Although very often a gimmick (e.g. some policies have same duration as manufacturer warranties anyways, and/or may require to go thru the manufacturer's broken warranty honor system), and a way for the storefront to make EASY MONEY off of you, extended warranties sometimes have a value. You have to research that they indeed extend beyond what the manufacturer already offers, and do NOT require you to go thru the manufacturer yourself for a resolution.

If have observed a drastic increase in cost going from 3 years to 4 year policies (see statements above as to why!!!).

Where extended warranties are REQUIRED is for electronics which gets hands-on rough handling and abuse (laptops, keyboards, phones, etc), Western Digital hard drives (manufacturer sends you troublesome REFURBISHED hard drives as a warranty replacement for your BRAND NEW faulty hard drive), etc.

Any physical hard drive should always get the data recovery plan as well, as physical hard drives in my experience fail at the rate of 1 HD / year.

 

UPS:

A UPS is required equipment for any computer other than a laptop. You need to know the following:

  • Power output is reported in kVA, which is marketing bullshit as this number comes out higher than W (watt) power rating, so derate your expectations accordingly.
  • Stated power output at best gives you a few minutes of run time before the battery dies.
  • Used UPSes with dead batteries can be bought very cheaply on e-Bay but the cost of the replacement battery(ies) often exceeds the cost of the UPS itself.
  • For a computer of this class, 1000kVA UPS is bare minimum (equivalent to about 750W).
  • My UPS is being supplied by a used battery from a compact car, giving me 30 minutes rather than 3 minutes of run time. Be aware, however, that cheap plastic poorly ventillated Chinese UPSes may melt down due to overheating long before a car battery runs out of charge. Also car batteries are not fully sealed like VRLA batteries usually used.

 

Where to buy:

As a matter of my own and personal opinion;

  • Newegg has the best search, categorization, and filtered search system, free EggSaver shipping (and most often has the best prices)
  • Amazon abuses its monopolistic privilidges by excesive and blatant advertising, not giving a SHIT about your exact search termsn, and by undercutting not only every one else but even THEIR OWN sellers with artificially low priciing
  • TigerDirect search/product categorization and spam behaviors (took me more than a year to block their spam e-mail, you are not given a right to unsubscribe) SUCK.

 

Total cost:

Around $2500 for the tower and accessories, but excluding the monitor. This total largely depends on the GPU card cost/availability. Would you like to download a summary spreadsheet?



˅˅˅ Additional valuable information is available at one of the links below: ˅˅˅

 

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Page last modified 11-Feb-18 22:24:18 EST
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