Gaming Computer Dream Build 2018 Spring 2,500 budget

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 (such as 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 dependency inter-linked, so if this is outside your budget, it will be hard to downgrade major components without breaking dependency (for example, chosen CPU dictates motherboard socket support, SSD requires an M.2 capable motherboard, etc, etc).

The following rules were set in place to constrain the system cost:

  • I will not spend more than $400 on a major component (CPU, motherboard).
  • I will not spend more than $700 for a graphics card.
  • I will not spend more than $200 on RAM or SSD.
  • I will not spend more than $120 on minor components (CPU cooler, power supply, case).
  • I will not spend more than $40 on accessory components (fans, cabling).
  • I will reuse and old monitor, or repurpose an LCD TV for monitor use.

 

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 "input lag" and such. I worry more about my health and fitness of my body than "lag". But you are welcome to substitute wired keyboard, mouse, and headphones if you wish.

Expect to add another thousand if you are going silly (>=1080P resolution, >=120Hz refresh rate, curved, GSYNC, etc) with a monitor, but if you follow my advice below, this cost can be decreased, even all the way to zero.

 

NOTE: Read my computer assembly article FIRST before purchasing any components. Firstly, some additional tools and hardware are listed in my assembly article. Secondly, I will tell you of any problems I have encountered while putting parts together, such as the case CPU GPU AIO radiators clearance / interfefence issue I document.

 

Computer Case:

Fractal Design Define S Black Silent ATX Midtower Computer Case Solid Panel No ODD bays

$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 instead.

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

Also very importantly, this is one of few powerful and fashionable cases remaining which still give me an 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 unshielded 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

 

Product review after I got my hands on this item: I still love the open and minimalist design!

 

Fractal Design Define S Black Silent ATX Midtower Computer Case

 

CPU:

Intel Skylake-X 7800X 6 cores 1MB L2, 8.25 L3 cache LGA2066 28 PCI-E lanes

$364

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 at this budget level. 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 straight from the CPU. All other Intel processors, including the "more modern" variants like Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake 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. As a reference: Skylake: 16 lanes, Skylake-X: 28 to 44 lanes, Kaby Lake: 16 lanes, Coffee Lake: 16 lanes. Plus slower lanes from PCH. I personally think that Intel is behind the times of 2 GPUs in SLI + M.2 adaptation with the laughable total number of lanes in most recent processors.

You can pay just a little bit more for 10 cores and more L3 cache, but you won't get more PCIE lanes. Modern games are GPU constrained, not CPU cores constrained once you are at four or more cores. At the worst, software would be L3 cache amount and RAM bandwidth (and data loads from the SSD) constrained long before CPU runs out of horsepower.

Let me say this, boys and girls: More "modern" processors such as Kaby Lake or Coffee Lake offer ZERO BENEFIT OR IMPROVEMENT upon Skylake-X especially as far as gaming performance and application is concerned.

I DID see online benchmarks showing that as of right now, graphics card have negligible drop in performance if only running in X8 PCI-E mode. However, this still leaves the question of whether your M.2 will be using 4 PCI-E lanes (faster) or SATA lanes (slower). In all cases read your motherboard documentation, because on lane-constrained systems you will need to use SPECIFIC card slots for your system to operate.

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:

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

$730

https://www.evga.com/products/product.aspx?pn=08G-P4-6288-KR

$550 (what it should cost as of right now, but out of stock worldwide due to cryptocurrency mining) -- $750 (obtainable by 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 exercise 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.

If you see a triple fan or an AIO version of a 1080 for $700 or less, grab it! The choice of whether to use AIO or solely air cooling is up to you. However, never buy a single or dual fan versions of these card: they will get too hot and too loud under load.

The GPU card is the costliest and painful component of the build at this time. Which card you choose will also dictate overall system noise level and cooling options. If you choose a DYI liquid cooling option, for example, then it does not make much sense to pay a $300 premium for a three-fan card which may have adequate cooling at a reasonable noise level already.

I will be adding a 140mm fan with 120mm mounting hole pattern behind the radiator for a push-pull configuration, as even with an AIO, significantly warm GPU temperatures, and fan noise can still occur in the system. Don't expect magically silent noise levels and ambient-level temperatures.

Be aware that there is suspicion that due to use use of somewhat incompatible materials in the design, an AIO system may only last about three years before clogging or pump failure happens.

A 1080 Ti card will set you back around $1,000 as of right now, and it is therefore well outside of the budget. If it were not for cryptocurrency mining, I would actually be able to buy a Ti for $700, especially given the age of the design.

Monitor these three websites to check availability:

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 SDRAM DDR4 3200 (PC4 25600) Intel Z170 Platform Desktop Memory Model F4-3200C16D-16GTZ

$216

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231914

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 premium than the bare minimum RAM is to get fast RAM timings specs. For example, for a computer of this class, pick "CAS Latency: 14 thru 16ns". NOTE: a excessive number of indistinguishable part numbers exist of RAM offerings. You may have to substitute as soon as a better choice is available. I have gathered from communication with an ASRock rep that the QVL list is NOT up to date, even for a motherboard which is only about a year old.

I had my mind set on a better-performing (Timing 14-14-14-34 CAS Latency 14) RAM option, however after checking motherboard Qualified Vendor List for supported RAM, only that which is shown above is among those supported. I have contacted ASRock asking why a better performing RAM is not in the list, and they said the QVL list is not up to date.

With the following constraints:

  • G.Skill TridentZ memory (a premium brand and family variant)
  • QVL compatible
  • Size flexible

 

You have the following choices:

  • F4-3000C15D-16GTZ TridentZ CAS Latency 15 at $189. This is the best 16GB Dual Channel kit of two sticks, but there is no Quad Channel counterpart, so I cannot guarantee you will get Quad Channel in the future by installing another one of these. If you have no interest in going to 32GB, you can pick this option, OR pick a 4GBx4 sticks Quad Channel memory from listing attached below.
  • F4-3200C16Q-32GTZ TridentZ CAS Latency 16 at $320, which is the cheapest Quad Channel Kit of four sticks at 32GB and which is TridentZ.
  • F4-3200C16D-16GTZ TridentZ CAS Latency 16 at $216. If you cannot afford the four stick kit above, this immediately gets you HALF THE QUAD FOUR STICK KIT, assuming there is no difference between Q and D part numbers from this manufacturer (see disclaimer below).

 

Want to form your own conclusion: You have the motherboard QVL (on ASRock website) or my G.Skill spreadsheet to start with.

There is also the important capability of my motherboard and CPU to support Quad Channel RAM. In theory, with four sticks inserted, all four can be accessed in parallel giving massive transfer capability. In practice, independent benchmarks have shown negligible improvement. As I MAY want to upgrade in the future to a quad-channel, four sticks, 32GB of system RAM, I am now populating only two sticks. However, know that I have warned you that:

  1. You may get negligible bandwidth increase if you have chosen 4 sticks of 4GB each or 4 sticks of 8GB each instead of my choice.
  2. It is possible that buying a "dual channel kit" of two RAM sticks will give you slightly different product than that contained in a package of "quad channel kit" consisting of four RAM sticks. It is possible that better compatibility for quad-channel operation is ensured when a four-stick "quad channel kit" is purchased from the on-set.

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

 

Power Supply:

Seasonic FOCUS Plus Series SSR-850FX 850W 80+ Gold ATX12V & EPS12V Full Modular 120mm FDB Fan Compact 140 mm Size Power Supply

$130

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151188

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/seasonic-focus-plus-gold-850-psu,5247.html

If you are planning on GTX 1080 Ti, overclocking, or SLI, then I would recommend an 850W power supply. If you are not interested in any of the three, 750W could 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" since you always need the motherboard wire harness attached!

This power supply brand seems to have good reputation among other people. Note that the 850W full modular version of such power supplies is often twice the cost of 750W offerings!

Use an online calculator such as https://outervision.com/power-supply-calculator to pick a power supply. For this build, even if I had two GTX 1080 Ti in SLI mode, a 750W supply is listed as being sufficient.

One thing to know is that these power supplies are most efficient at around 50% of load. This is a good reason to pick a larger supply than online calculators suggest.

Another thing to know: Seasonic is one if VERY FEW labels which actually designs, manufactures, assembles, delivers, and supports their own hardware. Many others merely instruct Chinese manufacturers to create a power supply with their specifications, and slap their "brand name label" on an otherwise "white-label goods" unit.

TIP: modern cases are now mounting the PSU on the bottom of the case. There are now two ways to mount a PSU with a large fan on the side: (1) with fan pointing UP into the case, and sucking air from case and down and outside, in so doing supporting overall airflow in the case (a configuration which I recommend) AND (2) especially if there is a closed "channel" in the case, with the large fan pointed down, sucking dust up from your carpet/desk thru the mesh, using "cold" but dusty air, and NOT contributing to case airflow (a configuration which I DO NOT recommend).

Product review after I got my hands on this PS:

  • PROS: Very compact for its size! Affordable for its power class. Good review on Tom's Hardware. Comes with PSU and cable pouches, zip ties, Velcro ties, screws, etc. Modular. Hybrid fan control mode, user-settable with a switch on PSU. 10 year MFG warranty.
  • CON: Manuals, both printed and PDFs available on the website are CRAP. No hookup diagram is shown. Since not all connector positions are labeled on the PSU, I was confused where things get plugged in (as it turns out, the dual connectors are plugged in next to each other between white "M/B" marks, even though some wire twisting will result).

Seasonic FOCUS Plus Series SSR-850FX 850W 80+ Gold ATX12V & EPS12V Full Modular 120mm FDB Fan Compact 140 mm Size Power Supply

 

Cooling:

Trick learned from co-workers: the front filter mesh is designed for people who never clean their mesh, so it is not dense enough to actually catch all of the dust (and clog itself up). Rather than buying expensive third party filter paper covers, just get a sheet of HEPA filter material from any home improvement store (vacuum cleaner bag, furnace filter, HVAC filter, etc), get four or more small rare earth button magnets, and place filter paper over your mesh. Change or vacuum out the filter paper as needed.

 

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 other people as a quiet / silent fan (the definition of "silent" varies). It is large at 140mm, has good airflow, and has a four-pin PWM cable with 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.

Note that there are at least three types of fans, optimized for silence, airflow, or air pressure. DO NOT use these silent / high airflow fans for a radiator, and use a high static pressure fan optimized for radiator use instead.

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 once 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 when detached or re-attached, 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 had 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.

However, there is suspicion that due to dissimilar metals, and gradual loss of potency of any corrosion inhibitors in the non-replaceable liquid, and due to plastic fluid pump construction, these AIO systems would have a useful life of about three years before a failure or significant loss of capability occurs.

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 of an AIO system 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.

Don't expect magical performance from a Hybrid system in the form of completely silent operation and temperatures around ambient. You can improve BOTH the noise and warm-up by placing a pull fan behind the GPU AIO radiator, but the fan must be optimized for high static pressure, radiator applications, such as "Fractal Design Venturi HP-14 Series Black Fluid Dynamic Bearing High Pressure PWM 140mm Radiator/Heatsink Optimized Fan" ($20) (this is a 140mm radiator for those who have a 140mm fan opening in the case, and want the large fan to be oversized around the radiator).

 

Fans Hub:

10 Ports PWM 4pin CPU Cooler / Case / Chassis 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.

Product review after I got my hands on this: The soldering quality and double-side tape quality are abominable. But, to modify the saying, you pay little you get Chinese quality. You pay more, you get a brand name label but same Chinese quality. So might as well pay little...

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

 

SSD:

SAMSUNG 960 EVO M.2 500GB NVMe PCI-Express 3.0 x4 Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-V6E500BW

$200

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147594


This PCI Express SSD seems to be the fastest currently available, and all the rage these days. If you have more common sense than free money, you won't need more than about 500GB of storage for your OS HD. Windows grows to at least 60GB over time, and each fancy modern game can be as big as 40GB, so with four games you are already at 220GB. The smaller 250GB model MZ-V6E250BW is only $80 cheaper. But 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), geographically spread your storage locations, and do invest in a data recovery service plan.

The 250GB model number is listed as "compatible" in the motherboard User Manual, which is a good thing! The 500GB model is not listed in QVL but according to an ASRock rep, it is compatible.

Bandwidth can be gained by having the OS on (typically smaller) primary HD and by placing applications on a second (typically larger) HD. In theory, the CPU could parallel operations for OS which are still happening even if you are gaming, and those for accessing data related to the game you are playing. However, I do not believe this to be significant in this case, because:

  • The motherboard manufacturer does not provide necessary information regarding this, but my suspicion is that I could only have ONE M.2 PCIE four-lane device (28 lane CPU, 16 lanes first GPU, 8 lanes 2nd GPU, and M.2 device(s)).
  • The limitation and gain observed were probably from mechanical HD seek / head move operations, with head re-positioning for OS tasks interfering with those operations needed during gaming. This is not applicable to a SSD, which does not need a large amount of time to go from one area of drive to another.

 

It is important to know that no matter what Flash memory device is used, individual locations/cells will start to fail after 100,000 write cycles, or 10 years of use, whichever is less, and no matter what others tell you otherwise. By default, Windows will write every second to a page file, among other things, so several tweaks must be done to Windows to reduce unneeded premature wear of SSD device. See for example http://www.storagereview.com/samsung_magician_and_data_migration_overview.

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 is the plan. 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.

Windows Devolution

 

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:

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard (5KV-00001)

$65

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CYX26BC/ref=olp_product_details?_encoding=UTF8&me=

There is also a cheaper Logitech product:

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

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

I suspect that you are going to pick a wired gaming keyboard instead, but I have nothing to suggest in that area.

UPDATE: I have been using this keyboard for about two months for non-gaming applications, and I have not seen any of problems described online. I am so far satisfied.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard 5KV-00001

 

Monitor/Display:

My computer is outputting 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 was disassembled, troubleshot, fixed, and now being used with no further issues. Get the idea? Use common sense to scavenge for parts for your system rather than blowing thousands of dollars on new hardware, whenever possible.

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

Product review after I got my hands on this: 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).

I have contacted the manufacturer multiple times, and they have explicitly refused to provide details on how to disable the stand-by function. So I have solved the problem myself!: [SOLVED] Sennheiser RS120 static burst auto power OFF solution

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 FIRST before they kick in), and a way for the storefront to make EASY MONEY off of you, extended warranties sometimes do 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!!!). It seems that they they are well aware that all of these electronic components have higher rates of failure after about 3 years, for multiple design-level decisions and systemic issues which the industry does nothing to address (planned obsolescence, RoHS lead-free solder tin whiskers, lack of conformal coating, corrosion, dissimilar metals corrosion, cheap sleeve bearing failure, mechanical part failure, lack of human Final Inspection, lack of burn-in before part is shipped, overheating related issues, etc, etc).

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. I also highly recommend extended warranties any time there is even a possibility of liquid leak in the system (AIO or closed/open custom water loop cooling).

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 ventilated 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 privileges by excessive and blatant advertising, not giving a SHIT about your exact search terms, and by undercutting not only every one else but even THEIR OWN sellers with artificially low pricing.
  • 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?

 

SUPERCHARGER:

If you have another $1000 to blow, you can supercharge this build with the following component substitutions:

  • 7820X (+$108 8 cores 11MB L3 cache) or 7900X (+$560 10 cores 44 PCIE lanes 13.75 MB L3 cache) processor
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 HYBRID GAMING 11GB GDDR5X 11G-P4-6698-KR  (+$280)
  • 32GB Quad Channel RAM kit F4-3200C16Q-32GTZ (+$146)
  • A second SSD to store games on (to split I/O bandwidth streams to those going to OS HD and applications HD), then you can use 250GB for OS and 500GB for Applications / Content drives.
  • Consider a custom open water loop due to amount of power dissipation in system (+$400).

 

Another thousand or two could easily be spent on a fancy monitor.



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

 

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