03 April 2017

I built my first PC!

I never thought I'd make one of these posts, to be honest, but I did it! It was pretty exhilarating, and I learned a lot in the process.
Rewind back to around March 15th. I went to start up my PC, and all of a sudden the screen began pixelating, giving this pulsing rainbow effect. I took it in to get it checked out, and the worker confirmed what I already had suspicions: a dying graphics card. I asked my friend for advice, and she suggested I open up my tower and check to see what kind of motherboard I have so I can start looking for a replacement. The more I poked around my PC (a gift from a friend), the more I felt that this would be a costly repair. So rather than trying to keep my current PC alive with replacements, I thought, why not just build my own PC with the money I'd been saving up already?
At first I wanted to ask friends for help, but the more I looked into PC building, the more questions I had... and the less I knew what questions to even begin with. I decided to look for the information myself online and through PC building communities. My friend Milky recommended I look into PCPartpicker and reddit, so I spent most of my time on the former, and watched a lot of YouTube videos for supplementary information and recommendations.

I initially wanted to build with a budget as the priority, but after looking through custom builds I was introduced to a whole new world of aesthetics. I'm pretty weak to white electronics, so I looked up all of the white rigs for ideas. I was also really interested in cube cases (like the Thermaltake Core V1 Snow Edition, or the Corsair Carbide Air 240 in White), and spent half my time reading about miniITXs and the pros and cons of them. Although cute, they came with their own set of issues, like compatibility, storage, and noise. Ultimately, if I wanted to future-proof my build and not have to mess with it for awhile or stress out about building by myself (I don't have small hands...), I needed to look into a more average size. I went with a mid-tower build in the end, and planned my parts accordingly. 

The Case: NZXT H440

The NZXT H440 is ridiculously popular, I found. After posting my build on social media, I saw several of my friends had this case as well (like minds!). I couldn't help but gravitate towards the sleek, minimal design and incredible cable management. Being able to add several HDDs helped a lot, as I take a lot of photos and need to think about storage space more seriously.

One of the biggest factors was sound. Sometimes I work/game very late so I need a machine that doesn't sound like a plane taking off all the time. I've been using this new PC for its intended use for a couple weeks now, and I always forget that it's even on. The only time I so much as hear a peep is when I'm loading up a program or turning it on. It's ridiculously quiet! 
so sleek!
I loved that the USBs, audio jacks and power button were on the top. My previous PC had audio jacks on the front lower-middle, so I had to be creative with my short-cord headphones.

The Motherboard: MSI Z170A KRAIT GAMING

I won't pretend to know more about the specs of these than I really do. Good reviews? Compatible? Popular? Affordable? White? Add to cart. My runner-up choice was the Asus Z170-A ATX, but the reviews for Krait Gaming's was higher. That could be due to the amount of reviews in the pool, but I didn't want to take a chance.
Touching the motherboard was the scariest part of building this. I put everything together in a tank top and shorts so I wouldn't conduct any electricity, and frequently touched our kitchen faucet before working on anything. Thinking back on it, maybe my paranoia was a bit excessive -- every time I stepped foot on the carpet I went to touch the faucet HAHAHA. When I told Milky about it I could imagine her shaking her head through our messages. 

The CPU: Intel Core i5-6500 3.2GHz

I went with the i5 6500 for its price point and mid-level gaming capabilities. I knew I wasn't going to overclock (something I didn't know about until researching PC specs), so getting anything higher seemed like a waste. The bulk of my work is done in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC, and if I can do casual endgame content in FFXIV, I'd be ecstatic. I wasn't planning on doing photo-editing on my PC either, due to my old monitor, but it works like a dream. Sometimes I have to do a quick edit with Lightroom and Photoshop open, and there's no lapse in speed or sound (thank you, SSDs!). 

The Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 1060 6GB

Same purchase formula as the motherboard. Good reviews? Compatible? Popular? Affordable? White? Add to cart. There's definitely a ton of newer video cards out there, but spending more for extra power that I don't need seemed excessive. And this one just looked so nice... haha.
Everything else was fairly straightforward and fell into place as I went along picking parts. I surveyed a lot of PC builds in my price range and watched YouTube videos when I didn't understand something (and there were a lot of things I didn't understand.. but a lot of videos explaining it!) Up until the moment of truth (pressing the "ON" button) I kept thinking that I probably did something wrong, or that I'm in over my head, but miraculously the fans starting spinning and the lights started flickering. I'm one of those types of people that read the manual religiously before using something, and read the manuals I did! Religiously! Even then, some part of me kept saying I couldn't do it. And I'm glad I could prove that part wrong.
There's already a few things I'm excited to upgrade eventually, like white LED strips, a different CPU cooler, a video card backplate, and white cable sleeves, but I'm good for now!

Special thanks to my FC homies Milky and Runtime for answering all my noob questions, especially during the build process. Starting from absolutely nothing, I can now say I picked the parts for, and built, my very first gaming PC. :) All thanks to the communities I had the pleasure of learning from, and the friends who believed in me. (so cheesy!)

PC Parts

NZXT H440 (Black/White) - Case
MSI Z170A KRAIT GAMING 3X ATX - Motherboard
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2 x 8GB) - Memory
Samsung 850 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5" - SSD
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM - Internal Hard Drive
Asus GeForce GTX 1060 6GB - Video Card
SeaSonic 620W 80+ Bronze Certified Fully-Modular ATX - Power Supply

Thanks for reading!

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