It’s Time For Me To Build A New PC

I spent part of yesterday afternoon in at MicroCenter Tustin. I’m getting ready to assemble a new computer, my third build.

Building your own PC is a lot easier than it sounds. There are a limited number of components necessary. You just buy the pieces, plug and play.

OK, there’s also the anguish part where you pray it will fire up when plugged in. I’ve been mainly lucky in that regard.

PC sales are down. For most folks the box they bought a few years ago is still plenty fast to get the job done. Computer makers are victims of their own success!

My problem is different. I need a machine that can easily handle the immense files used for photography and video. And, since I’m doing more web development&#185, two wide screen monitors would be nice.

My specs are fluid, but here’s what I’m looking at:

  • Intel I7-4770K CPU– This is the brain. It’s a quad core chip that runs fast and can be overclocked to run faster.
  • ASRock Z87 Extreme4 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard — All the components plug into the motherboard. This one has sufficient USB and other ports. I’m not totally sure how different different motherboards really are, but there’s a lot of buzz about ASRock.
  • Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk — There will be two drives. This first one is for booting the machine and loading programs. A solid state drive is VERY fast, especially compared to a conventional hard drive. They’re also more expensive with less capacity.
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive — This hard drive will be used for storage. Video files are immense! 2TB means 2,199,023,255,552 bytes. When was the last time you had two trillion of anything?
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card — Most motherboards have video already built-in. The programs I want to use take advantage of the GTX 660’s “cuda cores,” which handle much of the math involved in manipulating stills and video. That means editing, rendering and transcoding will speed along.
  • Windows 7 64bit — There’s a lot of controversy between Windows 7 and 8. Some folks feel Windows 8’s touch/tablet oriented design makes it less able in a keyboard/mouse environment. I’m very unsure. This could easily change.

Beyond this there’s 16 gb of RAM, case, power supply, CPU cooler, DVDRW and a few other assorted parts.

I posted to the “buildapc” section on Reddit, but was disappointed with the level of advice I got. Feel free to throw your two cents in. As it is, I’ll be forced to make some choices without as much knowledge as I’d like.

Helaine asked how long this will take to build? After I get the parts, it should go together in a few hours on the kitchen table. Not much more than a screwdriver is needed. Maybe this weekend?

&#185 – I’m in the middle of redesigning the site for Connecticut Hospice. Their old site has served them well, but it needs to be updated for style and made easier to wrangle.

9 thoughts on “It’s Time For Me To Build A New PC”

  1. Sounds like a very solid machine. My only suggestions (and that’s all they are):

    1. You may want to consider a 500 GB solid state drive. It give you that much more to play with in case you need to add other applications.
    2. I would strongly suggest 64 GB of RAM. That reduces the margin for error when having multiple applications open.

  2. Excellent choices, although I would suggest you take a look at ASUS motherboards.. I am a hard fast ASUS fan, and have been for years.. Other than that, all the rest of the stuff you picked out I would have probably picked myself.. If doing huge video, Lou is probably right in that you may want more than 16GB of ram as well.

    Do they have computer shows in CA like they do here in CT? Haven’t been to one here in CT in about a year or two. (The last time I saw you was at the show at the Oakdale a couple years back).

    – Andre

  3. Don’t go cheap on the power supply – it rarely pays off in the end. Go with a well known brand like Corsair, Antec or Thermaltake and if you can afford it go with one of their more premium lines. If you think you need 600 watts get 700. It’s better to overcompensate on that. For a good one it will be in the $100 range…or more.

    I edit HD video and process RAW files in Lightroom and Photoshop and 16 GB of RAM has been plenty (with multiple apps and browser tabs open). Many motherboards get finicky once you go over 16GB, so just be sure your motherboard can handle it if you want more.

    I have a 240 GB SSD and I’m using about half now with Adobe CS6 Web Premium, Lightroom, Premiere Elements, Office 2010 and a few other major apps on Windows 7 Pro. 512 GB would be nice, but it does get pricey.

    1. I agree with you, Tim. A good power supply is essential. I would also recommend Seasonic as a good PSU brand. They actually produce the power supplies for Antec. I would also like to add that you should not just look at the max power output, but look at the Max current ratings too. Pay attention to the +12V rails in particular, as well as their combined output.

      I found this Power Supply guide a while ago, and still refer back to it sometime.

  4. Hi Geoff, looks like a great list for a powerful machine! And extremely similar to the one I built a few months ago. I bought the ASRock Z87 Extreme6 and have had a great experience with it. I think you get a little more for the money in terms of connectivity since they’re not quite as popular as the ASUS motherboards.

    Samsung SSD…great choice! Very very fast speeds. I’d consider Windows 8 for an extra boost in the boot-up time. From power on to desktop is less than 15 seconds. I use a program called Start8 by Stardock to bring back a fully customizable start menu and to boot right to desktop, though I believe the Windows 8.1 update will have this option as well.

    If you’re interested and willing to shell out for 32GB of RAM, you can create a RAMDisk (I use half of mine – 16GB) which will give you even better performance, especially if you install programs right on to it. There’s pros/cons to RAMDisk…plenty of info out there about it.

    GTX660 handles dual monitors great and a good deal compared to the other cards (price vs performance).

    Well I think that’s all the input I can offer for now…happy building!

  5. Thanks for the gratis work for Hospice… an employee of the Branford Hospice prior to my move to Florida, I can appreciate the importance of having an up to date, professional web site …. I still follow them online, many of my colleagues still work there….leaving my employer was one of the harder parts of moving from Connecticut…luckily The Treasure Coast Hospice is just as awesome ….may your heart and hands provide a Special Site for Branford… <3

  6. I feel that Windows 8 is Windows 7 with a new start screen for usability. I still spend 95% of my time using the desktop. The start screen is certainly touch oriented and it functions very well with a mouse.

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