Print Story New PC*
Hardware
By wiredog (Sun Nov 13, 2016 at 09:38:35 AM EST) (all tags)
*Some Assembly Required.


Read the reports from the Big Apple Show last October and it was obvious that Apple wasn't going to be doing desktops much longer. Why pay $3000 for a laptop with a 15" screen when I have a 24" HD screen at home? Heck, I can get a 4K TV with a 40 " screen for $400 ($650 if it's a LED TV) at Best Buy. (Hmmm. Think over, seriously.) So I decided it was time to build a PC.

It's been 20 years since I've built one from the ground up, and 10 years since I went to the Mac, so I did a lot of reading to figure out what I wanted, and needed. First discovery: Apparently only 20 year old gamers living in Mom's basement build their own PC's. I don't need the ability to drive 3 4K 3D monitors at 120FPS while playing KillEmAllLetGodSortEmOut using the UHD-BFG-9000 and 7.1 Channel audio.

I'm 50 years old, need reading glasses, partly blind in one eye, and partly deaf in one ear. I work (for certain definitions of "work") for a living.

I do want something fast, very quiet, backwards compatible, and reasonably future proof. Also something that can run a couple of virtual machines.

So I want the fastest CPU I can afford, a motherboard for it, a fast solid state drive, lots of RAM, and quiet case. Don't need a fast video card, since onboard graphics for the motherboard should do just fine. Do want the option for it. After a couple of weeks of research I came up with the parts list and went to Microcenter in Vienna Virginia.


Parts:
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K SkyLake 4.0GHz LGA 1151 (Quad core, 8mb cache) $300
  • Motherboard: ASUS Z170 PRO $160
  • Thunderbolt card: ASUS ThunderboltEX 3 $80
  • CPU Cooler: Coolmaster Hyper 212 $37
  • 16 gb DDR4 ram $80
  • ½ tb SSD. Samsung m.2 version, $330
  • Case: Antec P-100 ATX Silent Case - Black $80
  • Power supply: EVGA 650 Gold 650W $110
  • CPU Cooler: Coolmaster Hyper 212 $35
  • Intel PCI-Express WiFi Network Adapter $55
  • LG Blu-Ray burner $55
Total: $1322

The Thunderbolt card gives me a Thunderbolt 3/USB C port, which I need because my external drives are all Thunderbolt 2. The motherboard already has a USB C port, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.1, a couple of USB 2. The case also has 2 USB 3 ports and 2 USB 2 ports. So I think I have enough ports. Maybe.

Also got a Win 10 64 bit Pro OEM DVD for $140. So $1460 and if I get a fancy 40" UHD TV as a monitor (not likely, comma, but) just over $2000.


Assembly was fairly easy. Read all the manuals first so I could get things sequenced properly, and dry fitted everything as I went along to avoid other surprises. Some of the manuals use the flyspeck 3 font and I needed a magnifying glass to read them. Took maybe 3 hours. Connected the monitor, the old Mac keyboard from my 24" iMac, and the Logitech laser mouse I bought back in the 90's, turned on the power strip. Pressed the power button, and: It started right up, and into the BIOS setup screen. Yay!

Hmmm. Only one of the DRAM modules is showing up. Shut down, move it around (insert drinking song here), and eventually <Maxwell_Smart>Aha! The old "pull it and reseat it trick!"</Maxwell_Smart> worked.

Installed Windows 10. In about 10 minutes, including reboots. Ye Gods this system is fast! I bet it can execute an infinite loop in 30 seconds! Installed all the drivers. Uninstalled the Intel WiFi drivers since the system couldn't see the wifi card after I installed them. (The Intel drivers are incompatible with the Intel card?) Install anti-virus (Kaspersky seems to be the highest rated. This week anyway.) Run all the updates.

I'd forgotten how big and heavy an ATX case was. Nice and solid. The CPU cooler weighs a pound (I checked on the kitchen scale) and hangs off the side of the mother board. Hope the support structure that holds the cantilevered load holds up over time. Don't think I want to move this system around too much.

Next steps: Convert all my files in Mac specific formats (not many, Pages and Numbers mostly) to Windows, copy everything over to external hard drives and move them to the PC. Since my external drives, used mostly for backup, are all HFS+ formatted I'll need Windows software for that. The hardest part, at least at first, appears to be getting the email moved over.

Shut it all down, cook and eat dinner. Brats with kraut (started it simmering while I was halfway through the build), and hot potato salad.
Kraut: Saute a clove of garlic in olive oil until fragrant, about 15 seconds, add 1 can drained kraut, add chicken stock to cover, add 1/2 tsp celery seed and 1 tsp caraway seed, stir, bring to simmer, put in 300°F oven for at least an hour.
Bratwurst: About 45 minutes before eating, brown on all sides, then put in simmering kraut to slowly cook it through, about half an hour.
Hot potato salad here, or you can use canned and microwave it.

< Should I post here, there or in a swamp? | November Update >
New PC* | 28 comments (28 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
No Video Card? by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #1 Sun Nov 13, 2016 at 11:03:44 AM EST
Not only are the KillEmAllLetGodSortEmOut types only building desktops, I think they are the last ones buying desktops at all. Assuming you could put your mac drive in a USB shell, I'm not sure that any component benefits from the desktop (buying the BD burner might be the hardest part, probably wind up with an external one). The biggest benefits left to desktops are high power (and thus quite hot) graphics cards and multiple (often 3.5") hard drives. It seems the typical "chain a laptop to a desk" setup is finally matching computer design.

UHD TVs as monitors sounds interesting, but apparently refresh is the killer (60Hz is now becoming available in the under $1000 40" monitors, but make sure you have enough adjustments to convince the thing to act like a monitor). I suspect that at this resolution, onboard graphics can drive desktop windows, but no single GPU on the planet can get the latest game up to 60Hz.

The other weird thing was SSD, (no spinning rust) and BD burner. Is the burner just for old media and backups? I'd suspect a multi-TB hard drive could certainly do the backups better (although the "backup" should be external and unplugged).

I wouldn't be surprised if it makes more sense to boot Linux (even Knoppix) to copy all those files. NTFS (whatever the current MS filesystem is called) seems to be finally compatible, I suspect that HSF+ works as well.

Wumpus

I just bought by Herring (2.00 / 0) #4 Sun Nov 13, 2016 at 01:29:38 PM EST
a Radeon RX480 Nitro card and a pair of Dell U2515H monitors (2560 x 1440) and that all words really well. Not massively expensive either.

[ Parent ]
Workstation by lb008d (2.00 / 0) #2 Sun Nov 13, 2016 at 11:06:15 AM EST
I put together a workstation last month using almost identical parts. It had been so long since I did a DIY build that I got tripped up on installing the CPU cooler. I put the motherboard in the case before realizing that the cooler has a support bracket behind the board.

Apparently using Samsung's SSD driver is recommended. Enjoy all that speed.

Ignore the nsysayers by gmd (2.00 / 0) #3 Sun Nov 13, 2016 at 11:35:08 AM EST
 Building your dream PC is easy,


just so long as you ignore the elitists.

--
gmd - HuSi's second most dimwitted overprivileged user.
Software notes by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Nov 15, 2016 at 09:33:41 AM EST
Asus has an updater for the motherboard drivers and BIOS that works really well. It says there's an update, asks if you want to run it, and doesn't get pushy about it. Ran it, and it worked very well. Reboots a couple of times and the last reboot is into the BIOS setup.

Software:
Thunderbird, since that seems like the best bet for an email client I can use to import data from Mac Mail. Well, the least painful. Honestly, Mail is almost as much of a lock in as iTunes, except iTunes is on Windows and there are Officially Approved Methods for moving iTunes data from Mac to Windows. The ImportExportTools plugin handles importing the mbox files that are exported from Mail.

Calibre, for ebooks, and there’s an export/import method for moving that data. It’s all in the FAQ.

Handbrake and VLC, for DVD ripping.

LibreOffice. Numbers and Pages can export to Excel and Word formats which LibreOffice can read, so that’s easy enough.

HFSExplorer allows the reading of HFS+ formatted volumes on Windows, and it’s got decent reviews, so installed that. This is because all my external drives are formatted HFS+.


I have an “Export To PC” folder in Documents where I’m putting everything that is converted for Windows or exported from Calibre/Mail/whatever. The iTunes folder should just copy over to Windows. Once I have all the data prepped, I will do a full backup to one of the external drives, plug that drive in to the new PC, and start copying/importing. Once I’m sure I’ve got everything moved I can erase the hard drive on the Mac, and reformat the external drives for Windows, so I can do backups there. Probably be a couple of weeks before this gets done as things are a bit busy right now.

So what’s the best backup software for Windows? Xcopy?

May need CD ripping software and something like Lame.

Probably need software for writing blu-rays.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Whoa by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Nov 15, 2016 at 10:09:16 AM EST
All those programs exist on Linux and appear to consider it an important platform (less sure about HFSExplorer, it seems to class all non-windows platforms as "java systems"). But I don't think K3b (disc burning) has been ported to Windows. As far as backup, I think you have been spoiled by time machine (and won't find anything as good, but if you do post here). I don't think there's anything [really] like that anywhere.

Did the Linux desktop come with a whimper? Who knows?

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
I used many of those programs on Linux by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Nov 15, 2016 at 10:54:44 AM EST
before I went to the Mac, and Handbrake and Calibre on the Mac. Handbrake and Calibre are the standards in those arenas.

Yeah, there's nothing like Time Machine for Windows (or Linux). Which is surprising. You'd think MicroSoft would've copied it by now. That said, I also use SilverKeeper on the Mac to do my other backups. I'm paranoid about backups.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
my dad builds his own by StackyMcRacky (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Nov 15, 2016 at 11:06:33 AM EST
and he's super active on the gamer forums because those are the only places that talk about bleeding edge desktop tech.

Thunderbolt card? by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Nov 16, 2016 at 10:37:55 AM EST
I know certain Intel chipsets put TB right on the mobo. Why not grab one of those? 

An Angry and Flatulent Pig, Trying to Tie Balloon Animals
Couldn't find one. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Nov 17, 2016 at 07:47:06 AM EST
Well, this motherboard supports Thunderbolt on the board, but with no output. Plug in the Thunderbolt card, and there's a cable that runs to the Thunderbolt header on the motherboard. Only $80 for the card.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Sheesh. by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Nov 17, 2016 at 09:02:01 AM EST
Well, that helps explain why no one else is using TB. 

An Angry and Flatulent Pig, Trying to Tie Balloon Animals
[ Parent ]
Too much hasle by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 1) #12 Thu Nov 17, 2016 at 11:19:56 AM EST
I upgrade every 5 years or so.

I buy the best laptop I can get for £200, used or new.

Then I plug all my peripherals, install Linux (Fedora or Ubuntu) and off one goes.

I misspent my youth assembling PCs for fun, ah the times.

As an experienced Linux user by gmd (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Nov 18, 2016 at 06:12:46 AM EST
I KNOW this is not the full story.

you missed out the bit where there are no drivers for any of you hardware and some basement dweller from a forum tells you "you have the source code - write it yourself". etc etc ad nauseum


--
gmd - HuSi's second most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
Try another site by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #14 Fri Nov 18, 2016 at 10:11:14 AM EST
We've installed Linux, *and* Windows. Windows is not fun (especially since you often have to download drivers as well as all the support programs). I'm surprised steam hasn't taken this over, probably no money in zero-cost software (like acrobat and similar required software).

A few members have run off to the cult of the mac, but even Apple doesn't care about them anymore (everything is iOS).

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
Apple by gmd (2.00 / 0) #15 Fri Nov 18, 2016 at 02:58:23 PM EST
Is a shadow of it's former self without Jobs... 

--
gmd - HuSi's second most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
Yep, that's why I'm going back to pc. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #16 Sat Nov 19, 2016 at 06:11:06 AM EST
November tango.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
You can run mac os X in virtualbox by gmd (2.00 / 0) #17 Sun Nov 20, 2016 at 08:11:18 AM EST
 If you get withdrawal synptoms

--
gmd - HuSi's second most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
Nah, I'll just fire up Loonix by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #18 Sun Nov 20, 2016 at 02:51:15 PM EST
If I get a jonesing for a decent command line.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Each to their own... by gmd (2.00 / 0) #19 Sun Nov 20, 2016 at 06:06:09 PM EST
But I dont trust the Russians... 

--
gmd - HuSi's second most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
no Russians? by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #20 Sun Nov 20, 2016 at 07:03:19 PM EST
than stop following Trump.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
How is the Microcenter? by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #21 Sun Nov 20, 2016 at 09:17:38 PM EST
I need to rebuild my file server, I could do better building it myself.

--
I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock
Its pretty good by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #22 Mon Nov 21, 2016 at 07:45:30 AM EST
If you have an idea of what you're looking for. I don't think it's changed, really, since the 90's.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
this is what I have so far by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #24 Tue Nov 22, 2016 at 08:58:21 PM EST
http://pcpartpicker.com/list/d6sVGf

--
I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock
[ Parent ]
Two hard drives? by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #25 Wed Nov 23, 2016 at 10:47:47 AM EST
(huzzah if you bought the backups with the computer)

Looks like SSDs did a number on hard drives, checking the market that is cheaper than a bigger, slower drive. I'd probably go up to 16GB (either pay $25 more or go with an 11 on your CAS (instead of 9) [16 GB Mushkin essentials is roughly the same price] unless you know that is the critical point in your own sofware).,<CR> Don't expect much from the AMD chip beyond a slightly better deal than Intel (and you need all cylinders firing to match the i3), although I have one and can't remember needing more (an 8320 that I still haven't bothered to overclock).

One last minute check I would point out that this processor includes a heatsink roughly equal to the hyper212. It is a wash right not but something you might want to check right when you place the order (especially if one of them pops up).

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
CAS by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #27 Wed Nov 23, 2016 at 02:09:14 PM EST
What's 'better' a high CAS or a low?


--
I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock
[ Parent ]
low by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #28 Wed Nov 23, 2016 at 04:42:39 PM EST
CAS: collumn access strobe. The number of cycles it takes for your RAM to find your data (sounds like only on page hits, I'd think row access was more important). 9 means 13ns for the whole cache line, 11 means 15ns. No idea if it matters in practice (and if there are often other memory accesses while you are waiting).

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
If the mobo supports m.2 by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #26 Wed Nov 23, 2016 at 11:22:35 AM EST
Get a 128 gb m.2 SSD. Pricey, but, man, the boot time is fantastic, and so is the load time for any software.

I just bought a 1TB SSB (on sale for $250 or so) as a data drive.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Given the choice by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #23 Mon Nov 21, 2016 at 04:10:12 PM EST
I'd probably go to the Rockville one. The chalkboard (not sure if it's still there) listing the MSRP?,advertised price, current price, newegg's price (don't know if they added amazon) all on one board. There seems to be a bit more emphasis on "buy the parts" computer sales.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
New PC* | 28 comments (28 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback