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.
- 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
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.
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