Monday, June 17, 2013

Gaming Desktop PC Build (Haswell)

Haswell PC Gamer

It's been over 3.5 yrs since I last built a pc back in Oct 2009.  With Haswell just released I figured it was time to build a new gamer.  Besides, I really want a faster work machine so I'm going to trickle down my old gamer to be the new server.  The old server will then become my new work pc so I see this as getting 3 upgrades in one!

PC Partpicker is a pretty neat site: Parts list

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor  (Purchased For $280.00) (microcenter combo deal)
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler  (Purchased For $30.00) (microcenter) 
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD4H ATX  LGA1150 Motherboard  (Purchased For $145.00)  (microcenter combo deal)
  • Memory: Kingston Blu Red Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory  (Purchased For $78.00) (tiger direct)
  • Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk  (Purchased For $220.00) (frys price matched to BH photo)
  • Storage: Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  (Purchased For $110.00) (already owned)
  • Video Card: PNY GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB Video Card  (Purchased For $248.00) (frys)
  • Case: Corsair 500R Black ATX Mid Tower Case  (Purchased For $70.00) (newegg)
  • Case Fan: Corsair Air Series AF120 Performance Edition (2-Pack) 63.5 CFM 120mm  Fans  (Purchased For $27.00) (newegg)
  • Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts 650W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply  (Purchased For $65.00) (already owned)
  • Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB/RSBS DVD/CD Writer  (Purchased For $17.00) (microcenter)

Total: $1290.00
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

optional items (fill up all the empty usb motherboard headers):
The goal was to get great performance at a solid value so there was quite a bit of deal searching.
Microcenter has some great motherboard/cpu combo deals. Actual motherboard is GA-Z87X-UD4H but isn't listed in pcpartpicker. It might be a microcenter exclusive. Bought the 660ti a few months back for $230 at frys. Picked up the 3TB HDD for $110 a while back. Bought the psu as a spare a while back. I'm taking a risk on the Kingston cas 10 memory but it was so cheap. Usually I stick to corsair or g.skill. I was going to go with the Corsair 400R but then newegg had a nice sale on the 500R for less than the 400R.

The Corsair 500R Has to be the finest case I've had the pleasure to work with.  It's roomy, tooless where it should be, and has great cable management.  This is the cleanest looking build I have ever done.  There is a front panel switch to toggle the white LEDs on the fans (including the 200mm side panel fan - not pictured).  They are also hooked up to a 3 position fan controller.

The Kingston memory red actually matched the color of my motherboard really well.  The memory is cheap though and doesn't even have an XMP profile.  This means you'll have to set it to 1600 manually and the timings to 10 10 10 30.  Other than that the memory ran just fine and passed 5 full passes of memtest86+.

Memory clearance on the hyper 212 evo isn't bad.  You have some play on how high you position the fan.  Also, it's just easier to install the memory before you snap the fan back on which is easy enough to do.  Here is a great guide on installing the hyper 212 evo.  I'm still using the same tube of Arctic Silver 5 I got many many years ago.

Make sure to push these tabs firmly into place when snapping the fan back on.

SSD mounts nicely into the 3.5" trays with the included screws.

This motherboard has some nice features like a built in power button, reset button, and cmos clear button.  There are also some switches to control the dual bios.

Though it doesn't include a speaker.  So I added one from newegg.  Now I get my comforting POST beep on boot up again.

Added two 120mm fans at the top for additional exhaust.  I added up all the CFMs, and I should still be maintaining positive pressure.  These fans were pricey but man are they nice and quiet.  The red rings again nicely match the rest of the build.

Some more nice cable management features.  The 12v power connector just barely reached for me but it made it.  The bottom hole lets me route the audio header cable around the back for a really clean look.

The back is a bit of a mess.  I used an included sticky mount and some twist ties to try and spread out the cables a bit more.  The back panel does bulge out to allow more room for the cables but it still takes a bit of pressure to get it back on.

1920X1080 Ultra Settings

Performance has been frankly mind blowing and has exceeded all my expectations.  This was my first SSD and man is it fast.  Installing windows 8 pro from a usb flash drive took 10-15 min.  I can reboot window 8 pro in about 10 sec to a usable desktop (classic shell ftw) after you get past the bios screens.  I put a few games on the SSD and wow, gw2, neverwinter, rift, call of duty black ops 2 load amazingly fast.  I installed steam on my 3TB drive and then use SteamTool to move only specific games over to the SSD.  It basically just moves the files and creates a symbolic link for you but it's a nice simple tool.

Ran catzilla: 

Cat Result: 13046
Test Type: Cat
Main Test: 12707
Physics (CPU): 865
Fur (GPU): 1004
Fluid (GPU): 811
Raymarch (GPU): 392
Loading time (ms): 8115
Date: 2013-06-16 20:39:05
From Version: 1.0 RC5

Core temps idle around 32c and max out around 60c under full load.
Total Power using a killawatt: 77w idle, 247w max under load while running catzilla.

- Make sure you update your motherboard bios as soon as possible.  I just used qflash from a usb flash drive even before I installed the OS.
- Prepare all the motherboard related drivers and put them on a usb flash drive.  The cost of being on the bleeding edge with a 2 week old cpu and and motherboard chipset is that almost nothing is included in the windows 8 install.  I loaded the intel sata drivers during win 8 pro install, install intel lan, inf, audio, etc, etc.  Just hit the motherboard manufacturer's site and download and extract all that before hand.
- Got a little bogged down in some of the bios settings related uEFI, GPT, and booting.  I ended up leaving most of that stuff on default and used MBR on my SSD.  I set OS type to Windows 8 WHQL.

Fast, powerful, quiet, stable.  It feels good to build a performance desktop again.