Set the mood!
I have been meaning to build a computer for a long time now, especially since I’ve become part of the development team. Unreal has been pushing my computer to its limits too often and has limited my workflow greatly. I have run into problems such as overflowing memory usage, bottlenecking my graphics card and overall bad CPU performance.
It was time for change.
The bad, the bad and the very ugly
My old computer was a prebuilt Medion computer that I got for around €350 (~$390) 4 years ago or so. And let me just say that it was good value, with an AMD A7 APU with a PCIe graphics card to crossfire with the processor, 4GB of memory and 1TB of HDD storage. But as time moved on, I started to get interested in some games that were more demanding in terms of computer performance, mainly Grand Theft Auto 5. So, one year ago, I went and got an MSI R9 390 8G Gaming graphics card, a Corsair RM650 power supply to power it all and an Adata SP900 256GB SSD for better game reading speeds.
Everything was placed so tightly together that the side panel of the case just could not be put back on, so I left it off ever since. And as expected, occasionally I would hear a rattling sound coming from the computer, after which I had to readjust that pesky SATA cable getting in the way of the fan on the graphics card.
As for GTAV, I immediately ran into horrendous stuttering issues rendering the game unplayable, but I fixed that by putting the pagefile (a.k.a. virtual memory) onto the SSD. The game was playable at around 30fps max. I expanded the memory shortly after this, to 8GB. No noticable change in performance.
It wasn’t until I became a part of the Pixeltail Games development team that I noticed very limited performance from my computer, when frequently running into memory issues. 8GB of RAM wasn’t enough. The processor wasn’t enough. This whole computer just wasn’t enough. So over time, I started looking around for computer components, to use in a brand new computer build. And it wasn’t until recently that I finally had the money to do the build.
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro M acrylic window edition (titanium green) for €83.50 ($93.50)
Processor: Intel Core i7 5820K for €419 ($468.20)
Motherboard: Gigabyte X99-UD4 for €233.50 ($261.47)
RAM: Kingston HyperX Fury 4×8GB = 32GB DDR4 @ 2666MHz for €163.90 ($183.54)
Storage: Samsung 950 PRO 512GB M.2 SSD for €330.95 ($370.60)
… DeLOCK M.2 to PCIe converter for €25.94 ($29.05)
… Sandisk Ultra II 480GB SSD for €118.95 ($133.20)
CPU cooler: Corsair H115i for €141.95 ($158.96)
Now, because I am not that much of a tool, I reused the components that I fitted my previous computer with, except the memory. Can’t use DDR3 anymore.
Graphics card: MSI R9 390 Gaming 8G for €358.80 ($401.78)
Power Supply: Corsair RM650 for €112,90 ($126.43)
Storage: Adata SP900 256GB SSD for €91 ($101.90)
It was also time to replace my worn out shitty keyboard and mouse, as well as a new screen to accompany my FHD screen and replace my old 1280×1024 screen. And I wanted to get some extra screen real estate. A lot of screen real estate.
Monitor: LG 27UD68P-B for €499 ($558.78)
Keyboard: Corsair K95 white for €109.90 ($123.07)
Mouse: Logitech G302 Daedalus Prime for €49 ($54.87)
Total build cost excluding peripherals: €2080.39 ($2329.62)
Total build cost including peripherals: €2738.29 ($3066.34)
Note: all of these purchases were made in The Netherlands, where stuff is more expensive overall compared to the US. When purchasing these components in the US, expect to pay roughly the same amount in US dollars that I spent in euros.
After bringing the Medion computer back to its original state for my parents to use, it was time to assemble Supa Computa.
Motherboard, processor and graphics card are in place. Time to wire everything up.
Plenty of room for the cables, compared to the old computer. Still tricky to connect the power cables to the power supply itself though, so don’t do what I did and connect the cables to the power supply before mounting it!
All wired up, the memory is in place as well. There’s even room for additional RAM, in case I ever need 64GB or even more for whatever reason. The ultra fast 950 PRO M.2 SSD is also in place, which I had to connect with an M.2 to PCIe adapter. Not like the motherboard didn’t have an M.2 port, it does, it’s just limited to a data rate of 10Gb/s (well, according to the motherboard that is), which the SSD can exceed. Now it’s time for the CPU cooler.
Whoops, I didn’t take pictures of that part. I guess I was too excited to turn it on. Well, it sure was a tight fit up there. Luckily the case came with a rack to mount the radiator on, which can be slid out.
Then I turned it on! Excitement!!!
And it turned itself off again after ten seconds. No video signal, though pretty much everything else lit up, except the keyboard.
I then proceeded troubleshooting by calling this computer wiz person I know and tried lots of stuff, like only using one RAM module, disconnecting all SATA drives, etc. But then @Caboose700 did what I should have done: search for problems with this specific motherboard. And, as it turns out, there is a common issue with my type of motherboard where the factory BIOS is non functional. To fix it, the BIOS had to be flashed (updated), which I was going to have to do anyway in order to get the M.2 SSD to work as a boot drive. So I flashed it, and there was light!
Note the radiator rack sticking out of the case. Really handy when you need to access the RAM modules. Not so handy if the RAM modules were to be taller.
So I went and installed Windows and did some benchmarks, mainly to test the processor and that super ultra fast SSD.
Benchmarks and what not
Settings nearly all maxed out, except:
Shadows: AMD CHS
Motion blur off
Advanced settings: all off, except long shadows
This gave me a seemingly constant 62 fps in the benchmarks in 1920×1080. Gameplay is buttersmooth.
Well, I have not actually been able to use that extra screen real estate yet. Why? Because the screen had a defect right out of the box. I’m going to send it back to either have it repaired or, preferably, get a new one right away. I didn’t fucking pay for a broken display.
Anyways, I hope it was a good read. I am sure enjoying my computer!
Next step is to add some LED strips in there, because it’s hard to see anything in there on pictures with the fully acrylic side panel on.