A Little MeFun

At Mepush we support businesses large and small, while also taking care of residential customers. From networking, and hardware to software support we do it all. When it comes to hardware, we rely largely on well known, respected vendors such as Dell, Lenovo, Cisco, and Western Digital.

Every now and then though, we get to have some fun and custom build a computer from scratch. Personally, I love to build PCs. I enjoy picking out each part, so that in the end I have exactly what need in a PC. A lot of the enjoyment comes from the building process itself – fitting the pieces come together, taking the time with the cabling to ensure good airflow, and clean buttoned down appearance.

Recently a customer came in looking for a new gaming PC. He was gaming on an older Alienware, and while it was nice in its day, the capacitors on the motherboard were starting to bulge. This time around he wanted to have one built for him. He didn’t want a cookie cutter PC off a store shelf. He wanted one more tailored to his desires and needs. Perfect candidate for a custom build. We sat down and discussed the specs he was looking for – ram, storage, size, CPU, and GPU. I did some research, got him some pricing, and this is where we ended up.

Components

  • NZXT Phantom 410 Mid ATX Case
  • NZXT Hale 82 V2 700W Modular Power Supply
  • AMD FX-8350 8 Core CPU
  • Sapphire Vapor-X Radeon R9 280x 3GB GPU
  • Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 Motherboard
  • Gskill Ares 16GB DDR3 1600 Ram
  • Samsung 850 Evo 250 GB SSD
  • WD Black 1TB 7200rpm HDD
  • Steel Series Siberia v2 Headset
  • BenQ GL2760H 27″ LED Monitor (not pictured)

Starting with the chassis, I went with my go to case for gaming builds, the NZXT Phantom 410. The Phantom has a bold attention grabbing shape due to the asymmetrical planes of the front and top. It is on the larger side of the Mid-ATX spectrum, but this lends it ample room inside to install components. Ventilation is very important in a gaming PC, and the 410 has that covered in spades with mounts for up to seven 140mm fans, 3 of which are provided. There are mesh vents in the front, top, and bottom. The side panel is vented also and a fan can be mounted there too. And for those that like liquid cooling, it can support up to a 240mm radiator up top. The top panel has two USB 3 and two USB 2 ports along with the audio jacks, and a three speed fan controller.

Motherboard with CPU and Ram

The Gigabyte UD3 the 990FX chipset featuring 6 SATA 6Gbs ports, 3 USB2.0 headers, USB 3.0 header, 4 PCIe x16 slots, 2 PCIe x1 slots, and a legacy PCI slot. Stylized heat sinks cool the VRM and chipset, and the 4 DIMM slots can support up to 32GB of ram. This will provide a solid foundation for this build leaving plenty of options for upgrade down the road.

AMD’s FX-8350 CPU is a 4 module/ 8 core processor that has a base clock of 4Ghz and can turbo up to 4.2 Ghz. This powerhouse easily can handle all your gaming needs, and excels at multitasking when it’s time to do some work. Recently a professional overclocker, who goes by the handle NAMEGT, achieved a clock speed of 8176.47 MHz, with all eight cores enabled!

Gskill is a company that has earned the respect of the gaming community for providing ram the is dependable, stable, with the headroom for serious overclocking. Their Ares series features low profile heat spreaders that won’t interfere with large CPU heat sinks. 16 GB is what I recommend for a gaming rig, as this will almost eliminate using the page file completely. It’s also a boon for those that do a lot of Photoshop work with large image files. The idea is to keep as much as possible in ram to minimize file swaps.

Pro tip – install the processor, heat sink, and ram before putting the motherboard into the case – much easier trust me.

Drives

For storage we have a Samsung Evo 850 Pro SSD that will serve primarily as where Windows, productivity software, and a few games will get installed to. This is a very speedy drive capable of hitting 540MBs. System boots and files load times happen in a fraction of the time, and it has a 5 yr warranty.

SSD drives while speedy, are still fairly expensive when looking at capacity vs a traditional HDD. This is changing, but for all out capacity HDDs still rule. Enter our Western Digital Black 1TB drive. This is where your media files should reside – movies, music, pictures, and those games that you don’t play as often.

Power Supply Unit

For a power supply you want to pick one that has active PFC, at least 80 plus Bronze efficiency, a single 12V rail, and modular cables. The NZXT Hale 82 ticks all these boxes and looks great to boot. Able to deliver 630w on that single 12v rail, there aren’t too many GPUs it can’t handle, and the modular design means only using the leads you need. This will become important later on as you will see.

Pro tip – having all the killer components doesn’t mean anything if your power supply can’t handle them. Everyone say it with me “Friends don’t let friends use cheap power supplies.” cheap power supplies are just that, cheap. And when, not if, they fail, they have a nasty habit of taking other components with them.

05 GPU

At the end of the day, this is a gaming build, and that means having a GPU capable of pushing out the pixels. There aren’t too many other workloads that can stress a PC like gaming, and it will bring a subpar system to its knees in short order. Sapphire’s Vapor-X r9 280x has 2048 shaders and 128 texture units feeding 32 ROPs and is backed by 3GB of speedy GDDR5 memory over a 384 bit memory bus. A beefy heat sink with copper heat pipes, and 3 fans handles cooling duties with ease keeping the GPU at peak performance. Currently Tom’s Hardware’s pick for high resolution performance under $300, it has the chops to game a 1440p.

Case and Motherboard

I’ve installed the motherboard into the case at his point. We can see there is ample room to work within the Phantom 410. Rubber grommets flank the motherboard for cable routing. To the left of the motherboard is a nice feature that I’d like to point out – individual vented expansion card slot covers. These enable you to add and remove cards like GPUs without leaving an open spot in the back of the case. A lot of cheap cases use punch out slots that once removed, can’t be put back in. Plus being vented helps with heat dissipation. We can also see 2 of the 3 preinstalled fans. All the metal parts of the interior are smoothed of sharp edges, and painted to match the outside before assembly.

Finished Build

And finally, here we are with the HDD, SSD, DVD, and PSU installed. The importance of having a modular PSU shows here as there are no extra cables cluttering up the inside of the case. This enable a clean flow of air from the front to the back of the case. Aiding this in large part are the openings in the motherboard tray that allow cables to be routed behind it out of the way of components.

So there we are, our build is finished, and this system will be good to go for some time with the flexibility for future upgrades down the line. I hope you have enjoyed this look at what goes into a custom PC build as much as I enjoyed building it.

Craig Deeter