Category: Tech


PC Build May 2014

I already posted about one Gaming PC Build I did back in May, but here is another one I helped out with. This friend was still using a PC he built years ago with a Q6600 processor which released in 2007. He certainly got his money’s worth out of that build, but it was time to retire it in favor of something newer. He would like to occasionally play some games, but that was not the focus of this build. He simply wanted something faster and more modern, that might be able to last as long as his previous build did. In the end, we went with a very similar build as the Gaming PC I put together a few weeks earlier, and just swapped out some parts based on his focus and budget.

The specs are:

  • Corsair Graphite Series 600T
  • ASUS Z97-C Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7-4770K
  • MSI GTX 760 4GB 256-Bit GDDR5
  • CORSAIR CX Series CX600
  • CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB)
  • SAMSUNG 840 EVO 120GB
  • Western Digital Blue 1TB
  • LG 24X DVD Burner
  • Corsair Hydro Series H75
  • Microsoft Windows 8.1 Professional 64-bit

The main difference between this build and the Gaming PC build is that we went with a less powerful, but still fairly capable, GPU. Since he wanted this build to last, we ended up keeping the 4770K and the newer Z97 chipset motherboard. We went with 8GB of RAM instead of 16GB, and we also substituted a 1TB WD Blue drive instead of the 3TB Seagate drive. This was because he didn’t need a lot of storage and neither of us are big fans of Seagate drives and their failure rates. The only other difference is that we went with the Corsair H75 closed loop liquid cooler instead of the stock heatsink and fan. My friend lives is California where it can get pretty hot and while he is not going to be overclocking at all that extra cooling should be helpful. Windows 8.1 took a little bit of convincing, but I got him a copy of Start8 which took care of his concerns.



Gaming PC Build May 2014

Last April I helped one of my friends build a nice gaming PC. This time I am helping a friend and co-worker build a new gaming PC. I am pretty happy with the results we got considering the cost. We managed to pick up quite a few of the components for a good price + rebates.

The specs are:

  • Corsair Graphite Series 600T
  • ASUS Z97-C Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7-4770K
  • PNY GTX 770 4GB 256-Bit GDDR5
  • CORSAIR CX Series CX600
  • CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB)
  • SAMSUNG 840 EVO 120GB
  • Seagate Barracuda 3TB
  • ASUS 24X DVD Burner
  • Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64-bit

If you compare this to last year’s build, you will see a number of similarities. Both of them are in the Corsair 600T, an incredibly well designed case thats a pleasure to build in and looks great. They also both have 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3 memory, a 3TB Seagate drive for storage, and a 120GB SSD for the operating system. Last year the SSD was an entry-level OCZ Agility 3 drive, this year its an entry-level Samsung 840 EVO. The EVO is not a high performance SSD by any measurement but any SSD is better then a typical mechanical HDD, and for the price the EVO is pretty great.

We used the ASUS Z97-C Motherboard for this build for two reasons: it has the new 9 series chipset and its fairly cheap for what it provides which allowed us to spend most of the money on the parts that really matter. The 9 series board is nice for a couple of reasons. First, it supports the M.2 spec as well as SATA Express. There are not many devices that support it, but going forward expect to see a lot of the high end SSDs use it. The approximately 67% increase in speed should help with SSDs being bottle-necked by the SATA 6Gb/s performance. Second, the 9 series motherboards will support the upcoming 14nm Broadwell based CPUs. Most 8 series boards will not support them despite Broadwell being LGA1150 due to new power requirements for the CPU.

The i7-477k is the modern equivalent to the 3770k I used last year, and the reasoning for using it over the 4670K is still the same: while the hyper threading might not matter too much right now, it is certainly going to start to matter as more games are developed for the new consoles with their 8 core processors. The CPUs in the new consoles have fairly slow clock speeds, so in order to get acceptable performance the games are going to have to be heavily threaded. Game developers didn’t have much incentive before to make their games use more then 4 threads, but they have a pretty big one now.

We went with the PNY GTX 770 because its a pretty great card. It maybe doesn’t have the value-to-performance ratio that the 760 does, but it was within our budget and we wanted to build a pretty nice PC so we went for it. Normally I wouldn’t have suggested a 4GB card over a 2GB card for 1080p gaming, but the 4GB edition did not cost much more. Plus, it might start being beneficial for similar reasons as above: the new consoles have 8GB of unified memory so they might start requiring more VRAM. One example would be Watch Dogs, which requires at least 3GB of VRAM for the highest quality textures, even at 1080p. Throw in some high quality anti-aliasing and you can see how having more then 2GB could be beneficial. As for why we went with Nvidia over ATI, Nvidia has a lot of interesting things going on right now such as GameWorks, PhysX, G-Sync, Geforce Experience, and ShadowPlay.

The rest of the build is fairly uninteresting. A DVD drive for the convenience of installing Windows and the off chance he actually buys physical software, and Windows 8 Professional. We went with professional simply because he wanted the ability to RDP into his desktop.

Games Tech 1

Snowdrop Engine Video

The next-gen consoles might be out already, but real next-gen games have not released yet. One of the few games that looks to be pushing ahead into next-gen territory is The Division, and it is the Snowdrop engine that is going to take it there. The game and engine is being developed by Ubisoft Massive, which has a history of creating impressive engines for real time strategy games such as Ground Control II and World in Conflict.

Games Tech

Got a Playstation 4

I got my Playstation 4 early thanks to Amazon. In addition, they are sending me a free game because I pre-ordered two from them. I feel sorry for anyone waiting outside tonight for their PS4. Amazon is pretty much always the way to go for pre-orders. I know this console generation has been really long, but it was only three years ago that I bought a PlayStation 3 (I have had my Xbox 360 much longer). It feels a bit weird getting another one so soon.

My PlayStation 4 is going to be used primarily for console exclusives, as anything multi-platform I will be picking up on the PC since the consoles are underpowered. Still, I expect it to get a lot of use as a media player once they add DLNA streaming back in.

As for if I will buy a Xbox One, that mostly depends on if they are going to be adding windows media center extender functionality. They made a calculated decision not to include it this time around, and I doubt enough people are going to complain to get them to add it back in. Plus, Microsoft has promised most of their first-party games (aka Console Exclusives) will be hitting the PC as well. Combine that with the fact that the Xbox One is $100 more expensive and less powerful and it makes it really easy for me to not get one.

Software Tech

Media Center Server

In addition to my Home Server, I also recently built a Windows Media Center server to stream live TV and act as my DVR. I currently do not pay for television, and this allows me to get broadcast television around my apartment without having an antenna on every tv. The server is running Windows 7 Professional, and a couple of media center plugins like Remote Potato and Media Browser. I particularly like Remote Potato, as it allows me to schedule recordings with my phone or any web browser. The build was pretty cheap since I ended up using some spare hardware for this, including hard drives, case, and power supply. Anyway, check out the specs below:

  • MSI AMD FM2-A75MA-E35
  • AMD A6-5400K Trinity 3.6GHz
  • Corsair XMS3 4GB
  • Hauppauge 1213 WinTV-HVR-2250 PCI-E x1 Dual TV Tuner
  • Seagate Barracuda 160GB for OS
  • Seagate Barracuda 1TB for DVR
  • ASPIRE X-Plorer ATXB8KLW-BK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower
  • Thermaltake 450W PSU
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit