An “ Idol’s backup PC… Part #2”
wasn’t actually initially the
intention with regard to this article; but some rather quick-fire
developments involving a Kaby Lake processor have occurred that
necessitate such a Part #2.
A week or so has gone by since I planned the creation of the backup-computer using an ITX Gigabyte GA-E3800N Built-in CPU DDR3 m-ITX motherboard with a factory-fitted processor and cooler. Following on from that I designed a better cheap PC that I could build as a one-off-PC that uses a replaceable Intel Celeron from the Kaby Lake family of processors. That processor is seated on a Gigabyte GA-H110M-S2H Socket LGA 1151 mATX motherboard.
‘I’m An Entertainer
Not A Computer Technician’
That is what I hear many such entertainers etc saying as they read this… But guess what? As an entertainer or whatever; if you can understand technology and use it to your advantage then things will be so much better for you.
All entertainers/singers/songwriters/composers need a computer these days. Whilst you can buy a ready built model in the shops at what seems like a reasonable price; you’ll find that most if not all of them are built using low-quality generic parts where possible. These companies don’t care about making a product that’s designed specifically for you, nor do they build them to last. You have to accept what they tell you is a good build so that they can sell it to you. – In fact as long as the machine lasts until your warranty expires the manufacturer will be happy that rather than fixing your existing box, they can just sell you a new one instead.
Build Your Own
– And to my mind that’s good enough reason to build your own machine out of parts that you know are quality components and that will last and are upgradeable with new and better components of a similar nature.
The New Design
The Gigabyte motherboard used in this ‘better cheap PC’, that is fitted with the ( Kaby Lake ) Intel Celeron, has support for Intel Core i7 processors, Intel Core i5 processors, Intel Core i3 processors, Intel Pentium processors, and Intel Celeron processors in the LGA1151 package. (I got hold of this motherboard cheaply as an ex-display item.) – So despite being only endowed with a Celeron processor, it’s upgradeable; provided that the upgrade is one of Intel’s Kaby Lake CPUs.
A Better Motherboard
It also has 2 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory. – A definite improvement upon the DDR3L (Laptop memory) that the m-ITX factory-fitted-AMD-CPU-board uses. Also, as an added bonus, that Intel-toting motherboard also has a full PCIe x 16 slot for a graphics card, and two PCIe x 1 slots for other more modern extension cards that are of a higher technology level than PCI. – And so I included an Asus PCE-N15 wireless adapter and an Asus GeForce GT 710 2GB DDR3 VGA DVI-D HDMI PCI-E graphics card in the design for good measure.
Just In Case…
I needed a case for the new design; so I did something that turned out to be a rather rash decision – against my better judgement – and decided to house everything in the same case as I was going to use in the first place: The AvP Raptor Slim Black Case, which came with a fitted no-name 500W PSU. When I tallied up the cost of all the components, including the savings made by utilising the ex-display motherboard and those made also by housing everything inside the AvP Raptor Case with fitted power supply, it came to a total just over the cost of building the original design with the factory-fitted AMD CPU.
Since the design using the Intel chip was so much better than the fixed-CPU design, I went ahead and ordered the components for the Intel-design including the cheap case with fitted no-name PSU. I always check things along the way, to avoid snarl-ups if at all possible: While I was doing so I noticed that the Intel motherboard that I’d ordered had two 4-pin CPU power ports; yet the no-name-PSU had only a single 4-pin PSU power socket. Alarms started going off. – A major design flaw: The Intel CPU might just possibly work on idle with only 1 x 4-pin PSU power connector connected; but if it was stressed in the least it could well end in a blue-screen or whatever…
So there were two things I could do: I could amend the order; cancelling the AvP case and fitted no-name PSU and getting a better case and separate PSU in its place… OR I could order the ret of the parts for the factory-fitted AMD CPU PC and build that – as well as ordering a better case and separate PSU for the Intel build.
I worked out that, having ordered a 500GB hybrid HDD off of eBay; I could use that for the Intel build if it worked when it arrived, and I found an old spinning-platter 120GB HDD that I remembered that I’d tested and formatted a year ago: I could use that for the AMD build. I stripped some SATA data cables out of an old non-working PC, and determined to utilise its optical drive in the Intel build. – Using those drives that I already had saved me around £100, and the total cost for the parts to order to build both PCs came in at just under £400.
“£200 a piece for 2 working PCs is a good deal” I thought to myself.
Although I knew that I could never upgrade the AMD build – I could always use it as a spare for emergencies or whatever… So I decided to splash out and build both machines.
Looking Further At The Intel
Yes I’m going to build both the machine with the factory-fitted AMD 4-core chip, as specified in Part #1, as well as the Intel build I designed afterwards, which will be the better of the 2 builds.
We’ve already fully discussed the AMD build in Part #1, including a full parts list: Let’s take a further look at the Intel build; –
We could always begin with the Toshiba hybrid 500GB (MQ01ABF050H) drive that I purchased on eBay
The Toshiba SSHD significantly reduces the boot time of its host computer and enables the system to launch applications much faster, when compared with a regular hard drive. However the 7 millimetre-thick drive has only 8GB NAND flash memory and a spinning speed of just 5,400rpm – so it can’t be that much faster than a 3.5 inch spinning-platter drive. It’s a novelty though, + it works and it was cheap. Hopefully it’ll last a few years yet.
Gigabyte GA-H110M-S2H Socket LGA 1151 mATX motherboard
The Gigabyte GA-H110M-S2H Socket LGA 1151 mATX motherboard is pictured further up the page. as already stated It has 2 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory.
Gigabyte’s 100 series motherboards support the 6th Generation of Intel’s Core processors ( Kaby Lake ), which is range of a 14nm desktop CPUs, featuring improved performance, power efficiency and support for DDR4 memory, bringing cutting edge features and ultimate performance to this PC build.
Its high quality onboard audio delivers high quality sound resolution and sound expansion to create most realistic sound; which is a definite + for an entertainer/singer/songwriter/composer such as myself.
Crucial 4GB DDR4-2400 UDIMM
What use is a motherboard with Kaby Lake but without RAM? In this case I’ve decided to go with 2 sticks of 4 gigs of cheap and cheerful UDIMM DDR4 which the motherboard supports. Whilst it’s true that it does look at first glance like generic RAM rather than branded Crucial product; nobody’s going to see it inside a windowless case apart from technicians, so who cares?
Intel Celeron G3930 ( Kaby Lake ) Socket 1151 Retail Boxed Processor
The most inferior of the Kaby Lake family; the last in the pecking-order. – But it’s at least upgradeable (With a different Kaby lake processor.), unlike its AMD counterpart in the other build.
- # of Cores- 2
- # of Threads- 2
The processor has 2 single-threaded cores. I’m not expecting anything amazing from it; I just want it to do its job.
- Processor Base Frequency- 2.90GHz
- Cache- 2MB
- Bus Speed- 100 MHz DMI
There’s no big deal here; just a reasonable Kaby Lake processor for a workstation, that’s all.
Asus GeForce GT 710 2GB DDR3 VGA DVI-D HDMI PCI-E Graphics card
The chip has onboard graphics, but not that powerful; sharing just 500MB of system RAM. – I want a little more than that. – Not to play games; it’s hardly the machine to game on, but I don’t want it to strain if I watch TV on it for instance. – Therefore I’ll fit a dedicated graphics card so that it can display well at least.
A good thing for me is that the card has a VGA output; so I can utilise an older monitor if I need to.
Asus PCE-N15 Wireless adapter
While I’m building it’ll be a good idea to pop a wifi-card into one of the PCIe x 1 slots when I know everything’s working as it should be. For this I’ve chosen the relatively inexpensive Asus PCE-N15; which is a PCIe interfaced card that will simply slot into the relevant slot on the motherboard, and after its driver is installed will connect to my wifi from my router.
Coolermaster Masterwatt Lite V2 400w PSU
All of the above needs to be supplied with power; and to do that I’ve chosen a Coolermaster Masterwatt Lite V2 400w PSU.
This machine isn’t going to cause any heavy power-drain, and just so that any heavy-usage spikes – should they occur – are catered for, this quality component has it covered. The component has 80 Plus Standard 230V EU Certified: 85% efficiency typically – which is many times more efficient than you’d find in a shop-sold machine that would cost you twice as much as it cost me for these components. It’s also got a Green Power rating: Compliant with ErP 2013 Lot6, which guarantees that this PSU will use less than 1W on system standby and lower than 45% transferring efficiency on 5V standby. – Its all good stuff.
Finally, the case: A Fractal Core 1100 OEM case
- An extremely compact micro ATX case, designed for exceptional airflow.
- I/O on front panel, with audio, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 ports.
I chose this case because, despite its extremely small outer dimensions, the Core 1100 mATX case provides everything I need for both now and for future expansion purposes.
The stylish Scandinavian exterior design is matched by the fully painted interior, complete with the signature white details of Fractal Design. The case is optimized for airflow with a straight cooling path. The front panel is equipped with dust filters. An innovative vertical hard drive bracket can fit either two 3.5″ drives, three 2.5″ drives, or one drive of each size. Both of the 3.5″ drive slots come with silicone vibration dampening grommets
Another reason for choosing it was the handy front panel design: –
- 1 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 2.0
- Audio in/out
- Power button with LED (white)
- HDD activity LED (white)
- Reset button
This case will house the workstation in a compact and space-saving package with adequate cooling, probably even if I only fit a single fan – or even none.
This machine will be useful as a tool that can sit on my desk and that I can use as a workstation in my studio.
This build isn’t the only addition to my studio that I’m planning though: Later in the year I’m planning to construct a real beast of a machine, which I’ve named the “Idol Tower”.
That machine will have all the power necessary to handle heavy-duty software and accomplish things that ordinary machines simply can’t do. – Oh and it’ll of course have a nice side-panel RGB display for great effect too.
I’m intending to document/film/photograph the build, and make a video that I’ll hope to have added to Carey Holzman’s You Tube channel. If you’re interested in building computers and learning the facts about it – not the entertainments-based and edited “tuition” through rose-coloured glasses that you’ll get from most You Tubers, but real life facts and best practices from a nerd who’s been building computers since before many of his viewers were even born… If you’re interested in getting it right and being good at the job then pop over to https://www.youtube.com/user/CareyHolzman and view any of the many great videos that he shares for free.
Carey has offered to add his viewers’ computer-building videos to his channel – so why not become a viewer if you’re genuine about it and get your build shown? – You’ve nothing to lose and lots to gain.
Meanwhile I have a lot of computer building and video making to be getting on with, to the end goal of producing more material for your entertainment, education, and enlightenment.
Also, meanwhile, having just written this article I think I’ve just run into another snag: –
The motherboard that I’m using should be capable of running a Kaby Lake chip… But it requires a BIOS update in order to do so. – Do you see where I’m going with this? – In order to update the BIOS I need to boot the board. To boot the board I need a Sky Lake processor fitted: Then I can get the board to POST, update the BIOS, uninstall the Sky Lake chip, and install the Kaby Lake chip.
I’ve never done that before. To tell you the truth the thought of it makes me a bit nervous. – But maybe it’ll be a great learning experience?
On the other hand I hope that I can simply amend my order. They’ve only partially shipped it. – I received the PSU today. – That’s fast work. However, according to the online shipment logs they haven’t even picked the processor yet; which is a good thing as long as I get onto them as soon as they open on Monday and make the alteration to the order. – That’s the simplest option, and I hope I’m able to proceed with it.
The Sky Lake Celeron chip is a couple of Pounds Sterling less than the Kaby Lake equivalent.
There is a third option; but it’ll slow proceedings down a bit, and I’ll need to find a buyer for one of the units: The third option is that I order a Sky Lake Celeron for the existing board, a Kaby Lake motherboard for the existing Kaby Lake chip, plus another HDD or SSD, more RAM, another graphics card, another wireless card, another PSU, and another case: I then build two almost identical machines, and I sell one of them.
If the third option is taken, then I’ll do it as long as I have a buyer. If I do build and sell it then I want a minimum of £400GBP Sterling + shipping for doing so. I’ll only ship to addresses in the UK.
In return you’ll get a computer that has quality and is built to last. You’ll be able to use it as a workstation, see to your email, chat over Skype, browse the web, even watch You Tube movies etc, TV…
What you won’t be able to do with it is play high-resolution games/at high frame rates. – In other words it’s a computer to be used as a business workstation and/or for everyday computing requirements.
I will honour a 1 year warranty on all parts and on the entire build.
If you want one then get in touch with me on Facebook or use the Contact Idol form on this website.
Whether anyone buys or not; I’m definitely building at least one machine using an Intel Celeron chip.
– – – – –
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