This article is another in a series – written by Sharron-Idol herself –
following the 2018 build
A machine with a decent amount of power – for use, at least in part, in making music in her studio
I decided in April 2018 that I should seriously look at building my own machine again in the form of a tower PC.
– But rather than renovating an old box that I got cheap on eBay or the like – as I’ve been doing at times in the past 8 years – I should instead do a totally new build with top-spec components.
As you’re probably aware, I; Sharron-Idol, sell myself as the tech-geek musician/entertainer;
which is what I am.
As such I educate and entertain with music, and technology – such as this build – as well as other methods and subjects – such as internet marketing – to a lesser degree.
If you follow my personal feed on Facebook; you may have noticed that I’ve been talking about and planning for building a PC tower computer since around about Friday 13th April 2018. (Ominous for some.) That’s all a part of my entertainment, in addition to education and imparting knowledge.
I decided in April 2018 that I should seriously look at building my own tower PC again.
– But rather than renovating an old box that I got cheap on eBay or the like – as I’ve been doing at times in the past 8 years – I should instead do a totally new build with top-spec components. – But having decided that; I don’t need the best of the best: I’m not intending to overclock or to play games at high-resolution on huge multiple monitors; so having initially chosen to use a Ryzen 7 processor, I dropped down to a Ryzen 5 CPU in planning sensibly. I also changed my mind quite a lot on a number of the other components too: As an example of the number of mind-changes I’ve had so far; at time of writing I’m on Draft Beta Parts List #3.3.
The article below is constructed from my writings which I published on Facebook on the 6th and 7th of May 2018. What I did was to try to describe the method in which I envisaged building the machine using the parts as specified. – Thus making it a lot more interesting than “just another parts-list”.
– And so, ladies & gentlemen, I give you the * Idol Tower Parts List Beta Version #3.3 – Part #1 * : –
So I would assume that the best and most logical place to begin is with the central component; the most important piece of all: That being the Central Processing Unit, or CPU. I originally thought of using a Ryzen 7 in this build; but I decided that it was overkill and a waste of money and resources.
I’ll be using an
AMD Ryzen™ 5 2600X Processor
Product Type Processor
- Type / Form Factor AMD Ryzen 5 2600
- Number of Cores 6-core
- Number of Threads 12 threads
- Cache 19 MB
- Cache Memory Details 19 MB
- Processor Qty 1
- Clock Speed 3.9 GHz
- Compatible Processor Socket Socket AM4
- Thermal Design Power 65 W
- Included Accessories AMD Wraith Stealth Cooler
Next on the list: Well where would a CPU be without a motherboard? At first I began to plan to use a cheap motherboard; but due to technical properties coupled with the fact that I can get a lot more bang for the buck if I shell out a few more notes; I ended up including this little beauty in the list: –
Asus PRIME X470-PRO AM4 DDR4 ATX Motherboard
I’ve already posted a lot of stats for this board recently on my Facebook personal feed; but here’s for posterity: –
- ASUS 5-Way Optimization: One-click, system-wide tuning for optimized overclocks and intelligent cooling for CPU- or GPU-intensive tasks.
- Industry-leading cooling options: Comprehensive controls for fans and water pumps, via the Fan Xpert 4 software or the acclaimed ASUS UEFI
- M.2 heatsink: Ultra-efficient design reduces M.2 SSD temperature by up to 20°C for unthrottled transfer speeds and enhanced reliability
- Next-gen connectivity: Supreme flexibility with dual M.2 support, NVME RAID support, USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports and front-panel header
- ASUS Aura Sync: Industry-leading RGB ecosystem, with controllable onboard LEDs and wide range of Aura Sync-compatible components
ASUS Prime X470-Pro provides the solid foundation needed for your initial build, plus flexibility to grow with your ambitions. We’ve melded all the good stuff that’s packed into the latest AMD Ryzen™ 2nd Generation processors with essential ASUS design and engineering, so you benefit from industry-leading technologies such as automated system tuning, comprehensive cooling controls, and immersive onboard audio. Build smart, easy and affordably, with ASUS Prime X470-Pro.
* I’m going to continue to move through the list in the order that I’d install the components.
Right at the moment I’m starting to prep the motherboard: I’ve just installed the CPU onto the motherboard.
Next I’m going to install the Patriot Viper Elite Series 16GB (2 x 8GB sticks) 2400MHz DDR4 RAM.
- Patriot’s Viper Elite memory modules are designed with true performance in mind. The Viper Elite series provides the best performance and stability for the most demanding computer environments.
The Viper Elite series utilises a custom designed high performance heat shield for superior heat dissipation to ensure rock solid performance even when using the most taxing applications. Built from the highest quality Build of Materials, Patriot’s Viper Elite series memory modules are hand tested and validated for system compatibility.
I also want to install the two WD Black PCIe NVMe 256GB M.2 SSDs.
I intend to configure these NVMe SSDs so that they will mirror one another as my system C: drive in a RAID 1 configuration.
RAID 1 is a handy configuration should one of the NVMe drives fail at any time in the future: In the case of failure the other drive will have exactly the same identical data on it so that I can carry on regardless. The computer will alert me that a drive has failed, and I’ll have a while running on a single drive in which to replace one, or more advisably, both NVMe drives.
So lets review the NVMe drives a little more: –
- Unleashed performance for a new level of computing
- Featuring sequential read speeds up to 2050 MB/s, WD Black PCIe SSD delivers speeds more than three times faster than a SATA SSD for high-end computing needs. Boot the system fast, launch games quickly, and multitask with ease with a WD Black PCIe SSD.
- Equipped with comprehensive thermal throttling & power management algorithms, WD Black PCIe SSDs are designed to help prevent overheating, preserve data, and maintain consistent high performance in a power efficient manner.
- With 1.75M hours MTTF (Mean Time To Failure), a WD Black PCIe SSD can help store data for years to come. WD Black PCIe solid state drives also use several leading error-correction technologies to help prevent data loss and provide lasting reliability.
- With a thin, single-sided M.2 2280 design, the WD Black PCIe SSD is perfect for Tower desktop chassis as well as small form-factor, high-performance PCs. 5-year limited warranty and WD F.I.T. Lab certified.
- Tested in the WD F.I.T. Lab for compatibility, WD Black PCIe SSDs are certified to work with a wide range of high-performance PC configurations and motherboards. And with a 5-year limited warranty, you get reliable storage for the long haul.
– So I’ve now prepped the motherboard; but before I install it I want to install the power supply to the inner base of the case.
I’ll be using a Cooler Master MasterWatt 550 Semi Modular PSU (Power Supply Unit).
I was going to go with a 650 watt EVGA unit; but again I think that’s overkill and a waste of money and resources. I decided on the Cooler Master brand in favour of EVGA because I’ve used Cooler Master before, and despite hearing great things about EVGA I’m going to stick with what I know this time round.
I’m now going to install the Dynamode 3.5″ Int.Reader into the drive bays
– before I fit the motherboard into the case – so that it can be accessed from the front panel.
I’ll also fit an optical drive which I already have here on site, as well as the Seagate FireCuda Desktop 2TB Hybrid Hard Drive (SSHD) 3.5″ SATA III 6GB’s 7200RPM 64MB Cache.
Having installed the optical drive, the card reader, and the hybrid hard drive into the drive bays, as well as having installed the power supply and the prepped motherboard into the Aerocool 800 Black Midi Tower Gaming Case With Window; I can now connect up the front panel wires, plus also power from the PSU to the motherboard – and see if the unit POSTs (Power On Self Test). Once I’ve established that the motherboard, CPU, and RAM, are working; I can then build on in the knowledge that I’m doing things right.
To accomplish the above, I need to connect the AOC E2270SWHN 21.5″ Full HD LED HDMI Monitor to the motherboard’s HDMI port.
I know I haven’t installed the graphics card yet; but I just want to see if what I’ve done so far works. I also need to pop the USB dongles of the Logitech K270 Wireless Keyboard and the Xenta 2.4G Wireless Mouse into a pair of USB2 ports so that I have control of operating the unit.
Into The BIOS…
OK so I now switch on the power, press the ‘on’ switch on the front panel, and watch her come alive in a very limited manner. She won’t boot as she has nothing to boot from: The NVMe drives aren’t formatted or initialised, and therefore aren’t recognised, and the hybrid HDD isn’t yet connected to a SATA port on the motherboard either. The system can’t connect to my wireless network because it has no operating system yet, and even if it did I haven’t yet installed the wireless card.
But I should get some video after the RAM and CPU have initialised, and I should be able to get into the BIOS. I’ll write down the BIOS version of the installed BIOS.
But no I get no video, and the motherboard speaker that I fitted to the front panel connector-block is buzzing out a “no video device connected ” code.
The Ryzen chip I used doesn’t have graphics capability; so I’ll have to fit a temporary graphics card – just to see that I’m getting video – and plug the HDMI lead into that… I wrote this article without actually doing the building; just imagining doing it: I got everything else right apart from that; so 9/10 for accuracy lol.
The build that I actually did in the end varied in a number of ways from this build; but I did end up using the same motherboard, although a slightly different component configuration using some different components and a BitFenix case. – I listened to all the hype, and eventually discovered that BitFenix cases aren’t as good as they say they are.
I’m now going to take a break for a coffee and to do a little administrative work. I’ll be back to finish up soon.
…And I’m back.
– Let’s call this “Part #2 of the * Idol Tower Parts List Beta Version #3.3 *”.
A very quick recap, then, of what’s been going down so far: I’ve already listed most of the components as i describe the process by which I imagine I’ll build the machine in the not-too-distant-future; however there are still more components to mention: –
I’m currently at the stage at which I have just powered up and switched on to check that everything I’ve built is working so far.
I’ve also just gone into the BIOS and written down the number of the installed BIOS.
I then went for a break; which leads us up to the present moment. (This isn’t a log of me actually building the machine: This is a listing of the parts as I write about how I envision building the machine.)
While I was on my break I looked on the ASUS website for the latest BIOS for the board I’m using. I noticed that there had been several releases of new versions of the BIOS since the installed BIOS was released. I downloaded the latest BIOS release for the ASUS motherboard and put it on a USB flash drive.
Now I switch on the machine again, and again it tells me that no boot device has been found. – Which is expected and is what I want it to do right now. – So I connect my USB flash drive to a USB2 port on the motherboard, power on the machine, and go into the BIOS. This time I select the relevant BIOS update setting and guide the machine to the folder on my flash drive. I install a new BIOS from the USB flash drive, and the machine restarts and reconfigures. I open the BIOS again after another restart and check that the new BIOS version is showing. – It indeed is; and that shows that the BIOS update was successful.
The Asus GeForce GT 710 2GB GDDR5 Graphics Card
It’s time to complete the construction of this machine. I remove the power chord, the HDMI monitor plug, and clear my working area. Next I install the Asus GeForce GT 710 2GB GDDR5 Graphics Card into the top PCIe x 16 slot on the motherboard.
I also install the ASUS PCE-N15 – Wireless-N300 PCIe Adapter into one of the PCIe x 1 slots.
Now I route the rest of the power cables from the PSU and connect them to the relevant ports on the various not-yet-connected components, in order to supply them with power so that they can work. I also connect a SATA data cable between one of the motherboard’s SATA port near its SATA controller and the SATA data port of the Seagate hybrid 2TB drive.
I ensure that the front panel is connected properly: USB ports connected to a USB3 header, HDD LED connected – observing correct polarity – to the relevant pins, same with the power LED, and with the reset switch that is polarity-neutral.
The card etc reader only requires connection to the USB2 header on the motherboard. – It gets all the power it needs via that header, so no power connection from the PSU needs to be made to it. The graphics card and wireless card get enough power to function from their PCIe ports in this case. It’s only on some of the bigger, more power-hungry, PCIe graphics cards that you need to supply extra power from the PSU to the card. – But the graphics card I’m using is fairly small: I’m not planning to play graphics-intensive games at high-resolution on mu8ltiple monitors.
Now the machine’s basically built. There are wires all over the place and hanging out of it; but those can be tidied up later: Right now I want to make sure that everything works.
I ensure that the power supply switch is set to ‘Off’, and connect the power lead. I connect the monitor’s HDMI cable to the HDMI port on the graphics card. I check that the mouse and keyboard dongles are in the USB2 ports… I switch the PSU’s power switch on, and I press the front panel power switch. Instantly the PSU fan starts spinning. The front case fan that I connected to a port on the motherboard also starts spinning. The RGB lighting springs into life but remains a single colour for the most part. The power light is on on the front panel. The HDD light did flicker, and the optical drive light has also flickered, while the reader’s power LED is illuminated.
The motherboard takes a while to take stock of the new hardware connected to it – and then the screen shows that the graphics card is working.
Install Windows + drivers
Again I’m in the BIOS after a restart, and I configure the two NVMe drives to run in a mirrored RAID 1 array.
It’s now time to install Windows 10 Pro, which I do, along with the RAID drivers. Windows 10 Pro installs, and the machine works at lightning-speeds.
Although I have a driver CD for the motherboard which arrived in the motherboards box, I download the very latest drivers for the motherboard from ASUS – as the drivers on the disc that comes with any motherboard are usually out of date – 9 times out of 10 – when you receive the motherboard.
Inspired By Carey Holzman
Next stage, after running various tests, is cable control: I get all those loose cables inside the case tidied up and tied together neatly. I add a couple of go-faster stickers internally and I pop the side panels on the case. I add some go-faster stickers externally where they look good, and I add my “Inspired by Carey Holzman” badge in a prominent place.
( “Inspired by Carey Holzman” badges are currently unavailable. They are occasionally available and sent as a “thank you” gesture for making a donation of a certain amount or more to Carey’s You Tube channel via tech-vets.com, or to the crowd-funding of one of his build-projects… See Carey’s You Tube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/CareyHolzman for more – and/or to see if badges are available again.)
– And so there it is: A brief lesson on building a computer from me, the revised Draft Parts List 3.3 in 2 parts, plus a link to a lot more computer-building videos from a man (Carey Holzman) who knows his trade and loves it.
The Tech-Geeky Musician/Entertainer
I’ve been building & maintaining computers for a while now: The first maintenance I ever did on a PC was in 2002, and my first full-build was in 2006. I enjoy all things tech-geeky, as well as most things showbizzy. It’s great fun, as well as being educational.
It also means I’ll have to shell out a fairly large sum of money in the near future to pay for the components for my build of the machine – which is not something that Sharron-Idol the Patron Saint of Frugality and Stinginess likes doing: it was bad enough back in the day when I shelled out around £400UKP for my previous builds, or less than that for renovating old boxes… But I need a new machine: Something that I know that I created, that I know inside out, that is upgradeable to my own standards, and that will last me a long time. – Hence the reason for this build.
People say that certain computer components are too expensive these days. – But they’re actually still comparable to prices around 9 years ago: The components are just denser and better.
For instance; when I built my first dedicated Windows 7 machine – just before the RTM release of Windows 7 – I paid around £10UKP per gigabyte for DDR2 RAM. I paid around £90UKP for a 1TB spinning-platter HDD, I paid about £40UKP for a 256MB graphics card…
What am I paying now? £168UKP for 16GB DDR4 RAM: That’s only a tiny bit more expensive than DDR2 equivalent, yet it’s much faster and has a lower latency. I’m paying almost £100UKP for a 250GB NVMe SSD. OK that’s 4 times as much as I paid for the equivalent storage on a spinning platter drive in 2009 – but it’s around 32 times or more faster, and it’s more compact… I pay LESS for a 2TB hybrid HDD now than I did for a 1TB spinning-platter only HDD then! I’m paying a little less now for a graphics card that has 8 times the memory of the one I bought in 2009…
– So yeah; technology is expensive I agree – but believe me when I say that trying to take shortcuts and go the cheap and nasty way will cost you a lot more in the long run.
One thing that I’d like to mention in conclusion: I’m so glad that I planned this build out over time.
When I first posed the idea of building a new computer I was instantly jumped upon by people giving “advice” by telling me how to build a computer which was right for them: I’d need a huge graphics card, liquid cooling, overclockability and an X370 chipset…
I listened, but I didn’t really get much if any decent “advice” from those people who were telling me how to build a computer for them. ( I probably will build a computer for someone else – if they ask me nicely – and if I get time. – But that person will, after we’ve has a long discussion, have to buy the parts and have them delivered to me + pay me a labour fee for my time building it + pay for delivery costs to have it shipped to them after I’ve built it.)
I like to think things out, rather than rushing in where angels fear to tread and regretting it later. I’m going to end up with a gem of a machine; a machine that I can upgrade if necessary, and that will last me a good number of years.
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