I haven't been able to find a factory-built machine that does what I want, so this is my first foray into custom building a computer. Holy cow there is a lot to learn!!! I wouldn't have dared it without the fantastic help of pcpartpicker.com and toms hardware and cpubenchmark.net and several other great resources on the web.
My goal with this machine is to run Revit and Sketchup as fast as possible, while on a tight budget of about $1200. Looking good is my third priority after speed, and cost. Reliability is very important too. Future expandability is also a key factor.
These programs are generally single threaded programs that require a lot of intensive computing, but can't take advantage of lots of cores. So that is why I picked the i7-4790K because of its 4.0 GHz clock speed. Since this is an overclockable processor I also got the Z97 chipset motherboard, so at some future point I can play with that, but for now I'm going to just run it stock.
This mobo has all the features I need (overclockable, 4 memory slots, PCI-e x16) at a great price and I really like the black with gold accents.
I wish I could add a video card but it isn't in the budget for now. The on-board Intel HD 4600 seems to be pretty decent and the programs I'm running really use the processor more than a GPU.
The memory is about the cheapest I could find. I had picked out another kind but it was red, it had a lower cas score, but the red would just look out of place in this machine. I like the simple black look. If there were gold add-on heat dissipators that would be an awesome touch.
I don't have much to say about the hard drives, except that the first SSD drive I picked by A-data got lots of terrible reviews on Newegg about totally failing within days or months of purchase. So I spent a few extra $ to get something that I hope is reliable. I assumed SSDs would be totally solid, but it seems like they have a fairly high failure rate.
I am just in love with this case. I first noticed it in a build by pslam called 'Simple, Powerful, Just the way I built it.' I think a computer is meant to work, not attract attention to itself, and this is a really good looking, but very understated case. Not very expensive either. I got an extra $20 rebate from TigerDirect.com that isn't mentioned in the parts list.
The power supply was on a great sale and it has enough capacity to run everything I want to eventually add to this machine, and as an added bonus the box is black and the wiring has black sheathing. Cool! It isn't the most powerful out there but I think it will suit my needs just fine.
I eventually want to expand the system. Specifically in the future I want to get a nice nvidia quadro video card, add another 16 GB of memory, add another 1 TB hard drive as a RAID 1, another monitor, and a nice water cooler to play with overclocking.
I think I'm going to need more fans than the 2 the case comes with, but I'm not sure how many or what kind, so I'm going to wait on getting those. Any advice on that would be greatly appreciated.
A few thoughts now that I’ve built it. First off, Newegg blew me away with how fast the parts got here even with their standard shipping. They even got two additional orders that I made later, included in the same shipment. Microcenter has been awesome too. Tigerdirect was excellent as well.
Now that I’ve put it all together I have a few thoughts on the components. My biggest complaint so far is the 8-pin power connector from the PSU needs a few more inches for clean cable management. It reaches for now but it isn’t pretty. Are there cable extenders for this?
The front fan has a similar problem. The wire reaches the connector on the mobo but it’s a stretch.
I bought an adapter to mount my 2.5” SSD but it turns out the case comes with an adapter. However the case instructions indicate using 4 flat head screws that did not come with the case, but there were extra mobo mounting screws that did the trick.
The Monitor came with a VGA cable only, but I wanted a digital connection (honestly I don’t know if it’s better but I guess I can play with both and see) so I sprung for a separate cable.
I also had to get an additional SATA cable since the mobo came with 2 but I put in 3 drives. Maybe the parts picker could add that as a compatibility check? I didn’t realize at first that I didn’t have everything I needed to hook everything together. So for other first timers out there, check how many cables come with the mobo, because the drives don't usually come with any wires.
I haven’t yet put in the operating system so I can’t tell you how she runs but I’m looking forward to it!