The Other New Rig in the House

After a practice run by building up my daughter’s new computer it was time to work on my own.

I wish I could say that I spent a lot of time digging into the details of things, but I sort of did that with the first computer, so the second one was a bit more arbitrary.  I went and browsed configs in PC Partpicker to see what looked good then threw everything together and ordered it.

I ended up with this:

Putting it all together went about as expected.  The cats needed to be involved again, and aside from when Rigby decided he needed to stand on the motherboard, they mostly contented themselves by stealing zip ties and other little items from the table.  The worst moment was when I put the video card on top of the new case, then forgot it was there and knocked it off by accident.  It fell all the way to the floor and bounced a few times, which is exactly the sort of thing you want to happen with expensive new electronics.  Fortunately my bare foot broke the initial impact, though I did have to stop to bandage up the bleeding gouge it left.

I went for the “a few dollars more” approach that often grips me when I am purchasing the CPU.  That is the core bit of the build, the part I am never going to change, so I tend to buy beyond my needs.  Six cores, twelve threads, maybe somebody will make a game that will use all of that some day.  Right now it barely wakes up to get WoW or EVE Online moving.

I do want to give a shout out to Cooler Master for their CPU cooler kits.  I’ve built up four machines this decade, two with their kits and two without, and I have to say they are good.  The i7 doesn’t come with a stock cooler, and after fumbling with the Zalman I bought but ended up not using for my daughter’s rig, I was feeling tentative on the whole subject.  But I remembered that Cooler Master install from 2010 and decided to go with them again.

And I am glad I did.  Their install kit isn’t revolutionary or anything, but it has an extra step in it that makes all the difference.  I’m always a bit nervous when working on the CPU and the cooler and the motherboard at the start, getting that back plate mounting lined up and set.  But the Cooler Master kit makes it easy.

Then there is the motherboard.  For no good reason I went with the MSI full ATX model.  Having WiFi and Bluetooth on board seemed like a good idea.  It actually let me stand up the computer out in the family room where I was doing the build before moving it back in my office for the direct hookup to the router.  Did I really need the LED lighting on the motherboard though?

Mystic Light!

Well, you know I have it on and running.  There is even an app that comes with it to control it… which is hardly a surprise because MSI included at least a dozen different applications to control various aspects of the motherboard, all of which use the Windows 10 alert system to tell me when there are updates.  Anyway, I had the app.

Mystic Light Control

Apparently if I had multiple MSI devices that supported the Mystic Light option, I could get them all to pulse various colors like the floor in Saturday Night Fever.  All I would need is a strobe and a fog machine, and we’ll get to the former.

Having gone with a full ATX, I needed a bigger case than the tight little model I bought my daughter.  While I like the Cooler Master cases, I was attracted to some of the Fractal Design models as well, and ended up going with the model linked above.

On the bright side, it looks good, had a spot for my optical drive, space for the new hard drive and a couple of old ones, and good ventilation features, with two very quiet 120mm fans included with the case.

On the downside, the space under the motherboard is tighter than I would have liked.  My daughter’s case was a dream in that regard, while this one was a much tougher fit.  The two fans have white LED lighting that has an unfortunate resemblance to a swastika.

Not exact, but you can see it

And then there is the HDD read/write light on the top of the front panel which is so bright it ought to come with a seizure warning.  Seriously, this thing was in the same league as those survival beacons a friend’s dad, who was a Navy flier, used to have around.  I put a piece of masking tape over it and my office still probably looked like a gun battle was going on from outside.  So I put a piece of duct tape over the masking tape and I can STILL see the light.

It shines through this no problem

But at least I don’t feel like I am in a disco anymore when in my office with the lights out.

I did, however, cop out when it came to the video card.  CPUs are forever, video cards I’ll replace every year or two.  And, while video card prices are coming down, I couldn’t get on board spending $450 or more to get a serious boost over my old card.  So the GeForce 1060 was a compromise.  It is a bit better than my old one, draws less power, and produces less heat, but it isn’t a dramatic change at all.  The dropping value of crypto currency means I might be good to upgrade in a year or so. (The story behind that.)

And then there was the move from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

At this point most of the issues have been worked out of Windows 10.  And while I could have gone with Windows 7 again, it is falling out of support in 2020, which I am reliably informed arrives in less than two years.  Given how long I stayed with Win7, it was probably time to move on.

Still, there was some things to get used to.  While it wasn’t the Window-menu free abomination that was Win8, I do miss the compact, list everything as one-line aspect of Win7.  And the update notifications are a little more in my face than I would like.  Also, why the hell did they take the mixer out of the sound option on the task bar.  I used that ALL THE TIME.  Now it is hidden in the control panel somewhere, so I have to go find it to make Minecraft quieter so I can hear my audio book.

I did also opt to go with Zinstall’s transfer utility to move things to the new machine.  It didn’t matter with my daughter’s machine.  Going from MacOS to Windows meant full reinstalls anyway.  But for all the crap I have, I decided to go for it.  I used it for my wife’s last computer upgrade and that went well.  It isn’t cheap, and it isn’t perfect, but I don’t think there is a better option for getting everything over and in a running and configured state.  I had to go find the product key for my copy of Office 2013, but when I opened up Notepad++ all my documents opened up just like they had before.

Anyway, I am setup and running and on the new machine in under a week, which frankly beyond expectations.  I have a couple more fans on order for the case, just to complete the cooling vision.  I miss the big 210mm case door fan on my old Cooler Master HAF case, but I’ll make do.

15 thoughts on “The Other New Rig in the House

  1. Soge

    1-) Make sure to use the search function in Windows 10, it is incredibly good. Just hit the windows key, type the few first words of the program, and it opens. It doesn’t work for some things (Notoriously steam installed games), but it is very convenient for tons of other stuff.

    2-) You can still access the sound mixer by right clicking the speakers icon on the tray bar.

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  2. .xyd

    Every gaming rig in my last 20 years has been BYO but my last one is now a Dell XPS. I’m just getting too old (or maybe I have too little “free” time) I guess, but I shall live vicariously through you. (Love the swastikas though. Nice touch.)

    Maybe now I will see you online in War Thunder or perhaps I can talk you into a nice game of Rocket League. :-)

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  3. Anonymous

    1. Windows 10 Start Menu is better than 8, but still dire. I would use a nice replacement such as Start10 by Stardock. Only a few quid and its back to full Windows 7 flexibility.

    2. The Volume Mixer is still available by right clicking the volume icon in the system tray. At least on my system it is.

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  4. MaximGtB

    The mixer might still be there, but they definitely took some sound options out from that menu with one of the latest updates.

    Regarding the HDD light, I just leave it unplugged. It’s a retarded feature anyway. “Oh shit, my HDD is being used! I’d better… Wait, what am I supposed to do about it, again?”

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Thanks, right clicking on the volume icon on the task bar does give me an option to open the mixer. I was just so used to having that as pretty much the default in Win7, and when I Googled it the answer I got was “open the sound control panel,” which isn’t on the way to anywhere I might otherwise be headed.

    @MaximGtB – The thing is that every other blue moon or so there is a situation where I want to know if something is grinding the drive… or the SSD equivalent thereof I suppose… because it can be indicative of a software issue. I probably don’t need it most of the time, I just wonder why they made it so bright, like I might need to check if the drive was being accessed from across the house via the flashes. On my last case it was a very mild green light that you had to pretty much look at directly, and that was fine.

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  6. bhagpuss

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a PC that didn’t have an LED that flickered to show HDD access. I’ve always found it fairly useful.

    As for the Start menu, I never used it in Win7 so I didn’t miss it in any later versions. I do just about everything from icons on the desktop and have done for as long as I can remember. I have over 70 icons on my desktop at the moment and there’s room for more than twice that many, which should pretty much cover me for anything i ever want to do, I think.

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  7. Telwyn

    My biggest beef with Windows 10 is the patching system, it’s so very “Microsoft knows best”. They’ve even removed the option to shutdown without patching from more recent builds, andthe system will start downloading heavy patches in the background without telling you – so if your game starts lagging in the middle of a raid it might be just a Windows patch download…

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  8. Asmiroth

    Sounds weird but I’ve used nail polish on bright lights. Since led have no heat it shouldn’t fade or warp. May take a few coats. Plus it’s easy to remove if you don’t like the look.

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  9. FenderRick

    Nothing like that brand new computer / fresh OS install feeling. I’m still in the honeymoon phase of my new build. Even got the same brand/model of Video card you did.

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  10. Mike C

    As an FYI, you would have struggled to go with Windows 7. There’s no USB support in the operating system for systems with an Intel Core 7000 or newer. You would have needed to create an automated installer with the USB3 drivers slipstreamed into the operating system.

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  11. carson63000

    How much performance gain do you expect to get from your blood sacrifice to the graphics card? I cut myself installing a hard drive once and I’m pretty sure it ran faster as a result.

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  12. Asher

    I went with a Ryzen 8 core because I run so many Eve clients. Either way it was a huge upgrade above my overclocked i5, I can run a ton of clients without issue now.

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