Motherboard

Custom built gaming computer on a budget

From time to time we take on little projects aside from our normal day to day support to businesses. Especially if one of our clients has a specific requirement out side of their support contracts.

One of our clients has asked if we can build a computer that serves as a gaming machine but can be used in an office environment. I should mention that our client works mostly from home and has a small network of computers that are all used for business purposes.

Well the answer is yes we can help and as custom computers are getting to be a regular request from our clients we have gained the experience and knowledge to source the correct hardware for the job.

Now if I was given an unlimited budget I could throw money in to the best high end hardware for this project like we have for a previous client on our Hercules model that cost £3,500 to build. However Hercules was built specifically for an entirely different purpose but needed a really high end specification that gaming hardware provides. The budget I have for this particular build is £1,200 and with this budget we can build and source a very well suited computer for the role it will play.

We intend to use the below Hardware but you may notice that there is no case, well this because we had chosen one but thought it inappropriate for an office environment with it’s neon lights and see through panels.

Custom built computer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Motherboard we intend to use and deserves a mention on it’s own is the MSI Z87-G45 Gaming Intel Z87 (Socket 1150)

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Intel® Z87 Express Chipset

  • Supports 4th Gen Intel® Core™ / Pentium® / Celeron® processors for LGA 1150 socket
  • Supports DDR3-3000(OC) Memory
  • USB 3.0 + SATA 6Gb/s
  • Audio Boost: Reward Your Ears with True Quality
  • Killer Ethernet: Kill Your Lag
  • Military Class 4: Top Quality & Stability
  • OC Genie 4: Overclock in 1 Second
  • Click BIOS 4: Easily Fine-tune Your System
  • PCI Express Gen 3: World’s 1st PCI Express Gen 3 Motherboard Brand
  • Multi-GPU: NVIDIA SLI & AMD CrossFire Support
  • Sound Blaster Cinema: Realistic Surround Sound Experience
  • Gaming Device Port: Optimized with Triple Gold-plating for High Polling Rate Gaming Devices
  • Total Fan Control: Optimize All Fan Speed As You Wish
  • Lucid Virtu MVP 2.0: Uncompromised Game Response Performance
  • Fast Boot: Quickly Boot Up & Enter OS in A Few Seconds

Z87_GAMING_06

One feature of this board that is particularly nice is The Killer™ E2200 Intelligent Networking Platform is built for maximum networking performance for online games and high-quality streaming media. Featuring Advanced Stream Detect™, Killer E2200 automatically detects and accelerates game traffic ahead of other network traffic for smoother, stutter-free in-game performance and the competitive edge. With this exclusive, automatic traffic prioritization, games and real-time chat get priority over low-level system chatter, giving you the lowest latency for game data on the most controllable network hardware available.

Through the detection and prioritization of gaming traffic you can finally fully utilize your network without fear of being kicked from an on-line game because of high ping. This enables true multi-tasking without manually enabling or disabling applications, updates and installations. Killer networking actually allows you to use your PC 24 hours a day.

The Graphics Card
DirectCU II with SSU architecture

20% cooler, 3X quieter

P_500ASUS graphics card engineering leads the industry once again with the introduction of DirectCU II SSU thermal design. Comprising two “S” and one “U” shapes, the new heatpipes are precision shaped for optimal efficiency and heat transference. They are also nickel-plated to minimize oxidization, with their mid-section now placed directly over the GPU die. This design shortens heat transfer travel to lower thermal resistance and create bi-directional flow for up to twice the cooling capacity in the same space as that required by existing graphics card cooler designs. High-conductivity copper used in heatpipe formulation creates tube-like vapor chambers, moving heat to a large aluminium heatsink that features extended fins for multiple points of dissipation. The assembly is further chilled by two high performance but carefully-tuned and sound-dampened fans for faster and quieter cooling.

 

GPU Tweak

Real-time intuitive graphics tuning

  • Shows detailed specs and actual card status with GPU-Z
  • Sync GPU clocks and voltages for easier overclocking
  • Monitoring widget provides real-time detailed multi-parameter info
  • 2D/3D switcher locks cards in 3D mode for higher benchmarks
  • Automatically checks and updates drivers and BIOS versions
  • Stream on-screen action to the web in full HD
The processor

images7X90ZWG1The new Intel Core i7-4770K. It’s the fastest version of the desktop part of Intel’s latest CPU architecture, known as Haswell.

With that comes expectations. This isn’t just a minor tweak or a die shrink. As Intel itself proudly claims, this is the fourth generation of its Core architecture. Unleash the fireworks.

Intel’s 4th gen processor codename: Haswell offers superior performance over the previous generation Ivybridge by up to 10% clock for clock. This astounding performance boost results in performance improvements in multi-tasking, encoding, gaming and multithreaded applications. Intel’s 4th generation processor has improved PCI-Lane 3.0 bandwidth which helps further boost performance of latest generation 3 graphics cards for the ultimate gaming experience.

Over the following weeks we will be posting videos and pictures of how we build the system and configurations.

 

Common Faults with Laptops

Common Faults with Laptops

If you like many people have become dependant on your laptop for work, school or play you will know how irritating it is to have you laptop go faulty because of either wear and tear or accidental damage. Laptops have become very popular for the simple reason that you can carry them around with you.

The main components of a laptop are the LCD display, random access memory (RAM), battery, keyboard, and hard drive. Other than the LCD display, the other parts of a laptop can easily be replaced.

Common Laptop Hardware Problems

Here is a list of common problems laptop users experience:

  • Broken case as a result of a drop
  • Laptop Overheating – The production of heat can be the cause of computer shutting down unexpectedly.  Some laptops automatically shutdown when excessive heat is generated to protect the computer.  May also be related to a fan failure.
  • Damaged LCD screen or does not display the image properly – The screen may look distorted or some of the pixels may not display properly indicating damaged pixels.
  • Failure of the backlight – a faint image on the LCD screen is a key clue
  • Sticky or broken keys on the keyboard – spilled beverages
  • Loose or broken LCD hinge
  • Damaged USB ports – improper insertion of USB devices into the port is the major source of damage
  • Hard Drive failure – malfunction are usually caused by vibration and shock associated with the portable nature of how laptops are used

Laptop Repair Solutions

Many of the problems listed above can be repaired for less than the cost of a new laptop! If you are handy, replacing a keyboard, a hard drive or adding memory to a laptop is not difficult. If you don’t feel comfortable performing these tasks, then we can help with the repairs / upgrade at reasonable prices but stay away from retail stores because guess what … they will try to sell you a new laptop.

Recent Laptop repairs that we have completed:

Below you can see a laptop that experienced problems with constantly shutting down without warning, this is a sure sign that it is overheating and can be caused by the cooling fan being faulty or blocked. In this case the fan was blocked with dust which was preventing air flow to cool the processor.

In the next pictures below you can see a laptop that had Coca Cola spilt on the Laptop Keyboard, this caused the input key to be very sticky and in most cases unusable. Fortunately it did not go any further than the keyboard and was a simple case of replacing the keyboard. You will notice that the screen has been removed also this is because we replaced the screen at the same time and although the owner never said we believe a temper tantrum was performed on the screen as a consequence of the Coca Cola spillage. :)

Part 4 of our Custom Built Computer

Custom Built Computer which we have named Hercules: Conclusion and thoughts.

Now you have seen the critical components of what’s inside our clients custom built computer you should have a good idea of the planning and quality this build is. There are more parts and numerous software goodies that came with the motherboard and Graphics Card but we’ll save that for another article.

Our client has been using the computer for over two weeks now and is absolutely thrilled with it’s performance, although it has to be said the client was more impressed with the fact their IPhone could connect to the computer via Bluetooth tut!!

We have provided the client with exactly what they asked for plus a few additional features they were not expecting, the storage space should last a good few years to come and the upgradability of the computer is second to none.

See some pictures of the finished product

Total cost for Hercules the custom built computer was nearly £3,300 so it’s not your usual desktop computer. The total weight of the computer when we finished was nearly 90ibs and took two people to lift it in to it’s new home. This kind of computer we built for our client is usually used for serious gamers who play high end games but we adapted it to the clients needs. It was a really good interesting project something if we are ever approached with again we would certainly relish the challenge.

Some pictures of the computer in the studio of our client:

Video of our Custom build


So I hope you enjoyed our article and come to read our latest article on the smallest computer we have fitted which is the size of a small CD case. Click here

 

Part 3 Custom Built Computer

More about what’s inside our custom built computer:

Although the Rampage IV motherboard is capable of supporting 64GB’s we installed Corsair Vengeance 32GB (4x8GB) DDR3 PC3-15000 C10 1866MHz XMP Quad Channel Kit. This is more than sufficient to meet any software requirements installed on the computer but will allow future upgradability.

corsair-cmz12gx3m3a1600c9_extra1For the processor there was only really one choice which is an Intel Core i7-3930K 3.20GHz (Sandybridge-E) Socket LGA2011 Processor – Retail. Six Core Technology, 3.20GHz clock speed, 12MB L3 Cache, Hyper-Threading Technology, Quad Channel DDR3 Controller, 3 Yr Warranty.77881-1_600_600_120917055606

We chose the retail version because we didn’t want to use the standard cooling fan but instead one of our own choice which is the Thermaltake Frio Advanced Cooler and by coincidence the colour scheme was black and red the same as the other components so we got a bonus, features below:

  • Heat-pipe Direct Touch Technology, Supports 230W Cooling Performance
  • Dual 13cm Over-clocking Fan, PWM controllable with 800~2,000 RPM Speed
  • Universal Socket Compatibility & Accessory Package
  • Universal socket support : Intel: LGA 2011, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775AMD: FM1, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2

For storage we installed 4 Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 2TB 64MB Cache SATA 6 Gb/s 7200rpm hard drives making a total of 8 terabytes storage space. However since we installed the computer and the client transferring all externally stored archived data this has used 6 terabytes of the 8 terabytes.

So with this in the mind the client asked for more storage so an additional x4 3 terabytes have been installed making a total of x8 HDD’s with a total of 20 terabytes storage.

This posed no problems as the Cosmos II case allows for 12 HDD’s leaving 4 HDD housing bays spare, which is exactly how we planned the custom built computer, even if upgrading storage was a lot sooner than we expected.

Click here for last and final part 4 with pictures of the finished custom build.

 

 

Can I justify an upgrade?

The answer is yes, but that’s easy for me to say because I am a techy geek and know exactly what can and can not be recycled or cannibalised from the old computer. Basically as long as you have a computer case that can facilitate the new hardware then you can upgrade anything in the computer, however it is always wise to seek advice before spending your hard earned money.

Its really a balancing act and you have to take into account how much the upgrade will cost and how much longer the life of the computer can be increased in comparison to a new computer.

Often in most cases you can give your computer a face-lift and recharge it’s batteries so to speak by just upgrading the memory it can be as simple as that, however you can change the motherboard, memory and CPU to give it a new lease of life and increase the speed.

Of course there are other factors to consider like making sure your existing hardware is compatible with the new and it’s wise to do your research but that said you can save as much as £200. The rule of thumb is to do your homework research all the alternatives, make sure you do not have incompatibility issues and of course consider the impact a major hardware upgrade will have on your operating system. However if an upgrade is done correctly and you have backed up your files, then your bank balance will be £200 higher.