What is level of difficulty on this build?

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What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 7:34 am

I've done three builds in the past, in 2005, 2007 and 2011 and with varying levels of success (I got them all to work! but bungled various goals I was trying to achieve like buying wrong fans and other not-great choices). The worst part each time apart from troubleshooting why I wasn't getting to post was putting in the CPU and cooler, most notably the 2 hours it took me to install a Gelid Tranquilo especially mounting the fan to the heat sink. Anyway, from what I can tell, cases and system building in general have gotten friendlier since then.

So with that in mind, what would you say is the level of difficulty for this build? Goal is a near-silent build for lightroom, handbrake encoding and general home office type use now, but also be capable of video editing and semi-serious gaming later this year with the extra purchase of a video card later on. I want this system to be silent at idle and figure going with all PWM fans can give me that. So do these parts fit with that? From what I can tell, the Noctua mounting system is pretty easy, including mounting the fans to the heatsink. Any other aspects of putting this together that might present an extra challenge?

CPU: i7 4770k

Motherboard: Asus Z97-Pro http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813132117

Memory: haven't researched specs yet but whatever decent low profile 2x8GB kit I can find for around $150

Case: Fractal Define R4

CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15 if it comes out soon or NH-D14 SE2011 and 1150 mounting kit (these both have PWM fans)

Case fans: 3 Notcua 140mm PWM fans - 2 for front intake, 1 exhaust: http://www.amazon.com/Premium-Quality-Technology-NF-A14-PWM/dp/B00CP6QLY6 (the new Asus Z97 boards supposedly now are PWM enabled for real on all fan connectors)

Boot Drive: Already have a 256GB Samsung 840 Pro

Storage: Already have a WD Caviar Green 2TB and a Crucial C300 128GB SSD I could use just for working with Lightroom

PS: Already have a Rosewill Tachyon 550 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182271
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 9:25 am

The Fractal Design Define case is amazing, I recently built a server machine for work in a Define XL R2 (the R4's EATX brother), and it was a dream to work inside. They are much wider than normal ATX cases, so you can stuff in gigantic coolers and fans.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 9:32 am

Well, the 1st question is, are you planning on overclocking the CPU? If not, you could dump the cooler (and even the 4770k and just go for a 4770). Then your installation becomes easier as you don't have to try to fit a large cooler on your CPU. I would say without that you are looking at 1-2 hours (and that is with tying up your cables and making everything look nice and neat).

If you are overclocking, it is still not a hard build. I would call the parts you speced as moderate.

It should be quiet at idle. The only way to try to get quieter would be using a a liquid cooler, but that would really only help you when you are running full tilt. At idle with what you speced it should meet your goals.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 9:40 am

Thanks for the feedback! I do want the option of overclocking. And regardless, I want the massive cooler and quiet PWM fans so I can aggressively fan tune this down to almost completely silent at idle and under low load. This computer will likely be on most of the time. And my understanding is that at low load or idle, a gigantic air cooler like the NH-D14 or 15 should be quieter than liquid cooling.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 9:56 am

On those past builds did you mount the HSF and fan before or after the motherboard was installed in the case? I find it much easier to install the HSF first. This also allows you to bench test the motherboard, CPU, and RAM up front before you've gone to the trouble of mounting everything in the case.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 10:22 am

The first two builds I just used the stock cooler which was fairly easy to install. On my last one I don't remember if I mounted board in case first, but don't think access was a problem because it was an ATX board in an Antec P183 case. It was just the insanely difficult fan clips that drove me crazy. And then an extra few hours disconnecting and reconnecting all cables a few times trying to figure out why computer wasn't booting (eventually it did, and I have no idea what the snag was).
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 10:24 am

Make sure to read/watch TR's "How to build a PC" article.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 10:38 am

Also I am sure you can find a video on mounting whatever cooler you get to help you step by step also.

Even if you have a cutout in you motherboard tray it is still easier to install the selected cooler on the motherboard out of the case also.

Edit: Also be careful threading everything....lots of people strip mounting bolts/nuts installing coolers. It is good practice to check the threads on your parts before installing them to make sure no bolts or nuts are buggered up and seize on you before they are tight.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 11:10 am

vargis14 wrote:Edit: Also be careful threading everything....lots of people strip mounting bolts/nuts installing coolers. It is good practice to check the threads on your parts before installing them to make sure no bolts or nuts are buggered up and seize on you before they are tight.


Yeah this is made worse by case manufacturers apparently still being unable to decide if they want to use coarse or fine-threaded screws. I have, like most experienced builders here I'm sure, a huge assortment of various extra screws from past builds. It's mega annoying grabbing a random case stand-off and screw combo and find out (after attempting to install it, of course) they aren't the correct thread type. :evil:
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 11:22 am

SuperSpy wrote:I have, like most experienced builders here I'm sure, a huge assortment of various extra screws from past builds. It's mega annoying grabbing a random case stand-off and screw combo and find out (after attempting to install it, of course) they aren't the correct thread type. :evil:

Yes, that's really annoying. Different thread sizes, and different lengths of standoffs.

I used to just throw all of the extra screws and stuff into a common container too, but I don't do that any more. Now I put any extra hardware in a small Ziploc bag and tape it to the bottom inside of the case. That way the extra hardware stays with the case it came with.

I do something similar with hot swap cages if I am not using all of the bays. Any extra hardware gets stashed in one of the unused bays. (And if all the bays are in use, there's no extra hardware...)
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 11:41 am

I've got a couple of those bags as well.

Generally speaking, does Asus do a good job of providing enough non-defective screws with their motherboards and showing clearly in the manual what is for what? On my previous builds, I am pretty much certain that I did not use the right screws for each and every connection (like hard drive mounting, for instance).

And let's say I get unlucky. Would I be able to find a replacement screw of the right size/type at my local Microcenter or even Home Depot?
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 11:48 am

Case screws never come with the motherboard, it's Fractal that will provide all the screws.
There are two main types of screw - narrow pitch and coarse pitch. Everything uses the coarse pitch these days apart from 2.5" drives and occasionally motherboard standoffs are drilled for fine pitch instead of coarse.
You won't go wrong if you always try coarse screws first, since they're really hard to fit into the fine-pitch holes. The alternative (fine screws into coarse holes) can sort of work but may work lose, strip the thread and leave a nice bit of metal swarf floating around ;)

I haven't built inside a Define R4, but the R3 and Define Mini were easy to work in.

Build difficulty for me is entirely related to how compliant the bulky PSU cables are, and how much space there is to route them out of the way. Components that would be a nightmare in an mITX build are a joy to assemble into modern ATX cases with big routing holes everywhere and plenty of room to work.

The Noctua fan clips are a pig, but that's about their only downside, and yes - they're easier to install when the board is outside the case.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 11:55 am

SheridanPC wrote:Generally speaking, does Asus do a good job of providing enough non-defective screws with their motherboards and showing clearly in the manual what is for what? On my previous builds, I am pretty much certain that I did not use the right screws for each and every connection (like hard drive mounting, for instance).

The screws come with the case, not the motherboard.

SheridanPC wrote:And let's say I get unlucky. Would I be able to find a replacement screw of the right size/type at my local Microcenter or even Home Depot?

Depends on the screw. But in general, I'd say "probably" for Microcenter unless it is an oddball screw, and "probably not" for Home Depot.

Some examples of "oddball" screws I've seen:

- Special hard drive mounting screws for a case that mounts the hard drives using rubber grommets for vibration reduction.

- Hot swap drive cages that need special (extra short) screws to mount the cage to prevent the ends of the screws from interfering with the drive trays.

- Hard drive mounting screws for HP workstation cases (Torx screws with a specially shaped head that you just screw into the bare drive, which then snap into slots in the drive bay).
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 12:04 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:The Noctua fan clips are a pig, but that's about their only downside, and yes - they're easier to install when the board is outside the case.


Will I still be able to access all the motherboard standoff holes with the cooler installed? On my previous builds I had to screw in numerous standoff screws all over the board and not just on the edges of it. I'd guess that some of those would be hidden by the gigantic cooler, no?
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 12:23 pm

SheridanPC wrote:I'd guess that some of those would be hidden by the gigantic cooler, no?


Eyeballing the motherboard photo on the 'egg, possibly the only standoff that might get tricky is between the first PCIe bracket & the RAM slots. You'll have to make that call once you get the parts in-hand.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 12:30 pm

Terra_Nocuus wrote:
SheridanPC wrote:I'd guess that some of those would be hidden by the gigantic cooler, no?


Eyeballing the motherboard photo on the 'egg, possibly the only standoff that might get tricky is between the first PCIe bracket & the RAM slots. You'll have to make that call once you get the parts in-hand.


With a cooler as heavy as the NH-D14 or 15, I'd guess that particular standoff is an important one to employ to help maintain the integrity of the motherboard.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 8:34 pm

SheridanPC wrote: Memory: haven't researched specs yet but whatever decent low profile 2x8GB kit I can find for around $150
$165 2x8 GiB PC3-14900 Crucial BLT2KIT8G3D1869DT1TX0 (DDR3-1866, 9-9-9-24, 1.5 V)
or $133 2x8 GiB PC3-12800 Crucial BLS2K8G3D1609ES2LX0 (DDR3-1600, 9-9-9-24, 1.35 V, low profile) (includes XMP for PC3-14900 with slower timings)
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 9:10 am

JustAnEngineer wrote: $133 2x8 GiB PC3-12800 Crucial BLS2K8G3D1609ES2LX0 (DDR3-1600, 9-9-9-24, 1.35 V, low profile) (includes XMP for PC3-14900 with slower timings)


I don't know much about low voltage RAM. It should work fine on a new Z97 motherboard from what I can tell though, correct? Also, what do you think of the difference between 1600 and 1866 of the other suggested RAM kit? My understanding is that for my purposes (and even most anyone's), the lower spec is just fine.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 11:01 am

1.35V is actually JEDEC spec and as standard as it comes. It's called DDR3L, whilst standard DDR3 is 1.5V

Ths cheap + nasty 1.65V RAM with loose timings that seems to be championed by Kingston/Corsair is actually outside JEDEC spec and that's why I avoid it. The integrated memory controller on Intel processors is designed to work at 1.35V or 1.5V only. JEDEC actually recommends no more than 1.575V for stability reasons.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 11:25 am

Chrispy_ wrote:1.35V is actually JEDEC spec and as standard as it comes. It's called DDR3L, whilst standard DDR3 is 1.5V

Ths cheap + nasty 1.65V RAM with loose timings that seems to be championed by Kingston/Corsair is actually outside JEDEC spec and that's why I avoid it. The integrated memory controller on Intel processors is designed to work at 1.35V or 1.5V only. JEDEC actually recommends no more than 1.575V for stability reasons.

All of the Kingston DDR3 modules currently listed at Newegg are 1.35V or 1.5V. Other than one DOA stick a couple of years ago (promptly replaced via Newegg RMA), I have never had any problems with Kingston DDR3.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 11:36 am

The case is outstanding. Just wanted to say that.

I have some Kingston PC-12800 HyperX memory that Newegg shows as 1.65v but that's for the XMP profile. It still does 1600Mhz at 1.5v with slightly looser timings, like 11-11-11 I believe. At the time, it was the cheapest HyperX memory and I expected to run it at 1333MHz, so the fact it'd do 1600MHz was a nice surprise (and probably does nothing for my performance). So without going to the manufacturer page it's kind of hard to tell sometimes.
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Re: What is level of difficulty on this build?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 11:53 am

just brew it! wrote:All of the Kingston DDR3 modules currently listed at Newegg are 1.35V or 1.5V. Other than one DOA stick a couple of years ago (promptly replaced via Newegg RMA), I have never had any problems with Kingston DDR3.


That's fine. I'm just finding all the UK retailers listing stuff that's over 1.5V, even for tighter 9-9-9-24 stuff, sometimes.

http://www.ebuyer.com/412040-16gb-ddr3-2400mhz-hyperx-xmp-beast-series-khx24c11t3k2-16x
http://www.ebuyer.com/195372-8gb-2x4gb-ddr3-1600mhz-hyperx-genesis-xmp-memory-kit-khx1600c9d3k2-8gx
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MY-348-CS&groupid=701&catid=8&subcat=1517
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/8gb-(2x4gb)-corsair-ddr3-xms3-pc3-12800-(1600)-non-ecc-unbuffered-cas-9-9-9-24-165v

My rule of thumb is standard voltage only, CAS9 for 1600 and CAS10 for 1866 with XMP support, the smaller the heatsink the better. My reasoning is because that's what the big vendors use (and validate by the million).
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