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New Rig Completed

Posted in Diary with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2013 by Corleth

My first ever self-built gaming rig is complete.

Putting the hardware together only took me an evening, in fairness. It was installing all the software that took the time.

My last PC was on off-the-shelf model from Dell, with the OEM PSU stripped out and replaced with a 600W off-the-shelf number to support a Radeon 5830 graphics card. Replacing that PC had become a no brainer, but the trouble is that, as with any PC, when you add software over time, you lose track of actually how long it’s actually taken to install all those programs that make your digital life tick.

The operating system obviously comes first (64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium, in the case of my build) and that then has to be patched numerous times to bring it up to date. Follow that with anti-virus software, Office, and numerous smaller installs (such as iTunes, Mumble, Adobe stuff, etc, etc), not to mention the essentials from your Steam library… and then we’re looking at data transfer from the old PC too. Phew, it takes a while!

I had neither the time nor the patience to sit down and do it all in one go, even if my internet connection speed had allowed me to; in fact, it’s taken me the best part of three weeks to get to a position where I can say ‘Yup, I’m done – time to retire the older model!’.

Anyhow – a quick technical breakdown of my new rig is called for!

Add to the above, my pre-existing  128Mb SSD which I transferred from my old Dell PC – this thankfully removed the necessity to re-download LoTRO, GW2, SWTOR and TSW.

A few annoyances with this build:

  • The R9280X Gfx card is so wide that once slotted in to its PCIe slot, it covers up both of the PCI slots on the motherboard. In other words, I need a motherboard with more PCI slots (or more space between them!) if I want to plug anything into a PCI slot. Bugger!
  • The Z11 case has two top-mounted USB-3  ports. However, the motherboard has no internal (19-pin) USB-3 connector, so the only way of connecting the USB-3 ports on the case, to the board, is to buy a pass-through cable and to connect the USB-3 ports on the case though to  the USB-3 ports on the back of the board. Bugger (again).
  • Finally, the board also has only a single 3-pin (TX3) fan power connector. The Z11 case has two fans with TX3 connectors (as well as three with 4-pin molex connectors that plug straight into the PSU), so I’ve had to buy a TX3 power ‘splitter’ cable. Not quite a ‘bugger!’, but irritating all the same.

In short, these ‘issues’ are down to limitations on my chosen mobo. Possibly (ok, definitely!) I should have researched better before buying. You live and learn. Again on the plus side, however, I did get three free games with the board. The ones I  opted for were:

  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – I hate this (gratuitous swearing and violence, the likes of which I grew out of 20 years ago); I should have gone for the Tomb Raider reboot.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution  – damn good fun, so far.
  • Thief – not due for release until 2014.

On the plus side, the R290X Vapor has been able to run every game that I own on ultra (i.e. maximum) settings, without breaking sweat (with the exception of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which is now uninstalled anyway). The R9280X Vapor looks damn good, when viewed through the window in the side of the Z11 case, too!

Zalman Z11 Plus - powered up

Zalman Z11 Plus – powered up

Edit: I forgot to mention above, the issues that I had with the power button on my Z11 case.

In short, both of the wires connecting the power on/off button on the front of the case, to the rest of the chassis, were faulty, out of the box. One wire was hanging off altogether and one was severed inside its plastic sheath. This issue took me an hour to find (having first reviewed all the wiring connections to the mobo, several times over), and then the same amount of time again to fix.

All I can say with regard to the ‘fix’ is, “Thank [insert deity or swear-word of your choice] for my soldering iron”. OK, I acknowledge that I could have contacted the seller and got a replacement case, but that would have meant sending the faulty case back…i.e. just too much grief!

To add insult to injury, once my soldering iron had done its job, I then had an issue with the plastic clips that hold the power button in place when you press it. I found that the said clips, post ‘fix’, were subsequently too weak to hold the button when the button was firmly pushed (i.e. the button kept popping into the case, when pushed!). I solved this by finding a small piece of plastic to wedge between the button and the case; the button is now very secure, wedged tight, and looks perfect from the exterior but, inside, it’s hardly an elegant!

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