Description

This is my small-form long-awaited first build. Sweet-Looking i3 Computer Knockout. As all you part-pickers know the first build is a great one because there’s so much research, time, problem solving, and tweaking that goes into the first PC, and that’s exactly how my experience was with this machine. I wanted a computer that could perform well with the select few games I love (Fallout series, Half Life, Just Cause, Starcraft, Deus Ex) and was fairly inexpensive. I couldn’t be happier with the result! I bought several parts from private sellers and saved a ton that way. Then I just waited for the right parts to go on sale and made a few changes when good prices came around. Flexibility is the key to airpower!

**First pic is the finished product. I tried to put them in chronological order as I updated fans, lighting, etc.

Insight and thoughts: Building a computer for the first time is awesome for so many reasons, but my favorite part was the problem solving. I spent so much time on this site looking at all these clean builds with their cable management and nice colors and thought “That looks simple enough!” Not so. But again, that’s the beauty of the First.

Case: This was the first thing I knew I had to have. I wanted a small computer case with a cool window and good cable management. From what I’ve seen online, this is one of the best for the mATX size. I may also mod the case a bit, paint it or slap on some vinyl, then I’ll update the pics.

Motherboard: I was planning on the MSI H110 gaming pro, but this one went on sale and it has 4 instead of 2 RAM slots so that’s a nice expansion option. I have read a few articles online that say performance with RAM and CPU speeds actually decreases a bit if you run 4 RAM sticks instead of 2, so I may just upgrade to 2x8 at some point instead of 4x4. MSI has excellent BIOS options and software for their motherboards. The BIOS controls fan speeds, and Afterburner lets me view my CPU and GPU temps and fan speeds as well as lots of other options.

**THIS FACT is also online is some places but it caused me a lot of anxiety before I found it. I bought the new i3-7100 because it was on sale and same price as the 6100. I didn’t realize the mobo did not have the BIOS update to work with this processor, so when I had it ALL built and turned it on, the monitor said “No Signal”. I read online and spent a day or two thinking I had fried something or that a part was defective and I hated the idea of having to send a part back because I WANTED TO PLAY NOW!!! But then I read about the Kaby Lake/older mobo problem. So I found a local computer shop and they flashed+updated the BIOS for me, and then it worked perfectly. The only workaround for this would be to send the mobo in to the manufacturer and they do it for free, but the turnaround time was like 2 weeks. Or you can drop in an older processor, update the BIOS yourself, then put in the new processor.

Graphics Card: I wanted this to be the part I could most future-proof if I had the money. Had some extra cash and found someone selling a used one so I jumped at the opportunity. Otherwise I would have gone with the GTX 1050 Ti which was around $120.

**NOTE: Is there a way I can increase my FPS with this GPU/monitor combo? Pretty much all the games I’ve played sit right at 60 no matter what settings I use.

Fans: With my configuration, the front two fans and bottom fan are intake and are connected with the CPU to the CPUFAN header; the top two fans are exhaust and are connected to SYSFAN 1 header; small two back fans are exhaust and are connected to SYSFAN 2 header. I can control each header from the BIOS menu.

Keyboard is a Razer Blackwidow I think, found it used online.

Storage: Corsair Force GT 120 GB SSD (OS), and Crucial M500 512 GB SSD (Games, music)

Let me know what you think, feel free to give advice on aesthetics or function!

Part Reviews

CPU

I probably read the most about CPUs because they are a big investment into the whole system and I didn’t want overkill or bottlenecking. Didn’t care for overclocking and read great things about the i3-6100 even paired with a GTX 1060. So I planned on that, but then the 7100 came out and went on sale, so that was fine with me. I know there’s not really a significant performance increase, but whatev

CPU Cooler

Looks great, silent, easy to install and control

Motherboard

Great size and functionality, sturdy, good-looking. I wanted a small mobo with only one PCI slot that had good BIOS functionality. Sturdy components, good placement of headers and ports, and EZ Debug LEDs are nice for troubleshooting.

Video Card

This thing performs incredibly on anything I’ve thrown at it. Ultra/max settings it’s comfortable at 60 FPS, and most times the fans on the card don’t even run because it never heats up that much. I was concerned with this at first, but then I started running a temp monitor while I played and it never gets above 50 C really. Dual fans and backplate make for a nice look.

Case

Lots of space for cable management, great airflow, removable panels on all sides. Yes, the power cables from the GPU barely touch the plastic window, but it doesn't bulge or compress anything.

Power Supply

I LOVE the modular-ness. Saves so much room and makes things very simple. Super quiet and has nice black cables.

Wireless Network Adapter

Surprising reception, small and simple to install.

Case Fan

Quiet, looks cool

Case Fan

Best value for 4-pin PWM fans, in my opinion. Almost can't hear all 7 fans running at idle temps. They have this handy parallel connecting feature (see pics) so I don’t need a splitter or anything.

Monitor

Works very well, I love the size, simplicity and features. Has the ability to mount on a wall. Can’t beat 2ms response, very clean picture when moving around in games.

Mouse

Great mouse, goes up to 10,000 dpi which can be adjusted through the Razer software.

Custom

Cheap but very effective lighting and simple. I don’t need a rave going on in my dang case. They attach magnetically which makes them very easy to re-position.

Custom

It's RAM, works well, bought it on sale. I feel likes it looks a little out of place, but it's fine for now.

Comments

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Have you considered the Intel G4560 before getting the 7100? It's like 10% slower at half of the 7100's price.

Also, what kind of storage are you using?

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

No, I didn't consider the G4560 but it looks like a nice processor. Would have been a good alternative for sure. Just added my storage, two SSD's.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

I think anything below a 7100 would be too close to bottleneck that 1060 imo

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Ed Zachery

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Its been years since ive seen that matrix wall paper. Nice build

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

That's some serious fan-power for an i3 and 1060. Must get some great temps!

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, I'll have to run some temp checks at idle and gaming and then post those. So far, CPU doesn't get above 50 and GPU above 55.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build! About the note of increasing your fps, no not really. Your monitor has a refresh rate of 60 Hz so your stuck at 60 fps max.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

I thought so too, this was a helpful article

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/382560-33-60fps-60hz-monitor

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

About increasing your FPS. What you can do is turn off V-sync in your games and you will go above the 60fps cap. Keep in mind some games dont let you change this or have a forced FPS cap. Without vsync on though you might experience screen tearing or simple graphics going nuts. If you had a 144hz monitor, your gpu/cpu will try to lock 144fps.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Clean, would you recommend this Cpu cooler??? I need a low profile cooler for my case.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Yes, it's a great cooler, excellent option for under $30

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Well, you won't have any cooling problems. That's for sure. XD

  • 24 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey how long is the wifi adapters antenna cable? i am hearing that its a good card but its very short and thats a concern for me. nice build!

  • 24 months ago
  • 2 points

It was plenty long for me, at least using this case, I probably had an extra 10-12 inches with the antenna on top like in the pics. It might be a problem with really tall cases, or if you want to place the antenna on a shelf. Great signal though.

  • 24 months ago
  • 1 point

My case is fairly tall. 51 centimeters (20.07 inches) to be precise. I can't find exact measurements of the antenna anywhere. Do you think its longer than that?

  • 24 months ago
  • 2 points

Yes, the cables to the antenna should be able to reach that high

  • 23 months ago
  • 1 point

How did you connect the Artcics fans ?

  • 23 months ago
  • 1 point

They have a daisy-chain connection so you can connect them in series, allowing you to connect several to one fan header. Pic 15 is the manual. Such a great feature, didn't have to find a splitter or fan controller!

  • 21 months ago
  • 1 point

Does the i3 7100 and the 1060 bottleneck at all? I'm thinking of building with an i3 7100 and gtx 1060 3gb.

  • 21 months ago
  • 1 point

I didn't see a bottleneck. The CPU cores never maxed out, probably because they're factory clocked so high anyway. I think that combo is perfect for a build without spending a ton of money.

  • 18 months ago
  • 1 point

I absolutely love it. this kind of build show's exactly why I'm always begging for more fan headers on my Mobo's.

  • 26 months ago
  • 0 points

Holy fans. do you want - temps ? xD

  • 26 months ago
  • 3 points

Mostly it was getting rid of the noisy fans that came with the case, and finding a great deal on 5 fans for $20. Maybe if I mount them all on the bottom and crank up the voltage it will hover.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

How many fans come standard with the case?

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

I think 3, but I bought it used. The stock fans are non-LED SP 120s

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[comment deleted by staff]
  • 19 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the feedback! I've actually upgraded most of my components, I'll be posting another build in the next month or two. But the B250M motherboard was great. I've had a few MSI boards and I really like them. They look cool, the BIOS is so easy to use, but I have heard that the RGB control on the newer boards isn't great, at least compared to ASUS.

The i3-7100 has also been great. I might upgrade to the i3-8100 or 8300 if there's a good deal during black friday sales. I don't multitask on my computer much, so two cores has never been a hindrance. But I like the idea of a 4 core processor at a slightly higher price.