After a few months of having no desktop at all, I have finally built the new family system. It was a bit of a gamble but all seems to have paid off well with only one or two niggles.
So, this was what I ordered:
Motherboard: Asus P8Z68-V
CPU: Intel i5 2500K
Memory: 2x 4Gb Corsair Vengence
HDD: 1Tb Samsung F3
PSU: 600w BeQiet BN188 EPower
Case: CoolerMaster Elite 334U
Optical drive: LG DVD RW
Card Reader: Akasa 3.5″ Multicard Front Bay
Extra Fan: 140mm NZXT FN-140RB Rifle Fan
OS: Win 7 64Bit Home Premium
KB & Mouse: Logitech MK260
All were purchased from Scan.co.uk and arrived promptly ready for the build.
Once I had checked everything off the list and admired my collection of tech (so sad but true), it was time to prepare the case.
The front came off with no real issues and the Optical drive was slid into place. The front inlet fan was a bit trickier as the front power switch needs to be unclipped in order to screw the fan into place. The switch clip was a bit tight and felt that it would break when unclipped, luckily – it didn’t.
I wanted a front fan to suck cool air into the case and purchased this separately as this particular CoolerMaster only comes with an extract fan at the rear.
The next thing was the card reader that went into the bay above the cases own front port (USB / Audio) bay.
It was time to stick the PSU and HDD in.
I had decided on a good, low energy and quiet PSU but kept it cheap and decided against one with modular power leads. As such, this thing comes with enough leads to power a monster system! The leads not required, (nearly half of them) wrapped up nicely with the included velcro straps and tuck neatly at the side of the case out of the way of the front fan.
The motherboard comes with 2 Sata cables as well so that was the HDD sorted.
Lastly – Motherboard, CPU and Memory.
I had chosen the motherboard and cpu config due to the upgradability in the future but still pack a punch now. I have never really been into overclocking but the minor cost difference between a locked i5 and an unlocked meant that by going for the ‘K’ version, I had some opportunities for OC’ing in the future.
The CPU dropped in and the stock heatsink and cooler clipped in over the top. The heatsink does come with thermal paste already applied and on my initial start-up, I just used that (more about this later).
I was a little unsure about the heatsink clips. Basically you have to push down pretty hard for the clips to spring out on the underside of the motherboard. It took a fair bit of pressure to get these home. It’s then locked into place by twisting the clips.
Memory in and cable tidying up….time to test.
A lot of people recommend putting together on a bench first – out of the case, and then testing everything before it gets all squeezed into a case. I, however, am inpatient and always just throw it in and see what happens!
(I also put in a Compro TV Card that was from my old system)
Booted first time with a few strange beeps and my first look at the new bios…
The first thing to notice is that you can use a mouse!
It has two modes, EZ and Advanced.
The EZ mode has three system profiles. Quiet, Normal, Optimal.
The Advanced mode has a billion and one settings and I will mention a few later.
An Image showing the EZ Mode
For now though I just had to ensure boot order was set to Optical disk first and then get Windows installed.
All went well and after a few hours of sorting and updating the OS, I found the first issue.
CPU noise! A weird problem but one that is mentioned on a few tech forums. Just do a serach for “CPU Whine on i5”.
To cut a very long story short – and hours of web research later, I have reduced the noise to an acceptable hum.
In all the testing, I have found that sometimes the noise can get so bad that it actually produces electrical noise through the monitor speakers.
Normal Mode in EZ Bios
Speedstep enabled in Advanced Mode
C1E Disabled in Advanced Mode
AI OC Tuner – XMP
The other thing that I have done is change the thermal paste between the heatsink and CPU. During testing I have looked at CPU temps and felt 39 degs C to be a bit warm (as displayed by the AI Suite monitor). By changing this to Zalman super thermal grease, my idle temps have reduced to 29 degs C. I can’t put that all down to the specific thermal paste but when I removed the heatsink to change it, the paste was not spread evenly. By using my own, and spreading it myself, the temps do seem much more stable.
Update: 10/6/12 – After a few weeks of use, the CPU temp has further reduced to 26 degs C (as reported by the AI Monitor).
Onto the system in use:
Fast and rock solid!
I have 4 virtual machines running (2 XP’s, 1 Mint Linux and 1 Edubuntu) using VMware player. Moving between the host and guest PC’s is quick and painless.
Multitasking is pretty good: 3 VM’s open but minimised, a Film playing on Monitor Two, The Sims3 playing on Monitor 1. No problems at all and as stable as a rock (so far!)
For encoding, it’s not up to i7 standards but still 6x faster than my old Athlon.
A couple of examples…
45min xvid into mp4 for AppleTV – 8mins using Handbrake
45min xvid into WMV – 3.5mins using Virtualdub and FFDShow plugin
Very happy. This system should be the shell for a good few years. I can later add a good grafx card, a better CPU, more memory, better HDD’s etc etc…
But at the moment – its bloody good as it is!