I recently built a new computer to use for the programming I’m doing for my job (read about it here).
But, I also needed a computer to use at home.
I’ve been using an upgraded Asus Republic of Gamers laptop for the last few years (I swapped out the mechanical hard drive for a Crucial SSD and fully upgraded the RAM).
Unfortunately, that laptop currently sounds like a Harrier jet when it starts up. The fan is going at 100%, even when it’s not under any sort of heavy processing load. It’s probably only a matter of time before it will fail on me.
That was all the excuse I needed to build a new home PC.
The office PC has been running great, so I used its specs as the base for my home PC. One area where the office PC failed was the video – which was OK, since I don’t do any intense video work for my job. But for my home PC, I need enough video horsepower to play the upcoming Fallout 4 game edit tutorial videos. J
I also decided to try out Intel’s PCIe SSD, using NVMe. It’s supposed to have around four times the throughput of the Crucial SAT SSD I have in the work PC.
Here’s what is in it, in case you want to build your own:
My home development/gaming PC specifications
CPU: Intel i7-4790K processor (click to see on Amazon)
No change from the work PC.
CPU cooler: CRYORIG H7 Tower Cooler (click to see on Newegg)
Partly to experiment with different equipment, and partly because I expect I’ll be putting more stress on this PC, I decided to get a tower cooler for this build.
This cooler seems to be better at dissipating heat than the one I used for the work PC. On the downside, it’s much bigger. I was hoping to have its fan face the exhaust fan on the top of the case; however, it would have hit the RAM. Turning it to the exhaust fan on the back of the case works, but it’s still very close to the RAM.
Motherboard: Asus ATX DDR3 Z97-E/USB 3.1 Motherboard (click to see on Amazon)
No change from the work PC.
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 32GB DDR3-1600 (click to see on Amazon)
No change from the work PC.
SSD: Intel SSD 750 Series SSDPEDMW400G4R5 400GB PCI-Express 3.0 (click to see on Amazon)
This drive is overkill for my needs. But, I like trying out new toys.
It takes up a PCIe 3.0 slot, and uses four of the 16 available PCIe lanes available on this motherboard. I’m only running a single video card that uses 8 lanes. If you plan to use dual (or triple) video cards, you’ll need to look at another motherboard
The only thing I can say about this drive is that it’s FAST. I plan to use these drives (or their subsequent versions) for all my future builds. If you’ve got some extra money to put into your build, and want to make someone envious of your benchmarks, this is the way to go.
Video card: ASUS Graphics Cards TURBO-GTX970-OC-4GD5 (click to see on Amazon)
This card seemed to have a good price/performance ratio. The GTX 980 was more than I wanted to spend.
If you’re serious about video cards, you may make a different choice. But I’m happy with this one. I’ve played a little Witcher 3 on it, and it’s worked great.
Power supply: RAIDMAX Vampire RX-1000GH 1000 watts 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular PFC Power Supply (click to see on Amazon)
Since I added a fairly powerful video card, I decided to upgrade the power supply. The work PC has a 750-watt power supply. For this PC, I went with a 1000-watt. I also moved up from a Bronze, to a Gold-certified power supply.
1000 watts is more than I need now. However, I expect to do a new build in 18 months or so, when the Intel 6th-generation chips have been around for a while (and my credit cards have recovered from this build). I may do dual video cards in that build, and will probably re-use some of the parts from this build – including this power supply.
Case: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case (click to see on Amazon)
This is the one part I’m not really happy with. The construction is good. It comes with four fans – including a 200mm fan on the top of the case. So it’s got some goods points going for it.
However, with the ASUS Z97 motherboard, the cards do not line up well with the slots on the back of the case. I had to rig those up in a way I’m not really happy with. The case also does not have holes underneath where you mount the power supply. So, you can only mount your power supply with its fan on the top. Not the worst thing in the world, but also not my preference.
The case works well enough for me that I probably won’t bother doing anything until I do my next build.
Assembly of my home development/gaming PC
With the work PC, I copied an image of my development VM onto the hard drive, just so I didn’t have to go through a couple days of setting up all my programs. I didn’t need to do that with the home PC.
I did a fresh install of Windows 10, along with all the drivers for the new cards (video and SSD). So far, it all seems to be working well.
I also installed VMWare Workstation 11, to have a clean development environment (separate from my gaming). Within a couple days of doing that, VMWare released version 12. I’ll probably upgrade to that soon, since it claims to work better with Windows 10.
One thing I needed to do to get VMWare Workstation to run, was go into the BIOS and enable Intel VT-x virtualization. Before doing that, I received an error message when trying to start my VM.
Here’s the PassMark score for this computer – an incredible 5998.
The development-only PC scored 3696, mainly due to low scores for 3D graphics. I think this computer also got a huge increase in the score due to the almost-unbelievable performance of the Intel PCIe SSD. I’ve also included the graphics for its hard drive performance. It blows away the reference scores.
Let me know if you build your own development PC, and chose other parts.