Core i7 Skylake PC Build

It’s been 4 and a half years since I built my Sandybridge based workstation and it while it isn’t a terrible performer, I do more video and photo editing than I did in the past and wanted a machine with more power. Since Intel finally came out with the Skylake line of processors and the next upgrade won’t come out for a while I decided to do a new build now. In order to keep costs down I reused the case, power supply, storage devices and video card from my previous workstation. This limited my costs to $520 for a new motherboard, processor, and RAM.

Parts List

This build is essentially a motherboard, CPU, and RAM swap from the previous system.  Since this case is old enough to not support USB 3.0 I decided to add a USB 3.0 expansion panel to one of the front drive bays for convenient access. I also stuck with the stock CPU cooler for this build since they are actually pretty quiet and this CPU generates considerably less heat then the Sandybridge it replaces.

Software

Windows 10 installed perfectly and runs great on this machine, as expected.

Power Usage

  • Idle – 42W
  • 1080i MPEG2 to 720p MP4 H.264 Compression (Freemake Video Converter) – 85W
  • Bluray Ripping (MakeMKV) – 54W
  • MKV Bluray Rip to MKV 1080p Compression (Freemake Video Converter) – 95W
  • Adobe Lightroom RAW to JPG Conversion – 94W

Update-New Graphics Card & CPU Cooler (August, 2016)

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After upgrading the graphics card in my Gaming PC to a GTX 1060, I rolled the GTX 960 that I took out into my main desktop. This will be a substantial upgrade over my old GTX 750 Ti and be much more suited to my 1440p monitor when performing graphics oriented tasks.

While I had the case open I also installed a much more substantial CPU cooler, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO. Intel’s stock cooler is not bad at all, however, when performing intensive video compression I definitely noticed the fan working a lot harder and decided to upgrade to a more capable cooling system. The new cooler has lower pitched fan noise and is quieter overall as well.

Update-New Case (July 2017)

In today’s world PCs rarely need optical drives, many new cases forgo the 5.25″ drive bays required for them, which reduces the case size and allows for a much cleaner case layout. My old case was getting long in the tooth and I wanted a more modern setup with USB 3.0 ports native to the case so I re-cased this PC build using a Fractal Design Define C case. It’s a few inches smaller in height and depth than the old Antec case while providing tons of room for everything I need. The 3.5″ drive bays are in front of the power supply at the bottom of the case and there are SSD mounts on the back of the motherboard mounting panel. Taken together the case is very well laid out and results in a very clean build.

Since I still use my Blu-ray drive from time to time I needed an external enclosure to mount it in. I went with the Vantec NST-536S3-BK and it works very well. It uses USB 3.0 and is plug and play with Windows 10. I have noticed no difference in performance between using the drive in this enclosure compared to being installed in the PC and plugged straight into the motherboard.

Update-Gaming PC Parts (September 2017)

I have come full circle on my gaming PC idea I had a couple of years ago. I like the idea of having a dedicated PC connected to my big television but it also has some drawbacks, especially if you want to play a mouse and keyboard game on the couch. It is also kind of silly to maintain two high powered PCs in my house at the same time, not to mention the space the extra PC takes up. The end result of all this is that I rolled the key parts of my gaming PC build into my main workstation: the GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card and the Crucial 750GB SSD (my Steam drive). The swap went very smoothly thanks to how robust Steam is at finding games already installed on a drive and I didn’t have to re-download anything.

In the end this makes the most sense for me since all of my most powerful components are now together in one machine and I have one less Windows box to maintain. I can also take better advantage of my 27″ 1440p monitor’s higher resolution vs my 1080p television, one of the main advantages of PC gaming in the first place. This change should be a good continuation of my trend of simplifying my technology which should save some money and a lot of time.

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