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.
Case – Antec Solo (reused)
Power Supply – Corsair 450W (reused)
Motherboard – ASRock H170 Pro4
Processor – Intel Core i7-6700 (3.4 GHz, Quad-Core, 65W)
RAM – 16GB Crucial DDR4 2133
SSD – 500GB Samsung 840 EVO (reused), 750GB Crucial (reused)
Hard Drive – 2TB Western Digital Green (reused)
Video Card –
EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB, EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SC 2GB, EVGA Geforce GTX 1060 SC 6GB
Optical Drive – Samsung Blu-ray Burner (reused)
Anker USB 3.0 Expansion Panel (old case has no USB 3.0 support)
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.
Windows 10 installed perfectly and runs great on this machine, as expected.
- 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)
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)
PCs rarely need optical drives anymore, and 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 built-in 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 like the idea of having a dedicated PC connected to my big television but it is also kind of silly to maintain two high powered PCs in my house at the same time. To simplify things 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.
This arrangement 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.