My wife has recently qualified as a realtor and she needed her own PC for her new career, which of course also required a desk, chair and space in my home office. So we bought the desk and chair plus ordered parts for me to build a middle of the road PC and this is my experience with the build.
I already had a case, PSU, graphics card, mechanical hard disk and optical drive that was salvaged from older machines, all I needed to purchase was CPU, RAM, motherboard and SSD. I went for the following hardware, Intel Pentium G4400 3.3Ghz CPU, Gigabyte H110M-A (Rev. 1.0) motherboard, 8GB (2x4GB) Kingston HyperX Fury 2133Mhz DDR4 RAM and Kingston HyperX Fury 2.5″ 120GB SATA III SSD.
I started by installing the processor, heatsink/fan, RAM and front panel connectors on the motherboard outside of the case to make my life a little easier. This is the first time I have installed a pinless CPU (with the pins being on the motherboard instead), but it was no harder than installing a traditional CPU. Installation of the included Intel cooler was as simple as pushing the pins down into the motherboard.
After dropping the motherboard into the case and securing it, I was thinking I had a bad motherboard as nothing happened when I hit the power button. I checked the cabling to make sure I didn’t miss something, but I found nothing wrong. Then I moved the case and suddenly it sprang into life. It turns out the power switch on the Sentey G6060 was broken, so I transferred all the components to a second case.
Everything powered up just fine when transferred to the Ultra XBlaster V2, which did come with a power supply, but I did not use it as it doesn’t have long enough cables to reach the 24 pin and 4 pin power connectors on the Gigabyte H110M-A. Instead I used a Thermatake TR2 500w PSU, which has terrible ketchup and mustard cabling, but it doesn’t matter as the XBlaster V2 does not have a side panel window.
Now I knew the system powered on; I installed the AMD Radeon HD 6770 GPU and did some limited cable management, the XBlaster V2 case isn’t the best case for cable management, plugged in the HyperX SSD and 500GB mechanical hard disk and plugged in a monitor and tada; the computer posted.
Now, comes everyone’s favorite part, installing Windows 10; I planned to use a Windows 10 key (upgraded from Windows 8.1) from the same deceased laptop that donated the mechanical hard disk. But that was a no go, I could not get the key validated. Then, I remembered a video from Paul’s Hardware about how to get a legal Windows license for around $30, I paid a little over $31 for Windows 10 Pro.
Once Windows was installed; I did all the required Windows updates, installed a couple of pieces of software, Spybot Anti-Beacon and 10 Apps Manager. The former blocks all Microsoft’s embedded spyware and reapplies protection on boot while the later helps you easily uninstall Windows 10 apps.
Finally, a little about the new tech; the motherboard is a cheap LGA 1151 H110 chipset, it works as advertised, although some people have complained in reviews that it is not Z170 and only has HDMI video out. This baffles me, this information is available on merchants websites. Seriously, do people expect Z170 for $50? They’re complaining because they failed to read the specs before purchase.
Anyway, excuse the mini-rant… the H110M-A is a decent board, does what it says on the box. If I am going to nitpick, I would say that the single chassis fan connector is limiting and if you were not using a discreet graphics card, the HDMI only video out is limiting for many, not all monitors have HDMI inputs.
The Pentium G4400 is fast enough for everyday use; it might chug a little if doing complex tasks like video rendering; but my wife doesn’t do that, so it won’t be a problem. I ran a system stability test and the CPU barely touched 41°C with 1000rpm 120mm Coolermaster fans front and rear of the case. Likewise, the RAM and SSD performed as expected, a big step up from the 5400rpm mechanical drive in the laptop my wife was using. So all in all, I’m more than happy with the effective (new parts) $200 system.