Building a PC in 2017


Oh hell in that case be my guest! Same city is a no brainer. Take advantage of the luxurious hair!


Probably not the answer you want to hear, but If you’re upgrading the motherboard (and presumably the CPU and the GPU), there’s not a whole lot that it’s worth carrying over. The case. Your hard drives. Network/sound cards, I guess. Maybe the PSU (though If it’s nearly 10 years old it’s surely near the end of its life). The RAM, but only if you’ve got 8GB or more (careful with the mobo choice as a lot of newer ones are DDR4 only). What components are you looking to keep? It kind of sounds like you’re doing it backwards - upgrading the motherboard with a view to keeping components, rather than upgrading components as far as you can on an existing motherboard. The latter would normally get you much more bang for your buck (and be simpler), but to be fair may not get you far on a 10-year old motheroboard.


I might just do that!

That’s the main selling point, to be honest. And the metal t-shirts.

@ArmandoPenblade and I need to get together at some point anyhow. I’m going to be out of town for the next 2 weeks, but I’ll see if I can figure out a build and maybe order parts during that time. Perhaps we can get together in March for an assembly, political bitching, and whiskey party.


Huh. You just reminded me that I’d solicited some very good sounding advice on rye whiskey in the appropriate thread a couple of weeks ago, then went and forgot every bit of it in favor of another bottle of Jim Beam rye yesterday… Oops!

Anyway, sounds like that could be pretty fun. In the interim, best of luck with your build and travels, man.


I’m pretty jealous here. If I could make a good living building computers I totally would. It’s just… fun.


The only downside of build vs purchase is that if your new PC starts BSODing or something the moment you turn it on, the only person to troubleshoot it is you, for the most part.

That said, I haven’t bought a prebuilt desktop since the early 90s, and being careful in choosing components and in assembling them I’ve had pretty good luck.


Bah. There’s us! When you voluntarily create a new build and the old one is still, YouTube, message boards and even some mnf support is the key.


That’s a very strong argument for not building a PC for someone else. Not so much for yourself; if you have the expertise to build it properly you should be able to support it too.


When was the last time you bought a pre-built desktop? Just Google around a bit and you’ll see even the pre-builts get sent with harddrives not connect, PSU cords that came lose, or just DOA. Whether you build it yourself, have someone you know build it or buy it from a company, you might not get much support. At least if you have someone you know build it, they’re not likely going to leave you hanging… and everything they put in the machine will be under warranty.

If you want to learn to build, sometimes you start by watching someone build right in front of you. That’s how I learned. The second time around, I had a magazine and did it myself.


I burned out from self build and only use premade now. The space/noise ratio is almost always better going prebuilt so that’s now what I do, and I don’t care enough to have top tier video cards. You can make a quiet custom desktop, but you’ll sacrifice either space or power. The only way to get all three is to go premade. OTOH I don’t have any old school ATX style desktops at home and never will again.

There are some interesting things in that regards; the Intel Skull Canyon platform looks fun to mess with, though it needs a bit more graphics power (using external graphics defeats the whole purpose). I tried that Gigabyte Brix but that was an epic bust and it appears they’ve stopped making them.


That statement makes no sense unless you are suggesting that pre build companies have access to components that consumers don’t.


Which they don’t. They’re probably better at capable management than I am, but I’ve built a mini-atx and an ATX… and I wasn’t afraid to take a hacksaw to my Antec Solo case either to get that a bit too long video card to fit in there either. It’s just a standard. You can fit a lot in a quality quiet case.


For the computers I use now, they do use parts you don’t have access to. Stuff like Skull Candy boxes aren’t able to be built yourself. Computers like iMacs and Alienware Alphas are also of a size and form factor that you cannot replicate with off the shelf stuff. If you mean “prebuilt ATX sized computer” vs “ATX sized computer I put together myself”, yea, go for it! Building it yourself is better.

It’s just a me thing but a few years ago I got so fed up with wires and fan noise I declared Never Again and set up my computers to get away from that, and the only way I found to do this is with prebuilt customized hardware.

Performance? Well, price per performance metric is inferior, sure. But I built computers since 1997, and I was ready for a change. No more ugly ATX, mini ATX, micro ATX cases! Couldn’t be happier.

Worse comes to worse I’ll use a laptop. And I definitely can’t build my own laptop.


I guess I don’t find some of the smaller cases that ugly.

I tried to look for a Skull Candy computer case. I don’t see them. Are you sure they’re not just licensed products of existing cases? I mean I know dell likes to due some fugly custom things with their alienware builds.


There are a lot of options in the mini-ITX form factor. If I were trying to build an Alienware Alpha-alike I’d go with something like Fractal Design’s Node:

I prefer function over form though, and my gaming room has plenty of real estate for a tower case. I’m also a cheap SOB thrifty consumer, so value-per-dollar is always a consideration.


The Alienware Alpha is actually pretty well priced when discounted. But you absolutely can build something of a similar size with more power at a comparable pricepoint. You just need to go boutique with your case, e.g. S4 Mini with a short GPU e.g. ; or more power if you pick up a short 1070 or 1080 (though then you’re reaching the limits of picoPSUs…)

If you go larger (e.g. Node 202 as mentioned by JThomas, Dan A4, NCase M1), you can get things that even fit a full-size GPU in there - pretty awesome for something sized like

This definitely is a niche compared to the standard gigantic ATX builds though. Personally using the NCase with a GTX1070 and an OCed 6600K right now. No sacrifice of space, power, or quiet.

NUCs without a GPU like Skull Canyon are an entirely different category, then you’re getting into things like Nerdvana: External GPU Docks


I always liked that Kickstarter case that @stusser hipped me to. It’s exactly the right size to hold a full size video card and mini-itx machine.

I hope you can buy that case independently at some point, or a clone of it…


I love my CoolerMaster HAF from a functionality perspective, but it’s just shy of Alienware ugly. Luckily it lives under my desk.


That case is super sexy, but looks like it would be a pain to build in. I like the ideal of mini-ITX systems but always find myself building a full ATX.

I guess if I was building a gaming HTPC it would be a pretty solid choice. But honestly I plan on waiting for cheap TB3 eGPU enclosures and plugging one into a NUC in a couple years when I replace the 1080 on my main desktop.


There’s also this Ncase M1 which is somewhat less minimalist but looks similarly sized.

I do really like the A4-SFX and I wish I could buy one.