Category Archives: Hardware

Install, clean, replace and more

My Rig – Peripherals

Now that we’ve had a look inside the machine, lets take a tour of what makes it great on the outside. IMG_0263

  • Monitors – Currently my 780ti is supporting two monitors though a third may be in the picture eventually. My main monitor, the one I do all my gaming on, is an ASUS PB278 with a resolution of 2560x1440p. The thing is a beast, and produces amazing picture at an affordable price for the 1440p it generates. I purchased it before G-sync was really a thing, which is one reason to replace it, but for now it’s great and is probably not going anywhere anytime soon. I’ve had it for almost two years and have only seen one dead pixel on it, so I’m very pleased. The second monitor, which performs a variety of tasks, is a Samsung P2770HD with a 1080p resolution. Nothing special here, just the first monitor I purchased with the system, only complaint would be the very flimsy stand that came with the setup, seriously, it’s atrocious.
  • Keyboard – I’m sure there are many great ones out there, and of course you want to go with whichever one suits you best, and for me that’s the Blackwidow Ultimate Stealth 2014 by Razer. I’ve been rocking Razer gear since I first started PC gaming, and to be honest it’s done fine by me and I have almost no complaints. I did move to the stealth edition after the 2012 regular ultimate I owned because it was too loud to stream with, and while the stealth isn’t super quiet, it’s much more bearable.
  • Mouse/Mousepad – Based on the keyboard, you could also guess that I have Razer gear for these peripherals, and you’d be right. I have the 2014 Naga and the Goliathus control. The Naga is amazing if you do as much MMO gaming as I do, with seventeen buttons that can be customized for all sorts of games. I used to have the Naga Ultimate, but I find that the lighter 2014 makes for more accurate and easier movements than its earlier counterpart.
  • Headset – Recently I upgraded from an old Logitech headset I’ve had for years to the Astro A50 headset. While I don’t know too much about sound, I was able to make these things sound pretty amazing with some software tuning. They produce a virtual 7.1 surround with a 5.1 input, which is why I installed that sound card I mentioned in my other “My Rig” post. They’re also wireless, but only hold about a ten hour charge when in gaming mode, so a long session will require a plug in. I use the built in mic for VOIP applications like Mumble and TS3, and have been told that it sounds much better than my last headset, so I’m pleased with the mic in that setting. I probably wouldn’t use the mic for twitch/youtube if you’re going for quality.
  • Microphone – speaking of microphones, I very recently decided to upgrade my mic to make videos and streaming sound a bit better. Right now I’m rocking the platinum edition of the Blue Yeti Mic, and it has done wonders for me in terms of quality. It was fairly inexpensive for an entry level mic, and does everything I need it to do. I have it set to cardiod, one of its four settings, in order to record only from the front of mic and block out the surrounding noise which it does fairly well. This is something I couldn’t have done on my headset without extensive work into a noise gate, which on OBS for now doesn’t seem to work all that well anyways.
  • Speakers – Finally, I do have a set of generic 2.1 speakers that I rarely use but for the $20 bucks they cost me have done more than their fair share of work.

Peripherals

My Rig – Inside

As any other good enthusiast is also guilty of, I too love to talk about my PC specs with anyone that will listen. Most people probably don’t know what they are packing in their computer, but if you’re reading this you probably do, which means I have your attention, which in turn means you get to be my next victim!

As a gamer, I demand good gear that will allow me to dominate where I can and not be held back by inferior hardware, as a streamer, YouTuber and visual junkie I demand great gear that will let me play with the best graphics while pushing my processor and card to the edge providing video upload of that game play, and so, I introduce my rig.

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There isn’t a name, after all its not a boat, but it does it’s job well. I admit that I did not build this when it first came to me almost three years ago due to my lack of knowledge around anything PC, though over the years I have done all the upgrades myself with the exception of replacing the radiator on top since it is really the only thing that hasn’t been changed. I’ve redone the water loops to my liking, replaced the graphics cards, added a new drive, put in a sound card, replaced the water pump and reworked all the fans as well as replacing the CPU, RAM and motherboard. Everything has gone pretty smooth, and I’m fairly confident in my ability to build, replace and repair in ways I couldn’t have imagined a couple years ago. But enough about that, lets take a look inside.

  • Case – housing the entire rig is a Phantom NZXT Tower with a Black/Green theme, which is the color scheme of my entire setup today. (The pic on the right was very early on in the blue years)
  • Motherboard – Currently I am running on an ASUS Maximus VI Extreme LGA 1150 Z87, it has several features that many overclockers enjoy, though I disregard many of them like the external fine tuning tool which allows you to overclock without being in the BIOS. That being said, the BIOS is extremely easy to navigate and turns system overlocking into a breeze.
  • CPU – Housed inside is an i7 4770k running at 4.4Ghz, a modest clock speed but I’m happy with it nonetheless. The CPU runs great, but is only four cores and eight threads, and with Intel’s introduction of new enthusiast grade processors that start at six cores and go up to a whopping eight cores, yes eight, I’ll be making modifications soon.
  • RAM – Currently I have sixteen gigs of RAM installed in the system. The make and model being Corsair Vengence, and they are running at 1866Mhz. I’ve had them steady at 2133Mhz throughout most of the computer’s existence, but after some random crashes I decided to downgrade the clock. It turns out it wasn’t the RAM but was instead a problem with ShadowPlay. Remember the new CPU I just mentioned, well it’ll require DDR4 RAM and a new Mobo, so I’ll be upgrading all three at once.
  • GPU – I used to have two AMD 7970s in the rig, but due to faulty crossfire issues I decided to move to one 780ti. My EVGA Classified is currently only running at 1239Mhz on full load with a minor increase in voltage, and until I know more about clocking in this area, it will probably stay this way. This is another component I would like to upgrade in the foreseeable future, but not until I see what comes out after the 980, or maybe AMD can win me back sooner.
  • Storage – I’m sitting on several different drives at the moment that all equate to about seven and a half terabytes of storage. Of this, I’m sad to say that only about 200Gbs are SSD. Moving to a 500Gb SSD is probably the next upgrade that I will make, in addition to a new OS. After the SSD storage, I have a data drive that is about one and a half terabytes, a Steam drive that is almost three terabytes, and an external drive with about three terabytes that I use for video editing, pictures and other media content. While the external gets the job done, I would no doubt benefit greatly from an internal drive in terms of video editing and capture speed.
  • Sound Card – After my move to 7.1 Virtual sound, I had to get a card that would keep up, which led me to the Xonar 7.1 PCIE sound card with optical output. I don’t pretend to know much about sound, but it gets the job done.
  • PSU – This thing is a monster and is no doubt overkill for the current setup I employ, but with the two video cards before I needed a bit more juice. The 1200w Corsair Gold rated power supply makes sure everything I add has the power to function, and its modular, so I can decide when to add more juice and when to cut it.
  • Cooling – I’ve never much been a fan of air cooling, especially when overclocking is something you dabble in. While I’ve heard of plenty of systems that clock fine on air, I’d rather be on the safe side when this much money is invested. Cooling my rig is a custom liquid loop that currently only services the CPU and includes a 240mm radiator and an XSPC 750 pump. I clean it out about every 8-9 months and replace the loop entirely. When I do make my GPU upgrade, I think I’ll go back to also cooling the card, which is how the system was first designed with the AMD cards inside. Of course I have some fans to compliment the liquid cooling and obviously to distribute heat from the radiator up top. Inside now are seven 120mm fans, one 140mm fan and one 240mm fan. Four of the 120’s are attached to the radiator, all blowing up, which I found after testing to be the most effective.
  • Reader/Writer – While not overly important, there is also a Blu-Ray reader and DVD writer injected into the system, and I think I’ll add a media card reader soon also.

All in all, the thing is certainly a beast but includes some outdated hardware if we go by enthusiast standards. Thanks for taking the time to look at it, and stay tuned for updates that are made.

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