Build Log - Big Red
It's about time I made a build log for my system, aptly named Big Red. I've been putting this off for some time, though I've wanted to do it, because this build goes all the way back to 2010 and I've upgraded it more times than I can remember.
This has always been an AMD based system because that's all I could afford.
This will be a visual chronicle of the various upgrades I've done to my system, using photos from my sig rig, as well as some on my Facebook that I never uploaded to OCN.
So, the original components of this system were as follows. This machine was first built in 2010. I sold my Playstation 3 and used the money to finance this rig. Previously, I was using a pre-built Acer Aspire E360 with an Athlon 64 3500+ 2.2ghz and 2GB RAM. I was using emulators a lot for Wii, Gamecube, PS2, Saturn and Nintendo DS and they were quite slow on the Athlon 64 since it lacked SSE2 instructions. So I aimed to build a modern, budget gamer system that could run modern emulators well, as well as do some light PC gaming. If only I knew then how big and expensive my hobby would eventually become...
I did a lot of research before building this system and decided to go with a Phenom II x2 and a certain ASUS motherboard because I found out I could purchase a dual core and have a high chance of unlocking it to a quad using Advanced Clock Calibration (AMD ACC).Original Components
AMD Phenom II x2 550 BE (unlocked to quad)
ASUS M4A785TD-V Evo motherboard
4GB G.skill 1333mhz 9-9-9-24 DDR3 DRAM
OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W Power Supply
WD Caviar Blue 320GB Hard Drive
Lite-on 20x DVD-RW
Cooler Master Elite 310 case
Cooler Master red LED fans
Stock AMD heatsink
Sapphire Radeon HD 4670 (I had this already, I bought it with Christmas money from my aunt, and it was in the Acer Aspire for a while)Pictures of Big Red V1 (Click to show)
Ubuntu Desktop w/ Conky (Click to show)
Eventually, I got a Scythe Samurai ZZ V2 CPU cooler. Originally, when building the system, I had bought a Cooler Master 212 Plus cooler but I tried numerous times to mount it and couldn't. No matter what I did the heatsink standoffs would not align properly with the holes on my motherboard. I was using the correct brackets but they simply wouldn't align with the holes. I could put three of the standoffs through the holes but there was no way to get the fourth in. So I just decided I would get a different cooler.Scythe Samurai ZZ Cooler (Click to show)
Next, I believe sometime in 2011, I upgraded my case to an Azza Solano 1000R. I chose this because it looked like a high quality case, with the inside painted, holes for cable management, and so on. The Cooler Master Elite 310 was a $29.99 case and it had horrible airflow and poor build quality. So yeah, that had to go.Big Red V2 (Click to show)
At some point, I believe December 2011 I got a Sapphire 6870 and an ASUS VH236H 23" 1080p monitor. I was starting to get serious about PC gaming. My lovely girlfriend, Bridgypoo, who actually has a decent job, bought me this gear. =P At this point, I started to get more serious about my build and cable management, so it looks MUCH cleaner. This started my obsession with machines having clean cable management.Big Red V3 (Click to show)
I ended up getting a used Phenom II X6 1090T from awesome OCN member and my personal friend, damric (Luke). We still talk regularly and became friends through me meeting him this way. He builds nice systems too and you can see his most recent build log here: https://www.overclock.net/t/1446151/damrics-new-toys
Since I got a better processor I needed better cooling, of course to overclock it. I got a Thermaltake Frio cooler, which while old is an amazing CPU cooler. It was well worth the $60 it cost. I also got some Rosewill 120MM 74CFM red LED fans to go on the heatsink, because I thought it would look cool.Big Red V4 (Click to show)
Still rocking the 6870. At this point I had started folding 24/7 on my 6870 and I joined the team competition
for the folding team, Brass Bottom Boys
. Eventually I managed to get a hold of an ASUS Crosshair V Formula AM3+ motherboard. I chose this motherboard because it was AM3+, whereas my M4A785TD-V Evo was only AM3 with no upgrade path. Also, the board is black and red (stupid how little things like color choice influence your buying decisions). Anyway, I learned the ins and outs of this motherboard pretty fast and learned how to overclock using things like Digi+ VRM and so on. My older board had none of that stuff. Along with the 1090T I got some G.skill Snipers 1866mhz 9-10-9-28 RAM!Crosshair V Formula, Thermaltake Frio, 1090T (Click to show)
I ran the 1090T for about a year, for all of 2012, before I decided to upgrade to an FX-8350 which I bought new from Newegg for about $200. Since I got a new processor, I needed a new CPU cooler, so I got a Corsair H100i. It was REALLY nice not to have to mount my side panel fan on the outside, and to have more room to work in my case without a huge tower heatsink. Along with the FX-8350 I got some Samsung "Miracle RAM"- 8GB DDR3 1600mhz 11-11-11 that was insanely overclockable. I run it at 2400mhz 11-11-11-30 2T and it's fast and flawless.Big Red V5 (Click to show)
Next, I decided I really wanted a 7970. The one I had my eye on, of course, was the Sapphire 7970 Vapor-X. I'm a huge Sapphire fan and love their cards, they overclock great and usually have good coolers. So, I saved money from Jan 2013 until April 2013, and sold a bunch of stuff including all of my hard copy Wii, PS2 and Xbox games. Eventually I had the $450 I needed for the card and I got it. With the FX-8350 and 7970 my rig was upgraded to Big Red V6.Big Red V6 (Click to show)
My lovely girlfriend Bridgypoo got me a keyboard, mouse and mousepad for Valentine's Day 2013.Better keyboard and mouse (Click to show)
After only a month my 7970 Vapor-X started overheating. I couldn't figure out why but at the same overclock (1200/1600mhz) the card was going up to 70C in Crysis 3 and crashing, as opposed to staying around 60C. Anyway, I noticed when running my machine on it's side with the side panel off that one of the fans wasn't spinning. I checked and the fan was dead. So on my girlfriend's suggestion I got an Arctic Accelero 7970 Xtreme cooler. This would be in September 2013. No more pretty "Sapphire" LED...Arctic Accelero (Click to show)
I decided my cooling wasn't good enough and I wanted to upgrade my system a bit so around November 2013 I ordered some Corsair SP120 high performance fans, as well as some Bitfenix Alchemy red sleeved extension cables (PCI-E and 24 pin) from Frozencpu.com.SP120s (Click to show)
I upgraded and bought two more monitors- both ASUS VH238H, since I couldn't get the older VH236H anymore to match my existing monitor. So now I run my 236 in the middle and my 238s on the side. Now I had an Eyefinity setup. I actually had to go and buy a small, cheap bookcase for my tower to sit on since there was no room on my desk anymore. I think it worked out well, because my machine sits a little bit higher than the desk and looks really cool. I love having Eyefinity, but the only problem is that working on my machine is now a serious PITA since I have to unplug and move at least two of my monitors out of the way, to have room to work on my desk. =/Eyefinity (Click to show)
Two things happened. First, the R9 290X and 290 came out in October 2013. I had my eye on them from the beginning because they are awesomely powerful cards. However, I was smart and wasn't going to buy one at an inflated price, and I wasn't going to buy one without an aftermarket cooler. No way I was using a reference cooler, and I'm not doing a water build because I can't afford to do it right... I'd need like $400 in water cooling parts. Not happening. I'd rather just run my cards on air.
My 7970 died when I was changing the thermal paste. I changed the TIM, like I had done many times, trying to get lower temps. Anyway, I put the card back in and it would just show a black windows login screen. It seemed dead. So, I took the Accelero cooler off of it and put the Vapor-X cooler back on and RMA'ed it to Sapphire. For all of December I used a new R9 270X Vapor-X that my brother bought me. Remember the old 6870 I folded on? It was in my sister's rig (budget gamer). My brother went to play games and didn't change the fan profile. The 6870 is dead, and also just shows a black windows login screen. I still have it in it's original box in my basement. At least I have a replacement though, my brother saved up for a month and got me my 270X, which is actually a golden card. So, I ran that for a month until I got a Sapphire R9 290 Tri-X.