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Slade Build for HTPC & Light Gaming

Post Date: 2017-03-26

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NuWatts View Drop Down
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  Quote NuWatts Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Topic: Slade Build for HTPC & Light Gaming
    Posted: 26 Mar 2017 at 5:26pm
Greetings! I'm a returning Digital Storm customer who's finally preparing to get a new rig after a long and happy relationship with my build from September 2009! Over the years, my primary needs in a PC have shift from high-end gaming to media entertainment center. After considering building a dedicated Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC), I've instead opted to try a new desktop with features that would make it optimal for storing and playing media on my TV. From what I can tell, this seems to be a somewhat unique objective, so any feedback on this general idea or my specific build would be greatly appreciated!

Budget:
Not important, but I like to keep things frugal. 😊 The total price range of items listed below is $2,273 - $2,458.

Expectations & Priorities:
-    Quiet (PC is in living room with TV)
-    Handles three 1080p displays simultaneously in high quality (one display being the TV)
-    Quick boot and launch of programs
-    Runs well without upgrades for 2+ years, upgradability to last 5+ years

Usage:
45 hr/wk of casual PC usage and media playback. Less than 8 hr/wk of gaming anticipated.

Digital Storm Slade Build
Configuration Code: 1636673 [Total $1,913]
Direct Load URL: https://www.digitalstorm.com/configurator.asp?id=1636673
Specifications: [“No Thanks” items removed]
Chassis Model: Special Deal Hot Seller - Corsair Carbide Quiet 600Q
Exterior Finish: - Standard Factory Finish
Trim Accents: - Standard Factory Finish
Processor: Intel Core i7-7700 (Turbo Up to 4.20 GHz) (Codename Kaby Lake) (Quad Core) (Not Overclockable)
Motherboard: MSI Z270 PC MATE (Intel Z270 Chipset) (Up to 2x PCI-E Devices) (No SLI Support)
System Memory: 16GB DDR4 3000MHz Digital Storm Performance Series
Power Supply: 750W EVGA SuperNOVA
Storage Set 1: 1x SSD (960GB Digital Storm Performance Series)
Internet Access: High Speed Network Port (Supports High-Speed Cable / DSL / Network Connections)
Graphics Card(s): 1x GeForce GTX 1060 6GB (VR Ready)
Sound Card: Integrated Motherboard Audio
Extreme Cooling: AIR: Stage 1: High-Performance Copper Heat Pipe Cooler
Cable Management: Premium Cable Management (Strategically Routed & Organized for Airflow)
Chassis Fans: Standard Factory Chassis Fans
Boost Processor: Stock Factory Turbo Boost Advanced Automatic Overclocking
Windows OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Professional (64-Bit Edition)
Recovery Tools: Factory Reset Feature (Restore Windows + Drivers) (Partition up to 50GB of Storage)

After-Purchase Upgrades & Additions
These are items I plan to personally add to the desktop.
Optical Drive: Pioneer BDR-208D BD-RW (owned since Dec 2014) [+$0]
Storage Set 2: Western Digital WD2002FAEX Caviar Black HDD, 2TB (owned since Nov 2013) [+$0]
Storage Set 3: Western Digital WD40EZRZ Blue HDD, 4TB (new purchase) [+$120]
Display: 2x ASUS VX238H 23-inch 1080p Monitors (new purchase) [+$120 x 2 = $240]
Audio: Sades Spirit Wolf Headset (owned since Dec 2016) [+$0]
Keyboard & Mouse: Logitec Y-RBN90 Wave Pro Ergonomic Cordless Keyboard & Mouse (owned since Oct 2009) [+$0]

Upgrades Under Consideration

Expansion Bay:
KingWin KF-1000-BK Hard Drive Hot Swap Bay (EZ-Rack) [+$39 from Digital Storm, or +$15 on Amazon]
> This could allow me to overcome the Corsair 600Q chassis limitation of only 2 internal 3.5” bays. Plenty of storage will be important if I want to maintain a large media library to play from my PC, so a swap bay would let me add a third “internal” HDD or even create a library of HDDs that I can swap out like optical disks.

Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Z [+$97]
> Since I’m using this desktop as a media center to stream to my TV, it stands to reason that I want to deliver good sound along with video. However, I know very little about audio hardware, and I have not yet even bought speakers besides those integrated in my TV, so I see little need for this until I’m prepared to make a full audio overhaul.

Noise Reduction: Noise Suppression Package Stage 1 (Optimized Airflow & Fan Speeds Only) [+$49]
> I’ve stated a quiet system is a priority of mine, so I’m considering having Digital Storm optimize my system since I don’t possess these skills. I would even consider the “Stage 2” package that includes sound dampening material, but am under the impression that the Corsair 600Q chassis is already built with such material.


Once again, thanks for your feedback!

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  Quote bprat22 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 27 Mar 2017 at 5:24am
Build looks good to me. I haven't put much thought into HTPC, but it isn't very video card iintense from what I've read.    If you ever did want to go back to higher gaming the gtx 1070 would be the card of choice.

Correct on the noise reduction.    Stage 2 isn't needed.   Stage I is just tweaking the fans in Bios, and once set , it's pretty much a forget.   But, depends how much you want to tweak yourself.

Good luck.
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  Quote NuWatts Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 28 Mar 2017 at 7:56pm
Thanks for the response! Before I "pull the trigger", here are some points I'm mulling over that I'd love some feedback on:

Motherboard: This is the true center of the desktop; should I consider an upgrade?

Graphics Card(s): As long as the GTX 1060 can play newer games (e.g. Star Citizen) at 1080p with decent (if not max) graphics settings, I'll stick with that over the GTX 1070 which has slightly higher power requirements to help minimize heat & noise. What are your thoughts?

Sound Card:
Hearing that someone else with a similar setup finds value in the Sound Blaster for gaming, I'm still considering this upgrade. Will I notice an difference in audio quality using only my headset?

Extreme Cooling:
I sometimes perform batch video conversions, which can utilize high CPU for extended periods. An upgrade to the H2O Stage 2 cooler may be a good idea; is there any difference in the noise level between these systems?

Noise Reduction: Good to know that Stage 2 isn't needed with the 600Q, but is the Stage 1 worth the $49 value or will there likely be little difference?

Recovery Tools: I'm wondering what the pros & cons of the "Factory Reset Feature" vs. just the "Windows 10 Installation CD." Thoughts?

Thanks again to whomever takes the time to read and give feedback on these points!
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  Quote bprat22 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 29 Mar 2017 at 2:40am
1..That mobo is a good pick.   It can't sli, meaning two video cards, but I don't think you care about that.

2. The 1060 is a good pick for that type of game with your resolution.   The noise level is generally the same for both cards under load. If game on only one screen it's good. If you game on more screens or use the other screens for anything other than browsing, a stronger card would be needed.   The more a card has to render the slower the frames.

3.. I haven't done much with sound cards in years.   The onboard sound has come a long way, but depends on your equipment and your personal taste. I think mobo onboard is very good.

4.. Without added overclocking which the 7700 can't do anyways, needs to be the "k" version, the air cooler should do it.   A higher end liquid cooler, like the h115i, does a better job with similar noise level with its fans on low or medium.   On high the liquid coolers can get noisy.   Again, depends on what you put the CPU through. I think the air cooler is fine.

5..In Recovery tools I would select the CD option.   The partition is convenient if a simple reset, install is needed, but if the drive dies you'll want the CD to boot to.   That said, you can download and burn your own Windows CD in ISO from MS website like I have done.   My opinion, just get the CD.





Edited by bprat22 - 29 Mar 2017 at 2:43am
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  Quote Tanqueray Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 29 Mar 2017 at 12:51pm
Hello,

I picked the Soundblaster because I used to do some stuff with recording, mixing, etc. and have been playing around with some of the newer music software.

I did the factory reset because I've had issues before with other vendors saying "that's not we sold to you so the warranty is void" type of thing.

My first PC was an 8088 with a CGA monitor and 512kb HDD so I've been around ...
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  Quote NuWatts Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 02 Apr 2017 at 5:17pm
BANG! Trigger pulled on my Digital Storm Slade build after a few more days of research to confirm or tweak my configuration. Feel free to peruse the full list of selections below, with occasional comments I've added in blue font.

Digital Storm Slade Build
Configuration Code: 1636673
Direct Load URL: https://www.digitalstorm.com/configurator.asp?id=1640153
Specifications:
Chassis Model: Special Deal Hot Seller - Corsair Carbide Quiet 600Q
Exterior Finish: - Standard Factory Finish
Trim Accents: - Standard Factory Finish
Processor: Intel Core i7-7700 (Turbo Up to 4.20 GHz) (Codename Kaby Lake) (Quad Core) (Not Overclockable)
> This was the best choice for me since the i7-7700 will deliver high performance at lower power/temperatures than an overclocked i7-7700K.
Motherboard: MSI Z270 PC MATE (Intel Z270 Chipset) (Up to 2x PCI-E Devices) (No SLI Support)
System Memory: 16GB DDR4 3000MHz Digital Storm Performance Series
> This will consist of two 8GB modules according to John with Digital Storm support.
Power Supply: 750W EVGA SuperNOVA (750 G3) (Fully Modular)
Expansion Bay: - No Thanks
Optical Drive: - No Thanks
Storage Set 1: 1x SSD (960GB Digital Storm Performance Series)
Storage Set 2: - No Thanks
Storage Set 3: - No Thanks
RAID Config: - No Thanks
RAID Card: - No Thanks
Internet Access: High Speed Network Port (Supports High-Speed Cable / DSL / Network Connections)
Graphics Card(s): 1x GeForce GTX 1060 6GB (VR Ready)
> I considered upgrading to the GTX 1070, but some excellent comparison videos of different GTX cards running various modern games on max graphics convinced me that the 1060 will be plenty sufficient for my needed.
Sound Card: Integrated Motherboard Audio
> I also considered getting a sound card, but realized that the MSI Z270 motherboard already has an excellent onboard audio chipset, and I don't plan to do any audio recording or mixing.
HPC Processor: - No Thanks
Extreme Cooling: AIR: Stage 1: High-Performance Copper Heat Pipe Cooler
HydroLux Tubing Style: - Not Applicable, I do not have a custom HydroLux liquid cooling system selected
HydroLux Fluid Color: - Not Applicable, I do not have a custom HydroLux liquid cooling system selected
Cable Management: Premium Cable Management (Strategically Routed & Organized for Airflow)
Chassis Fans: Standard Factory Chassis Fans
Internal Lighting: - No Thanks
Airflow Control: - No Thanks
Chassis Mods: - No Thanks
Noise Reduction: - No Thanks
> Noticing another forum conversation where someone else who ordered a Slade build is a bit disappointment in the level of noise, I'm hoping it my system will run very quiet without issue since it has much less demanding hardware in comparison.
LaserMark: - No Thanks
CPU Boost: Stock Factory Turbo Boost Advanced Automatic Overclocking
Graphics Boost: - No Thanks, Please do not overclock my video card(s)
OS Boost: - No Thanks, Please do not tweak the services on the operating system
Windows OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Professional (64-Bit Edition)
> I picked up the Pro version since I like the extra security features, such as full-drive encryption with pre-booth authentication using BitLocker.
Recovery Tools: Windows 10 Installation CD Only (Clean Install with No Drivers)
> I did not choose to have a recover partition created because I suspect it will prevent a truly "full"-drive encryption.
Virus Protection: FREE: McAfee AntiVirus Plus (1 Year Service Activation Card) (Not Pre-installed) ($35 Value)
Office: - No Thanks
Game: - No Thanks
Display: - No Thanks
Surge Shield: - No Thanks
Speakers: - No Thanks
Keyboard: - No Thanks
Mouse: - No Thanks
Branded Gear: - No Thanks
Priority Build: - No Thanks, Ship Within 15-20 Business Days After Order Is Successfully Processed
Warranty: Life-time Expert Care with 3 Year Limited Warranty (3 Year Labor & 1 Year Part Replacement)

After-Purchase Upgrades & Additions
These are items I own or have ordered that I will personally add to the desktop.
Expansion Drive: Syba SY-MRA55006 Hot Swap 5.25" Bay for 3.5" and 2.5" Drives + Two USB 3.0 ports (new purchase)
> I'm hoping this swap bay will allow me to easy expand my total storage space in the future, as well as quickly transfer files from my current system.
Optical Drive: Pioneer BDR-208D BD-RW (owned since Dec 2014)
Storage Set 2: Western Digital WD2002FAEX Caviar Black HDD, 2TB (owned since Nov 2013)
Storage Set 3: Western Digital WD40EZRZ Blue HDD, 4TB (new purchase)
Display: 2x Acer R221Q 21.5-inch 1080p ISP Monitors (new purchase)
> There was a $20 price increase with the 23-inch monitors I had my eyes on, but I found these slightly smaller monitors at a pretty good deal, ultimately saving me ~$80.
Audio: Sades Spirit Wolf Headset (owned since Dec 2016)
Keyboard & Mouse: Logitec Y-RBN90 Wave Pro Ergonomic Cordless Keyboard & Mouse (owned since Oct 2009)

===

I'll be sure to post pictures and updates once this new media control center is fully setup and running! Thanks to everyone who helped in my decision making process.
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  Quote bprat22 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 03 Apr 2017 at 2:16am
Congrats.
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  Quote Snaike Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 03 Apr 2017 at 4:24am
Outstanding and congrats!   
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  Quote Snaike Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 03 Apr 2017 at 4:26am
Now, on a separate note.. if you want that cool "Verified Customer" badge, you'll need to ensure that your order email and your forums email are an "Ex4ct MAtch!"
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  Quote NuWatts Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 03 Apr 2017 at 6:56pm
Thanks for the tip, Snaike. I confirmed that the email address I'm using for this forum account exactly matches the email I used to place the order; so I'll keep an eye out for my fancy forum badge, soon!  Wink
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  Quote bprat22 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 04 Apr 2017 at 2:59am
Just to add, the email addresses have to be EXACT, meaning capitals, spaces, punctuation....... Some usually find a small, seemingly insignificant difference.

If it is exact, email [email protected] for help.   

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  Quote hoserator Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 04 Apr 2017 at 5:04pm
Congratulations and thank you for the write up on your thoughts. Awesome
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  Quote NuWatts Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 16 Apr 2017 at 8:42pm
Bah, I think I've discovered an oversight in my purchases. My Digital Storm build is expected to arrive later this week, but I've been cataloging complete specifications of the hardware in the meantime. When recording the number and types of display connectors for the GeForce GTX 1060, I realized that I had incorrectly assumed from images that the card had four HDMI ports. In fact, it has only one HDMI port along with three "DisplayPort 1.3/1.4" ports (and a Dual Link DVI-I).

I'd been out of touch with technology circles long enough to not even be familiar with "DisplayPort", so upon realizing that it's an alternative (though arguably superior) to HDMI connections, I'm now stuck with two new monitors without DisplayPort support plus my HDMI HDTV.
Oops

Thus, I have a decision to make, and I'd appreciate some feedback on these options:
1) Return my new monitors at the cost of shipping, then purchase two new (more expensive) monitors with DisplayPort support.
2) Keep my new monitors, and purchase two HDMI to DisplayPort adapters.

What do you all think?



Edited by NuWatts - 16 Apr 2017 at 8:44pm
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  Quote Snaike Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 17 Apr 2017 at 12:11am
Option 2. The adapters are fairly inexpensive and there is no difference in quality AFAIK.
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