Building the Gemsbok PC


Hello, this is The Gemsbok, and today’s topic is building the Gemsbok PC, which actually took place in October of 2016. I started researching, and accumulating parts for this build on a shelf in my closet, back in August of 2016. But it was a couple of months before I was ready to finalize my last choices and put it all together. The goals for the machine were: one, to be able to edit video and do GPU rendering of 3D design work, both at a high rate without hugely taxing the system; two, to be able to run any game from about 2015 backward at 1080p and at or above 60 frames per second; three, to be able to accomplish that previous goal while the computer is also recording or streaming video, without dropping frames or sacrificing image quality; and four, to accomplish the previous three goals while meeting (or coming in under) my noise, power consumption, and budget targets. I ended up choosing, as the key components, Intel’s i5-6600K processor, a GTX 1060 6GB from Asus, and a Z170 motherboard from MSI. These are the build’s peripherals, including a 1080p 60Hz monitor (which I overclocked to 75Hz), a Shure SM-48 microphone (which is what you’re hearing me through right now), and a Cooler Master Quickfire Rapid mechanical keyboard. And these are various other things I used in my build, including some blue carbon fiber wrap, some cable ties, a dust filter, and a cable of white LEDs (just to provide an even illumination in the case). I went for a black-and-white build with some blue accents. So, here I am at the start of the build, with just the case unboxed. After much deliberation, I decided to build inside of a Corsair 100R. It’s not a high-end case by any stretch of the imagination, but it looks sleek and professional— rather than ‘tricked out’ or ‘gamery’—and it has room for everything I want, while not coming with anything I don’t need. Ultimately, I did end up slightly regretting this choice, but only because of some finicky aspects of the part installation that I’ll cover shortly. Just to get started somewhere, though it was probably not the best choice since I had to remove it again during the motherboard installation, I first carbon fiber’d and installed my power supply. The power supply I chose was a 620 Watt fully modular PSU from Seasonic. While the modularity was really nice to have, the Wattage was a slight bit of overkill for this build. The real reason for the Wattage and the full modularity is that this model was cheaper than either the next step down in Wattage or a semi-modular supply at the time I was putting the build plan together. The next thing I did was to install all of the case fans, which just goes to show that I was new to PC building then. If I had built in a budget case previously, I would have known that, in such a tight case, the rear and top exhaust fans would get in the way of installing the motherboard mounting screws. Nonetheless, I installed both of the rear fans, which are 120mm CryoRig QF120s. I also affixed a dust filter to cover the second unused 120mm fan mount on the top of the case, to prevent dust from just freely falling into my case. Next, I turned my attention to installing my intake fans—a pair of 140mm CryoRig XF140s. This was the first part of the build where the case choice was at odds with me. First, the hard drive cage is neither modular nor conveniently placed for anyone conceivably using the case’s lower fan mount without removing it, so I had to unscrew and take out the cage. Second, while the front fan mounts of Corsair’s 100R are compatible with 140mm fans, the long fan screws provided with the case were not long enough to attach these 140mm fans. Fortunately, I had no intention of using the screws anyway, as I installed all four of my case fans with the rubber anti-vibration mounts that came with the fans. But there was a third issue, and it was the worst one: the screw holes in the front were not wide enough to fit the anti-vibration rubber mounts. So, at each of the eight points for mounting the two front fans, I had to manually bore the metal holes wider with a drill. But at last they were all installed, and the hard drive cage was replaced to its rightful home. So, the next thing to do was to prepare my motherboard, the MSI Z170A SLI, for installation. Don’t let the name fool you; I had no intentions then or now of running anything in SLI. Anyway, I decided to attach some of the components to the motherboard prior to installing it in the case, so I laid it out on the insulating bag that it came in and set to work. Installing the components onto the motherboard here was one of the smoothest and most straightforward parts of the build, alongside simple stuff like installing the hard drives. So, the next thing to do was to install the CPU, which, as I said before, is Intel’s i5-6600K. This is the unlocked, overclockable variant of the Skylake i5 line, so it came with no stock CPU cooler and I paired it with a Z170 motherboard. It seated firmly into the socket, and the cover—making the usual mildly concerning noises—came back down to hold it securely in place. Next up is the RAM. I opted for two 8GB sticks of G.Skill’s NT series DDR4-2133 RAM to run in dual-channel. So I opened up the sides of the second DIMM slot and pressed the first stick down until it clicked in on both sides. Then I grabbed the second stick, and did the same with the fourth DIMM slot. Last up for the pre-installing of motherboard components was the CPU cooler. So I first lined up its back plate, and slotted the screws through it. Next, I clicked the plastic sleeves onto the front. I applied a tiny little line segment of thermal paste, then lowered the cooler into place. All that remained was to tighten the screws into the back plate. I don’t have any footage of me installing the motherboard, and there’s a reason for that. I set it up to record nicely, but before I even began, I noticed it was going to be a tight fit. This is the other potential hazard of Corsair’s 100R that I encountered: its interior height is almost exactly the height of a standard PSU plus the length of an ATX motherboard. So I ended up having to remove the rear exhaust fans and the PSU, and then just carefully fiddle with the motherboard for a while until I got it on the standoffs, up against the I/O panel, and screwed in. When that was done and I got the removed components back in, it had been such a distracting hassle that I actually never got around to filming any of it. So anyway, onto the expansion slots. I removed two at first, for my graphics card, but I ended up removing three in total as one was occupied by the control panel for my NZXT LED cable. So, as I said before, I selected the 6GB of VRAM variant of Nvidia’s GTX 1060, with Asus as the manufacturer. I really feel Asus’ Dual line, with their simple black-and-white designs, make for some seriously good-looking graphics cards. And the wide support of Nvidia’s cards for applications that matter to me—like GPU rendering in Blender and GPU encoding in OBS—made my choice of card pretty straightforward. As for its installation, I had seen warnings online from other Corsair 100R builders saying that the graphics card was a sticking point in the build. But much like installing the CPU and CPU cooler, one of the more reportedly difficult parts of building a PC ended up going smooth as could be on my first attempt. Now, if I can only get the simple stuff like case fan installation to go that smooth in the future, I’ll be set. The cable of white LEDs came with adhesive cable holders so that I could install it all the way around the inside of my case with relative ease. This was a bit tedious, but I think in retrospect that I only felt that way because I was getting toward the end of the build. Those included adhesive clips were actually really effective and easy to work with, and they have unflaggingly served their purpose in the intervening months. Now for the real easy-mode part of the build: I honestly think it was more time-consuming to cut the carbon fiber wrap on just my hard drive than it was to install the hard drive and the solid state drive. Originally, I installed a 1TB storage HDD from Seagate and a 120GB boot SSD from Adata. A few months later, I installed a second hard drive, just to hold video footage and related assets. The drive sleds were easy (especially for the HDD, which was toolless), slotting the drive sleds into the cage was easy (of course), and routing the SATA power and SATA data cables was also easy. Just a leisurely process. So, at last, the pieces were all put together, and I could test the build. I pressed the power button and stepped back. After a tense couple of seconds, the computer successfully booted on its first try. The Gemsbok PC was alive and well, ready for the installation of its operating system. The last thing to do was to manage the unruly nest of cables that had amassed around and behind all of my parts. I gathered a pile of black and white wires and twist ties, and set to work attaching the cables to each other and the case. There is very little clearance for cable management in the 100R case, so I had to make some choices which were slightly messier simply in order to run as many cables as possible adjacent to each other rather than stacked. And that’s just so it would be possible to close the side panel of the case. And it was still a very tight fit. Luckily, all of those choices were in areas of the cable space which ended up being completely out-of-sight after reattaching the side panels. As the 100R lacks cable grommets, I ran all of my cables alongside and behind the case’s frame, wherever possible. Theoretically, this was the end of the build, but after attaching and installing all of my peripherals, there was a further nest of cables in, on, and around my desk. In addition to being cluttered, this didn’t seem particularly safe, attractive, or friendly to leg room. So I went ahead and did some cable management there as well, using the cable ties and adhesive cable holders that you might have noticed in the pile of miscellaneous parts toward the start of the video (as well as some masking tape) to attach the wires, power bricks, and even a large surge protector to the back and underside of my desk. Now, at last, my new PC was sealed and complete, with my overall workstation in full working order. Although the Gemsbok PC was fully operational and began seeing use as my primary machine after the events depicted in this video thus far, it reached its final form about four months later, after I installed two more parts: the first was a Pioneer optical drive for reading and writing CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray; the second was, as I mentioned a little earlier, an additional hard drive for storing videos and raw footage. The whole experience of researching, building, and setting up this PC was an amazing and interesting process. And so far, the Gemsbok PC has met or exceeded my expectations on all of those goals I set for it with regards to video editing, rendering, gaming, recording, and streaming. I would like to close by extending a thank you to the wide array of excellent PC hardware websites, YouTube channels, and forums that were instrumental in the research portion of this project— especially Logical Increments, PC Part Picker, /r/buildapc, Linus Tech Tips, Anandtech, and Tom’s Hardware. At the end of the day, I was inspired by such people to make this video, as my own small contribution to the body of resources available on the web for PC builders.

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