My second PC build project, and some problems I encountered with it

So, because I had to sell my old gaming PC last year due to me needing a brand new laptop for college, I couldn’t enjoy PC gaming for quite a while. I wasn’t able to build a new one because I always run out of cash at the end of the month, and student loans don’t exist here. However, since I now have a university break for three months, that changed and I was able to rack up around 300 bucks to build a PC.

Problem is, as with my old PC build, I encountered some PROBLEMS when trying to build it! Before we go onto that, let’s have a look at the setup:

PCPartPicker Part List

Type Item Price
CPU Cooler Deepcool - GAMMAXX 400 74.34 CFM CPU Cooler $24.30
Thermal Compound ARCTIC - MX4 4 g Thermal Paste $7.00
Motherboard Gigabyte - GA-X58A-UD3R ATX LGA1366 Motherboard $90.00
Memory Kingston - HyperX Fury Blue 8 GB (1 x 8 GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $26.80
Storage Western Digital - AV-GP 160 GB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive (*actually 7200RPM) $0.00
Storage Western Digital - Blue 2 TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive $0.00
Video Card Gigabyte - Radeon RX 570 4 GB Gaming 4G Video Card $119.99 @ Newegg
Power Supply Corsair - VS 550 W 80+ Certified ATX Power Supply $31.70
Custom Intel Xeon X5650 Processor 2.66 GHz 12 MB Cache Socket LGA1366
Custom Lenovo D186WA 1366x768 $0.00
Custom Prebuilt ATX Case $0.00
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total (before mail-in rebates) $319.79
Mail-in rebates -$20.00
Total $299.79
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-06-06 16:27 EDT-0400

Some notes about the “free” items:

Now, let’s talk about why I picked these components. The first thing is the CPU and the motherboard. If you’re wondering why the hell I chose an old X58 platform with a Xeon on it, it’s because these X58 Xeons are so dirt cheap they actually deliver a better price-performance than even the current-gen Ryzen 2200G. The only problem I had was choosing the motherboard. As you might know, X58 boards are quite expensive even today due to high demand driven by these cheap Xeons, which could make them not worth the effort. However, I was lucky enough to find this dude selling a Gigabyte X58 motherboard bundled with an i7-920 (which I could sell later on) for only $100, so I bought that (which is why I put $90 on the PCPP price). Other sellers put too high price tags for this old platform, and they don’t even include a CPU, so I wasn’t too interested.

I was considering a Ryzen 2200G build instead, because they’re much newer, but the problem is, they’re more expensive due to the CPU (which costs around $100 here), so even if the motherboard is at the same price and brand new, I still wouldn’t be able to afford a decent cheap GPU due to the severely limited budget, not to mention it only has 4 cores with no SMT. I also considered a Haswell build too, which is still quite usable, but those CPUs are still way too damn expensive here, even the used ones; a 4770K/4790K still costs around $200 or so and the Xeon E3-1231/1230 v3 I’ve always wanted to buy costs roughly the same despite not being overclockable.

There were some problems when building this rig. After I assembled the whole thing, the PC WOULDN’T boot! I was quite concerned about this because almost all the parts I bought are used, so there’s no way in hell I could do an RMA or something similar to that and returning these parts weren’t an option. Turns out I had to reinstall the bundled i7 CPU in it and update the BIOS first to make it compatible with these Xeons, which wasn’t really fun since I’m kinda wasting my thermal paste here. The last BIOS revision for the motherboard is F8a, which is a beta BIOS that was never finished, and the only one that supports VT-D (need that for GPU passthrough for Linux gaming), while the one on the board is F2.

Another problem is that the Gammaxx 400 I bought was the Chinese version (instead of the international one) that only supports LGA775 and LGA115x CPUs and has this weird ring mounting system, which is supposedly used for AMD coolers, that won’t fit on LGA1366. I’ve got an LGA1366 mounting kit that looks similar to it but the latches simply wouldn’t lock into place, probably because it was designed for a different cooler brand. This is probably what causes the horrible temps when the CPU is overclocked. I could only hit a stable 3.6GHz after some voltage adjustments when it’s supposed to be able to reach like 4GHz (I know Hyper 212 Evos can do this looking at different forums discussing X58 Xeons, and they perform similarly). Not only that, the fans are also stuck at 100% even when idle. I had to set up Speedfan just to make it shut up and crank up the fan only when it hits 60 degrees. This kinda solved the problem at least.

The 3.6GHz overclock is currently stable but it initially wasn’t, and the reason was admittedly pretty dumb. The case has a terrible airflow and I didn’t buy a case fan since I thought I could just do that later, so the only fan in the system is the CPU cooler fan. Because of this, running Prime95’s small FFT test always resulted in the CPU overheating after a couple of minutes because it suffocated from the lack of airflow. I initially thought it was because Prime95 is a bad stress testing utility since it puts insanely unrealistic load on the system and that I should use something else instead, so I tried an hour of AIDA64 stability test, two hours of IntelBurnTest, and eight hours of Realbench. They all passed, albeit with temperatures reaching the high 80s after a few hours.

I only realized the poor airflow was the culprit because the fans kept running at 100% even when idle. Because I spent most of my budget on the GPU and motherboard, I couldn’t get a decent case fan for now. The one that came with the prebuilt was way too loud, probably because the PWM control didn’t function as there’s no other fan headers that have PWM other than the CPU fan, so I decided to do the most ridiculous thing: jerry-rigging the stock CPU cooler. You see, the motherboard seller also included an Intel stock cooler for the bundled i7, but it’s so shitty the plastic pins snapped off when I tried to use it before I got that mounting adapter for the Deepcool cooler. Instead of throwing it away, I decided to remove the plastic legs so I could mount it on the back of the case, and it worked! The CPU runs 10 degrees cooler now, and Prime95’s small FFT test no longer overheats it, topping off at 88C. It also runs cooler during the less intensive stress tests, only reaching the high 70s most of the time. It just really shows how running a PC without any case fans is a horrible idea. Hell, I could even knock down 5C more if I have some intake fans at the front, after some airflow tests using a desk fan and Prime95.