I moved to Panama from California about fours years ago. My old HP laptop served me well for the first couple years, but when the battery died, it was time for a new computer. So I spent two or three days shopping around the local shops looking for a decent computer. I found a Dell all-in-one that looked pretty good, so I bought it. Unfortunately, I didn't know much about computer specifications, so I basically ended up with a 24" desktop version of my 2009 laptop...(DOH!). Fast forward to June 2014, (a few days after the one year warranty expired lol..) then, "BOOM!" Normally thunder follows lightning. Not this time. As I gradually became aware that I was not dead, I slowly uncurled from the fetal position that I had spontaneously snapped into. After a few a minutes, the power was restored and I was able to confirm that the lightning had struck about 30 meters in front of me. Fortunately no one was injured, but sadly, my router, several compact fluorescent bulbs, and my Dell were dead. Thankfully, I had ordered a replacement battery from Amazon a few weeks earlier, so the old HP was good to go and I was able to start searching for a new computer.
I have been wanting to build my own computer for a long time. If you're reading this, you know what I'm talking about: You don't want a some silly little iCrap tablet, you want a high speed, 48.5 GHz CPU, nitrogen cooled, 1200 FPS, 64GB RAM, 16TB SSD, "MACHINE OF TOTAL DESTRUCTION!!!". (Sure, we may only ever use it for spreadsheets, email, and ****, but we all want an overpowered rig!) Well, all of that went out the window when I realized my budget was only $500. So I started researching and saving. The hardest part was the realization that I wouldn't be able to order all the parts from Amazon or Newegg, because of the shipping restrictions and costs. I spent a lot time comparing prices and reading reviews.
Long story short; I decided to buy all my parts here in Panama, "sight-unseen" from, "http://www.yoytec.com/index.php/cPath/26" All the parts arrived together, and were very well packaged. Everything arrived in perfect condition, exactly as ordered.
Although I was super excited to finally have all those amazing boxes in front of me, I took a deep breath and carefully examined each one. Almost like magic, they began to come together. Maybe because I had been dreaming about this moment for so long, or maybe because it was just so damn easy, the next thing I knew, it was done. I checked the time, it had taken six hours. For some reason I felt like Dr. Frankenstein. The only thing left to do was press the start button. What if it doesn't start? What if you have a crossed wire or bad connection? What if everything you have worked so hard for, and saved for, goes up in smoke from a single careless press of a button? Sounds stupid, but it took me two hours to press that button...
At first, nothing happened. Then the mouse lit up, followed by the gentle hum of the intake and CPU fans. The monitor flashed a couple times and asked for a disk. I loaded the Windows disk and after some basic configuration, everything has been working perfectly ever since.
CPU: Intel Core i3-4160 3.6GHz Dual-Core- Very fast with integrated graphics. Well priced and very energy efficient (50 watts max). Only downside is that it runs very hot, (80C) at 100% load with the stock heatsink.
MOBO: Gigabyte GA-H97N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA 1150- Love it! Tons of USB ports, 2 ethernet connections, very strong WIFI, lots of audio jacks, allows for plenty of upgrades, and very easy to install. Highly recommended.
RAM: Kingston Fury Series 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600- Looks good, works as it should. Recommended.
SSD: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5" Solid State Drive- Awesome! Zero to Google in under 30 seconds! (Note: It takes me 10 seconds to type my password lol.) It's fast. Very highly recommended!
GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB- Very impressive little card. Good price and very efficient, (60 watts @ 65C max). Gets it's power from the PCI slot, so no extra cables. Runs 1080p videos flawlessly. Tera plays @30-60 FPS on max settings smoothly.
CASE: Cooler Master Elite 130 Mini ITX Tower Case- Love it! Great quality, good price, very easy to work with, excellent airflow. Highly recommended!
PSU: Thermaltake 550W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply- Semi-solid gold! More than enough extra cables provided for a MINI-ITX build. Only a minor complaint; some of the non-modular cables were not exactly "inline" with their connectors, so it was impossible to run some of the cables without twists in line. Recommended.
OPTICAL DRIVE: Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer- Loaded Windows quickly without any problems...I'll probably never use it again.
OS: Microsoft Windows 8.1 en Español, 64-Bit, DVD, OEM- I read the negative reviews, my friends told me stay away from it... but like a moth to a flame, I thought, "How bad could it be?".....Well, they were right; it absolutely sucks for a PC. I loaded "http://www.classicshell.net/downloads/" and it works fine, but Windows 8 is easily the worst, most overpriced product I have ever bought in my life.
Monitor: Asus VE248H 24.0" Monitor- Slightly better than average (?). After spending a few hours adjusting the settings, it looks decent and it works fine, but I wish I had spent a bit more for an ISP.
Keyboard and Mouse (combo en Español): Cooler Master CM Storm Devastator- Good price, looks great, plug and play, feels good and solid, very responsive, and no batteries required. Cons: The letters on the keyboard are almost impossible to see without the backlight. The backlight does not come on automatically when you start your system, so you have to hit the "SCR LK" button. The mouse light NEVER goes off! (unless you turn off the power to your rig.) Overall, I like the mouse. The two side thumb buttons are great for gaming and browsing, and I like the full sized keyboard. If Cooler Master made the letters more visible and fixed the lighting issues, this would be a really great product.
Surge Arrester: Seems like a very good quality power strip. (I lost two routers and a PC last year due to lightning strikes, so we shall see...)
Webcam: Works fine for basic Skype but, "...this is not the webcam you are looking for...move along..."
Overall, I'm very happy with my first build. It cost a lot more than I expected ($1373.99 including tax), but the satisfaction of actually building it is priceless. I really enjoyed learning about all the different components and how they work together. I knew it would improve general performance, but the advantage in games is incredible! (I only play Tera at the moment). For general use, browsing, streaming, Skype, etc, this build works extremely well. I don't really plan on any upgrades, but in a year or two when prices come down a bit, I might get an i-5 or i-7 with water cooling and a R9 280/290.
Anyway, special thanks to the developers and contributors of PC Partpicker. You guys are awesome! I could not/would not, have been able to do this without you. I love reading all the comments, so please rate and let me know what you guys think. Saludos