March 19, 2017 @ 8:16 am
Official (updated) z609 PC Specifications

Hello there! You are probably here because you are interested in the specifications of my personal computer that I use on the daily for a variety of tasks, or because this is on the homepage and you happened to scroll by it. Regardless of the circumstances in the reasoning behind your viewing of this article, this is the officialupdated list of the components that are currently in my system, as well as any peripherals that I use.

Let’s get started!

  1. The Processor.
    The CPU as well as many of my other components in my system have remained the same since my last update, but there have been some slight modifications to the entire system. Otherwise, the processor remains the same: a quad-core Intel Core i5-4440 clocked at 3.1 GHz w/ 6MB of L3 cache, with the ability to TurboBoost up to 3.3 GHz when it is deemed necessary by the host. It unfortunately lacks Hyper-Threading, which I would have loved to see from a chip that cost almost $200 when it was originally purchased. I could have spent the extra $20 or so to get the 4690k, which is probably one of the most notable i5 processors in the Haswell generation. And you’ll see why I really wished I had gotten it then and not this current processor in the motherboard section.Regardless of my stupid complaints about my idiocy in my choice of components, the processor is perfectly fine and has held up for the past year and has done extremely well in almost all of the tasks.
    Light gaming like Minecraft, to heavy gaming playing Grand Theft Auto V, to emulation of other operating system in VMware virtual machines, to video rendering jobs, this processor is able to keep up with all of that. Although the Haswell generation is slightly out of date and in some cases is even considered too old, it’s perfectly fine for my work-load. Unfortunately, it is starting to show its age, especially with the lack of hyper-threading and certain advanced tasks like overclocking when most AMD processors at the time had this feature. And considering that NewEgg appears to be out of stock of this chip and the fact that it says “may or may not be restocked” really doesn’t show good signs for the age of this processor.
    Would I upgrade this component? It depends on what I would upgrade to. The motherboard (talked about below) is only capable of LGA 1150 processors, so upgrading to Skylake or higher would be impossible without getting a new motherboard. And I would not upgrade to the 4690k if given the choice because the performance difference is not enough to justify the $220 I would spend just to upgrade. If given a choice, I would only really upgrade to at least an i7-4770k or the i7-4930k.
  2. The Motherboard.
    The motherboard choice, although appearing stupid for having a locked processor (mentioned above), is actually somewhat justified considering what I was specifically looking for: A motherboard that had at least 4 stars on NewEgg, full ATX, good/decent features, LGA 1150 socket, and under $90. I ended up with an MSi z97 PC MATE. Yes, this motherboard is made specifically for overclocking and advanced features. Yes, this motherboard does NOT have SLI support, but DOES have CrossFire support. But, yes, this board is awesome. You think I may be getting ahead of myself by saying this, but keep in mind that the computers I used before this were either a crappy HP laptop or a modded eMachines W3609 with an LGA 775 Core 2 Duo-e6700 chip. This compared to the ugly standard BIOS on both of those computers were LEAPS AND BOUNDS worse compared to the UEFI BIOS that comes with the z97 MATE.Now, let me re-iterate the choice behind this. I wanted to ensure I would get a quality product, so I looked at the reviews on NewEgg. A lot of 5-egg reviews, but some amounts of lower ratings brought the average rating to a 4-egg average rating. The reason most of these people rated it negatively was apparently because it either:
    – A) Arrived DOA
    – B) Died after a couple months
    – C) Someone who was pissed off about something MSi had no control over
    Obviously, none of these things happened to me, and I am a pretty happy camper with this motherboard. The next thing I looked at was features. As I look at the I/O panel on the back of my machine, I see:
    – 1) PS/2 keyboard/mouse support
    – 2) 4 USB 2.0 ports
    – 3) 2 USB 3.0 ports
    – 4) HDMI, DVI, and VGA/D-SUB outputs for displays
    – 5) 3-port generic audio set-up
    These are all of the features I needed, and I didn’t even really need number 4. I wanted a decent amount of I/O because I almost consider myself a power user, and not to mention I also have a 4-port USB hub (which is full), the whole motherboard full of plugged in devices, and two devices connected to USB in the front, bringing it to a total of 11 ports being used (not including the port used for the USB hub). 
    Another thing I looked at was the actual size of the motherboard. I wanted it to be full ATX because I don’t like that small Micro-ATX crap. I wanted something big so that I had enough room to work on the motherboard without struggling. It’s also obvious that the bigger the board, the more chance it has more expansion slots for future…well..expansion.
    The last thing that I looked for was price. Coming up with a full ATX board for under $90 alone is already hard enough to do without sacrificing user experience, I/O, etc. One thing led to another, and I ended up with a z-series board, making my processor look slightly underpowered for the motherboard of choice. Had I known the specifics of the board series at the time, I would have probably gone with a slightly better processor to pair with the motherboard, but unfortunately it’s a little too late to fix that now, at least until I find work to upgrade it.
  3. The Memory. The RAM was a pretty easy choice. I set the base for 8 GB and at least 1600 MHz, the maximum supported memory clock-speed for the motherboard without an overclock. I settled upon a 4×2 GB kit of Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 memory, in red from Amazon. I’ve never had a single terrible or otherwise bad experience with Kingston memory, so I trusted them and still trust them to this day to make quality products. Not to mention that the price was unbeatable: $37 for an 8GB kit was unbelievable compared to the other 4×2 GB kits available from other brands. However, after a couple of months of use, I started finding myself wanting more memory: An upgrade to 16 GB. I was actually told I should get the 8×2 GB kit, but didn’t think about it simply because I didn’t imagine I would ever use nearly that amount (as my previous HP laptop rarely  used 5 out of the 8 GB made available to it). And now that it’s been a year since the PC was made and the price was $37, the price has gone up by $30: It’s now $65.Regardless of the ridiculous price of this set of memory now (especially when DDR4 is now mainstream on both Intel Skylake/Kaby Lake and AMD Ryzen processors and motherboards), the memory has never failed me at all. In fact, I recently overclocked the memory to 1866 MHz so I can squeeze as much performance out of it as much as possible. No complaints here!
  4. The Video Card.
    The graphics card was a match-up between the Gigabyte R9 380 Gaming G1 4GB model and any GeForce GTX 960 w/ 4GB. According to several sources, which I cannot recall now, the R9 380 had slightly better performance than the 960 in certain areas, so that’s what made me go with this choice. Had I probably spent a little less on the motherboard because of the processor I had chose, I could have spent an extra $30-50 on a slightly better graphics card. Turns out the R9 380, while a pretty good card for its price point at the time ($210 on NewEgg), it was actually not very popular and seen as useless when it was simply a re-branded product of the R9 285, and because the R9 380 was also underpowered compared to its slightly bigger brother: The R9 380X. And, unfortunately for me, the RX 480 (which is now around the same price) would come out only 6 months later. What a sad turn of events for this little guy.Either way, regardless of my terrible luck, the card is still perfectly fine for what I want it to do, and that’s all that really matters. It’s able to play most of the games that I want to play, and it’s able to do what I want it to do. That’s all that counts right?
  5. The Hard Drive.
    I know, I know…go solid state. Well, at the time, I deemed it un-necessary considering that I mostly wanted mass storage, and SSD’s at the time cost the same price as a 1TB 7200-rpm hard drive. I would rather have more space than speed, especially when the budget deems it necessary. I ended up with a pretty predictable hard drive: a 1TB Western Digital Blue 7200 rpm drive. It’s been rock solid since day one, and I actually have owned a previous Western Digital drive: a WD Caviar SE 120GB that has been in another computer for over 10 years. It has not failed yet, although it is probably right around the corner considering its age. Would I upgrade to solid state in the future? Hell yeah. Unfortunately, it most likely will not be until I get a whole new system because of the fact that my system is so wrapped around that WD Blue.
  6. The Power Supply.
    The power supply was a pretty weak choice looking back, as I could have definitely gone with a more efficient choice. I ended up with an 80+ EVGA 500-watt power supply (the actual model is the 100-W1-0500-KR). It is an 80+ power supply, meaning it’s not as efficient or reliable as an 80+ bronze, gold, platinum, etc. However, it has held up over the past year, so I guess EVGA is pretty good at making these things. I’ve actually never heard of EVGA even making power supplies, but I guess that they’ve established themselves as being part of this process with how well this power supply as held up. The price when it was purchased was (I believe) $32-40, which was actually one of the main reasons for its purchase. And, before you say “it wasn’t worth it”…well, Amazon made a shipping error, and instead of sending us 1 unit, they sent us 6 in an OEM-labelled box. Hooray! I have $240 worth of power supplies! (2 already sold, if you’re interested please contact me and I’ll sell for $5 off Amazon price)
  7. The Case.
    Since the case isn’t really a huge factor in the performance of your PC (hell, I could’ve gotten a Micro-ATX motherboard and shoved my components in an eMachines case for all I care), I went with a rather cheap option because I didn’t think it really mattered. I ended up with a Rosewill Galaxy-01. The case looked…decent, and it’s perfectly fine. It also has 2 built-in fans (one in the front and one in the back) and a dust filter for the bottom-mounted power supply, so it’s actually not too bad. However, I’m starting to see where the compromises are. The case lacks sufficient cable management options, and routing cables behind the back side panel was a nightmare as it was hard to get that side panel back on with all of them there. The other thing that really pissed me off was the quality of the front panel connectors. Within 9 months, the front panel headphone connector had stopped working correctly with everything that was plugged into it. I ended up having to get some cheap-ass $10 Chinese USB audio adapter from Walmart with regular “CD Quality” in Windows audio settings (which has already proven more reliable than my case, go figure). Also, another thing that I wished they could have done better was the layout of the front panel buttons and interfaces. The power button is on the top, to the left of a USB 3.0 port…the only USB 3.0 port on that case. To the left of the power button is a capped-off area FOR a USB 3.0 port, but it’s not there. Otherwise, it’s perfectly fine. Some people claimed that when screwing in their motherboard, that the metal would bend or something or that it was easy to do that. I did NOT experience this issue.
  8. Operating System.
    Currently running Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (64-bit). There was no hesitation in this choice. When I first built it, however, I actually had the Enterprise edition.
  9. Monitors.
    I currently own two Acer S220HQL Abd 21.5″ 1080p 60-hertz 5ms monitors. Let me tell you: These things are amazing for the prize. I haven’t had any issues with my first one, so after about 8 months of having bought my first one I finally adopted a dual-monitor set-up, something that I was in need of for the longest time considering my work-load. Not only are they pretty specced out for their price point, they also have a native 1080p resolution, a decent 60hz which is perfectly fine for some gaming, but not ideal for games like CS:GO and other FPS games that require the highest framerate in the galaxy. Overall, these monitors are a 5/5 for me, absolutely no complaints. In fact, I usually recommend these to people when they are looking for a decent 1080p panel.
  10. Wi-Fi Card.
    Woo-hoo, z. Way to go. You make a pretty decent gaming PC and get a f*cking wi-fi card. Well, first of all: Chill out. My PC is pretty far away from my wireless LAN router (about 15 feet or so). I don’t have a 15-ft. Ethernet cable just laying around. In fact, a more justifiable reason is the fact that my wireless router was originally located 3 rooms away, essentially forcing me to use Wi-Fi if I didn’t have a 50-ft. cat5e/cat6 cable. So stop your nagging.
    Now, the actual product I chose was the Asus PCE-N15. It is a pretty decent 2.4GHz wi-fi card for $25, that uses a PCIE x1 slot in your motherboard. I wished it was 5GHz so I could take advantage of speed, but it wouldn’t make much of a difference considering I’m already hitting my max-allocated bandwidth from my ISP anyway (75-90 mbps up and down). The only problem is the fact that I’m continuously getting disconnected from my network, probably because of an outdated driver. I have been disconnected from the Internet at least 4 times throughout the laborious process of writing this. After I update my drivers, I will report back with my findings. Until then, I’m just pissed off.
  11. Webcam/Microphone.
    The webcam I’m currently using (that doubles as a microphone) is the Logitech HD c270. It is a decent, clunky-looking web-cam that I got off Walmart for $20. The microphone is pretty fine (that’s all I really use it for), but it picks up more background noise than I’d like it to. And, recently, I noticed that the webcam part of the actual product isn’t even working, showing a black screen in every program I try to use it with. I have updated the drivers, and it’s still not working, so until that part is fixed, I’m not completely satisfied.
  12. The Optical Drive.
    Wow, z! Way to go with outdated technology!
    Me: No. Just no. CD’s and DVD’s are probably the most notable form of storage for software available. The current optical drive I have (the LG GH24NSC0B) has served me well. It has installed Windows several times. It has burned tens of DVD’s. It has installed the whole 7-disc Grand Theft Auto V disc-set 4 times. And it’s speeds are pretty good. If you want a nice DVD drive to install Windows and any DVD games, this is it. And you don’t have to spend a fortune, either, as it’s only $20.
  13. The Keyboard and Mouse.
    I decided to bundle the keyboard and mouse into one bullet-point because of the fact the mouse is not phenomenal. It’s an HP MODGUO from 2007-2008 era. It’s served me well, and is pretty durable, especially during my raging after LukeLovesCandy kills me in a game of Minecraft. It was cheap back then, and it’s cheap now. You can probably find it on NewEgg or Amazon for $10.
    The keyboard, on the other hand, is a different story. I own a Cooler Master Storm QuickFire TK with Cherry MX Reds. I’ve never owned a mechanical keyboard before this purchase, but I have to say that it is amazing. There is definitely a notable difference between membrane and mechanical keyboards, especially when you spend over $70 on a mechanical keyboard. While it does feature a num-pad, it’s design is made to be for small desks or to be compact, as it fuses that num-pad with the directional keys and the insert/delete/home/end/pg. up/pg. down keys. I don’t have anything to complain about it as I knew about this well before I made the decision to purchase it, but for what it’s worth I have nothing to complain about. Rock on, CM!
  14. Windows XP.
    Hold, on. I bet you didn’t expect to see something like this on this list of all things. Of all things holy, do not b*tch about my reasoning behind this bullet point. I do have a copy of Windows XP Professional x64 Edition SP2 on that WD Caviar SE drive, paired alongside an ATI Radeon HD 2400 Pro in my second PCIe lane. I also have some random Dell monitor that’s connected to that ATI card. All of this gives me the power to run Windows XP with 8 GB of RAM on a modern processor in a cheapo graphics card, at the expense of, what? Well, $20. The monitor was free, the XP copy is pirated, the graphics card was $20, and the rest of the parts I already own for my copy of Windows 7. So, what’s there to lose? Nothing except space in my computing area of my room but who cares? I can run older games if I wanted to, so…there’s no problem. Plus, I also have always wanted to run Windows XP on modern hardware (especially after owning a cheap Asus Eee PC 1000H with Windows XP Home Edition on an Intel Atom n270 for 2 years). So, woo-hoo!

I guess that’s it. Those are my updated PC specs, and I hope you found them useful. If I were to give an overall rating of this entire PC and it’s spec-sheet, I would say it’s a good 4/5. If you were to build this machine for the same total price (total is probably $1100-1200), then I would probably either get a better processor for the motherboard, or a lower-priced motherboard for the processor. And obviously update to Skylake or higher. And get an RX 480. Okay, just make a whole new part list, this is a Q4 2015 budget build, so chill out.

And also, be sure to check out my new Grand Theft Auto V play-through series!


Thank you, all! 🙂

~ z

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