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In the past you had to work for NASA or IBM to catch a glimpse of a super computer, let alone own one. But these days, you can build one in an afternoon if you know what you are doing.
I love building high performance computers for myself and they typically cost the same or less than what you can find at your local stores. I've been doing this repeatedly for more than 20 years now and because of that, I decided to share my secrets with my fans. So if you found this article by accident, consider yourself lucky, because most computer geeks out there don't share their secrets, since they don't want others to have a computer that can beat them in benchmarks, gaming or sheer overclocking performance.
This guide is thorough, but you can jump around in it, if that makes you happy. It will be here for reference whenever you need it, so go ahead and make it a favorite by bookmarking it now before you forget. Although the first draft was written in August of 2015, the knowledge of how to find the perfect hardware for a computer build is timeless and perfected from 20 years of experience. My computers don't just set records, they last, and they don't crash, which is why my guide trumps the competition, who doesn't have the experience to build for longevity, as well as performance.
I'm writing this article for 3 sets of people.
1. The person who never built a single computer.
2. Someone who built at least 1 computer.
3. A geek who can build killer machines with the best of them, but doesn't have time to do the proper research for picking out the best components.
So in a nutshell, I'm writing this article for anyone who wants a FPS crushing, retail PC shaming, gaming and productivity rig that will make your friends head straight for Bestbuy, Newegg, or Amazon right after they're done drooling on your floor.
I grew up in the 80's and one of my favorite movies back then was War Games with Matthew Broderick. That's the one where he hacks into his high school to change his grades, then accidentally hacks into a US military supercomputer and almost starts a global thermal nuclear war! When I saw that movie, I knew right away that I needed to get a computer.
So when you're a 12 year old kid in need of a $2,000 rig back in the 80's you pull out all the tricks to convince your parents, and I was no different except for one thing. I went a step further and bought two 500 page MS-DOS and GW-Basic manuals from my local bookstore and read them both from cover to cover. Although those books were boring for most people, I was captivated buy them because I just kept thinking of all the possibilities the things I learned could unlock.
Long story short, my parents were amazed at my level of interest and took me to a local store on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington CT called Lechmere. And there I bought my first computer, a Packard Bell 286 with a 16 Mhz processor and a 16 megabyte hard drive and a VGA monitor. Yup, I was on cloud nine for years!
Well that was ages ago, since then I've built several high performance computers for myself and even introduced a few friends and family members into the "Build Your Own Computer Club'. What makes my computers light years ahead of most of the computers sold at retail stores, are the carefully researched parts which can unlock the hidden potential of the hardware if configured properly.
Alone those parts may not seem that special, but together in a single computer they're capable of helping you reach world class performance, which qualifies to me as a "Super Computer".
Researching computer parts is how my obsession with extensive research actually began. And now there's so much consumer data to read through thanks to Newegg, BestBuy, and Amazon customer reviews, you can practically predict the performance and reliability based on the average customer experience alone.
Well now you know that I had, have, and will continue to have a need to build a super computer every 4 years or so, depending on how my current needs are being met. Lately the 1080p videos I make for YouTube are demanding more raw horsepower than I currently have, but I'm working on a 2011 computer.
The thing about computer parts is that they change all the time, and even multiple times a year. If you haven't done the research in awhile, chances are you will have no idea what a good computer is anymore. That's why this article not only lists the parts you should buy, but it will also provide alternatives for different price points and needs, as well as the methodology I used so that you can build a super computer in the year 2019 using the same principals you'll find here.
I've been on both sides of the fence before, hell I even used the graphite in my pencil to bridge a connection on my old AMD Athlon that allowed me to overclock the hell out of that CPU. But these days, you're better off choosing an Intel CPU because they run cooler, overclock like crazy, and you simply can't beat them.
Overclocking is like slapping on a supercharger on a Mustang. But just like a supercharger causes the engine to run hotter which requires you to buy an intercooler too. An overclocked computer runs hotter as well, which requires upgraded air cooling or even liquid cooling of the CPU and sometimes other components depending on how crazy your trying to get with extracting performance out of your computer parts.
Overclocking is the reason my computers have always outperformed anything you can buy from Dell, Apple, Gateway, and HP. These days most Intel computers come with 2 speeds; a base clock speed and a turbo boost clock speed. The turbo boost is just another way to say overclocked speed, but I'm assuming Intel wanted to shy away from the word overclock to demystify the benefit and also separate itself from the negative side of overclocking which is part failure.
Safe overclocking is done basically by every Intel CPU with turbo boost technology these days, meaning your computer will be an average computer.
Extreme Overclocking is not for most people because it requires a lot more money and you take on a lot more risk. Today extreme overclocking is done with liquid nitrogen cooling! Yep, there's even competitions around the world where the best overclockers' gather to see what the guru's can push their computers to, while maintaining a useable and burn-in tested system. I'll post some of my favorite YouTube links below.
Enthusiast overclocking, that's what I aim for with my Super Computer Build. To me enthusiast grade overclocking is for people that want next years computer performance today, without having to worry about computer crashes, and things breaking. Although if you have any computer, you already know that sometimes things break and that's all there's too it, it could be from a bad batch, or the FedEx guy tripped and dropped a package at some point during the journey from the manufacturer to retail store, to your hands.
The Super Computer I'm building for this project is composed of cherry picked high end parts, that I went through the agony of reading the positive and negative reviews about, after I read tons of articles reviewing the parts, and looking at all the benchmarks. As always there's a lot of choices, so I'll include the other part numbers I was considering and why I chose not to go with it.
1. Look for parts with a large amount of reviews, 100+ if possible.
2. Read positive and negative reviews on multiple sites, to get the nitty gritty details about ownership.
3. Research writeups, reviews, comparisons, and benchmarks for each component you're interested in.
4. Make a list. Sometimes researching one part can lead you into buying a different brand, type based on what you learn.
In a nutshell, the procedure above is what I used to find the parts I chose for my Super Computer Build, you can use the alternative parts I mentioned or use my methodology to find your own.
Onto The Build!
Choosing from 3 Different Platforms: LGA 1151 Inel Z170, LGA 1150 Intel Z97, LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99
New Intel Z170 Platform, Great for Gamers
The new kid on the block is the Intel Z170 platform. It literally just came out, but the benchmarks I've seen didn't convince me that this is the winning platform for me. If you're looking for a gaming machine, the Intel Z170 platform might be a good option, but it will be at least 1 year before the data is in from consumers and reviewers about which parts are good, which break prematurely, and which parts are nothing but problems. If you're looking for to build a super gaming pc that's tried and true, keep reading.
The primary reason I didn't go with this option is that I opted for a 6 core CPU because it will help me with on the video editing end when I make my YouTube videos. BTW: I will be making a Super Computer Tutorial from this build, which I hope to release soon.
Tried and True Performer: Intel Z97 Chipset
I have to admit choosing between the famous Z97 chipset and the X99 chipset was a difficult option for me. Why? You could build a killer super computer using this chipset and it will cost you $200 to $300 cheaper than a the X99 chipset, but you're missing out on some newer technologies like USB 3.1, M.2 support which gives you insane speed SSD drives, and the latest SATA technologies as well. I personally wanted support of the ultra M.2 controller because a super fast hard drive in the future can give me a nice upgrade option when I get bored of my Super Computer performance and I reached my overclock maximum comfort limit.
The Ultimate Productivity & Upgradability X99 Chipset
I chose the X99 chipset after weighing all my options. I thought about how long I will have this computer for, what type of work I’ll be doing on it, and how I would like to upgrade it if, if the performance doesn’t suit me in the future. The X99 chipset is known as the enthusiast level chipset because it allows for Intel’s newest extreme edition processors, although I personally went for the i7 5820k CPU.
How The Results From Overclocking Would Benefit A User Using My Build
25% faster encoding using video editing software like Adobe Premiere, Handbrake, or Cyberlink Powerdirector
30% improvement in software benchmarks over stock CPU's in software like Cineabench
3DMark Firestrike only a 2% increase. In gaming don't expect a lot of improvement unless the game depends on CPU processing. For a pure gaming rig, I would go for the slightly cheaper z97 chipset and spend more on a video card, because CPU’s are no longer bottlenecks.
Here are all the components I used to build my latest record breaking rig. I already had several components that I reused from my previous build to save costs. The RED link items are the carry-over parts and the new parts are in BLACK.
|Storage 1 OS||$135.49|
|Storage 2||Intel 520 Series Cherryville 120GB 2.5" Solid State Drive||$108.00|
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro OEM (64-bit) upgrade from Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit
BTW: These links go to Amazon as I'm an affiliate. Don't worry you'll still pay Amazon's low prices, they pay me a small finder fee from their end if you happen to buy computer parts from them like I do.
Hi, thanks for reading. I just built my computer and plan on updating this article with photos, videos, and lessons learned from my build. I actually had a hardware problem from the start, but Newegg was really great about helping me. The unexpected problem delayed things a bit, but I’m excited to share how I troubleshooted my motherboard problems and convinced Newegg to send me a brand new motherboard instead of dealing with the warranties and manufacturers. Stay tuned!
P.S. I hope there wasn’t a ton of typo’s in the post, but I will revise it once I make the final edits. Don’t forget to stop by or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube for updates.