I just finished a new custom build for work... for me! I've been spec'ing out Dells and HPs for our office for many years, but the OEM selections to choose from have just gotten worse and worse. My current Dell workstation has an aftermarket graphic card, PSU, SSD and RAM... at that stage, there's not much point in even ordering from Dell or HP. I'd order a BOXX in a heartbeat if they weren't *insanely* expensive. There are lots of little custom build shops, but if I'm going that route, I might as well do it myself, save some money, and have a little fun. It's been a few years since I've had a chance to roll my own. I thought I'd share for anyone who might be interested in building their own but doesn't know where to start.
(all prices in US$ @ Newegg; some items were on sale)
CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz (Haswell) ($340)
CPU Heatsink/Fan: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO ($35)
Motherboard: Asus Z87M-Plus (micro-ATX) ($140)
RAM: Crucial 16GB (2 x 8GB kit) - DDR3 1600MHz ($115)
Graphic Card: MSI N760 (TF 2GD5/OC) GeForce GTX 760 2GB ($260)
SSD: Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SATA3 ($340)
DVD: Asus 24X DVD Burner ($20)
Case: Fractal Arc-Mini ($50)
PSU: Corsair HX 750 750W ATX ($100)
MS Windows 7 Pro x64 OEM ($140)
A few notes about components:
First, I like to buy only reputable, quality parts. Saving a couple hundred bucks on a build at the expense of reliability and/or convenience doesn't make business sense to me.
This 4770K-based system is nice and fast. RFO Revit 2014 Benchmark: Model creation @ 127.3 / Rendering @ 187.6 at default settings; Push Button OC to 4.3GHz: 120.5/171.7. Boots to Windows login screen in 17 seconds flat. I briefly considered going with the new Ivy Bridge-E, but I don't really need six cores (I don't do much rendering), and I don't need the PCIe bandwidth (multiple graphic cards).
The CM Hyper 212 EVO is an extremely popular HSF, which frankly is mainly why I bought it... it's recommended as the "goto" HSF when you really don't want to spend a lot of time researching all the options. I'm unsure whether it's really worth it over the stock cooler since I have no plans to OC, but it's very quiet and seems to keep the CPU cool during those long rendering sessions. It can also handle a mild OC.
I spent way too much time going around in circles on the motherboard... I've always been a fan of Intel - not the fastest or feature-rich MBs around, but always rock solid with great driver support. Unfortunately, Intel is transitioning out of the MB business, and their most recent offerings seem rather underwhelming. I turned to Asus, which has always been a favorite. Like most of the motherboard suppliers, the "support" (drivers, documentation, etc.) is kind of inconsistent, but they're known for very good quality stable boards. I wanted the "performance" oriented Z87 chipset and I wanted a mATX form factor... they have several lines, but their mainstream Z87 comes in only a single mATX model - the Z87M-Plus. I debated between that and their "TUF" Z87 mATX board, but the over-the-top silliness in military "TUF" branding is marketing 101 in how to turn off professional users, IMHO. Their ROG series is clearly aimed at hardcore OC gamers, so in the end, I stuck with the Z87M-Plus. For those interested in overclocking, this board features "push button" OC - install the Asus utility software, click a button, reboot, and your system is running at 4.3GHz instead of the Intel specification maximum of 3.9GHz (I have no idea how "safe" this is for system longevity and reliability; after trying it out, I reset my system back to factory settings).
I was all set to get the 1866MHz G.Skill RAM, but there was a deal on the Crucial 1600 MHz at the last minute, and since I really have no plans to do any "serious" OC, the 1866 would just be a waste of money (when paired with this CPU). Normally, the price of 1600 and 1866 is pretty close, so it doesn't hurt to get the 1866.
I've purchased a few MSI graphic cards in the last few years, and they've all been great, so I hope my luck continues. The GTX 760 is the current sweet spot for the desktop workstation. This particular model also had good reviews, so that sealed the deal.
The SSD was the only component I didn't have to think twice about - the Samsung 840 EVO is widely considered the current champ on performance/value. I don't really need 500GB on a daily basis, but as the IT guy by default, I occasionally need extra space for deployments, emergency backups, etc. The SSD prices are getting to the point where you can make do without any hard drive, unless you have massive personal storage needs. I think the ~240GB SSDs are still a safe bet for the typical office workstation feeding off a network server.
I so much wanted to nix the DVD drive, but for the Windows install, and that once-a-year occasion, it would be a pain not to have it (it's not even the $20, it's just that I like to remove as many moving parts as possible )
I was looking for a case that was "professional" looking, on the smaller end of mid-tower sized, and easy to work on. This fit the bill well enough. Build quality is pretty good (I'd bump that up to "excellent" for this price range), comes with three relatively quiet fans (and an exterior manual fan contro11er dial). Good cable management and airflow. Really, my only complaint was that the "thumb" screws required a screwdriver to remove - they were on insanely tight.
Corsair supplies solid PSUs (Power Supply Unit). I wanted one that was "modular" (the device power cables are removable from the unit to keep clutter to a minimum), at least 600W, and Haswell certified. The HX 650 would have fit the bill, but the 750 was on sale for less, so I figured it couldn't hurt.
I've only had it running a few days, but so far, I couldn't be more pleased.