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  1. #1
    Jun 2012

    Sharon's Scorpion II

    For people that don't know, this is the second post about Sharon's Scorpion — feel free to read the original post for some background. Take your time, I'll wait.

    This computer has sentimental value to me, particularly the case, so even though it is rarely used, I'm willing to spend time and money to upgrade it, two things which are often in low supply. Regardless — it's important to me so it's worth it.

    I didn't realize how bad I was about updating the forum until I looked at the original post again, A lot has transpired since then, so a quick recap:

    • First, I found a new r9 290 at a cheap price ($200 when it was retailing for $270). That added a lot of graphical power, but it was still limited by the CPU.
    • In 2016, shortly after AMD released the A10-7890K (4.1Ghz, Turbo 4.3GHz), I found a brand new one on eBay for $100 (it was retailing for $170, I think). This improved performance all around and gave the GPU greater breathing room. The computer had finally become a decent, low-level gaming rig.
    • The Ultra PSU called it quits and was replaced by an OCZ 550W PSU.

    When I heard about Ryzen, I waited patiently as AMD slowly rolled out the new line-up of CPUs. Pretty much anything would be an improvement but I wanted something solid...something with tenacity and power. Once the complete Ryzen lineup was announced (Ryzen 7 down to Ryzen 3), I zeroed in on one CPU quickly:

    • Ryzen 5 (3.6GHz, Turbo 4.0GHz) $220
    • MSI Pro Carbon Gaming $150 (after MIR)
    • 2x8GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM $140
    • 256GB Samsung 960 EVO NVMe SSD $130
    • Seasonic M2 620W PSU $35(!)
    • Thermaltake Contac Silent 12 CPU cooler $25
    • Thermaltake V3 AMD Edition (carryover)
    • AMD r9-290 GPU (carryover)
    • 2TB WD Green HDD (carryover)
    • DVD-RW (carryover)
    • Windows 10 $14

    GRAND TOTAL (inc. tax) $731

    First, the old system had to be removed:

    As was quickly learned by early adopters of Ryzen, there were several issues with the new platform — some boards wouldn't work with the CPUs, and don't even get me started on the RAM. So why did I go with MSi? Well, I've had good luck in the past. On top of that, over the course of a weekend (I swung by MicroCenter Friday and returned Sunday to make the purchase), MC had sold through a ton of MSi boards.

    I was racing against the clock...well, sorta. I wanted to claim a rebate and with MC the windows are not much bigger than the nms used to measure CPUs (zing!). I inserted the bare essentials to get a POST (mobo, CPU, GPU, RAM, PSU), performed basic power and case wiring and hit the power switch...with no reaction. Did I just make a big mistake in getting the MSi mobo?

    Surprisingly, panic did not set in (which is very easy to do in these circumstances). Knowing wiring is tricky, I checked case wiring first — big hands and tiny connections in cramped spaces do not lend themselves to correct wiring. Sure enough, some of the wires had been misplaced but even after correcting and checking placement there was still no power. Hmmm...

    Next up, the PSU. This was where things got interesting. The main power cord to the mobo had two connections on the side attaching to the PSU, almost like each was built for different power voltages (115 v. 230):

    The PSU connector plugging into the PSU – which one do I pick…or do I insert both and risk blowing out the motherboard?

    I had plugged in the larger connector but I wasn’t getting any power. Was it possible I needed to use both? Figuring I may have misread the purpose of the two cords, I plugged both in and voila!

    To my credit, the documentation with the PSU provides no direction as to whether both plugs are necessary for the mobo power.

    Confirming the computer works, I assembled the rest of the computer pretty easily. One of the nice features of the motherboard is the LED lights on the underside. The default color was red (MSi color scheme) which fit perfectly with Sharon’s Scorpion color theme.

    The Ryzen 5 1600X does not come with a CPU cooler, which was a bummer because I really like the Wraith cooler. So my CPU comes in a big, mostly empty box.

    Before Windows was installed I quickly flashed the BIOS – an EXTREMELY important step with the new Ryzen builds since bugs and compatibility are still being fixed.

    TIP: Before building, download the latest BIOS, drivers and apps so you have them ready when the build is complete.

    The mobo LEDs really add to the aesthetics of the computer…

    Unfortunately, they’re hidden once the side panel is in place. Still…

    A top-side view provides some visibility to the inner beauty of the computer.

    Few minor things
    The computer is surprisingly quiet, especially the CPU cooler which I feared would be loud. I also would like to add another fan and make it a push/pull configuration. I have contacted Thermaltake to see if I can order the fan brackets separately (it only comes with one set) but, as of right now, no word back.

    I changed the PSU because the OCZ PSU had become noisy if the computer had been off for a while. It would eventually quiet down, but still it’s a nuisance. I had two PSUs available, the Seasonic 620W or a Corsair 650W. Using an online PSU Calculator, the rig would have a peak of 462W, so the Seasonic provides enough breathing room (134% of peak power usage) that I didn’t feel it necessary to move to the 650W.

    Modular PSUs are great – you only use the cables you need, thus reducing clutter and improving aesthetics as well as airflow. But what do you do with the extra cables? If you’re like me, I’ll put them in a drawer and forget about them. Seasonic provided a bag for storage and while it’s not the prettiest solution, I put the bag in a place where I know I can find it if/when I need the cables:

    Sweet! These cables won’t be cluttering up my case…but what do I do with them?

    At least Seasonic gave me a bag for easy storage…but I still don’t have a good place to store them…

    Not the prettiest solution, but at least I know where they are and they’re handy if/when I need them. Stop judging me!

    So Sharon’s Scorpion has gone through a few iterations and come a long way since its original A6 5400K start. The obvious question is: how does the new system compare to the previous iterations? Unfortunately, I don’t have a bunch of information for comparisons but I do have a little…and I would like to run a few more comparisons. Basically, I want to do a little more benchmarking (especially with the 7890K CPU) which I will be posting in the future. Mainly for my benefit, but hopefully you’ll find it interesting as well.

    If you made it this far, thank you for allowing me to share. I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am with this build. And I don’t think it’s over yet! I sense there are even bigger and better things to come. Maybe not immediately, but Sharon’s Scorpion is far from finished.
    Last edited by btdog; 09-17-2017 at 04:09 AM.

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