[Originally posted on 03/05/18.]
This month, we’re spotlighting a build we found while browsing Reddit. Pieced together by Phil John, the Radeon™ RX 560-powered PC played a special role in a learning process: a collaborative project with his son learning to build PCs for the first time.
What inspired you to put this build together?
I’ve built many PCs over the years, starting off with a Cyrix 386, and later using some classic chips such as the Athlon™ XP 1800+ and the Athlon™ 64. My son has been an avid computer gamer for several years and is starting to show an interest in programming, so he asked for the parts to build a computer for Christmas.
We approached it as a father-son project and spent all of Christmas day building it, first outside the case, and then installing it all. It was a fantastic learning experience for him as I could impart all the little things you often get wrong when doing your first build.
I never considered buying a pre-built machine for him as I feel that learning how a computer is put together, and what all the different parts do, is an important piece of knowledge, rather than just seeing them as a black box with mysterious components.
What was the most difficult part of the process?
The most difficult part of the experience was getting it to POST! It turns out the motherboard had a very early BIOS on board that didn’t fully support the memory we had originally – it’s a real credit to AMD that BIOS updates have been so frequent, as once we knew what the problem was, a quick flash from a USB stick got everything working perfectly.
Rather than being a problem though, it was another great educational process – we ran through troubleshooting steps to find out what the problem was.
Apart from that, the whole process was very simple – building a computer shouldn’t be some scary process that only experts can do, with some research and patience anyone can do it, and often get a better deal than buying a pre-built system.
Do you remember the first PC you built? What inspired you to start building?
Vividly! When I was younger we had a Sinclair ZX-80 and then Commodore 128 – which is what I started programming on. Eventually I outgrew that and PCs were coming into their own, so components were purchased (including a very fetching beige case) and everything put together.
It was a Cyrix 386 running at a whopping 33Mhz with a 40MB HDD (which I double-spaced to roughly 80). It also had the feature where you could slow it down to 4Mhz to support old games without proper timing in the main loop so they were playable. I seem to remember it having 4MB of memory, but it’s so long ago that might not be correct any more!
The first proper gaming PC I built was an Athlon XP 1800+ paired with an ATI 9000 series GPU. Back then, it was all about Grand Theft Auto 3 and America’s Army for me, which both ran very well on that setup.
Inspiration wise, it was always about being able to customise what went into the computer, not being stuck with the components that Gateway or similar decided to put in there. There’s also a great sense of accomplishment when you press that power button for the first time and see it booting!
Why did you choose Ryzen and Radeon?
I’ve always been an AMD fan and have always looked to them first when putting a new build together. Once Ryzen was released, especially the lower end 3 series, it really was a no-brainer when it came to deciding on parts. The value offered and all the great features in the B350 chipset, such as unlocked overclocking, are so builder and enthusiast-friendly that it’s hard to choose anything else, certainly not in the same price bracket.
The quality of drivers is also a strong point for AMD. I’ve got a Radeon™ RX 480 in my main rig and the performance improvements I’ve enjoyed thanks to AMD “FineWine” have been very noticeable. For this build, the choice was between the Radeon™ RX 560 and the competition’s comparable card. If my son starts looking at GPGPU I’d also want him to look first to OpenCL® rather than the proprietary alternatives.
I wanted something dependable and every Radeon card I’ve had has always been that – it’s so important for lots of things from Windows to gaming that putting something in there that won’t have problems down the line is important.
What will this build be used for / what games?
It’s a multi-purpose computer – my son enjoys gaming, but it’s also used for homework, music production (with my old Korg synthesiser linked up through a MIDI interface) and learning to program, so lots of competing factors, some favouring the GPU, others the CPU – it has to be able to handle them all.
My son is mad about rollercoasters, so his primary game at the moment is Planet Coaster; it’s amazing seeing all the wonderful coasters he’s designed, even if some of them would make me quite sick in real life! He also enjoys some indie titles like Mini Metro, Bridge Builder and Terraria. Finally, Minecraft … which I think most 10 year old boys are mad about.
What games are you currently playing? Which upcoming ones are you most excited for?
I’ve got a somewhat varied taste in games, from FPS shooters like Wolfenstein: New Colossus to DOOM (which both run fantastically on Radeon GPUs) to driving sims like Dirt Rally, Assetto Corsa and Project Cars 2 – none of which make my Radeon RX 480 even break a sweat at 1080p high settings. Finally, open world third-person games … who doesn’t like a bit of mindless mischief in the GTA universe?
As for upcoming games, the one I’m most looking forward to is Far Cry 5 – the setting and atmosphere look amazing, and looks like it’s going to be a great example of the immersive experience that typifies a really good long-form story-based PC game.
Do you want to share your build story? Tag us on social media — we’re always looking for cool stories on Radeon builds.
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Annie Lee, Product & Content Marketing at AMD. Her postings are her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies, or opinions. Links to third party sites and references to third party trademarks are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.