I've been messing around on the pcpartpicker site a bit. This is what I'm looking at so far
. (I slightly modified a build they already had on the site) Any obvious problems?
There's no "problem" really. Just some key decisions that I want to make sure you understand:
1. You're buying a 4000-series computer, which is the previous generation. This build therefore is focusing on "cheaper price", but again 6000-series isn't much faster than 4000-series, so you're probably fine. The big updates to the 6000-series is that the newer motherboards tend to have support for the newer standards. (Which is crapshot: no one knows if M.2, PCIe NVE, or Sata-Express is going to win over anyway. But if you want to "place a bet", you're probably going to have to get a 6000-series CPU and a 6000-series Motherboard).
I know I mentioned the H97 before, which was Haswell (4000-series). The 6000-equivalent is H170. If you do go for a 6th generation build, note that the vast majority of 6th generation motherboards only
support DDR4, which is more expensive than DDR3. (Your old RAM is almost certainly DDR3. So if you're aiming to reuse it, the newest you can go is 4th generation) If you're aiming for a cheaper computer, 4000-series is perfectly fine. Again, 6000-series is mostly for speculating about the next standard of storage, which may play out maybe three or four years from now.
In short: You'll find newer standards like USB-C support, Sata-Express, M.2, DDR4 and so forth with 6000, while that sort of new technology is going to be less common with 4000-series mobos. Keeping DDR3 compatibility seems like a key issue however, which leans towards a 4th generation mobo.
2. Micro ATX isn't much cheaper than a full ATX motherboard. The smaller motherboards are useful for small builds, but the larger motherboards simply have more slots for expansion. More RAM, more PCIe, more SATA. Note that your particular motherboard is sold out right now on Newegg, the closest equivalent is this $80 version
. But also note that the microATX motherboard really has absolutely no advantage (aside from size) from the $80 full-size ATX board
I would recommend micro-ATX only if you are building a smaller, more compact computer... or maybe if you get a significantly better deal (it happens: motherboards go on sale all the time, and maybe the microATX mobo is on sale when you buy.)
3. You are buying a Micro-ATX case. These are a bit smaller than an ATX case. Full-size is just easier to work with: everything is bigger, your hands fit inside, you've got more room to work with... its just a more comfortable. Especially for a newbie builder, I recommend a standard "mid-tower" ATX case. (Full tower is very
big. Mid-Tower is approximately the standard size IMO). Most mid-tower ATX cases support micro-ATX anyway (although double-check to be 100% sure). So even if you get a micro-ATX motherboard, it will most likely fit any standard case.
Still, nothing is wrong with a Micro-ATX case, and the smaller size is often seen as a big advantage. (more room on your desk or whatever). Smaller MicroATX cases are the norm for professional offices in my experience. Honestly, just think about the size of the case you want. Full-Tower ATX is huge, Mid-Tower ATX is your standard desktop, MicroATX is a bit smaller, and Mini ITX is the smallest. ITX builds are much more tedious to assemble and also more expensive due to their small size, but you can build some wonderful tiny computers that will surprise your friends.
4. The GPU you're buying has a lol 1% overclock over stock. I don't... even... wat? I guess its nice to know your 390 will be 1% faster than stock. But its kind of not a big difference... makes you wonder why PowerColor even bothered making an overclock... Hopefully it doesn't change the power requirements very much, but they do list a 750W minimum. (Note that I've gotten the 290X on a 500W PSU, so I expect the 750W "requirement" to be a gross overestimation). This particular PowerCooler R9 390 has a 6+8pin slot, so the card will pull 275W maximum (6+8 pin cannot physically pull more power than that), so that can give you an idea of how to spec-out your PSU.
I'm thinking of going with the 512 GB as opposed to 1 TB SDD, with the intention of reusing my old hard drive as additional storage for picture, documents, and anything not too important speed wise.
Yup, these are the sorts of decisions that someone going full custom can make. There's nothing wrong with this approach.
If I'm reading it correctly the motherboard supports 16GB of RAM split between 2 slots, is there any practical reason to want more than this? (or at least the option to add more in the nearish future) I saw that some motherboards in the same price range went up to 32GB and 4 slots. I will have to check the RAM on my current computer when I get home this evening to see if I can reuse it or not.
Sound an Ethernet are built into the motherboard so I shouldn't really need to worry about that. (Like I said, long time since I built a computer you used to have to worry about those.)
Does the case actually make much of a difference or can I basically choose whichever one looks "coolest" to me as long as it it the right form factor? (The motherboard is micro ATX so I assume I need a micro ATX case)
The case is mostly the bling-factor. Choose the "coolest" design your budget allows for... although try to stay above $30. If you go too cheap, and the crappy build quality will cut up your hands. Shitty cases are really
shitty, with sharp edges that can make you bleed.
Higher-end cases are easier to work with, once you hit the $60+ mark, cases require fewer and fewer tools. They all have plastic hinges and stuff that don't need screwdrivers. The $60+ cases have specialized compartments here and there to help hide or organize the wires. $100+ cases start getting sound-proof, shock absorbent materials... but by this point the cases are almost entirely bling-bling factor or "fashion". (ugghhh... Lian Li
If you are going to spin your wheels focused on making a decision with your case selection, focus on where you'd put the computer on your desk, dimensions, room layout... and that sort of thing. Then choose a case that fits your room the best. There isn't any "technical" decision here, it almost purely an interior-design / room layout question.
I don't know anything about power supplies, I just stuck with the one they recommended. Does it seem like an acceptable brand and wattage? (or is it overkill?)
I dunno Rosewill, they're Newegg's brand. Corsair is the brand name that a lot of people trust. The wattage level is mostly an approximation, digging into the "rails" and how much output capacity is in each is what you need to do if you actually want to be 100% sure. In my experience, I've got a R9 290X running on a 500W Corsair PSU with a 3rd-generation i7. So I'd expect
650W to be more than acceptable.
Do I need to worry about a CPU cooler or additional fans?
The i5-4460 should come with a stock fan. Aftermarket coolers are made for a variety of reasons: the big-daddy (Hyper 212 Evo) is a big, quiet fan... but will only fit in mid-tower cases and above. (Bigger size, slower fan speed for quiet operation). Others may want better overclocking or other features.
Chances are however, stock is fine.
Note that the highest-end 6000-series CPUs do NOT come with a stock fan. If you go with 6000-series, just double check that your CPU comes with a fan.
And finally, for, now. If I'm buying a copy of windows does it matter if it's OEM or not? (It looks like the OEM versions I've seen are all DVD's so I'd probably try and reuse the DVD drive in my current machine.)
Yes... and no. IIRC, Microsoft treats retail versions of Windows a bit better if you ask for support. One common example: transferring Windows to another motherboard is allowed if you buy retail (historically anyway. I'll have to double-check Windows 10 licenses). OEM License is designed to "live and die" with the computer (defined as the motherboard that Windows will detect upon installation). I'm not even sure if Microsoft sells "Retail Installation" copies anymore, so I think you actually have to go OEM. Hopefully someone else can give you a more authoritative answer...