Category Archives: computer

Budget Digital DarkRoom Pt 2

In my last post I stated that the budget was under $500. However, as this machine will be used by my girlfriend once I have built my main rig (in the fall/winter), I decided that it could use a little extra budget. I am happy that I was able to stay within the $500-$550 range that I mentally anticipated.

I was able to pick up a used Cooler Master ML240L RGB liquid cooler for $65, as well as a used EVGA G5 650W fully-modular power supply for $100 incl. taxes on eBay. As it stands, the build is currently as follows:

PCPartPicker Part List
Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i5-10400 2.9 GHz 6-Core Processor Purchased For $182.00
CPU Cooler Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240L RGB 66.7 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler Purchased For $60.00
Motherboard Gigabyte B460M DS3H Micro ATX LGA1200 Motherboard Purchased For $76.64
Memory GeIL EVO X II 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3600 CL18 Memory Purchased For $74.75
Storage Kingston A2000 500 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive Purchased For $0.00
Case Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L MicroATX Mini Tower Case Purchased For $53.38
Power Supply EVGA G5 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply Purchased For $100.74
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total $547.51
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-07-29 15:36 EDT-0400

Budget Digital DarkRoom

I recently purchased an NEC EA244UHD-BK from a friend who was switching careers. This is a high-end 4K business monitor from NEC’s EA series, that is able to be hardware calibrated and covers 99.3% of the Adobe RGB color space.

I tried using my current computer, a refurbished Dell Latitude E7440 (i7-4600U dual core) to drive the display and Lightroom, however there is so much lag on the monitor you can’t do squat. Thus, I decided it was time for an upgrade.

Initially I was going to purchase an 8th gen Intel NUC, powered by an i5-8259U. However, after purchasing this from B&H I consulted with a coworker who spends lots of time on Tom’s Hardware and he said I could easily buy a cheap PC that is more powerful.

I used PCPartPicker to spec out a new custom build, going as small as possible but also to fit under a $500 budget. Unfortunately, that ruled out Mini ITX. I came up with the following build and currently I don’t need a GPU, but in case I do I can always add on a 1050Ti for around $150 new.

PCPartPicker Part List
Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i5-10400 2.9 GHz 6-Core Processor $182.00 @ B&H
Motherboard Gigabyte B460M DS3H Micro ATX LGA1200 Motherboard $73.98 @ Newegg
Memory GeIL EVO SPEAR Phantom Gaming 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory $58.99 @ Newegg
Storage Kingston A2000 500 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive Purchased For $0.00
Case Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L MicroATX Mini Tower Case $53.98 @ Newegg
Power Supply Rosewill 600 W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply $79.99 @ Newegg
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total $448.94
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-07-22 19:43 EDT-0400

Seeing how inexpensive the i5-10400 CPU is, I did some hefty research into its performance and it turns out that it is more powerful than my previous Intel build, which ran an i7-4790k. Naturally it is also more powerful than my most recent build which was on an FX-9370 (comparison here).

For funding this new hardware I will be relinquishing one of my Synology NAS devices, a DS214play, along with 2x 3TB WD Red NAS drives. I will also be selling my E7440 once the build is complete. I expect that I should be able to break about even, given $250 for the laptop and around $200 for the NAS and drives.

Portable Gaming Rig

I’ve had an Intel motherboard and a Core 2 Duo sitting around for a while, and recently upgraded the graphics card in my main computer from a GTX 670 2GB to a GTX 770 4GB, so I decided I would build a portable gaming computer, as my main system weighs in at around 45 pounds and is not the easiest to transport.


Case: Cooler Master HAF XB Evo

Motherboard: Intel DG35EC – microATX

PSU: Corsair CX600 600W

RAM: 4GB Crucial PC2-6400

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8300 – 2.83GHz

CPU Cooler: ARCTIC Freezer 11LP


The motherboard does not natively support USB 3.0, so I also ordered a USB 3.0 host card with 20-pin internal connector.

I might add the anti-dust AC filter foam if I find it necessary.


NZXT Phantom 820 Dust Reduction Mod

So a few weeks ago, I noticed quite a bit of dust buildup on the outside of my case side panel, right on the mesh around where the fan is. I opened up the case and found more dust on the inside than I would have liked to see. Then again, my system was running 24/7 for about 5 months; however I expected the fan filters to keep the dust out. Not the case here. After doing some research into the cause of the dust leaking in, it comes down to the negative pressure setup of the fans in the case causing dust to come in around the fan filters, wherever there is open, unfiltered mesh.  I searched around for a solution, which came down to foam filter media which I originally found on ModDIY, however after looking into that site, I found out they are in Hong Kong and shipping would take 2 weeks by Registered Air Mail. So I searched some more, and came across a post on where a guy was asking where to find some thin foam filters, and turns out Lowe’s carries some.

Did some searching by walking down to the A/C filters aisle, and took a gander at some of the adjustable electrostatic filters made by Filtrete, but they were too thick, and I didnt exactly like the word “electrostatic” when thinking about where this filter was going to be.
So I downloaded the Lowe’s iPhone app and searched “foam filter” and it took me over to the window air conditioner section.

I wound up finding this 4.76mm filter media, for $1.58


I also picked up 2 cans of “dust remover” aka canned air,  to spray out all the dust that was built up inside the case, and clean out my Corsair H80i radiator, which was already filled with dust.

To prevent more dust buildup on my radiator fins, I bought a Rosewill 120mm fan filter off Newegg, which should arrive sometime this week.

And so here is how I wound up modding the case side panel, mostly in pictures.

I first laid out the entire piece of filter media over the side panel (interior side up), then marked where the mesh was, then cut it down to size and marked where the fan mount holes are.


I then applied 1/2 inch strips of Scotch 3M Extreme Mounting Tape (rated for 20lbs) around the outline of the mesh.


Then I installed the fan, along with the NZXT fan filter that came with the case, and removed the backing on the adhesive to hold the foam down to prevent dust leakage.


And viola! Almost looks factory installed, and no change to the outside of the panel, except you cant see the fan. However, the only thing I care about is good airflow, minimal dust, and being able to see through the window.