System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $800 Gaming PC

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Sep 12, 2013
i5 3550p is kind of a rare beast, when available, it could be a winner, provided you don't need quick sync. Even 750K and 760K BE are just salvaged chips so their availability is not guaranteed. Anyway this are good ways to save money. One thing I don't understand is why build a system with a DVD burner? The last time used it was in 2007, since then I went for USB boot on new systems and I bought an Asus BD writer usb3 12x just to watch BD movies. All I got is coming from digital distribution, I live in Italy, and I have a 10Mbit/s ADSL. I really hate discs right now, obsolete, slow and still used after 27 years. Consoles please go back to cartridge/flash roms, 1 to 5 seconds loading screens and no PC challenge.

Not all countries have good internet infrastructure. If that wasn't the case Microsoft wouldn't have to reverse its policies on the X1. Another thing is retail game DVDs costs very less in my country. For example, Bioshock Infinite costs only 15.97$ at launch date. If I were to buy it through Steam at launch date it would have cost me 59.99$



Feb 18, 2012

I know that the writers of "best CPUs" for the money always make a huge fuss about how "oh, you save 7W (or however much it is) by not having the on-board graphics", but I still think it's worth keeping, for if your discrete card gives out on you. My PC buggered up installing my graphics drivers once, and if it weren't for my intel "backup" GPU, my rig would have been bricked.



For us, both were available from Newegg at a $10 difference. Either is fine. I chose the -3350P back for the Q1 $600 Gaming PC, and it's OC was limited to 3.5-3.7 GHz with this same Z75 Pro3 mobo. But I actually prefer the -3470 at these prices for reasons stated in the text (higher clocks and backup HD 2500 graphics). It fit in under budget, and its higher Turbo limit provide a 300 MHz boost across the board (3.8-4.0 GHz) when overclocking. That right there is worth $10 in an SBM where value equals a straight bang for buck calculation.

As I believe I said I would in a past SBM article, I have deleted a string of off-topic posts. If an alternate build doesn't follow the rules of the SBM (e.g. all Newegg) it is OFF TOPIC in SBM discussions. Please be aware that discussions of pricing, while not off topic, do need to account for what was available at the time the SBM build was ordered.
My own thoughts on this one are mixed. I like to see the challenge of a lower budget. This $800 PC was quite good, however. With the focus on gaming this SBM cycle, this one looks like a shoe-in for value winner. I don't see what two or three times the budget will buy that can offer similar multiples of performance, especially that will be visible in actual use.
That said, for my own uses, I'd take the "High" to "Max" settings in my games that a GTX650Ti Boost would offer, and put the balance into a SSD.



Nov 14, 2011
I am always glad to see a budget gaming machine build with my definition of budget being in the $750 area. However, most do not include an O.S cost which could easily add $100 to the mix unless you are going with an open source model.
I currently just built a "budget" machine for my son which ended up close to $850. That build was using an Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 Micro ATX AM3+ motherboard, AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz to (O.C. to 4.3GHz @ 38 C), w/ an Enermax ETS-T40-TB 86.7 CFM CPU Cooler.
What I wanted had to be tempered with what I could squeeze into the budget so a new Asus Radeon R7 260X 2GB Video Card was put in for now. A WD Caviar (Blue) 1TB drive was put in for storage, G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory and a Corsair CX 500W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply to make it all run. Windows 8.1 was installed and the case is a nice looking Corsair 350D case.
My working theory is this rig will run well now and a new video card, better CPU cooler with a faster stronger CPU and an SSD down the road are all manageable upgrades that could keep this machine running good, playable frame rates for several years down the road.
There is always more than one way to skin a cat and to me this was the least amount I would build with.



It was considered, but a Z87 Express mobo costs more, so the platform as a whole isn't the same price.

Why Z87? In a non-OC build, the comment on Haswell makes some sense. Would a H87 or even H81 board have fit? Unlike their IB (or SB) counterparts, you would not have given up SATA 6Gb/s ports or USB3.0 with those lesser boards.
a haswell alternative could be with an asrock or msi non-z chipset motherboard with 4670k or lower with a downgraded bios to facilitate overclocking. or, with something like this:,9.html
it's probably as high end as non-z o.c. gets. unfortunately it only became available recently.

as for the current build, i admit that the parts are very well-chosen.
i woulda tried to fit a corsair 200r or nzxt tempest and i5 4440/4570 on a b85 board or asrock fatal1ty z87 killer and gtx 760/770 and a seasonic ssr360 gp or s12ii 520 bronze psu.


Very true Onus, you can't even change the base clock on those. So the chipset argument alone only stands for K's or enthusiast-minded folk. I'd definitely prefer and enthusiast-class mobo anyway if building a forward-thinking rig.

But this is an SBM, and we always value overclocking. Ivy -3470 was chosen because it can reach 4.0 GHz with a sub-$80 mobo. What can we extract more from? Stock -4430 to - 4570, or a -3470 running 3.8-4.0 GHz?



Yes it does. Spare time though, you must be thinking of someone else. :(

And I'd be curious just to hear feedback on which platform folks would rather own if building a new rig they intend to keep/upgrade over the next 3 years or so.

For an SBM, although I'd assume more folks value the stock performance, I'm always a bit miffed if I can't OC at all. I can live with it if/when the machine remains a clear top choice anyway.

For my own gaming rig, I'd always used to consider the processor I can afford now (in this case a locked i5) may end up in another spare rig and it's possible I'd move up later (say to an i7K). Upgrading our best rig and cycling parts down was my practice for a long time. Nowadays I have more spare parts than free time and station space.


Feb 25, 2011

I'd go with Z87, simply because it's more feature rich...



Because this could be their very first computer and do not have a computer before. The DVD is required in order to install Windows.
Not everyone has a fast internet connection and some have bandwidth caps, therefore buying the software in a disc is a better option.
Also I don't recall Windows OS coming in USB drive, it only comes in a disc. These bootable USB are self made, and they still use a DVD drive, just to copy the Windows files from the disc to a USB drive.
Another thing is digital download version of the OS would be impossible, especially if your brand new system doesn't have the OS installed in the first place.

Yeah, I just "unloaded" some spare parts when I rebuilt a system for a friend (she'd been running a Pentium 925D; now has a G860).
Building to keep / upgrade for years became my own focus about three years ago. It's a little boring though. CPU performance is now so great that I don't see either a FX or an i5 becoming too weak for my needs in the foreseeable future. I built my two current PCs on Asus boards, and have no reason to expect them to die, or for new "must-have" interfaces to turn up. Then there's the now brainless MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming board on my test rig that I'm toying with selling because I really don't need it now.


I still prefer to see ~$500 "Budget" gaming rigs over this easier to build $800 one. The original SBM's were based on the premise of ~$500 price range and that was quite some time ago when prices and values were harder to find. It would be more acceptable to see a $800 rig if it included the OS, Monitor, Keyboard, & Mouse (all gaming related). This to me would make much more sense under the $800 budget.

For example:
* ~$110-120 for Monitor (1080p)
* ~$40-60 for a decent Keyboard.
* ~$40-60 for a Gaming Mouse.
* ~$80-100 for the OS (assuming your sticking with Windows 7/8).
* ~$500-550 for the system, depending on the cost of the other parts of the build.

Patrick Tobin

Jun 18, 2013
I hate that the prices of the OS are never included. This makes for a bad way to recommend machines to people. Also, why is it only? NCIX and Amazon (amongst others) have better prices very frequently... :/
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