System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $800 Gaming PC

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Amdlova

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Jun 7, 2013
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for gaming do not spend money on i7 just buy a i5 K or non K and get the big video card you can afford. only time i miss the i7 when I have to use winrar or 7zip or RIP a dvd or BD. the hyper treading working hard on those programs.
 

jasonelmore

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I would like to see more builds use Blu Ray Drives. Were already seeing PC Games suffering from DVD Media. NBA2K14 is 6GB for PC, and 45GB for consoles. The result is the console version looks much better than the pc version, no matter what settings you tick.

Plus Publishers dont like having to make 4-6 dvd games that eat at their margins.
 

Morituri

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I would not use a stock Intel heatsink on this or any other rig; they are so cheaply made that they are dangerous. An Arctic Alpine 11 Plus is $11.00 from NewEgg and has a more robust mounting system, as well as being quieter. I'm waiting for one right now because the stock Intel heatsink I just installed will not mount snugly on the CPU and is allowing it to overheat.
 

rikmyster

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Sep 29, 2012
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This is about identical to what I built, but I went for a 7870 instead and spent the extra on a SSD. Unless you are running those high resolution monitors the extra graphics power seems like overkill on your benchmarks. The SSD adds to some quality of life on load times.
 
I'm with lunyone on the budget. This PC does illustrate how "easy" it is to build at $800; even if you niggle some things up and down, it will still be good.
As to the stock Intel HSF, I've been using them for years without issues, although what usually happens is faster or "K" CPUs get aftermarket coolers like Gaias, and lesser chips get the "better" stock HSFs (with the copper slugs) from the "K" CPUs. I haven't used the all-aluminum ones. Still, none have ever popped loose or otherwise failed for me, ever. I just used the copper-slugged HSF from a Pentium 925-D on a new Pentium G860.
 

ananke

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Optical disk is a must, for backups. I do long term backup on BRays of personal photos, videos and documents, which are easily terabytes of data every year...Of course, this is a relatively cheap and basic build, and can omit anything not gaming essential. So, you need motherboard with a good sound, OK processor, good GPU and solid PSU in a well ventilated case. I would just put one 240-256 GB SSD and that's all - for a good GAMING pc.
 

rikmyster

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This is about identical to what I built, but I went for a 7870 instead and spent the extra on a SSD. Unless you are running those high resolution monitors the extra graphics power seems like overkill on your benchmarks. The SSD adds to some quality of life on load times.
 

bwm264

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I don't know but it seems like cheating when you call out a $300 video card when today it costs $420. That systems is closer to $1000 than $800. That's like saying my system only cost me $500 because I got a $400 video card for my birthday.
 

grokem

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I can't believe that we're still including optical drives on budget builds on the edge of 2014. The optical drive is the only component included in the builds that isnt' even required. For the same reason you can imagine reasons you *must* have a card reader, monitor, OS, keyboard, mouse, web camera, speakers, thumb drive and usb powered coffee warmer, the optical drive should be left out as an optional component. Most of us either have no need for one or already have a small usb drive shared between all our computers, there is no need to include a completely optional component in the build.

For the $18 you spent on a useless component you could have gotten a 2TB drive, faster processor, better case, better MB or a pizza to eat while you built system. Even the pizza is a better deal.
 

pauldh

Illustrious


No it's not at all like that. Let me explain.

$799 is actually the one and only precise price to call this machine. That was the total cost in our Newegg shopping cart when the parts were ordered. Those were the prices causing us to pick these exact parts. ANYONE ordering that day would have paid the same, or even less factoring Newegg's promo discounts (which we do not). So, If you paid $799 for your build (as we did), would you then call it a $920 computer a month later if your parts shot up way above retail from short supply and huge demand? No, of course not. It was $799 when configured and purchased.

That's where this gets sticky for an SBM. Unfortunately, there's roughly a one month (or more) delay from when we order, until these articles go live. They must be built, tested, written up, edited, and get a place on the calendar once all three are finished. It's not easy coordinating everyone's schedules beyond those who actually test the machines even. And none of the editors are sitting idle waiting to start an SBM. They are on another story. So, while we can adjust the price every day afterwards, that new price will only be accurate at that same moment in time time you adjust it. When I wrote up this piece, this video card wasn't even in stock. Today it may be $920, tomorrow $880, who knows. Again, all we do know, it was $799 when configured. That's why I'm actually dead against adjusting prices in our tables. There's no auto adjustment implementation, it is manually done, so they can be (and often are) still way off a few days later when folks are reading it.


 
^This is why I think people really need to consider price in context (effective on the order date, but not necessarily any other) and not get in to raging debates about what the money would buy. Outright omissions, or inclusions of unusual parts would be one thing, but price-based debates are too temporal, and are likely to be irrelevant.
 

pauldh

Illustrious
Yeah, true. I doubt too many people would argue R9 280X for $299.99 was the wrong move to make. How did we know what was about to happen.Thankfully these extreme cases are rare. More often it's just a temporary instant savings we grabbed that are no longer on sale, and parallel substitutions can even those out. By us not factoring promos, Newegg shoppers can likely duplicate or out-build our machines at publishing time, which is a good thing. This time, things got a bit crazy with R9's and you'd have to spend $30 or so more on GTX 770 to trump our $800 PCs frame rates.
 

pauldh

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We (as a whole) rehash this often in this series. And I get it, really I do. But, based on feedback I believe your belief to still be in the minority. There's no wrong in including one. They are far from being the floppy or Zip drive. But by all means, leave one out if you do not need it and call this a $782 build. Tweaking to ones own needs is why we build our own. I've never once had someone request or even chose to omit a DVD burner to save them $18.

Let me ask. Do you have any optical drives in any of your computers to rely upon if need be? Or perhaps an external? Tom's USA editors pretty much all agree while we each may rarely ever use one, truthfully we still occasionally do rely upon them and wouldn't be void of one at home or office. And we believe few folks differ there and have zero need for one. I've got 120/38 Mbps cable at home, and there's still no way that makes up for an optical drive 100% of the time.

Lastly, $800 is hardly a budget build. Although I'm most responsible for this budget hike this time, I believe I'm also the one most reluctant to do a series without a sub-$600 build in the marathon. This time, packed between holidays, there was simply no way to pitch and tackle a cheap $400-500 bonus build. I omitted a DVD burner from the last $350 PC, as it was a good chunk of the budget to add one. And I left them out of the $400 and $650 Mini-ITX boxes too because many of the cases we originally considered use pricey slim slot drives or even have no external bays at all. BUT, there's really got to be good almost deal-breaking reason for omitting one in an SBM build.
 
Rant about omitting o.d.d.s: if you're building cheap pc where very dollar counts i.e. saving $18-22 gets you a better case or gfx card, and you already have a sata o.d.d. in your possession, only then you should skip the o.d.d. otherwise no.

for u.s.b. booting, the first thing you need is the iso of the o.s. to get an i.s.o. you need an internet connection, to use that internet connection you need another p.c. (likely well protected with antimalware software etc), a usb flash drive.. so you see, the iso is nowhere near the first thing you need, the first thing you need is another pc, then a software that turns the o.s. iso disk ready for installing from a usb flash drive. if you have the o.s. on an optical media.....
so what if you have only one pc or no working pc during assembling and installing the o.s.? things get worse when you're using usb-installing from the first time. linux distros play nice with usb but windows doesn't (<- this sentence doesn't begin to cover how much p.i.t.a. it is to prepare windows 7 install from u.s.b. that's another rant. differant, geddit?).

let's assume that you finally installed the o.s. what about drivers? motherboard and gfx card drivers come on optical disks, how are they gonna be installed without and o.d.d.? let's assume you have a way to install drivers directly from the internet. that means connecting your freshly built, unprotected pc running only the o.s. (may be with windows firewall (LOL) and mse(LAWL) enabled) to internet, browse with built-in internet explorer browser, and hope that no one notices you. although, you wouldn't even know if something got into your pc.

i don't know about others, but i'll buy a sata dvd writer.

this was about self-buillt pcs. devices like netbooks and ultrabooks often necessitate re/installing from usb.
 

Mikels4

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Dec 25, 2013
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How well would this run games such as LoL, Minecraft and other, online non- dvd games? just curious cause this is in my price range and from what i've read it seems to be a good budget PC.
 

jwmcvety

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Anyone have an opinion about a case for this build, since the one listed doesn't appear in stock anywhere and has been listed as discontinued.
 

pauldh

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NZXT's Source 210 or Tempest 210 (used in last quarter's $650 gaming pc) would be good alternatives.
 

RedJaron

Splendid
The cooler and motherboard I would have relied on to take the Vishera design close to 4.5 GHz actually made the AMD option $10 to $20 more expensive, violating the budget. The enthusiast in me favored that option, but my inner-realist knew that we could inevitably pull higher frame rates from Core i5. ASRock's affordable Z75 Pro3 motherboard could get the most out of the -3470’s limited headroom, and Intel's bundled cooler would get the job done at no extra cost.
I've been arguing this for some time but I think too many people still don't get it. I see a lot of AMD CPU recommendations on the price of the CPU alone without any consideration for the rest of the platform. Premium OCing mboards and CPU coolers can quickly eat up the savings between an AMD and Intel CPU. And even then, you won't see much gaming difference between a stock Intel and OC AMD build in similar budget categories. Some might argue that the AMD route mentioned above will yield you a better mboard. But that's not so much the case anymore as H77 & 87 boards offer much better features than the older H67.

But I'm also the heretic that thinks CPU OCing is largely not worth it when it comes to gaming. Take a stock clocked FX 4300 or i5-3330. Does anyone honestly think that any game now or in the next two years is going to be bottlenecked to unplayable levels by either of those chips at stock clocks? Dual-core CPUs have been available about 10 years now. How many games today even use two threads, let alone the four and eight threads now available to us? Yes, some of the bigger games today will eat up four or more threads, but I bet we won't see quad-cores really as a mainstream gaming requirement for about five more years. Once you get above the Athlon X4 and Pentium crowd, the limitation shifts over to your GPU on the more demanding games. The only CPU that might start falling behind in the next year or two is the i3, and only barely.
 
RedJaron, I agree with you. CPUs are sufficiently powerful today that issues other than pure performance are able to become more important.
Yes, you can feel the difference between an AMD CPU and a [faster] Intel chip. The thought that has made me overspend on CPUs for years has always been "what if...," but the truth is for my mostly older games and general productivity applications, if I had a Pentium G860 I would not be suffering.
 

lynx961

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I build a desktop for gaming for a child in a same way, and it coasted me around 500$.
I put core I3 cpu because core I3 and core I5 is giving same rating when I test them. And most of games and applications Need VGA more than CPU.
I tried 1GB Radeon VGA and it didn’t give the performance like my 1GB Gforce on my laptop! So I changed it to Gforce 1GB and it was perfect.
Maybe I should bought the 2GB instead of 1GB VGA so the games will work in full capacity resolution.
I put 500 GB HD and DVD writer and 8GB Ram
Its making all new games work perfectly
Maybe the Secret is in the motherboard it should be 6gb/s buss speed so everything work perfectly.
Latest: Call of Duty, FIFA, Battlefield, Need for speed are working perfectly
 

csc14us

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Dec 31, 2013
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Having tried both, I applaud your decision to put in a Core i5 instead of an FX-6300. I did not have as much satisfaction from the AMD FX-6300 as others because my chip simply would not overclock reliably past 3.9 GHz. For Skyrim with lots of mods, I couldn't get a reliable 60 fps before I built my latest machine with a Core i5-4670K.
 
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