Description

This is my version of Digah's budget build - http://pcpartpicker.com/guide/W4wrxr/400-beginner-gaming-pc-good-1080p-gaming-march-2016

Completed April 14th.

My full experience is documented below; note that I have resolved 90% of the issues I outline with further help from Digah and IwannaPC and am now gaming comfortably at 60+ fps on for medium-high settings in 1080p depending on the title. Very happy with what I was able to squeeze out of this setup.

Final Diagnostics from this list:

Safely overclocked G3258 - 4.1ghz at 1.19V - temps go no higher than 60C even at extreme loads - further potential to overclock more even with stock fan. Win7 Home P 64 Bit OS Overclocked GPU by 15% - Safe temps mid 50Cs under heavy loads, potential to go further still and hit higher average FPS. Load times are great considering no SSD

Tips for people who wish to try Digah's from a guy who did:

To get the most out of the rig you MUST be willing to put in the effort of learning how to properly overclock both CPU and GPU with stock components. Doing that really unlocked the potential of the rig and turned it into quote a beast. The biggest factor for me was case selection; I strongly recommend writing down the dimensions of your chosen Mobo, PSU, and GPU and physically going to a retailer to look at budget cases to see which ones will afford you the maximum airflow and cabling. Also forgo an optical drive, more airflow/easier cabling that way and boot things from .isos on usbs. Since you're not investing in cooling and other things, you need to invest the time in learning to emulate a more pro gaming rig at $400 or less.

Upgrade path recommendation: Cooling>SSD>GPU>CPU>RAM

My full experience is documented below; note that I have resolved 90% of the issues I outline with further help from Digah and IwannaPC and am now gaming comfortably at 60+ fps on for medium-high settings in 1080p depending on the title. Very happy with what I was able to squeeze out of this setup.

Thanks all!

Notes:

"*@Digah2750 & IwannaPC:

Completed my closely-aligned version of your build, overclocked and stable!

This was my first from-scratch build and I had a blast putting it together. Thank you SO much for the guide! Only issue I had in building was with cabling on the case and mobo: the GPU is so large relative to the case/mobo that it sits on top of the power pins for the HDD LED lights and they can't be plugged in -- no biggie --; and it also sits right up against the 6.0/s SATA inputs, Power/Reset pins, front 8mm sound pins, USB 2.0 headers and is so close to the bottom of the case where the GPU fans point so that airflow is slightly but unavoidably obfuscated by plugs and wires regardless of cabling skills. Fortunately, the SRM-01 case also has a dust-catch that can be removed at the bottom of the case effectively giving the GPU a dedicated vent if you put the tower on a flat un-carpeted surface. I'll probably switch to your recommended case when I get the motivation to port everything over at some point if I have any temperature issues with the GPU down the line in light of this. No issues with the PSU I chose that I can tell at this point!

So here's where my noobishness is affecting the end-build and optimal gaming as I do not believe I have unlocked the full potential of this solid just yet: I'm now working in two territories I have not mastered for optimizing and configuring the build for gaming and wanted to know if you had any advice on getting the most out of it re 2 topics:

I. Overclocking

Never done this before but I think I might be on the right track-- here's my exact build again for ref: https://pcpartpicker.com/user/Bigben15/saved/#view=TZyj4D

After fiddling with ASUS AI Suite 3 I determined it's basically useless for OC'ing the H81M-E mobo given its rudimentary UI for this model; probably not the case for newer or Z-series mobos but the standard ASUS boot bios were wayyy more intuitive especially for a novice at OC'ing and I love them. They'res even a "performance" button in EZ mode view on the Bios that OC'd the G3258 from 3.2 to 3.6ghz automatically with one click -- No idea what the same "performance" radials in AI Suite 3 do -- clicking/rebooting them didn't change anything and if it did I have no idea how to measure it because neither AII Suite and CPU-Z didn't show any noticeable modifications/performance changes. It also doesn't seem to recognize changes I've made in the bios beyond confirming that the chip is running at OC'd speeds and voltages.

Here's what I changed in BIOS to achieve my "custom" OC and what I ended up with:

Bios > Advanced Mode > AI Tweaker

Overclock Tuner > Sync both Cores

Multiplier Core 1 & 2 = 41

CPU Phase control & all other AI tweaker settings on Auto; EPU Disabled

This resulted in a stable 4.1ghz OC at a VCore of 1.19V on stock cooler. CPU temps monitored with Realtemp showed an idling range of low 30Cs, Upper 40C/Low 50C range with many apps running simultaneously, and for gaming temps were in the mid-upper 50Cs with a brief peak of 66C.

Do those results look safe/optimal to everyone?

I tried to go to a 4.2ghz auto OC that put the system at 1.22V but I got a bluescreen as soon as I started to play games, the temps were fine though even right before it went blue (~58C). No problems at 4.1 with several hours of gaming in since. I think I could go higher even than 4.1 on the stock cooler but I am intimidated by other OC'ing considerations like Vcore config/ASUS "adaptive mode" and how to work with them. I understand you have this ASUS mobo with a G3258 OC'd in play at 4.2 correct Digah? Care to share your bios settings in the AI tweaker for me to try out?

II. GPU Configuration

This is where I am somewhat disappointed in the build, but I am probably at fault and would like some help on how to optimize.

I tested the GPU and gaming context on WoW, as I consider that game to be a "minimum baseline" for a budget build to be able to play at max settings at at least 60FPS, especially with a "facotry OC'd"midrange GPU released in June 2015 playing a game conceived in the early 2000s with a mandate to cater to players without dedicated gaming rigs. Perhaps I got my hopes up here?

WoW Defaulted the settings for my system to "Good", which is two steps below "Ultra". After testing the recommend and higher settings the reccommended ones are what I found to be the most stable/consistent for a 60fps average which is sad because I can do 40fps on "Fair" -- just one step below -- on a 5 year old mac which has one of the least-gaming friendly setups I've ever owned (integrated Intel HD GPU with its gaming memory cut in half).

Surprisingly when I go to Ultra, higher textures and even shadows don't appear to be the culprit for fps loss/stuttering and the R7 370 4GB takes these max settings in stride under most conditions.

Lighting effects, anti-aliasing above 4x, particle density, view distance, ground clutter, all of these things any higher than good (in the case of lighting, low/off) kill the fps and game performance -- lighting utterly destroys it under anything but optimal WoW scenarios. At ultra I'm left with a sputtery jagged 15-45fps slideshow of inconsistency and choppy frustrating gameplay -- albeit one of beautiful images compared to what I'm used to.

I'm afraid to try FarCry Primal for fear of greater disappointment even though I expected to run that at much lower settings anyway.

I haven't spent as much time trying to correct this beyond several hours of tweaking/testing in-game settings, but here's what I've done to try and improve the performance for my "baseline game" in terms of this budget build:

OC the CPU -- pushed me into higher FPS range in the best of times, doesn't seem to change much about the worst of times. Vertical Sync and framerate caps have become my friend, unfortunately. Utilized the included "Strix GPU Tweaker" software utility's 'gaming boost options'; I have no idea if this has had more than just a marginal positive effect -- this tool also confuses me as it treats OC'ing as a separate function to gaming usage which I do not understand. Also there appear to be a few issues with the utility insofar as it boots fine on startup, but If I close it and reopen it at any point it won't launch with a "VGA Init" error showing. Also, the GPU came with AMD's Crimson suite which also has places to tweak some settings -- but I haven't touched it at all for fear they might conflict with the Tweaker or I'll mess something up that should be at defaults. Starting, JUST starting, researching peripheral issues that may not be GPU related such as latency, firewall, and external display that might be more at fault than the build/GPU. For example I have an old battle axe of a monitor that caps at 60hz in standard definition -- in the interest of budget I kept it b/c I am assuming the old thing shouldn't cause gameplay performance to suffer graphicswise but I already knew I was going to have a less-than-HD gaming experience with it, if its crippling the games itself though I would be surprised but also ready/willing to upgrade sooner if y'all think that might be the case. No idea how to address the latency potential though, I never had lag in WoW or other games on my crappier macintosh rigs on the same network that weren't related to heavy graphics utilization. So there's my experience and issues, I'm going to reserve final feedback on the build after I address anything you guys can identify. Any thoughts on where I'm failing/under-utilizing the rig for topics I & II? There's a six-pack in it for anyone who read this post/replies in it from me at any rate :) Whew!

Thanks! Ben

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IwannaPC 5 Builds 1 point 20 hours ago This resulted in a stable 4.1ghz OC at a VCore of 1.19V on stock cooler. CPU temps monitored with Realtemp showed an idling range of low 30Cs, Upper 40C/Low 50C range with many apps running simultaneously, and for gaming temps were in the mid-upper 50Cs with a brief peak of 66C.

Do those results look safe/optimal to everyone? Yes, they do.

Vertical Sync and framerate caps have become my friend, unfortunately. Vertical Sync should always be your friend, but framerate caps should be expected with a budget build.

Also, the GPU came with AMD's Crimson suite which also has places to tweak some settings -- but I haven't touched it at all for fear they might conflict with the Tweaker or I'll mess something up that should be at defaults. Crimson will probably only allow you to change GPU related things, like the overclock, and then display settings. Of course, don't touch the overclocking settings unless you know what you're doing. It won't conflict with the Tweaker.

Surprisingly when I go to Ultra, higher textures and even shadows don't appear to be the culprit for fps loss/stuttering and the R7 370 4GB takes these max settings in stride under most conditions.

Lighting effects, anti-aliasing above 4x, particle density, view distance, ground clutter, all of these things any higher than good (in the case of lighting, low/off) kill the fps and game performance -- lighting utterly destroys it under anything but optimal WoW scenarios. Anti-Aliasing and view distance are most likely what is going to kill the FPS. I'm not too sure on the other settings as to why they would be killing the game, but that's because I've never played it.

I think you get the prize for one of the longest comments ever! :P

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digah2750 SUBMITTER 1 point 17 hours ago I understand you have this ASUS mobo with a G3258 OC'd in play at 4.2 correct Digah? How the heck did you know that?!

For the GPU covering ports, you have to plug in the things before you install the GPU. I did it the wrong order the first time I built my PC, you just have to go back and do it over. It's a pain to get to the PCI-E lock so you might have to (carefully) use a screwdriver or something to get to it.

I. Overclocking

I don't know about my BIOS settings, or at all about how to use them actually. Sorry. But my G3258 is definitely running at 4.2, but not all programs show it. I use CPU-Z for monitoring, and it shows it at 4.2. My voltage is at 1.345V. I barely tested core-clocks and voltages, but this is what has been working for me for the past few months. Do some more fooling around, and if you still need to I can do some fooling around in the bios to get you the info you need.

II. GPU Setup

No idea about the WoW issue, but it sounds very weird. Some optimization/setting issue probably. Don't know what to say.

For OCing there are some good videos on youtube. For my 960 I was stress-testing it while slowly increasing clock speeds until I saw some bad stuff happening, then I'd push it down some. Make sure to read plenty of guides so you don't blow your GPU up or something.

Has Windows updated in the past? If it hasn't updated at all that may be your problem...

Not virtually 21 yet, so the virtual booze will have to wait. I'm really tired so I might return to your essay later and more thoroughly investigate it. Best of luck!*"

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Comments

  • 46 months ago
  • 3 points

Glad I could help you out man. I hope all the issues are resolved and you can get to some great gaming ;)

  • 46 months ago
  • 2 points

I need to +1.

Might want to fix that formatting: https://pcpartpicker.com/forums/topic/90440-forum-formatting-guide

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for that, was curious about formatting for this site.

  • 46 months ago
  • 3 points

Probably the most helpful link a user can know about tbh

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

I wanted to format our previous convo as a giant italicized quote just like a forum comment -- according to this I would have to bookend asterisks on each word -- ain't nobody got time fo' that!

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  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Very, very, VERY good build 4 the price!!!

+1111

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

That's some great price/performance.

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Love your build dude. You took a lot of time to push your system and that's fricken awesome.

+1

And +1 to the individuals that helped you make it happen. I love builds like this!

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Cheers!

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm digging that Hard drive cage design, it looks like it keeps the Drive from being unobtrusive, which isn't the scenario for most cases out there, even less so for budget build cases.

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

It is limiting in terms of default storage configurations, and installation can be a little annoying, but it is pretty good. It's existed for a very long time.

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Im using that case in a build next week. Looks nicer than the stock picture.

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

I agree with that.

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice!

Tip: Install the GPU as the absolute last step and plan your cabling around that component, the rest simply just fall into place. Also I ditched the dust-trap and put the tower on a perforated hard surface = free extra vent!

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Noice!

Also, i think we have the same carpet...

0.o

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point
  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh nvm we dont

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

FYI you could have grabbed a 960 with 4GB a bit a go from Jet for around $145 with the first-timer code. It would have provided better performance and also used less power produced less heat and be quieter. It's also a smaller card all around.

Nice case, I'm going to be migrating my parts from my big case to this one and bumping to a 4590k and probably 970 unless Pascal comes out.

Edit: that PSU frequently drops to $25 after MIR. If you were planning to OC I HIGHLY recommend spending $20 and buying the Cryorig M9i. It fits in this case, is quieter than stock cooling, and can drop your temps by ~15-20 degrees C. You'll be able to bump your OC higher and be more stable over time.

Edit2: GPU is on sale right now!

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814487093&cm_re=Evga_gtx_geforce_960-_-14-487-093-_-Product

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Ah Nice find! Too bad it's was much more expensive on my preferred vendor -- It's also still around 50$ more than I paid for my GPU on NewEgg. (I actually came in at 385 on this rig!) When I start upgrading I'll def look into this model. The point of the first go was to stay within a budget and see how much I actually need. Next time I feel I need to boost the hardware, I'll look into this model thanks!

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

No problem. That's what I did with my PC. I wanted to see how well she would perform before I spent more money.

Seriously though, pick up a cryorig m9i. I just bought one for my matx case. It's awesome and quieter and smaller than my EVO 212 in my main rig

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Wow, lots of work put into the description I see!

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

I am curious what you would change in this "budget" build to get it to the next level. Any new reasonably priced hardware that you wished you started off with?

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