I would like to thank jipster69 for inspiring me to create as well formatted and informative a build post as possible. When I first posted this build, there was one large paragraph describing my build, part selection and the build process without much organization. After looking at Project Boreas one day while browsing PCPP, I decided that I could do much better and benefit others by putting more time and effort into describing my build. So, this is the result. I hope you like it.
This is my current rig created for the purposes of both heavy gaming and software development, namely video games. This had to be done on a budget of no more than $1000, excluding the monitor and headphones which my father purchased for me for my 21st birthday and the previous Christmas respectively. After a few days of perusing parts on Newegg and Amazon, I came to the conclusion that my purposes would be best served by a pure AMD build, as the multi-threaded capabilities of the AMD FX series processors (namely the 83xx line) would serve me well when developing in environments such as Unity and doing sound editing, texture editing and modeling in programs like Audacity, Gimp and Blender, as well as provide enough power in gaming to meet my needs in terms of both the CPU and GPU; but, most importantly of all, the price of these components would allow me to achieve the type of build I wanted while maintaining the budget. So, after spending some more time carefully selecting my components and ensuring their compatibility to the fullness of my capabilities, I ordered the parts from Newegg and received all of them in one large package approximately one week later (with the exception of the case, which came by itself two days earlier). Everything arrived in sealed, undamaged packages with all components fully intact and functional. The following table is a price breakdown of the components from Newegg at the time of my purchase.
NOTE: The part list that accompanies this build uses the current best price of each component of the build from the distributor with the lowest price at this time, in order to help the reader accurately gauge the price it would take them to build this rig themselves. The following list is the prices that I myself paid for the components. My monitor and headphones are not included in either price breakdown since they were purchased for me, not by me.
|AMD FX-8350 4.0GHz 8-Core Processor||$169.99||$169.99|
|Asus M5A99FX PRO R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard||$119.99||$289.98|
|G.Skill Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory||$114.99||$404.97|
|Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive||$54.99||$459.96|
|Sapphire Radeon R9 280X 3GB Vapor-X Video Card||$219.99||$679.95|
|Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Computer Case||$59.99||$739.94|
|Rosewill 750W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply||$69.99||$809.93|
|Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer||$19.99||$829.92|
|Microsoft Windows 8.1 OEM (64-bit)||$99.99||$929.91|
|Logitech MK120 Wired Slim Keyboard w/ Optical Mouse||$14.99||$944.90|
UPDATE 05/14/2016: I recently purchased a couple of new things for the build, namely a gaming keyboard and mouse bundle, a 200mm blue LED case fan and a 480GB solid state drive to become my primary OS drive. The part list has been updated to reflect this and I have added the prices of these components and peripherals in the following table as well as part selection explanations and reviews.
|PNY CS1311 480GB 2.5" SSD||$109.99||$1,047.52|
|Cooler Master OCTANE w/ Optical Mouse||$49.99||$1,097.51|
|Cooler Master MegaFlow Blue LED 200mm Case Fan||$14.99||$1,112.50|
NOTE: Like the price breakdown, the monitor and headphones are not included in the part selection as they were gifts that I did not personally select.
This is certainly the component upon which I spent the most time deliberating. The first decision I had to make was the most obvious: Intel or AMD? I ultimately decided to go with AMD because of the overall cost of the build. After this decision, the rest was a fairly simple process. I choose the FX series without any hesitation. At first I had the FX-9370 selected, but the TDP was a little too high for my liking, so I downgraded to the 83xx series. I choose the 8350 over the 8320 for the increased clock speed because I am not confident enough in overclocking to do it on my primary build.
I have always preferred Asus motherboards because, in my experience, they are reliable and more often than not function without many hitches. This particular one was chosen firstly for the 990FX chipset, secondly for the reviews indicating an overall high build quality, and thirdly for the color scheme, as I was planning on a Blue/Black theme.
Not much to say here. The FX-8350 only supports up to DDR3-1866 and I simply picked a reliable brand. I chose the Ares to go with the color scheme and for the low profile heat spreaders to allow for more cooling options down the road. I decided on 16GB as opposed to 8 because I do some game development and VM work at the same time as watching/listening to YouTube videos and browsing forums and tutorials for help.
Again, this was a simple, obvious choice. I wish now that I had worked an SSD into the budget, but at the time I didn't want to sacrifice another part of the build in order to make it fit. I chose a reliable brand and a decent amount of storage, nothing too big as an extra hard drive down the road is an easy and relatively cheap upgrade.
UPDATE 05/14/2016: I finally came into the modern realm of computing with my purchase of the PNY CS1311 480GB solid state drive. I installed Windows 10 onto it and reformatted my mechanical drive to act as mass storage for music, movies, TV shows and my personal recordings. I am amazed at the difference in boot time and game loading speeds. A boot that used to take a full minute/minute and a half now takes twenty seconds at most. Even though the model I purchased is technically an entry-level drive it still blows my 7200RPM mechanical drive out of the water. I am now of the camp that believes everyone should have an SSD as at least their OS drive. Now I know what all the hype is about.
This decision, while not the easiest, was certainly easier than the processor. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to go with an AMD card, so the only things I had to decide were what model and manufacturer. I have always had good experiences with Sapphire cards, so picked them as the manufacturer. For the model it came down to what it does for most builders: price point. At just over $200, the 280X was perfect for the budget I had in mind, so the R9 280X Vapor-X Tri-X OC was what I settled upon.
This was a particularly difficult choice for me. I wanted at least two stock case fans as I had not allocated room in the budget for them. I wanted something that I personally find aesthetically pleasing. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I wanted something that could fit the monstrous GPU I had chosen and still maintain decent airflow. After much deliberation I finally settled upon the Cooler Master HAF 912. I had initially wanted something with a side-panel window, but the great reviews this case got along with the stock fans and the look led me to the decision to sacrifice this one aspect.
A fairly mundane process went into picking this part. I simply found anything with a high enough output that had a decent certification and good reviews and compared the prices. At the time, this unit was the cheapest option from a trusted manufacturer that had a reputation of reliability.
Like the HDD, this one was easy. I don't own any Blu-rays, so I didn't need that functionality. I chose what was cheapest on Newegg at the time, and Samsung is a generally trustworthy manufacturer.
The keyboard and mouse were simply the cheapest I could find. I plan on purchasing a better, gaming-oriented set in the near future but it wasn't a pressing matter at the time and, like the decision to go without an SSD, I didn't want to take money from the other components for something trivial. Logitech has always been my go-to for cheap peripherals, so I bought the cheapest bundle they had.
UPDATE 05/14/2016: I ended up going a lot longer than I expected without purchasing a new keyboard and mouse, but I finally upgraded, and I must say I am quite happy. The Octane bundle is an awesome and affordable non-mechanical set that has a nice tactile feel for a membrane keyboard and aesthetics that match my case perfectly. Overall, if your in the below $100 price bracket and need a decent matched pair of gaming peripherals then I fully recommend this set.
After receiving my components I immediately set about building the computer. To my mild relief, all of my components were fully functional and compatible and came together without any mishaps. The build was very easy, though the cable management was somewhat frustrating due to the relatively shallow space behind the motherboard and the PSU wires being unnecessarily stiff and difficult to work with. I was concerned at first upon seeing the sheer length of my GPU (12.13"/308mm), but it fit into the case without any problems after I removed the upper 3.5" HDD bay which was not difficult in the slightest. Overall, I am pleased with the end result and there's not much more to say in terms of the actual build process itself.
Excellent budget processor. If you can afford an i7 or high-end Haswell i5 go with that, otherwise this is an excellent deal. Awesome multi-threaded performance, decent single core performance, works well with an R9 280X for a good mid-high level CPU/GPU pair, hasn't bottlenecked for me yet. Runs a little hot with an idle of 35°C and load of 55 to 60 on the stock cooler but can be fixed with an aftermarket cooling solution, a fairly high TDP of 125W. Overall one of the best deals around for less than 200 USD.
An absolute breeze to build with, this motherboard not only looks good, but feels good to work with as well. The UEFI BIOS just makes everything that much easier, there are several little bells and whistles included that make things go smooth (e.g. two included 90 degree Serial ATA cables, a guide piece for the front panel I/O connectors) and the user manual is clear, concise and thorough. By far the best motherboard for the price I have ever owned.
What can you say in a review about RAM? It works, it arrived undamaged in a sealed package, it runs at the advertised speed (1866), heatspreaders look good and sit low to the motherboard to allow for large CPU coolers. Completely happy about this purchase.
Works well, very cost effective for the amount of space. Pretty much identical quality between this and a Seagate Barracuda. My advice would be to buy whatever is cheaper at the time.
Best price:performance ratio I have seen. Excellent build quality, large factory overclock that significantly impacts performance. Plays modern games on high to max settings at 1080p with 60fps. Combination of triple fans and vapor chamber cooling keeps it below 60°C at all times, looks absolutely beautiful. Very large, 12.13"/308mm length so make sure your case can fit it. Can make cable management somewhat difficult especially in a mid tower with a non-modular PSU. Got it on sale on Newegg for 220 USD, best deal on a graphics card I have ever seen.
One of the best low-mid budget mid tower cases around, the Cooler Master HAF 912 is a great case for the price. Two included 120mm fans (one front and one back mounted) that are fairly quiet and provide decent air flow keep all the components cool. It comes with a plethora of drive mounts, some of which can be removed to accommodate large graphics cards such as mine, and the tool-less bay design is very easy and intuitive to work with. All that aside, this case is also very attractive and stylish. The only negatives in my mind are the lack of any front USB 3.0 ports (but I knew that was the case upon purchase) and the air filters, which aren't so much filters as they are large-holed mesh screens. Overall an excellent purchase, would recommend to anyone looking for a good high air flow budget case.
A steal of a PSU for the price. Functions just fine and operates almost silently, no rattling or coil whine. 80+ Bronze is a somewhat skimpy certification, but what can you complain about at that price point? Better costs more, and this fit my budget perfectly. Never been dissatisfied with Rosewill, would buy again with the same budget.
Very standard optical drive, nothing special. Cheap, and does what it needs to do. Nothing more to say, really.
Best monitor for the price in my opinion. Looks great, crisp edges and vibrant colors, text is clear and readable, no ghosting as far as I can tell. Sleek looking black design with a little red on the stand. Only negatives are the interface which is clunky and hard to use and the lack of height adjustment. Very satisfied, would recommend BenQ monitors to anyone and everyone.
Some of the best headphones I have ever owned. Sound is absolutely beautiful, highs are sharp and clear and bass is powerful. One can never go wrong with Sennheiser. Cancels out background noise even without active noise cancelling, and they are possibly the most comfortable headphones I have ever placed on my head. If you have the money but can't afford higher-end Sennheisers, buy these headphones.