Description

As our apartment currently does not have enough space for a proper desk to put a desktop PC, but I desperately needed a machine to replace my close to eight year-old MacBook, this is the compromise budget build. It's attached to a 720p TV and I will likely access it via remote desktop from my work laptop for some light personal "office" stuff (bought a new ac/Gigabit-LAN router to go with it). The main uses will be Home-Theater stuff (movies, music, pictures) and, for now, light indie gaming (mostly 2D stuff like Stardew Valley or adventure games and "Walking Simulators" that are still enjoyable with a lower framerate). I want to get a graphics card at some point, but prices are just too messed up right now anyway. I'd be looking at a GTX 1050 Ti or RX570/580, I think these cards would make the most sense.

The main idea of the build was to lay a solid foundation on which the machine can grow. With a limited budget, I tried to open several upgrade paths. So the case is Mini ITX, but spacious enough for larger graphics cards, a number of hard drives, and even water cooling. The motherboard has all of the I/O I wanted for a HTPC incl. USB-C, which is probably going to be nice to have in a few months/years time. The main SSD is supposed to stay in the rig as long as possible, I'd like to avoid reinstalling Windows too often. The RAM is easily upgraded with a second stick of the same type and runs at the highest speed the motherboard supports already. The cooler is supposed to keep things a bit more quiet than the stock fan, especially with a possible upgrade to an i5/i7 in mind. The power supply is a bit shorter than usual, which is helpful for GPU airflow in this case, and 450W should be enough for most upgrade paths (of course, a 1080 may be too much, but with that kind of money on the table a new power supply should not be the problem). The Pentium is just incredible value for money right now and may make it unnecessary to upgrade the CPU for at least a couple of years. As I am not 100% sure what day-to-day use of this PC looks like, I tried to keep these options open.

This was my second from scratch build ever, but the last time I worked on a proper desktop PC was in 2003 or something. So, it's been a while, but it was still a breeze to get things up and running. I encountered no problems at all, the system posted right away, everything fit together nicely, and the case actually makes cable management doable in such a confined space. The biggest issues were:

  • getting anything done in the upper left corner of the board, the space between case and CPU cooler is small
  • the thick "sleeving" on the non-modular cables of the power supply, I just cut open and peeled back the shrink tube and zip-tied the individual cables together on the back of the case, pushing the mesh down a bit
  • the SATA power cable has to be bent pretty harshly in order to fit in the back of the case while plugged into a drive
  • the motherboard came with one straight and one 90° angled SATA cable, but if the angled end is used on the board, it blocks another SATA port (not important here as the case could not fit that many drives, but a bit annoying
  • the M.2 slot at the back of the motherboard is just a bit too low and is barely, if at all, accessible through the cutout in the case, I may have to disassemble everything to install an M.2 drive
  • while I can use two LED strips, the Nanoxia is noticeably better (whiter white, brighter, more accurate colors) and the colors never match
  • the SSD still has not arrived, so I have not been able to finalize the build and install all the software
  • the motherboard has two HDMI outs and one is the "main" one, the other does not show the BIOS
  • I had to set the correct memory profile (XMP or something) in the BIOS so the RAM would run at its max frequency
  • the front audio and front USB headers are in the lower left part of the motherboard, which is not a problem without a graphics card, but accounting for that already made it clear that this is a terrible position; the cables now reach across the entire width of the board and especially the USB cable is incredibly stiff, it will be difficult to tuck this between the CPU cooler and the GPU's backplate... and it just makes all of the cable management look bad, which is unfortunate

The case is great to build in and looks perfect for a living room PC. Unfortunately the window scratches easily (I bought it used). So far the keyboard/trackpad combo has been incredibly convenient for TV use.

Prices are usually for a used part off eBay incl. shipping. The motherboard is the biggest deal here, but includes credit card loyalty rewards, so the price is not quite fair. Only the CPU cooler, motherboard and power supply are new.

Thanks for reading, comments are welcome, especially if you have suggestions what I should upgrade next.

Edit: I got a Gainward GTX 750 Ti Golden Sample for 45€ off eBay and with that the machine is finally able to run at least modest 3D titles. I also figured out that my remote desktop compromise set-up would require an NVidia card as Game Streaming via GeForce Experience is far superior to any other streaming system (even Steam's solution) and with Moonlight it's device independent. I can now stream almost any game in very decent quality to my laptop. For regular remote desktopping, I use Splashtop, though. It's just more versatile. Wanted to let people know, just in case someone is looking at a similar streaming system.

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Comments

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

good name

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Ha, thanks. You gotta be honest about it. And it allows me to upgrade in the area I actually use the most.

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

That CPU has too much airflow going on. +1

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Do not get a rx 580/570. Get a 460 or a 1050 for $100. If you want to go even lower you could get a 550/1030 for $70. But the extra $30 would be well worth it. You would get about an extra 40% performance for the extra $30. You could also look for a used card like the 750ti. I see them on ebay for $30. It offers about the same performance if not more than the 550/1030. In most games it is better. Do not expect to pay $30 for one, It will probably be closer to $45 but even at that price it is worth it. Why did you get an aftermarket cooler? With the g4560 the stock cooler is fine. But if you got it for less noise that is perfectly reasonable. Those stock coolers can get loud from what I hear. No pun intended. good build overall. Cable management is great for a pc this small.

A gtx 760 would also be a good gpu option.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks so much for the feedback!

I'll look at cheaper used cards. The 750 Ti goes for 50-70€ plus shipping, it seems. I guess that's not worth it. The 760 is about the same, is that a better deal? I think right now I'll just wait and see. Why would you say the RX 570 is not a good idea (if my budget allows for it in a few months and prices have become normal again)? Alternatively I see a lot of people recommending a used GTX 970, which I could get for a bit more than 150€ (instead of a 1050 Ti, I guess). Does that make sense? Or are all these cards just a bit too much for my needs and for the CPU?

I got the cooler to keep the CPU quiet (or less noisy at least), yeah. The PC is in our living room, so noise is an important aspect.

Thanks for the compliment on the cable management, I would have loved to get white extensions, but that would have been just way too much cable to handle.

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

The 760 is about 5-10% better in most cases. It does consume more power and needs better cooling. I say just go for the cheapest option at the time of buying. The rx 470/480 are not good options right now because of the mining craze that has them selling for $350. The 960 is between the 1050 and the 1050ti as far as performance. If you are going to spend $150 you should get a used 970 instead of the 1050ti. It offers about 35% extra performance on average. It will be hotter and more power hungry but the performance is worth it. Just don't expect to get 8 years out of it. Set your expectations to about 3 years. By then something much better will be out and you will have even more used options. i still recommend getting a used 750ti or something like it. They are cheap, Power efficient, and very quite. Your cpu is great. It is a beast for the price. It should last you 3 years as a gaming chip easy. But by then i would advise upgrading to something like an i5. I strongly advise that you do not look into a 470 or 480. They may have good performance but the average $300-$350 price is way too much. i wish you luck in your quest for a gpu.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! This is great advice. I'll be on the lookout for good deals on used cards, maybe I'll get lucky. The 750 Ti does sound like a great option, especially if they are power efficient and quiet, something that worries me about the 960/70 cards. And with the money saved I could upgrade to something current and equally efficient sooner.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Exactly. Best to save money and buy one of the low end Volta cards that will be released around this time next year if Nvidia stays consistent with releasing their consumer cards in the summer. Good luck. May your frame rates be high and your temps be low. All Hail The Glorious PC Gaming Master Race.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Actually the RX 570/80 and 1050ti are some pretty good cards for the price, I wouldn't recommend getting older used cards since they are less efficient thus hotter and noisier and also just like the name suggests "used" meaning there is no guarantee it wouldn't blow up in a year or so, Really the only used card I would buy ever, Is the 750ti because of it's magnificent price to performance but in your case a 750ti is too weak, gtx 760/950/960's and really anything older then pascal and isn't weaker then a 750ti is for the most part not that great. 960's sell for like $120 but you can add 10 more $ and get a 1050ti which is more efficient and a bit better in performance, same goes for 950's/760's the gtx 1050 is more efficient then them and also better in performance, Trust me I have spent way too much time on ebay looking for used gpu's and for the most part don't buy used gpu's their prices aren't that great compared to the performance they give and the risk you take by buying them used.

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

" I wouldn't recommend getting older used cards since they are less efficient thus hotter and noisier and also just like the name suggests "used" meaning there is no guarantee it wouldn't blow up in a year or so" I have purchased over 20 graphics cards used. I have had 0 fail on me. One has a noisy fan, but they told me about that before i bought it (and i bought it for rediculously cheap. The gtx 760 can be purchased for 73 dollars. On passmark the 760 gets a score of 4949 meanwhile the 1050 ti gets a score of 5765. That is double the cost for effectively 15 percent more performance. Its a fine card and will be able to play any modern game just fine.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

well I can't say your wrong per say, but the thing is not everyone will get lucky and find a 760 for 70 that lasts 7 years, good luck finding a 760 that you can buy right away that is 70 dollaz, I can only find them for 100 and the 1050 non ti is better at that price point.

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

ooh wait just found a 960 for $62, will then...****, but still there some risk m8 like the seller could be a big c#$! and lie about it being a 960...Eh ?

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

on ebay right now there is one for 60 dollars plus shipping. The shipping to my place was 13 dollars. I saw at least 5 760's for less then 100 dollars.

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

I wouldn't recommend getting older used cards since they are less efficient thus hotter and noisier and also just like the name suggests "used" meaning there is no guarantee it wouldn't blow up in a year or so,

I have bought used CPUs, GPUs, RAM, SSDs, HDDs and PSUs. I have never seen them "blow up". So far I had one dud RAM and a very bent up 2 slot PCI bracket with a lose fin for the heatsink of a GTX 1050. I returned these right away, both with full money back though this was from Amazon.

Blow ups, none in my experience. Some conditions are either good or so-so depending on how they were handled and used to begin with. I cannot speak for Ebay, but hearing from friends who do have been pleased or vice-versa (not so good) base upon the product between price and the seller.

Reading from OP's description. I think a RX 460/RX560 between a GTX 1050/GTX 1050 Ti would be a good choice. Unless they can find an amazing deal for the GTX 750 Ti.

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

I'm on the lookout for a 750 Ti at a good price now. Unfortunately, prices on German eBay are not good it seems, cannot find anything under 50€ + shipping. But I'll keep looking, if it does not work out, I'll get a 1050 Ti or 560 in a few months time.

Most of the stuff in this machine is used, so I'm not afraid of that. You just have to pay attention and of course it's not a good idea to buy stuff that is 10 years old or that was obviously messed with.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm on the lookout for a 750 Ti at a good price now. Unfortunately, prices on German eBay are not good it seems, cannot find anything under 50€ + shipping. But I'll keep looking, if it does not work out, I'll get a 1050 Ti or 560 in a few months time.

That is unfortunate, I hope you find good deal when the opportunity presents itself. Of course as you mention, saving for a few months until you can afford a new video card.

Most of the stuff in this machine is used, so I'm not afraid of that. You just have to pay attention and of course it's not a good idea to buy stuff that is 10 years old or that was obviously messed with.

Right and exactly.

And great work for finding good deals for your parts.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

With his 720p tv, a 750ti should be more than enough. I would go against the 760, because I had a 760 with that same power supply, and with the power draw, the fan on the PSU started to wear out. Might also have been a bunk PSU, plus I had an 80 watt processor, and that couldn't have helped. Still, 750ti is plenty at 720p.

  • 31 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, I found a Gainward 750 Ti Golden Sample for 45€ and it is perfect for my needs. The temptation of spending just a bit more for a that higher model number is strong, but thanks to everyone's advice I was able to resist. ;)