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My First Proper Gaming PC *Slightly Updated*
by Spencer1012
Permalink:   (35 comments)
Description

HUGE UPDATE: I changed out the case and GPU in this build and reposted it, as members on the forum suggested. Check that out - it's more current than this one! Thanks for looking :-)

I've been building PCs for about a couple of years now, but I always found myself buying things that were "low end" or borderline outdated as I could only spend a small amount of money. I wanted to change that and I did with this build after getting a seasonal job for about 4 months where I saved about $1000 and had a few hundred bucks set aside to build this.

I was smart (a rare occurrence with computer-related things) and bought a very budget system but with a good motherboard so I figured I could gradually upgrade the system to what it is today incrementally, so I could have a ton of time to find the prices that border on robbery, while selling my old parts online for good (for me) prices to minimize the damage to my wallet.

In case you're wondering, my system a year ago was an FX 4100 at 5 Ghz (no typo, great quad core for $90 at the time) and an HD 6850 in a cheapo Cooler Master case that cost me 400 bucks for the system. It worked but couldn't handle much at high settings. Kerbal Space Program at max settings made that GPU wilt, IIRC. This build shows that you can get performance in another league for only about 60% more.

Anyways, this is my system! I've worked really hard to get it to where it is today and am quite proud of the cable management because I SUCK at it. I'm not used to anything so tidy :-) You can't even see the 8 pin CPU power plug/cable! The only thing I hate is that pesky black case fan cable going across the GPU area. Maybe sometime this weekend I'll put that under the motherboard or something so it's not so ugly.

This system maxes out anything I can throw at it at my current (but about to change) resolution of 1600x900. I have a limited game library that exists partially thanks to the Humble Origin Bundle that includes Battlefield 3, Crysis 2, Grid 2, Kerbal Space Program, and some other non-graphics intensive NFS/other racing games and such. The 660 Ti doesn't even have to put forth much effort to max out NFS Shift 2 or Burnout Paradise. I will get my hands on an Asus 1080p IPS monitor so I can go dual monitors this weekend (hopefully.. It would be a birthday present for my 16th birthday) (ended up getting it :3) According to benchmarks online, I should be able to still max those games out at 1080p. Fingers crossed..

I honestly feel that this is about as good as I could do considering that the tower only cost me around $660. Most other builds in the 600 dollar range seem to have an i5 with not enough GPU horsepower or an i3 with something like a 660 Ti.

The reason that some of my prices are so dirt cheap is mentioned above. I bought what I needed over the course of months when the item went on clearance or someone posted a refurbished/open box item on eBay. If you're willing to do this, you can save huge amounts of cash if you're smart about it. For example, I picked up the RAM for $45 plus tax because my local Best Buy either wanted that exact memory kit gone or just was clearancing it out for who knows why. It's back at $80 there last I saw. I also got a case fan there for 5 bucks because it was a returned item. That little stuff adds up real fast. Shopping like that probably saved me a couple hundred dollars over buying new at whatever the current price is.

Also, I came into PC building with no knowledge and all of my incremental upgrades went without a hitch. (except for the one I describe shortly) I didn't ever break anything or damage anything and I have gotten it where I can fully assemble this PC from scratch and cable manage it in about 2-2.5 hours, taking my time.

I have a pretty decent OC on my CPU at stock volts, but my GPU utterly sucked at overclocking. I could only squeeze about 20 Mhz out of the core clock (albeit before GPU Boost's auto-200 Mhz overclock to about 1240 Mhz in games). After that point, it crashed regardless of voltage. I did give it a decent memory OC to help with the 660 Ti's bandwidth issues at higher resolutions like 1080p. I added about 180 Mhz in EVGA Precision X to give it about 10 GB/s more of bandwidth because it was free performance, I guess. I'll take it any day considering I got it for $170 hardly used on eBay.

I feel I should also note that this system is very quiet. On the 'high' fan controller setting built into my case, all I hear is air moving. Lots of it. The included fans are very quiet and by some great luck I got some super-quiet Rosewill fans that I can't even hear on max RPMs that also move lots of air. (EDIT: with the new fans there's less 'whoosh' and clicking noise but there's still lots of air moving.)

Note

The reason I bothered with such a cheap sound card is because my integrated audio from my old Antec (!!!) PSU exploding in my face. After that happened my onboard audio just put out static (tested with multiple headphones and speakers) and did nothing. Drivers weren't an issue. When that old PSU died, there was lots of noise and I could hear what sounded like sparks flying. Also, my old blue LED fan was twitching. The LEDs were flickering and everything. I'm darn lucky not to have broken anything else. I think the sound is a bit better in games, though. Could be that good ol' placebo effect.

Also, please don't bash the image quality. All I have for pics is an iPhone and I had to upload the pictures to my Google Drive account and download them to my PC before re-uploading them here. Some of the quality could have been lost if the images got resized. I feel that the pictures show you the system, though.

Let me know what you think and if there's anything I could have done better, considering the budget and the fact that I'm only 16 on Saturday :3 If there's any more pics you think I should take and upload, let me know. I'll try to get to it some time I suppose. I'm a busy person who does a LOT more than game. However, there might be reason to doubt that considering what I have typed up here. Goodness, I've typed a lot.

Take note that the CPU cooler only will install vertically on AMD systems. I had no choice but to install it that way. It surprisingly performs very well pulling hot air off the GPU. I have no idea how.

Thanks for checking my build out!

EDIT: I did some more cable management to tidy it up a bit. Notably, I moved that fan cord that stuck out against the motherboard. I put it near the back of the case, in that little hole between the motherboard and the GPU's PCB right against the back of the case. It looks better than before, and I'm not about to remove the motherboard for 1 lousy cable. I also swapped some fans out with a 2 of those Cooler Master value fans that come in a 4 pack. They're amazing, especially at that price. There's no coil whine and I just hear some air movement. For $3 each, you can't go wrong. Also, I've got some extras if another fan decides to act up now.

I swapped them in for the fans I had because most of them made this annoying clicking noise that I thought was just something in my house. Those NZXT fans' bearings all made that noise, except for a couple of them. It annoyed the heck out of me. Now, I can sleep in the same room as this PC. I can barely hear it, which is saying something because that little, rapid clicking noise kept me awake.

I also removed that WD Blue drive. It was very old and was vibrating enough to shake the entire case enough to make significant noise. I just moved what little I had on it to the 500 GB drive and tossed it in a drawer in case I ever decide that I need something from it. I also removed the CD drive, as I haven't used it other than to install the OS. The cables annoyed me.

I will add pictures hopefully this evening of the interior. Not much changed inside and I'm busy for a bit this evening.

Adding the pics now. I'll leave the old ones as 'before' pictures I guess. The last 3 are the new pics. There's no lights in there anymore because the 140mm fan wasn't balanced - it visibly wobbled a TON while operating and just spinning it by hand (after me noticing the wobbling) and made a clicking noise that I can't stand. I think it's that 'rifle' bearing NZXT uses. It seems to be kind of cheap.

Also, my dog scratched at the side panel while I was tinkering with cables and, after directly inflicting a small nick on the inside of the panel, kicked it over onto an old power supply I had sitting out for some reason. She pushed it onto the corner of the PSU as well as some of the sharp plastic plugs on it. It's an old work PC PSU from about 2003. Now there's 3 nice little scratches on the outside of the side panel T_T (of course, it has to be the windowed panel, the only one you actually look at.)

I also tossed in a pic of my dual monitor setup. I'm using my old 1600x900 as a secondary, and it's really nice for general tasks and schoolwork that requires research to be put into a paper, for instance.

Again, sorry for the iPhone quality pictures. Taking pictures with EXTREMELY shaky hands (runs in the family. makes PC building and playing golf near impossible, but I'm good at both - I hope :P) and an iPhone while awkwardly laying on the floor is hard.

UPDATE 2:

The GPU is now making an extremely annoying noise that's coming from the power delivery system. (ferrite chokes?) Although it wouldn't be an issue for 98% of people, it is for me, since I'm young and can actually hear those high pitched noises. Plus, the fans are very quiet, so the noise is exaggerated and I'm having issues sleeping with this system on.

And yes, I tested with another GPU to make sure that it was the source of the problem.

I found a brand new 7870 on eBay for $125 that will be its replacement. The 660 Ti was a bit much for my uses, and I'd like some extra cash. Plus, the 7870 is sure no slouch. It should perform similarly if I can overclock it, since my 660 Ti refused to overclock at all.

The case is also picking up nasty vibrations from the hard drive that are rattling the side panel because the center of the panel isn't secured down, due to the fact that the 2 thumbscrews only secure the edges down. Also, it's not exactly quiet when you're trying to fall asleep. For daily use, it's great, but I'm uber picky about that kind of stuff when I'm not playing a game or something. I also think that the Corsair 550D looks outstanding.

I'm thinking of getting a Corsair 550D with the money I will save going to the 7870. I'm willing to sacrifice a few degrees for the quietness. Does anyone have any personal experience with this? I can get it "like new" from Amazon's warehouse deals for like $80 I think. I've had good experiences with them.

Pics of this should arrive in a week or 2. If anyone has experience with the 550D let me know please!

Part List
Details
AMD FX-8320 3.5GHz 8-Core Processor
CPU Clock Rate4.2GHz
CPU Temperature While Idle25.0° C
CPU Temperature Under Load50.0° C
MSI GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB Video Card
GPU Core Clock Rate1.04Ghz
GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate6.36Ghz
GPU Temperature While Idle28.0° C
GPU Temperature Under Load62.0° C
Comments
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Sorted by:
 
 
spencerharden 3 points 9 months ago

my name is spencer too

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago
 
 
Axman07m 1 point 9 months ago

same! (??_?)

 
 
spencerharden 1 point 9 months ago

and about to be 16 too lol

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

That's only a little bit scary o_0 lol

 
 
spencerharden 1 point 9 months ago

lol im working on my first gaming pc right now

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 0 points 9 months ago

Good luck! If you post on the site here I'd love to check it out if I can.

 
 
spencerharden 1 point 9 months ago

, i have made the build how do i post it ?

 
 
spencerharden 1 point 9 months ago
 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

I like that build. An i5 and a 7970 is really good as far as future "proofing" goes. 3 GB of 384 bit VRAM = win.

However, if you plan to get the K version of the i5, which I would personally do as it's like the same price, make sure to get a Z77 chipset board. Just about any will do as long is it wasn't a huge flop.

Reason for that is because H77 boards don't let you overclock with the multiplier on the CPU.

However, if overclocking isn't your thing, that is a really nice little system. That Corsair case looks very classy.

I think that is a great build for $900 and that's one of the few ways to sneak in a 7970 for that price. I'd love to see how that turns out.

Good choice of power supply, as well. It will be enough to run your system easily and is high quality. Just don't consider putting another 7970 in there if your board supports it. Those things need tons of power - about 250 watts TDP I think. I see many new people putting exploding bricks into their high end PCs and it makes me sad because I know some of them will ruin their systems with those cheapo PSUs :'(

 
 
fsma92 [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

How do you like the phantek?

I'm about to build the same build lol..

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

I think it's very nice actually.

Although I seem to have a better than average processor as far as required voltage and heat output, it keeps it quite cool while only making any audible noise when running Prime 95. As I stated in the info, the warmest core temp I've EVER seen on that CPU was 50 degrees. I just ran Prime 95 last night and I hit 46* max. Quite good if you ask me.

However your results may vary, so take this with a grain of salt and read reviews online. I'd recommend it for sure if I knew for 110% certain it would get the same performance mine does.

I only hear a low hum when the fans are spinning up high.

Don't be fooled by the size! I think it does a much better job than my old Hyper 212 I sold off. It's way quieter at full speed too. How it does it in that single tower design is beyond me. I think it's one of the best buys for 50 bucks.

 
 
fsma92 [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

Alrighty I'm going for a 8320 as well

I'm going with something along the lines of this;

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

Type Item Price
CPU AMD FX-8320 3.5GHz 8-Core Processor $173.23 @ NCIX
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-C14 CPU Cooler $62.98 @ NCIX
Motherboard Asus M5A97 R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard $104.98 @ NCIX
Memory Corsair XMS3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $64.38 @ Amazon Canada
Storage Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk $120.73 @ NCIX
Storage Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $69.97 @ Newegg Canada
Video Card Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 XT 2GB Video Card Purchased For $0.00
Case BitFenix Shinobi Window ATX Mid Tower Case $52.48 @ NCIX
Power Supply EVGA 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply $47.23 @ NCIX
Optical Drive Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer $18.88 @ NCIX
Total
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available. $714.86
Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-10-10 21:44 EDT-0400
 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

I like that build a lot.

However, I don't think that the Noctua CPU cooler's design will benefit you, since it's designed for smaller cases where space is at a premium. I think that the Phanteks would do better. For the $60-80 range you could go with the monster dual tower 140mm fan Phanteks heatsink. You could do stupid OCing on that beyond what I accomplished assuming it will fit in your PC case. (I realize the noctua cooler left in there may have been an oversight :P)

The 7870 XT is about the equivalent to my GPU, so I think it will be great.

Good luck! You shouldn't have any issues I don't think.

However, if you decide on a different motherboard in the future, MAKE DARN SURE you get one with heatsinks on the VRMs/chipset. The VRMs run very hot with a CPU drawing this much power unless you have a heatsink there. On this board, it's the blue heatsink(s) next to the CPU socket for an example. I even burned my hand yesterday on the chipset heatsink. Those suckers are designed to run hot and they sure do. It must have been 80C+ but those things can run at >100C.

 
 
fsma92 [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

what board do you recommend?

And the reason for the noctua is because it's really quiet. And it's not really for smaller cases that thing is huge as well XD the 140mm phantek is more expensive. that noctua is normally 95$ XD

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

Oh is it? Well yeah the Noctua will be very nice. You will like it because it's dead silent. Also, I meant "small"-ish vertically. Noctua just makes everything huge in some way. :)

I'd recommend the board that I have if you're trying to stay under $100. It has better power delivery and motherboard heatsinks than other similarly priced boards while costing only around $70 on eBay. I think they discontinued the original EVO model, but get the regular M5A97 R 2.0 which I think has the motherboard heatsinks and is pretty much the same as this one. It has worked very well for me and has taken an FX 4100 to 5 Ghz and this CPU to 4.8 Ghz for a 1 time run for the fun of it.

Also, the mouse-control in the BIOS is quite nice and easy to navigate.

If you can spend over $100 on a board, look at the cheaper 990FX boards from Gigabyte or Asus. They support CF and SLI and are generally better, although they're not that much better than this for a situation like mine.

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

However take note that the CPU cooler only installs vertically on AMD CPU sockets. Phanteks forgot to think a little bit and I had no idea :(

However it still performs very well sucking hot air off my GPU. Why that is so is a mystery to me.

 
 
fsma92 [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

Yea that's another reason why the noctua is more appealing. + the noise is a big factor for me..

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

And you can say you have a Noctua cooler. That puts you in a different class of PC builders :3

If you post any more comments tonight I won't get back to them till tomorrow. I'm tired after lugging that stupid 30+ lb piece of metal around to take pics and typing a short novel above. XD

 
 
fsma92 [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

XD good night mate!

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

OK I'm sorry I had to recommend this to you. I saw it last second.

There's a Noctua dual-fan 120mm CPU cooler for 40 dollars at NCIX that's basically the same as this. That's the same price basically as a Hyper 212 (!)

I haven't checked compatibility because I'm a zombie right now..

http://pcpartpicker.com/part/noctua-cpu-cooler-nhu12pse2

Now I will ACTUALLY get off the internet lol.

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

OK I'm sorry I had to recommend this to you. I saw it last second.

There's a Noctua dual-fan 120mm CPU cooler for 40 dollars at NCIX that's basically the same as this. That's the same price basically as a Hyper 212 (!)

I haven't checked compatibility because I'm a zombie right now..

http://pcpartpicker.com/part/noctua-cpu-cooler-nhu12pse2

Now I will ACTUALLY get off the internet lol.

 
 
fsma92 [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

I'm in canada :P

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

Well it's on NCIX which has a canadian site if I recall correctly. Lemme check here...

It appears that the item above is only on sale in the US. What a shame :( I'd pay 40 bucks for a Noctua 120mm heatsink any day if I needed one.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

 
 
BKost 1 point 9 months ago

Very nice, it looks like you did a great job shopping within your budget. I appreciate that you bought a solid board and built your way up, too many young gamers like to work from the GPU down...

Why don't you run that fan wire into the fan controller instead of the board? If it doesn't have enough ports, you could just get a 3-pin fan power splitter for $5 or less. Or get a 3-pin to molex converter. It would look a lot cleaner either way.

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

I would but the fan controller is only for 3 pin fans (also I might have almost filled up all of the ports with my 6 other case fans). I would cut out the side of one of them but I don't know if it's worth it. I don't like taking an exact-o-knife to my case, I guess.

I will probably get a cheapo 4 to 3 pin cable or something soon. Also, I don't want it running at full blast with a molex converter because it's cheap ($5) and starts to make coil whine at about 60% speed. Still better than no fan at all in my book since it's silent with the right BIOS setting to let it run at about 600-700 RPM and gives my system some more intake air :)

 
 
Axman07m 1 point 9 months ago

How do you get those prices!?!

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

Lots of shopping on eBay and Amazon.

I bought the processor as a slightly used open-tin one on Amazon for 130 bucks because someone thought it wasn't good enough or something. Probably a silly intel fanboy who wanted it gone because he didn't want to look at it :-)

I got the GPU on eBay used by the owner for a couple of months with the original box and all accessories. (even the dust covers for the display outputs :O ) They were great about shipping and describing condition so I'd say buying lightly used on eBay is worth it if you get a good seller that's not a huge e-tailer. Most people on there are really nice and are honest about the items. The GPU I received could have been new except for the fact that the box had the tape cut.

Also, on eBay, submitting "Best offers" to people considering them saves you an extra 10 bucks sometimes. If they just want the item gone, they'll often accept a few bucks less than asking price as long as you have the submit offer button.

It saved me $15 on the GPU.

Also, for my 500 GB hard drive, I bought that as a refurb on eBay. The S.M.A.R.T. data on the disk only showed like 30 hours of power on time for what that's worth.

 
 
Axman07m 1 point 9 months ago

Thank You!

 
 
mingz2499 1 point 9 months ago

im working on my first gaming pc, if anyone can help me out to make it a really good one that will run 1080p games with no problem so basically stuff like black ops 2, cod ghost, gta, minecraft and record them all with no problem and a decent mouse and keyboard +webcam and the monitor should be built in audio system and i want a nice headset what i will be able to use as an advantage, i've been thinking of becoming a youtuber for ages and it's getting to christmas and my parents say i can make a custom or just buy a full gaming computer, but any help would be amazing, thanks

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

If you could build this exact PC it would be ideal, actually.

This build has 8 real cores to edit videos faster than (or at least as fast as) an i7 when all cores are used well.

It also has a 660 ti which is no slouch. You could look at a 7870 as the games you have in mind are not very intensive at all.

I'd personally recommend what I have right now. I'm a n00b with peripherals so I can't really make any recommendations there. (heck, I'm using a dell keyboard and mouse that came with my parents' office PC) However, I do know that Razer makes really good mice and keyboards, but they're spendy. Their basic mouse runs about 30 bucks. It's the Abyssus if I recall correctly.

You will save lots of money by building your own and this build is a good budget option that gives you all of the performance you will really need. All games that you listed should run maxed out at 1080p easily (Except for GTA maybe. That game is HORRIBLY optimized for any pc and honestly doesn't look that good. Turning on FXAA smooths the jaggies though)

 
 
mingz2499 1 point 9 months ago

in pounds how much is your set up? i might consider it :D

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 8 months ago

Just by doing a direct conversion from dollars to pounds it was about 410 pounds. Prices will probably vary where you live. However, if you get great deals and shop around you should be able to get a similar price.

Also, about recording Minecraft at least, this PC doesn't break a sweat playing MC (I don't record). My GPU is DOWNCLOCKING itself to 600-800 Mhz from the usual 1200 Mhz when playing a gaem while playing it. I know, it's not demanding, but I've run a 512x512 texture pack for the lolz and it barely has to even try to run that at 1080p. Shaders might make it work a bit though with a 512x pack.

 
 
malcar11 [3 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

Pretty!

 
 
Spencer1012 [Submitter] [2 Builds] 1 point 9 months ago

D'awwww thanks :)