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The Sensible Gamer
by ProEngPC
Permalink:   (27 comments)
Description

I built this computer to be a no-frills, reliable gamer that can handle anything at 1080p at the highest quality settings. Nothing fancy, no fussing with overclock stability or thermals, just power on and game.

CPU: I decided to get a low-end i5 over an AMD FX-8350 mostly because I could get a basic Socket 1150 motherboard for less money than an AM3+ motherboard, which made the Intel solution more affordable. I'm not overclocking so the stock cooler works fine, which is also not the case for AMD, whose stock cooler is exceptionally loud. Going quad-core provides good performance in CPU-intensive games like BF4, where dual-core Intel CPUs tend to struggle a bit. For me it was worth the extra $60 over an i3.

Motherboard: There was no point in getting a fancy Z87 or Z97 board for a locked CPU. For the purpose of this system, I didn't need features like RAID, SSD Caching or M.2 either. The H81M-P33 is a nice reliable board that has just what's needed. You'll need to upgrade to the latest BIOS for full Haswell Refresh compatibility.

RAM: I would normally have gotten some A-Data 1600 MHZ for 10$ cheaper, but I could not find any in stock locally, and having some shipped to me would have eaten up the savings. So I bought this Kingston RAM instead. The blue looks good, so I'm not unhappy with it, and it's performed very well.

Storage: Some people here knock the Kingston V300, but I have found it to be an excellent SSD value. It's not quite as fast as a Samsung 840 or Intel SSD, but it's pretty good (see picture of ATTO benchmark). In everyday use, I can't really tell the difference between the V300 and a Samsung 840. The Seagate Barracuda 1TB rounds out the storage for games and music.

GPU: The price was pretty good on this XFX R9 280, especially with the game bundle. It's a re-numbered Radeon 7950 with a 7 MHz clock speed boost. The XFX model has a well-designed cooler and is very quiet, and had more than enough grunt for 1080p gaming (it'll even handle most games at 1440p without any issue).

Case: This case, also known as the Enermax Ostrog, was on sale for pretty cheap at my local shop. I was pleasantly impressed. For a $40 case with a window, the build quality and cable management options are pretty good. I find the ventilation holes in the window distracting though (especially since the two of the are different), but it does allow for more fan placement options. It comes with a rear exhaust fan, which I moved to the top so that it would work with natural convection. There would be enough room in this case to install a 240mm radiator at the top for more serious cooling.

Power supply: It's a decent unit with good reviews, 80Plus Bronze rated, and provides plenty of power for this build. The maximum power draw of the system (at the outlet) is 350W while running Prime95 Small FFT and FurMark simultaneously, so it's comfortably within the specs of the PSU. Not a modular unit, but for the price, you can't have it all.

Optical drive: I had one so I put it in. Im starting to doubt the usefulness of having one though.

In all, the system works quite nicely. I've included pictures of some benchmark results. It does well for 1080p games as intended. It's also quieter than I expected, which is a bonus.

Build# 140712-1

Part List
Details
Date PublishedJuly 30, 2014
Date BuiltJuly 12, 2014
Intel Core i5-4460 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Clock Rate3.2GHz
CPU Temperature While Idle27.0° C
CPU Temperature Under Load65.0° C
XFX Radeon R9 280 3GB Double Dissipation Video Card
GPU Core Clock Rate933MHz
GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate5.0GHz
GPU Temperature While Idle30.0° C
GPU Temperature Under Load65.0° C
Comments
When commenting on a completed build please keep your feedback polite and constructive, particularly if commenting on part choices and possible alternatives.
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Sorted by:
 
 
plgdg [1 Build] 13 points 1 month ago

I, too, lay my computer in the snow when I take pictures of it.

 
 
ProEngPC [Submitter] [8 Builds] 3 points 1 month ago

Nah, a couple white bed sheets from Target, some backlighting and a strobe flash. My other hobby is photography, and I'm pretty well equipped to take photos of stuff :)

 
 
plgdg [1 Build] 3 points 1 month ago

I was kidding :) I also do the bed sheet trick, but I badly need a DSLR. Smartphone camera just doesn't cut it lol.

 
 
ProEngPC [Submitter] [8 Builds] 1 point 1 month ago

Very true. Especially that you can buy a DSLR for the price of a smartphone these days.

 
 
QuantumEssence [1 Build] 3 points 1 month ago

Snow? What is snow? I lay mine in the dirt since I live in Hell (otherwise known as southern Arizona).

 
 
Philldog123 2 points 1 month ago

Nice pictures.

 
 
skemble [17 Builds] 2 points 1 month ago

Really impressive pictures! That's a rock solid gaming setup you've got there.

 
 
theblockparty [1 Build] 2 points 1 month ago

Great build and great price. I too will appreciate your high quality pictures.

 
 
FrostPirate 2 points 1 month ago

Nice build and pics. Where in Canada?(Niagara Region Here)

 
 
ProEngPC [Submitter] [8 Builds] 1 point 1 month ago

I'm in Ottawa.

 
 
FrostPirate 1 point 1 month ago

Nice, love the military museum :)

 
 
Zveir [1 Build] 1 point 1 month ago

Might wanna add a few intake/exhaust fans for some better airflow, other than that awesome PC man.

 
 
ProEngPC [Submitter] [8 Builds] 1 point 1 month ago

I considered it, but the temps are good and the noise level is low as is, so I chose not to add more fans.

 
 
JaneGoodall [1 Build] 1 point 1 month ago

Your RAM is the wrong voltage, but otherwise solid gaming build. It's not worth replacing unless you can get a full refund.

I like how you didn't buy a cheap graphics card so that you could afford to liquid cool an i7.

 
 
ProEngPC [Submitter] [8 Builds] 1 point 1 month ago

Just curious, what's the issue wth 1.65V RAM? The motherboard supports it, and I don't plan on overclocking the RAM, so I don't need the headroom.

 
 
JaneGoodall [1 Build] 1 point 1 month ago

I thought it was a 1.5V-only board and I was worried about slower RAM speeds. But reading up on it more, it might void the CPU warranty. Are there two distinct RAM and CPU voltage settings in your UEFI? *

My fourth-gen i5's warranty states "WARNING: ... Intel has not tested, and does not warranty, the operation of the processor beyond its specifications. Intel assumes no responsibility that the processor, including if used with altered clock frequencies and/or voltages, will be fit for any particular purpose."

1.5V is the specified voltage for 4th-gen i5's (see page 18) so 1.65V would void your CPU's warranty.

*I ask because I'm pretty sure, but not entirely sure, that RAM and CPU's have to run on the same voltage.

 
 
ProEngPC [Submitter] [8 Builds] 2 points 1 month ago

Kudos for reading the manual :) I never even thought there was one for a CPU. The RAM voltage can be set separately from the CPU on all modern motherboards. In fact, 1.5V is a rather arbitrary number, since the core voltage for these processors is generally between 1.1V to 1.2V (it varies from sample to sample).

 
 
JaneGoodall [1 Build] 1 point 1 month ago

I reread it an 1.5V is the specified voltage for the RAM, not the processor. I don't think running 1.65V RAM will void the warranty.

 
 
daltonwg 1 point 1 month ago

what do you think of the 280? i have it waiting in the draw till i can afford my other pc parts

 
 
ProEngPC [Submitter] [8 Builds] 1 point 1 month ago

The 280 is a great choice for 1080p gaming. It has 3GB VRAM, which is a good step up from the 2GB 270X, but doesn't cost that much more. The Radeon 7950 was known as the sweet spot for performance when the 7000 series came out. This still applies now that they've renamed it R9 280.

If you want to max out everything et 1440p, the 280 may be a bit stretched, and you'll want to check out a R9 290, but it's almost twice the price.

 
 
vikingXcore [3 Builds] 1 point 1 month ago

very sensible! great pics. how did you get those benchmark scores; those are really impressive!

 
 
ProEngPC [Submitter] [8 Builds] 1 point 1 month ago

I'm not sure what you mean. I just ran 3DMark, Unigine and ATTO and posted the scores. Everything in the system is running at stock speeds, so anyone with the same parts should get similar scores. The good benchmarks just highlight that the R9 280 and the V300 are good value for the price.

 
 
vikingXcore [3 Builds] 1 point 1 month ago

oh i just meant like comparing your scores to mine and i have the 780. I did see that i scored 600pts more on valley, but the 3dmark you scored like 1000pts higher. did you check the box for Extreme or leave it unchecked? You have a really great build though! I would recommend it to anybody for the next couple of years!

 
 
ProEngPC [Submitter] [8 Builds] 1 point 1 month ago

The 3dMark benchmark is the regular FireStrike, not extreme. Based on your build, you should be getting about 8000-9000 on FireStrike with a 780. If not, I'd seriously consider checking your drivers for the graphics card and motherboard.

 
 
vikingXcore [3 Builds] 1 point 1 month ago

oh then I think all is well then. on extreme i get 5121, and off extreme is 9885, so i think we're good then haha.

 
 
pityukha [1 Build] 1 point 1 month ago

Nice build

 
 
izzy4020 [4 Builds] 0 points 1 month ago

Great Build for the money the only thing I will have change was the mobo to an Asus as MSI its not very good on the lower end mobos