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$600 First Build - General Use, Light Gaming

by roawh


Part List View full price breakdown


Date Built

Sept. 21, 2013

CPU Clock Rate


CPU Temperature While Idle

30.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

45.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate


GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate


GPU Temperature While Idle

30.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

65.0° C


I built this PC to replace a 9 year old HP Pavilion. The motivation for building this PC was so that I could get the experience of building a PC, and have a ‘modern’ machine for everyday use. I started out with a budget of $500-600, and I almost came in under it...almost.

I bought as much as I could at Microcenter. Microcenter has nice bundle deals, so I actually did pretty well on the core components. I used Newegg for the remaining items. In the end I paid about $20 in tax, but it gave me peace of mind that I wasn’t likely to have to abandon the project returning parts through the mail. Anything with a price of $0 was a gift.

The components:

Processor: AMD FX-6300. Good price to performance CPU.

CPU Cooler: Hyper 212 Evo. Great match for my other 'value' oriented parts. No complaints here.

Motherboard: ASUS M5A97 R2.0. I went ATX for ease of installation. This board has all the features I need, including USB 3.0 and SATA III. I don't plan on having multiple GPUs so didn't need the fancy board.

Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 2 x 4 GB 1600mhz. Standard RAM speed, CL9, best deal I could find at Microcenter.

Storage: Western Digital Black 1TB 7200RPM HDD. When I first bought the components I bought an SSD, but I ended up needing a storage drive too so I will get an SSD later.

Graphics: MSI Radeon HD 7770 GHz edition 1GB GDDR5. Plenty of horsepower for me, got it at a good price.

PSU: Antec VP-450. Good quality unit that isn't super expensive. It has all the connectors I needed, all I needed to do was get a 4+4 extension cable so I could route around the back for the CPU supplemental power.

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912. Good case for $50. I purchased the KKN4, which has USB 3.0 and a blue LED front fan. This particular model has very little coverage compared to the previous KKN1 model. It’s the same price as the USB 2.0 case, so I didn’t see a reason to get that model.

Optical drive: The only part I was able to salvage. It works.

Windows 8: Metro is silly but otherwise it's fine with me.

The build:

After watching several build videos online, I had a pretty good appreciation for what to expect. The first part of the installation was way easier than doing all the work in the case. The AMD heatsink/fan is screwless, so I didn’t even have to worry much about that. I had to fiddle with the RAM for a few minutes before I remembered how you are supposed to seat it, but no harm done.

After I had the core components together, I set up a test build on my motherboard box. Since my mobo has no on-board graphics, I had to get the GPU out for the exercise. The computer recognized everything and I was relieved / excited that I got a POST beep and didn’t have to immediately return anything.

The first thing I installed in the case was the motherboard / CPU / RAM. The Newegg instructional video I had pulled up in the background was in the middle of describing the things he likes to install in the case before the motherboard while I was screwing it down, oh well. I got the PSU in there next and then it was a few hours of plugging in and cable routing.

The PSU I chose has the right amount of cables for this build. I think I am using every cord for at least one object, but there are still extra SATA and Molex plugs should I need them. The main power connector is the only cable that is sleeved, but that wasn’t too much of a bother to me, even if it doesn’t look pretty. All the cables were long enough with the exception of the 4+4 cable I already mentioned.

Overall this case is a solid choice for the price, and met my expectations. It’s sturdy with solid side panels, nice mesh design, and several configuration options. The version I got came with a 120mm fan in the front and a 120mm fan in the back. It’s a pretty open case so I don’t anticipate any airflow issues for this build (do keep in mind that this case will be noisier than other cases with solid panels).

For cable management, my goal was to avoid having cables crossing the motherboard area. I mainly used the hole in the bottom of the case to route PSU and case connectors. I used a technique I saw in other builds with this case and tried to stash some of the cabling in the lower bay. This worked out pretty well, although like I said, the PSU didn’t have too many cables.

UPDATE 10/13/2013:

The computer had some fan/noise issues. The front intake fan didn't have a long enough plug to reach the motherboard chassis fan header, so it was going at 100%. I fixed this for $2 by getting an extension. The other was the stock CPU cooler on the FX-6300. It wasn't cutting it, so I replaced it with a CM Hyper 212 Evo.

I also noticed some coil whine from the PSU. Got a replacement unit which solved the problem.

UPDATE 2/24/2014:

I got a new 120mm fan (gift) so that my case wouldn't glow blue anymore, and I finally got around to installing it. I also removed the middle HDD cage and put my HDD in the lower bay.

UPDATE 5/4/2014:

Improved cable management. Pics now include multiple versions of the cable management and hdd config. Moved the HDD back to the middle cage because I was having some vibration issues. Most recent pic is last.

This computer brought to you in part by:

PCpartpicker | Tom’s Hardware Systems Forum | Newegg How to Build a PC videos | Microcenter

Comments Sorted by:

daes79 2 Builds 1 point 20 months ago

I have a build very similar. +1

daes79 2 Builds 1 point 20 months ago

Nice cable managment for the case.

roawh submitter 1 Build 1 point 20 months ago

Thank you! In one of the pictures the USB 2.0 connector is just hangin out, but I figured out where to plug it.

aludka 1 Build 1 point 20 months ago

For less than $600, well done.

Apach3 2 Builds 1 point 20 months ago

for including the OS into the budget and still remaining under $600, i commend your efforts. my only complaint is that you should move that graphics card up to the upper PCI-E slot because the x4 bandwidth delivered to the lower slot is likely choking that HD7770.

roawh submitter 1 Build 1 point 20 months ago

great catch, i will switch it! thanks :)

edit: I just added a picture with the gfx card moved. while I was in there I also fixed the HDD activity LED, I had it backwards.

Apach3 2 Builds 1 point 19 months ago

it's always good practice to place the graphics card in the uppermost x16 slot if possible, as it's almost always wired for the full x16 bandwidth provided by the board - the exception being, of course, if a lower slot was populated and the chipset split the bandwidth between them.

roawh submitter 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

I was thinking something was off because I noticed there was no room below the card to put a second card, but I obviously wasn't thinking very hard about it :)

SumanIV 1 Build 1 point 20 months ago

Love the build, good choice on components.

roawh submitter 1 Build 2 points 20 months ago

I see you have a Caviar Black drive in your machine, do you like it?

SumanIV 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

Yea, I like it, good drive, only downside is, its loud as ****. :l

roawh submitter 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

i noticed, but if it performs well i'll be ok with it

Xephos1001 1 point 20 months ago

Great work, I would maybe go with a higher wattage PSU but that one would go just fine.

roawh submitter 1 Build 2 points 19 months ago

Yeah, I was thinking about a 500W at first, but I was having trouble finding something of good quality for that price except the CX series which are always MIR discounts. The estimated max power on here is around 275W, the VP-450 can deliver up to 360W combined power on the 12V rails, and I've read some reviews of it that say it can pull more without exploding :)

jamalk@gmail.com 1 point 20 months ago

The mobo and video card are not that cheap? First two items I checked and they are no where near that cheap, where did you get them?

roawh submitter 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

Mobo had a $40 bundle discount at Microcenter, the video card had a $30 MIR.

Sprocket30 2 Builds 1 point 20 months ago

I too have a very similar build and it hasn't let me down ! :D +1

xIMcCloud29Ix 3 Builds 1 point 20 months ago

Great budget build, parts are of great selection and prices are wow good. When I built my rig I tried doing an out-of-case test but the mobo turned on for a split second and shut right off. I was worried but for some reason I kept building anyways. Low and behold I didn't even plug in the CPU cooler fans lol.

Xer013 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

I can dig it, great build with multiple upgrade possibilities for around 600$, can't do much better for the money.

xx116xx 3 Builds 1 point 19 months ago

I'm going to be building something close to this, only differences are that I'm gonna have a 7850 which needs a 500w PSU, but that's pretty much it. Solid build for the money!

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DavisTheWalrus 1 Build 1 point 2 months ago

nice cable management, you did this build right +1

issac94 2 Builds 0 points 20 months ago

for the price, great job. I would have gotten a seagate barracuda for 30 bucks less and put 15 of it towards the new fractal design arc midi r2 which is easily a 100 plus dollar case but always on sale for 60 bucks. and maybe used the other 15 for a xfx or corsair power supply. but thats it, for the price its a great build

roawh submitter 1 Build 1 point 20 months ago

fair points, thanks for the input. that's a nice looking case!

we'll see how the WD drive fares, it's my first internal drive of theirs.