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Budget Gamer - Nothin Fancy ($600)

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 Windows XP Desktop. 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 and light gaming. I set the original budget at around $600.

I bought as much as I could at Micro Center. Micro Center 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 original build went really well, no issues getting the PC to post and no major issues during assembly. As you can read below, I did make some changes shortly after completing the build and using the machine for a few weeks. For more information on the part selection and my thoughts on those, see the part reviews.

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 (Thanks Micro Center).

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. The Arctic Cooling F12 fan is quieter than the two pre-installed cooler master fans. I may replace those at a later date.

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.

UPDATE 1/31/2015:

Got myself another 3-pin fan extension, so now I have 2 120mm fans (blue one is back) in the front and 1 120mm in the back.

This computer brought to you in part by:

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

Part Reviews


Still a great budget chip, even a few years later. It doesn't run too hot once an aftermarket cooler is installed. I haven't tried overclocking it- haven't needed to. The only major drawback is the lack of significant upgrade path, something you should definitely consider if you plan on putting more money into the platform before replacing the CPU/Mobo/RAM.

CPU Cooler

Really got the job done for me. Definitely a contender in the budget air cooler space, and a great fit for the 6300.


Practically no issues with this board since I got it. I would recommend stepping up to this or the Gigabyte 970 board at a minimum for the FX chips- better cooling design is important here. Between these two mid-range 970 boards, they trade blows. This one had all the features I need and worked well right out of the box.


Rock-solid RAM. Running at 1600mhz straight out of the box and no issues at all.


This is the previous generation Black HDD. I had a case of terrible timing and purchased this while they were clearing out the last of them to make way for the current gen of Black drives. This drive is on the loud side, so I have to dock it a star for that. I get good performance though, and I expect this drive to last for quite some time.

Video Card

Still a competent 1080p card, if you put it to work. The card doesn't run too hot, but the fan is pretty noticeable if you're pushing it. If you don't mind playing at conservative settings, this card runs very well and reasonably quietly at lower usage. These days at $100 there are better buys, but a second-hand 7770 is still relevant.


Overall, solid case for the money, even if it is getting a bit old. The updated version I purchased included USB-3 front panel connectors. The standard version of this case is not painted black on the inside, so be mindful of that. On the functional side though- very good results. The case feels sturdy, there are ample configuration options and cable management space, and I have had good experiences with temps throughout the system.

Power Supply

Good choice in the budget space, especially if you can get it with MIR. For my situation, the 8-pin connector wasn't long enough to reach around the back of the case, so I had to buy an adapter. Consider your layout when making your purchase decision, as it does add a bit to the cost. Also remember, as a budget entry this PSU is not modular, and the cables are not all sleeved. Not a big deal if you want function over form, however. Going on 2 years and no issues with power delivery.

Operating System

Ahh Windows 8/8.1. I don't actually hate it, but then again, I am not a power user. Now that the computer boots straight to desktop, I really don't have issues with the UI outside of the charms bar (which I don't have to use all that much). I have my programs clustered on the task bar or linked on the desktop. I actually find the right-clickable windows logo to be helpful, as it has shortcuts to many key utilities. The one thing I'm still wrestling with 8.1 over is the task scheduler creating work for the HDD whenever the computer goes idle. The HDD is often at very high usage doing "maintenance", which can certainly be annoying.

Case Fan

Great fan so far. Long warranty (which generally indicates quality), and silent compared to the other 120mm fans that came with my HAF 912 case.


Easy to set-up, nice display. I like the increased viewing angles and this has suited my needs well so far. I have noticed that the experience using HDMI is a little less user-friendly than with DVI. It took me some configuring to get the HDMI signal to be full-screen. Otherwise very nice for the money.

Comments Sorted by:

daes79 2 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

I have a build very similar. +1

daes79 2 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

Nice cable managment for the case.

roawh submitter 1 Build 1 point 26 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 26 months ago

For less than $600, well done.

Apach3 2 Builds 1 point 26 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 26 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 26 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 26 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 26 months ago

Love the build, good choice on components.

roawh submitter 1 Build 2 points 26 months ago

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

SumanIV 1 Build 1 point 26 months ago

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

roawh submitter 1 Build 1 point 26 months ago

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

Xephos1001 1 point 26 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 26 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 26 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 26 months ago

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

Sprocket30 2 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

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

xIMcCloud29Ix 3 Builds 1 point 26 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 26 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 26 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!

[comment deleted]
DavisTheWalrus 1 Build 1 point 8 months ago

nice cable management, you did this build right +1

issac94 2 Builds 0 points 26 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 26 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.