I had to piece this together little by little because I went through a personal tragedy last year that cost me my last build. So I started with an SSD because I could use it fro my old laptop while I applied to jobs, I got it at Best Buy on sale.
Next was the G3258, which I actually first sold when I needed extra money for Thanksgiving with my girlfriend. My girlfriend got mad at me for selling parts to pay bills, so I picked it up again early December at MicroCenter for $49.99.
In Christmas, she got me a GTX 960 as a gift from Amazon.
She asked me if it was good because the "970 one has a lot of reviews" but I didn't feel good asking my girlfriend to buy me a card that's double the price, not to mention gift giving in relationships is reciprocal so the last thing I wanted was to get dragged into a $300 gift for her lol.
In January, I moved out of a toxic subletting situation to get an apartment alone and I got the ram at MicroCenter as a house-warming part, after asking the manager if he can honor the ram bundle discount with my 3258 receipt, which he agreed.
Things took a fast spin last night. I went to MicroCenter to drool at the parts and pick up one more piece and that's when I saw it, glowing at me like the Excalibur wedged inside that rock. "Additional 30% off Clearance Build Your Own Parts under $249.99 - Additional 40% off Motherboards".
Note: Clearance means anything that's not new-in-box: returned, remanufactured, etc. I knew this was a sign that I could finally finish the build, I found a Gigabyte Z97X-SLI but I felt like there'd be something more, and I found the Asus Z97-Pro WiFi and it was even cheaper than the Gigabyte.
I also found an EVGA SuperNova NEX 750-B2 that was marked down to $79.96.
I decided with how much I saved on the motherboard and power supply, I would splurge another $20 on the case and pick up an NZXT S340 Black/Blue.
I got to the register and was surprised by another savings: Both factory rebates applied to the motherboard ($30) and the power supply ($20) which were both in retail boxes.
The NZXT is beautiful, but I'm not gonna lie, there's some voodoo magic going on behind the right side panel. If you want to put a storage drive in the HDD bay, it's going to be a challenge getting the molex power adapters behind them and it not looking ghetto rigged. Getting the USB cables routed through the cable routing holes was also a challenge because the ports are right above the PSU slot, so you have to bend them pretty hard to fit.
I'm pretty experienced with building, and routing cables in this case was definitely not straight forward. It's a little cluttered in the back so I think I want to touch it again and use the velcro ties again.
The other issue is that the ASUS ram slots are only click unlock on the top of the slot and the bottom side is fixed. It was difficult to lock them in which threw me a 9C error on my first boot.
When I finally got it stabilized, I decided to OC. I figured with the stock cooler, I didn't want to push the voltage and I wanted to see how high I can get it on stock voltage. To my surprise, I really did get a stock cooler champion because without even touching the voltage and keeping it on stock, I was able to hit a 40x multiplier and my load temperatures with IBT didn't pass 62 or 63C and mostly floated around 53-54C.
I'm pretty happy with the build. Later this week my CM Storm Rapidfire TK with MX Browns will come in and I also picked up an M95 RGB refurbished for $19.99 at MicroCenter. It's pushing a 1080p AOC 22". Even with the $65 keyboard (using 15% off on Jet.com), $19.99 mouse and $79.99 monitor, the total build cost is just over $603, so I'm pretty content.
The best part about it is that it's balanced but easily upgraded. I plan on getting an i7 or 4690k later, throwing in more ram and maybe upgrading to an AMD Polaris and I don't have to worry about adding those parts because I have the PSU, case and motherboard for it. A lot of people say, don't buy a board or PSU that's more than you need and I don't feel the same way. I think if you know you'll be upgrading, it's a lot easier to upgrade a CPU, ram and GPU than it is to upgrade a motherboard at the same time as a CPU, ram or GPU.
Upgrading a PSU isn't as complicated, but having to reroute all your power cables can be a pain.
Definitely a great placeholder. If you know you're going to buy a better CPU later but you want something to hold a Z97 board busy, this is the CPU to get. Per core performance is not bad, it can get slow when you're doing things like opening downloaded programs. Can hit 4.0 on stock voltage with stock cooler and it won't get loud or hot.
At the price I paid, very solid. Comes with an OSX compatible WiFi card, two graphics card slots and a CPU temperature LED on the board, M2 and Sata Express slots.
Was able to hit +175 on core and +164 on memory. I probably could've gone higher but felt happy with the performance. I gained 10% performance increase and the temperatures don't hit higher than 62C. Definitely a good sample.