Description

Here's my first build, Matilda, named after my favorite character in children's fiction, created by my favorite author of children's literature, Roald Dahl. I tried to keep it under $500, but missed by $50 or so.

I think I made a few mistakes, but nothing critical when I chose the components. I also made some pretty good decisions. First off, the mistakes.

If I had to do it over I would have gone with a modular power supply, but being a cheapskate I went with the cheapest alternative, a 400W EVGA. It only has four SATA connectors. The CPU cable is too short. I have to run it over the video card, which doesn't appeal to me, especially since the card is the hottest thing in the case. I'm ordering an extension cable so I can run it around the mother board. Also, I think maybe I should have gone with 500W instead of 400W. But, according to pcpartpicker, my system only uses 218W so why would I need something bigger than 400W? What do you guys think?

As for the video card, I went cheap. First I bought an EVGA 01G-P3-1302-RX GeForce 8400 refurbished card from Newegg, but the tiny fan was so noisy I couldn't stand it. Newegg wouldn't give me a refund, only a replacement with another likely lousy item. Instead I put the EVGA card in my inventory and bought a fan-free Sapphire Radeon HD 5450 card with comparable 1GB capability. It's beyond my comprehension why folks spend $2,000 on a video card. My graphics run fine on the games I occasionally play, like Civilization 5, World of Warcraft, and Crusader Kings II. I'm not a heavy duty gamer, and prefer strategy to shooter games. When I run into a game I love that my card can't handle I can always cough up more bucks for a more powerful card.

The ASRock 970 Extreme4 motherboard I chose might be a bit of overkill. It's loaded with bells and whistles I'm not likely to use, like one key overclocking and Xfast USB (that crashed when I tried to use it to copy to my external drive). I ended up uninstalling it. There are others that could have saved me a few bucks, like the MSI 970A-G43 or the GIGABYTE GA-970A-UD3P.

Now, for my best decisions.

I went with the AMD FX-6300 CPU. It's been rated as the best dollar per gigahertz value by more than one site, and it runs like a champ. The stock fan that came with it is noisy, so I'm going to upgrade it next month. I could go with something cheap like a ARCTIC Alpine 64 GT for under $10. But maybe I'll go with with a one of those gigantic coolers like a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus for $30. Besides, a better fan will be needed if I decide to tinker with overclocking. I could use some advice from you folks on this.

The Thermalflake (I mean Thermaltake) case I went with is actually pretty nice. I like that it has three 2.5 inch bays. Beyond my SSD, I can stick the drives from my dead laptops in there. I wonder why most mid-tower cases have three 5.25 external bays. Why would anyone need three optical drives? I wanted something with a bigger window and more minimalistic in design, but it was the closest I could find for $50. I could have got it for $35, but rebates are an anathema. I fail to comprehend why they require all that paperwork to get a measly $15 check in the mail a couple months later.

As for the other stuff, the RAM, the SSD, the hard and the optical drives, I just went with the highest rated gadgets on Newegg. They work just fine. The 240GB SSD drive I got from Amazon is the best speed-inducer I could have gone with. There are plenty of 1TB hard drives out there that work just fine. I guess I thought the name Barracuda was kind of cool. Besides, I have a 500GB Seagate external USB drive that's been reliable for ages.

Overall, though, I'm pretty pleased with this first build. It's been a ton of fun. Your comments and advice will be most welcome.

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Comments

  • 61 months ago
  • 3 points

From what I can see that case has holes to run the wires behind the motherboard you should really use them to maximize your airflow. You should be able to take the side panel off on the side that is behind your motherboard and see what holes are best to run your cables threw.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

I tried to route some of the cables beneath the motherboard but they were too short. That's why I'm ordering an extension for at least the CPU cable. When I get it I'll try again.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

From the looks of it, you'd be better off ordering a fully modular psu with longer cabling. That way, you're only using what you need and what you're using can all go behind the mobo tray; that is, if you can afford it.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

I think you're probably right about this. Which PSU would you suggest?

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

I use this as a loose reference:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-1804779/power-supply-unit-tier-list.html

Stay away from tier 4 or 5.

I'm eyeballing this one myself... https://pcpartpicker.com/part/seasonic-power-supply-m12ii620bronze

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah now that I'm on my computer and not on my phone I can see better that your 8 pin mobo connector is short but yea you would be better of getting a new psu, but in the mean time turn your HD around and run the cables behind rough whatever cables you can behind the mobo to get more airflow in there.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

I think I already did that. I think I put up a picture with the HD (when I was in a hurry) with the HD running the cables forward, but I turned the HD around later when I figured things out better (duh).

  • 61 months ago
  • 2 points

It looks like you left the plastic film cover on the motherboard heat sink as well. I'd recommend peeling that off.

  • 61 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for pointing that out. I never even noticed it.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

When I was removing the plastic from the heat sink cover, the cover also popped off. I looked at other motherboards like mine and the photos showed they still had the plastic on them. But what I wonder, should this metal cover with XFast on it be on the heat sink at all? It's weird.

  • 61 months ago
  • 2 points

Fix the cables up a little, and route them behind the motherboard tray.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

I would've grabbed a gtx 750 ti if i was in your position, i feel its the base for gaming now a days. Also did you try routing your cpu cable behind the motherboard tray? And yea.. a different case would've probably solved you cable management problems. I respect the ssd but dang 240gb is a bit much for a os drive, are you putting games on it too? 400 watts will be fine for your computer, giving it plenty of breathing room. Otherwise great build.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

I use the SSD for the OS and all my games and applications. Music, video, and data go on the hard drive. The 240GB SSD was only $20 or so more than the 120GB model so I went for the big one.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

I see, seems like you found a nice deal.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

I've already loaded the 240gb half full with apps, games, and the OS, so I'm glad I went with the 240gb SSD. The speed is amazing. Civilization 5 loads in half a minute rather than several and the computer boots in less than 30 seconds.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Good build for the price! Should hold you over for a good while :)

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Not too bad for a 1st build, but you could of done a lot lot better for the money.

There are missing screws on the motherboard! i suggest putting all the screws into the mobo/case so your mobo doesn't start to bend.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

How could I have done a "lot lot" better for the money?

You're right about the screws. I only put them on the four corners. I guess I should get around to putting one in each hole. I'm kind of lazy and I was eager to get it up and running.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Here is a build that would be better:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor $104.99 @ SuperBiiz
Motherboard ASRock H97M PRO4 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard $79.99 @ SuperBiiz
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory $62.98 @ Newegg
Storage Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $63.99 @ SuperBiiz
Video Card EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Video Card $132.99 @ SuperBiiz
Case Cooler Master N200 MicroATX Mid Tower Case $43.98 @ NCIX US
Power Supply SeaSonic S12II 430W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply $57.98 @ Newegg
Optical Drive Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer $19.78 @ Directron
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total $566.68
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-03-24 00:25 EDT-0400
  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Really appreciate your suggested alternative build. You're right about the video card and the power supply. They are superior to what I chose. Also, I should have gone with a less expensive motherboard.

I do not understand why you would buy a 500gb HD for more than I paid for my 1TB. And why did you choose 1333 memory over 1600 for about the same price? I also disagree with your choice of the I3 processor. You're right, its CPU benchmarks slightly faster than the FX-6300 -- but only for a single core. It's two core versus a six core with significant overclocking capability. I wouldn't even think of buying a two core these days. They'll be obsolete pretty soon.

Also, my rig included a 240gb SSD, probably the component that can add the most speed to a computer.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, i'll agree that 1333mhz RAM isn't as good as 1600mhz for the same price, I just got a little lazy when choosing some of the parts.

Some of the cheapest WD drives are slower than the slightly more expensive ones (so I'm told), which is why I did that.

I personally would still choose the i3 because it's new and it's motherboard supports all the latest technologies. Where as the FX-6300 has slightly more horsepower, but is nearly 4 years old now and it's motherboards are nearly outdated.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the rapid response. Really appreciated. Enjoy your comments and knowledge. I had no idea the FX-6300 was four years old. Which technologies does the I3 you recommend support that FX-6300 does not. I'd be interested to know.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

For games such as those you don't need much but if you get into games like Tomb Raider and Crysis 3 and the like you will need a major GPU upgrade.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

ARCTIC Alpine 64 GT is fine; although I've tried it on a low wattage AMD I liked it enough to say "buy it" without hesitation.

evga psu is fine (a brand I personally like and recommend), the 430w and up has 3 years warranty instead of 2. The 400 one is really the El Cheapo of EVGA so I try to avoid that particular one and settle for 430w or better.

I'd rather get an HD6450 instead of HD5450 but that's just me and its too late you already have it and in the end you're satisfied which is the most important factor.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the advice about the Alpine 64 GT. Some have recommended the Cooler Master Hyper T4, but it costs $30 instead of $10 for the Alpine. Do you think the Alpine is a better choice for my rig in case I decide to try overclocking my FX-6300?

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

I can't tell for overclocking the FX6300 but I used it on a 45w cpu and I couldn't hear it with the case open. For the price I paid (no more than 10$) I was very satisfied. It has good reviews too.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

What do you think of the Thermaltake TR2-R1 ($15) or the Cooler Master Hyper TX3 ($20). My FX-6300 CPU is 95W.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

The other day the temp on my CPU shot up to 55C after playing Civ V for several hours, so I decided to order a Cooler Master Hyper TX3 cooler for $20. It's normally in the mid to high 40s.

  • 61 months ago
  • 0 points

OMG that GPU brings back memories from my first build.

As for your actual build pretty good-strong cpu pick overall good components

as for why people (like myself) are willing to pay such outrageous prices on GPU's i can at least give you my answer.

I for one like to stay relevant and have a incurable desire for the best. this is a near impossible task unless you're made of money or are sponsored (which i'm not atm). 100-200 dollars is an average card with strong performance capable of playing triple A titles at 30-60 fps depending on the game on relatively strong settings. my friends old gtx 480 still runs most games just fine. FPS gamers' prefer these cards (or higher end ones) as most (not all but i have no logical reason to explain why you'd want lower fps save the "cinematic" experience ) prefer higher fps esp for competitive multiplayer games.

however you stated you preferred strategy games. i myself love strategy and civ games and started my pc gaming experience with 1602 AD and red alert, BOTH of which i'd play again in a heart beat. i love RTS and civ games in general ROME: TOTAL WAR being my all time favorite which i've logged an ungodly amount of hours.

that said i use a 600 dollar GTX980, which for anythign 1080 is a bit overkill (unless you run titan fall at max with x8 msaa+ x16 anisostropic filtering. turns out i had to over clock it to attain a constant 60 fps). why do i have it? basically because i wanted the best and the ability to destroy any game on the market (then they released the titan x.....). i've been accused of caring more about the machine than the actual game which is true to an extent...but ever since i've gone to maxed out ultra settings on games i cant go back. also if u have a higher Hz monitor then that would explain a greater need for fps count.

nice build :D +1

so in conclusion i dont agree with your GPU pick but seeing as its relatively cheap and easily replaceable and as long as it suits your needs then more power to ya

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Really enjoyed reading your comments and explaining why some folks go for those megapowered GPUs. I should take a look at ROME: TOTAL WAR since it's your all-time favorite.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

best in the entire total war series IMO since 2004