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Build

The Potato Eater (First Budget Gaming Rig)

by Templetown

15
9 Comments

Details

Date Published

May 29, 2016

Date Built

May 24, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

3.7 GHz

GPU Core Clock Rate

980 MHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

5.7 GHz

Description

This is my first build ever. My goal was to build a compact but effective gaming rig for under $850 complete with a monitor, ssd, wifi capability, and a mechanical keyboard. I also wanted to have some upgradability and a relatively "future-proof" system that wouldn't leave me wishing I had waited to build something newer.

I specifically built this system to run newer games with high settings at 1080p like Overwatch, Dark Souls III, The Witcher: Wild Hunt, Elder Scrolls V etc. It's way overkill for the many source-engine games I love, but then again there is no such thing as overkill.

This build is a bit more expensive than some comparably performing rigs, but it fits my needs perfectly and did not kill my wallet. I built with the overall aesthetics of the computer in mind when choosing parts, and I feel I made a pretty clean looking machine with a cool blue/black color scheme that doesn't feel out of place in my room.

Wifi capability was a must-have b/c there are no Ethernet or cable ports in my bedroom. I didn't want to use a separate wifi card b/c it would block one of the fans on the GPU on a small mATX or mITX mobo. The SSD is a boot drive with the OS and drivers, and the system boots in under 20 seconds. The GPU demanded at least a 500W PSU, and although the power draw of this system is not nearly that high, the headroom can't hurt and the price was right. I also added a small aftermarket CPU cooler to keep noise down during longer gaming sessions.

Performance-wise, I have been incredibly pleased with this build. I get very stable 60 FPS at high or ultra settings on all of the games I've played so far, and the CPU temp is around 60-65C in-game. After tweaking the fan settings in the BIOS, the computer runs quietly enough that I cannot hear it when I have headphones on, and it is practically silent from outside of my room. Games look beautiful and I never feel like my computer is holding me back from playing my best and having fun. Overall, this is a world of difference from my laptop, and I am glad I chose to build my own PC.

Gaming on this budget beast makes my laptop seem like an aluminum potato. And this machine eats potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Part Reviews

CPU

Fantastic processor for the price! I was at first worried that I might have issues running new games and voice chat clients at the same time, but this thing doesn't break a sweat on gaming with a background task or two. I haven't used it for photo editing yet so I can't speak of its abilities in more multicore oriented applications, but if you're on a budget this is a solid choice w/ good single core performance that won't bottleneck a mid-range GPU such as an AMD R9 380x or equivalent.

Recently tried some PS2 emulation, and it can maintain 60fps at 2x resolution with proper PCSX2 settings (speed hacks may be required for some games). I am impressed.

CPU Cooler

This is a nice little CPU cooler. It's compact and won't block anything on your board, looks great, installs in about 1-2 minutes, and comes with tools and more than enough thermal paste for multiple uses. It fulfills Cryorig's claim of being ~25% cooler than the stock heatsink, while being quieter too in my highly unscientific experience.

I primarily bought this as a quieter and more effective replacement for the OEM Intel heat sink, rather than to chill a power-hungry overclocked CPU. The C7 is simply not as powerful as something like the ubiquitous CM Hyper 212, but for a low profile heat pipe cooler in the $40 price range it works great.

Motherboard

Excellent mobo if you need wifi for your compact Skylake build.

As a first time builder who had never gone into a computer's BIOS in my life, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to change fan settings. I'm probably not going to OC my build, but it has tons of options for that.

This has none of the daft front panel connector placement of some other small motherboards, so don't worry about blocking things with your CPU cooler. The wifi is fast and perfectly stable if you have a good router. Works flawlessly with Windows 10.

Memory

It's ram, it works, what else is there to say? Well, for one, it's got a lower CLS latency (14 ticks) than other DDR4 2133 MHz ram. It also looks cool.

Storage

A 120GB SSD for under $40? Yes please!

Perfect for use as an inexpensive boot drive with a separate storage drive.

Storage

This is the best-selling 3.5" HDD for a reason. Reliable, inexpensive, and quiet, I can't fault it. I use it as my storage drive, not my boot drive, but large files (like games) write plenty quickly for me.

Case

This is a well-made budget mATX/mITX case for a smaller build, with thoughtful touches like dust filters for all the air intakes, easy access behind the mobo, decent cable management, and edges that won't slice you to ribbons. It comes with an exhaust fan, which is very quiet if you control its voltage.

The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that it lacks any venting on the top and is a bit too narrow for larger CPU coolers (you cannot fit a hyper 212 in this case), which limits your cooling options somewhat. Additionally, all of the drive mountings do involve screws, but they are rock solid and easy to reach. If you're doing a crazy overclocking build, look elsewhere. If you want a cheap but high-quality case for your gaming, office, or home PC, this'll get the job done.

Case Fan

Very powerful pwm fan that's built to last. One of the highest airflow 120mm fans available.

Just be aware: This fan gets VERY loud at higher fan speeds. I keep it between 40-50% at gaming temperatures and it is quiet enough that I can't hear it with headphones on and my friends can't hear it in voice calls. Don't use it without some form of speed control if you care about noise.

Comments Sorted by:

Cobyfield 2 points 30 months ago

And this machine eats potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

There is legit this guy in Australia who is trialling a diet of only potatoes for a year.

A human eating potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. :P

yunggamer03 1 point 30 months ago

that power supply looks really sleek!

Eltech 20 Builds 1 point 30 months ago
What a lovely build with nice cable management! Great parts for this budget gaming rig. You have my one for darn certain!
jk184 12 Builds 1 point 30 months ago

Nice build. And I really like your desk. She'd be a beaut with a little refinishing.

HyperYveltal16 1 Build 1 point 30 months ago

You should put a Mr. Potato head in side the case, or is that cannibalism?

Coop2860 2 Builds 1 point 30 months ago

I have the same processor, an ASUS STRIX R9 380, and a B150 chipset board as well. I can't complain!

kikstyo 1 point 30 months ago

Can the MSI B150I mobo automatic control 3-pin case fans through voltage in the BIOS?

Templetown submitter 1 Build 1 point 29 months ago

Yes, the mobo uses voltage to control the system fan header, so it can control 3 or 4 pin fans (or both). You can easily set an automatic fan speed control in the BIOS.

[comment deleted by staff]
HyperYveltal16 1 Build 1 point 30 months ago

Lol

[comment deleted by staff]