In early August, I came into about $600 unexpectedly. I told my girlfriend to put her shopping spree on hold, it was time to become part of the master race.
I started this build around mid-August and had everything built except the GPU by September 1st. I got my gpu last week, but wanted to do my OC and benchmarks before I made this write up. This is my first build ever, and couldn’t have done it without /r/buildapc . Seriously, I came in to this forum early August being the guy who pays Best Buy $100 to install windows on his laptop for him. What a joke.
The actual build saw zero hiccups, outside of the copy of windows 7 I had was bad. Went to the USB installation method and had no issues. Thanks Newegg build videos!
Processor and heat sink – Well it’s an i5 3570k. Can’t really go wrong here. Overclocking it was easy and I lucked out with a decent chip and have decent temps and voltage at 4.5ghz. The hyper 212 plus doesn’t disappoint for the cool $20 budget.
Motherboard – Gigabyte z77x-ud3h – Absolutely love this thing. I went with this board for mainly 3 reasons. One, it is pretty full functional. Second, it was used to set the Intel overclocking record, so I knew it had to be built well. And lastly, I had to mix it up from the sea of Asrock extreme4s around here. ;)
Case – CM Storm Enforcer – It’s a decent case at a decent price. It nails down everything you would want at that price, although I wish I had splurged an extra $20-40 and went with a nice corsair or NZXT case. Couple things this is missing for me are rubber routing grommets, side fan mounting spots, and a few other, miner, details. I’m not totally in love with the look, but it’s not bad. Originally I was going to go with the HAF 912, but right before checkout, I showed my girlfriend the case and she hated it. She said if I was going to spend this much money on something she at least wanted to like the way it looked. Seemed like a fair compromise.
PSU – Seasonic M12II 520 Bronze – Great, quality psu. I don’t know how people suggest builds with non-modular power supplies. Seriously blows my mind. My only complaint would be that I didn’t get the 620 watt model. 520 is cutting it pretty close not enough to crossfire my 7950 in the future.
8gb 1600mhz Samsung ram – No problems yet. Doesn’t have any giant heat sinks for aesthetics but I’ve only seen good reviews on this stuff and heard it overclocks like a beast, if I needed to.
WD 500gb Blue/LG DVD drive – No complaints either way, do what they are supposed to.
XFX 7950 DD Black – This is the money maker. I spent a long time mulling over the gpu for this build, almost a month, actually. Initially, I had actually planned on a 7850, but talked myself into a 7870. After the price drops hit, it was hard not to bump up to a 79xx card. I settled on this one for a couple reasons. Initially, I was going for a 660ti, but thankfully was shown the light where the 7950 simply outclasses it after it’s recent price drop. After that, I could not decide on a manufacturer. I bounced around from asus, gigabyte, MSI, EVGA, etc. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a single model I wasn’t at one point considering buying. Eventually, I got sold on the lifetime warranty xfx offers, some solid reviews and benchmarks, and, honestly, aesthetics. As for how this card performs, it’s great. The xfx cooler works well enough and is reasonably quiet at 50% fan. Unfortunately, I got a really bad chip. GPU-Z has my chipped graded at a sad, sad, 52% ASIC. I literally combed the internets looking for someone with a lower score than mine and could not find anyone. I’m assuming 50% is the cut off before it gets trashed out of the bin. This means I’m having to hit higher voltages to hit lower overclocks, which brings higher temps. Kind of disappointing when part of the reason I got the 7950 over the 670 is because it “overclocks so well.” Now I know what they mean when they say overclocking isn’t guaranteed. I’d be lying if I didn't say part of me hopes this card dies so I can RMA it and try my luck in the silicon lottery again. This card doesn't need the extra power (currently), but it’d be nice, ya know?
Overclocking: The processor was easy enough. I simply just used the ivy bridge guide over at /r/overclocking . I set a pretty soft goal at 4.5ghz and actually got there. One of my cores would hit 90c occasionally though, and I didn’t like that, so I dropped it down to 4.4ghz and called it good with a max temp of 84 during IBT. Prime and Intel burn stable, of course. My gpu is currently clocked at 1100mhz core and 1500mhz ram @ max temp 76c and 1.212v. Comparatively, the voltage is a little high for those numbers, but what can you do. Temps are at lows 70s at full load during furmark.
Benchmarks: Furmark: 720p preset – 5070 ponts, 1080p preset – 2930 points 3dMark 11: P8824, Graphics 9025, physics 8397, combined 8091 Uningine Heaven DX11 (all settings max at 1920x1080) score: 1219
As far as game benches go, I don’t have much. The issue is I have to use a 51” 720p tv as my monitor for now, so therefore, I play everything in 720p. I can tell you I play bf3 and I’m in the 70s fps most of the time, all settings ultra. Planetside 2 also runs well enough I can’t notice any fps drops, even though a lot of other AMD users are.
Overall, this was a really great experience. Honestly, I have more fun tweaking my system and reading up on new parts and tech than actually playing the game. Wish I had a friend who needed a PC, building a pc is a blast! Thanks again, I hope those pictures will suffice!
Edit: Oh ya and before everyone cries out all at once, an SSD is next on the upgrade list. I wasn't totally sold on the price/performance for it when I'd have to sacrifice my gpu to fit it into my budget for a gaming PC.