NB: Pictures were taken as soon as it was built. There is next to no work done to wiring at the time of posting this. Prices are not 100% accurate, but very similar. Build was under £300. I comment on EVERY component below.
First ever PC build, built with the help of my brother for a combined Christmas & Birthday present. It had been a long time coming to 'upgrade' from consoles to a gaming PC. This PC was intended to be able to be upgraded gradually over time - my first goal being a new Motherboard, followed by a new CPU and so on. I'll do a break down for game performance at the very end of the description.
• CPU - Incredibly impressed with this CPU. I was originally a little dubious as it was my first every experience with a PC and all I had heard was "AMD runs hot!" "It's not as strong as Intel!" and so on. However this CPU performs incredibly well. Whilst I don't play particularly intensive games (No 1440p Battlefield or Crysis here) it handles World of Warcraft with large groups of people - which is known to be heavy on CPUs - at a steady, playable frame rate. It handles multiple applications running very well. Whilst I still plan to upgrade the CPU eventually, for the time being I am very pleased. It also runs fairly cool so far, albeit without extended hours of consistent play.
• Motherboard - No real complains here either. Some of the screw placement to the top of the mobo was a pain to screw in as it was mounted high in the case but this is likely due to where the case has the designated area for it. Only 2 slots for fan power, and only 2 bays for RAM. However, this motherboard was extremely cheap and as such I'm not disappointed. BIOS screen is pleasant and easy to use. Worked with components from the very beginning. Pleased, but intent on upgrading soon, mostly for the RAM slots and being able to run more fans.
• RAM - Can't offer too much information here other than it all seems to work fine. Came at the described clock rate, as I know some RAM comes at a lower than described rate. Mobo recognised it, as did CCleaner if that means anything. Nothing has gone wrong so far so I'm pleased.
• HDD(s) - The 250GB Laptop HDD was from my previous system: a HP Pavilion Laptop that I used for extremely light gaming. This was in order to boot Windows without having to purchase a new one as well as have extra storage which is never a bad thing.
• GPU - Bought from a private seller from Amazon. Was a little cautious but after emailing the seller I decided it was safe and for the price, I'm glad I did. The card apparently saw little use. A little dusty on arrival but I cleaned the blades & has worked fine since. Impressed with the performance, no problems with Skyrim with higher-res textures. Runs cool and quiet.
• Case - Love the way the case looks. I'm a lover of simple, sleek cases and this one is just that. Mesh grill in the front with a dust filter & two bays for 120mm fans with a 120mm exhaust fan that came with the case. The supplied fan runs incredibly quiet. Really good quality for the price, although with the thin sides I don't think it would insulate noise too well. Buttons on the top feel a little cheap but that's such a minor thing. It has plenty of HDD bays and lots of space. Has enough room for another GPU if I decide to SLI/Crossfire in the future. Slight problem with the rear. It has slightly protruding sections where the GPU backplate is so it blocks access to the HDMI port.
• Power Supply - No complaints here. No shorting and it powers everything fine. So far, everything has been fine. Confident it will continue to do so.
• Headphones - Brother has a pair that I've used occasionally. You can find them in the UK for around £50 - £60. All other headphones I've used have always made my ears and head hurt but this pair doesn't. Extremely comfortable and doesn't make my ears hot.
• Keyboard - Given to me by my brother so this was free. I don't think Razer sell this keyboard anymore, but if you can find one privately I'd reccomend it. Whilst it doesn't have cherry switches, it's still a good keyboard. "Touchpad" at the top right of the keyboard allowing music control & volume control. Razer Synapse allows different keys to light up, or none at all if required.
• Monitor - Same story as the keyboard, given to me by my brother & I don't believe they're sold anymore. 1600 x 900 resolution so a big upgrade from my old laptop screen. 60Hz Refresh Rate & very good picture quality. Brother had nothing but praise for it too.
Game Performance Comments
• Skyrim (Lightly modded) - A few light mods here and there. Slightly better textures, some additional content and lighting overhauls. Solid frame rate. Occasional stutter but that's due to the Game Engine. Near-maxed settings. Absolutely gorgeous as well, may I add. Gamebryo engine can only use a very limited amount of RAM & only uses 2 CPU cores.
• World of Warcraft - Notoriously CPU intensive but manages very well. In a 30-man raid (LFR) setting, holds around 40 FPS on a mixture of Good and Fair settings with some AA and so on. When alone in Garrison (Reliant on GPU more than CPU) seeing 180FPS uncapped at points. Solid 60 FPS when capped.
• Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel - Maxed settings, just a few AA and similar settings down to 8x Anti and so on. Runs very solid, even with a lot of NPCs on screen & particles.
• Diablo - Completely maxed, even in huge packs of NPCs I get a solid framerate. GeForce Experience recommended far higher settings than I play at.
• Just Cause 2 - Again, solid frame rate. Dips occasionally, not quite maxed settings.
• Fallout New Vegas - Heavily modded, albeit no texture/lighting mods. Solid framerate, but again with drops and stutters due to the frankly archaic game engine. Also I believe it only uses 512mb of RAM & 2 CPU cores.
These are the only games I've tested it with so far. Yet to test anything super hardware intensive, but that wasn't the real aim for the rig. I'm incredibly pleased with the performance.