Description

Hello,

this is a build I made for a friend and co-worker of mine. It was challenging because she had a lot of parameters for me to abide by: 1) Keep as close to $500 as possible while getting mostly quality components; 2) Build a mid/low level gaming rig (preferably mid); 3) Small size, she was adamant about this; 4) Wireless Capability; 5) Aesthetics a plus (black box was forbidden).

First of all, she paid quite a bit less than what listed for that RAM. Can't remember how much exactly but there was a rebate and it combo-ed with the graphics card for -$15.

Second, I asked her to get low profile RAM but... well you can see for yourselves. Of course, with that RAM the Hyper 212 didn't fit the right way so I had to install the fan on the opposite side. The airflow is thus "wrong", it should be pushing air to the back, I'm well aware of it. She didn't want to go through the process of returning the RAM.

However, I overclocked the FX-6300 slightly (4.2 Ghz on all cores) and it maintained very reasonable temperatures while stress testing it. She's not going to be OCing herself so we should be good.

Another issue I ran into, because of my n00btitude, is the cable management. I had it all nailed down beautifully: not a cable in sight, BUT I could not get the back case panel to close. I was extremely disappointed and I was forced to move cables into the front; nasty. Any advice or tricks of the trade on how to have better cable management would be appreciated.

The build is going to be used for the usual PC stuff, plus medium gaming. Her main goal was to be able to play Wizardry Online and for her husband to play some FPS at med. setting. I think this build is pretty good performance/price.

The monitor, mouse and keyboard in the pics are what I used to set it up, not what she's going to be using. She chose Win8.

Last but not least, I'm 100% sure a lot of you will ask me (or tell me off) about the 7870 over the GTX 660. The 660 went on sale shortly after she purchased the other graphics card. Bummer, I know...

Comments

  • 77 months ago
  • 10 points

Great build and no, I don't think anyone will be "telling you off" about the 7870 Ghz card over the 660. I've always told my clients if you can't go to a 670+ then go AMD because Nvidia did a huge disadvantage to their 660 cards by chopping their memory bandwidth. Though if you never experienced any other card on the market you wouldn't tell the difference but for people like me who tested nearly all of them you know there is a big difference between the cards and how limited the 660 series are. SO TL:DR the 7870 Ghz Card is quite a good choice.
The cable management I believe is limited to the case you are using which can't be helped within a budget limit so with that in mind it looks really good. Great job and hope the user really enjoys it ;)

The only trick I can suggest for cables is to fan them out and not bunch them together. Make the longer cables zig zag across the entire back panel to take up more slack.

  • 77 months ago
  • 2 points

Ah, thank you for the suggestion on cable management and for the insight on the 660, it is appreciated. I have a 670 FTW on my personal build (built Oct 2012) and I was aware that the 660 is quite inferior to a 670, just wasn't sure when compared to 7870 and amd in general.

  • 77 months ago
  • 2 points

You're quite welcome and if you compared your 670 to most 660 cards even the Ti versions you'd be shocked. The chip is the same but I noticed a few had worse image quality and needed a lot of the settings turned down because of the memory limitations.

Just to reassure your choices ;) http://gpuboss.com/gpus/Radeon-HD-7870-vs-GeForce-GTX-660

and take a look at some testing someone did over at overclock.net http://www.overclock.net/t/1339698/the-eternal-question-which-is-better-hd-7870-vs-660-ti-benchmarks-inside

After last year right around September / October of 2012 AMD released drivers that put most of their cards on top tier performance over most of the equally priced Nvidia cards and now with this months release of drivers that are supposed to help with the frame rate AMD has done quite well for themselves in the competition. Drivers are great now while Nvidias drivers have been seeing major issues. The market is hard to follow but for those of us addicted enough we do our best :P

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you very much for that confirmation, for a second I felt my (nerd)heart sink when I saw that two days later the 660 was about the same price as the 7870. Ditto on the market being hard to follow. For each comparison there are always a million opinions and considerations. I will rest easier now. =)

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

You can always have a quick look at http://www.gpuboss.com this just gives a quick view on how GPUs perform compared to eachother.

There is also CPUboss.com and SSDboss.com.

Great build!

  • 77 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks! Yup, I had actually used GPU boss to make my decision but I was helped by the fact that the 7870 was a full $40 bucks cheaper when she purchased it. SSDboss.com, nice!

  • 77 months ago
  • 0 points

I recently bought a PC with a 660 and it runs very well

  • 77 months ago
  • 3 points

and I'm sure it does but did you compare it to other cards which was the context of my entire post?

  • 77 months ago
  • 3 points

Flip the fan around. Not the cooler itself.

  • Take the fan off

  • Remove the little rubber spacers

  • Take the screws out and the plastic snaps off

Put the snaps on the other side and re-install.

This way the fan will be "pulling" air through the fan as opposed to "pushing" it in the wrong direction. It will take a couple of minutes but the performance will end up much, much better than what you have now. The fan can stay on that side and not interfere with the ram.

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

I thought about this as well, would you say that doing this won't actually end up hurting the cooling performance? Pulling the air through the radiator seems harder.

  • 77 months ago
  • 3 points

Pull nor push shouldn't be any harder for the fan. The way you have it set up now is considerably harder for the fan.

You essentially have two opposing fans facing each other. They are both going to be struggling to move air. So the air that does manage to get through the case will be turbulent and much harder to cool.

Imagine this as a room. You have a fan in the front door and a fan helping move the air out of the back door. Inside you have a fan in the middle facing opposite both of them. That room will NOT get cool easily. Since the middle fan is fighting against the other two.

You really do need to flip that fan.

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

You make a good point, I will try and do that on my lunch break. I brought the PC to work to give it to her. =)

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

You can also mount the fan alittle higher and it will clear the RAM, if not just turn the fan around as stated by Norm101.

  • 77 months ago
  • 3 points

This looks like a great little PC! For so little too! Why skimp on the motherboard though?

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

That is a good question, the reality is that I needed to stay as close to $500 as possible without hurting the performance too much. Any suggestions on a good microATX mobo for around that price? Or under $100. I had never built a microATX system before.

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

There really arent that many mATX boards for the AMD side of things so you were pretty limited. I do know what its like to be on a tight budget though. And for the money you pulled off one hell of a build. Hows that 7870 treating you?

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you, and yes I had trouble finding decent AMD mATXs, it was kind of a nightmare and I had to settle. The 7870 is actually better than I expected. I have a gtx 670 ftw in my personal build but this little Sapphire card gets the job done. For the price, I'm very impressed. Also, I was skeptical about purchasing a Sapphire; so far, I'm happy I did.

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

No need to be scared with Sapphire. They have excellend customer service and I havent had any issues with there cards. Im still using an old 4870x2 by them. It runs so hot I could probabaly cook breakfast on the thing but hell, it works. :P

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

That is what I read on the reviews, I suppose it's just the psychological factor of "buying a minor brand". It's all about perception. Great to hear you've had good success with it too!

  • 76 months ago
  • 2 points

Great build, I actually just purchased this same exact case. I am a fan of small form factors that pack power. I am also a new member here. Once I gather all of my parts I will show my build of it. Thanks for posting.

  • 76 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you sir, and good luck on your build! My friend really loved that case. The only thing I would do differently is the mobo, I would advise spending the few extra bucks and getting a better one.

  • 76 months ago
  • 1 point

Absolutely, I already have all of my parts its just a matter of building it and showing you guys.

  • 76 months ago
  • 1 point

I would also like to know how did you put the DVD Drive in the 2nd bay, I see the 1st bay is clear but the 2nd and 3rd seem obstructed.

Thanks

  • 76 months ago
  • 1 point

The bottom bay has a fixed tray for smaller format drives, like card readers. I placed the dvd drive in the middle because the SATA power cord I had was too short and I wanted to use only one for HDD and DVD drive. Saved an extra cord in the case.

  • 76 months ago
  • 1 point

Cool, and thanks for the info.

  • 56 months ago
  • 2 points

iS THIS SORT OF BUILD STILL VIABLE AS A BUDGET GAMER? I'M CONSIDERING A BUILD SIMILAR TO THIS, WITH SMALL CHANGES (GOING WITH THAT R9 270X WHICH IS NOW OUT, OBVIOUSLY) AND A LARGER BOARD AND CASE (UPS THE PRICE BBY ONLY A FEW DOLLARS).

omg, whole thing is in caps. Typed this at work, and now I'm too lazy to change it.

Have an upvote for being awesome!

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

Wow, I completely missed this, sorry about that. Yeah, it is somewhat viable as long as you update some of the parts as you mentioned. I would definitely look for a slightly stronger CPU as well. Really depends on your total budget.

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

No way someone could tell you off for choosing a 7870 GHz edition over a 660, in fact someone would be very stupid if they were to do so. The 660 performs terrible because of it's 192-bit interface and even with the price drop I still wouldn't recommend it. Otherwise, this build is very nice! Your friend should enjoy it :D

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you very much. Yes, I believe she will have a good time with it! :D

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

7870 XT would have been better than GHz, hate the case but love the build. :D

[comment deleted]
  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, price was the driving factor in all of this. I already went over the $500 budget as is. =)

My friend picked the case because she "likes how it looks". Any suggestions on a similarly priced mircroATX case? For future reference.

[comment deleted]
  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

Ah, but my friend explicitly forbade me "the black box". I actually wrote that in the description. T_T I bet that's an amazing case though.

[comment deleted]
  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

Wow I really like this build. It is basically my build but for $250 less, which drove me crazy trying to compare the two to see where I lost the $250

For what was asked for aesthetics + price point you nailed it.

And I tried to gauge the left over clearance since you had side cover off. Can you not just raise and clip the CM 212 fan higher on the heat sink and facing the right way (push) above the ram. It appears you can, even if some of the fan breaches the top of the heatsink as long as you can place the side cover back on it would be better then the current placement, Unless its in pull mode currently, then it would just be a minor improvement.

Fantastic Job in my opinion +1

After re-examine, looks like the fan is already raised above heatsink, and heatsink top appears to be flush with tabs to hold side panel so you probably already tried it

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you for the kind words, they are appreciated. I tried the fan anyway I could think of, no luck. However one other user suggested to invert the fan, so that it is pulling air through the heatsink. I'm not sure if this will improve or hurt the performance but it seems like a good idea.

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

Why isnt the price of win8 in the part list?

  • 77 months ago
  • 3 points

im pretty sure he already has a copy win8.

  • 77 months ago
  • 2 points

Mainly because she purchased that outside of my part recommendations. Some people include the OS, mouse, keyboard and monitor(s) in their builds, others don't.

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

fork out the little bit of money for a better case, namely the corsair 400-500 series you can pick them up for under 100$ on sale and the cable mngmnt is great. this is a nice build by the way

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

It's only got one antler!?!

  • 77 months ago
  • 2 points

:D That is going out of sight, ofc. I just plugged it there to try that component out. I was pleasantly surprised.

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

Excellent build. I upvoted your build. For the price you could not have done better. Have fun with it.

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you very much, that is really nice to hear.

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

How was the cable management on this case? I am looking at building a rig for my sister, and I would like it to be small form factor, and this supports both small motherboard sizes: mATX and mITX.

  • 77 months ago
  • 1 point

Honesty, for the price I liked this case. It's not amazing, but it gets the job done. I suppose cable management depends on skill, which I don't have. :D The back is a bit tight and I could not get the back panel on with all the cables running through the back. That is mostly my inexperience though. I think the BitFenix Prodigy will have a bit more space, it's also more expensive though.

  • 76 months ago
  • 1 point

You commented on my recent build that you just made something similar - I see what you mean! It's funny because your cable management issue is something that I ran into as well. I spread out the cables behind the motherboard and zip tied them as best I could, which helped, but it was still difficult to close the panel. What ultimately worked was laying the chassis on its side so I could press down on the whole side panel as I slid it into place.

  • 76 months ago
  • 1 point

Hehehe, not the most orthodox solution, whatever works! :D

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

dat big *** antena on the front doe...

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

Antennae sticking out of the front would drive me insane.

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

lol, that was only temporary for installation. :D As OCD as I am, I'd get a stroke! It's just a usb wi-fi dongle so it does go in the back.

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh okay that makes me happy