Description

For over a year now, I've been meaning to replace my laptop I bought back in 2012 with a proper desktop. I've been lurking on this site in the meantime, plotting, but I finally pulled the trigger when my bonus came in. I had to do a LOT of research, as the only hardware-related experience I've had was adding a stick of RAM to my old laptop. Motherboard sockets? Hyperthreading? SSDs? I had a lot to learn.

I originally set out to create a budget build under $500 using an APU, but after much deliberation I decided to go for more power. After $75 worth of Amazon gift cards (including a $50 bonus for signing up for the Amazon credit card), I actually still came in under $500, but I decided to go for some double hard drive action, which put me ~$25 over. I held off on starting for a while because I was waiting for the RX 480... little did I know, I would have to wait at least another couple months after release to actually get my hands on an aftermarket card. But once that sucker popped up on Amazon (I live in Hawaii, so I can practically only order from Amazon to avoid ridiculous shipping, and there are no good local computer places other than Best Buy), I finally made my move.

There's not much for me to say about the parts that hasn't been said already, as these are all fairly popular. I gotta say the case is pretty great, and for a first-timer I had no trouble working with it. The only troubles I had were from the motherboard's I/O shield tabs, which I have no idea what to do with, so I ended up snipping most of the with nail clippers. But from what I understand all Mobos are like that. Also, when first starting up, nothing would show up on my display... after some frantic research, I found that the RAM needed to go in the slot farthest from the CPU, numbered 2, instead of slot 1, which I thought was counterintuitive but it seems this placement is standard.

Overall, this project was tons of fun to put together, from the planning phase til the end. It honestly gave me the same obsessive high I get from one of my favorite game series, Armored Core (which I can now emulate thanks to the snappy i3 6100). This community was also immensely helpful and inspiring, and I thank everyone who's posted their builds and answered questions in the forums. Hopefully someone new to building PCs can get some inspiration from my posting as well.

Currently playing Overwatch and Tomb Raider (2013) at 1080p, along with some older games, random HumbleBundle games, and a couple emulators, all of which run fantastically. Eventually I will add another 8GB of RAM and maybe a couple extra case fans, while cleaning up the wiring a bit. Apologies for my weak-*** photography game, I was working on it at night with poor lighting. Next time.

Part Reviews

CPU

Fantastic for the price. Snappy and easy to install.

Motherboard

Reasonable deal. Only one case fan header.

Memory

It's been said before, I'll say it again... it's RAM.

Storage

Going from a 5400rpm HDD on my 4-year-old laptop to this was a dream. Everyone needs an SSD.

Video Card

I haven't played any hyper intense games yet, but Overwatch and Tomb Raider 2013 run beautifully. Gets up to 75C when playing for a while. The Sapphire Trixx tool is easy to use, but I don't plan on overclocking.

Case

Wonderful. Easy cable management behind the motherboard, lots of room, comes with two fans with support for three more, and it feels sturdy. I'll probably come back to this for any future builds.

Power Supply

$40 for 500W Bronze was a good deal. Recommended.

Comments

  • 37 months ago
  • 5 points

PERFECT build. 0% overkill 100% effective. I really like that you whent with an rx 480 instead of a 1060 since most people are going with the nvidia card just because of the brand instead of looking more carefully into their choice

  • 37 months ago
  • 3 points

nice build bruh. +1.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks bruh!

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

Congrats and welcome !!

Thanks for the narrative............. But how did it feel when you first pushed the button and the system started?

Any advice you might give to the first-time builders?

  • 37 months ago
  • 3 points

For first time builders, I highly recommend doing a lot of research on cases because I have had experience where the cable management and airflow was extremely limited due to the case. The higher the power usage of the components you choose, the better case airflow you will need to maintain lower temps and avoid thermal throttling. Another thing I would highly recommend is build around your needs. I've seen many individuals pair a high end graphics card with a low end processor and vice versa. This build is perfect because both the processor and graphics card match perfectly for 1080P gaming.

TL;DR: Create a budget, research the capability of the parts you are considering, research the games you are going to play at which resolution and fps goal, and make sure you buy reputable parts that are not likely to fail on you.

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

I definitely second the build around your needs mantra! For me, overclocking capability would have been fun, but I knew I would never need to use it, so I would rather save the money and use it on games or peripherals.

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks! I felt pretty awesome when it started up successfully. It helps that the power button on the case has a satisfying feel to it lol

As for advice, I would say plan how you'll run the cables ahead of time, and think about what order you'll install your parts in. I followed Lifehacker's How to Build a PC guide, but when it came time to plug everything in things were a bit messy. I wish I had been running and tying wires during the build process instead of at the end. Also, DON'T PANIC! If something doesn't seem to be working, Google usually has the answers haha

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

HEY good build. Like, perfect for price. Though cable management could be worked on. Still good +1

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! The cables bother me too, but since I don't have a window, out of sight out of mind as they say. I'll clean it up once I get some new fans though.

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

Gotta love this build. I love that I can emulate my favorite oldies with this CPU. I couldn't wait for the RX480 to come out but I'm really happy with my 4GB GTX 960. Mine was a first build too and there's nothing better than booting up for the first time!

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Congrats on your first build bro! I checked yours out and wow it is impressive. Happy emulating!

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Dolphin works like a charm

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  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

How was the journey of building a PC for the first time? Was it nice?

  • 37 months ago
  • 3 points

In a word? Lit.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

This is very identical to the build I'm looking at, I'm thinking of cross firing the 480s on a little better mobo, and plan to upgrade the CPU as well, but not sure if it's gonna bottleneck. I want at least 60fps in bo3, am I able to do that?

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

From the benchmarks I've seen, Black Ops 3 should be easy for an RX 480, even if you don't do crossfire. I haven't played the game myself but I'm sure this system would have no trouble with it. If you do decide to crossfire, be sure to consider the need for a beefier PSU though. Good luck!

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Im building a 600$ gaming pc for battlefield and this build you did looks good for the game because of the 480 what should i swap?? Should i go for i5?

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm not sure how CPU-intensive Battlefield will be, but with the RX 480 able to take advantage of DirectX12 I think this rig would do fine at 1080p. If you have the money for an i5, I say go for it; more power won't hurt you in the long run. Note that market prices for the parts I used come up to about $600 though, so unless you get some deals you may not have much wiggle room in the budget.

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

I am currently researching my first PC build and saw that my build is very similar to yours. I am planning on using the i5 6500 but other than that it's the same build. Just wondering how the gpu works with the motherboard with games and such. I researched the motherboard and apparently it isn't compatible with CrossFire? Does this effect the performance of the gpu at all? Thanks.

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

The GPU has been wonderful for my 1080p setup, and I've had no problems with the motherboard. The mobo doesn't have anything fancy going for it, and no Crossfire as you mentioned, but for what I'm doing I don't need more than one GPU. Hope that helps; good luck on your first build!

  • 35 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm doing a build soon with the same case, processor, and graphics card (although the vendor on mine is xfx)! This is very neat to see somebody with the same idea as me. Have you noticed any bottlenecking at all? My only concern is that the i3 would bottleneck the beast that is the rx 480, but with the Skylake 14nm architecture I've read it isn't a problem at all.

  • 35 months ago
  • 2 points

I've had zero problems. I haven't played any really high-demand games yet, but things like Overwatch, Dolphin, Tomb Raider, and random games from humblebundle run wonderfully. I ended up choosing the i3 because from my research I also couldn't find any evidence that it would cause a bottleneck. Good luck!

  • 34 months ago
  • 1 point

I've been planning an identical build for a while now, yet I am having trouble pulling the trigger. I know it's not a $1500 build but I'm just a minimum wage worker lol. Did you buy these parts over time or all together? I hope to have mine built just after Christmas. Thanks and great build!

  • 34 months ago
  • 2 points

Hey man, thanks! I took a while to pull the trigger too. I actually bought the case and the power supply first while I saved/watched for sales, so that if, say, a better CPU or GPU came out while I was waiting, I could still use the same case and PSU. The other parts I figured would be hard to spread out, because they're more dependent on each other; if I bought an Intel mobo and decided to switch to an AMD CPU, I'd be screwed. So I ended up buying the rest when I got my bonus. I'm sure you could buy the hard drive early too, especially since I've heard that SSD and possibly HDD prices may go up soon. Good luck!

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  • 35 months ago
  • 1 point

I can't say I'm qualified to run any reliable benchmarks, but for all the games I've been playing (mostly Overwatch, Tomb Raider, emulators, and humblebundle games), I've never had to run settings below max to get over 60 FPS. I hope that helps haha