*Added 3DMark 11 benchmarks (just for giggles)

This is my first build, and I have to say I'm quite pleased with the results thus far... I am a Mechanical Engineer by trade, so the sparky business and spec'ing components was a bit daunting.

I started my research and quickly ended up at Lifehacker's article on best budget pc's you can build: Lifhacker Budget Builds This was a great help in learning the ropes, and ultimately drove me towards some of my critical components. I highly recommend this article and the others in the subject of builds at Lifehacker.

Primary Use

  • Word Processing / Large Spreadsheets / Light Photo Editing
  • Web Browsing
  • Music Streaming
  • Video/Movie Streaming
  • Light-to-no gaming
  • Dual-boot Windows 8.1 & Linux Ubuntu

My goals for this build

  • Easily handle intermediate amounts of multi-tasking
  • Hanlde HD video & streaming
  • Room for expansion in the future:
    • Potentially add music production capacity
    • Recreational gaming
    • Some heavier graphic design / photo editing

CPU The first decision I had to make was Intel or AMD? It was a tough one, but bang-for-my-buck quickly turned me toward AMD. I've had both CPU OEM's in the passed, and don't have the expertise or experience to be brand-loyal quite yet. For heavy multitasking, it seemed that higher # cores would be helpful, so for the $ the A8 series seemed like a solid choice. The $300 Lifhacker build has the A8-5600K APU, but for almost the same price I was able to upgrade to the A8-6600K.

MoBo I upgraded from the MSI A78M-E35 for three main reasons: (1) more audio outputs/inputs (2) more USB 3.0 ports (3) plenty of room for expansion on the board beyond my initial intentions ... and all this for a small cost-add. So far I have been very happy with the BIOS set-up / interface.

Memory My original plan was for 4 GB of DDR3-1600 (robust, not to $$$). I found the G.Skill set for only about 40% more than the 4 GB stick I was looking at, and so it seemed like a good-value upgrade.

Storage I added the $50 SSD option because ~30 GB seems to be enough for dual-OS booting with the 1 TB HDD for the heavy data. The size of the SSD is something that may be upgraded in the near future depending on how much software I end up accumulating/using. OS on SSD has been the highlight so far, crazy fast! Boots Windows 8.1 x64 in ~10-15s, and runs super swish

Case I wanted a clean, versatile, mid-sized case. This is the one item I feel like I inadvertently overspent, but in the end I feel like the money was well spent. The build was very easy and allowed a lot of options for how to organize the SSD & HDD. Simply said, I love this case. Big Pros: MoBo wall to assist cable management is awesome Cable management features are a huge help, although I still zip-tied the crap out of it all Each drive tray can mount a 3.5" OR 2.5" form, but the 3.5" mounting has rubber isolators, while the 2.5" does not, so more reason to stick with 3.5" HDD and leave 2.5" for SSD. Med Cons: Although the drive cages are modular (set of 3, set of 2, and set of 1) they can only install in one order. So if you want to, say, remove them all except mount the set-of-2 to the bottom, you can't. The single-set is fixed to the base, and they interlock such that the order cannot be modified.

Power Supply I went with the modular version of the CX430 to reduce the amount of cable-madness. With the intention to potentially add in a video card later, I felt it would be nice to let that cable sit elsewhere than in the bottom of the case. So far I haven't really "put it to the test", but very quiet so far.

Build Notes Really the only issue I ran into was how I wanted to layout my SSD & HDD, which was limited by the number of PSU outputs and the nature of the dist tray / cage set up. I may invest in some specific cable to allow more space between drives, but it's not critical.

The remaining items I purchased are as follows (in case you care): $110 - Full Window 8.1 $40 - Keyboard / Mouse $121 - Samsung 21.5" Display (S22C300H)

Total Spend ~$750

3DMark 11 Benchmarks 5097 - Cloudgate (for Office PC & Basic Laptop) 2990 - Sky Diver (for Gaming Laptops & mid-range PC's)

My 3 Star ratings are mainly to keep it level while I continue to gather my opinion... fairly neutral so far

Part Reviews

Optical Drive

Middle of the ground, no issues and have used it fairly frequently for DVD playback. Slightly loud, but not too bad for the price.

Case Accessory

Part came out of the box with scratches and overall the quality is lacking. That said, it has functioned just fine, with no issues to date.

Still, I was bummed when I found a seemingly expanded version of it from a 'fancier' brand for half the price :-(

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  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

Looks good.

I'll leave others to bicker about the AMD vs. Intel thing, because you have done well for what you wanted, regardless of brand.


  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

Sounds like you really did your homework. Nice build with quality components, I hope it serves you well! +1

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for your comment! A lot to learn but this has been a lot of fun!

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

My only question, is the pic with your motherboard...the cpu temp looks awful high..

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

Indeed. It's not that high at idle, but still between 45-50 C when monitoring in BIOS. Any thoughts?

The only changes I've made to my settings are to eliminate any OC feature so I don't have that to consider as a contributor. I'm trying to use Core Temp to monitor while putting it to load, but my temps are only reading 0C...? After booting up this last time it appears my CPU fan is running full at 3500 RPMs constantly, so it feels like I have some forum posting to do...

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

That is strange. It could be that stock heatsink...but I'm not sure.

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

I found last night that the BIOS version needed an update, and after the update the fan no longer was stuck at full blast, and oddly the temps are better now (35-42 idle). Still working on the ability to monitor while in Windows, but for now I will monitor it.

Thanks for pointing it out! I'll look into an improved heat-sink if nothing else helps.

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

You don't seem to be doing to many intensive should be okay now. But if you ever intend to overclock, then for sure.

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

Temps are fine. I downloaded MSI Command Center and it monitors EVERYTHING (not sure how I missed it as I searched their support page quite a bit). 32C in idle, working out how I want to prove out the system under load.

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

Good simple build.

Get yourself some new cpu cooler if you want to overclock,those AMD stock coolers are bad.

I would go with 2133Mhz memory at least for full APU expirience.


  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

I resolved my overheat concerns mentioned earlier in the post, and since then I've had no issues with the stock cooler. Half tempted to try to OC, but only a little tiny bit ;-)

[comment deleted]
  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

how long did you wait while you were in the bios for the idle temp? or were you running windows for it?