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