// will update temps etc when my brother has it up and running + apologies for potato image quality (iPhone 5s)
// see userbenchmark results here
Having built my first gaming PC over 3 years ago and building low end systems for a few months, I wanted to help my brother [DAVOS] get away from the "gaming" laptop circle.
I'd been planning to upgrade my own system for a while, but couldn't reason a full generation upgrade so stuck to moving to an i7 from my i5. Unfortunately, my Z97 itx board died last year and felt disappointed to not be able to unlock the potential of the 'K' CPU, so moved to an i7 instead. This focused the aim of the build and as full ATX Z97 boards are relatively cheap, I scoured Amazon, eBay and Gumtree for deals and this is what happened...
CPU - i5-4690K
My old beast which had been stuck at stock speeds due to a motherboard issue. The build was centralized around the CPU and should been sufficient for a while longer. Using the inbuilt MSI OC Genie overclocking tool, it's currently clocked at 4.0GHz but when I'm back for summer we'll experiment with overclocking further.
CPU Cooler - CM MasterAir Pro 4 + Thermal Paste
Chosen due to an Amazon sale, with it being slightly cheaper than my original plan of a Hyper 212 and similarly great reviews. Overall impressions are very positive, however installation was painful (literally) and cost some blood and sweat. The build quality is great and using the X bracket makes it feel extremely secure. The fan is quiet and as the cooler came with spare fan brackets I installed a spare blue LED fan I had lying around. Cooling is great and often the fans don't need to spin - will update w/ temps soon. I had some extra thermal compound lying around so opted for it rather than the included paste (which came in a tube rather than a packet - thumbs up!).
Motherboard - MSI Z97 PC MATE
After surfing second hand boards on eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, I found a great deal for this board and a G3258 which I've used in another build. I personally love the physical style of MSI products and found the BIOS to be comprehensive yet easy to use. The inclusion of OC Genie 4 is great for people new to overclocking (like me) for CPU and RAM. With plenty of SATA and PCI connections, expand-ability is endless (almost).
RAM - G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 16GB
Originally I planned on using my old HyperX Fury 8GB (see first images); however, my brother wanted 16 gigs so I tried to find another 8GB of HyperX RAM but came across a great deal for the G.Skill. I like the style of the cooler and don't mind the clashing colours of the RAM and the MB slots - turns out it matches the SATA cables so there's some design impression. 16GB should be more than enough for my brother's workloads and gaming.
Storage - Sandisk SSD + MX500 + HDD
Unfortunately, due to living 500 miles away from my brother I couldn't get the 500GB Crucial SSD I bought him last year for the boot drive. Therefore, I picked up the cheapest 120GB SSD on Amazon and so resulted with the Sandisk Plus. Good sequential read score of 511 MB/s but disappointing write speeds of only 77 MB/s according to the userbenchmark score (see top of description for link). When my brother gets the PC he'll (hopefully) install the Crucial SSD for his favourite games. The Tosiba was lying around so I threw it in for extra storage.
GPU - PNY GTX 980 XLR8
After an unfortunate faulty GTX 970 purchase from eBay, I found a decent (at the time) offer for a GTX 980 in great condition (and actually worked). The card is HUGE and I had to squeeze it into the case but has a great build quality and a nice backplate. The sag is real from this beefy card so I tried to use the PSU power cables as support on the end. I didn't bother overclocking the card as it has a decent stock OC, however my brother may play around with it once he starts running games. For 1080P gaming it should offer great FPS at ultra quality for the next few years.
Case - BitFenix Nova
The main "budget" part of this build that in retrospect I would have liked to have gone for some thing just a little more expensive. The build quality is ok, looks alright and does the job. Cable management was ok but took sometime with the non-modular PSU. As I had a spare 140MM fan from a previous build, I installed it in the front of the case which was an easy process and worked well.
PSU - Corsair CX 650W
Initially, I went for an Amazon Warehouse "as new" Corsair CX 650 but upon installation found out the fan was faulty and made a horrific noise. After returning the faulty one I just bought a new one which came the next day and worked perfectly. Whilst I would have preferred to have gone for a semi modular or fully modular version, for the price it was by far the best value and I enjoyed (to an extent) cable management. 650W should allow for future upgrades and ensures headroom for overclocking safely.
Due to my brother's room being too far to use an ethernet cable I got the best reviewed wireless NIC on Amazon which does the job nicely for only £12. The monitor was chosen because of being the best value 1080P monitor on eBay at the time and should suffice as a beginning monitor. Might upgrade to a 144Hz monitor in the future as my brother likes to play CSGO, but will likely only be able to afford one once he goes professional...
- ***Thank you very much for reading and viewing my build! It was a lot of fun and I hope my brother likes it. I’ll have to ship it 500 miles to him so hopefully UPS can get it there safe. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. More description, photos and benchmarks to come when my brother has it up and running. Shout out to PC Partpicker for this amazing website!
Philip [flipthebass] *
Still a great performer and should be enough for AAA games for the next few years.
Great performance and build quality and stylish black appearance. The included picture manual is poor but comes with thermal paste and brackets to mount an extra 120MM fan on the heatsink.
Overall, the design is stylish and functional. Easy to navigate and comprehensive BIOS plus OC Genie 4 for easier overclocking.
Great speeds and stylish appearance which should look good in most builds. Can't fault it.
Good value SSD with decent sequential read speeds of 511 MB/s but poor 77 MB/s write speeds. Score of 45.7% on userbenchmarks.
Decent speeds of 122/119 MB/s sequential read/write speeds.
Sturdy and stylish build with good stock OC speeds and decent dual fan cooling.
Cheap and does the job but lacks overall build quality and design of slightly more expensive cases.
Great value PSU with 80+ rating and manufacturer's warranty. 650W should be enough to power beastly builds and with 2 8pin PCI connectors it can feed the best graphics cards.