This build originally began as a project to play SC2 ~60 FPS on low. The first target budget was $350. I could have achieved this goal, but soon became enamored with the "Build Fever." Researching this project became the thrill.
After several weeks of searching the web at every lunch break or few minutes I could sneak in at work, I discovered endless content on YouTube videos, posts, etc. I concluded that I can achieve 1080p ~60FPS for around $600 so I went for it. I just graduated college and my laptop bit the dust.
The crux for the build is StarCraft II. SC2 is a game designed in 2008 and takes advantage of dual core CPUs. Therefore, the g3258 was the foundation. I did some research and realized I could easily run SC2 and found the EVO 212 would accompany the g3258 well. I have never OC before, so the Asrock Anniversary even at a premium was fine by me.
Silly things I didn't account for:
This case is huge. Very big. I had an issue with placing it near a heater and window, but came to realize the internals wouldn't mind.
The fans are loud. Not sure if it is the included 120 mm case fan and/or the Corsairs. The PSU fan honestly never turns on in ECO mode and the GPU fans are off below 60 degrees C. I have set the CPU fan to change with temp and it has cut some noise. I would love to turn these RPMs down to like 1200 from their permanent 1600.
Speakers. Completely forgot about these. I ended up using a bluetooth speaker that has an AUX cord. Works better than expected.
Mic. The front header has split headphone/mic ports, and so does the MOBO. I need to figure out a way around this for a headset.
http://imgur.com/a/cT8A1 Link to other images.
CPU: g3258 accompanying SC2 and the dual core optimisation was a no-brainer. I live in Boston, so Micro Center really did me a solid by always having these in stock for $49.99. I have been able to achieve nearly identical performance between stock and OC @ 3.7 gHz, yet temperatures differ. At stock the CPU rarely goes over 48 degrees C. At 3.7 gHz I can go up to ~57 degrees C with the Hyper 212 EVO. SC2 never goes below 60 FPS in 1v1 even up to Ultra. No regrets with this CPU.
MOBO: Asrock Anniversary Z97. Saw some reviews online that this thing has auto OC. Couldn't ask for an easier setup. Yes, it is ~$20 more than an HXX series board for similar performance, but I'm comfortable with the price.
Only issue is that I am unable to change the 3-pin fan speed via the BIOS page. I can change the CPU fan sped (just not with SpeedFan). If anyone can help out, please that would be appreciated. I have updated the BIOS, etc. I thought that a 3-pin fan could still be changed with voltage control. Not 100% sure what that means.
Is a little smaller than I expected it to be.
RAM: Found this at the low point of the price charts. Jumped on it and nuff said. Running at 1866. I had to place in the 2nd set of slots due to the heat sinks running into the Hyper 212 EVO fan. I don't plan to add more RAM so I am not concerned.
Boots log in screen in 8 seconds from pressing the on button. Have had no issues with performance. I took one from my laptop and use it as a back up. I have been able to load SC2 maps, replays, and campaign noticeably faster than with an HDD.
GPU: This was a fun story. Originally, I had no intentions of picking up a GPU. Then I did some research and realized I could snag a 750 Ti and get some nice shaders and lighting. Discovered /r/buildapcsales and have become a daily lurker. Jet.com had a sale on the Nvidia GTX 950 SC+ for $117 after the first-time 30% off rebate. 2 day shipping. Wow. I was about to buy an EVGA GTX 750 Ti ACX the day before for $160. So I order the GPU being excited for the deal. The card shows up the next night from Brooklyn. I open the box and am amazed. There was an EVGA GTX 950 FTW Edition instead of the 950 SC+. A slight upgrade, but it made the story of purchasing this GPU all the better. I run SC2 at Ultra 1080p 60 FPS (monitor vertical sync refresh rate is maxed at 60 FPS) and it never gets above 60 degrees C even after playing for like 5 hours. If I play on Low the card doesn't go above ~45 degrees C.
Since having this card for a few months, I have noticed some strange issues when playing StarCraft II and Heroes of the Storm. I appear to be having an alt + tab bug within Windows 10 (short freezing on black screen or gfx api crash error). I didn't have this issue in W8 as far as I could remember, and this issue only started recently showing up post New Years-ish time frame. Not sure if it's a bug with the driver or with W10 or a Blizzard update, but I have since disabled the alt + tab feature in game and have to deal with it. I have worked many other things with Blizzard tech support. If anyone has tips please let me know.
This case was given to me from a friend in August 2015. We were at a StarCraft II get together and he had this from years ago and never used it (to my knowledge). I felt bad taking it at the time, because it is really nice. I convinced myself the moment I accepted it that I would make a PC. This was the one item that got the ball rolling for this build.
I like the open concept for the case, the large space for wires behind the motherboard stand, and glass panel on the side. The inclusion of a 200 mm fan on top is awesome and (I think) helps keep things cool. I haven't tried running the build with the fan off to test the temperature performance, but will give it a shot.
Only thing I don't like is the honeycomb fan slots on the glass paneling. I have put clear tape over it to prevent drawing in excess dust and wish it was a clear panel. I have found some YT videos about how to replace it, but it seems like a $40+ project. I noticed Antec made replacement clear panels, but they are since discontinued.
Quiet, modular feature is a huge plus. ECO switch is better than expected. For $60 after MIR I couldn't be happier.
Have purchased this twice. Have had zero issues with performance. I only used this for installing the OS. It's loud but does the job.
Look pretty, but are quite loud. Louder than expected. This would be acceptable if they were adjustable speed and weren't named 'quiet' edition. Not really sure if they keep the internal components cool, because I have put my hand behind the two fans running and it doesn't feel like much.
Initially I didn't care about the noise, butI would not buy these again unless they could be controlled due to the noise.
Upon purchase of this monitor I was very happy and content with it. Perfect size. 1080p. TN panel. A great stand with vertical and swivel adjustments. Only downside is that I have noticed really fuzzy images when all black or darker colors. The colors are not even and have a patchiness to them. I have checked images, YT videos, and video game images/stills and it appears to be this panel. Not sure if this is normal.
There is noticeable light bleed when booting the PC, but I don't care.