My current computer is becoming dated and looking around I decided to get a tower - mostly because my budget is low and desktops are the best value. I haven’t built a computer since I was in middle school, having used laptops since I was in college. Turns out they still go together the same and this build was easy for me, no real issues at all. Slapped it together and everything worked. I’m glad to see there are some great improvements that have been made to cases (PSU on bottom, dust filters, the space behind the mobo to hide cables, etc.). I started browsing parts a few months ago and put together a few different builds, then sat on my butt waiting for deals to come around. It’s hard to be patient, doubly so when you have a mobo in your hands and want to play with it.
Requirements: 1) OSX limits me to Nvidia/Intel Haswell 2) 1080p gaming on high settings 3) only average CPU requirements doing 2D image editing and working with fat 30mb Word documents, but I want it to last some years so at least an i5 4) budget
Looking at how sales come and go, I put together a build list using a GTX 960 and i5 4460. Both of these fit my requirements and have a high performance to price ratio. It is really easy to overspend on a build - this one could have easily broke $1000 which is ridiculous since I should be spending that money on a GTX 970 instead of fat SSDs and a cooler for a non-OC CPU. My build changed as the deals changed. The 4460 hit a minimum price of $160 recently, but I just wasn’t seeing that deal. Then I saw a Microcenter ad for a combo i5 4690k + ASRock Z97 Extreme 4 for $240. The price at the time was the same for a 4460 + ASRock H97 ($180 + $65) so I just impulse bought the 4690k. No regrets on that one! Now I have in my hands a mobo with an M.2 port, OC RAM slots, and able to OC the CPU. I will probably do all of those in the future, starting from six months from now.
Prices include tax (I didn’t pay shipping on anything but the HDMI cable) and are the final prices I paid. The HDMI cable price is fake in order to make the total $777.77 - it was $4.05 including shipping on the TigerDirect going out of business sale and not $4.95 as listed. You make your own luck.
Future Plans: M.2 SSD, 2400 RAM or upgrade to 16GB or both, Second monitor, CPU cooler so I can overclock
ASRock Z97 Extreme 4 - this board is all over the message boards with DOA and RMA and all that BS, but mine works great. It has all the fun features like an M.2 slot, can overclock CPUs, has USB 3.0 headers and decent audio. Issues: it has four case fan headers (1x4-pin and 3x3-pin) but two of them are in the center of the board. So much for pretty cable management! The CPU fan header looked like it would exactly reach with the stock cooler installed with the logo facing upwards, but actually it was a centimeter too short and I ended up moving the cable to the other side instead of rotating the whole cooler. Finally, the dual slot graphics card blocks two of the PCIEx1 slots and the main PCIEx16 is shared with the other two long PCIE slots. So just two cards filled all the expansion slots (wifi card in the top slot). Other features: dual bios so you can save yourself if you mess it up. Numerical codes displayed for troubleshooting.
ARES 2x4 GB DDR3 1600: so friggin cheap, and its blue and matches my motherboard.
Samsung HDD - this is louder than the case fans. SSDs really are much better. My plan is SSD for OSX and HDD for Windows, so I won’t be complaining so much once I get OSX running on the SSD and quit booting to Windows.
EVGA GTX 960 SC - No complaints. No regrets not spending another $20 for the EVGA SSC or another $60 for the fancy G1 Gaming.
NZXT Source 220 - I picked this because it is cheap and still looks cool and has some modern features like a bottom PSU mount and space behind the motherboard for cables. I don’t want to build a new computer that looks like a crummy office computer; I want a freaking window and lights! This case has some issues: no SSD mounts, the holes to feed the cables to plug into headers on the bottom of the mobo are blocked by the PSU, no dust filters. Overall I’m satisfied. I really wanted the Fractal Design Define S Window, and would have bought it if it was $70 like it had been for a while, but it was sitting at $100 and I got impatient. I added filters on the intake fans for $10, maybe that money was wasted.
EVGA 600B - I had a chance at a great deal on a modular Edison M 450W 80+ Gold - which is Tier 2 on the Tom’s Hardware list (http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/id-2547993/psu-tier-list.html), but then I thought with overclocking and other stuff I might top 450W. My stock system is supposed to be around 300W. For future freedom I ended up going with the EVGA 600B, which is at least 80+ Bronze and Tier 3 by the Tom’s Hardware list.
Wireless Network Adapter
Rosewill N900 - Works great without even installing a driver.
Keyboard/Mouse: Heck, it works and Logitech is a reliable brand.