The primary things I was looking for in my build in order of importance were:
- Energy efficiency - I live in the desert where is it is hot year around and energy bills already high in the summer. I wanted a cool and quiet machine that would not make my room any hotter.
- Budget - I wanted the machine to have similar costs to a console.
- Performance - I wanted a machine that could handle high/ultra on slightly older current gen games and high/medium on the newest releases. I also wanted the PC to be my primary workstation that will handle video processing and office work with ease.
How the build turned out:
Energy: this build is amazing. PCPartPicker rated the full build at 48W-218W and it is accurate if a bit high. While idle or browsing the web, it uses around 40-50 watts and only 120 watts during load. The case does not even get hot with just the Intel stock cooler as the only cooling solution. The loudest fan that can be heard is the power supply fan. The 1080p LED monitor only adds 18 watts.
Budget: I went over my goal of ~$400 at $500 (+$50 for monitor). The prices shown are the exact price that I paid. I bought used parts (the monitor) and had other parts that are just lying around (memory ~$30 value on ebay, keyboard). Newegg premier trial was used to save few bucks on shipping. I also got a Windows key license from school. While the i5 4690S while amazingly cool and fast (6-7 watts idle, <20 watts under load), is a bit overboard for this build. An i3 quad core or even a G3258 can probably save you some money at the cost of a little bit of fps on games.
PassMark Benchmarks System: 3757 CPU: 7621 2D Graphics: 999 3D Graphics: 4080 Memory: 2001 (HDD: 1095) SSD: 1974
Windows Experience Index Processor: 7.6 RAM: 7.7 Graphics: 7.7 Gaming Graphics 7.7 (HDD: 5.9) SSD 7.9
Performance: I have been able to run all the games I want on ultra so far. (Battlefield games, Bioshock games, SimCity, League, Dragon Age, StarCraft) As you can probably guess from the benchmarks, whenever there is a bottleneck in speed, it is always the HDD. As I wanted to use this as a workstation, I opted for more space instead of an SSD, which will improve overall performance.
Build Notes: The case/power supply combo (currently $30 at newegg) is an amazing deal BUT beware that the power supply has only 2 SATA connectors (enough for the DVD and HDD in this build) and no PCI-E connectors (I used a Molex->PCI-E converter for the graphics card). It is a perfect choice for my super low energy build but I would not recommend it if you go something like for a 8core AMD and a Radeon graphics card.
UPDATE Jan 2015: Swapped out the Logisys power supply for a Rosewill that was on sale and added an SSD, adding $80 to the build. The Logisys power supply worked fine for the 2 months I had it (some of the commenters made it sound like it was gonna blow up any time..)
Significant improvement to benchmarks in the disk department as expected. Current playing Dragon Age Inquisition on high :)