Description

This is my first build in 9 years, and my first one that I did 100% on my own. My brother wanted a clean cut HTPC in his media center for movie viewing and light gaming (older MMO's, SimCity, old school emulation, etc.) on a limited budget. He has a TV and a wireless keyboard and mouse already, but wanted the Xbox controller setup as well. The tower itself came in under $440 + $54 for the Xbox controller and adapter. I could have saved another $10, but I preferred the convenience of getting every part from Newegg all at once.

The build itself was pretty straight forward, but I have many complaints about the case. It has no fans, but it has a interior hood that directs the CPU cooler straight to the side vent. The only paperwork included was a one-sheet picture set of instructions on how to alter the hood for various CPU placements depending on your motherboard. By themselves, those aren't really problems, but I couldn't use the interior adjustable part at all because my CPU cooler was too far south on the motherboard. The frame of it remained until I realized I couldn't completely close the case because my ram was too big by a tiny bit, probably 2 or 3mm. (I could have squeezed it shut, but the top would have had a visible gap in the black paint because the side panel actually includes a chunk of the top and bottom of the case.) I could have cut a slot in the side of the plastic hood, but it didn't seem worth it at this point. I just tossed the hood. It didn't seem to improve airflow anyway. Half of the CPU fan overlaps with the back of the optical drive. This way, without the hood, the cables for the optical drive were further from the CPU fan, too. The case also didn't come with any screws for the motherboard. I don't know if this is standard, but the standoffs come pre-attached, and absolutely no other mounting screws or anything were included. It's not exactly a huge drawback, but it isn't a sign of a quality manufacturer either. A single diagram of how to access/remove a couple things and 10 screws would have gone a long way.

  • The Bio's on the motherboard is excellent. I'm impressed with the simplicity and functionality. I've overclocked to 3.9GHz with temps holding at 62C on the stock cooler, but the fan went from silent to, uh... beyond quite noticeable. My brother is the kind of guy that would never notice the difference or really care about the CPU speed, so I'll probably dial it back anyway.

  • It was tough to not go with any SSD's, but budget and storage space were important points. We ended up going with the cheapest 1TB HDD at the time. Hopefully he won't regret it.

  • He will consider adding a video card for viewing and recording live TV at a later date.

  • I don't know if a Blu-Ray drive for $40 is a great deal, but it sure feels like it.

This was a bit of a warm up for me. I plan on building a new desktop next month, hopefully for less than $900. I've never installed an SSD or aftermarket cooler before, both of which will be included, and can be a big deal for a self-taught guy like me. I'm still trying to talk myself into upgrading to an i5-3570k over the FX-8350 and something more impressive than a GTX 650 Ti. I'm just wondering if it's worth it if I don't really care about ultra high vs. medium high graphics settings. But all of that is another story.

Comments

  • 82 months ago
  • 3 points

Looks good! I would have gone with the a10, but if that couldn't fit in your budget, then oh well. Looks good!

  • 82 months ago
  • 0 points

We did start with the A10 in mind, but dropped because of the budget. He will never notice the difference.

  • 82 months ago
  • 1 point

Good job on the memory :)

  • 82 months ago
  • 1 point

Later you should add a Radeon 6670 and have it in dual graphics with the A8

  • 81 months ago
  • 1 point

It's something for most people to consider, and if it were for me I certainly would. But I don't imagine the owner being too interested in a graphics upgrade until the processor and most of the other hardware is outdated or dead.

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  • 82 months ago
  • 1 point

First you say you want "something more impressive than 650 Ti" but then go on to inform that you "don't really care about ultra high vs. medium high graphics setting." The question is, what games are you looking at? If its older games you're trying to run the 650 Ti will easily handle the load, although a 1GB 7850 would be MUCH better for a small price increase IIRC.

  • 81 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the advice. There aren't a ton of demanding games I'm into right now beyond BF3. But I am certainly considering the longevity of the cards usefulness as well. Generally I'm not the kind of guy that's interested in replacing the GPU every couple years.

  • 81 months ago
  • 1 point

Why did you go with 1 x 8GB RAM? 2x 4GB would've given you dual channel, but it's not really a big deal :P

Overall, really good build.

  • 81 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, the 2x4GB we had picked out was out of stock by the time we wanted to order the parts, and the 1x8GB had a promo that made it $15 cheaper than any other 8GB option. Just another part of the budget over performance mentality of the build. Thanks for the kind words.

  • 81 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm not sure what I was thinking when I entered the temperature numbers the first time. They have been corrected to 32 and 52.

  • 82 months ago
  • -2 points

If you want a card that could get 60 fps on medium settings get the 660ti

  • 82 months ago
  • 1 point

That would be right along the lines of the most I would consider spending on a GPU right now.

  • 82 months ago
  • 1 point

I recommend the 7950. I have a friend with a 7950 and he loves it.

  • 81 months ago
  • 1 point

That's going to be out of my price range for sure. Anything over the $200 mark is going to be really pushing it with my budget and the rest of the stuff I want. And I'm hoping to keep it near $150.

  • 81 months ago
  • 1 point

In that case a 7870 is probably your best bet. XFX Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card $199.99 That fits into your $200 budget.

For $150, a 650 Ti is your best bet.

The 7850, another good option, can be found for $170.

  • 82 months ago
  • 1 point

medium you say, on a 660 Ti?

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  • 81 months ago
  • 1 point

I feel that the fps and overall features of a GTX card are really stable and awesome :)

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