Description

I'm a grad student, and recently my laptop (my only computer) crapped out on me in the middle of a term. This was terrifying, as it took 9 days to repair through the shop. This relegated me to using the public library's PCs to do my work, so my main motivation for building a desktop was to have a second workstation to use in the future. From there, I decided on a budget of ~$600 and figured I might as well make the fasted machine I could at that price point. These were my parts rationalia:

-CPU: I struggled for a while with this choice, as I was constrained by a budget but also wanted enough power to feed my GPU. Most of the games I will play use only 2 cores, and the rest run well on virtual cores (i.e. the i3's hyperthreading technology) if they need to. In the end I decided against the i5 due to it's 50% price bump from an i3 w/o a commiserate 50% bump in benchmarks I care about, but also against OC'ing a G3258 due to its lack of hyperthreading and therefore a lack of some measure of futureproofing. Plus, I have a clear upgrade path since I'm running an L1150 socket.

-GPU: I got this refurbished, and in the end I think this was an absolutely absurd deal. I got a $250-$300 card for $165, which includes a 2 year warranty. It's more than enough to run my games at 1080p and 60fps at maxed out settings (e.g. Metro Last Light, with everything except supersampling maxed and it rarely dips to 55fps).

-RAM: Cheapest 8gb set. Don't need 16gb for gaming. RAM is RAM. It works, 10/10.

-PSU: Found a great deal on NewEgg for a modular PSU from Corsair, which is a respected company in this field. The 500W is high for my current build but gives me overhead for future upgrades.

-Mobo: I was looking for a feature packed budget mITX motherboard, and ASRock's had the best reviews. Socket L1150, on board audio and WIFI (clutch, as an mITX's PCI slot is reserved for the GPU). Overall I'm happy, but the wiring is a little haphazard.

-Case: I really wanted to make a small form factor PC, and CM Elite 130 really caught my eye. It's really cheap, rather small, and provides a deceptive amount of room to maneuver inside. Great cooling arrangements, though the fans are a tad loud so though might get replaced soon.

-Storage: I salvaged an M4 SSD (purchased in 2012) from an old laptop, for which it was bought as an upgrade. Obviously not competitive with today's SSDs, but still plenty fast.

Log in to rate comments or to post a comment.

Comments

  • 62 months ago
  • 2 points

Very nice small build for work! +1

  • 62 months ago
  • 2 points

This is an insane build. Great job! I've worked with the Gigabyte GA-Z97N-WIFI and the onboard wifi is amazing, so if you ever get frustrated with that board, you should consider the gigabyte one. Although, the BIOS is kind of bland. Meh, whatev's. This is an insane price. Love the case!

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm using the same Gigabyte board myself and I love it. So nice not having to worry about getting a wifi or bluetooth dongle. I'm not overly fond of the software suite Gigabytes uses though.

And with the BIOS, it's not like we're in them that much to worry about it. :)

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

My thoughts exactly on all that you said. My friend loves his board. He pokes fun at the magnetic wifi antenna, but all-in-all good board.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I decided against that mobo for 2 reasons: i) I couldn't justify getting a Z97 as I'm not interested in overclocking on such a budget build and ii) it was simply too pricy for what I was tying to do. I agree though, it's great board.

  • 62 months ago
  • 2 points

Really nice budget build and also nice build log +1

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you. I find half the fun is choosing between the parts to what suits me best. Glad you enjoyed the log.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

How did u get the operating system for 25?

  • 62 months ago
  • 2 points

My department sells student keys. I really appreciated not shelling out $100 for Windows.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

I think im gonna build me a mini itx rig for "casual web browsing" and such.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Very nice. I'm considering putting together a similar build in the Elite 130 with an R9 280x, but I am worried about the temps in such a small case. Have you had any issues with the card getting too hot?

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

As long as you arrange the airflow correctly, I doubt you'll have any problems. I decided to have a "positive pressure" with more intake (anterior fan + inverted PSU) than outtake (GPU + smaller fan on either side) to cut down on dust accumulation. The temperatures are pretty fine so far, but if they became a problem then I would just flip the PSU again or add another fan etc.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Can you please elaborate on how go arrange the airflow correctly/how you did it? I'm sorry, I'm new to this and I really want this build to last me and also I don't want to have go keep the case off all the time like some people apparently have to do. I'm not changing graphics cards, the r9 280x is a fave I just am worried I'll overheat stuff!

Any help / comments back would be appreciated. Thank you

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

By placing the PSU upside-down, it blows air into the case instead of pulling it out of the case. This is a bit worse for cooling but it gives the case positive pressure, which means there is more pressure inside the case than outside, so there will be a little air blowing out of the openings in the case to keep dust from going inside the case.