This is my first build and I am quite happy with how it turned out. It is sourced from decent, high-quality “everyman” components and intended to be a competent gaming and general purpose machine. And considering its predecessor, a late-model Compaq tower with a GT 730 I bought before I knew anything about selecting computer parts, it should be quite an upgrade for me. While not top-of-the-line, it should be a decent 1080p gaming build.
Originally the plans for this build called for the i3-6100 CPU, at only $110 and it seemed like a good fit with the build as a whole, but at the last moment after ordering all the other parts I made the split-decision to go with the i5-6500 instead. The i5-6400's near-price of the 6500 and its minimal performance improvement over the i3 6100 did not justify using it. In a way I almost wished I had gone with the i3 just to see what kind of performance I could get with it in this system, but you can’t complain with having an i5. The cooler that comes with this was kind of a pain to get installed. The pins wouldn't lock into the holes on the motherboard properly and kept pulling out, but I eventually got them in (the misleading arrows are actually pointing to the way to turn the pins to remove the cooler) and so far it hasn't fallen off.
This was pretty much a decision to just get one of the lowest-priced models available that would work with the components I wanted to use, as I couldn't find any other features that would have justified paying the $10-35 dollars of other chipset motherboards. The only hiccup I had was that I initially connected the wrong 4-pin connector of the 8-pin ATX power cable from the power supply, and the system refused to turn on. Once I dismantled everything and realized what I had done I corrected it and it now works just fine. It has an M.2 socket for a M.2 SSD that I don't have. Maybe I'll try one of those in the future; for this build I just wanted an enclosed SSD I could screw to the case.
I probably could have gone with more attractive RAM, but at the time I was just looking to get the least expensive non-green sticks possible, plus G.Skill seems like a pretty good brand to start off with. 2133MHz is the highest you can go with this build.
Originally I had planned to go with the Silicon Power Slim S55 SP120GBSS3S55S25, but after reading reviews of subpar performance and reliability of it I ended spending a few bucks more on the OCZ Trion 150 as it seemed to carry much more favorable reviews. So far seems to boot Windows 10 from button-press to login screen in about 12 seconds.
Getting a large-capacity SSD would have been cost prohibitive, and for the same price of a 240GB model I was able to get a 120GB system drive and a 1TB storage drive. Actually so far this drive was a lot faster than I was expecting, or used to with HDDs. This drive will be where I store my games, videos and such.
I feel like I could have just as easily gone with the AMD RX480 for this build, but I ended up going with the GTX 1060 mainly due to familiarity and (what might be) slightly higher performance. And looking back I could have gone with a more-traditional cooler style card, such as the PNY VCGGTX10606PB, but at the time I just liked the look of this card and went with it. This card ended up being a tight fit within the case so if you're considering using this case I wouldn't go for any card bigger, in fact one of the shorter single-fan models might be better.
The case was actually the original cornerstone of the build. Originally torn between building a direct console-competitor using a case like the Node 202 or one like this, I decided to go the tower route for simplicity’s sake while starting a first build. The design criteria I had for a tower case included the omission of any optical drive slot, which as I don’t need an optical drive I feel the inclusion of an unused drive slot or slots detracts from the system’s appearance. And thus the selection of this case, which is one of the least expensive cases not featuring an optical drive, or of any cases for that matter. If I had to do it over I’d probably go for something like the Phanteks Eclipse P400 or the NZXT S340 black/blue, which I will probably do with my next build. And this brings me to one of the few detractors of this case: the lack of a side window, which is definitely not a deal-breaker but would be a nice-to-have. This case was a lot smaller than I was expecting, and next time I'd probably go for an ATX case. The drive mounting bracket makes it difficult to work around and install the graphics card on the motherboard. I feel the build quality of this case is surprisingly good, made of mostly all metal save for the front plastic panel, which has a nice faux brushed-metal looking finish. The inclusion of a case fan with LED lighting is nice, but mine wasn’t installed when the case arrived and was sitting loose on the bottom. I managed to get it installed, inserting one side of the fan into the holding bracket and snapping it into the bracket on the other side, but I see where you could easily crack the fan case if you applied too much pressure pressing it in. The case does not include a rear case fan.
Looking back I have no idea why I didn’t try the Corsair CXM 550W, as it is only $5 more than this and I was originally going to go with a Corsair; all I can think of is that I glossed over it or just stopped scrolling. But regardless here we have one of the few sub-$50 modular power supplies, the Rosewill ARC M550 (isn’t an electrical arc kind of a bad thing?). But for being semi-modular and for the price I think it’s a pretty good deal, and we’ll see how well it performs long-term. The fan is very quiet and easily drowned out by the CPU cooler fan.
A Note About Prices
I manually overrode some of the prices on this list to match the Newegg prices I paid to purchase these parts, as some of the lowest-price options for these parts (for the CPU, for example) from places like OutletPC include additional shipping and handling that would have made it more expensive than Newegg, plus I prefer to order everything at once from one or two retailers at most.
So it can be said that this machine has already been upgraded somewhat, as previously stated I intended to use an i3 but went for the i5 instead. I already have a Microsoft Wireless Xbox 360 controller for PC from my previous machine that I'll be using with this. For my next build I think I might go full size ATX, and spring for a motherboard with overclocking support and possibly an i7 if I don't reuse the i5 from this. But regardless I think this is a good starting gaming build for 1080p 60fps gaming on a reasonable budget.
Update: I picked up a new Asus monitor to go with this, and if you can afford it everything looks great with the 144Hz refresh rate and G-Sync. I also got the rear case fan installed (I don't always run it with the case side cover removed; that's just for photography purposes and so I can enjoy the pretty lights once in a while :)