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Lil' Budget Beast

by KingSphinx



Date Published

Dec. 28, 2015

Date Built

Dec. 25, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

4.2 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

31.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

51.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.165 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

6.61 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

40.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

71.0° C


I'd been using an old Dell XPS 410 for the longest time, and after five and a half years and numerous upgrades to the ol' Dell, I decided it was finally time to step up and build an entirely new computer. The only catch: it had to be under $500 at the time of purchase (came to $495 and change when bought on Black Friday). That said, I feel like I made the most I possibly could out of the budget given, and I'm quite satisfied with the result.

Let me know what you think! Comments, questions, concerns, they're all welcome.

edit: Looks like I've won the silicon lottery; I've been able to overclock my CPU to 4.2 GHz. Bought a Cooler Master Hyper TX3 just to be safe, alongside a DVD drive.

Part Reviews


This CPU won't set any world records for speed, but for around $70-75, you can't beat it with a stick. Plays stuff like TF2/GMod/LoL maxed out with power to spare, and will probably run newer titles like GTA5 at decent settings too. Just don't expect to max out Fallout 4 with it. Temperatures are also surprisingly good with the stock cooler, at 31 degrees Celcius at idle and 51 degrees under heavy load according to HWMonitor (though the stock cooler does get pretty loud when stressed, I recommend something like the Cooler Master Hyper TX3/T4/Hyper 212).

CPU Cooler

For the price, this cooler's quiet and cools the CPU nicely. My one issue with it (and it's a biggie IMO) is the installation: the included clip for AMD motherboards is one of the most frustrating things I've dealt with in some time. Because it kept falling apart, it took me five tries to get it installed, and each failed install required me to remove/reapply thermal paste. Cooler Master ought to find a way to make a better clip.


Was right around $60 when I bought it, and it's simply great. Excellent build quality, lots of SATA ports (eight of 'em), and supports CrossFire if you're running Radeon graphics. Bonus points for working perfectly with Linux, if you're into that (as am I, but I run Windows since not all my Steam games have a port yet).


Cheaper than the standard Ballistix Sport when bought, and comes with snazzy blue heatsinks. RAM is RAM, for the most part, just get whatever's cheapest from a reputable manufacturer.


Previously bought for the Dell XPS 410, this isn't the fastest SSD out there, but for its price, you can't get much better than this. Just works, and is much much faster than a hard drive.


Cheaper than its Western Digital Blue counterpart, and is just as reliable, for the most part. Just don't get the 3 TB version, as it's infamous for failure (and is probably why Seagate doesn't have the best of reputations).

Video Card

For $140 at time of purchase, this thing is amazing. Compared to the GT 640 I was using in my old Dell, it's like looking into a whole new world! Runs everything I've thrown at it, and I've yet to find something it can't run. An interesting feature is its silent-cooling mode, where the fans don't kick in unless the GPU gets above a certain temperature (around 65 degrees Celcius, by my testing), since the card can downclock itself when not in heavy use to save power.


This is probably, relatively speaking, the weakest part of my build IMO. I do like the minimalistic styling, the front-facing USB 3.0 port, and the fact that it comes with two case fans and actual dust filters, but (and this is why I consider it the weak point) good cable management is a pain with this case! One must be strong and very patient to get the right-side panel back on after routing cable back there. Had to fight it on, and you never want to fight your case. Also, make sure any optical drive you wish to put into here is less than seven inches deep, as some motherboards may be too wide to allow a proper fit.

That all said, however, it's still not that bad for under $50, it's just that you have to keep the drawbacks in mind.

Power Supply

One of the cheapest power supplies you can get that's still made out of high-quality parts. I honestly would recommend this over the omnipresent Corsair 430-watt units I see used all the time. Provides all the juice my system needs, and quietly, at that.

Optical Drive

Fit perfectly into my rather cramped N200 case, and functioned immediately out of the box with Windows 10.

Comments Sorted by:

dpinsent 2 points 38 months ago

an overclocked 950 wont reach 960 performence very good parts choice apart from graphics card i would have saved up a month or 2 more to get a gtx960

KingSphinx submitter 1 Build 1 point 38 months ago

Funnily enough, I originally wanted a 960, but A: it would've put me over $500, and B: that extra month or two would mean no Christmas present. I bought all these on Black Friday, so $140 for a 950 isn't bad at all.

aerophoenix1 1 Build 1 point 38 months ago

IMHO, you should've gotten a 760 xD it's tons better than the 950 and it's the same price

KingSphinx submitter 1 Build 2 points 38 months ago

Huh? The 950 literally sits at the same level as the 760 did last gen, there's no way it's better. You could make a case for the 960, sure, but not the 760.

aerophoenix1 1 Build 1 point 38 months ago

? But the 760 outperformed the 950 quite heavily o.o it's basically a gtx 960 except it's heats up significantly and has no support for DX12

ryan2pro 4 Builds 2 points 38 months ago

Very well balanced parts here, and you definitely got the most for your money, the only thing that could improve is adding a cheap air cooler to overclock the crap out of that cpu.

KingSphinx submitter 1 Build 1 point 38 months ago

I've thought about that, actually. Not that the stock cooler is bad (it does a decent job of keeping the Athlon cool), it's just that it's loud under load. Probably gonna pick up a Cooler Master Hyper T4 if/when I feel like overclocking.

ryan2pro 4 Builds 2 points 38 months ago

I actually own a T4 and have used a T2 in my friend's build, any one of them would suit your needs just fine.

RTecH36 1 point 38 months ago

I'm building a £400 gaming rig and I am really confused to which cooler to choose out of the cooler master 212 evo (but I don't know if it will fit in my case (thermaltake versa h22)). Or the TX3 evo(which I'm thinking about at the moment). Ooor, the T4.

Please help.

CPU: AMD x4 860k motherboard: ga f2a88xm d3h


ryan2pro 4 Builds 1 point 38 months ago

the t4 and 212 evo are about the same height, the tx3 would work just fine. I would use the tx3, but a 212 evo would work just fine if the budget allows.

DaddaPurple 1 point 38 months ago

No cooler?

KingSphinx submitter 1 Build 1 point 38 months ago

Just the stock heatsink/fan. Considered a Hyper T4, but seeing as I won't be overclocking for the moment, I figured it was unnecessary.

AlaskaPL 1 point 33 months ago

Amazing build but the insides look like a spaghetti but the rest is good !

KingSphinx submitter 1 Build 1 point 33 months ago

Thanks, and believe me, there's only so much room for proper cable management in this case. At least it's not a complete disaster.

AlaskaPL 1 point 33 months ago

Dude, can you please send me some benchmarks ? Would really appreciate your help

P.S.: Great build bro ! +1

KingSphinx submitter 1 Build 1 point 33 months ago

In the Unigine Heaven benchmark, I get a score of around 1212 with an average FPS of 48.1 (minimum 23.6, maximum 97.8). CPU-Z gives a single-thread rating of around 1210 with my processor OCed to 4.2 GHz, and multi-core of about 4710 (it varies somewhat). Not too bad for a $70 processor, in my opinion.

gugu96 19 Builds 0 points 38 months ago

nice little budget gamer; ram speed should have been 1866 with that cpu, to get the most out of it (on stock settings).

KingSphinx submitter 1 Build 2 points 38 months ago

Yeah, maybe, but 1600 was a bit cheaper, and when $500 was the limit, I had to get it under there by any means necessary without sacrificing too much performance. Not even sure I'd notice the difference anyway, isn't it somewhere around maybe a 1-2% difference at most?

gugu96 19 Builds 0 points 38 months ago

to be honest I didn't dig for the performance difference. I would say it's greater than 1-2% but I have nothing to prove it. I just go to AMD website and read the spec and go with the max ram speed they mention for any specific cpu/apu.

MightyAlFred 3 Builds -1 points 38 months ago

I had clicked the up arrow as soon as I'd seen the parts. Very nice pc for the budget, I probably wouldn't have changed anything (I don't know it there was any AMD alternative to the 950 at about the same price, but that's still a very nice card). I'd say overclock that gpu and reach about 960 performance :P I'm actually courious about that motherboard, it's the same I'd choose if I were to build a system like this, but I'm a bit concerned about the lack of VRM heatsinks. Any idea if it would be an issue? Maybe when overclocking the cpu? Anyway the build as it is is already solid, but with the price drops of ssds you can throw in a 250gb samsung evo for quite cheap when you'll have the opportunity, aswell as maybe a better downdraft cooler? Idk, I feel like I'd need to get a downdraft one with that motherboard, but I may be overestimating the vrm issue.

KingSphinx submitter 1 Build 1 point 38 months ago

From what I've seen, you can overclock a bit on this motherboard (people have gotten Athlons to around 4.2 GHz), but I don't think I'd recommend extreme OCing. That said, it's no problem for stock settings, as the N200's airflow does a great job of keeping everything cool.

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