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Budget Gaming PC - September 2014

by gellertb97

7
12 Comments

Part List View full price breakdown

Details

Date Published

Sept. 27, 2015

Date Built

Sept. 14, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

3.5GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

35.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

50.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.01GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

5.0GHz

Description

I built this PC for myself back in September 2014 for general use and light-moderate gaming (primarily FSX-SE).

Many of the parts were from a Tiger Direct Kit which originally included an MSI mobo which shipped defective and an MSI GT610 which I just recently upgraded to a GT730. The memory was also originally only the two pieces of HyperX totalling 8GB at 1866MHz.

This machine also once had a TP-Link N300 wireless card in it; from the start it had struggled to keep up its performance because of the case (more on that in the review on the case) and not long after a power surge took out a good chunk of its kick, but the final nail in its coffin was actually when we redid the insulation in the floors it became totally useless (router was in the basement of the house).

So far over its life this machine has run several installations of Windows 7, Windows 8.1, as well as several distributions of Linux, all of which ran great and had absolutely no issues in terms of drivers and overall performance despite the lack of SSDs in the system (although that is a future possibility); and is now running Windows 10 Pro (upgraded from Windows 8.1 Student), which for the time being has issues installing the OEM ASUS motherboard software although continues to have no issues with the drivers themselves.

This machine is more or less capable of running Hackintosh and actually ran Maverics on a WD 250GB for about 5 months (solely for the purposes of experimentation and running iMovie (Final Cut Pro will NOT run on this machine despite using an AMD kernel)) before I upgraded the graphics card at which point it would no longer boot due to incorrect graphics driver.

***Onboard audio outputs did not work correctly in Hackintosh except for the front 3.5mm connectors that are plugged into the HD Audio port on the mobo.

UPDATE: The 4GB 1600 MHz RAM stick has now successfully been overclocked to 1866 MHz along with the other two 8GB sticks which are rated for 1866 MHz; first run of Windows after overclock resulted in a blue screen but everything has been very nice and stable since.

Part Reviews

CPU

Exceptionally well built CPU in terms of performance vs price. Runs Hackintosh under the right conditions of configuration and installation.

Thermal Compound

For its price it works phenomenally well

Motherboard

Very good and stable mobo; first time I put it in the case I accidentally forgot the spacers and upon booting it, it kept running, in fact it didn't even give off a warning nor was it in any way damaged from the short it experienced. Been running nice and stable for the last year and despite the various BIOS updates and modifications I experimented with, it worked through without a hitch. Software included for it is stellar for its price (which was ~90 when I bought it a year ago).

The reason I gave it 4 stars is the fact that there are only two rear USB 3.0 ports and it doesn't have a slot for USB 3.0 expansion.

Video Card

Unfortunately, despite being a GT7xx series card, it's somehow still inadequate for the game bar recording feature in Windows 10. That being said it is a neat little card and performs up to my expectation while running FSX-SE under high realism settings.

Case

This case came in the barebone kit that I ordered from TigerDirect and from day one I wasn't too happy with it for a couple reasons: 1) It's a cheaply built, low budget case that has a side panel that wobbles around like crazy when you take it off. 2) There are some sharp parts to this case; yes, I cut myself in two separate places on my hand during assembly 3) The first week I already lost count of how many times I pushed the reset button because of how it is positioned and how easy it is to accidentally push it as a result. 4) Later on, I discovered that the reason behind the lack of performance of my wireless card besides the power surge was the actual magnetic field of the case, and I know this because upon using the card outside of the case it started working reasonably well again and while researching the issue I found some users of this case experienced the same issue with their wireless cards... not impressed at all to say the least. 5) Front USB and headphone jacks are cheap and low quality 6) It originally came with a 450W PS that was absolutely garbage and constantly triggered voltage warnings on the monitoring software for the mobo.

The reason I did give it two stars is the hard drive and DVD drive mounting brackets which are relatively good and very convenient when taking replacing a drive... although I believe it is standard nowadays for cases to have them.

Operating System

Obviously at the time of the review this OS is merely a few months old and there are some bugs for Microsoft to smooth out but nevertheless for a new rolling-release type system it is reasonably stable and very efficient; the seamless updates are a big bonus as well. Windows 7 and 8 users should feel relatively at home with this OS given that they be willing to contribute a little time to explore the few existing differences between the systems.

Efficiency of CPU and GPU usage noticeably increased compared to Windows 8.1.

Comments Sorted by:

kurkuro 4 points 22 months ago

Question, Why is the back fan taking air in? Anyways, nice build.

gellertb97 submitter 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

Simple, I have three fans; one at the back blowing air towards the CPU, a fan on the side providing extra air to the GPU and a third cooling the hard drives (they get pretty hot while running FSX :P). All the air exits above the side fan.

stormage 4 points 22 months ago

You probably would have done a hell of a lot better going with a Phenom II X6 1100T/Phenom II X4 965 and a GTX 750 Ti. Clock for clock, the phenoms are ahead of the FX line by far. They also still support DDR3 RAM on an AM3+ motherboard. The 750 Ti would also allow for vastly increased graphics settings and framerates in FSX. Coming from someone who plays FSX and X-Plane 9 on a phenom II X4 965 and MSI OC Ed 750 Ti.

gellertb97 submitter 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

Oh absolutely; I know someone with a Phenom II X6 and the performance is insane. Back when I was searching for parts the Phenom was the first thing I looked for, but despite my efforts, couldn't find any available in Toronto or even for shipping to Canada (figures :P)... As for the GTX 750 Ti, it's on the list and will be added as soon as I can save up the cash for it ;)

stormage 3 points 22 months ago

Ah, that stinks something hard. I had to order mine from China. Surprisingly shipped to the middle of the USA in less than a week. Payed around 60 USD for it.

gellertb97 submitter 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

Surprisingly enough, they've been reappearing on Amazon Canada in the past few months, but I'm not too sure whether or not to buy one (or two... or three just to stock up :D)

Apach3 3 Builds 2 points 22 months ago

i feel like you could've gotten a better deal with an AMD APU, unless there was a specific reason you went with an Nvidia graphics card. otherwise, that, and the odd RAM configuration, are pretty much the only flaws i see for a computer for general use and "light to moderate gaming".

on the flip side, i'm quite impressed you managed to run a Hackintosh with this setup.

gellertb97 submitter 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

I'd love to explain: I went with the FX because I run a program called Flight Simulator X (now only available on steam if you're interested), which is an ultra-realistic flight simulator available for PC. Like any other simulation product in its class it has a physics engine and adjustable terrain density, which because of their nature rely on the power of the cores in the CPU (despite being rewritten, its still not really a multi-threaded game) instead of the GPU. For actual rendering of course, Intel HD graphics or even combined CPU-GPU performance won't make the cut compare to this type of setup (at least, in my experience along with a lot of other people I talked to who enjoy this type of hobby).

As for the ram, iMovie simply wouldn't export in 1080p without the extra 4GB and this was the most reasonably priced ram stick I could find at the time.

Hope that helps :)

Apach3 3 Builds 3 points 22 months ago

ah, that does explain the unusual setup. carry on :)

[comment deleted by staff]
gellertb97 submitter 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

The PSU is actually from another custom build with a high wattage GT9800 and is now over 3 years old ;). Never a hitch!

[comment deleted by staff]
gellertb97 submitter 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

It's obvious to me you've had some bad experiences with Corsair PSUs... it may be that I'm just lucky, but so far this one hasn't had any issues and is solid in its performance.

[comment deleted by staff]
gellertb97 submitter 1 Build 2 points 22 months ago

Well, I guess every product will have its nay-sayers but on a lot of websites they are some of the higher rated PSUs... I don't know about over-priced, back when it was purchased it was around $38...