My first build for PC gaming after being a laptop enthusiast for many years. Primarily because of ease of travel and mobility that laptops offered I thought that a laptop would satisfy the work I needed to do as well as an occasional gaming session.
Finally getting back to desktops after a 7 year hiatus and much lurking on pcpartpicker. Low screen resolution and constant overheating while on the laptop really encouraged the switch. Didn't have much in terms of old peripherals and hardware lying around so I had to pick up a new monitor/keyboard. In the end it was ~$970 after taxes, and will out-perform my laptop that was nearly $1300 in 2012.
I made a few blueprints with microATX and AMD chips, but after some reading felt the an Fractal R4 ATX setup with an Intel i5-3350P quadcore and a Radeon R7 260X gave me the performance I wanted and made it somewhat future proof if I decided to build out in the future. The core part of the system settled at around $735.
Could have gotten some of the parts cheaper, but elected to purchase from Amazon and Newegg for the free shipping and less hassle with the gimmicky "in-store only" rebates that other places had offered. Ended up qualifying for $50.00 back from Newegg.
Thanks for reading, pictures to come.
Update: 4/19/2014 Got all the parts together over the weekend. Much quieter than my overheating laptop.
Some surprises. The case is actually pretty big! I know they made it a little bit wider to allow some cable around the sides, but dayum... this is a hefty guy. Of course threw together the SSD on right side (behind the MB). The cable that came with the CX430M didn't have a "flat" connector, so I had to squish it a little to make it fit; I hope it doesn't break.
For the ASROCK MB, had to get some drivers online as the CD that came with didn't have the LAN driver. Also installed from a file downloaded called "smart connect" which got rid of my last "unknown device" driver.
Used the wireless and works flawlessly as I could tell. Some reviews had complaints that it didn't connect well or didn't work at all. It seems to be doing the job fine. I have an Asus "darkknight" wireless router and a Surfboard cable modem.
The Radeon R7 260x is great. Ran it for a bit on my TV before my monitor arrived. Played some LOL at full settings with a full 60 FPS the entire time; a huge difference for me as I was getting 5-30 on my laptop which has a Geforce 555m.
Processor fan and case fans were very quiet. Connected the fans to the front panel controller and works like a charm. Threw in the CM hyper 212 which was easy to do without taking the MB out of the case given the huge window provided in the back of the case. A little bit noisier, maybe 50% of a refrigerator humming when running at max. Used the ASRock Extreme tuning utility and is actually quieter than case fans when at low settings.
Only issue may be when my 1TB harddrive arrives as I'm already out of space on the CX430M PSU. There's only 4 slots, 1 for the video card, 1 for the MB, 1 for the SSD already taken. I will probably just get rid of the CD/DVD drive and rely more on USB sticks.
They keyboard is clicky and may take some getting used to as there is a whole role of "macro keys" along the left border. I'm used to hanging over the edge to hit "esc" and get my orientation when typing. Monitor is IPS and looks great from all angles. 5ms vs 1ms doesn't seem to make much of a difference based on what I researched online and I thought it was a pretty decent price.
7.4s+ across the board on my Windows Experience score. Faster than anything I've ever owned before. Probably could have gotten some parts cheaper, but I was desperate to get rid of my overheating laptop.
I know someone's going to complain about the cable management. I'm not great at it but I'm going to hire some professional cable managers when I save up enough money.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to ask me any questions.