Note: The current parts list of this build does not reflect what I originally started with. I am continuously updating this build to reflect the subsequent upgrades I have been doing to it. To see the original configuration when I first built this PC you can browse my Saved Parts List --> My First Build
Original Story Follows:
OK, so first I must clarify that the price of this build doesn't include the hard disk, video card and monitor because I used spare parts I already have at home, everything else was purchased on Boxing Day in Canadian $$$. I had to convert to USD at the exchange rate on that day to come up with a total cost of about $170 USD plus 13% tax ($192 USD total).
So here is my situation:
With these criteria in mind, I went to search for a cheap yet high performance/price ratio build that could also help me get accustomed to overclocking. I didn't consider overclocking at first, but when I saw this other Canadian build in PCpartPicker.com and learned about the Pentium G3258 I was very much encouraged to dive into the overclocking world.
You can read my reasoning/thoughts of the different components in the dedicated Part Reviews below, except for these parts which are not available through PCPartPicker:
Video Card: Inno3D Geforce GT 630 4GB
Initially I wanted to go with a Radeon HD 6790 that was being sold for half the price and looked like a great deal, but I had to cancel the order after I placed it because I didn't think the high power consumption of that card would be suitable with my PSU. Luckily my brother-in-law got a new graphics card on boxing day so I was able to use his old one, and I prefer Nvidia anyway over AMD, if for one reason it's because they can produce better performance at the same wattage.
This low-end card has 4 GB of VRAM and was able to run games like Fallout 4 before my brother-in-law replaced it. It will be enough for my needs because I will mainly play Skyrim and other older AAA games during the next couple of years.
Storage: Seagate 200GB 2.5" HDD 7200
This used to be one of 2 raided disks in my old gaming laptop before I upgraded to SSD. I wasn't sure what to do with it and I am glad I didn't sell it because here I'm using it on my first build just for the sake of practice. Once everything looks fine I will need to add additional decent storage in the case.
I haven't yet planned on this because I'm still testing the build and making sure it works fine. I could always enroll in the free Windows Insider program, although I didn't really like Windows 10 that much.
So I only managed to switch the PC on and get into the BIOS without the PC exploding. I was just too excited to post this today in its current state.
I will update this once I finalize attaching the hard disk and installing the OS.
UPDATE: 10 Mar 2016
It has been 2 months now and I have been using this build almost on a daily basis playing and recording my games. I managed to gradually overclock the CPU from 3.2 to 3.8 GHz (planning to take it to 4GHz) and so far it has been running fine. Still on the stock cooler and the temperature is around 58 ° C under load. I never had any system failure yet and the power supply seems to be holding fine.
The system feels sluggish sometimes but I guess once I install an SSD things will be running smooth.
I added 2 more purchases to the build: a 120mm case fan and a Microsoft LifeCam 3000. The second fan was installed on the back replacing the 80mm stock fan, while the original stock fan was moved to the side panel to draw air from outside and help with the air circulation.
I am having one annoying problem with the webcam where my picture freezes momentarily and randomly during recording, and I am not sure if this is related to the quality of the webcam itself or something with the motherboard my USB ports. Still investigating this issue and have some plans in mind to try resolve it.
UPDATE: 30 Nov 2016
This build is approaching its first anniversary and I have done few more upgrades to it since my last update .
April 2016: Replaced the hard disk with a 240 GB SSD from a laptop I am no longer using. This made an expected huge difference in performance.
August 2016: After several months of gradually overclocking and testing the CPU, I finally reached 4 GHz on the stock fan. Temperature during load is around 60 C, and the system overall is still stable under the stock PSU that came with the case.
November 2016 (Black Friday): Replaced the GTX 630 with EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC 4GB. The GTX 1050 series was launched coinciding with the release of Skyrim Special Edition, and this particular card is able to run the game in 1080p on Ultra at almost 60 FPS. This is all I need for now until I build my dedicated rig when The Elder Scrolls VI is announced :)
November 2016 (Black Friday): Because my new video card has no VGA port and my monitor had no HDMI, I was forced to upgrade the monitor, and I decided to go big, jumping from 19" to a Samsung curved 27" screen!
This CPU has one of the best performance/price ratios among all Intel processors. You can find it for $50 USD, and once overclocked from 3.2 to 4.5 GHz (a common stable frequency even on the stock fan) it would have the performance of an i3 Skylake that's more than double its price! This Pentium is an anniversary edition released by Intel with an unlocked multiplier.
I decided to use the stock fan which comes with pre-applied thermal solution. Once I start playing with overclocking and monitor the CPU temperature I will definitely consider replacing the stock fan with something more decent.
UPDATE: I managed to gradually overclock the CPU from 3.2 to 4GHz and so far it has been running fine. Still on the stock cooler and the temperature is around 60 ° C under load. On idle it's around 40° C, but I put my power plan on Balanced which lowers the clock frequency to about 800-1000 MHz for light desktop operations, which reduces temperature further to about 35° C.
This motherboard is commonly used with the G3258 and has good reviews and overclocking functionality. The price was perfect for my budget as well so it was an obvious choice. No USB 3.0 headers but even if there are I am not sure if they would work on the USB 2.0 ports of my case. The BIOS was already up-to-date when I got this motherboard, and enabling overclocking was out of the box and easy.
Installing the motherboard and connecting the cables was the trickiest and most challenging part of my build since I have always been intimidated by the idea of it, trying to figure out which goes where and paying attention to the positives and negatives. Now that I have successfully managed to install a CPU/cooler to the motherboard and attach/wire the whole thing into the case I feel great and more confident to tackle my future dream PC build!
I love these sticks! They are red and look very cool, but I only purchased them because they were the cheapest 8GB I could find during boxing day 2015 with a 34% discount.
I purchased this SSD on Boxing Day 2012 for my laptop. After the laptop was retired in April 2016 I moved this SSD to my first PC build. It's not the fastest SSD but it's a huge performance boost over a regular hard disk. It's still running fine and I have no issues with it.
The Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti is the best video card to get if you have a budget PC with a low PSU. I prefer Nvidia cards over AMD because they have better performance per wattage ratio, and at just 75 watts, running only on the PCI-E slot without requiring any additional power cable, this card can perform much better than any other card at this wattage, thanks to the new Pascal architecture. This particular card from EVGA is overclocked to extract even more juice from the 1050 Ti, and it's certainly a better choice than other non overclocked models.
This card was the cheapest bargain on Black Friday 2016 ($169.99 CAD after MIR) and I purchased it mainly to play Skyrim Special Edition on my low-end gaming rig, and I am glad this card was released coinciding with the release of this game because this is all I need for now until The Elder Scrolls VI is released.
I have the Pentium G3258 overclocked to 4GHz, coupled with 8 GB of RAM, and with this card I was able to run the game in 1080p on Ultra at 60 FPS indoors and 40s-50s FPS outdoors depending on the complexity of the view you are facing. I even raised the game settings to Ultra++ by increasing the uGridsToLoad from 5 to 9 and tripling view distance of objects, grass & shadows, and I am getting a very playable ~30 FPS while the game has become tremendously better looking and more detailed when viewing vast open lands. So yes this card is powerful enough to play Skyrim SE very decently, in case this game matters to you.
The card never exceeded 64 C, and is usually around 60-62 C when gaming. On light desktop use it's only 28 C, and my condo is already a bit warm this time of the year with the heating turned on. The card is not noisy as well and runs generally smooth.
I am very happy with this purchase.
Obviously I was trying to cut costs as much as I could, so getting a case with power supply for less than $30 USD was quite a deal. I was willing to sacrifice the features of other more decent cases and I didn't mind learning about PC building the hard way. After all I want to start with learning the very basics of putting a computer together.
However, the case turned out to be much cheaper than I thought when I found that the standoffs included with the case don't fit in the holes, and it wasn't just me but other reviewers of this case around the internet complained about the same issue. Shame on you Logisys for slipping such a lazy defect in your product.
Luckily and with the help of my experienced handyman brother-in-law we were able to re-thread the holes using a drill then a screw, and the standoffs were firmly and securely attached.
The case has 2 USB 2.0 and audio ports in the front panel, and it has a cool front blue lighting when you turn it on. Don't expect much in cable management. I tried as much as I could to group cables together and keep them off the motherboard, pass them through opening in the case and tie them firmly into various sides and corners. For such a cheap case I am satisfied with the final result.
The case has a cheap 80mm fan at the back but I could probably replace it with something else. The side panel can support an additional fan, and I was considering removing the front 3.5" bays and installing a custom large fan there later on if I want additional airflow.
UPDATE: I replaced the stock case fan with a 120mm fan, and placed the stock fan on the side panel to draw air from outside and help with airflow circulation.
The Power Supply
This is the stock PSU that came in the case, and I don't see myself needing more for now. The total wattage consumed by all my parts remains well below the 330W average which this PSU outputs even when I attempt to overclock the CPU, specially that I decided to use my brother-in-law old video card (GT 630) rather than buying a more power-hungry one.
UPDATE: I have been on this PSU for 11 months now with almost daily use of this build, playing and recording my games on an overclocked G3258, I never had any system failure yet, so I guess the power supply is still holding fine.
I still prefer Windows 7 over Windows 8 & 10 because of the better gaming performance. I did benchmark and compare Windows 7 and 8 and found the former offering better FPS so I am sticking with it until Microsoft discontinues its support.
I purchased this fan when it dropped from $60 to $5. I have no idea why it was offered at that price for couple of days, but thanks to PCPartPicker alerts I managed to catch that deal. The fan itself is ok, although I was expecting it would be pushing more air, possibly because the vents at the back of my case are not fully accommodating the 120mm diameter. Beside this little issue I am happy with the fan, solid build, simple and elegant design. Regarding the noise level I was expecting it to be less. It could be because I have 3 fans running in my case now, but it doesn't really bother me.
First of all let me affirm that I LOVE this curved monitor, but I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars because I had to return two defective monitors with dead pixels before the third one turned out ok. Dead pixels are a nightmare for anyone who appreciates having a clean viewing experience, and for a company like Samsung well known for their great displays, it's not acceptable to consider having less than 5 dead pixels in a screen a norm!
Seriously, Samsung is having major issues recently with their QA. I thought the problem with their Galaxy Note 7 in 2016 was just a random flop but it seems their QA issues are extending to their other lines as well. They really need to work harder on their QA department.
But back to this monitor. If you are lucky to get one without dead pixels you will love it. The curve is sharper than other curved monitors (1800R instead of 3000R in other models within the same price range), so it's very easy to notice the curve even when you are facing it straight.
Although I purchased this monitor mainly to enjoy gaming on it, it's not the better immersion that caught my eyes but how much wider the display looks compared to standard 16:9 monitors of same size. In the store I compared this monitor to another standard 27" display, and the curved Samsung looked easily wider. I did read that curved monitors give the impression of a wider screen, but the effect was so obvious I could hardly believe it even when seeing it with my own eyes! So if you are not sure if you need a 16:9 or an ultra-wide 21:9 display, consider getting a curved 16:9 for that extra perception of width!
As for the perception of depth and the sense of immersion while gaming, the display looks great specially when playing a 3D game and turning your view around. The curve does give that slight feeling that everything is revolving around you indeed. Even when your eyes get used to the curve and no longer notice it during the game, the feeling is still there in the back of your head, and the view is still much better than seeing it on a standard flat screen.
The monitor also has an up-scaling feature that enhances game textures and make them look much more detailed. I am loving this feature and it dramatically enhances how my games and images look.
As for colors, I am not an expert in this field but comparing this monitor to other models in the store was enough for me to see the difference. Colors on this monitor look vivid and more vibrant.
Cons about this monitor: Other than the 2 returns and the stressful hassle I had to go through because of the dead pixels, there are 2 minor issues but they were never a deal breaker for me. The screen wobbles when touching it (to change the settings for example). The stand doesn't feel sturdy enough to hold such a large screen, but my monitor is sitting on sturdy desk and I don't notice any wobbles when typing on the keyboard or using the mouse or gaming. The second issue was not having built-in speakers, but I always play and use my PC with headphones so this wasn't a major issue for me, considering the discounted price of this model during Black Friday 2016 ($279.99 CAD).
As for light bleeding and clouding issues, I am ok with them and will consider them normal as long as they are uniform and symmetric on the screen. This seems to be how VA panels work or look from sideways. In all the 3 monitors I had to try, when viewing a black background sideways I noticed the clouding effect on the 4 corners, and if I view it from above I noticed 2 symmetric light-bleedings in the bottom. I am not sure these are defects, specially when the screen looks ok to me when viewing it straight, although the black could have been darker when viewing a full black background. I also noticed minor color variations when viewing the screen sideways, but I think that's the trade-off with this type of panels, or maybe most panels in general.
Overall I am happy with this monitor and can finally sleep in peace after getting rid of the dead pixels. I just hope Samsung focuses more on the quality of their products to gain back customers' trust.
I don't have a spare keyboard at home, and all my mice are not working well, so this was the cheapest keyboard+mouse combo I could find. I prefer wired over wireless, although I am thinking to get a wireless keyboard once I connect the PC to my living room. The keyboard and mouse feel great to type and work with, and I am very happy with them.
I purchased these headphones in 2014 for $85 CAD after reading reviews about how they offer the best passive noise isolation (up to 32 dB noise attenuation as per the official website). They were not exaggerating! They don't block all sounds from outside, but they do a very decent job. In an office environment I can keep the music volume level at 10% only and that's enough to block most chatter around me. Still they won't match active noise cancelation headphones if you are in a train or plane.
I am not much of an audiophile but I am happy with their sound quality, although they are too sensitive and their volume is very high. This is good if you are using them with a phone but not on a PC where I always have to turn the PC volume down. Currently I am using them while gaming.
Some cons I can mention: They don't have inline volume control, and no mic is included. They may also become a bit uncomfortable after very long use because they apply slight pressure around your ears.
In general I am ok with them and will wear them out until I find something else much better, preferably with more bass.