Description

I've been playing console games all my life and after owning a PS3 since 2008, instead of upgrading to the PS4, I decided to build a relatively cheap gaming PC. Playing Lego as a kid is probably the closest I've ever come to building anything. Nevertheless, the process looked really cool and I wanted to try something new. The initial research was overwhelming (I can't just shove any CPU onto any motherboard? I have to know how much power my system uses? The CPU needs a cooler?)--all things that I never thought/knew about when buying a console or "building" a PC from Dell. Now that it's all built, I gotta say, the experience was really awesome and I learned a lot!

I didn't really have a budget for this build--I didn't want to my inexperienced hands to fry $2000 worth of parts but I wanted something with "reasonable" gaming performance so I don't go crawling back to PlayStation. In the end, I'm pretty satisfied with the $800 price tag for everything.

Case: I bought the BitFenix Prodigy ~2 weeks before any of my other parts. I just like how it looks. I just didn't realize how much it would limit my choice of motherboards. That might not have been a bad thing though. If I wasn't limited to mITX, I would've been completely lost from the beginning.

CPU/Motherboard: Since I don't plan on overclocking in the near future, I wanted to get an i5-4570. That, plus an H87 mobo, would've saved me $60-70. However, it was out of stock and $200 for the 4670k seemed like a pretty good deal, too. Plus, the H87 mobos stocked at MicroCenter didn't seem to have built-in WiFi, which is a must-have for me.

Memory: This one stick of 8GB was cheaper than 2x4GB. I always thought it was supposed to be the other way around. Perhaps (slightly) better performance with 2 running in parallel? It's not low-profile though. I hope that won't present a problem if I choose to install a liquid cooler later.

Storage: I wanted at least 1TB. As much as I would've preferred a small SSD for the OS, I didn't want to spend more than $100 on storage. This WD Black HDD seems pretty solid with good reviews. Startup and shutdown with Windows 8 are both fast and on par with my Macbook Air running OSX Lion (don't shoot me). I just forgot how noisy HDD's can be.

Video Card: I spent a disproportionate amount of time on this. Coming from consoles, I was hesistant to spend the same or even more money on just a video card than I would need to buy a PS3 or 360. Apples and oranges, I know, but the brain just doesn't care sometimes. Anyway, with that mentality and based on the tons of online GPU benchmarks and rankings I looked though, I essentially ruled out all NVIDIA cards and decided that the 7870 had a decent performance-to-price ratio, however nebulous that sounds. After awhile, I just had to pull the trigger since I can just look at the benchmarks forever. I haven't played any really demanding PC games yet (I'm starting with Portal 2 and The Stanley Parable). The most taxing I've tried is probably Tomb Raider, which runs 60+ min FPS on Ultra and 45 avg/35 min FPS on Ultimate (with the fancy hair sfx).

Power Supply: I actually ordered a Seasonic Gold PSU from Amazon since, despite never having heard of the brand, my research showed it had great reviews. I actually completed my build with it, finished installing the OS, but it pooped out on me while installing drivers! After that, the system would never stay on for longer than ~10 minutes. Sometimes it wouldn't even power on. Thinking it couldn't be my high-quality PSU, I thought I did something horribly wrong while installing the CPU and maybe it was overheating so I even reapplied thermal paste and reseated the cooler. Eventually, I wised up and purchased the Corsair to troubleshoot the PSU. Everything has been peachy since. Another plus: the Corsair is slightly smaller than the Seasonic, which helps significantly with this case. The Prodigy case has this stupid housing built around the PSU such that the cables need to make a sharp 90-degree turn before they can be connected. I think this is why they don't recommend modular PSU's with this case since the attachments effectively increase the size of the PSU, giving you less room to turn the cables.

Cable management: I tried my best with this. I didn't know that with other larger cases, you can route the cables behind the part that the mobo sits on? Those things look so clean that it doesn't even look like they have cables. Although I blame this case a little, I have to admit, I've seen photos of some ridiculously clean Prodigy setups. I guess you need buy or make your own sleeved cables?

Anyway, that's my long story. There was definitely frustration involved; at times, so much that I was tempted to crawl back to my professionally manufactured MacBook and PS3. But, I made it. And like I mentioned, I feel like I learned a lot and am definitely more prepared when I upgrade or start a new build.

Thanks for looking!

Comments

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

nice job man +1 surprising the 1x8gb was less expensive. like what you said its usually the other way around, anyways good choice in parts you should definitely look into getting a water cooler in the future for that 4670k. I know you said you weren't planning on overclocking put trust me you'll like the results when you do. Really like the bitfenix case though might actually use it for another htpc build i plan on doing in the future

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks!

The Prodigy is definitely visually appealing. However, depending on your preferences for HTPC's, it might actually be kinda big. I like the Fractal Design Node 304. That thing would look pretty cool sitting under a huge TV.

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice part choice! Glad you decided to build. Welcome to the PC side of gaming. :P

  • 73 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks!

With a PC and maybe a Wii U, I think I should have both sides of gaming covered. IMO, the Nintendo exclusives, albeit sparse, are more peerless than Sony/MS ones. Or maybe that's just my nostalgia talking.

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

+1

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

Very nice build for a first time, +1

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

What a beautiful machine!!! love the case and the part selection. Pretty good job.

Caroline!

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

For the price and first time build, A+ man!

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

How did you get the ASRock z87e-itx for that price?

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

CPU/Motherboard bundle deal from Microcenter. They already have great deals on CPU's alone (they have a 3570k for $150 right now!). I think you get $20 off the whole thing if you get a mobo with it.

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

Ah. I'm close to Fry's in San Diego, but the nearest Microcenter to me is in Tustin. I'm in the process of building a mini itx Hackintosh and the only component missing is the motherboard, which I can't seem to find any good deals on. I got the 4770k for $150 with Staples price match plus coupons, so paying 139.99 for a motherboard just doesn't seem right :) Hopefully there will be decent deals on the Asrock z87e-itx or GA-Z87N-WIFI before the new year.

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

Terrific narrative, and well thought-out build. +1

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

Great build! I enjoyed your little story as well.

Did you have a faulty psu or did you not have enough watt for your pc?

  • 73 months ago
  • 2 points

I think it was a faulty PSU. Once I found out that everything worked perfectly with the Corsair, I just returned the Seasonic to Amazon without bothering with any more tests. I think the Seasonic was 550w gold certified, so that should technically be better than the Corsair, right?

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

Yea technically. But doesn't mean you can get a faulty gold psu. I think u just got unlucky with your first psu.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice job, but could choose a cheaper HDD next time.

  • 73 months ago
  • 0 points

I would have went with the r9 270 GPU it cost a little less and is much better than a 7870. But that is still a great build good job.

  • 73 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I think I bought the 7870 2 weeks before the 270 came out. I'm sure it was announced way before though. There's such a continuous spectrum of both performance AND price when it comes to video cards--it was hard to even define what "best" meant for me, let along pick one...