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This month our aim was to provide a modest gaming system at a $700 price point. The Core-i3 paired with the R9 270 provides good performance for the cost. Some may debate that we should have used an FX-6300 instead; such changes can easily be made to the part list while retaining the same budget.
We opted to save money by reusing components from previous builds that we already had on hand. As a result, the price ended up slightly over our budgeted amount. Prices fluctuate hourly, so by carefully choosing similar spec components it should be possible to come in under $700 for this build (at least, at the time of writing this).
|CPU||Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor||$124.99 @ Newegg|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte GA-H81.Amp-UP ATX LGA1150 Motherboard||$75.36 @ Newegg|
|Memory||Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory||$79.99 @ Newegg|
|Storage||Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk||$80.99 @ Amazon|
|Storage||Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive||$54.98 @ OutletPC|
|Video Card||MSI Radeon R9 270 2GB TWIN FROZR Video Card||$179.99 @ Newegg|
|Case||BitFenix Comrade ATX Mid Tower Case||$49.00 @ Amazon|
|Power Supply||Corsair CSM 550W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply||$79.99 @ Micro Center|
|Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.||$710.29|
|Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-04-28 15:12 EDT-0400|
BitFenix kindly provided the Comrade case for this build. I'm a fan of its simple and clean styling, and overall it was straight-forward to work with. At $50, it fits well for budget builds.
Inside is plenty of room for storage - three 2.5" and three 3.5" drive bays. The case comes with one 120mm fan in the rear, with space for two additional 120mm fans in front. Note that the only option for a radiator mount in this case is the rear 120mm fan mount. The front 120mm mounts will not accommodate a radiator.
Cable management is possible but tricky. There's only 1/4" of depth to work with behind the motherboard tray, so everything should be routed to the side or below to allow the side panel to fit back on. If you want to keep things clean, a modular or semi-modular power supply is a must.
While filming the build, I didn't take advantage of the top cable hole for the CPU power connector. After filming was over I rerouted the cables to use it as it kept the cables much cleaner. There isn't enough room to run the cable through with the motherboard installed, so to do this I had to remove the video card and motherboard, route the wire, then reinstall everything.
Overall the build came out fairly clean. I'm happy with the cable routing, though some aspects like the length of the HD audio cable made it somewhat challenging. For $50 (at the time of filming), I think this case has a place for budget builds.
One of the most challenging aspects of building a new computer is understanding compatibility restrictions. Will a given motherboard fit in a case? Is the video card too long? Does the power supply have sufficient wattage? PCPartPicker provides these compatibility checks to ensure your components will work together. Over the past few months we have incorporated even more checks to help guide builders during the planning process.
I'm very pleased to announce cooperation with NZXT to integrate the PCPartPicker compatibility checker into NZXT.com. On NZXT product pages, such as the NZXT H440, you can now quickly evaluate compatibility versus any other part in the PCPartPicker database!
I have wanted to build a mini-ITX system for quite some time. The original plan was to keep the budget of this build around $700, but after looking closer at the case I couldn't resist bumping up to a more powerful system. The 240mm radiator mount along with full length video card and power supply support make it ideal for a small form factor powerhouse.
|CPU||Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor||$229.96 @ OutletPC|
|CPU Cooler||Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler||$97.16 @ Amazon|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z87E-ITX Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard||$124.99 @ Newegg|
|Memory||Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory||$86.99 @ Newegg|
|Storage||Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk||$89.89 @ Amazon|
|Storage||Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive||$59.98 @ OutletPC|
|Video Card||EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB Video Card||$679.99 @ NCIX US|
|Case||Corsair 250D Mini ITX Tower Case||$89.99 @ Microcenter|
|Power Supply||Corsair CSM 550W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply||$69.99 @ Newegg|
|Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.||$1528.94|
|Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-03-03 15:07 EST-0500|
Personally I think the 250D is a great looking case. The side mesh windows not only provide ventilation, but do a good job of showing off the radiator and video card.
The power button is nicely disguised but easily pushed.
The brushed metal face is a nice touch, but we managed to scratch ours just placing it on our desk surface. You'll want to be extremely careful with it - it scratches easily.
The H100i mounted without too much difficulty. It was depth constrained, however. We wanted to fit an H105, but after measuring it was clear it wouldn't fit. Here's the amount of clearance we had with the H100i:
As you can see, we had just a fraction of an inch of clearance remaining. It was fortunately enough that we could route cables from the CPU block through.
The 780Ti fits easily in the 250D, and will provide ample performance for gaming. I absolutely love the NVidia stock cooler design. It looks great, and it feels great (for that too brief moment you have it in your hands during installation).
Cable management was surprisingly easy for an ITX build. The space behind the front panel provides plenty of room to work with the cables. Clearly we could do better with the cable management, but for now this should suffice. It does seem to cry out for custom length sleeved cables though.
The grey-tinted top window provides a view of the case internals.
I've had the opportunity to build with quite a few ITX cases, and the 250D has been the best experience to date. There's plenty of room to work with (when there isn't a radiator mounted). It supports full length power supplies and video cards. And last but not least it looks great. What more could you ask for?
The goal for this build was a gaming build that wouldn't break the bank. Since our last couple builds have been on the more expensive end ($3600 and $10000), we decided to keep things a bit more practical this time around. Our budget limit for this build was $1200, but due to the timing of purchases it ended up just under $1100.
NZXT kindly sent us the new H440 to test out, and we found it to be an outstanding case. More on that, and the rest of the build below...
The part list and pricing at the time of this post:
|CPU||Intel Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor||$199.99 @ Newegg|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte GA-H81.Amp-UP ATX LGA1150 Motherboard||$75.66 @ Newegg|
|Memory||Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory||$89.99 @ Amazon|
|Storage||Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive||$78.94 @ Amazon|
|Video Card||MSI GeForce GTX 770 2GB Video Card||$359.99 @ SuperBiiz|
|Case||NZXT H440 ATX Mid Tower Case||$119.99 @ NCIX US|
|Power Supply||SeaSonic 620W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply||$71.30 @ Newegg|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8.1 - OEM (64-bit)||$89.99 @ NCIX US|
|Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.||$1070.85|
|Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-02-04 15:42 EST-0500|
NZXT provided the H440. We already had the CPU, RAM, HDD, and video card on hand.
We made the conscious decision not to overclock the CPU on this build. Our goal was to keep it simple and clean, yet still plenty powerful. By spending just $100 more, you can replace the motherboard with a Z87 variant, the CPU with an unlocked K version, and an aftermarket cooler.
We also wanted to ensure the build had plenty of storage space - which is why we opted for a platter-based drive instead of an SSD. It's possible to find less expensive 1TB drives right now, but we chose this particular drive as we had it on hand from previous benchmark runs.
The NZXT H440 deviates from traditional cases by eschewing the 5.25" external bay. We'll be installing the OS by either using an an external drive or via a USB flash drive.
The power supply is covered by a shroud which significantly cleans up the cable management. As you'll see later, the NZXT logo lights up when the rear panel lighting is turned on.
With the front panel and dust filter removed, you can see that the case has three 120-mm fans in front and one 140-mm fan in rear - plenty of positive pressure cooling for our components.
Cable management has never been easier than with this case. Motherboard cutouts on the bottom of the power supply shroud provide convenient routing options for USB, HD-Audio, and front panel connections. I love the fact that the HD-audio connector does not include a dongle for AC97 - further keeping things simple and tidy.
An interesting design element is the angled motherboard tray. Does it improve cable management? Hard to say, but I think it is a nice touch.
Here's the back view showing the cable management. The space under the power supply shroud provides plenty of space for routing unruly cables. The 8-pin CPU power connector from the power supply was a bit shorter than I would have liked, but it was still possible to route it somewhat cleanly.
With the flip of a switch on the rear of the case, the rear I/O panel and the NZXT logo will light up.
Not to be left out, the Gigabyte H81-Amp UP motherboard also lights up green - something I must admit caught me by surprise the first time I powered it up.
We'll be following up this build by documenting the OS installation (without using a 5.25" bay), as well as recording application and game benchmarks using our thermal benchmarking. Stay tuned!