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High productivity / very light gaming PC. Minimum 3 monitor setup. Around $350 (Some components not needed)

Raygunner
  • 55 months ago

Hi all,

I'm looking to build a new PC, mainly for work purposes, but a little light gaming on the side. I mainly work in excel and read large documents, so having a 3 monitor setup is a must (two horizontal, one vertical). I would like the option of being able to add a 4th monitor in the future, but it isn't a deal breaker. As far as gaming goes, I'm not even sure what is considered light gaming, but I don't particular care about high resolution. I mostly play games like Left 4 Dead and point and click adventure games. So being able to play FPSs on moderate settings would be nice.

Monitor wise, I'm planning to use 3 24" (1920 x 1080). I haven't picked any out yet, but the idea is to get the from around $100 each around black friday.

Having not built a PC in over 6 years, my hang up really is the video card, and if I even need one. I don't know if there are any motherboards out there that would support 3 or 4 monitors with an integrated GPU (and if they did, if I could do any kind of gaming with it).

Location: USA

With all that said, here are my preferences:

1) Budget: $350 2)Form Factor: Micro ATX

Components I do NOT need, so they are not included in the budget above: 1) Hard drives. I have a 240gb unused SSD and 2TB green drive already. 2)Peripherals 3)Blu Ray drive

Thats about it. Thanks for reading and let me know if you need clarification about anything.

Comments

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

The following build is ~$350 without the discrete GPU, and can run up to 3 monitors out of the box from integrated graphics, and handle some light gaming just fine. The motherboard comes with 2 X HDMI and 1 X DVI port, any of which can be used directly or adapted to or from DVI/HDMI with passive cable adapters.

Add the 260X, which falls under the same radeon driver as the integrated graphics, and you can run up to 6 independently configurable legacy digital (HDMI/DVI) monitors (3 from the iGPU, 3 from the discrete GPU). If you're going for 4, I'd probably attach your "gaming" monitor to the discrete GPU and the rest to integrated.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU AMD A8-7670K 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor $101.99 @ SuperBiiz
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-F2A88XN-WIFI Mini ITX FM2+ Motherboard $88.98 @ Newegg
Memory G.Skill Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2133 Memory $78.99 @ Newegg
Video Card Gigabyte Radeon R7 260X 2GB Video Card $113.98 @ Newegg
Case Silverstone Sugo SG13B Mini ITX Tower Case $39.99 @ Amazon
Power Supply EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply $39.99 @ Amazon
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total $463.92
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-11-15 16:51 EST-0500

The following build is also ~$350 without the discrete GPU, and can run up to 3 monitors out of the box from the integrated graphics, and handle some light gaming just fine. Use passive adapters cables where required to support this configuration. You'll have to use the DVI, HDMI, and displayport connections on the motherboard. Use a passive display-port to HDMI or DVI cable to support the 3rd legacy digital monitor, and HDMI/DVI cables or passive adapter cables where required to connect to monitors as well.

Add the GTX950, and the integrated graphics of the i3 will more or less have to be disabled, but the card supports up to 4 monitors via 2 X DVI + HDMI + Displayport. Use the passive displayport to HDMI/DVI cable previously connected to the motherboard here as well.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i3-6100 3.7GHz Dual-Core Processor $125.98 @ Newegg
Motherboard ASRock H170M Pro4 Micro ATX LGA1151 Motherboard $94.99 @ Newegg
Memory Mushkin Essentials 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4-2133 Memory $44.99 @ Newegg
Video Card Zotac GeForce GTX 950 2GB Video Card $139.99 @ Amazon
Case Cooler Master N200 MicroATX Mid Tower Case $49.99 @ Amazon
Power Supply EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply $39.99 @ Amazon
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total $495.93
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-11-15 17:24 EST-0500

The advantage to the AMD + AMD build, is that it comes with WiFi, 16GB RAM (instead of 8), ITX form factor (instead of mATX), 6 X legacy digital monitor support all handled under 1 driver. (instead of 4), and lower cost.

The advantage to the Intel + Nvidia build, is that the i3-6100 is up to ~30% faster than the A8-7670K, is on a more modern platform with an upgrade path to stronger CPU's and much more RAM (vs no upgrade path). The i3 and associated platform is also more efficient, and supports newer instructions. The GTX950 is also about 20-40% more powerful than the R7 260X chosen for the AMD build, is more efficient, and has hardware accelerated 4K H.265 decoding capabilities.

The AMD build could optionally be configured with an R7 265/370/270/270X (all pretty similar) for ~$130-150, which would beef up the render performance to be closer to that of the GTX950, however, these are all GCN 1.0 (instead of 1.1 like the 260X) architecture GPU's, so that would cut the monitor support to 5 for the AMD build and remove some future support for DX12. For the added cost there I think I'd rather have the Intel/Nvidia build in this situation.


Tough call. Both would be great options.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

One thing you can also do right now if you want to only spend $350 and you only have three monitors at the moment is just leave out the GTX950 and add it down the road if you get a fourth monitor and have more available cash.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

That is my idea. I am going to build it without the discrete video card and see how it goes. I may add it later if I feel it is necessary.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Wow, thank you so much. This is exactly what I was looking for and more. I really appreciate the lengths you went through to explain both builds.

I think I am going to go for the AMD build, for several reasons:

1) I like the option of the wifi being built into the card.

2) I've vowed I will never get another Asrock motherboard. I used an Asrock in my last build and had to RMA the board three times. There were even issued with the 4th board, but I gave up and dealt with them.

3) I like the small form factor of the AMD build. I wanted to go as small as possible, and feel the Mid tower case for the intel build is bigger than I would like.

I going to build it with the integrated video for now to keep it around $350. I know I mentioned 4 monitor support, but that probably wouldn't be for a while, if ever. As long as I can run three on this system I will be fine.

Again, thank you so much for taking the time to go through both builds. This will give me something to work on for the next month.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Glad to help!

Best of luck with the build!

I actually own both that A88X WiFi board, as well as its predecessor the A85X version and have overclocked on both with no failures or issues. Good solid boards! Just so happens these are some of the only inexpensive motherboards you can buy with 3 digital outputs for monitors, and they happen to come with a powerful WiFi card that would be worth $30 if purchased separately. Amazing value!

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

with that budget you cant get the full potential of the pentium g3258 :(

the cpu is alot better when overclocked, but that requires an aftermarket cooler, if your willing to spend 30 bucks on a reliable one i recommend the cryorig h7

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

I recommend linking to a part list.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I'll look through the list. The only issue I see initially us the graphics card has three display ports, and the monitors in my price range only seem to come with either Dvi or hdmi

  • 55 months ago
  • 0 points

That's a switch designed to allow multiple devices to connect to the same monitor or projector. Basically, it's a tiny little HDMI receiver/switcher. I don't see how it is relevant to this build.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

I don't know if there are any motherboards out there that would support 3 or 4 monitors with an integrated GPU (and if they did, if I could do any kind of gaming with it).

Intel and AMD have both been supporting triple monitor from their integrated graphics for awhile now. The "trick" is making sure to select a motherboard with the appropriate outputs, some will only have 2 outputs, and some will have a VGA, which you're not going to want to use.

As for light gaming, AMD A8/A10 7000 series APU's and the new Skylake i3's with HD 530 can both play games just fine if you're willing to compromise on visual quality settings. Make sure to give either CPU a dual channel memory configuration of the highest supported speed for best results from the integrated graphics.

Otherwise, if you want a bit more umpf for gaming, AND quad-monitor support, There are some vendor configurations of the GTX750Ti that support this, and often GTX950's that go on sale for ~$140 that support quad-monitor as well.

Many AMD Radeon GPU's support 3+ monitors, however, the WAY they support monitors beyond 2-3 (depending on the specific GPU) is a bit more obfuscated/confusing, requiring the use of display-port native devices or active adapters or hubs (at additional cost) and isn't as flexible in terms of logical/physical arrangement and management, so probably isn't what you are looking for.

That being said, one way to support 4+ monitors without the configuration restrictions of eyefinity, would be to use both the integrated GPU in an AMD APU, as well as a discrete radeon GPU. The discrete GPU could be connected to a single monitor, the "gaming" monitor, and the other 3 connected to the integrated graphics.


Do you live near a microcenter?

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Great write up, very informative. I'll look more into the A8/A10 and the sky lake, and gxt750s.

No, there are no Microcenters near me. I'm in south Florida. There are no PC centers near me anymore

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i3-4170 3.7GHz Dual-Core Processor $112.89 @ OutletPC
Motherboard ASRock B85M-DGS Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard $49.99 @ Amazon
Memory Kingston HyperX Fury Blue 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory $38.43 @ SuperBiiz
Case Thermaltake VL80001W2Z ATX Mid Tower Case $22.99 @ Micro Center
Power Supply EVGA 600B 600W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply $24.00 @ Newegg
Other Hd 7950/Hd 7970 $100.00
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total (before mail-in rebates) $383.30
Mail-in rebates -$35.00
Total $348.30
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-11-16 07:26 EST-0500

I suggest you get a used gpu like a hd 7950/hd 7970 which goes for about $100 on ebay as it will give you better performance for your pc

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