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Versatile build for a game developer to work and play

  • 55 months ago

A work/gaming/entertainment rig for my husband and I. We’re located in the US, and I’m not comfortable with used parts. Don’t care about it looking fancy or flashy at all, but nothing excessively bulky, as it will be part of our living room entertainment center.

There are three main uses for this computer:

  1. Gaming. We like big open-world RPGs—Fallout 4, Witcher 3, Skyrim, Mass Effect, stuff like that. We’ll definitely want to play something like No Man’s Sky when it comes out, and we’re excited about VR—no specific plans to buy yet, but we want the door open for that if we decide to take the plunge. I don’t have particular expectations regarding FPS, but we’d like to be able to run these types of current AAA games looking really great on high level settings (minimal, if any compromises), and be able to enjoy some mods as well without taking too much of a performance hit.

  2. Game development. My husband is a game artist who also does UI and marketing. He uses dual 1080p monitors. Here is a list of the software he uses in order of frequency:

“Photoshop (digital painting, ui, and marketing...file sizes can be over 1gb) Unity 5 (game development for mobile, tablet, web, and VR) Camtasia (I record myself painting, and doing demos for my classes, and give feedback at work recording all other programs listed) Premiere (video editing, including painting demos and game trailers) Maya (3d modeling high and low poly, some animation, rendering) After Effects (motion graphics and animation for game trailers) Audacity (audio mixing)

Other software (not frequently used): Quixel Suite Zbrush Marmoset Toolbag Spine”

  1. Media center. The plan is to purchase a 4k TV and keep the PC below it to serve as a gaming console/media center. When my husband needs to work, the TV will serve as part of a dual monitor set-up, probably along with one of our existing 1080p monitors. Even though we’ll be using the 4k TV as a monitor to play games, we don’t expect them to run at that level. 1080p is fine, and if we could get any higher resolution that would be a bonus.

We love games, but first and foremost the system has to meet my husband’s professional needs, so that he can work efficiently without feeling like hardware is holding him back or waiting forever for things to render. Recording while painting in Photoshop is what tends to strain his system the most and obviously he does a lot of video editing. We’d like 16 gigs of RAM, but wonder if 32 might be a worthwhile investment. We want to put the OS and all of his commonly used content creation programs on a solid state drive, perhaps even a few games, and would want to supplement that with at least a 2 TB hard drive. We need an NVIDIA graphics card and Windows, but no peripherals. Would also like a blu-ray reader for movies.

Alright, so budget. I’m posting this partly to figure out how much we should expect to spend and our budget is somewhat flexible. Obviously we’ll spend what we need to make sure my husband can get work done, but I still want to be economical. Someone would need to make a really good case for me to feel comfortable spending more than $1500. And if all this were possible with a build under $1k, that would be awesome. What is the minimum build you can recommend? And what would you recommend upgrading if we could afford to spend another $200-300 for better performance or a bit of future-proofing?

Thanks so much for any help.


  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

the upgrades are worth it, each part is VERY GOOD in it's own right for its price to performance ratio, upgrading to 32GB is pretty easy too, just add another set of the same ram.

you can always choose a lower cost build and close performance to this, but it wouldnt be much cheaper or as nice overall.

this should handle his software workloads as well as any games you all wish to enjoy at high settings easily. even able to use a 4k monitor/TV on this in the future if you get such a monitor/tv. (prices have come down pretty decently on these tv's and monitors since they've come out, and only more content will be created for 4k from now on).

a VERY silent pc due to the CPU cooler, GPU cooler and case. easy cleaning the case from the front and bottom air filters. (small bonus of the included screwdriver on the cpu cooler being GREAT in general even after the build process is over.

the case is among the most silent, being perfect for a media center application. though it may be a bit too large if you can't have it standing upright.

4 core, 8 thread powerful, overclockable i7 CPU based on skylake (intel's latest) architecture. very strong 980ti from EVGA (company known for having GREAT customer service, should anything go wrong with any of their products) that, paired with this intel i7, will handle whatever tasks that are thrown at it; from gaming to rendering to editing with ease and speed.

this motherboard has the best features for the money for this chipset, period. in-bios and in-windows software based customizable smart fan controls that make your system even more quiet and efficient (low spin, low voltage) when not under load. a great automatic overclocking feature that makes your first time overclocking safely a breeze and painless. even if you already know how to overclock (to get the most performance out of your system, for FREE), this AI Suite overclocking software allows you to have a really good starting point to fine tune from.

the MX200 series of crucial SSD's was made for reliability as seagate is in a similar boat, being a known brand for hard drives. great speed and storage performance and reliability from both of these drives. 250GB SSD for the OS and program installation with a 3TB storage drive is a great combination for (almost) any build budget.

RAM isn't too special; basic 2133 speed and timings for DDR4 ram. with the introduction of DDR4 ram and the higher stock speeds you'll find on these DIMMs, there is such a small margin of performance increase to go with faster speed ram due to the higher latency needed to sustain them stably, that, for i would say 95+% of users, including workhorse systems, it makes no sense to spend more for any kind of high speed ram outside of CPU heatsink fan clearance, which is why this kit was chosen.

one of the most stable (voltage wise) and reliable power supplies you can buy at the moment.

don't really need a fancy Blu-ray drive if all you're going to do is read from Blu-rays any way.

i hope this post helped, good luck with your future build.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you so much. This is immensely helpful. I'm all for spending a bit more for quality components, especially things like the power supply that can last through a future upgrades or even a rebuild. A friend of ours suggested an ibuypower build at about $2100, so this is definitely an improved value--I really thought we should be able to do it for less. She recommended the GTX 980. Are you suggesting 980 Ti over that one primarily because of the 4K TV, or is there another reason?

I hadn't really considered overclocking, as I don't think either of us are knowledgeable enough to risk wearing down or damaging perfectly good components. Do you think that's something we should be more open to?

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

GTX980 is a terrible card in terms of money value. Sure it is better than GTX970 but it is not worth the price difference. GTX980Ti is a completely different beast that can shred anything thrown at it, whether it is 1080p or 4k resolution.

Since your husband will be running professional softwares, I think sticking with intel i7 is the best choice. If it was just gaming, you could have saved some money by switching to intel i5. KP64 made a really good build. I don't see anything wrong with it. I do however recommend getting a 750W power supply instead of the 650W because you might want to upgrade something (more RAM maybe?) in the future and that combined with the over clocking MIGHT result in some in stability. Other than that this really is the best bang for the buck.

As far as the over clocking is concerned, Software has made it easy for you. Sure you can go and do it manually (the hard way if you wanna call it) or you can go into your motherboard BIOS and with just a click of a button, overclock your CPU to make the best out of it.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

980 is not a good upgrade over the 970, got it. I will definitely look at the higher watt power supply as I want to set myself up well for future upgrades.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

in hindsight i agree with the power supply swap to a G2/GS 750w instead, maybe even the 850w version of either power supply if you find it's not too far a jump up from the 750w unit.



about 20$ difference from 650-750-850. each 20$ more gets you 100 more watts.

another hindsight inclusion would be adding 1 matching fractal fan for the intake, as that would create more positive pressure in the case air environment which will help pull in more cool air as well as keep dust from entering the small, not-air-tight openings of the case due to the nature of positive air pressure.

as far as the 980ti suggestion goes, i think it's the best non SLI card card right now for long term use and overall performance/watt (titan x cost difference is not equivalent to the performance difference, not to mention there's not much choice in non-reference air coolers for it). as a single gpou, it will do 4k better later on (because as far as i know you don't have a 4k panel) than other single gpu cards currently, and more so when overclocked, all while still being quiet in the suggested case.

on overclocking; it's something worth looking into for a day or two and learning about, ultimately it is your choice to do it and this system will run GREAT if you choose to or not. a positive thing about learning to overclock is that if you are worried about harming your hardware for any reason (basically everyone that overclocks manually does it carefully and within reason, there aren't too many people that that push their hardware to it's break limit) you are able to undervolt (use less power) to extend the life of your hardware at its stock rated operation.

that is to say, it's a double edged sword; instead of overclocking and VERY SLIGHTLY lessening the longevity of your hardware (given light overclocks, this basically never happens) you are also able to undervolt and reduce power consumption while VERY SLIGHTLY increasing the longevity of your hardware. the amount of length of life taken and given by overclocking/undervolting is very minuscule and before their hardware bites the dust, most users end up replacing the hardware; people have had hardware overclocked since their initial purchase of 5-7 years and just end up upgrading due to major enhancements in the PC market's hardware that have about yearly as they miss out on new features/performance that did not exist or were not viable at the time of their build.

in my opinion, on this and other silence/efficient builds, the only price you pay overclocking is a not-so-noticeably higher power bill. and the difference is something on the order of less than $5 a year of difference on the side of the more aggressive overclockers. all for the daily benefit of more performance that is there and your hardware is capable of out of the box.

EDIT: haha, another note i missed entirely in both posts: if you live near a brick and mortar store called microcenter, the price on the processor + motherboard (z170A and z170AR are the same board, with the AR having slight difference in color on some plastic on the motherboard. electrically and software wise, they perform the same.) should be better if you pick it up there. maybe even other parts of this build list too.


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