Description

Six months ago, I decided it was time to move from a laptop to a desktop. After hours of designing stupidly high end rigs that would go for $1500 without peripherals, I settled on a ~$1000 build to demolish 1080p.

But then a whole lot of real life happened, and it kept being pushed off. Around a month ago, I realized that with the amount of time I have to be playing games (not much), it's pretty hard to dignify dropping a grand on a computer when I could go on a pretty dope vacation instead. What I could justify, though, was spending significantly less on a PC that could be used for movies, multiplayer games, emulation, and general entertaining, and could double as a gaming computer when I got around to it.

I spent an entire month searching for deals on the parts I wanted, and thanks to the guys over at r/buildapcsales, I was able to come in under my new $450 budget. The computer performs very well, and with a z170 board, I have a lot of room for expansion.

Part Selection:

CPU: After doing some research, I found out that many of the emulators I intended to use rely almost completely on single threaded/per clock performance. So much so that they can't even support AMD cpu's. I was originally going to go for a Pentium G4400, but with Microcenter's combo deal, getting the i3 was only $30 more, and it had twice the threads, so I went for it.

Mobo: Wanted the cheapest Z170 mATX board money could buy. Luckily, Microcenter had this in stock when I was there. Got it for $59.99 with the combo discount applied. I also have a $10 mail in rebate on it, but I didn't include that to account for tax, which PCPP doesn't account for. Works pretty well so far, and picked up my 2666 RAM with no issues. Can't speak to processor overclocking on it yet, as I don't have a K processor

Memory: This is the only part where I'm not 100% convinced I made the right decision. 1x8 GB is good for future expansion, but it doesn't allow the processor to use dual channel mode, which makes a difference when you're running an i3. However, this motherboard generally can't support more than 2 sticks of overclocked RAM, so I would have had to replace all of it if I wanted to upgrade. Also, for whatever reason, even though it's hitting 2666 MHz, it's not getting the transfer rates it should. I don't know what the problem is yet. Feel free to leave a comment with suggestions, though I doubt anyone will read this far. Banana.

HDD: Cheap, good, and on sale at Microcenter at the time. Also much bigger than any SSD I could have got for the price, and I don't really care about boot times that much.

GPU: Got this through a NewEgg ebay special. Not the most aggressive clocks or anything, but it beats the poo out of the GTX 860M on my laptop. I went with the 950 for a bunch of reasons: -AMD has more driver overhead, and on an i3, it's very noticeable. 1% lows are much lower generally -The R7 370 specifically is kind of a hunk of junk. It's actually worse than the 270 before it, which I would have considered if there was one on sale when I needed it. -the 950 destroys the 750 Ti for not much more money, but the 960 isn't that much of a step up -the new wave of GPU's are about to come out, so the more you spend, the more you're probably going to wish you waited

Case: You can tell it's a cheap case, but at the same time I was impressed overall. It has a nice look to it, and a USB 3.0 port on the front. Everything fit, though my cable management was kinda garbage. Oh well, temps are good.

PSU: Got this on a newegg flash deal. It's called a CX450M. Semi-Modularity was a plus, and the bronze certification was nifty.

Part Reviews

CPU

Best budget processor if you need decent single threaded performance. Stock cooler does a good job keeping it cool as well

Motherboard

Nice and cheap Z170 board, especially if you're getting a combo deal at Microcenter ;) Also recognized my 2666 MHz memory immediately, though I'm not getting the data transfer rates I was hoping for. Have yet to determine what the problem is

Memory

Good price for overclocked memory, though 1x8 misses out on the dual channel boost. I'm also not getting the data transfer rates I was hoping for, and have yet to determine what the problem is

Storage

Cheap, and the thing flies for an HDD.

Video Card

Not super aggressively clocked, but it has a small form factor and runs cool. A few reasons why I chose this card:

-AMD has more driver overhead, and on an i3, it's very noticeable. 1% lows are much lower generally

-The R7 370 specifically is kind of a hunk of junk. It's actually worse than the 270 before it, which I would have considered if there was one on sale when I needed it.

-the 950 destroys the 750 Ti for not much more money, but the 960 isn't that much of a step up

-the new wave of GPU's are about to come out, so the more you spend, the more you're probably going to wish you waited

Case

I was actually pretty impressed for the price of the case. Cables can't be routed behind the panel that the motherboard is mounted on, though, so my cable management was garbage. Everything still runs cool, though, so it's all good.

Power Supply

(CX450M) Cheap, modular power supply. Got it off a flash deal on Newegg

Comments

  • 38 months ago
  • 9 points

banana

  • 38 months ago
  • 8 points

I'm Impressed

  • 38 months ago
  • 4 points

Install Kodi and your build will be a real HTPC.

  • 38 months ago
  • 2 points

Great value hunting.

If your cpu starts to struggle, even though it's locked, you can overclock it with SKY OC. If you're interested I could help you track down the right BIOS; it's still hosted on ASRock's site. It just takes some digging to find it.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Huh, I had no idea that was still around. I might have to do some digging, though I haven't had any trouble yet. +1

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

You have to find the right review through google that links to all the BIOS's that no longer show up when you navigate ASRock's site normally. It's nice that the links aren't dead tho. A little passive resistance to Intel on ASRock's part, maybe. :D

That said, it's probably not worth the trouble if you don't even need it.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Here's an overlocking guide with an ASRock mobo.

On that page, there's a list of proper BOIS versions for overclocking the non-K. For your board, here's the link.

  • 38 months ago
  • 2 points

Don't fret with the dual channel, unless you use VERY INTENSIVE memory softwares you won't notice a difference.

  • 38 months ago
  • 0 points

Really? For whatever reason I thought it was like a 10-20% boost overall, and looking at the kinds of differences between RAM clocks on Eurogamer's review, I thought it would matter

  • 38 months ago
  • 2 points

up till recently I was an advocate of dual channel. The real world benchmarks proved me wrong! Only specific tasks for super huge high intensive memory load will yield significant difference. That means 1 stick of ram will be perfect even for a gaming machine.

so if your budget is good for 2xsomething or 1xsomething go with what you fancy! if you want to add more later down the road, 1xsomething is great.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Awesome build for the price! +1

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks man!

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

My first budget build I had a i3-4150 and it served me well for about a year. I didn't want to spend the extra $70 for the i5-4590. However when these newer games started to come out this past year I started to see my CPU usage hit 100%, so I finally decided to upgrade to a i7-6700k. I don't know what you play but if you plan to play these new games I'd recommend a solid i5. Yes its more a little more money but in the long run you wont have to upgrade for a long while. Nice build anyways man.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, I agonized over i3 vs i5 for a while, but I actually don't play too many recent games, and the ones I do play aren't usually fast-paced enough where a few slower frames make a huge difference. I will definitely consider upgrading in the future though, especially if AMD's Zen drops Intel's prices. Thanks for the tip brah

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

More or less a definitive budget PC. Bravo +1

-0.1 point for that atrocious cable management though XD

I have actually been looking at that case in question for a possible cheap MicroATX replacement for all the giant full ATX case I've worked with. Can you expand on your impression of it?

  • 38 months ago
  • 2 points

I have actually been looking at that case in question for a possible cheap MicroATX replacement for all the giant full ATX case I've worked with. Can you expand on your impression of it?

I cannot speak for OP but I have worked in this case before, with my sister's build. For a brief answer, the paint is cheap and so is the quality of the case but the cable management is freakishly there for such a tight budget. There is a few ways to install 2.5" and 3.5" storage and there is space for an external optical, media card reader and fan controller. There is a lot of room in this MicroATX and I can certainly say cable management exist in this case. It does not have to be perfect but through all the cheap cases I have worked in, this Xion XON-560 MicroATX Mini Tower is something I would recommend it to anyone for its spacious room and cable management.
  • 38 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks, this is good to know (re: Xion XON-560 MicroATX Mini Tower Case).

Do you recall if the exterior is galvanized metal? Or is it some metal that has been coated in white paint? I'm thinking of getting this case and painting it to whatever color I'd like.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point
The metal is steel with cheap flat paint and it's pretty thin. The front of the case is made out of plastic. The front mesh is already black and is metal too.
You can definitely sand down the cheap paint off from the metal and clean it. With the plastic just lightly sand it with 180 grit or basically anything you can find that is lowest grit available and clean it. Since the new paint will need to attach to the glossy plastic better.
And one more thing. Only 1 PCI slot cover is removable while the other PCI slot covers will need to be forced to be removed. Be careful to not cut your fingers if you need remove any PCI cover attached to the case.
  • 38 months ago
  • 2 points

Oh, this Is golden info. I've painted cases before, but I appreciate the confirmatory tips. Awesome! Thanks, man.

  • 38 months ago
  • 2 points
Oops, I'm sorry about that! I did not mean to lecture. I have a habit of talking too much in details. I'm glad this information was able to help you in some way. This lady is happy to know and you are most welcome. :)
  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

I do like it overall, and it has a lot of things going for it. I guess to go along with Eltech's comment, there was definitely more I could have done to keep cables from being everywhere, but at the same time airflow through the case is good. I can't get my CPU and GPU above 55/65 C respectively, and I have no additional fans. Both fans that came with the case worked, though they use the connection that goes directly to the power supply, so you would need a fan controller if you didn't want them to always be running. Personally I didn't care. The metal is very thin, but I didn't have any issues with it, nor did I end up scratching any paint. From what I've read about other cases in this price range, this one is a solid choice. That said, since I've only ever build one PC (this one), it's hard for me to compare it to other cases objectively.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Awesome job with the price hunting! With that Xion case, do you know if it's galvanized metal (i.e. kinda oily on the surface)? Or is it some metal covered in a couple of coats of white paint?

I'm thinking of getting this for cheap and painting it.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Should I go i3-6100 or fX-8320E?

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

I suggest the i3-6100 because of the higher operating frequency and the thermal design power. But if you are looking for cores then choose the AMD.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

It depends on what you're doing with it, but for a gaming PC, the i3 will be better overall, and way more consistent. If you're building more of a workstation, the FX's extra threads are probably worth it

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

i3 non K overclock works with z170 motherboards. He talks about the steps you need to do. This vid shows he recently bought a motherboard and he downloaded an older BIOS which is easy to do to allow baseclock OC. watch his 4min vid. overclocking i3 3.7ghz into 4.25ghz is a great boost of performance. I would just recommend having a better cpu cooler rather than the stock cooler. GL HF Anyways +1

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

good build, has that power supply got black cables?

  • 27 months ago
  • 1 point

Very low price, however an i3 is useless, go to i5 for an extra bit of money.

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

Banana.