Description

So April of '14 rolls around and I find myself preparing to leave my boring job to move back to SoCal. With two weeks of notice, I had lots of time to diddle on the internet, and decided the most productive use of my time was learning how to build a computer that would be a long-term source of distraction and unproductive gaming time. So here we are! Goal: a PC that can play DA:I at 60 fps with near-max settings and a little AA.

I wanted everything I put in this build to be stupid cheap - that meant tweaking every coupon I could until my build cost was less than 50% of the PCPartPicker estimate. I sweet-talked managers, "borrowed" envelopes for MIRs, price-shopped every cash-back site and credit card point... I was in it to win it. When this build was finished the unadjusted price showed up as $1500.

THE CASE

The first part I bought was a $25 Thermaltake mid-tower, but when it arrived and I saw how massive it was, I just couldn't go through with a build in it. I love design, especially minimalism, and having something that big in my room was out of the question. I went against my entire build ethos and splurged on a white Node at full retail. It was 10000% worth it and I love seeing this clean little package on my desk every day. I sold the Thermaltake on CL for $35, so that was ~$10 net to me, but I spent that on beer so no net effect on build cost. Lagunitas and Stone Cali-Belgique IPAs, for the record. 5 stars for the case and both IPAs.

THE CARD

I kind of regret getting this card because the coil whine is pretty nasty and the fans are about as subtle as a carnival game operator. Performance is solid, though, and my OC get me close to a stock 280x. Might trade up to a 970 to get in on those sweet class-action dallahs. End of the day, I give it 4 stars for a value buyer. 3 stars for a quality-first buyer.

THE BRAIN

Love this thing. I STRONGLY recommend the 4590 that replaced it if you're on a budget build. Staples price-matched Microcenter and I used a $20 off coupon to get it under $140. Manager was chill, but this deal was definitely not supposed to work. 5 stars+

MOBO

F this mobo. This is what happens when you build to a price-point - you give up functionality you'll miss later, or you buy an inferior product. Because this mobo sucks, the computer started refusing to shut down, forcing me to perform surgery and reset the CMOS (not fun in an ITX). 2 stars, at least it never called me anything racist or homophobic.

OTHER JUNK IN THIS TRUNK

Went with 1x8gb so I could upgrade to 16gb if I wanted down the road. PSU was originally a CX500 (seen in photos) but I found a TX650 at Goodwill for $20 so in it went. Would have liked semi-modular or better, but I don't mind a little extra cable management work and I'm not OCing the PC so temps aren't as big of an issue. 256gb SSD is more than enough if you don't play Skyrim, but I eventually threw in a 1 TB Caviar Blue to hold my DISGUSTINGLY MASSIVE mods folder. No wifi because why would you in a desktop?

JUNK ON MY DESK

Mouse and keyboard were a refurb package deal on Amazon Warehouse - I love both of them, mostly for their looks, but the wireless receiver dictates the position of my PC. It hates interference, so you need a direct line of sight for them to work properly. 3.95 stars. Nearly 4.

On monitors - seriously think about buying used, and look into 16:10 aspect ratios. 16:9 is great for movies, but if you're using Excel or Word you're going to really appreciate the extra real estate at the top and bottom of the screen. My monitor is a couple years old but it's an IPS, 25.5", 16:10, has no dead pixels, and was $100 on CL. Stole it. 4.5 stars because it could afford to lose some weight.

Mousepad was a $1 custom job through Artscow. Art is Voyage d'Hermes by Mobius.

OTHER SEMI-RELEVANT REVIEWS BECAUSE I LIKE THE SOUND OF MY OWN VOICE

Fiio E10k headphone amplifier - $75 on Amazon - I use this instead of the onboard headphone jack and I love this little thing. The depth of sound it delivers is outstanding, and it's 1/3rd the price of competitive amps. 5 Stars.

Beoplay H6 headphones - $ifyouhavetoask - SO GREAT. I have never, ever experienced such clarity and purity of sound. If you want to hear what musicians intended their music to sound like, buy H6s. You simply cannot experience a purer sound. If you want a lower budget alternative, I also really dig my Harman Kardon CLs and they were only $35, just be aware that you'll get rustling noises if you so much as breathe on the cable. 5 stars for the B&O, 4 stars for the CLs.

Xbox One Controller - $20 via Amazon Fresh (including bonus kiwi) - used $30 off $50 first order to get this but I don't use it because WIRES. 2 stars.

Alphaline Xbox 360 induction charger - $3 at Sears - It's nice to be able to just plop my controller on this pad and not have to worry about plugging it in. It doesn't work 100% as well as regular charging, but it came with the a battery and I got to throw away my play-and-charge kit. 4 stars.

TP-LINK AV500 Powerline Network Adapter - $25 at Newegg - If you've never read about powerline adapters and you're thinking about using WiFi on your desktop, STOP RIGHT THERE CRIMINAL SCUM. You need to reevaluate your entire life. These take less than a minute to set up and are way faster than AC wireless. More consistent and cheaper, too. 5 stars.

Router: Netgear R7000 Nighthawk, AC1900 - $110 at Staples - great piece of kit. If you want to get educated on routers go to smallnetbuilder or dd-wrt. This can run Tomato firmware so it's going to be easy to mess with if I'm unhappy, and at $120 it's half the price of its competition. This was $200 - 20% off coupon - $50 visa easyrebate. 5 stars +

Cable Modem: Motorola Sufboard SB6141 - $50 on CL - they're everywhere, and definitely worth the money rather than renting ISP-provided garbage. Mine's white so it matches my house. 5 stars.

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Comments

  • 61 months ago
  • 3 points

Awesome build loving that clean look although if I had one recommendation it would be to get that second stick of ram Dual channel ram is for all intensive purposes twice as fast single channel ram imho is a waste of precious $

also the 970 coil whines like a B***H as well

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  • 62 months ago
  • 2 points

Awesome build! Why no comments? Oh well, first :p You seem to know a good amount on router/modem/wireless/Network adapters. What is the benefit/ of the network adapter vs WiFi; particularly for gaming( if you don't mind me asking)? I have a rosewill pci n900pce on my pc and a usb rosewill ac 1200ube on my surfing pc, what would you recommend instead? I'll be checking out smallnetbuilder in the meantime. SWEET deals on those prices, the cx600 especially, but everything else in particular. Beastly build and enjoy!

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Wifi is great for what it is, but due to its nature it's going to be slower and less reliable than a wired connection. A wired connection doesn't have to deal with microwave ovens nextdoor, other people's cell phone calls, other people's routers broadcasting in the same spectrum... your wireless signal has to struggle through all of that noise.

My apartment building was built in the 70s which means I don't have modern wiring, so my results could be better. That said, my max throughput on a wired connection is 2-3x faster than it is on my N- wireless laptop. For gaming, you can expect your latency to be 1/2 to 1/3rd of what it was over wireless, especially if there's some distance between you and your router.

The TX650 was actually a goodwill find! It was in a a CXM750 box, so I managed to be disappointed by that deal. lol

  • 61 months ago
  • 2 points

Ah! right on. Appreciate the reply! I'd upvote it twice if i could! enjoy your build.

  • 61 months ago
  • 2 points

Alright you got me to bite with the powerline adapter comment lol... Ok so, I have dual band routers in my house, because like you said, microwaves and junk.. So if I already have 5ghz wifi will these adapters improve my connection or not worth it?

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

I would make the change. If you're not sure how it'll go, buy it from a store with a solid return policy and give it a shot for a day or two.

I live in an apartment building with a bunch of other 5ghz routers around competing with mine, so for me the difference is huge. Your results might not be as dramatic.

  • 61 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for the info... I had no idea these things existed until seeing your build today. My massive 1300w inverter microwave was killing my signal through my whole house, I could have got these instead of a 80 dollar dual band router and 3 dual band adapters @ 45 each geez.. Oh well now I know. +1

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  • 61 months ago
  • 2 points

my ocd likes your setup

  • 60 months ago
  • 2 points

talk about bang for your buck! you have a gorgeous computer friend!

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

A couple other comments, particularly about mistakes that I made in the process:

  1. Once you get the other components in, it's almost impossible to work with the tiny little points on the mobo near the front of the case - MAKE SURE YOU DO THOSE RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. Dismantling the entire build just to unhook the front LED was no fun.

  2. If it won't power on, are you sure it's plugged in? I managed to mix up the positive/negative power plugs when hooking up the power button. I spent 6 hours pulling my hair out before my brother in law came over and made me feel like an idiot by fixing it in < 30 secs.

  3. Installing a CPU feels like torturing a small animal. Don't worry, if you feel like you're slowly crushing your CPU to death it means you're doing it right!

  4. First time builders: learn how to build it before you start building it! Watch a whole build video (even if it's 40 minutes long) before you start your build. You should know if what you're doing is a mistake BEFORE you do it, not after. These components are expensive and working on them is nerve-racking.

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Really nice build dude!

One quick question about the graphics card, Im going to google it anyway but Ill ask anyway, what does coil whine mean? I would imagine it has something to do with the coils when they get hot am I right? And when you say that the fans are subtle, you mean they aren't really strong? Thanks in advance if you or someone else replys to me. Im considering getting this card because it seems decent for a budget price.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Did you have to increase the power limit percentage on the card to overclock it? It'd be nice if you uploaded a pic of msi after burner.