Build a PC: Recommended Builds (April 2014)

Tom McNamera

Budget, baseline, and performance PC builds!

What time is it? It's time to Build a PC with our Blueprints! This month, we've built three rigs at three approximate price points: Budget, Baseline, and Performance. Budget gives you an economical workhorse, Baseline gets you a powerful system for gaming and content creation at 1080p, and Performance beefs everything up across the board.

Prices listed here reflect print time and may not match the ones you find elsewhere online. In addition, Newegg has jumped on board to offer packaged deals for each of the builds below in an attempt to offer a better overall value. To see these bundle prices, click the "Buy-or-get-more-info-at-Newegg" button at the bottom of each build. Feedback is welcome. Tell us what you think!


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Ingredients
Part Component
Price
Case NZXT Source 210 Elite
$50
PSU Corsair CX500 500W
$30
Mobo
Biostar TA970 ATX
$80
CPU
AMD FX-6300
$110
Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
$35
GPU EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 02G-P4-3753-KR
$160
RAM 2x 4GB G.Skill Ares F3-1600C9D-8GAO $65
Optical Drive None
SSD Samsung 840 EVO 120GB SH103S3/120G $90
HDD Seagate Barracuda 1TB ST1000DM003 $65
Total = $680
Click here to see the live bundle price:


We're sticking with AMD's hex-core FX-6300 CPU, since it offers a good balance of price and performance, though Intel's 4th generation Core i3 chip is a fine alternative for tasks that aren’t multi-threaded. We've changed the motherboard, RAM, and power supply to address price fluctuations. The GeForce GTX 750 Ti replaces AMD's Radeon HD 7790 because the latter is discontinued. AMD's alternatives, such as the Radeon R7 265, have had some unstable pricing and availability. The GTX 750 Ti is based on Nvidia's new "Maxwell" architecture, so it requires less than half the power of a comparable AMD card—it doesn't even use a PCI Express power cable. This EVGA version has high stock clock speeds and a swanky ACX-inspired cooler.

Ingredients
Part Component
Price
Case Corsair Vengeance C70 $110
PSU XFX P1-750X-XXB9 750W
$85
Mobo
Gigabyte G1.Sniper Z87 ATX
$160
CPU
Intel Core i5-4670K $240
Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
$35
GPU EVGA GeForce GTX 760 2GB 02G-P4-3765-KR $250
RAM 2x 4GB G.Skill Ares F3-1600C9D-8GAO $65
Optical Drive Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD Burner $20
SSD Samsung 840 EVO 250GB
$150
HDD Seagate Barracuda 1TB ST1000DM003 $65
Total = $1180
Click here to see the live bundle price:


This tier is where we loosen the purse strings and crank up performance. We've changed the PSU from a Thermaltake Smart-M to reflect some price fluctuations. This XFX unit is also made by SeaSonic, which has a good rep and makes units for Corsair and Antec. The GeForce GTX 760 is still king at this price point, and the EVGA ACX model has upgraded clock speeds and cooling. We've changed the RAM from Kingston HyperX Black because the G.Skill Ares were cheaper at press time. We've changed the SSD from a Crucial M500 to a Samsung 840 EVO to take advantage of the latter's higher performance, caching, and slick "Magician" software. The motherboard is once again the Gigabyte Sniper Z87, because it has high-quality integrated sound for the price.

Ingredients
Part Component
Price
Case NZXT Phantom 530 $130
PSU XFX P1-850B-BEFX 850W
$126
Mobo
Asus Sabertooth X79
$320
CPU
Intel Core i7-4820K
$305
Cooler Corsair Hydro H100i
$110
GPU EVGA GeForce GTX 780 03G-P4-3784-KR
$530
RAM 4x 4GB G.SKILL Ripjaws F3-12800CL9Q-16GBRL
$150
Optical Drive LG WH14NS40 Blu-ray Burner
$60
SSD Samsung 840 Evo 500GB MZ-7TE500BW $280
HDD Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001 $110
TOTAL = $2106
Click here to see the live bundle price:


This tier is optimized for a rig that will eventually have multiple GPUs, so while the previous build's LGA 1150 motherboard has the slots, you need an LGA 2011 setup to avoid SLI bottlenecks. To that end, we're running a high-octane PSU with six six-pin PCIe cables, so it supports up to three GPUs. The Corsair HX850 it replaces is a decent unit, but its price shot back up recently.

We considered the Corsair 750D case, but the design of the Phantom 530's top allows it to fit a wider variety of radiators, its drive trays feel more durable, and its larger fans allow for quieter operation. Corsair has some new cases coming out soon though, so we’ll certainly revisit this.

We confirmed in this month's Build It that the Asus X79 Deluxe can handle three GPUs with ease. It works best with four or eight sticks of RAM, and these G.Skill Ripjaws were moderately priced. The Kraken X60 cooler is powerful yet quiet, and the LG WH14NS40 lets us burn and play Blu-rays.

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