Build a PC: Recommended Builds (August2014)

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 Gamer, Mid-Grade, and Turbo. That's right, we're mixing things up again. No more rotation of four systems into three slots. For the foreseeable future, there will always be a budget system in our Blueprints section. Yay!

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!

Note: Some of the prices/links listed below may not show up properly if this page is ad-blocked.

BUDGET GAMER

Ingredients
Part Component
Price
Case NZXT Source 210 Elite $50
PSU Corsair CX500, 500 watts
$30
Mobo
Biostar TA970 $60
CPU
AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz $120
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo $35
GPU Sapphire Dual-X Radeon R7 265 $163
RAM 2x 4GB G.SKILL Ares Series DDR3/1600 $72
SSD Crucial MX100 128GB
$80
HDD Seagate Barracuda 1TB $65
Total = $675
Click here to see the live bundle price:


For the first time in a while, we have reached equilibrium at the budget level. Each part on this list is pretty much the best bang for your buck. You could put a closed-loop liquid cooler (CLC) in here, but the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO is too good a value to pass up at this tier. Might as well put the extra cost of a CLC toward something else. If you’re prepared to spend about $700, we’d bump the SSD up to a 256GB Crucial MX100 , which currently goes for $110. That’ll give gamers a lot more room to install their favorite games on a zippy storage device.

Note: We apparently snagged a few of these items on deep discount at the time that we assembled our list, so the Newegg live price might be a little higher.

MID-GRADE

Ingredients
Part Component
Price
Case Corsair Vengeance C70 $108
PSU Silverstone Strider Gold S Series, 850 watts
$100
Mobo
Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H
$175
CPU
Intel Core i5-4690K $240
Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
$35
GPU XFX Double D Radeon R9 280X 3GB $250
RAM 2x 4GB G.SKILL Ares Series F3-1600C9D-8GAO $72
Optical Drive Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD Burner $20
SSD Crucial MX100 256GB
$115
HDD Seagate Barracuda 1TB ST1000DM003 $65
Total = $1180
Click here to see the live bundle price:


The Strider Plus, a fully modular 850-watt power supply from Silverstone, is reasonably priced, so it replaces the 750-watt semi-modular Seasonic unit we slotted last month. The extra juice better prepares this system for multiple video cards down the road. Intel’s Devil’s Canyon Core i5-4690K arrives, replacing the i5-4670K. The new one’s base clock speed is 4Ghz, which is 600MHz higher than before, and it will turbo to 4.4GHz. Radeon cards continue to fall in price, and the R9 280X is now within reach; it’s now a better value at this tier than a GeForce GTX 760 . But the 250GB Samsung 840 Evo at $160 is no longer competitively priced, so we’ve replaced it with the 256GB Crucial MX100, which isn’t as fast but is a much better value.

Note: We apparently snagged a few of these items on deep discount at the time that we assembled our list, so the Newegg live price might be a little higher.

TURBO

Ingredients
Part Component
Price
Case NZXT Phantom 530 $130
PSU Cooler Master Silent Pro M2, 1000 watts $180
Mobo
Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H $175
CPU
Intel Core i7-4790K $340
Cooler Corsair Hydro Series H100i
$95
GPU EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB 03G-P4-3784-KR $530
RAM 4x 4GB G.SKILL Ripjaws F3-12800CL9Q-16GBRL
$150
Optical Drive LG WH14NS40 Blu-ray Burner
$70
SSD Samsung 840 Evo 500GB MZ-7TE500BW $260
HDD Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001 $110
TOTAL = $2040
Click here to see the live bundle price:


THIS BUILD PREVIOUSLY FEATURED a quad-core Ivy Bridge-E (IVB-E) CPU on the LGA 2011 platform, aka X79. With the zippy Devil’s Canyon CPUs available, we’ve switched to Intel’s Core i7-4790K. It’s a refresh of the company’s newer “Haswell” generation on the less expensive LGA 1150 platform. Since LGA 1150 is limited to 16 PCI Express lanes, whereas X79 has 40, the new mobo and CPU don’t handle three or more video cards nearly as well. But if you stick to “only” two video cards, you’d need a benchmark to see the difference between the two platforms. Like the i5-4690K, this chip starts at 4GHz and boosts to 4.4GHz. (We also don’t want to recommend an X79 system, since it will be retired within the next few months, in favor of the incompatible LGA 2011-3, aka X99 .)

We’re also sticking with the GA-Z97X-UD5H motherboard at this higher tier, because its mixture of price, performance, and features is hard to beat. We could get a less expensive SSD, but money isn’t as strong of a concern at this tier.

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