Build a PC: Recommended Builds (March 2014)

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Build a PC: Recommended Builds (March 2014)

Baseline, performance, and ultra 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: Baseline, Performance, and Ultra. Baseline gets you a powerful system for gaming and content creation at 1080p, Performance beefs everything up across the board, and Ultra lets the dogs out. These rigs are lab-tested and editor-approved.

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: Make sure you disable any adblocker as it can block some of the prices/links listed below. 

Corsair Vengeance C70 case

Ingredients
Part Component Price
Case Corsair Vengeance C70 $110
PSU Corsair RM750 750W $120
Mobo ASUS Z87-Pro $185
CPU Intel Core i5-4670K $220
Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO $30
GPU EVGA GeForce GTX 760 2GB 02G-P4-3765-KR $280
RAM 2x 4GB Kingston HyperX Black $90
Optical Drive Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD Burner $20
SSD Crucial M500 240GB $120
HDD Seagate Barracuda 1TB ST1000DM003 $65
Total = $1240
Click here to see the live bundle price:  buy online at newegg

 

You could call this "high-performance entry-level." That's where the workhorse Intel Core i5-4670K CPU and the Asus Z87-Pro mother-board come in. This build previously had a Gigabyte Sniper Z87 board, but we favored the Z87-Pro's additional internal USB 3.0 header and integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You do lose the Sniper's Creative sound and two PCI slots, so your mileage may vary. The Thermaltake Smart-M 750W power supply also shot up in price, but we found a Corsair RM750 to replace it. This premium PSU is overkill for one Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 (arguably the best value for gamers right now), but is ready to add a second card in the future.

 

Performance

NZXT Phantom 530 case

Ingredients
Part Component Price
Case NZXT Phantom 530 $130
PSU Corsair RM850 850W $150
Mobo Asus Sabertooth X79 $320
CPU Intel Core i7-4820K $325
Cooler Corsair Hydro H100i $110
GPU EVGA GeForce GTX 780 03G-P4-3784-KR $530
RAM 4x 4GB G.SKILL Sniper F3-12800CL9Q-16GBSR $155
Optical Drive LG WH14NS40 Blu-ray Burner $58
SSD Samsung 840 Evo 500GB MZ-7TE500BW $265
HDD Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001 $110
TOTAL = $2153
Click here to see the live bundle price:  buy online at newegg

 

Compared to Intel's Core i5-4670K in the Baseline build, the i7-4820K in this rig is actually slower sometimes, but we wanted an LGA 2011 motherboard. This socket allows up to four video cards without any bottlenecks, while the i5-4670K's LGA 1150 boards can experience bandwidth limitations running just two cards. The Corsair H100i closed-loop liquid cooler is a reliable 240mm unit that can rival a 280mm-based unit. The Seasonic M12II 850W is now a Corsair RM850 850W, because the latter performs about the same but was decidedly cheaper as we went to press. We swapped out the GeForce GTX 780 Ti for a regular 780 since it packs enough punch and helps keep our budget down a bit.

Corsair Obsidiain 900D case

Ingredients
Part Component Price
Case Corsair Obsidian 900D $320
PSU Thermaltake Toughpower Grand TPG-1200M 1200w $250
Mobo Asus X79 Deluxe $340
CPU Intel Core i7-4930K $580
Cooler Corsair Hydro H110 $95
GPU 2x EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 03G-P4-2884-KR $1440
RAM 4x 4GB G.SKILL Sniper F3-12800CL9Q-16GBSR $155
Optical Drive LG WH14NS40 Blu-ray Burner $58
SSD Samsung 840 Evo 1TB MZ-7TE1T0BW $510
HDD Seagate Desktop HDD.15 4TB ST4000DM000 $165
TOTAL = $3913
Click here to see the live bundle price:  buy online at newegg

 

The Corsair H110 isn't the fanciest or most expensive closed-loop liquid cooler out there, but it's powerful and uncomplicated. Other than that, the Ultra remains largely unchanged from our last build. Its hexa-core Core i7-4930K is a beast, the Asus X79 Deluxe motherboard is high-octane and packed with features, and the GTX 780 Ti is rocket-fueled. The Corsair Obsidian 900D case is cavernous and sturdy, and the high-grade 1250-watt XFX ProSeries power supply should handle three high-end video cards without breaking a sweat. We could shave about $100 off and go with a 960GB Crucial M500 solid-state drive, but we have the budget to justify the Samsung 840 Evo's caching features.

If you want to try something a little different, the Cooler Master Glacer 240L is also an interesting 240mm water cooler. Unlike other integrated units, the Glacer has detachable tubes. That makes the tubes, the radiator and the pump replaceable, and you can add more tubing to expand your cooling to video cards and additional radiators and pumps. It's also an impressive performer in its own right. The problem is that it can be hard to find one in stock.

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Comments

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pectoralis

Nice :)

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georgeo

Thanks for the article. I took the easy way out and purchased the entire bundle for the Performance build from Newegg and am going to screw everything together this weekend. This will be my first water cooled rig. Can you offer any guidance on the optimum location for the cooler? It looks like my choice is on the front or top. I like the front because air flow will be more open but haven't figured out yet if that will work. Any thoughts?

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tom_m

Hi, Georgeo! I hope I am not too late. We've found that the best way to install this cooler in this case is to put the radiator right above the motherboard, pop the top of the case, and install the fans in the top area there. That secures the fans and the radiator to each other. Point the fans so that they're blowing up and out. There's arrows on them to indicate airflow direction.

Here's what that looks like from the side.

 

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wannabe compute...

Save a lot of money with microcenter bundles:

i5-4670K and Z87Pro goes for $350 rather than $405 that u have

i7-4820K and Sabertooth X79 goes for $550 rather than your $645

i7-4930K and X79 Deluxe goes for $830 rather than your $920

Also benchmark these? And for your budget system every other month I made a build with i5-3570K and ASRock Z77 Pro3 for $630 (gpu was a gtx650 1gb). CPU and Mobo cost $260 together. Ofcourse I didn't use ssd

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Chad727

After standing in line for thirty minutes to purchase a USB wifi adapter (that was only available in my local store) with my six month old screaming his head off, I vowed never to go back to that place. It was a Saturday morning and the parking lot was half full already with people waiting for the doors to unlock. They had six cashiers at the ready and it STILL took that long. I've never had orders shipped to my door but I can only imagine their approach to that. If you've had good luck with them, that's great and I mean that sincerely. I've had expensive orders from Newegg stolen and after filing a police report I had my stuff back within a week. And every time I've had to return and order to Newegg it always went well. Every time I returned something to MicroCenter I had some lower life form sporting a tilted weave and facial hair giving me the third degree. Personally, no discount is worth the drama I've experienced at the hands of MicroCenter. Either you live near the best MicroCenter in all of America or I live near the worst! Not saying your prices are false, just saying I've had some really bad experiences with them and people should be wary of doing business with them.

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vrmlbasic

I recently discovered a microcenter kind of near me. I went to it and it was kind of cool. Saw that they had a literal pyramid of 1440 monitors for sale. The staff at mine seemed knowledgeable and well outside of the area's demographics.

It took forever and a day to check out and they tried to harangue an email address out of me for the purposes of sending a receipt :(

To actually go to my local microcenter takes about 40 minutes, paying $8 in tolls and 6% sales tax (plus gas) so it is going to lose to NewEgg and Tiger almost every time.

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erriwin

I agree with blacksand: a real budget build. Not only that, but have some strict guidelines you follow. There doesn't appear to be any rules whatsoever... At least have a pricing structure of sorts. You could set up a poll so you have our, the community's, input; but, off the top of my head: set up the baseline build @ $500-600, performance @ a set price, etc.

Also, you mention these are blueprints for people to follow...but its just a list of parts. If you really built these in lab: show instructions, pictures, details - all would make for a much more compelling article. I'd much rather just peruse Newegg comments, or pcpartbuilder, or tech forums to read about real, detailed user experience, rather than a short mundane right-up on how you're in bed with Newegg.

I understand that you are primarily a magazine business and want most of your content exclusive for print. However, you must realize print is slowly dying: you should think about a re-structuring into an online content creator, that also has a magazine on the side. With more online articles/better quality/more info/user interaction, you could draw a much bigger fan base and turn an even bigger profit via the WWW.

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blacksand

I'd like to see a true budget build please. Maybe something under $1,000. Thanks!

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Ghost XFX

"Your AIO cooler choices suck!"
-Cooler Master Nepton series heard in the background

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MrHasselblad

The article stands well on it's own, but... How about ideas for future articles?

1. An article to show a build on what is the max that both a cpu and a video card can run (both under regular specs and also overclocked) without the need for any type of liquid cooling.

2. How about a few builds with a 12 core?

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vrmlbasic

The new price table setup is interesting.

That Corsair Vengeance C70 looks pretty cool. Why are cases with side intakes so rare? They seem almost mandatory for Crossfire IME. My CM Storm Enforcer, otherwise a fairly cool case, supposedly had the option for one but only on paper.

Does the Phantom 530 really work all that well? 200MM fans don't seem all that common from my quests on NewEgg and the best that I've found of them-the 110 CFM CM fans-is humbled by 120 MM fans and are blown away by my comparable-diameter desk fan.