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System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $650 Gaming PC

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June 16, 2013 10:58:06 PM

This quarter, we're upping our budgets a bit in a quest to bring you a mini-ITX-themed System Builder Marathon. Paul Henningsen takes the first crack at a compact gaming box with $650 in his pocket and the ambitious goal of smooth 1920x1080 performance.

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $650 Gaming PC : Read more
a b 4 Gaming
June 16, 2013 11:16:07 PM

Just 1 question: Why not a 4gb ram stick instead? That board only has 2 RAM slots, so wouldn't it be better to use just one and save another for upgrading later?
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June 16, 2013 11:19:20 PM

a great starting build at a very reasonable cost. it was a good read mate. gotta <3 the 7870xt for gaming. best bang for the buck. if only the i5's are a little cheaper... next quarter perhaps?
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June 16, 2013 11:27:11 PM

Madn3ss795 said:
Just 1 question: Why not a 4gb ram stick instead? That board only has 2 RAM slots, so wouldn't it be better to use just one and save another for upgrading later?

I think this is for performance reasons, dual channel memory beats single channel in performance but more memory is better. I guess the reason is that 4gb is the sweet spot in terms of what is recommended and that going single channel 4gb for future upgrade to 8gb dual channel will has diminishing returns..
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a b 4 Gaming
June 16, 2013 11:35:35 PM

ahh finally, i was wondering what happened to system builder marathon..
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a b 4 Gaming
June 16, 2013 11:36:19 PM

but why mini ITX rigs?
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June 16, 2013 11:44:50 PM

$650 called budget, clearly my definition and the going opinion is far from budget, with it possible to build a ATX Intel or AMD system for a little extra but a lot more performance. I did see the Day5 $400 Ultimate Purist M-ATX, this I gotta see, my guess is another Intel build.
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June 16, 2013 11:46:10 PM

Thank you for acceding to reader requests for an itx based SBM!

I have similar preferences as the author when it comes to what I'd change here... a step down in graphics, a step up in CPU performance and bring up RAM to 8gb. I'm not very concerned about noise. I almost always put on a headset when I game.
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June 17, 2013 1:31:00 AM

Great job on the build and the article. Would have liked a noise comparison as well. Just so we'd know what we're talking about when going for a mini-ITX build.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2013 1:57:46 AM

Yea I'm a bit confused why you wouldn't go down to a 7850 2 gigabyte model and then spend the extra money on 8 gigabytes of memory instead ><
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June 17, 2013 2:51:24 AM

jeez, it sounds like your face-palming yourself for getting the i3 through this whole article.
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June 17, 2013 3:21:51 AM

You should have gone with the Sapphire 7870 XT instead for the cooler.
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June 17, 2013 3:26:02 AM

Madn3ss795 said:
Just 1 question: Why not a 4gb ram stick instead? That board only has 2 RAM slots, so wouldn't it be better to use just one and save another for upgrading later?

Guessing dual channel mode.

thasan1 said:
but why mini ITX rigs?

Um why not?

sarinaide said:
$650 called budget, clearly my definition and the going opinion is far from budget, with it possible to build a ATX Intel or AMD system for a little extra but a lot more performance. I did see the Day5 $400 Ultimate Purist M-ATX, this I gotta see, my guess is another Intel build.

Yes, lets not read the article at all and rush to the comments section. SBM defeats its purpose if we're going to stick to the same old stuff. What you're looking for has already been covered many, many times before in previous SBMs.

bigshootr8 said:
Yea I'm a bit confused why you wouldn't go down to a 7850 2 gigabyte model and then spend the extra money on 8 gigabytes of memory instead ><

Because there are more games that would benefit from a 7870 than 8GB of RAM? And anyway, 8 gigs is a relatively cheap upgrade, compared to the GPU.
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June 17, 2013 3:36:32 AM

ARICH5 said:
jeez, it sounds like your face-palming yourself for getting the i3 through this whole article.


No, not at all. Just contrasting the shift in platform balance from CPU to GPU. i3-3220 was perfect for this high-res mini-ITX gaming PC. Wouldn't have changed that up at all at this budget.

However, it's not the way to go for winning the SBM (overall performance/value), factoring the 60% applications weighting. With an upwardly locked multiplier, we knew exactly how this i3 would rate there (been there, done that already).

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June 17, 2013 4:10:25 AM

I have a build with the same Cooler Master Elite 120 case. Good to finally see it included in a SBM article.

For the money, it is hard to beat in an ITX case. There are better options, like the BitFenix Prodigy, but they cost almost twice as much.

Only downside to the case is the noise. Fans are running at near max to keep temps tolerable.
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June 17, 2013 4:27:12 AM

If you were going to leave the cpu at stock frequency, why not then undervolt it too? Certainly that would reduce heat a bit and could help with the graphics card issue.
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June 17, 2013 5:33:08 AM

a budget PC with i3 instead of AMD? o find that odd. anytime you get a CPU under 200 its obvious to go AMD.. Isnt it? or is society blinded by shiny s?
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June 17, 2013 5:53:05 AM

airborn824 said:
a budget PC with i3 instead of AMD? o find that odd. anytime you get a CPU under 200 its obvious to go AMD.. Isnt it? or is society blinded by shiny s?

1st thing: when gaming is priority, go Intel

2nd thing: Below $200, look at the i5s. There isn't much point to lots of GPU muscle if you're going to be held back by a CPU bottleneck.

3rd thing: The moment you hit thermally constrained spaces, Intel is the company of choice.
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June 17, 2013 6:29:06 AM

I could not help myself so I built my own version of this on PC parts picker.
I used a different case and power supply and bumped the ram up to 8Gb and swapped the 500GB hard drive for a 120GB SSD. I can in under 650 after shipping and rebates.
You could do a 64GB SSD and the 500GB drive for the same price but I figured Hard Drives are cheap and you might have one sitting around that you could add if you did this build or add one when you find a good deal.
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June 17, 2013 7:14:34 AM

;) 
airborn824 said:
a budget PC with i3 instead of AMD? o find that odd. anytime you get a CPU under 200 its obvious to go AMD.. Isnt it? or is society blinded by shiny s?


For a budget mini-ITX gaming PC... Yes, i3 is spot on.

You'd have preferred Trinity, or Vishera? ;) 
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2013 7:15:26 AM

Oooh, no. And here is why: Heat. Sadly, this build won't last; I wouldn't give it six months. The non-modular Corsair "CX" units were built with some inferior Samxon capacitors that don't like heat and are known to fail early. Even without considering the radiant heat from the graphics card, you're running it at a high enough percentage of its capacity that it will cook. I also don't care for what all that [radiant] heat might do to the motherboard.
Will this HIS card fit in that case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ? It exhausts its heat. You'd give up a chunk of performance, but 1) solve the heat problem and 2) allow for an optical drive and/or 8GB of RAM in the budget. The benchmarks show that frame rates are high enough that you're still going to get smooth 1920x1080 gaming out of it, plus you'll have something cooler and quieter that will still be running in a year or two, or three...
If the HIS won't fit, this EVGA FTW-version of the GTX660 will: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168.... It costs more, but performs better than the HD7850, and still exhausts most of its heat.

Edit: I'm really happy to see m-ITX in a SBM. Without necessarily repeating it any time soon, I think a little refinement still merits discussion and maybe more testing.
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June 17, 2013 7:19:18 AM

Larry Bob said:
You should have gone with the Sapphire 7870 XT instead for the cooler.


As mentioned on page 1, only the PC Myst edition was in stock. To change it up, I would have given the slightly more expensive Sapphire XT a shot if available. The included power adapters would allow a drop to a 430W PSU, making up for the added graphics expense, and keeping it at $653.
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June 17, 2013 7:36:10 AM

Actually, there is overlooked mini ITX AMD option: Athlon X4 750K and one of the mITX FM2 boards. And it has some overclocking potential, costs like $50 less than i3 and should perform close.
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June 17, 2013 7:41:26 AM

Onus said:
Oooh, no. And here is why: Heat. Sadly, this build won't last; I wouldn't give it six months. The non-modular Corsair "CX" units were built with some inferior Samxon capacitors that don't like heat and are known to fail early. Even without considering the radiant heat from the graphics card, you're running it at a high enough percentage of its capacity that it will cook. I also don't care for what all that [radiant] heat might do to the motherboard.
Will this HIS card fit in that case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ? It exhausts its heat. You'd give up a chunk of performance, but 1) solve the heat problem and 2) allow for an optical drive and/or 8GB of RAM in the budget. The benchmarks show that frame rates are high enough that you're still going to get smooth 1920x1080 gaming out of it, plus you'll have something cooler and quieter that will still be running in a year or two, or three...
If the HIS won't fit, this EVGA FTW-version of the GTX660 will: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168.... It costs more, but performs better than the HD7850, and still exhausts most of its heat.

Edit: I'm really happy to see m-ITX in a SBM. Without necessarily repeating it any time soon, I think a little refinement still merits discussion and maybe more testing.

I strongly disagree, and do not share the same concern Onus. This PSU application is flipped to not be a case exhaust. Rather it is fed cool intake air through the enclosure's top PSU venting. And, under full system load it was outputting less than 50% of it's rating. Heat concerns were mainly just GPU related.

The Myst runs hot. A blower cooler or more miserly GPU would have been good, but really internal case tempers weren't much of a concern (factoring the components and mild overclocking). Notice the puny aluminum Intel cooler kept the Core i3 running cool. When you factor a couple more degrees ambient temps, plus a few more degrees internal case temps above ambient, yeah the Myst cooler takes off (in RPM). That's probably in part why some folks complain of its noise and others don't.

*** Late Edit here Onus, you may not see it. But I actually wanted to use a Rosewill Capstone 80 Plus Gold 450W modular in this build, and own two myself for similar builds. In fact I recommended that same PSU to Donny for his $1300 build but he prefers more reserve. My budget was tight, and the GPU forced me to select a PSU I've never used for an SBM. I don't think it is bad, especially as configured (as I explained above), but notice I didn't use it as an exhaust (which would have helped GPU temps and noise). I got into this in my rough draft but had to chop much text out to clean up my wordiness. Anyway, wanted to explain the PSU was a compromise, I just don't fear it's death like you mentioned.
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June 17, 2013 7:50:41 AM

roman1024 said:
Actually, there is overlooked mini ITX AMD option: Athlon X4 750K and one of the mITX FM2 boards. And it has some overclocking potential, costs like $50 less than i3 and should perform close.


Our parts were ordered about one month prior to that hitting Newegg. I've eyed it up every week for probably 6 months now, and requested one from AMD again as soon as it appeared on this side of the pond. (BTW, there is one in the lab, soon to hit the bench.)
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June 17, 2013 8:37:55 AM

pauldh said:
roman1024 said:
Actually, there is overlooked mini ITX AMD option: Athlon X4 750K and one of the mITX FM2 boards. And it has some overclocking potential, costs like $50 less than i3 and should perform close.


Our parts were ordered about one month prior to that hitting Newegg. I've eyed it up every week for probably 6 months now, and requested one from AMD again as soon as it appeared on this side of the pond. (BTW, there is one in the lab, soon to hit the bench.)


Great news on the 750k paul, what m/b will you be testing with ? I have one on my bench also, gpu options for me 2x7790 or gtx650ti.

tourist

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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2013 8:38:25 AM

and yet again... Tom's mysteriously skips out on the fx6300.

you could have married a 6300 to a 7950 and kept inside your $650 budget. And that build would have murdered the prior quarter's i5 build.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2013 8:40:43 AM

I liked these better when the budget was actually a budget machine. 2500 is getting in to the realm of ridiculous extravagance and 650 isn't all that constraining for building a true low cost machine.

I much prefer the 500-1000-1500 range. The low end is actually challenging to get a good gaming rig out of, the 1000 is a pretty round number that still needs to make some machine balance type choices, and the 1500 range is pretty 'all in' for a top end gaming machine these days. Beyond that things get too far in to specialty equipment or just buying things for the sake of filling budget with little tangible performance gains. Sure, I like seeing 4 SSD's in a RAID0 tear up sequential reads as much as the next geek, but that's hardly a practical allocation of funds when it doesn't translate that well in to load times or performance.
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June 17, 2013 9:15:55 AM

I wish it had an optical drive. :I Not bad, but I have slow internet so if I win it I'll have to wait a day before any games work. :D  h well.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2013 9:16:05 AM

Traciatim said:
I liked these better when the budget was actually a budget machine. 2500 is getting in to the realm of ridiculous extravagance and 650 isn't all that constraining for building a true low cost machine.
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I agree; I'd like to see budgets kept low.
Back to the heat issue, I had a stock i5-3570K on a Z77E-ITX in a Lian Li PC-Q08R, with a HD7870. CPU and GPU temps were marginally warm, but reasonable. I could feel a lot of heat flowing out of it (the case has decent airflow), but suddenly in the midst of gaming it died, apparently due to a VRM frying shorted. It was a case of trying to do a little too much with it.
I'd love to win this PC; with a few changes it would make a great daily driver. Most of my games aren't all that demanding, so I'd replace the graphics card with something that runs a lot cooler and/or exhausts its heat, then add an optical drive for more general purpose uses.
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June 17, 2013 9:31:28 AM

ingtar33 said:
and yet again... Tom's mysteriously skips out on the fx6300.

you could have married a 6300 to a 7950 and kept inside your $650 budget. And that build would have murdered the prior quarter's i5 build.


And what mini-ITX motherboard would you recommend for that "killer" rig?

Even if they did exist, Vishera + Tahiti would have been a blast to cool while overclocking.:D 

BTW, (if you read the article you'd know) minus the ITX theme, an FX-6300 would have been in this quarter's gaming PC.
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June 17, 2013 9:38:59 AM

Although I would never buy an ATI/AMD product due to driver issues, I find this build to be perfect. I'm excited about the mini itx builds, I think this is the future of pc gaming, whether you like it or not.
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June 17, 2013 9:41:58 AM

tourist said:

Great news on the 750k paul, what m/b will you be testing with ? I have one on my bench also, gpu options for me 2x7790 or gtx650ti.

tourist



LOL, yeah about time, right! It will be a GA-F2A85X-UP4.

You OC yet?
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June 17, 2013 9:47:32 AM

Onus said:
Traciatim said:
I liked these better when the budget was actually a budget machine. 2500 is getting in to the realm of ridiculous extravagance and 650 isn't all that constraining for building a true low cost machine.
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I agree; I'd like to see budgets kept low.


@ Onus & Traciatim - Yes, I hear you there, for sure! Hence the $400 bonus build this quarter.
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June 17, 2013 9:51:14 AM

At this point in time, I'd have a hard time considering a small form factor build that is in this price range and cost. I know it sucks to say so, and I don't like to say it myself, but the PS4 is more bang for the buck here.

At $300 you get the same level of gaming output, HTPC like features, and smaller form factor. I have been in the marker for a build like the one offered here but I can't say yes when the PS4 is coming out. Can I add that I can also sell games when I am done with them?

As for the gpu, it is hot, it is loud. I have one and have under clocked it and it still maxes out any game I play at 1080p. (BF3, Skyrim, Ect.)
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2013 10:19:53 AM

I get very few to NO one looking to build gaming rigs out of Mini ITX, I don't feel this has any value for me or most resellers.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2013 10:21:15 AM

before I even finish reading the article, loosing the optical drive is a bad idea if you want to game. In my instance what would happen to the games that require the disk in the drive for DRM? you would not be able to play them unless you use an external optical drive. how about installing the OS and any other program that requires a disk? the OS you would need to put on a flash drive but what about programs? not every thing is downloadable you know. By leaving out the Optical drive you may have added money to other parts but the average person will need one whether it is internal or external. You will still need to buy one eventually.
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June 17, 2013 10:28:53 AM

bgunner said:
before I even finish reading the article, loosing the optical drive is a bad idea if you want to game. In my instance what would happen to the games that require the disk in the drive for DRM? you would not be able to play them unless you use an external optical drive. how about installing the OS and any other program that requires a disk? the OS you would need to put on a flash drive but what about programs? not every thing is downloadable you know. By leaving out the Optical drive you may have added money to other parts but the average person will need one whether it is internal or external. You will still need to buy one eventually.


I'm a pretty avid gamer, and my current tower has no optical drive. I have yet to find an application I cannot run due to this limitation. Sometimes a workaround is required, but pretty much everything besides legacy games run on steam, origin, etc or have a nocd patch implemented.

If you absolutely cannot find a nocd patch and need the disc for a disc check, there's always Virtual CD drive.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2013 10:42:58 AM

Killroyjenkins said:
bgunner said:
before I even finish reading the article, loosing the optical drive is a bad idea if you want to game. In my instance what would happen to the games that require the disk in the drive for DRM? you would not be able to play them unless you use an external optical drive. how about installing the OS and any other program that requires a disk? the OS you would need to put on a flash drive but what about programs? not every thing is downloadable you know. By leaving out the Optical drive you may have added money to other parts but the average person will need one whether it is internal or external. You will still need to buy one eventually.


I'm a pretty avid gamer, and my current tower has no optical drive. I have yet to find an application I cannot run due to this limitation. Sometimes a workaround is required, but pretty much everything besides legacy games run on steam, origin, etc or have a nocd patch implemented.

If you absolutely cannot find a nocd patch and need the disc for a disc check, there's always Virtual CD drive.


I have some older games i play plus 60+ games on steam and 8 on origin. I didn't spend $50+ dollars at the time for these games to not use them once in a while. Searching all over the net for No CD patches is not worth the time, at $15 per hour for my time, plus you still need to install them from the disk which needs a optical drive to do.
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June 17, 2013 11:59:34 AM

bgunner said:
Killroyjenkins said:
bgunner said:
before I even finish reading the article, loosing the optical drive is a bad idea if you want to game. In my instance what would happen to the games that require the disk in the drive for DRM? you would not be able to play them unless you use an external optical drive. how about installing the OS and any other program that requires a disk? the OS you would need to put on a flash drive but what about programs? not every thing is downloadable you know. By leaving out the Optical drive you may have added money to other parts but the average person will need one whether it is internal or external. You will still need to buy one eventually.


I'm a pretty avid gamer, and my current tower has no optical drive. I have yet to find an application I cannot run due to this limitation. Sometimes a workaround is required, but pretty much everything besides legacy games run on steam, origin, etc or have a nocd patch implemented.

If you absolutely cannot find a nocd patch and need the disc for a disc check, there's always Virtual CD drive.


I have some older games i play plus 60+ games on steam and 8 on origin. I didn't spend $50+ dollars at the time for these games to not use them once in a while. Searching all over the net for No CD patches is not worth the time, at $15 per hour for my time, plus you still need to install them from the disk which needs a optical drive to do.

If you're going to value your time, surely you must take into account the time spent swapping cds out. Then the 5 minutes to get a no cd patch would be beneficial (assuming you do frequently play these old games). The only truly old game I play now is starcraft, and blizzard has downloadable installers if you register your serials.

Maybe it's not for you, but it's certainly feasible to have a modern gaming computer without an optical drive.
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June 17, 2013 12:07:03 PM

I had wanted to ask, why weren't the triple monitor results shown in the charts? Was it because the older rigs didn't have those results?

pauldh said:
;) 
airborn824 said:
a budget PC with i3 instead of AMD? o find that odd. anytime you get a CPU under 200 its obvious to go AMD.. Isnt it? or is society blinded by shiny s?


For a budget mini-ITX gaming PC... Yes, i3 is spot on.

You'd have preferred Trinity, or Vishera? ;) 

That 220w Vishera chip, surely. :D 

pauldh said:
Onus said:
Traciatim said:
I liked these better when the budget was actually a budget machine. 2500 is getting in to the realm of ridiculous extravagance and 650 isn't all that constraining for building a true low cost machine.
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I agree; I'd like to see budgets kept low.


@ Onus & Traciatim - Yes, I hear you there, for sure! Hence the $400 bonus build this quarter.

I don't know, i sort of like the themed SBMs, so i'm not really in the same camp as these guys. :|
Sort of becomes boring to have the same budgets every time. Maybe keep the strict budgets as a annual thing? like, once in a particular quarter every year.

loops said:
At this point in time, I'd have a hard time considering a small form factor build that is in this price range and cost. I know it sucks to say so, and I don't like to say it myself, but the PS4 is more bang for the buck here.

At $300 you get the same level of gaming output, HTPC like features, and smaller form factor. I have been in the marker for a build like the one offered here but I can't say yes when the PS4 is coming out. Can I add that I can also sell games when I am done with them?

As for the gpu, it is hot, it is loud. I have one and have under clocked it and it still maxes out any game I play at 1080p. (BF3, Skyrim, Ect.)

PS4: $400, 30 fps @ 1080p.

bgunner said:
before I even finish reading the article, loosing the optical drive is a bad idea if you want to game. In my instance what would happen to the games that require the disk in the drive for DRM? you would not be able to play them unless you use an external optical drive. how about installing the OS and any other program that requires a disk? the OS you would need to put on a flash drive but what about programs? not every thing is downloadable you know. By leaving out the Optical drive you may have added money to other parts but the average person will need one whether it is internal or external. You will still need to buy one eventually.

i agree with this, i have quite a few old games too, and booting from a CD usually works without a hassle. But then you can't have everything. A friend of mine built an ATX rig back in december, he didn't need an optical drive. I find one handy. To each their own, really. I'd probably only complain about not having an optical drive if this were an HTPC.

But then every builder has their own way of going about their build, and unless some choices are really bad, i'd respect them.

I don't know about you folks, but i usually read SBMs in a very academic way, so i don't really mind non-standard choices. If i'm building my own system then i know what i want in it.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2013 12:39:46 PM

ojas said:

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But then every builder has their own way of going about their build, and unless some choices are really bad, i'd respect them.

I don't know about you folks, but i usually read SBMs in a very academic way, so i don't really mind non-standard choices. If i'm building my own system then i know what i want in it.

This. I'd always include the optical drive for myself, but it isn't a quibble with this build. As long as it is viable, I'll find interest in it. Too bad we may not get to find out if my concern about heat shortening this one's lifespan is a valid concern. Perhaps its winner can post an update in six months or a year?
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2013 12:42:38 PM

ojas said:
Madn3ss795 said:
Just 1 question: Why not a 4gb ram stick instead? That board only has 2 RAM slots, so wouldn't it be better to use just one and save another for upgrading later?

Guessing dual channel mode.

thasan1 said:
but why mini ITX rigs?

Um why not?

sarinaide said:
$650 called budget, clearly my definition and the going opinion is far from budget, with it possible to build a ATX Intel or AMD system for a little extra but a lot more performance. I did see the Day5 $400 Ultimate Purist M-ATX, this I gotta see, my guess is another Intel build.

Yes, lets not read the article at all and rush to the comments section. SBM defeats its purpose if we're going to stick to the same old stuff. What you're looking for has already been covered many, many times before in previous SBMs.

bigshootr8 said:
Yea I'm a bit confused why you wouldn't go down to a 7850 2 gigabyte model and then spend the extra money on 8 gigabytes of memory instead ><

Because there are more games that would benefit from a 7870 than 8GB of RAM? And anyway, 8 gigs is a relatively cheap upgrade, compared to the GPU.


It's very possible that 4 gigabytes could bottleneck you as well. System performance impacts gaming performance whether you see it in the frames per second or not. i.e, SSD's
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June 17, 2013 12:44:50 PM

It's funny how they presume you have a legitimate free copy of windows sitting around when they do these "budget" builds. last i checked an OEM copy of Windows 7/8 x64 will tack another $100 onto these builds, so unless you're planning on installing Ubuntu and going through the work to get all these games and benchmarks running under linux, this is a "$750" build, and screws your budget...or you could be realistic and adjust your hardware selection appropriately.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2013 1:02:35 PM

airborn824 said:
a budget PC with i3 instead of AMD? o find that odd. anytime you get a CPU under 200 its obvious to go AMD.. Isnt it? or is society blinded by shiny s?
Unless you're looking at a Trinity chip, good luck cooling an OCd 6300 in this small a case.

Paul, I enjoy seeing your experiments, even if they don't turn out quite as well as hoped. I don't doubt the 7870 LE performance, but the heat, power draw, and noise in this small of a case would be unacceptable to me ( complete personal preference, I know. )
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June 17, 2013 1:04:33 PM

I
Quote:
it's funny how they presume you have a legitimate free copy of windows sitting around when they do these "budget" builds


It makes perfect sense to me, for the same reason it makes sense to exclude the monitor, keyboard, mouse and system cables. All of these are items you can likely carry over from the older build you are replacing. I think the optical drive, if desired, would now also make sense for this category until there is a meaningful advance in those drives.

Finally, the O/S makes sense for the additional reason that it is software, not hardware. If they have to include the O/S, why not then also the cost for all the games & applications they test with? The obvious answer being that it dilutes a hardware discussion, and that users have varying choices & preferences with respect to software.
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June 17, 2013 1:10:07 PM

I don't think I get the target user/application for this form factor and build? When I think small form factors, I'm typically also thinking about low/no noise, low heat, and likely at least a partial focus on media/htpc/fitting into a living room.

Absent those requirements, and given just a generic gaming / productivity box profile, what is gained from the small size and is it worth the sacrifices? Is it mostly about portability for LAN parties and is that really a significant market segment?
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June 17, 2013 1:16:09 PM

Chris Droste said:
It's funny how they presume you have a legitimate free copy of windows sitting around when they do these "budget" builds. last i checked an OEM copy of Windows 7/8 x64 will tack another $100 onto these builds, so unless you're planning on installing Ubuntu and going through the work to get all these games and benchmarks running under linux, this is a "$750" build, and screws your budget...or you could be realistic and adjust your hardware selection appropriately.
Most the time, custom new builds are done as upgrades, meaning you already have an OS from a previous build ( usually the machine you're currently using. ) Otherwise, you'd have to complain about the lack of monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals.
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