Case, Power Supply, And Optical Drive
Case: Rosewill Redbone U3 ATX Mid Tower
This quarter, I'm free to pick whatever case I want without sacrificing performance-oriented parts. But I'm still inclined to believe that most gamers building on a budget don't dedicate more than 10% or so of their funding to the chassis. So, I aimed at options priced at $50 and less.
Rosewill's Redbone U3 may seem larger than it needs to be for our microATX motherboard and modest collection of components. However, the extra space will be put to good use in keeping our overclocked CPU and graphics card cooler.
Read Customer Reviews of Rosewill's REDBONE U3 Case (opens in new tab)
The Redbone can accommodate up to five 120 mm fans, and it comes with three already installed. Plus, given the extra space inside, heat build-up from cable clutter can be minimized without spending extra on a modular power supply (like we did last quarter). In short, the Redbone should help us safely extract a little more performance without additional cooling.
Power Supply: EVGA 100-W1-0430-KR 430 W
Though we haven’t reviewed EVGA’s most budget-friendly 100-W1-0430-KR power supply, we know it has an active PFC and is 80 PLUS-certified, falling just shy of Bronze efficiency levels. It’s rated at 430 W, employs one 34 A, +12 V rail, and includes a 6+2-pin lead for powering our graphics card. Fully-sleeved cables are a nice addition, while the three-year warranty is respectable for a low-cost unit.
Read Customer Reviews of EVGA's 100-W1-0430-KR Power Supply (opens in new tab)
I'm guessing that our system's power supply output demands will remain under 250 W, so this PSU should have no issue meeting our needs. There's even plenty of reserves for our overclocking endeavors.
Optical Drive: Asus 24x DVD Burner DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS
Although many folks don't consider an optical drive necessary, we're inclined to believe that they still come in handy occasionally. It’s a subjective call, so we changed our rules and made it so the inclusion of an optical drive wouldn't chew into our budget for performance-oriented parts.
This 24x Asus model is both popular and well-rated on Newegg.
Read Customer Reviews of Asus' DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD Burner (opens in new tab)
The reason why I ask is that budget builders, if they do choose to upgrade anything, typically upgrade RAM (due to the extreme ease at which it can be installed). This way, as they save their pennies they can make the jump from 4 GB to 8 GB while still having the better graphics card that should serve them a bit better and longer than the one in the current system.
Hopefully next time we will get the see the G3258 in the budget gaming rig since even Tom's own article showed the 3258 pretty much destroying the 750k in games across the board . . . or maybe AMD could come up with something that's actually worth buying over other offerings?
Actually, you are right on target. This is a big decision for budget-buyers to consider. And here is where I was most torn also. For me it somewhat comes down to current market prices. The way they rise and fall you may grab an 8GB kit later on for the price of a 4GB kit now. Though the reverse has already happened too. We bought 8GB kits for way less in the past. If budget/funding forced me under R7-260X, I'd have dropped to 4GB.
In this SBM series we run our benchmark workloads from the HDD, not RAM Drive, so it (dropping to 4GB)wouldn't show up in our benchmark charts much at all (beyond a few apps, tops). Yet jumping to R9 270 would have yielded notable gains in frame rates, and even offered higher max playable settings. Yet it also feels like a bit of a cheat on my part; a benchmark win, yet also a "daily livability" loss.
IMO computing life with 4GB isn't as productive or enjoyable. Stuttering or hitching in games, lengthened time just to exit games or switch between tasks, and even web browsing slowing to a crawl when too many tabs are open.
I got in the habit of outfitting 8GB when RAM was more affordable, especially when the entry-level mobo in use is limited to two sticks. This one supports four, so starting with 4GB becomes more practical. There's some potential for compatibility issues when adding very different memory kits. (single-sided+dual-sided) But nothing I'd worry too much about.
I'd say budget builders more than anyone should consider building in steps. That's one good reason to build rather than buy. Be it the mobo, CPU, Graphics, PSU, RAM, It's nice know part(s) of your platform has/have staying power, even if you can't afford to do it all well, right from the start.
While I most certainly understand what you are saying, considering the double post directly above it, I'd also like to reiterate budget builders are the ones who should probably MOST consider the upgrade path. If you can afford to hit the upper-mainstream now across the board, fine. You may likely be happy for a few years until your next build. Or at least you'd have the platform to stay with a GPU upgrade, if desired.
But if you can't, then why settle for the disposable platform mentality and not consider advantaging upgrade potential into your plan? Remember some folks aren't keen on starting over with a fresh OS all to often. A large CPU bump while retaining the mobo, can be a huge plus for those who always feel they lack free time. Starting with a Pentium and later popping in Core i7 has huge lasting potential for those short on cash only, but not in computing desires. For my son, I even started with Celeron so he could build his own with me, and now that rig outfits i5-2500K, and the Celeron ported over to a cheap office PC. It was part of the plan all along, but the cheap chip got us up and running quicker within my budget. Best of all, it only took me minutes to upgrade.