Motherboard And Memory
Motherboard: ASRock Z75 Pro3
Based on the relatively unknown Z75 Express chipset, ASRock's Z75 Pro3 introduces some enthusiast-class functionality at a price point that fits within our budget. In essence, this platform is identical to the company's Z77 Pro3, minus support for Intel's Smart Response Technology. And of course there's that more affordable price tag.
Most important to us is that, armed with the Z75 Express PCH, it should let us ratchet up our processor's clock rate and memory data rate.
Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's Z75 Pro3
Both this Pro3-series board and the one based on Z77 Express include a single 16-lane PCIe 3.0-capable slot, one PCI Express x16 slot limited to x4 transfers at second-gen signaling rates, a PCI Express x1 slot, and two PCI slots.
Four DIMM slots support up to 32 GB of DDR3 memory in a dual-channel configuration, with overclocking as high as 2,800 MT/s. Other on-board features include a pair of SATA 6Gb/s connectors, four SATA 3Gb/s connectors, and internal headers for two USB 3.0 and six USB 2.0 ports. Rear I/O connectivity includes two more USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 port, Ethernet, display outputs, and audio jacks.
Memory: 8 GB Team Vulcan DDR3-1600 TLBD38G1600HC9DC01
Our plan to better the $650 Gaming PC involved dumping extra funds into its processor and graphics hardware, without sacrificing memory or storage. Getting the job done required 8 GB of affordable memory, and this dual-channel kit from Team Vulcan was one of the least-expensive options. Its XMP settings are set to DDR3-1600 with CL9-9-9-24 timings at 1.5 V.
Read Customer Reviews of Team Vulcan's 8 GB DDR3-1600 Memory Kit
Not all countries have good internet infrastructure. If that wasn't the case Microsoft wouldn't have to reverse its policies on the X1. Another thing is retail game DVDs costs very less in my country. For example, Bioshock Infinite costs only 15.97$ at launch date. If I were to buy it through Steam at launch date it would have cost me 59.99$
I know that the writers of "best CPUs" for the money always make a huge fuss about how "oh, you save 7W (or however much it is) by not having the on-board graphics", but I still think it's worth keeping, for if your discrete card gives out on you. My PC buggered up installing my graphics drivers once, and if it weren't for my intel "backup" GPU, my rig would have been bricked.
For us, both were available from Newegg at a $10 difference. Either is fine. I chose the -3350P back for the Q1 $600 Gaming PC, and it's OC was limited to 3.5-3.7 GHz with this same Z75 Pro3 mobo. But I actually prefer the -3470 at these prices for reasons stated in the text (higher clocks and backup HD 2500 graphics). It fit in under budget, and its higher Turbo limit provide a 300 MHz boost across the board (3.8-4.0 GHz) when overclocking. That right there is worth $10 in an SBM where value equals a straight bang for buck calculation.
My own thoughts on this one are mixed. I like to see the challenge of a lower budget. This $800 PC was quite good, however. With the focus on gaming this SBM cycle, this one looks like a shoe-in for value winner. I don't see what two or three times the budget will buy that can offer similar multiples of performance, especially that will be visible in actual use.
That said, for my own uses, I'd take the "High" to "Max" settings in my games that a GTX650Ti Boost would offer, and put the balance into a SSD.
I currently just built a "budget" machine for my son which ended up close to $850. That build was using an Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 Micro ATX AM3+ motherboard, AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz to (O.C. to 4.3GHz @ 38 C), w/ an Enermax ETS-T40-TB 86.7 CFM CPU Cooler.
What I wanted had to be tempered with what I could squeeze into the budget so a new Asus Radeon R7 260X 2GB Video Card was put in for now. A WD Caviar (Blue) 1TB drive was put in for storage, G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory and a Corsair CX 500W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply to make it all run. Windows 8.1 was installed and the case is a nice looking Corsair 350D case.
My working theory is this rig will run well now and a new video card, better CPU cooler with a faster stronger CPU and an SSD down the road are all manageable upgrades that could keep this machine running good, playable frame rates for several years down the road.
There is always more than one way to skin a cat and to me this was the least amount I would build with.