Graphics Card And Hard Drive
Graphics Card: Gigabyte Radeon R9 280X GV-R928XOC-3GD
The desire to grab a powerful Radeon R9 280X for $300 was what prompted me to ask for a higher budget. It was hard to accept that the Radeon HD 7950 was my cap when the near-equivalent of a Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition was within my grasp for $50 more.
Unfortunately, right around the same time, crypto-currency miners rushed the market after figuring out how well Hawaii- and Tahiti-based boards generated Litecoins. Suddenly, 280X cards were selling for at least $100 more, and that's where they continue to sit today. As I write this, our money would be better spent on a GeForce GTX 770.
Read Customer Reviews of Gigabyte's Radeon R9 280X
As you're probably aware from Chris Angelini’s AMD Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X, And R7 260X: Old GPUs, New Names, the 280X isn't really new. In stock form, it’s equivalent to a Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition with a lower core clock rate. But it employs a full Tahiti GPU with 2048 Stream processors, 128 texture units, 32 ROPs, and 3 GB of GDDR5 memory on an aggregate 384-bit memory bus. Our model from Gigabyte offers an overclocked 1100 MHz frequency ceiling.
Hard Drive: Western Digital Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB
Western Digital’s Blue-series 1 TB hard drive gives us ample capacity and performance at a price I could work into my budget.
This SATA 6Gb/s-compatible disk sports a 64 MB data cache, a 7200 RPM spindle, and a limited two-year warranty.
Read Customer Reviews of Western Digital's Blue 1 TB Hard Drive
Not all countries have good internet infrastructure. If that wasn't the case Microsoft wouldn't have to reverse its policies on the X1. Another thing is retail game DVDs costs very less in my country. For example, Bioshock Infinite costs only 15.97$ 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.