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System Builder Marathon Q3 2015: Gaming PC

Introduction

System Builder Marathon Q3 2015

Here are links to each of the five articles in this quarter’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

  1. $800 AMD Mini PC
  2. $800 Gaming PC
  3. $800 Prosumer PC
  4. System Value Compared

Gaming PC

I'm fairly new to Tom's Hardware, with only a handful of articles under my belt. However, that didn't stop Thomas from asking if I wanted to give it a go on this quarter's System Builder Marathon. I've got a strong background in IT, with experience as both a systems administrator and as an independent contractor. A good part of my independent work has involved me spec'ing and building systems for clients, so I'm not exactly new to the build. After getting the rules and budget from Thomas, I was ready to get to work.

This quarter, Thomas, Eric, and I are all building $800 systems, well $700, with the remaining money reserved for the operating system. Additionally, there isn't any particular purpose that these machines are required to fulfill, meaning they aren't specifically supposed to be gaming- or workstation-oriented systems, for example. Rather, the goal is simply to take the budget given and build the "best" machines we can, benchmark them, and then compare their performance and value. Thomas chose to build something more workstation-oriented, while I went the opposite direction and built a rig better suited for gaming. Eric chose to break away from the pack and build something vaguely gaming-oriented, but with an AMD processor.

Price wise, I think that $800 (with OS) is a good target for any budget-oriented build. It's just enough money for a gaming rig that will push decent settings on most current games at high resolutions but can also be upgraded in the future, all without breaking the bank. 

  • Platform Cost: $620
  • Total Hardware Cost: $700
  • Complete System Price: $800
  • envy14tpe
    For gaming and for $800, this is an excellent build. As we saw in the AMD build, the 860k can limit in some games, and going i3 is a pure solid choice. Also, a 380 will max out most games at 1080p. Great choices and to hell with the whiners.
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    While many H81, 87, 97, and B85 boards support unofficial overclocking, they're primarily limited to just CPU multiplier and voltage. Only Z boards let you fiddle with the BCLK to take the locked i3 any higher. The ASRock Z97M Pro4 might have been an alternative if you put the TX3 money toward it. However, you are right that a few hundred MHz more don't make a big difference in most daily computing.

    Also, your particular board may "technically" support CFX, but that bottom slot is only PCIe 2.0 x4 and will severely handicap any second GPU you add.

    But still a good, efficient build nonetheless. Your build will definitely cream mine in the productivity benchmarks come Wednesday.
    Reply
  • Bossyfins
    The main reason the EVGA 500w get a lot of hate by users, including me, is because XFX makes a higher quality, made by seasonic to be exact, for about 10-15$ more. I would, and probably many others would choose to pay an extra mere 15$ than have a potential burn out of all components. Other than the PSU, solid part selections.
    Reply
  • Tomtompiper
    Is it just me or is the System Builder Marathon Q3 2015: AMD Mini PC faster than this in most games? This would fit in with the "save on the processor and go big on the GPU philosophy. Also I believe it is time to throw in a multitasking benchmark, seldom do I encode or game an leave the machine running that one task, I'm gaming while streaming videos or encoding while surfing the web or streaming videos or both.
    Reply
  • kinney
    This is good. I do love that i3 and 380 combo. Until AMD shows a rebound in their business though, I'd probably avoid them to reduce chances of ending up with unsupported product. A 970 would be ideal.
    A 380 or 970 is pretty much all most of us really need. The PC market is mature and has been for some time, spending on top end hardware doesn't make sense any longer. I'm waiting for KabyLake which should have enough graphics performance for my MOBA and other competitive gaming needs. Unless you're looking at buying into VR in which case a PS4+Morpheus needs to be considered.
    Reply
  • Marko Ravnjak
    Do we still need a dvd in each box? :)
    Reply
  • M515k4
    This is the way I build gaming PCs for friends. Agreed with HDD vs SDD part. I would only use some smaller case.
    Reply
  • ykki
    For gaming and for $800, this is an excellent build. As we saw in the AMD build, the 860k can limit in some games, and going i3 is a pure solid choice.

    Though in the AMD build you can get a cpu cooler later down the road and OC the 860k.
    Reply
  • filippi
    16696672 said:
    For gaming and for $800, this is an excellent build. As we saw in the AMD build, the 860k can limit in some games, and going i3 is a pure solid choice.

    Though in the AMD build you can get a cpu cooler later down the road and OC the 860k.

    This for me is the Intel main advantage: FM2 upgrade path is a 3rd party cpu cooler + overclock.
    Haswell upgrade path is an i5/i7/xeon.
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    i would love to see the amd build from yesterday overclocked just for the academics of it. give it away as is but since you don't normally have such a system in the comparisons, why not cool it right and oc it just to see how it does with the 970.

    again just for the academics of it more than anything. just curious how it would hold up to this i3 build.

    but overall nice build, i even don't mind the evga psu. it's not as bad as folks want it ot be. it has reviewed very well and is solid for it's proper uses. though i am not so sure about it being capable of a second 380. i'd go with a bit better psu for that.
    Reply