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System Builder Marathon Q3 2015: Prosumer 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

Prosumer PC

What does the word “Performance” mean to a hardware enthusiast? Some of us really do run engineering, animation or high-end video editing software at home. Others just play games, but many users do both. And to top that off, there are quite a few gamers out there that just don’t know hardware. That’s why it’s always a little annoying when someone looks at a general-performance build, calls it a gaming machine, and asks why we didn’t sacrifice the CPU for a better GPU. Placing “Prosumer” in this month’s title should clear up that confusion, though that workstation-approximate term loses some of its meaning when a more-expensive system is designed with the best of both markets in mind.

Satisfying both markets isn’t a problem for builders with only $700 to spend on hardware. That budget only enables this month’s builds to serve either as a low-end workstation or mainstream gaming machine. Yet knowing that last statement to be realistic hasn’t prevented me from at least trying to put a little gaming power into this month’s general-purpose PC.

  • Platform Cost: $656
  • Total Hardware Cost: $700
  • Complete System Price: $800

My apologies to the pros who just spilled their coffee, but I had to cut $40 out of the DRAM budget just to build basic gaming capability into this machine. Games do make up an important part of our overall benchmark set. And if I’m being this forthcoming, I’d might as well confess to the fact that I’ve put used cases into my own budget builds in order to avoid purchasing anything made this cheaply.

In other words, the screwball choices in this build are all geared towards winning the value title. Will it work?

  • Blueberries
    What is a prosumer and why is there no SSD?
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    You fit in a Skylake CPU? Bravo, sir!

    16700788 said:
    What is a prosumer
    A portmanteau combining "Professional" and "Consumer" usually describing the type of person that gets paid for a hobby. Someone who has requirements beyond that of the typical consumer, but not so high as a dedicated professional.

    16700788 said:
    and why is there no SSD?
    Read the whole article. It's explained there.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16700796 said:
    You fit in a Skylake CPU? Bravo, sir!

    16700788 said:
    What is a prosumer
    A portmanteau combining "Professional" and "Consumer" usually describing the type of person that gets paid for a hobby. Someone who has requirements beyond that of the typical consumer, but not so high as a dedicated professional.

    16700788 said:
    and why is there no SSD?
    Read the whole article. It's explained there.

    Wow, and you pulled out portmanteau? Bravo to you, sir! And to everyone in the stadium, welcome to the first onstage meeting of Tom's Hardware Mutual Admiration Society.
    Reply
  • chalabam
    Any money spend in a DVD burner is money wasted.

    You shouldn't buy a DVD burner until you actually need it.

    Most software is either downloadable, or stored on HD, or capable of being copied to a USB stick.
    Reply
  • Neat-O man
    There should be a bargain prosumer that hits all the check marks. I built a FX-8320e @4.5Ghz (very small voltage bump, max 54c after two hours of prime95) with a Cooler Master HYPER T4, 16GB ddr3 1866 cas 9, 850 EVO 250GB ssd, TWO Toshiba 2TB drives in soft RAID-1 (smart UPS is a must in that case), EVGA 430 watt PSU, 750 Ti (over clocks like a monster), and last... Cooler Master Silencio 352. $800 with tax (before OS). It is used for simple Photoshop and business things, honestly... over kill

    Yeah, even with AMD CPU lol... but holy carp was i surprised when i overclocked the FX-8320e compared to a FX-8320 i did three years ago when it came out. Runs super cool and stable for an AMD chip.
    Reply
  • Neat-O man
    16700962 said:
    Any money spend in a DVD burner is money wasted.

    You shouldn't buy a DVD burner until you actually need it.

    Most software is either downloadable, or stored on HD, or capable of being copied to a USB stick.

    That's true.. ish. What if you have some specialized software that you can't find anymore and you only have the CD/DVD that you forgot to transfer to pure digital... than a $15 investment isn't such a bad idea. And a well stored CD/DVD that you did NOT make yourself (pressed in a factory) or M-Disc will outlast most HDD/SSD drives because of bit rot, unless you have a good ZFS setup and swap out the drives when necessary.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16700962 said:
    Any money spend in a DVD burner is money wasted.

    You shouldn't buy a DVD burner until you actually need it.

    Most software is either downloadable, or stored on HD, or capable of being copied to a USB stick.
    Not for most people using this for their first build. The winner might even be in that position, as stated in the article.

    Please don't let those annoying facts get in the way of your eloquently-expressed opinion :)

    On the other hand, we'll probably make the switch to Win10 in Q1, so you don't have to tolerate this measure of practicality much longer.
    Reply
  • daveys93
    16700962 said:
    Any money spend in a DVD burner is money wasted.

    You shouldn't buy a DVD burner until you actually need it.

    Most software is either downloadable, or stored on HD, or capable of being copied to a USB stick.
    Not for most people using this for their first build. The winner might even be in that position, as stated in the article.

    Please don't let those annoying facts get in the way of your eloquently-expressed opinion :)

    On the other hand, we'll probably make the switch to Win10 in Q1, so you don't have to tolerate this measure of practicality much longer.

    Windows 8.1 can be downloaded to a USB drive right from the Microsoft website:

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/create-reset-refresh-media

    If you obtained one of those "cheap Windows license" codes that was mentioned in the article for the lucky recipients of these machines and included it with Windows 8.1 on a cheap 4GB USB drive (if you are thrifty these can be obtained for $2 or less), you could forgo the antiquated optical drive, allowing this rounds builders to use the hardware and cases they really wanted. It would also free up some budget space since "cheap Windows license" codes are ~ $25 - $50.
    Reply
  • SCREAM2NIGHT
    16700962 said:
    Any money spend in a DVD burner is money wasted.

    You shouldn't buy a DVD burner until you actually need it.

    Most software is either downloadable, or stored on HD, or capable of being copied to a USB stick.
    Not for most people using this for their first build. The winner might even be in that position, as stated in the article.

    Please don't let those annoying facts get in the way of your eloquently-expressed opinion :)

    On the other hand, we'll probably make the switch to Win10 in Q1, so you don't have to tolerate this measure of practicality much longer.

    I use my DVD drive to play older games.
    Reply
  • ykki
    This is a really nice build. You stuck to a strong processor, din't go overkill on the gpu and got a "sufficient" psu.

    Also Tom's for q4 can we get a limited budget "no holds barred" where the contestants can do anything to anything to win. Threr sould be no constraints like what parts have to be compulsory (like this quarter's ODD). How 'bout it?
    Reply