A Build for Nimrod

Hey, Nimrod, your build is ready!

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Build Overview

Goals

Full upgrade on existing system (Ivy Bridge @ GTX 970). High-end gaming setup with nods to video editing and high-quality audio.  Budget range $1500+.  Windows 10 running on AMD architecture.  No emphasis on overclocking or aesthetic design.

Price

$1513.80 at the time of posting.  Prices change constantly and rapidly in the world of PC parts.  Take your time to shop each piece for the best deal.  If you’re making substitutions, consider all specs for the item.

 

Build Details

Nimrod, I’d be happy to help bring your PC to the modern era.  For reference, the existing build’s specs can be found here.

All things considered, the only internal part we’ll be keeping is the storage drive.  The current drive running Windows will not be running Windows in our new system and will be instead converted to a basic storage drive.  The reason we’re ditching the current backbone is because of the change in IC architecture (Intel to AMD), as well as to get us on a more modern chipset that will give us things like DDR4 memory, which will help out our video editing goal.  It’s always a sad story to ditch so much from a previous rig, but do keep in mind that each component can be sold second-hand with things like LetGo, Facebook, eBay, etc. Your GTX 970 will sell for a pretty penny.  This also goes for your current monitors.  Ultimately, it’s up to you if you want to keep the monitors you have, but in this particular situation, I say sell them and go with the upgrade I’ll mention below.

All right, so let’s talk new and shiny!  We’re aiming for an all-around build, so an AMD CPU is a no-brainer.  Let’s go Ryzen 5 1600.  That will attach to our MSI board with an AMD B350 chipset.  This chipset will keep our price low while only sacrificing multi-GPU support.

Speaking of GPU, since we’ve got such a meaty budget, let’s jump straight to a 1070 Ti (EVGA 8GB SC GAMING).  It’s no surprise that the GPU market is at an all-time high as we still shudder at the crisis that is Cryptocurrency, which is why I didn’t jump all the way up to the GTX 1080.  This card in particular will soften the budget blow just enough to widen our options further.

For memory, we’ll go mid-tier and grab 16GB  (2 x 8) of some DDR4-2666 ADATA RAM.  Nothing fancy, and just fast enough to help out with video editing.

Onto storage.  Since we’ll be bringing over the 1 TB internal HDD, we can easily spring for an M.2 SSD.  I went with Western Digital’s Blue 500GB stick with some great performance for our Windows host drive.  This will be the primary boot drive; you will install Windows 10 here.  Since you are already licensed for Windows 10 on your existing drive, check out this how-to guide on how to transfer the license over to the new stick.  If, for some reason, the transfer doesn’t work, don’t sweat it.  Windows 10 can be bought on the cheap over at Kinguin.

While I didn’t make aesthetics and design a huge bullet point for this build, I did see a nice $10 rebate on the stunning and high-rated Phanteks ECLIPSE mid tower case.  I mean, who does builds in 2018 that don’t have tempered glass panels?

Rounding out internals, I grabbed a nice Corsair power supply sporting 80+ gold and semi-modularity.

Now that the tower’s done, let’s talk about our last two additions to this build.  Since we’ve got our amazing 1070 Ti and everything, let’s put it to work with a 1440p monitor.  Aww yeah!  The Acer K272HUL will be a perfect compliment to this build, giving us 27″ of 1440p @ 60 Hz.  Honestly, if you were to dump more money into this build, you could even go for an ultrawide 1440p here (although in doing so, you may need to drop in-game quality to achieve 60 FPS, depending on the game).

To give a nod to our high-end audio requirement, what better way to do so than with Sennheiser.  The G4ME ZERO headset is towards the tip-top of gaming headsets and absolutely cannot disappoint.

 

Build Summary

Pros

All-around stunning performance for both high-end gaming and professional usage.  Ample room to grow and expand without needing another full upgrade for quite some time.

Cons

Particularly for video editing, I often gun for 32 GB, but prices are just too high to do so right now (and this can always be aimed for later).  With the money it would take to double the memory, why not go Ryzen 7 instead?  Total storage is a little on the low side; perhaps an additional HDD would help out.  Stock cooling could be replaced for both overclocking capability and aesthetics.  Not upgrading keyboard, mouse, and standard speakers.

A Build for Carlie

Hey, Carlie, your build is ready!

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Build Overview

Goals

Traditional budget gaming setup, starting from scratch with existing headphones and TV.  Budget range $500 to $800.  The preferred design is Purple.  Windows 10 running on any architecture.  Emphasis on future independence for upgrades.

Price

$778.75 at the time of posting.  Prices change constantly and rapidly in the world of PC parts.  Take your time to shop each piece for the best deal.  If you’re making substitutions, consider all specs for the item.

Build Details

Budget gaming rigs are entirely the reason my PC build assistance is offered in the first place, so I’m more than happy to accommodate.  Today, I went deals-first to showcase the lowest possible price while being able to maintain a nice wow factor in a few items.  Let’s get started.

Since future upgrades will be emphasized, we can pinch pennies by going with a 1060.  Even with only 3 GB, Zotac’s mini card will get us to consistent 1080p60 gaming.

To host the card, let’s go with a Ryzen 3 1300X to continue keeping the price low without bottlenecking.  We can host that on the conveniently-priced ASRock AB350 Pro4.  I just used this board in a build yesterday, and I bought it for my own upgrade project, just because it’s a fantastic backbone that is both cheap (thanks to a Newegg rebate) and full of upgrade potential.

Let’s slap 8 GB of DDR-2133 from Crucial on there as well.  Just enough for gaming, and dual-channel to make room for other standard PC tasks.

Again, I unfortunately find myself short-handed in providing an SSD to host Windows.  Money’s tight these days, yo!  Can’t blame ya, I’m right there with ya!  But we did snag 2 TB on a traditional Hitachi HDD.

To expound on our design, I went with NZXT’s high-rated S340 case, this time in White Matte + Purple bracketing.  Looks stunning, even for the most budgeted builds, and not to mention the roomy interior for future upgrades.

Rounding out our internal build, we’ve got a killer deal on an 80+ Bronze PSU from EVGA, coming in at only $12 before shipping.  We’ll also throw in Kinguin’s super-low price for our Windows 10 license.

Okay, moving onto peripherals.  I actually started this build out with an amazing headphone set from Philips, which is $100 off today.  I kept it in right until the end, and decided the money would be better spent where it counts, specifically due to the fact that headphones are already available for the build.

On the other hand, the TV has to go.  Response time on a gaming monitor just can’t be shuddered away, so I went with Acer’s 24″ 1080p60 monitor, which is again from yesterday’s build.  Pair that with a budget mechanical keyboard and mouse, and we’re all done here.

 

Build Summary

Pros

Our console crusher build takes care of our 1080p60 needs while also being featured in an eye-candy case.  Everything’s here for a great gaming experience: GTX 1060, up-to-date architectures, low response time on our monitor, and a mechanical keyboard.  EZ PZ.  The board and case go on to offer great room for some easy-to-make upgrades when the budget becomes available.

Cons

With a low budget comes setbacks to our equipment quality.  Our CPU is on the low end of the spectrum.  We’re missing an SSD, and our peripherals could use some extra money to become even better.  The 1060’s great, but in no way is it the brass ring for PCMR gaming.  8 GB for our memory is, especially in this day and age, a little short-handed for us multitaskers.

A Build for Cain

Hey, Cain, your build is ready!

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Build Overview

Goals

Wide-spectrum purpose machine, starting from scratch with no existing peripherals.  Budget range $800 to $1000.  The preferred design is Black.  Windows 10 running on any architecture. Use case will cover a wide variety of gaming and professional editing.  Media center usage and high-quality audio should also be emphasized.  Future upgrade path opportunities strongly emphasized.

Price

$991.51 at the time of posting.  Prices change constantly and rapidly in the world of PC parts.  Take your time to shop each piece for the best deal.  If you’re making substitutions, consider all specs for the item.

Build Details

America.  The land of opportunity.  No matter what shitty politicians lead our country, that’s what we’re founded on.  And with that egregious promise comes the simple idea that a man deserves the right to a good PC.  A PC that can do a wide variety of things – play kick-ass games, make and play back kick-ass jams, watch and edit kick-ass HD movies at kick-ass HD resolutions – and sure, we’re all in different funding brackets.  My job is to simply build the best kick-ass machine for whatever your wallet can afford, and god dammit, that’s what I’m gonna do.

Now if you’ll allow me to step off this soap box, we’ll get started with this wide-spectrum build from scratch.  We’ve only got a grand to work with, too.  We’ll be cutting it pretty tight to fit what we can into our tiny budget, so we’ll have to optimize each and every piece where we can do so.

Our main goal here is to build a foundation.  Since it’s wide spectrum, I’ve gotta go Ryzen on this one.  To keep our budget opportunities as wide as possible, let’s go with Ryzen 3.  We’re gonna have to use that stock cooler, too.

Today was a good day for deals.  So good, in fact, that I picked up a motherboard for myself today!  I sit around a build tons of PCs for people, and rarely do I get to practice what I preach.  The board I picked up today – ASRock’s AB350 Pro4 – just so happens to be the perfect build for both my backbone upgrade and this build!  This board will perfectly marry the parts I have in mind.

On that board, let’s attach 16 GB of GeIL’s DDR4-2133 and reap the benefits of dual channel RAM.  We’ll spend a little bit more to use dual-channel config (2 x 8 GB), since the professional uses – video editing in particular – will see some big advantages to this.

While I wanted to go with the usual SSD + HDD hybrid setup, it just isn’t going to happen today with the budget, but we can pick up a huge slice of storage – 2 TB today – at a decent price for a traditional HDD.

While gaming is still, of course, a huge bullet point here, I wanted to focus a little more on backbone.  The remaining budget should sit pretty if we go with a GTX 1060.  I went with our cheapest 1060 option today, which is EVGA’s 6 GB GAMING model.

As with all boards that emphasize future upgrading, I like to spend a little more on a case.  I spotted an opportunity for a rebate, so I landed on the classic and high-rated NZXT S340, which give us plenty of room to expand later while also knocking out the sleek black design that was requested.  Powering our rig will be yet another rebate-fueled option on our PSU.  SeaSonic had a nice deal today which featured both 80+ Bronze and full modularity – not too shabby at $40.

Because we’ve pinched so many pennies, we can splurge on our human interface.  Since we picked up a 1060, let’s pair that with a 1080p monitor from Acer.  24″ and 60 Hz can’t be frowned upon, especially if it’s also sporting a 5ms response time – perfect for gaming.

While it not might be the highest of the high, our audio quality can still be cheesed with a decent 5.1 channel set from Logitech.  Pair that with a decent mechanical keyboard and a great optical mouse and we’ve got everything we need to pass for a great 1080p gaming station.

Rounding out our price is a licence for Windows 10.  And that’s all there is to it.

Build Summary

Pros

The foundation has been set for a great 1080p60 rig.  Both the board and case give Cain everything he needs to set his foot in the always-open PCMR door.  From here on out, Cain can do as he pleases to upgrade and better his experience in whatever direction he desires.

Cons

Like all builds done from scratch, a lot of money has to be fronted to peripherals, which leaves us with a less-than-desirable budget to fund backbone and gaming performance.  Many options exist to push performance higher, especially for CPU and GPU.  Our storage is one-sided and could benefit from an SSD.  Or how about an M.2 drive instead?  Whatever sound decision is made, at least the backbone will support it.