Build Guides

Published on January 3rd, 2014 | by Bob


PC Build Guide – January 2014

Welcome to the January 2014 version of our PC build guides. As with before, we have implemented hard price limits ($500, $800, $1300, $1800) on ourselves and have had to make tough decisions with each build. Your personal budget will likely be flexible, but we hope this article will give you a baseline. You can of course spend more or spend less, but you run into a case of diminishing returns at either end. Please keep in mind that pricing information is immediate and may not necessarily reflect real prices by the time you have read this article.

Rising RAM prices and products coming to the end of their life/availability has made this month’s edition of the build guides completely and utterly rage-inducing  a bit difficult. We’re still focusing on your bang-for-the-buck and keeping a clear/quick/easy upgrade path where we can help it. You might note that only the Starter includes an AMD video card this time around, as the 7000 series supply has dried up. The higher-end R9 parts are both scarce and inflated in price, partially due to their popularity with the crypto-currency mining community (gotta make dat_internet_money, after all).

Our Starter build this month focuses on the essentials, allotting almost 30% of the overall budget to the GPU. Climbing prices on the GTX 650 Ti Boost forced our hand to select an R7 260X in order to retain at least 2GB of VRAM, as only GTX 650 1GB cards were in the ballpark. RAM prices limited us to 4GB, which shouldn’t be a huge problem with a bit of responsible memory management. Just keep an eye on the start-up applications, and be careful opening too many browser tabs–how many subreddits do you need to browse at once, anyway?!?

This month, we came across a deal on a solid Z87 board from ASRock carrying the Fatal1ty moniker that we slotted in three out of the four builds. This board supports a wide array of RAM speeds (up to DDR3-2800), includes a Killer E2200 NIC, 2-way SLI/CrossFire support, and a bunch of other great features you can learn about from our buddy Paul at NeweggTV. Please note that this board does not have a legacy PCI slot, and if you need that, this is not the board you’re looking for.

After a bit of discussion, our Professional build this month features the GeForce GTX 780 Ti, rather than an SLI solution. In general, we preach that a single GPU solution is better than dealing with SLI or CrossFire quirks, and a single card will certainly make your life easier should you choose to record or livestream. A non-reference design R9 290X would be an excellent substitution if you could actually find one–hopefully supply will catch up with demand in the coming months. Early reviews of the non-reference 290X designs are extremely positive. Check out these reviews of the ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II and Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X from PC Perspective.


The Starter ($500 maximum)

Part list permalink:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3-3240 ($109.99 @ Newegg)
  • Motherboard: Asus Z77-A ATX LGA1155 ($79.99 @ Newegg)
  • Memory: Kingston HyperX Blu 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3-1600 ($47.99 @ SuperBiiz)
  • Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($59.98 @ OutletPC)
  • Video Card: Asus Radeon R7 260X 2GB ($144.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Case: Antec GX700 ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Newegg)
  • Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W ($19.99 @ Microcenter)

Total: $497.92


The Sweet Spot ($800 maximum)

Part list permalink:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K ($219.99 @ NCIX US)
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper TX3 ($20.70 @ NCIX US)
  • Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z87 Killer ($114.99 @ Newegg)
  • Memory: Kingston Black 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($58.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 760 2GB ($239.99 @ Microcenter)
  • Case: Antec GX700 ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Newegg)
  • Power Supply: EVGA 500W ($34.99 @ NCIX US)

Total: $794.63


The Enthusiast ($1300 maximum)

Part list permalink:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K ($299.99 @ NCIX US)
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO ($29.98 @ OutletPC)
  • Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z87 Killer ATX LGA1150 ($114.99 @ Newegg)
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3-1600 ($134.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5″ SSD ($98.98 @ OutletPC)
  • Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($58.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 4GB ($383.99 @ SuperBiiz)
  • Case: Fractal Design Define R4 (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Microcenter)
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX 750W ($64.99 @ Microcenter)

Total: $1276.89


The Professional ($1800 maximum)

Part list permalink:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K ($299.99 @ NCIX US)
  • CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i ($99.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z87 Killer ($114.99 @ Newegg)
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3-2133 ($156.99 @ Newegg)
  • Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5″ SSD ($160.99 @ Amazon)
  • Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($83.99 @ NCIX US)
  • Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB ($699.99 @ SuperBiiz)
  • Case: Fractal Design Define R4 (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Microcenter)
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM 750W ($89.99 @ Newegg)

Total: $1796.91


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19 Responses to PC Build Guide – January 2014

  1. Wheelzz says:

    Awesome build guides as always.

    Boy, are these RAM prices really spiking, I remember being able to buy 16GB of G.Skill or Corsair 1866 memory for under $90 not all that long ago. Another note on RAM, specifically the Ripjaws X used in these guides, is to take a look st clearance if you’re buying one of these configurations. When using a Hyper 212 (or many other air coolers), you may run into clearance issues between the RAM and the cooling fan if you add another 2 sticks, or if your board uses the first slot when running 2-sticks.

    The RAM clearance issue can be fixed however. If you’re using the Hyper 212 or similar, you could just mount the fan a bit higher. Alternatively, you could also mount the fan on the back of the cooler in a pull position.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Obviously depends on the board. I have an ASUS P8P67 Rev 3.1 where the 120mm fan touches the top of my Ripjaws X. I don’t believe that this would be a problem on the Fatal1ty Z87 Killer judging by the overhead photos.

      • Dex says:

        I solve this problem with the low profile RAM. Corsair has a dedicated series.

        I’m glad that I read the build guide for this month. I’ve had a build stalled for about two weeks while trying to get my hands on a particular MSI gaming motherboard, this Fatal1ty board looks like it could be nearly as good and might allow for the majority of the build to occur. Now I’ve just got to wait for the Litecoin market to stop buying all the video cards…

      • Wheelzz says:

        Definitely, it’s just something for buyers to keep in mind. With my MSI-Z77A-GD65, the fan hangs right over the first slot.

        Did you have to move the fan up with the Ripjaws X or is it a “just fits” case?

  2. SamDropDead says:

    I agree with Wheelzz. I want to add 2 Jetflo fans to my hyper 212 and I may run into problems with my Corsair Vengeance Ram. I would say always stick to some solid low profile ram.

  3. zeitgeist says:

    Just wondering for the $500 budget build, why not Haswell ?

    • Conaer says:

      Not within the $500 budget, but if you want to shell out the extra money for a i3 4330 and a Z87 mobo, go right ahead (It’s a great platform and more future proof). These build guides are guides not rules. Everyone if different =)

  4. Wheelzz says:

    Low Profile RAM is also a lot more these days.

    • Dex says:

      LP RAM is a little more costly if it is specifically labeled as such. Mushkin sells RAM with HUGE SPIKY heatsinks all over their RAM and it still does just fine. It also fits into tight spots, not to mention Silverline is their “low profile” RAM and it is pretty much the same price or very competitive. I know G.Skill is popular now, I believe that Ares is their LP type and the price difference doesn’t seem too intense.

  5. Wheelzz says:

    Also, out of curiosity, why didn’t you opt for the Seagate drive on all builds. I imagine that drive is a bit faster than the WD Blue. I think it’s comparable to a WD Black.

  6. Ugh. Why is ram prices spiking all of a sudden? Either way, great guides as usual. Put this on the homepage of my website.

  7. SOT says:

    Any chance yee could start doing a EU/UK build guide again?

  8. Jason T. says:

    Hi guys Jason here, I would like to say to those going to these build guides to build your pc(obviously) press the link and see the base total to show how much money you have before MIR and promo, which means they aren’t truly the price of below or exactly the number but you should have some extra money in case .

  9. Jason T. says:

    Also for the 800$ I made a new one and such that fits right under the price after MIR and Promo ,

  10. Jason T. says:

    I refrain from my earlier remark i didn’t see that the HDD was gone , is the new one i have made , if you want to get a barracuda or or Caviar is about 8-9 $ so feel free to change it :D

  11. Zepaw says:

    As a complete PC gaming novice this is a fantastic guide. Makes the idea of jumping from consoles to a custom PC much less daunting.

  12. Janus says:

    i am interesting $1300 spec, but wat do you think using
    MSI Z87 GD45 Gaming
    ASUS MAXIMUS VI HERO motherboard
    i personaly like z87 killer but review from kit guru not really good, this is there review

    Multi-core turbo voltage too high for stock levels.
    Forced to manually adjust offset voltages when overclocking.
    Fan header distribution could be better.

    i want to build a gaming pc, pls guide me which motherboard i should take…

  13. Janus says:

    how about change to MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX for gaming ?

  14. Janus says:

    pls guide me how to build msi z87 mpower max, for gaming budget around $1400 pls.tq



One of the founding fathers of KBMOD, and an unfortunate casualty of real life responsibilities. An IT professional by trade, and an elitist by choice.

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