Build Guides

Published on February 27th, 2015 | by Bob

5

PC Build Guide – February 2015

Welcome to the (late) February version of our PC build guides. As always, 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.

Late is better than never, right? Right? This month we see some interesting movement in the GPU market, as AMD and nvidia have settled into their lineups. We also see some nice price relief in the form of mid-to-high quality power supplies on sale and rebate.

Our $500 build manages to include a Radeon R9 280 3GB on a great deal from NCIX US. Under normal circumstances, we might have had to substitute a GTX750ti, but as you can see, the R9 280 bests it handily. The board selected there IS Crossfire ready, should you choose to later add another R9 280 (you’d probably need to upgrade your PSU at that point). It’s also primed and ready for your potential upgrade from that 2-core-4-thread i3-4150 to a 4-core-8-thread i7-4970k. All in all, a great starter build with plenty of upgrade potential into the enthusiast space.

We’ve managed to squeeze a GTX970 in to the $800 build this month, thanks to a couple of generous sales and rebates on other parts. Our hard budget prevented the addition of an aftermarket cooler, though remember the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO usually hangs around $30 and is an upgrade that’s well worth it if you plan on overclocking. It does carry over the GA-Z97-HD3 from the $500 build, which unfortunately is not SLI-ready. There are, however, SLI-ready options for just a wee bit more (*shakes fist at hard price limits*) – as always, we recommend that you buy the most powerful single-card GPU solution that you can afford rather than attempting SLI or Crossfire.

The $1300 build includes the i7-4790k, an NZXT Kraken X31 closed loop liquid cooler, double the RAM, a 250GB SSD, a GTX970 with one of the best aftermarket air coolers available, a much larger power supply, and the sleek NZXT S340 chassis. The motherboard IS SLI-ready, should you choose to later go that route.

That brings us to our $1800 build, which finally goes X99 and DDR4. It also includes a GTX980 (had to) and a 2TB WD Caviar BLACK series storage drive. Once again this build is in the NZXT S340 – what can I say, I’m in love with the coco S340.

The Starter ($500 maximum)

CPU Intel Core i3-4150 3.5GHz Dual-Core Processor ($104.75 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97-HD3 ATX LGA1150 ($82.98 @ Newegg)
Memory G.Skill AEGIS 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 ($60.98 @ Newegg)
Storage Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($51.89 @ OutletPC)
Video Card PowerColor Radeon R9 280 3GB TurboDuo ($153.99 @ NCIX US)
Case Thermaltake VL80001W2Z ATX Mid Tower Case ($19.99 @ Micro Center)
Power Supply EVGA 500W ($24.99 @ NCIX US)
Total $499.57

The Sweet Spot ($800 maximum)

CPU Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($219.75 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97-HD3 ATX LGA1150 ($82.98 @ Newegg)
Memory G.Skill AEGIS 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 ($60.98 @ Newegg)
Storage Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($51.89 @ OutletPC)
Video Card Zotac GeForce GTX 970 4GB ($319.99 @ Amazon)
Case NZXT Source 210 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($37.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Power Supply EVGA 500W ($24.99 @ NCIX US)
Total $798.57

The Enthusiast ($1300 maximum)

CPU Intel Core i7-4790K 4.0GHz Quad-Core Processor ($318.98 @ OutletPC)
CPU Cooler NZXT Kraken X31 69.5 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($72.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97X-SLI ATX LGA1150 ($101.98 @ Newegg)
Memory Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 ($124.99 @ Amazon)
Storage Samsung 850 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5″ SSD ($118.98 @ OutletPC)
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($51.89 @ OutletPC)
Video Card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 4GB WINDFORCE 3X ($338.99 @ NCIX US)
Case NZXT S340 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($67.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Power Supply Corsair RM 750W 80+ Gold ($99.99 @ Amazon)
Total $1296.78

The Professional ($1800 maximum)

CPU Intel Core i7-5820K 3.3GHz 6-Core Processor ($369.88 @ OutletPC)
CPU Cooler NZXT Kraken X31 69.5 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($72.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-X99-UD3 ATX LGA2011-3 ($193.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR4-2666 ($209.99 @ Amazon)
Storage Samsung 850 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5″ SSD ($118.98 @ OutletPC)
Western Digital BLACK SERIES 2TB 3.5″ 7200RPM ($124.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 4GB WINDFORCE 3X ($532.00 @ Directron)
Case NZXT S340 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($67.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Power Supply Corsair RM 750W 80+ Gold ($99.99 @ Amazon)
Total $1790.80

Like? Dislike? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


5 Responses to PC Build Guide – February 2015

  1. BOSS jediZOHAN says:

    The $800 build is ungodly!

  2. Hexidecimal says:

    I love the new formatting of using tables for each build and the buttons that link to PCPartPicker. Nice build guides this month.

  3. notnitro says:

    Cooling options would be nice. but remain optional

  4. Anthony Ramirez says:

    Gigabyte GA-Z97-HD3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard has an onboard USB 3.0 header, but the NZXT Source 210 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case does not have front panel USB 3.0 ports, is that a big deal or a minor inconveneace?

bpost

BobBob

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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