Our “Hybrid” mods aren't necessarily something we recommend for cards like the RX 480 and GTX 1060 – you're increasing cost of the card by 30% just to add a CLC – but the mods have routinely discovered throttle points. The GTX 1080 was our first Hybrid mod (one which we would actually recommend), and gave us an additional ~100MHz OC with perfectly flat clock-rate stability – something sorely lacking on the FE card. That's what we want, and will help further smooth over the 1% low and 0.1% low performance metrics (explained here).
Today, we embarked upon our journey to build a GTX 1060 “Hybrid” card. This is a DIY approach to liquid cooling the GTX 1060, and aims to stabilize the clock-rate over time to eliminate spurious frametime performance. We also hope to reduce thermals drastically enough that the overall noise levels will be reduced, presumably while maintaining a lower thermal value. This is what happened when we ran the same test on the RX 480 ($240) – it was trivial to run the radiator fan at 30% on the RX 480 “Hybrid” and keep lower thermals than stock.
Honestly, though, this GTX 1060 Hybrid endeavor is mostly within the realm of “because we want to.” It's not something you should necessarily do – that's an extra $50-$100 to throw a cooler on a card that's ~$250 to $300. Poor value. But we're doing it anyway, and hopefully we'll learn something about the performance and clock stability along the way.
The final part of our AMD Radeon RX 480 Hybrid build is complete. We've conducted testing on the RX 480 with liquid cooling, successfully yielding additional overclocking headroom and reducing temperatures by 59%. We also ended up hitting 1.15V to the core when overvolting and overclocking, something we talk about more below.
The first part of this AMD RX 480 liquid cooling guide tore-down the video card, the second part built it back up with an Arctic Accelero Hybrid III and liquid cooler, and our new video and article explore the results. The short of it: Liquid cooling an AMD RX 480 significantly improves the temperatures, the noise output, and provides marginal extra overclocking room.
This video is a follow-up to our popular GTX 1080 Hybrid series, if you missed that.
We're putting the AMD RX 480 under water. Our GTX 1080 Hybrid project revealed significant improvements to overclock stability and lowered the 1080's thermals by 100%, an important boost versus the Founders Edition ($700). This endeavor opened our eyes to new means of testing component limits, and makes for a fun DIY project to push new hardware to its absolute peak performance – or make it die trying.
Following our RX 480 endurance and thermal findings, we believe it's possible to improve thermals, reduce overall power consumption (by eliminating the need for a fan spinning at 4000+ RPM), and significantly cut noise output. The overclocked RX 480 was able to sustain its 1340MHz core only because we ran the fan so fast, and by switching to a liquid cooler (powered externally, not by the video card), we'll free-up some power for the core and memory. This will also allow us to reduce overall fan RPMs on our mod's VRM fan, hopefully cutting noise levels to something lower than the ~55-60dB output experienced in our overclocking test. Our overclock, although reasonable, is entirely unbearable because of its high noise output and would be unacceptable for any real-world user or home.
We're fixing that.
It takes our technicians minutes to build a computer these days – a learned skill – but even that first-time build is completable within a span of hours. Cable management and “environment setup” (OS, software) generally take the longest, but the build process is surprisingly trivial. Almost anyone can build a computer. The DIY approach saves money and feels rewarding, but also prepares system owners for future troubleshooting and builds a useful, technical skillset.
Parts selection can be initially intimidating and late-night troubleshooting sometimes proves frustrating; the between process, though, the actual assembly – that's easy. A few screws, some sockets that live under the “if it doesn't fit, don't force it” mantra, and a handful of cables.
This “How to Build a Gaming Computer” guide offers a step-by-step tutorial for PC part selection, compatibility checking, assembly, and basic troubleshooting resources. The goal of this guide is to educate the correct steps to the entire process: we won't be giving you tools that automatically pick parts based on compatibility, here; no, our goal is to teach the why and the how of PC building. You'll be capable of picking compatible parts and assembling builds fully independently after completing this walkthrough.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the only true danger present when building a PC; that is, other than the danger posed to hands by copper heatsinks. We've previously written about ESD and how it works, but now we're revisiting the topic with a solution to eliminate ESD concerns.
This how-to guide explains how to prevent ESD by grounding yourself when building a computer, specifically by making an ESD grounding wire. We've loosely recommend anti-static wrist straps in the past, but whether or not they actually work depends on how they're utilized by the builder. Simply strapping the band to your wrist and clipping it to the case isn't going to be enough to prevent ESD, though it's better than nothing. The approach we take in this guide is the very same that we use in our lab. It's a little bit of extra work, but anyone demanding certainty (or working with components more than once per build) should follow our example.
In doing so, we put together a PC that is great for streaming videos, games, and even playing less intensive games like League of Legends, Minecraft, Path of Exile, and DOTA2. This PC should not be considered a viable option if you're looking to play games like Far Cry 4 (benchmark) and Assassin's Creed Unity (benchmark). If you're looking to build the best general purpose streaming PC for the lowest price, this $299 gaming HTPC build is perfect for you.
This launch season has been one of the most hectic I can remember. The entire year has been a bit chaotic, actually; we had major GPU announcements, architecture changes (Intel & NVIDIA), several AAA game titles (Dragon Age, Warlords of Draenor, ACU, Far Cry 4, Call of Duty), and more. It's been non-stop games news for the entire year, and that's indicative of a healthy industry.
We recently benchmarked Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4, both Ubisoft titles, and found that each game is fairly graphics-intensive and demanding of system resources. This ~$1000 DIY gaming PC build allows for near-max settings in Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4, and with help from ShadowPlay, it'll stream to Twitch with relative ease.
In these “Cheap Bastard's” gaming PC builds, we put together the best build possible for less than $500; this one comes to $488 after rebates. Even though Black Friday is weeks away, we were able to find some great deals on PC components right now. We decided to go with AMD for this build, seeing how Team Red offers some of the best performance for the low-end PC user – especially for the PC gamer.
This time around, we were able to put together a formidable low-end gaming PC for under $500. We paired an AMD R7 265 with an Athlon X4 860k, which should be able to play most games out at medium to high settings. This build is perfect for those of you who are looking to upgrade for Warlords of Draenor or the upcoming Shadow of Revan MMO expansions; gamers seeking performance for the likes of Assassin's Creed Unity need to invest substantially more for a capable PC.
You didn't read this wrong. We’ve put together an ultra-budget “Cheap Bastard’s” gaming PC build for just over $400. At around the same price of a current gen console, you can build a quality entry-level gaming PC. Featuring an Intel G3258, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and an MSI R7 260, you get a great gaming PC for games like LoL, DOTA2, WoW, GRID, Titanfall and TOR.
This budget gaming PC build takes the DIY approach to building a custom computer for games like Titanfall, priced far below our usual $500 budget target.
GRID: Autosport (benchmarked) is sure to get the juices flowing for any car lover. Doubly so with the graphics enhancements that benefit from Haswell chips from Intel. But what happens when you want performance that matches a 500-horsepower car and only have a 100-horsepower Saturn budget? Simple, grab this build, add a touch of overclocking, grab a copy of GRID: Autosport, and enjoy the drive.
The focus of this build was to feature the overclockable Intel Pentium G3258, offer solid mid-to-high level graphics for gaming, and allow for easy upgrades in the future. Our last few extreme budget gaming PC builds were mostly AMD and, based on some great comments both in the forums and article comments, I felt it was time to give Intel a chance to make its mark in this price range.
For those looking to build a cheap gaming PC with the ability to run games on high / ultra graphics -- all for just around $500 -- this is where the buck stops.