$1253 DIY High-End Gaming PC Build - May, 2014
|Gaming Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates/etc.||Total|
|CPU||Intel i5-4690K Devil's Canyon||$240||Free Shipping||$240|
|CPU Cooler||NZXT Kraken X60 CLC||$140||-||$140|
|Video Card||EVGA GTX 770 2GB||$330||-$20,
|Memory||G.Skill 8GB 1866 (COMBO 1)||$85||-$18,
|Motherboard||ASUS Z97-A (COMBO 1)||$144||Free Shipping||$144|
|Power Supply||Rosewill HIVE-650||$80||-||$80|
|SSD||Crucial MX100 256GB||$112||-||$112|
|HDD||WD Blue 1TB 7200RPM||$57||Free Shipping||$57|
|Case||NZXT H440 Black/Red||$120||Free Shipping||$120|
OS & Recommended Extras
|Add-on Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates/etc.||Total|
|External Optical Drive||ASUS External ODD||$35||-$5||$30|
|Operating System (Disc)
||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit||$100||Free Shipping||$100|
|Gaming Headset||Plantronics GameCom 780||$80||-||$80|
|Mechanical Keyboard||Thermaltake Poseidon Z||$70||-||$70|
|Gaming Mouse||Logitech G500s||$50||-||$50|
How to Build a Gaming Computer - Step-by-Step Tutorial
EVGA SuperClocked GTX 770 2GB ($310): You could really stick any mid-range or high-end GPU into this machine and run pretty happily, though I've opted for the GTX 770 for use in this guide. The GTX 770 provides a comfortable cost-to-performance position between the higher-end GTX 780 / R9 290 and mid-range GTX 760 / R9 280, easily running all modern games at max settings with a 1080 resolution. Using a CUDA-enabled device also grants some advantages in Adobe's Photoshop and Premiere software, accelerating post-FX processing GPU-side to limit load on the CPU.
Although 4GB variants exist, the extra capacity still isn't really getting fully utilized by games just yet. This includes the likes of Watch Dogs -- a game that "requires" 3GB of VRAM for ultra texture resolution, but fails to properly utilize the video RAM available. 2GB is going to give the best value for the dollar at this point, though we're seeing a slow shift into 3GB capacities.
Intel i5-4690K Devil's Canyon CPU ($240): This is the big item for today's PC build. Intel launched its 4690K and i7-4790K "Devil's Canyon" CPUs as of today, each slightly boosting the BCLK of their 4670K and 4770K predecessors while retaining the same price-point. The major item of discussion is the increased room for overclocking, as granted by a new thermal interface between the die and the IHS (integrated heat-spreader). Other than that, it's the same architecture and design that we know from Haswell's 4670K / 4770K.
The 4690K requires Intel's new Z97 platform (learn about 9-series chipsets here), which introduces full support for the 5th Generation Intel CPUs that are due out later this year. This grants builders a direct upgrade path from Devil's Canyon to Broadwell without swapping the platform, something Intel has rarely allowed.
Coupling this CPU with ASUS' Z97-A motherboard makes for a fairly simple overclocking process and adds plenty of depth for those looking to tune their performance more granularly.
NZXT Kraken X60 280mm CLC ($140): Overclocking an Intel CPU to reasonably high frequencies demands a reliable cooler. Running on air won't get us very far at higher frequencies, so we're recommending NZXT's X60 closed-loop liquid cooler (AIO) for this system. We previously reviewed the X60 here, primarily praising its fan speed control for the ability to mitigate noise levels during "quiet time." The new X61 is due out shortly, but still sits a few weeks out.
G.Skill Sniper 2x4GB 1866MHz ($67): This RAM is in a combo deal with the motherboard for $18 off. We haven't yet needed to move toward recommending more than 8GB of RAM for gaming just yet (though memory leaks do enjoy more memory), so sticking with 2x4GB will be ample for any non-professional use-case scenarios. Users deploying their systems for professional-class rendering or encoding should consider 16GB of memory.
1866MHz gives a high native operating frequency with room for overclocking; although overclocking memory won't yield noticeable gains for most users, it can be a fun endeavor that is made easy with the right board. The board we've selected is built for such tasks, as a sort of side effect of being made for moderate CPU overclocking, and will easy push the RAM up to 2133/2400MHz.
ASUS Z97-A LGA1150 Motherboard ($144): This motherboard is in a combo deal with the RAM for $18 off. The Z97-A motherboard has updated ASUS' color scheme from "Star Trek beige" to a proper pseudo-gold, further differentiating its appearances by mounting a circular heatsink atop the chipset. ASUS' board hosts a few mid-range overclocking features to assist enthusiasts in getting started with bolstering their CPU and memory clocks, including an 8-phase power design for the VRM and heatsinks atop the MOSFETs. The Z97-A also includes a single SATA Express port, allowing drive operation up to 10Gb/s -- a large boost over SATA III's 6Gb/s limitation.
Rosewill HIVE 650W PSU ($80): 650W gives us ample room for the native operating wattage with bonus overhead for overclocking the CPU and GPU. The HIVE-650 is 80 Plus Bronze rated -- not phenomenal, but given the affordable price, wattage, and features, it's really not a bad efficiency rating. The unit operates using a single 12V rail and can push 650W continuous power. Semi-modularity means the 24-pin and EPS cable are permanently attached, but the rest can be easily removed.
Have an extra $30? Rosewill's new Tachyon PSU still offers enough power at 550W, but comes in 80 Plus Platinum efficiency and has overall higher-quality components.
SSD / HDD
Crucial MX100 256GB SSD ($112): We've been talking a lot about new SSDs lately, to include Corsair's Force LX 512GB unit that just shipped a few days ago. Micron's newest NAND is showcased in its subsidiary's latest SSD, the Crucial MX100 drive. Having replaced the M500 in the budget market, the MX100 is presently one of the best deals in terms of cost-per-GB and moderate performance. Unless you're doing tasks outside of gaming -- things that might require efficient encryption or ultra-high endurance -- the MX100 will serve as an ideal SSD for the price. Look into Samsung's 840 Pro for professional-grade tasks.
WD Blue 7200RPM 1TB HDD ($58): For archival storage and mass media files, WD's 1TB Blue HDD runs at 7200RPM -- enough for gaming and applications -- and can fit all the excess weight of a system.
NZXT H440 Black/Red Case ($110): We called NZXT's H440 "the reason we review cases" back when it came out. The H440 is one of the best-looking cases on the market, housing a built-in PSU and drive shroud, completely hidden PSU cables, and a total lack of 5.25" bays. This means you'll have to install the OS with a USB device, but given the prevalence of 8GB USB drives, this shouldn't be an inhibitor. External optical drives are available for those who still use optical media on occasion.
That's it for this build. Check out our overclocking primer over here for an example of what's being tweaked in BIOS / Afterburner. Let us know on the forums if you require any assistance with this build, or drop a comment below for quick assistance!
- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.