$1111 DIY Halloween-Themed High-End Gaming PC Build - October, 2014
|Gaming Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates/etc.||Total|
|CPU||Intel i5-4690K Devil's Canyon (COMBO 1)||$240||-$25
|Video Card||EVGA GTX 970 ACX||$330||Free Shipping||$330|
|Memory||G.Skill 16GB 1600MHz DDR3||$150||Free Shipping||$150|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD3H (COMBO 1)||$140||Free Shipping||$140|
|Power Supply||EVGA SuperNOVA 650W||$80||-$20 MIR||$60|
|SSD||PNY Optima 240GB SSD||$106||-||$106|
|Case||NZXT H440 Orange/Black||$120||-$10,
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 GTX 970 ACX ($330): These video cards have been flying off the shelves since they released a few weeks ago. NVIDIA has not only improved the performance of their GPUs, but lowered TDP, added new software functions that are actually useful, and are now offering them at a competitive price.
The GTX 970 has 1664 CUDA cores that are more powerful than they have ever been, with increases of up to 40% compared to the previous-generation Kepler CUDA cores. The GTX 970 has 4GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit interface, which should allow for higher resolution display and better support of HD texture packs. You also get connections for any kind of display you may have, including DVI, HDMI, and Display Port. This video card can easily play most games out at ultra settings, with some more demanding games (Crysis 3 or Shadow of Mordor) playing at very high settings with a stable FPS. The only problem you may have is availability; these cards are selling fast and don't restock quickly. If this one isn't available and you can't find another GTX 970, you can pick up this Sapphire R9 290 for $300 with similar performance.
Intel Core i5-4690K Devil's Canyon ($215): With a name that sounds like the title of a Rob Zombie movie, this Intel CPU is perfect for our Halloween-themed build. We combined this CPU with a Gigabyte motherboard for $15 off. This quad-core Haswell processor has a clock frequency of 3.4GHz, with a max Turbo Frequency of 3.9GHz and 6MB L3 Cache. Use promo code DYMP10 at checkout to save $10 (might not stack with combos). The Intel i5-4690k should be perfect in this build and will effortlessly run modern games without CPU throttling; however, if you have a little more to spend and are considering video or production work in the future, pick up the Intel Core i7-4790K for $330.
Since K-SKUs are unlocked processors, there's great overclocking potential with the right heatsink. While a heatsink is included, if you plan on overclocking or if you just want to provide better cooling, you should consider buying an aftermarket heatsink. The NZXT Kraken X61 is on sale for $130 if you use promo code EMCWPWD85 at checkout.
G Skill Ares Series 16GB DDR3 1600MHz ($150): We're still months away from DDR4 going mainstream and becoming affordable. With only the X99 platform hosting DDR4 compatibility right now, we're still using DDR3 memory for most gaming PCs. G Skill is a trusted brand that holds several world overclocking records, so reliability is generally not an issue here. Gaming builds do not require fast memory for performance, making 1600MHz a “sweet spot” of affordability and performance; if you want a bit more speed, the Ares memory will easily OC to 1866MHz. We decided to include 16GB even though 8GB would be more than enough for the usual gaming rig. The extra RAM will go well with our Devil's Canyon CPU and CUDA-enabled GPU, making for high-end game streaming and video production capabilities and versatility.
As a bonus, the orange and black fits the theme of this build.
Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD3H ($140): When I first heard the word “Gigabyte” all those years ago, I thought it was the name of a Pokemon or some other monster. This motherboard, however, is a beast of another sort. I was looking for a capable Z97 board that would fit with the orange and black look of this build.
While this board is more of an earthen-gold and black, the gold is dark enough to pass for an orange. Aesthetics aside, Gigabyte's GA-Z97X-UD3H has some great features found in more expensive boards, including on-board M.2 connectivity and SATA Express ports. Realtek's ALC1150 HD Audio chipset is also hosted on-board, providing reasonable audio for an embedded solution. This board supports up to 32GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM natively, overclocked up to 3100MHz. You can SLI or CrossFireX with 2xPCIe 3.0 slots (x16 and x8). You also get 3xPCIe x 1 and a solo PCI slot (why?). No worries with running out of storage connections, either – there are 6xSATA 6Gb/s slots and on-board USB 3.0 for front panels. The Z97 is a great, fast chipset that should be about as future-proof as you need to be aside from DDR4 upgrades.
EVGA SuperNOVA 650w Power Supply ($65): I was looking for a power supply that was 80 Plus Gold certified at a decent price and found this gem. This EVGA SuperNOVA is not only 80 Plus Gold certified, but fully modular (with sleeved cables!), 650W, has all the usual surge protections, and is only $65.
In this build, 650W is more than enough power, and being 80 Plus Gold, you should save a little on your power bill. A better efficiency certification means it draws less power from the wall to because the conversion is more efficient (less power lost to heat and other variables). The fully modular sleeved cables allow better cable management and look cleaner when installed. This PSU gets great reviews, so reliability should not be a problem.
If you want something a little stronger than 650W, the EVGA SuperNOVA 750W is on sale for only $80.
PNY Optima 240GB SSD ($80): Newegg currently has a great sale going on with these PNY solid-state drives. PNY is well-known for their RAM and Flash products, and has made a name for themselves more recently with these SSDs. While not the fastest of the SSDs, it should be more than fast enough for a gaming build with typical random IOPS up to 60k read and 45k write. Having an SSD is the biggest performance increase you will see for the price compared to a traditional hard drive.
This 240GB SSD should be good for an operating system and favorite games, but if more space is needed, consider picking up this Crucial MX100 512GB SSD for $210.
If you are looking for a good storage drive, this Western Digital RE3 1TB 7200RPM HDD is on sale for only $42.
NZXT H440 Mid Tower Case ($120): Earlier this year, we reviewed this case and fell in love with it, giving it our Editor's Choice award. We selected the Newegg edition Orange and Black H440 to fit our Halloween theme.
This case not only looks good, but is packed with great ease-of-installation features. NZXT's H440 mid-tower holds mATX, ATX, and mITX motherboards and includes 4 fans. You get support up to 1 x 360mm top radiator, up to 1 x 360mm front radiator, and up to 1 x 140mm rear radiator for superb water cooling solutions. The H440 has room for seven expansion slots, six 3.5" bays, two 2.5" bays, but no 5.25" bays are included. You can fit video cards up to 406.2mm if you remove the HDD cage or 294mm with HDD mounting intact. Front, side, and rear fan filters will help keep dust out, and cable management should be a breeze with 17.7 - 32.5 mm of clearance behind the motherboard. For me, the best feature of this case is the PSU shroud that hides the power supply and its cables; it's also got SSD mounts on top of it to hold and show off your SSDs. A clear side panel rounds it all out.
This beautiful case is worth every penny, but as I mentioned, it does not have room for an optical drive; if that's a feature you still need, consider picking up this Lite-On External DVD Drive for $14.
I enjoy doing these themed builds. They allow us to show off our artistic sides and give us great gaming rigs in the process. Keep in mind the prices are tentative, so take advantage of the sales while they last. Please visit our forums for any questions or concerns, or feel free to post a quick question below! Until next time, and Happy Halloween!
- Michael "Mikagmann2" Mann.