$884 GTX 960 High Settings Gaming & Streaming PC - January, 2015
|Gaming Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates/etc.||Total|
|CPU||Intel i5-4690K Quad-Core CPU||$235||Free Shipping||$235|
|CPU Cooler||SilverStone Argon AR01||$35||-$5,
|Video Card||MSI GTX 960 White||$210||Free Shipping||$210|
|Memory||HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz White||$75||Free Shipping||$75|
|Motherboard||MSI Z97-Gaming 5 Board||$150||-||$150|
|Power Supply||NZXT Hale82 V2 550W PSU||$59||-||$59|
|HDD||WD 1TB Blue 7200RPM||$55||Free Shipping||$55|
|Case||NZXT S340 White Case||$70||-||$70|
OS & Recommended Extras
|Add-on Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates/etc.||Total|
|SSD||Crucial MX100 256GB||$110||-||$110|
|External Optical Drive||ASUS External ODD||$35||-$5||$30|
|Operating System (Disc)
||Windows 8.1 Disc||$94||Free Shipping||$94|
|Gaming Headset||HyperX Cloud Headset||$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
MSI GTX 960 2GB ($200): At this price, the GTX 960's primary competition is AMD's Radeon R9 285 and 280. Both of the competing cards are solid performers – especially at resolutions closer to 1440p – but the GTX 960 has its own advantages. The lower TDP means lower thermals and greater power efficiency; higher core performance increases perf-per-watt; OC headroom means increasing performance output is relatively easy, even for beginners. The GTX 960 excels in a 1080p environment and is capable of outputting high framerates even on the most recent games, like Far Cry 4, Battlefield 4, and Assassin's Creed Unity, all on high or very high settings. Our full review is here, but here are a few benchmarks:
Intel Core i5-4690K Haswell ($235): The i5-4690K is a tough processor to beat for the money. Intel's quad-core i5-4690K offers an ideal platform for intro-level enthusiast overclocking, but also performs among the best at stock for gaming and render tasks. A 4690K almost ensures that the GTX 960 will not be bottlenecked by the CPU, and gives a high-powered platform so that other components (like the GPU or SSDs) can be upgraded in the future. At $100 more, the i7-4790K just isn't worth the price jump for gamers. The i7's performance yield over the 4690K is minimal unless pursuing thread-intensive tasks, like video encoding and rendering. Gamers will see the best performance-per-dollar with the 4690K.
SilverStone Argon AR01 ($30): Marked as the best-of-bench performer for our air cooler benchmarks, SilverStone's Argon AR01 uses a clean white/silver aesthetic to complement our build while dissipating high thermals easily. This CPU cooler gives some room to play with overclocking, if that interests you. Installation is easy, performance is high, and the price is affordable.
HyperX Fury 8GB 1866MHz RAM ($75): Kingston's HyperX lineup has impressed us as the company has ventured further into the gaming space. We reviewed the HyperX Fury memory and – like most RAM these days – found it to be reliable, priced about the same as competitors, and high-performing for gaming or rendering tasks. The Fury ships in a clean white-and-black finish, though, making it an easy choice for this build given the known-good endurance and performance.
MSI Z97-Gaming 5 Motherboard ($150): Although it's not quite as sporty as MSI's new white/black X99 board, the Gaming 5 is an affordable Z97 solution best-suited to the i5-4690K. Its BIOS allows easy overclocking for beginners, VRM heatsinks will assist in keeping the CPU region of the board cooled, and the Z97 chipset affords the greatest compatibility with modern interfaces. The Gaming 5 supports memory overclocking upwards of 3300MHz, unlocked CPU overclocking, and hosts modern storage interfaces in the event you opt for an M.2 SSD. Beyond this, 2xPCI-e 3.0 slots and a PCI-e 2.0 slot are available, alongside 4xPCI-e x1 slots, leaving room for PCI-e SSDs in the future.
NZXT Hale82 V2 550W PSU ($59): The CPU and GPU in this build have become so power efficient that we actually ran into a new problem – it was difficult finding a high-quality 500W PSU that we liked. 550W offers extra power for future upgrades, but not so much that it becomes inefficient when running the i5-4690K and GTX 960. Although it'll be hidden by the PSU shroud in the S340 below, the Hale82 V2 uses a white/black finish to match the rest of the build, including white cables and headers. 80 Plus Bronze efficiency means modest power conservancy, but not so much that the price is increased substantially.
Hard Drive & Optional SSD
WD Blue 1TB 7200RPM HDD ($55): We'd prefer to include an SSD in all builds, but sometimes that money has to be diverted elsewhere. The WD Blue 1TB HDD makes for a modest performer for a starter's primary drive, but it'd do even better as game storage while running an SSD – like Crucial's ~$100 MX100 – as the primary storage device. If it's within budget, we'd strongly recommend adding the SSD for core applications and the OS.
NZXT S340 White/Black Case ($70): We've recommended this mid-tower a few times now, but it's shown at its best in our video walkthrough of a high-end system build using the enclosure. The S340 is a mid-tower that gets rid of all the clutter, including the traditional drive cages in the front of the case. This allows for a wider window and cleaner build on the whole, but still provides space for a single HDD and several SSDs.
All together, this build will push framerates slightly higher than the GTX 960 benchmarks above reflect (due to the improved CPU over our test bench). At the price – right around $1000 – this system can be expected to play almost all modern games at high settings (or better, for the less intensive).
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- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.