Mid-Range Gaming PC Build for $680 - R9 380 & i5-6600

By Published December 06, 2015 at 10:53 am
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Additional Info

  • Price: 680
  • Physical Size: Mid-Tower
  • Purpose: Desktop Gaming
  • CPU Preference: Intel

The launch of Just Cause 3, Star Wars Battlefront, Fallout 4, and all the other season’s games have spurred-on new system builds. We’re one of the only teams to have tested each of those games on GPUs and CPUs, all found here, and we’ve compiled that hands-on knowledge into a mid-range gaming PC capable of playing all the above.

This PC build will allow for stable performance at 1080p, but higher resolutions like 1440p (and definitely 4K) will require a higher-end PC. That being said, for a budget-to-mid-range gaming PC, this configuration will perform well without breaking the bank.

Our below $700 gaming PC uses an i5-6600 and an AMD R9 380 to create a budget-friendly and fairly powerful combination that will generally allow for games at 1080p, 60FPS. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will give the 380 some trouble, but other current titles are more than playable on the R9 380. We’d expect reasonable settings for games even into the upcoming years.

Budget $680 Gaming PC Using i5 CPU & R9 380

Gaming Parts List Name Price Rebates, Promos, etc. Total
Graphics Card XFX R9 380 2GB DD Black Edition $180 -$20 MIR $160
CPU Intel i5-6600 3.3GHz $230 Free shipping $230
Motherboard ASRock H170 Pro4S $95 Free shipping $95
Memory Adata XPG Z1 8GB (2x4GB) DDR4-2400 $43 Free shipping $43
HDD Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM $47 Free shipping $47
Power Supply EVGA 600B 600W 80+ Bronze $40 Free shipping $40
Case NZXT H230 (Black) $65 Free shipping $65
Total   $700 -$20 MIR $680
Add-on Parts Name Price Rebates, Promos, etc. Total
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 $98 Free shipping $98
SSD SanDisk Ultra II 240GB $80 Free shipping $80

Graphics Card

XFX R9 380 2GB DD Black Edition ($180): For the GPU in this gaming PC build, we’ve chosen the XFX R9 380 2GB DD Black Edition. This card is currently priced at a competitive $180, allowing for sub-$200, satisfactory performance at 1080p. The R9 380 uses AMD’s GCN Tonga architecture, the same as the 380X (though updated) and R9 285. The use of Tonga architecture means that it supports DX12, so game compatibility shouldn’t be a problem for the foreseeable future. For reference, the R9 380 generally performs a few percentage points lower than the 380X.

This particular R9 380 hosts 2GB of VRAM and runs a core clock of 1030MHz, a factory overclock over the reference 918MHz. The XFX R9 380 DD Black Edition uses cooler with dual 90mm fans. It also supports 1xDVI-D, 1xDVI-I, 1xHDMI, and 1xDisplayport output. This card includes a 2-year warranty.

CPU

Intel i5-6600 3.3GHz ($230): As for the CPU, the i5-6600 makes for a good gaming, non-overclocking choice. It is fairly standard as a quad-core Intel CPU, but is the company’s most recent Skylake architecture built on their 14nm node, although it has marginal gains over previous CPUs. This 6600 non-K is clocked at 3.3GHz, which we’ve found to allow for solid performance in gaming. Depending on temperature, voltage, and load, it can boost up to 3.9GHz. The i5-6600 officially supports DDR4 and DDR3L RAM.

The Intel i5-6600 CPU also comes with its own cooler, unlike the Skylake K models. This allows us to skip inclusion of a separate CPU cooler, lowering cost while still adequately cooling the CPU. We’d suggest looking into something like this for an aftermarket cooler.

Motherboard

ASRock H170 Pro4S ($95): In a non-overclocking build, the motherboard doesn’t play as large of a part as it does in an overclocking motherboard, since a high-end CPU VRM isn’t needed. For this build, we’ve chosen the ASRock H170 Pro4S, a motherboard with fairly standard features. It supports up to DDR4-2133 RAM with its 4xDDR4 memory slots. This gives it a maximum supported memory of 64GB. The ASRock H170 Pro4S supports 2xPCIe x16 slots wired at x16 and x4, along with 3xPCIe x1 slots.

As for storage, the Asrock H170 Pro4S has 6xSATA, 1xSATAe, and 1xM.2 slot, so adding SSDs and/or HDDs shouldn’t be an issue. It has 2xUSB 2.0 and 1xUSB 3.0 header. The rear panel includes 1xPS/2, 1xDVI-D, 1xHDMI, 6xUSB 3.0, and audio ports. Of course, the ASRock H170 Pro4S also supports gigabit ethernet.

Memory

Adata XPG Z1 8GB (2x4GB) DDR4-2400 ($43): With Skylake’s support of DDR4, we can expect DDR4 to really begin taking the place of DDR3. DDR4 prices have generally trended down from when DDR4 RAM was first released, and this Adata XPG Z1 8GB DDR4-2400 RAM kit is a testament to that. The 2x4GB kit allows for dual-channel performance, it’s got a CAS latency of 16 and voltage 1.2v, and features a bright red heatspreader.

HDD

Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM ($47): SSDs have substantially higher read/write speeds, lower latency, lower noise, and generally lower power consumption than HDDs, but the price of SSDs is still a barrier in builds like this. Not every build needs an SSD -- we’ve listed one as optional below, though. Instead we’ve opted to include the 3.5” Seagate 1TB hard drive in this build. It is a 7200RPM drive with 64MB of cache and a two-year warranty. This makes it fairly standard for HDDs.

SanDisk Ultra II 2.5” 240GB ($80): That being said, for those willing to stretch their budget a bit, the SanDisk Ultra II 240GB SSD is a performant, mainstream upgrade to store an OS, commonly used programs, and a few games for quick loading times. Its sequential read speeds are rated for 550MB/s, and its sequential write speeds for 500MB/s. The SanDisk Ultra II 240GB also offers a three-year warranty.

Power Supply

EVGA 600B 600W 80+ Bronze ($40): For the power supply on this budget gaming PC, we’ve chosen the EVGA 600B. It is a 500 watt power supply with a three-year warranty and 80 Plus Bronze efficiency certified. The 600B has 2x8 (6+2) pin PCIe power connectors, fitting the XFX R9 380 DD Black Edition readily. The EVGA 600B is semi-modular, which isn’t a particularly common feature at this price point. 600 watts will be enough for this gaming PC, even with GPU overclocking. For those interested in learning more PC builds and their required wattages, check out our recent analysis of power consumption for different build types.

Case

NZXT H230 (Black) ($65): Finally, to hold all of these parts – unfortunately, cardboard boxes found in the Christmas trash don’t make the base of cases – we’ve chosen the NZXT H230 ATX mid-tower case. On its front panel there are 2xUSB3.0 and audio out ports. It also has 3x5.25” bays, and 6x3.5” bays for storage. For cooling, the NZXT H230 comes with 2x120mm fans with a removable filter for dust. The NZXT H230’s HDD cage is removable and features padding internally to help reduce and absorb noise.

For the upcoming winter season, this $700 gaming PC build is an affordable fit for those who want to play games without breaking the bank. 

Michael Kerns

Michael Kerns first found us when GN's Editor-in-Chief was tirelessly answering questions on reddit pertaining to a new product launch, likely after the Editor had stayed up all night writing the news post. Michael offered a tired Editor reprieve, taking over the role of questions-answerer-extraordinaire when it was most needed. These days, Michael can be found pulling his mechanical keyboard collection apart and building Frankenstein's Monster-like monsters of keyboards. Michael wrote the vast majority of our mechanical keyboard dictionary and is an expert in keyboards.

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