$619 Gaming PC Build Using i3-6300 & GTX 950
|Gaming Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates, Promos, etc.||Total|
|CPU||Intel i3-6300 3.8GHz||$156||Free Shipping||$156|
|Motherboard||MSI Gaming H170 M3||$110||Prime Available||$110|
|Video Card||MSI GTX 950 2GB||$140||-||$140|
|Memory||HyperX Fury 8GB DDR4-2133||$54||Prime Available||$54|
|Power Supply||Rosewill ARC-450 450W PSU||$45||Free Shipping||$45|
|HDD||WD Blue 1TB 7200RPM||$54||Free Shipping||$54|
|Case||NZXT S340 Mid-Tower||$70||-$10 MIR,
OS, Peripherals, Optional Parts
|Add-On Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates, Promos, etc.||Total|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 10||$95||Prime Available||$95|
|SSD||HyperX Savage 240GB||$95||Free Shipping||$95|
|CPU Cooler||SilverStone AR01||$35||Free Shipping||$35|
|Mech Keyboard||Nixeus MODA v2||$70||Free Shipping||$70|
|Mouse||Logitech G303||$47||Prime Available||$47|
|Headset||Plantronics GameCom 780||$51||Prime Available||$51|
MSI GTX 950 2GB ($140): Upon first release, we remarked that the GTX 950 felt awkwardly poised in the market – it'd been $160 to $170, often landing the device just $30 below outperforming GTX 960 video cards. Now, with price cuts and competition, MSI's GTX 950 video card is $140 – the same price as the 750 Ti used to be (now $110) – and provides the performance needed to play most games at 1080p medium-to-high. You can read some of our newest GTX 950 benchmarks on our Game Benchmarks page, or just check the review here.
The card hosts 2GB of VRAM, still plenty for this type of build, and runs its pre-overclocked core at 1076MHz. This particular model runs a white-black color scheme, which cleanly fits our white-black NZXT S340 case.
To provide an idea of where the GTX 950 falls, here are just a few of our recent, game-specific benchmarks:
Intel i3-6300 3.8GHz ($160): The Intel Core i3-6300 is a still relative newcomer to market. Its high, native clock-rate of 3.8GHz grants consistently stable gaming performance for titles which favor IPC and high-speed, limited-thread processing. As for games that like cores, the i3-6300 is a 2C/4T CPU – it's got two physical cores that are hyper-threaded, producing four total, logical threads for use by applications.
The i3-6300 is already a performant chip for this class of build (an i5- would be the obvious step-up), and that's only going to improve as new APIs roll-out and reduce CPU workload for geometric draw call processing.
CPU Cooler (Optional)
SilverStone AR01 ($35): The i3-6300 includes its own box cooler, but there are a couple of good reasons to upgrade: First, the stock coolers are considerably warmer and noisier than aftermarket options, which can affect the longevity of usable system life and the, obviously, case noise emissions. Second, if you're the type who likes to spend a few bucks on aesthetics, SilverStone's silver/white/blue AR01 cooler neatly ties-together the enclosure and GPU color combo.
MSI H170 Gaming M3 ($110): Our Intel Chipset Comparison guide looks specifically at H170 vs. Z170 chipsets (and the others – like H110) for Skylake CPUs. For most mainstream users, the Z170 chipset isn't necessary for processing needs. It's got a few more HSIO lanes (26 vs. 22) and multi-GPU capabilities, neither of which is consequential for this build.
The biggest differentiation is the Z-series' unlocked overclocking support. This allows the CPU multiplier to be increased beyond stock and Turbo, allowing for a faster calculated clockrate (e.g. 100MHz BCLK x 38 = 3800MHz, or 3.8GHz). Unless using one of the new, non-K overclocking boards, this isn't even a consideration given our opt-out of the more expensive K-SKU CPUs.
HyperX Fury 2x4GB DDR4-2133 ($54): DDR4 memory has finally crossed the threshold for widespread adoption and transition, an action that's driven prices down considerably since the launch of X99 platforms and Skylake CPUs. The H170 chipset is limited in its memory speed support, the MSI M3 at DDR4-2133, but higher clockrates are largely imperceptible to gaming users. Production users (rendering tasks, video and photo editing, batch transform processing) would see a larger advantage from increased memory speed, but such users should also be considering a higher-end CPU for immediate performance gains. The RAM upgrades would follow.
For gaming, 2x4GB (8GB total) at 2133MHz is ample. Few games push beyond 4GB of memory (though it is starting to happen with faster VRAM and system memory).
HDD & Optional SSD
WD Blue 1TB 7200RPM ($54): At this price-range, an SSD immediately increases price in ways that may be better put toward an upgraded CPU or GPU. For gaming machines, a reliable, 7200RPM HDD will get the job done; boot times may be slower and the drive won't age as gracefully, but the price is unbeatable. Stick to 7200RPM and higher as a primary boot device.
HyperX Savage 240GB SSD ($95): The HyperX Savage SSD received our Editor's Choice award for its high speeds, affordable price-point, and reliability. The Savage uses a Phison PS3110-S10 controller (“S10”), affording upwards of 92K IOPS read and 89K IOPS write (4K transactions). An SSD is recommended in use cases where users are particularly sensitive to boot times, load times in transactional heavy applications, and noise emissions (HDD vibration is audible in some ultra-quiet systems, though case fans should “out-noise” the HDD in this build).
Rosewill ARC-450 450W PSU ($45): In a recent, extensive benchmark on power supply wattage requirements, we proved that the vast majority of gaming-class systems can get by on 450-600W PSUs. Moreover, we observed that an i3-4160 and GTX 950 drew about 205.8W under peak system load (100% CPU, 100% GPU load). In such an instance – as is the case with this PC build guide – we could actually target a little lower than 450W (optimal efficiency at ~50% load), but the ARC-450 offers good build quality at its price-point and wattage. Quality sometimes drops as PSUs approach the ~400W range (it seems that PSU manufacturers are still catching-up to decreasing TDP). The 450W unit also provides some overhead for an i5 upgrade in the future.
NZXT S340 Mid-Tower ($60): Available in white, black, and black-blue or black-red, the NZXT S340 mid-tower is handily among the best ~$50-$100 cases currently on the market. We've previously worked with the S340, and again for thermal benchmarks, and prefer the case for its clean aesthetic and ease-of-installation features. A cable management bar and PSU shroud effectively nullify the fact that our PSU selection is non-modular, making it easy to conceal cables without negative impact to dust accumulation or airflow. It's true that the S340 runs a bit warm with some configurations – like multi-GPU, where the lower card struggles to breathe – but we're deploying a single GPU here (and recommending a CPU cooler), which mitigate thermal challenges to a point of being inconsequential.
If you need help building this or choosing parts (or fine-tuning), or have general PC build questions, check out our forums or leave a comment below. Our forums offer in-depth, one-on-one assistance for PC builders. The comments are there for quick questions. Fire away!
- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.