Mirror's Edge Catalyst Gaming PC Build
|Gaming Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates, Promos, etc.||Total|
|CPU||Intel i5-6500 3.2GHz||$205||-||$205|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte G1 Gaming GA-H170||$85||-$10 MIR||$75|
|Video Card||EVGA GTX 960 4GB||$195||Free Shipping,
|Memory||8GB G.Skill DDR4-2400||$34||Free Shipping||$34|
|Power Supply||Corsair CX550M PSU||$70||Free Shipping,
|SSD||Plextor M7V 512GB SSD||$130||Free Shipping||$130|
|Case||In-Win 303 Black||$90||-||$90|
|Case Fan||120mm NZXT FNv2||$16||-||$16|
OS & Optional Extras
|OS & Extras||Name||Price||Rebates, Promos, etc.||Total|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home||$100||Free Shipping
(Use code to install via MSFT ISO & USB key)
|External Optical Drive||ASUS external DVD||$30||Free Shipping w/ Prime||$30|
How to Build a Gaming PC (Walkthrough)
EVGA GTX 960 4GB ($175): The launch of the [GTX 1070] and [announcement of the RX 480] has forced-down GPU prices across the stack. The GTX 970 can now be had for $300 – but feels a bit awkward, since it's an $80 step up to entry-level GTX 1070s; the R9 390 is priced at $250, but we'd like to see how the RX 480 does – a cheaper card – before making that leap. Regardless, both are out of budget for this build. We're going with the GTX 960 4GB, which will remain unchallenged for some months while we await the RX 470/460 and rumored (but not confirmed) GTX 1060.
Our recent testing shows the GTX 960 performing well in Mirror's Edge Catalyst and DOOM, among other titles. The ME Catalyst performance plants the GTX 960 firmly in the area of high-ultra settings at 1080p while still achieving 60FPS. Here's an “Ultra” settings chart to illustrate that:
As for DOOM, have a look at that performance:
Intel Core i5-6500 3.2GHz ($205): Not everyone needs an overclocking CPU. The K-SKU CPUs do come clocked higher, yes, but they're also intended for further overclocking, don't include a CPU cooler (which inflates build cost more than it might seem), and aren't a requirement for gaming. For this build, because we're targeting users who are less interested in the enthusiast OC aspect and more interested in just gaming (and budget), we opted for the i5-6500. This Intel CPU has a locked multiplier and ships with a native operating frequency of 3.2GHz. At $205 and with a stock cooler, that helps us keep the build cost under control and creates a fairly even pairing with the GTX 960.
Gigabyte G1 Gaming H170 ($75): If we're not going to up the price for a K-SKU CPU, we might as well stick with a more affordable motherboard. The H170 and B150 chipsets make perfect sense for this build (learn about chipset differences here). Overclocking is locked – which is fine, because our CPU is – and the HSIO lanes are lessened, but neither will impact the vast majority of users. Slightly fewer HSIO lanes (22 instead of 26) just means that there's one less PCI-e x4 slot or fewer USB3/SATA ports. There are still plenty of lanes available for this build – more than enough for the GPU (which will feed its lanes from the CPU, not the chipset), USB devices, and SATA/PCIe devices.
G.Skill Ripjaws V 8GB 2400MHz ($34): Also combining well with the above two component selections, this kit of memory isn't meant for extreme OCs and will save money while still offering sufficient performance for the system. Faster memory won't impact most games that much – not more than a GPU upgrade might, in this specific case – and this RAM meets the capacity-to-cost that we're after.
Plextor M7V 512GB SSD ($130): Plextor's M7V is one of the most affordable SSDs currently on the market. Using TLC to reduce its cost-per-gigabyte, the M7V is available at $130 for 512GB and bypasses the need for some users to own a secondary hard drive. If you're still in need of more space, though, consider a WD Blue 1TB drive.
The M7V uses a Marvell controller (88SS1074B1), which seems to be jointly overtaking the market alongside Phison – SandForce has been edged-out these last few years. The M7V pushes 98K 4K random IOPS (read) or 84K IOPS write. Sequential speeds – useful as a metric of speed for larger files – operate at up to 560MB/s read and 530MB/s write. The drive has on-board cache (768MB of it) to help with bursted and other transactions / background processes.
Corsair CX550M ($60): 550W is more than enough for a GTX 960 and i5-6500 setup. Check out our wattage guide on power supply watt recommendations and power draw versus components. The Corsair CX550M is a semi-modular power supply, which means that it's got cable modularity for its PCI-e and SATA/peripheral headers, but has its 24-pin and 8-pin EPS12V connectors permanently attached – and that's fine, since they're going to be used no matter what. This PSU bridges the gap between “cheap” and mid-range PSUs, running an 80 Plus Bronze efficiency certification and using components that will sufficiently power our (relatively) low-watt build.
In-Win 303 Black ($90): Note: Order with at least one fan, like this one. In-Win is attempting its artisan hand at the more reasonably priced case market, starting with the In-Win 303 and 509. The 303 is competitive with the Corsair 400C and NZXT S340, targeting a similar sleek-but-efficient market. It's supposed to fall in price from the current $90 listing, but we're not sure when that price fall will happen. The case doesn't explicitly include a fan, and so we strongly recommend purchasing at least 1x 120mm intake fan for the bottom. The PSU is top-mounted within a designer cage, opting instead for bottom intake.
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- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.