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TechPowerUp $800 Build Guide

HammerON

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I agree that an OS should be included in these builds. I also agree that a lager hard drive is a necessity given the size of today's games.
I am on the fence about the peripherals being included (monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc...) though.

$2,400 "Battlestation" build or $1,200 "Performance" build next Friday?
I say let's go for the Battlestation build for $6,000:)
 
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I have to disagree with the use of the SSD. This is a budget build and everyone needs storage and that measly 120GB is not enough. I would rather buy WD Blue 1TB so I can do other things beside worry about remaining space every time I am installing a video game. Plus I want to support "make SSDs cheaper and stop milking consumers" cause.

Secondly headset is a wrong decision. Earphones damage the ear the most, second are headsets and third are stereo speakers. I would definetly get stereo speakers because you sure aren't going to have headset on your head all the time and putting it on and off is really troublesome.

I would definetly go with $1000 build and buy $170 27" 1080p monitor because (if you haven't tried it yet) once you get 27" you aren't going back.
I would also buy 750W PSU to be future-proofed and just in case I might sometime later maybe use it for another build.
I would also buy AMD Fx-8350 8-Core CPU because it is much faster than i3-4160.
And if there is some money left for $1000 build you can buy second HDD and put in RAID 1.

It is always better to spend a little more (in this case $200) and buy something that you want it to last like bigger monitor.
 
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Knock out the peripherals and it 's a $600 machine.

I have my doubts if 500W psu is enough for the R290...
I might agree won't offer much head room for OC' the 290. Even Guru3D had a Asus R9 290 DirectCU II OC review had his PSU recommendation at 550~600 Watt.. For an i3/290 that you never intend to OC the 500W is the bear minimum.

I would not take the 128 GB SSD unless I had extra cash for a 1 TB HDD too if the primary purpose of this build is for gaming. Games are getting extremely large in size. The developer for Star Citizen said a while back that the finished game would probably be around 100 GB. GTA V needs 65 GB iirc.

If the budget could not be wiggled to get a 128 GB SSD and a 1 TB HDD then I would take the HDD and leave out the SSD but I keep a large library of games. I like to be able to load up any of my games when I want to play them and not have to wait on my crappy internet connection to re-download them to be able to play them.
I agree 128Gb isn't going to cut it, and will be a deficiency to this build in just weeks! Its perhaps enough for Win10 OS install and 3-4 games (BF4/Skyrim/Assassins Creed Unity) after that would 128Gb be Full. I think a good mainstream gaming machine today you'd want an SSD for the OS, but after that, is it practical or useful for gaming? I mean have things changed (well other than price) over the last two years since Brent Justice at [H] did this article?
http://www.hardocp.com/article/2013/12/10/hdd_vs_ssd_real_world_gaming_performance/#.Vdda9p3n8m4

If you want to have map/games load fast SSD are the way to go but for actual FpS they generally provides no benefit. So as the build was about FpS and 1080 play. While the SSD for the OS see's a welcome benefit, I'd just went with a Mushkin Enhanced ECO2 60GB SATA III for $37, and that gets me Ghost Recon: Phantoms for FREE. Then a 1TB WD Blue for $53. From there if you have specific games that load huge maps later pick up an SSD and load those game to that drive.

I personally think the i3/290 is a little unbalanced and see the i3 bottlenecking the GPU. If I'm looking to start with superb 1080p gaming, 290 is sensible without over paying, but then I think I'd want an i5 that provide OC'n down the road with a new Heat Sink/AIO cooler, Honestly I don't know... does say the i5-4460 provide for OC with a inexpensive Z87?

For $600 its a FX6300 with AsRock 970 Mobo ($125 combo from Micro Center), then a H-S cooler $25 to OC to like 4.2 Ghz, 8GB of 1866Mhz Kingston HyperX Fury Blue $43, PowerColor R9 285 TurboDuo for $159 -AR $20 and FREE Dirt Rally. The SSD/HDD as above $90, then drop $40-50 for PSU 600W ~preferably 650W working a Rebate. A case should be $30 ~$50 is pushing it! I like this Corsair Carbide Series 100R ATX Mid-Tower (USB3) for $38 -AR$10 (again Micro Center) and I'm in around $530 and already have two Games!

OC'n both the FX6300 and the R9 285 and you can't get much better FpS BfB for 1080p. The next great jump would be the i5 and R9 290 build, although your looking to add ~$170 or a $700 build. While sure there are a bunch of games that like Hyper-Treading, I think an OC FX6300 picks-up its single core performance to power past an i3. Honestly the i3/Mobo for $30-35 more for the "no brainer" lower power, stock heat-sink... not looking to OC way, but you fork out more for that... it's a toss-up.
 
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newtekie1

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I can see someone still recommending 7, because it's tested and the UI is immediately effective on traditional devices out of the box. I can see recommending 10 because it's the new hotness, and as such has the most potential life left in it. My problem is why in Hades windows 8.1 would be considered. Yes, they moved the limits on the base version (or whatever you want to call it, due to Home disappearing that generation) to 128 GB, but why does it matter? It's like touting the benefits of Vista three months after 7 launched.
I wasn't recommending it, I'm simply stating that is when the memory limit was moved. The argument on 8.1 as a valid OS is for the builder to decide. I personally prefer it to 7, but at this point there is no reason to buy 8.1 with 10 out.

OEM is a pain if you've ever got to change hardware. In three years you'll want to update that CPU and motherboard, and your OEM license doesn't allow you to change motherboards. Heck, I experienced this with my x79 build (the Gigabyte UD5 board sucked), so I spent a few extra dollars to get a retail copy. One call to MS, and my new board is legally installed with a working OS. $20 out of the gate saved an expenditure of $100. I'll take an extra $80 in my pocket, for a slightly better upgrade capability. If your computer will never have the CPU and motherboard changed, more power to you. If you're realistic, choosing an OEM copy, and being a compulsive upgrader, isn't cost effective.
I've never had an issue upgrading hardware with OEM licences. Especially not after a good deal of time has passed since I built the machine. The activation servers reset and allow you to re-activate OEM copies after about a year, regardless of hardware configuration. And even if it won't activate via the internet because the server hasn't reset our key yet, you just use the phone activation and it will activate that way. Buying retail copies is just a waste of money.

The counterargument is people lie to MS. It isn't hard to get them to reactivate an OEM copy when you upgrade, as long as you indicate your motherboard fried. I can understand that sentiment, but sometimes it's easier to go to tech support and simply tell them to give you what you paid for, rather than weasel your way through getting a reactivation. Only time will tell with windows 10, but I'd prefer to have a Teflon backside and not need it, rather than need it and not have it.
I've never had to tell them my motherboard fried when re-activating an OEM copy of Windows. Heck, I've never even talked to a human being...

I have to disagree with the use of the SSD. This is a budget build and everyone needs storage and that measly 120GB is not enough.
I agree. Games take up too much room to run only a tiny SSD. I get the idea that the build is trying to beat consoles, but it does that with better visuals and framerates. The loading times are something that can be similar to consoles. And even still, since the consoles use 5400RPM laptop drives, even a 7200RPM desktop drive will actually give better loading times. In fact, even the PS4 won't work with anything smaller than a 160GB drive.
 
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Videocard + monitor eat up 50% of the budget.

I would recommend for instance the Radeon R9 280 or to ditch Intel's i3 and go for an AMD A10-7000 series APU without additional discrete card but more HDD volume + a 4K monitor. ;)
 
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I have to disagree with the use of the SSD. This is a budget build and everyone needs storage and that measly 120GB is not enough. I would rather buy WD Blue 1TB so I can do other things beside worry about remaining space every time I am installing a video game. Plus I want to support "make SSDs cheaper and stop milking consumers" cause.

Secondly headset is a wrong decision. Earphones damage the ear the most, second are headsets and third are stereo speakers. I would definetly get stereo speakers because you sure aren't going to have headset on your head all the time and putting it on and off is really troublesome.

I would definetly go with $1000 build and buy $170 27" 1080p monitor because (if you haven't tried it yet) once you get 27" you aren't going back.
I would also buy 750W PSU to be future-proofed and just in case I might sometime later maybe use it for another build.
I would also buy AMD Fx-8350 8-Core CPU because it is much faster than i3-4160.
And if there is some money left for $1000 build you can buy second HDD and put in RAID 1.

It is always better to spend a little more (in this case $200) and buy something that you want it to last like bigger monitor.
If the subject were a $1k build, sure. One can do a LOT with an extra $200. But the chosen constraint was $800, and given that I think they did rather well.

SPL (sound pressure level) determines hearing loss, not delivery system. Worried about hearing loss? Turn down the volume. Buds are a compromise for portability, so those are out for this purpose. Full phones beat speakers on a price/performance basis, so they win out here. You also don't bother the rest of the house/apartment. Speakers good enough to meet the quality of even mid-tier over-ear headphones would cost four times the price of the cans.

Agree with you though, on the SSD and PSU, at least in part. A decent 550-650W would be more than sufficient for future single-card upgrades (which the price limit on this build necessitates). To keep it within budget, you'd need to downgrade something; probably the GPU, which is why we wanted more power in the first place. R9 380 would probably work. 120GB, though... Yeah, way too small for a system that's going to house games. Taking the SSD as a starting point, it's easy to add a 1-2 TB mechanical drive later when funds allow. But if trying to stick to the budget strictly, I'd opt for the Blue instead as well.

As far as upgrades, filling both RAM slots might not be something I'd do right away; perhaps try to find a 4-slot board in the same price range or go with an 8GB module. There should be 1155 options available new for awhile yet if the i3 starts to stutter, and used for even longer. If the PS ends up being insufficient when the GPU is outclassed and replaced, you're only sacrificing $40 to upgrade, less if you can sell it for a few bucks. But overall, the only true potential fault I can see is storage.
 
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I've never had an issue upgrading hardware with OEM licences. Especially not after a good deal of time has passed since I built the machine. The activation servers reset and allow you to re-activate OEM copies after about a year, regardless of hardware configuration. And even if it won't activate via the internet because the server hasn't reset our key yet, you just use the phone activation and it will activate that way. Buying retail copies is just a waste of money.
Don't know about the licensing for Win8/10, but full copies of 7 allowed installation on multiple systems, desktop and laptop I think (or was it 3 systems total?). Correct me on this if I'm wrong.
 
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the Radeon R9 280
I first thought that as I like the 3Gb.. the problem from PcPartsPicker the are drying up fast, the best price $178 -AR$20 for a Gigabyte WINDFORCE... working $20 less for a R9 285 seem a good trade.

R9 380 would probably work
Many 380 2Gb have little merit over the PowerColor R9 285 TurboDuo so to bump up it was $25 still working a $20 rebate, I wanted to use that someplace else. If going that R9 380 route then you want 4Gb, and the best price on 380 4Gb is $204 (still working a $20 rebate) +$45 is ludicrous... Then it's almost mandatory to ante up for a 290 $243 (same old rebate). For 20% more cash, the minimum FpS you receive is 20%, while most 30% (some like 40%) and power about 20% increase.

http://www.hardwareluxx.de/index.php/artikel/hardware/grafikkarten/35903-drei-modelle-der-radeon-r9-380-im-test.html

That's the issue, there's a hard cut-off if you stay with lower CPU. Crazy working 53% more money to just do a 290 , and if craving the maximum FpS the 290 can offer, it really mandates the i5. ~$700.

Looking at the lower level (less costly) I ponder how W10/Dx12, Asynchronous Shading, improved multi-core support (or at least getting away from high CPU overhead within Dx11), low level API come play into the future. While not spending big on old 28nm allots you money/justification to jump to a the next 14/16nm GPU as soon as they arrive.
 
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We seem to have been making the same point at the same time. You beat me to the punch on posting.

My concern is that older versions of windows had limitations of hardware. Heck, I transitioned to Windows XP x64 because I wanted more RAM. Even Windows 7 was locked on RAM quantity (you had to buy professional if you were populating something on the x79 platform fully). It seems like those limitations have been moved out in Windows 10 (192 GB for Home seems to be more than roomy enough), but establishing parity between the versions may be something worth pursuing.


I'll give you the general sentiment about using the latest OS. At the same time, you quote an OEM copy of windows 10, not a retail version ($119.99). If you're writing a guide with pricing, establish everything. If not, this is a segment where you can't trust the author, because you aren't sure about their assumptions. While not intentionally dishonest, it's easy to call that misleading.
Windows 7 pro is 29,99$ and will upgrade to Windows 10 pro for free (at least if you upgrade in the next 11 months)
 
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Windows 7 pro is 29,99$ and will upgrade to Windows 10 pro for free (at least if you upgrade in the next 11 months)
Source?

My source is Newegg, because a $29.99 copy of windows sounds too good to be true. It definitely sounds too good to be legal.
 
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I would get R9 280 in order to get FX6350 + a decent mobo.
Why? So you can have a considerably slower build?:confused: The i3-4160 will in most cases turn the FX every which way but loose and then have a cigarette afterward. o_O
 
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I never understood why people would buy new systems all at once. Why not just upgrade a piece at a time? Your case, monitor, HDD or SDD, speakers, KB & mouse... all that is still good.

Just go for the MOBO+cpu+ram... or upgrade GPU... all that nonsense...

I guess there is always that newb (your grandma) that needs everything replaced.
 

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G2A offers WIndows keys that are supposedly legit for about $25-30 for WIndows 8.1
 
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Videocard + monitor eat up 50% of the budget.

I would recommend for instance the Radeon R9 280 or to ditch Intel's i3 and go for an AMD A10-7000 series APU without additional discrete card but more HDD volume + a 4K monitor. ;)
Have to agree the video card is to much for 1080p in most games, i.e it exceeds the 60hz rate of the monitor. Going with a cheaper video card would be better, it would also allow for a cheaper processor in that you aren't going to become processor dependent. In a majority of games a superior IPC is a better way to go, but unless you can back that up with an equally (or better video card) it will make little to no difference.
 

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I like your choice of peripherals. I've seen people paying more for mouse+keyboard than GPU.
I know what you mean, how ever when you think about your comment it's meaningless as depending on what mouse and keyboard and graphics card i could go and get a video card now for $30.
 
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i3 + R9 290, why? :(
have you seen haswell i3s keeping up with 8 core FXs in most games?
I have my doubts if 500W psu is enough for the R290. I have a Seasonic g450 which has 3A less on +12V rail and it would occasionally reset with GTX970 + stock i5 3350P due to a random spike pushing it over the edge. R290 pulls ~70W (or 12A) more in peak.
if you are resetting with a 970 and locked i5 on a 450 watt PSU- its a problem with the PSU not the components power consumption.

btw, 70 watts is just less than 6 amps of 12v.
 

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Don't know about the licensing for Win8/10, but full copies of 7 allowed installation on multiple systems, desktop and laptop I think (or was it 3 systems total?). Correct me on this if I'm wrong.
No they didn't. One licence one system. They sold 3 packs at one time, but they were like $250.

G2A offers WIndows keys that are supposedly legit for about $25-30 for WIndows 8.1
There are a lot of sites that offer "supposedly legit" copies of Windows...
 

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G2A offers WIndows keys that are supposedly legit for about $25-30 for WIndows 8.1
I''m not saying you can't go out there and "buy" a copy of windows that cheaply. The best arguments I've found are people buying a copy in India, shipping the key elsewhere, and ending up with a working OS. Of course, the more likely thing is either a cracked install or wholly illegitimate code. This is why I ask for a link.

Newegg, to my knowledge, has never had a problem moving legit software. Their prices generally reflect the MSRP from MS.
 
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Never an i3, it isn't future proof and limits the R9 290. Better save somewhere and take an i5, much better bet. Also OS is part of an PC and should be integrated. You can't integrate everything and miss the OS, thats just wrong.
 
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Motherboard Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra
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Memory Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000 Mhz
Video Card(s) Inno3D iChill GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
Storage Samsung 970 Evo 1TB
Display(s) Asus RoG PG279Q Swift
Case Fractal Design Define S2 Gunmetal
Audio Device(s) Asus Xonar Essence STX II (Sennheiser HD 650)
Power Supply Corsair HX750i
Mouse Logitech G903
Keyboard Corsair K70 (Black)
Software W10 x64
No they didn't. One licence one system. They sold 3 packs at one time, but they were like $250.
There are a lot of sites that offer "supposedly legit" copies of Windows...
Which are usually (stolen) MSDN keys.
 
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Messages
4,487 (1.83/day)
Processor i7 7700k
Motherboard MSI Z270 SLI Plus
Cooling CM Hyper 212 EVO
Memory 2 x 8 GB Corsair Vengeance
Video Card(s) MSI RTX 2070 Super
Storage Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB and WD Black 4TB
Display(s) Dell 27 inch 1440p 144 Hz
Case Corsair Obsidian 750D Airflow Edition
Audio Device(s) Onboard
Power Supply EVGA SuperNova 850 W Gold
Mouse Logitech G502
Keyboard Logitech G105
Software Windows 10
$2,400 "Battlestation" build or $1,200 "Performance" build next Friday?
Do the $1,200 build next. Save the dessert for last.
 

asdf

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Joined
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That's a pretty decent build. Good job of highlighting which components are cheap yet do the job well like the motherboard, monitor and peripherals.

However there's a big problem with it.

You haven't benchmarked it so we dont know how well it will perform. The reason I say this is because AMD is known to have bad dx11 drivers and thus games perform unsatisfactorily on anything less than core i5 processors, as compared to their nvidia counterparts at similar price levels with weaker CPUs. This has been mentioned again and again by competitor websites such as Eurogamer's digital foundry and pcper.com. So I would strongly suggest you please spend the time to benchmark this build before recommending it otherwise it just comes off as disingenuous.

Another thing, the operating system. The consoles come with an OS, hence if you are building a system to compete with it, you must include the price of an operating system, otherwise the comparison doesn't matter.

Lastly, the storage. You should mention, according to your choice of OS, how much storage will the user end up with after formatting and installing the OS. My hunch is that it will come out to around 110-115GB after installing Windows 10. Install two modern games around 30-50GB and you are running out already(this is not counting other applications like browser, drivers,music,etc). So, in my opinion, a mechanical hard disk would provide much better value for money and save one the hassle of managing disk space frequently.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2014
Messages
13,864 (6.11/day)
Location
The Washing Machine
Processor i7 8700k 4.7Ghz @ 1.26v
Motherboard AsRock Fatal1ty K6 Z370
Cooling beQuiet! Dark Rock Pro 3
Memory 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200/C16
Video Card(s) MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X @ 2100/5500
Storage Samsung 850 EVO 1TB + Samsung 830 256GB + Crucial BX100 250GB + Toshiba 1TB HDD
Display(s) Gigabyte G34QWC (34'' 3440x1440x)
Case Fractal Design Define C TG
Power Supply EVGA G2 750w
Mouse Logitech G502 Protheus Spectrum
Keyboard Sharkoon MK80 (Brown)
Software W10 x64
Videocard + monitor eat up 50% of the budget.

I would recommend for instance the Radeon R9 280 or to ditch Intel's i3 and go for an AMD A10-7000 series APU without additional discrete card but more HDD volume + a 4K monitor. ;)
Ehm, why? The R9 280 will create a GPU bottleneck which is the last place you'd want one, plus it's an old card with lower specs than the latest rebrand. Why would you invest in a 3 year -old GPU?
An A10 will create a much slower machine overall that is insufficient for any kind of 3D game at 1080p and struggles on the CPU side with virtually anything. Unless you like 30 fps medium settings.

So then you've got a slow POS with a (crappy TN or a slow PLS/IPS!) 4K monitor that is only useful on desktop and a big harddisk. You run every game at 1/4th native resolution and it still runs like shit. Yay? I'm glad you didn't write this guide :p By the time you have the money to buy enough GPU to drive 4K at decent FPS, you'll be so sick of the ugly IQ that you'd be ready to toss the whole machine out the window...

Overall I think the build and budgeting is fine, I'd just remove the peripherals from the list including the monitor, because those are items you are likely to already have in some shape or form and they are very personal touches to any system, plus they last longer than a system generally does, and add in the OS. About the choice of OEM or retail, still would go OEM because you can also drop an i5 on this board if you ever lack CPU grunt and there is hardly any reason to go bigger than that for anything other than professional workstation apps, which is not the purpose of this system. The R9 290 is a solid choice for this budget, and you could even pair it with an i5 if you really squeeze it a little more, like crazyeyes pointed out.
 
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