Description

*EDIT 3/11/16* System has been very stable. No issues with current games being played, including Fallout 4, Roblox, Minecraft, Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and Shadow of Mordor. For the price of the i3, I really can't think of any changes I would make. If money were no object, I would have gone with an i5 for more quad core, but really has not been an issue and I think the i3 really compliments nicely with the R9 380.

*Original Post* It looks nothing like something from the Fallout Universe, but that is where it gets its name. Vault 111 is my son’s birthday gift which comes shortly after Christmas. He’ll be turning 14, and is a huge Fallout fan. He has been wanting Fallout 4 for some time, but only has a PS3, and a very inadequate PC (first generation AMD A4 APU running Windows 7 and 4GB RAM) that I built him 3+ years ago to play Lego Universe, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Roblox. I give you Vault 111.

What is the intent of this system? This is probably my fifth system I have ever built, and everytime I build a system, I relearn what is current and what is required to meet my needs. This one was tough as I had limited funds, but wanted something that could adequately play games and supplement as a decent PC for school. For gaming, because I wanted to keep around $800, I thought I would focus on solid 1080p experience. There are a variety of both processor and GPU choices (as you can clearly see on this site) in that price range, and built around the same intent. I also wanted something that I could add storage, RAM, and possibly either a CPU or GPU upgrade later on. Finally, I wanted something that looked cool and wasn’t a small, nondescript, black mini tower.

Why a Haswell i3? After doing my homework, I really came to like the i3 because it is a low price point that can do multi-core and can handle 4 threads. Better yet, it retails for around $125, but Frys and Micro Center have often on sale for under $80. In my case, it was on sale for just over $70 with tax. That was a no brainer. Bang for buck, and a processor that could handle most current generation games and not be a bottleneck.

Why an R9 380? Digital Foundry. Simple. It was clear early on that there was a $175-$225 GPU market with the 960 and R9 280, 280x, and 380. 970 and 980 had real price jumps. However, Digital Foundry video comparisons made it clear that the 380 outperformed the 960, and with 4GB they showed even a bit more performance on post processing and such settings.

I am not entirely happy though with the XFX card. The fans are loud. It is running in the 60s-70s C temps, but the fans are freakin loud (lourder than 6 case fans running at the same time combined). Also, the card feels cheap and not as substantive as say an EVGA or ASUS card, both of which I have owned.

Why the Thermaltake Core V21 I just kept reading good reviews and liked the flexibility it offered. You can read about several folks on here that use this case. There are two issues with this case that are not necessarily bad, but folks should be aware of going in. First, it is a loud case. Two sides are basically just mesh screens. There is no sound proofing. It will be as loud as whatever fans you put in it.

Second, because it is so open, you can’t really create any positive or negative pressure in the case. The best you can hope for is to move a lot of air in the case. That is pretty much what I did and there is a graphic above that illustrates airflow in my case.

What I did like about this case was how I could move the panels around, as well as the front switch and plugs to a position that worked for me. There are only 2 USB 3 ports in the front, and no space for an optical drive. Just something to be aware of going in. For my situation, my son has a desk with a cabinet. It is down and to the left of where he sits. He will have clear access to the power switch and plug outlets and be able to look down into the top in the cabinet.

Installing a filter on the bottom if you decide to go with two 120mm fans is tricky as the feet of the case get in the way. I had to install filters on the inside of the case with the fans when I really had preferred on the outside. See picture.

I did notice some scratches in the acrylic and it appears easy to scratch.

Finally, I don’t understand why there are areas in case with no filter for dust. What good does having mesh on the sides and front, but open on the bottom and rear?

SSD and HDD Anyone building a PC today should go SSD, even a budget build. For about $150 I got a 500 GB SSD, and for around $40 more got a 1TB HDD. I have room for 2 more HDD and 2 more SDD. Right now it takes around 10 seconds to boot. Makes using the PC an entirely different experience. The 1TB was cheap.

Memory Everything I read pretty much agreed that 8GB was enough RAM for now. I have room to add two more 4GB sticks and take to 16GB if needed. Second to all of this is that I got memory with built in LED. I highly recommend. Amazing!

CPU Cooler $19 on sale at Newegg. Easy choice, however, I changed the fan. CPU staying under 70s in stress testing (Prime).

Fans I have 2 plain Cooler Master 120mm fans blowing in from the bottom of the case, and the 200mm front fan blowing in. On the side of the graphics card I added another 120mm fan to blow on the graphics card primarily.

The 120mm on the side was to have been a single color ENERMAX T.B.VEGAS. However, you cannot see the LED lighting properly (fan blades are coated on one edge) if the fan is showing the other side of the fan. Because of this, I swapped the BeQuiet and put on the side and put the Enermax on the CPU. The Enermax is a great fan as it can be turned down to not be too loud. With some tweaking in the bios, I am maintaining (albeit a subjective) quiet case with 6 fans going.The 140mm fan at the rear is really quiet.

PSU Very solid PSU for price. Quiet. If had to do again, would purchase similar but modular.

Gaming I have a wired XBox 360 controller for Windows for my son, but I use a Logitech F310. I prefer the Dualshock stick layout over XBox. Gaming performance has been good. I have loaded Witcher 3, Assassins Creed Syndicate, Starcraft II, Elder Scrolls Skyrim, Battlefield 4 and some others (that should keep birthday boy busy). Fallout 4 won’t be loaded until day before birthday as it is a Steam key and he will see in his library. Witcher 3 is getting 40s-60 FPS. It looks much better than on my PS4. BF4 screams. Assassin's Creed is respectable in the 40+ FPS, but the graphics are amazing. Skyrim is looking dated (HD texture pack), but runs so smooth. BTW, I got my son the Pipboy edition of Fallout 4 for the PC. Overall, very happy with performance, and know I could tweak (lower quality) and get 60FPS in most games.

CONCLUSION Overall, I think i3-4170 paired with R9380 is the best bang for the buck I could locate for playing current games. This PC should get him through high school as it is easily better than most PCs in the market currently (store bought).

PROS Relatively low cost Good Performance Airflow/cooling choices

CONS Not as quiet as some GPU heat (runs warm) Airflow/cooling choices (also a con)

Part Reviews

CPU

By itself, an adequate processor but could be considered obsolete with newer Skylark. However, as Tom's Hardware points out "Intel’s Haswell-based Core i3-4170 is also a reasonable choice at $125, given that neither Broadwell nor Skylake are present in the entry-level space. The Core i3 is a dual-core chip. However, Hyper-Threading technology is a boon in applications optimized for more than its two physical cores. We’re a little bothered by the fact that LGA 1150 is a dead-end. But you’ll always have the option to drop in a compatible Core i5 or i7 processor down the road." Given that I purchased for around $70, this was the perfect budget gaming CPU.

CPU Cooler

I have this in my newest system and extremely quiet. I also have a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus and this is quieter to me. I also got for $20 without a rebate and free shipping.

Motherboard

For the price I paid (less than $60), this was the best Mobo for the money. Lots of fan headers. No issues POST or running Windows 10 off of. Paired with i3-4170 (locked multiplyer so H97 not an issue). Like the BIOS and have used to adjust my fans.

Memory

Looks awesome in my case. Runs like it should and BIOS recognized and worked without issue. Google these or go out to Youtube for a demo.

Storage

Highly recommend. Been running a week so cannot comment on longevity. About 10 seconds to boot into Windows 10. Very small.

Storage

Its a hard drive. What's to say. It works and using as a second drive to a Samsung 850 EVO-Series 500GB 2.5" Solid State Drive as the primary. I cannot comment on longevity yet as only been running a week. It is pretty quiet but you can hear it spinning even before I had any data on it for anything. 1 star off because warranty is only 2 year and a bit louder than some drives.

Video Card

Paired with i3-4170. So far they work nicely together. Recognized and installed with no issues on fresh Windows 10 build. No issues with any games or software installed so far and testing (Starcraft II, Witcher 3, BF4).

LOUD fans. At idle temps I can't hear the fans, but any game I have installed, temps go 70+ C and fans run at 100%. I know that is not that hot, but no matter what game it sounds like a jet engine.

Card feels cheap (plastic fan housing and such). I would not take a star off for that, but just noting. Using as 1080P card and cannot comment on higher resolutions. I am installing additional 120mm fan to provide more air and hopefully ease up on the card fans. the card is performing well, and I got for under $175 after rebates. From all of my research, this is the best bang for buck card at around $200 price. If noise is not an issue for you, then this is a 5 star card, but the fans are just too much for me and why 1 star off.

Case

Taken directly from my build:

I just kept reading good reviews and liked the flexibility it offered. You can read about several folks on here that use this case. There are two issues with this case that are not necessarily bad, but folks should be aware of going in. First, it is a loud case. Two sides are basically just mesh screens. There is no sound proofing. It will be as loud as whatever fans you put in it.

Second, because it is so open, you can’t really create any positive or negative pressure in the case. The best you can hope for is to move a lot of air in the case. That is pretty much what I did.

What I did like about this case was how I could move the panels around, as well as the front switch and plugs to a position that worked for me. There are only 2 USB 3 ports in the front, and no space for an optical drive. Just something to be aware of going in. For my situation, my son has a desk with a cabinet. It is down and to the left of where he sits. He will have clear access to the power switch and plug outlets and be able to look down into the top in the cabinet.

Installing a filter on the bottom if you decide to go with two 120mm fans is tricky as the feet of the case get in the way. I had to install filters on the inside of the case with the fans when I really had preferred on the outside. See picture.

I did notice some scratches in the acrylic and it appears easy to scratch.

Finally, I don’t understand why there are areas in case with no filter for dust. What good does having mesh on the sides and front, but open on the bottom and rear?

Power Supply

Five stars as I knew what I was getting, although modular would have been better for my case (Thermaltake Core V21). Extremely quiet. Just too many cords for me. Under $50 for a very high quality PSU.

Comments

  • 48 months ago
  • 3 points

does it run Fallout 4? :D

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Runs it very well, and my son loves to mess with mods.

  • 48 months ago
  • 2 points

Good steal on the i3. Without that, it would've been harder to justify going intel only for the upgradeability to an i5 or i7. Sorry to hear about the xfx card, I was honestly surprised by that. Overall very nice pc, I'm sure your son will be happy with the performance, and to be able to play Fallout 4.

  • 48 months ago
  • 1 point

Seriously wish we could get that mail-in rebate and tax stuff in Australia as people in america do especially. How you guys have so many computer stores that are close by "Local Microcenter", this sucks :( All we have are coupons.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

I live north of Dallas, TX. It is practically the tech retail capital of the world. I have 3 Frys Electronics within 30 miles, a Microcenter, 2 Best Buys within 5 minutes, and another 3 within 15 minutes of my house. Amazon delivers within 2 hours as well. Yeah, pretty sick.

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

This came out looking pretty nice! I bet your son will love it!

It's definitely cool seeing another configuration with this case. Did you end up doing anything to filter the open areas on the back? I considered replacing the grill PCI slot covers on my build with solid ones. For now I'm just gonna check periodically to see if/where dust gets in and filter accordingly since it's hard to say how air will move in such an open case.

Nice airflow diagram, btw!

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

No, I need to go check and see how it is going, but I am hoping enough air coming in to at least not suck dust in from there.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Just looking through the window on top of the case periodically, I haven't seen any accumulation of dust inside my case, and I didn't even add any additional filtering like you did. So, I'm thinking you're right and that dust entering via the PCI slots won't be an issue.

I have noticed that a ring of dust forms on the front of a case fairly quickly. I wish there was an easier way to remove the front filter for clearing without having to take any panels off the case.

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

+1 for all the detailed descriptions and reviews. Helpful!

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you.

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

I have the same video card, and the same issue with the fans. My solution was to create a custom fan curve in MSI Afterburner. I set minimum speed at 15% until 35C, with a straight ramp from there to 50% at 70C, and then finally to 100% at 90C. I think the built-in curve is overcautious, as there wasn't a great rise in temps when limiting the fans to 40% (the point at which I feel they begin to become audible, about 50% is when the noise gets bothersome). Full disclosure: I'm running the card underclocked, since it's overpowered for my current system, but said system is also not the greatest for airflow. You could also try dropping the core clock a bit (970MHz is reference, but one can always go lower) and/or lowering the thermal limit by 5-10%. A couple of Newegg reviewers had good luck with a VGA BIOS update (I haven't tried this yet).

Also, let us Fallout fans rocking this card know how it's working out.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Working good. He is not complaining about fans, so I let it be for now. Fallout seems to be running good, but he still plays Roblox more than just about any other game.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Awesome, glad it's working out. One more question if I may. I finally upgraded my platform, and ended up with an i3 as well, but a 6100. Do you get ”jittery”gameplay in interiors in FO4? Outdoor environments are nice and smooth at 1080p Ultra, but things get hitchy inside. Hoping input from someone with a similar system might help me troubleshoot.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build! Love the black with blue lighting.

I used to play Roblox too! :D

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice Build....

Thanks for Sharing !!

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

+1 for being a cool dad. Although... you really should have let the spoiled child put the rig together, it builds life skills. ;)

  • 48 months ago
  • 0 points

It will more than adequately run Fallout 4. Digital Foundry did a test run using budget PC running an i3-4130 and a 750 TI, both well below what I have here, and it outperformed PS4 and Xbox One. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iipDWbd6HNg

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