This rig was built to replace a ‘gaming’ laptop, which replaced the XBOX 360, which replaced the Playstation 3, which replaced the original XBOX in search of racing sims. If only I took the money spent up to this point and went with a PC initially I could be launching rockets from my backyard right now, but I digress. The goal was to build a system that would allow max settings with a single 1080p 60Hz monitor and keep it under $1,000 USD. I wanted to achieve a balanced system that has room for growth, if needed, and not compromise on quality for each component. With the resources available like Tom’s Hardware, dozens of videos on YouTube from manufacturers, along with PCPicker and the PCP community, were essential to the decisions I made. I am a bit more educated in technology than when I started and am appreciative of all mentioned. All costs are after incentives and do not include taxes or shipping.
Optical Drive Conversion Kit- An Icy Dock 2.5” to 5.25” I removed the HDD/SSD cage for improved air flow and added a lower front fan. Conversion kit was installed in one of the two optical drive bays for the SSD. I am not installing any optical drives, readers, etc.
I gave everything 5 stars as install went smoothly and no conflicts with drivers. The exception was the additional case fan as noted. Other than that a very satisfying build.
*Revised 5/25/16: Ran benchmarks using Extreme HD settings for both the laptop and the racing rig. The racing rig has achieved the goal of max setting at 60fps (59.1 to be exact) 3x's that of the laptop. I initially set the OC of the CPU at 100Mhz less than the max achieved using the Asus AI Tweaker of 4.6Ghz. I am now going to de-clock the processor and run tests again until I get to a point where the frame rate dips lower than the 59.1fps and then maintain the CPU clock speed at the level as to not run it harder than is required. The monitor is a 60Hz 42" Plasma, so if my understanding is correct sending any additional fps is not being utilized.
*Revised 9/5/16: A second PNY CS1311 480 GB SSD was installed and used as the drive for games only. The installation and set up was simple and quick as was the moving the Steam application. Since the last revision I learned from CXC Simulations in a joint interview with a Project CARS 2 developer that overclocking the CPU may negatively affect the hardware experience as it interacts with the physics of the application/game/sim. I have since de-clocked the CPU back to stock 3.5 Ghz and have not have experienced any negative effect in performance.
*Revised 3/8/2017: Built a TV stand to bring the TV lower and closer to the driving position from original as seen in the first two photos. Check out the video for some useful information I gathered to come to this change. Racing Rig Monitor Positioning Video Here
*Revised 7/13/2017: Replaced TV with three Acer GN276HL 27", 144Hz, 1080p, 1ms monitors mounted to a Seneca SD13 stand. Triple monitor setup video here
From what I understand the majority of games do not use hyper threading and as being a dedicated gaming PC and no professional video, photo, or music editing being done the i5 seemed like the best value. With overclocking available this CPU should give the system room to grow. Used the install tool from Asus to ensure proper fit to motherboard.
OC to 4.5Ghz 5/17/2016
Established component, great reviews, best value. Easy install, watch video on install as printed instructions are a bit vague.
Great reviews along with the PCDIY channel on YouTube really sold me on Asus. The dedication to making the UEFI user friendly for even a novice like me is assuring. Overclocking will allow me to tweak the system for more performance if needed, or if I just want to geek it up a bit. A more experienced PC builder may want to go with the ROG series, but in comparison and with my experience this made the most sense.
Using the Qualified Vendor List (QVL) from Asus along with the G. Skill configurator I was confident this memory would not have a compatibility issue. Having the Intel eXtreme Memory Profile (XMP) will ensure top performance from the RAM. Looks good too.
550 MBps / 520 MBps Read/Write, and up to 87,000 IOPS in 4k random read compares well with others costing significantly more. This will be the only drive for now and should be sufficient for Windows 10 and the three or four games. If required, the case, Mobo and PSU are capable of adding more, and by then the cost of larger SSD’s should also be less expensive, perhaps even a M.2.
As with the motherboard, Asus breathes confidence into the build with this GPU. Solid functionality with the ability to OC with native software is important. Thoroughly tested overclocking by Asus gave me confidence I could get a well performing system that is stable. As with the AI Tweaker, the GPU Tweak II software has a robust platform for more advanced users.
A 'budget' case (cheap I guess) is the description I saw most often used for this case, but I like the airflow and the industrial look.
A fully modular unit for cable management, a larger capacity to ensure consistent power and upgrade ability for other components, and a Gold Plus rating was key.
Wireless Network Adapter
One of the few that had a magnetic, free standing antenna. Handles both 2.4 and 5.0 Ghz and max speed ratings exceed what is currently available in my area by a bunch.
The connecting cable is very short so had to flip with the upper front fan for better cable management, also clear blades on the fan would have enhanced the LED effect . Honestly though, it was cheap and it works fine.
The quality and clarity is what I noticed first and foremost when looking at the digital display from the in cockpit view when racing, the numbers are easily read at a glance. I am by no means a TV/Monitor expert and typically don't tweak with settings and fortunately this monitor looked fantastic to me straight out of the box and that's where I have left it.
If I had a gripe it is the connections being VGA, DVI and HDMI, for this monitor to obtain the 144Hz a native DVI to DVI connection is required without adapters. The the HDMI is capable of only 60Hz and the VGA...well is VGA.