Description

As a broke college kid who feverishly regrets spending $1700 on a new MacBook Pro in 2012, I have wanted to build a gaming PC for a while. I finally hiked up my trousers and pulled a couple triggers and drained my bank account to make it happen. I have joined you, ladies and gentlemen. I am come to the gates of PC Elysium.

Bought all my parts from Amazon or Newegg. I started the build with 1 8GB RAM stick (because RAM at the time of me building it was expensive, and is now even more expensive) and a borrowed GPU (thanks Josh) pretty much just to get it running and play games.

My plan was to try to wait until I could get as good a deal as possible on an RX 480 or 580 (a Herculean task to be sure, but it's all for the FreeSync), but my secondhand R7 260X had some difficulties and was functional pretty much only like 30% of the time, forcing me to find a good deal on a 480 or 580 on eBay. Dropped $280 on a used MSI Armor OC RX 480 4GB, which was the best price on that chip I could find at the time, and had trouble with it for a couple months before I realized the seller kind of bamboozled me by not telling me he had modded the BIOS for mining. Fixed it, works great now.

Got a second RAM stick to make space for more Skyrim waifus, ended up being like $20 more than the first one (thanks RAM monopoly). Bought a couple more fans because my 480 was revvin up like a helicopter and it was 90ºF outside. Better cable management. It works, and it stays cool.

3 months after the fact, the build is probably done and more expensive than I intended. I don't know what people are saying, building a PC right now is pretty difficult on a budget. I'm not someone who can drop $3000 on something, so $1000 was my max and I was definitely closer to $1200 by the end of this build. A few months before? Probably would have been A-OK. Now all the posts I see of "first builds" on /r/buildapc are R7 1700 + 1080Ti. Good budget builds kind of blow now. Thanks miners. And capitalism.

Anyway, I can run games pretty well now. CPU's at base clock, 3.5 GHz, no overclocks anywhere (not on GPU either). All at 1080p.

Overwatch: 120-150 fps at Medium/High settings (not counting frame drops that currently plague the game for a lot of AMD cards)

PUBG: 50-70 fps at Medium/Very Low settings. Not bad for a poorly optimized game.

Battlefield 1: 70-100 fps at Medium/High settings, depending on the area.

Battlefront 2 (yes, I'm sorry): 70-100 fps at Ultra/High settings. Again, depending on the area.

DOOM: 100-120 fps at High settings.

Part Reviews

CPU

Besides the fact that it doesn't have integrated graphics, I haven't had any problems with it so far. It's been overclocked to 3.9 GHz and temps have been pretty good as far as I've seen. 4 cores is great, and I'm sure I'll be using this for years to come. The only issue I've seen is that it will sometimes downclock to 1.55 GHz. Restarting the computer seems to solve that problem, but I always have to keep an eye on it.

Motherboard

Has everything you'd want from an ATX mobo. Some cool LEDs here and there, but nothing fancy. Solid board.

Memory

I had to go into BIOS to clock this to 2400 as it defaulted to 2133 MHz for some reason, but other than that it's been fine. I intend on getting another stick eventually.

Storage

I've been offloading tons of junk onto this thing, and I feel like I might need another one soon. I had to configure it and all, but after that it worked perfectly.

Video Card

A strange little card. Granted it's old and I'm borrowing it, but it seems to have a defect in which the core clock gets stuck at 300 MHz and won't go back up to its real core clock, which is 1100 MHz. Uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers worked once but only once, and since then I've been toggling a PCI-e setting in BIOS (can't really remember, something to do with waking the PCI-e device or something) between "disabled" and "enabled". It will seemingly downclock itself in the middle of a task, as I was playing Overwatch one day and getting a bunch of frame stutters before the software seemed to crash and the card reset itself to 300 MHz.

The most definitive solution to this problem that I found on the internet was "RMA the card". It's way past warranty anyway, so I've just been giving it an adrenaline shot any time it goes back into a coma.

Other than that, it's been fine. I needed it to set up the computer because Ryzen doesn't have integrated graphics. It's quiet, which I guess is the main reason for the DD design. I've been able to run Overwatch at low settings (100% render scale) at around 70-90 FPS, PUBG at low settings around 50 FPS. Makes an old console pleb happy.

Update: Card behavior has not been entirely consistent. Now when I start a game of Overwatch, it crashes completely. Every other game is fine. From time to time, it will give me lots of stuttering, which is usually the sign that it's about to fail. After looking around I downloaded the RadeonMod application and I've been restarting the drivers every time it's downclocked. I usually have to restart the drivers like 3 or 4 times for it to go back to normal. Weird, I know, but a used 480 is on the way.

Case

Awesome tower. Durable, cheap, looks great, 2 big ol' fans, lots of bays, and 2 spots for optical drives. Cable management's good if you don't mind stuffing them back there. All in all, couldn't be more satisfied to put stickers on this bad boy.

Power Supply

It's a PSU that works. Quiet and reliable, comes with all the cables, hasn't given me any issues. 80+ Gold, can't go wrong with that. I figured it was worth the extra money to have something that will last.

Optical Drive

It's cheap. It's an optical drive. It went in my case. It matches my case's color. I r8 8/8.

Monitor

Review might be skewed because this is my first 144hz monitor and my first FreeSync monitor. I love it. Perfect size for me, adjustable (stand is on a swivel which is nice), and once you fiddle with the settings you can get it to an OK place color-wise. A con here would be that the color gamut is sort of narrow, and watching some videos on this monitor that looked good on my MacBook Pro Retina reveals a lot of blocky color changes. Could be doing something wrong. But man, is 144hz + FreeSync worth it. Plus you don't have to pay that G-Sync premium!

Log in to rate comments or to post a comment.

Comments

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

I think you'll get some love if you clean up those cables.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

I know how hard it is to cable manage in the spec series. I think that is why they call it spec. Because there is a spec of room for cable management. But it is possible to make it look good. Just a bit of cable management will make this look a lot better. The advice I can give you is to not have cables overlapping each other. If you do have them overlapping then it will make putting the side panel on really hard. Take a look at my build and these others I found. Mine is the first one.

https://pcpartpicker.com/b/xxcYcf\

https://pcpartpicker.com/b/CGP323

https://pcpartpicker.com/b/vTYTwP

https://pcpartpicker.com/b/L4sZxr

It took me a long time to get it like this but it was well worth it. It probably took the other people a good chunk of time to get the cable management cleaned up, But trust me. If you do it is well worth it.

Other then that good build. Although a used 480 would not be the best option.

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814487263&cm_re=gtx_1060-_-14-487-263-_-Product

A 1060 would be better for the price. Like this one from newegg. It is one of the few I have seen at a good price. Up to you but you probably won't find a 480 for a price that is worth it.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

I totally would, but I'm holdin out for that FreeSync. And I don't have anything to do today, so I'm probably going to cable manage.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

I would advise waiting until gpu prices go down. $350 for a 480 is not worth it. Not when you could buy a 970 or a 980 on the used market and get the same or better performance. If you really want freesync look into older gpus that are about as powerful as the 480 but even then the benefits of freesync compared to the cost of a card that is powerful enough to use it is not good right now. I would wait and see how it is in a month or two. If 480 prices drop to below $250 then it would be a good buy. If not freesync does not matter. No sense in getting a monitor with a great feature if you are paying $150-$200 over msrp for the gpu driving it. Good luck on the gpu hunt and the cable management.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

sux that your gpu seems to behave because it's a very surprising one!

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

Had the same problem with my rx480 getting stuck at 300 MHz. Latest drivers seem to have fixed it but before that, i used radeonmod to restart the driver that also worked http://www.guru3d.com/files-details/amd-registry-editor-download.html start it up click restart driver bottom right-hand corner. Nice build