Been exploring the option of building myself a gaming pc for almost two years but could never justify spending the cash on a toy for myself that would admittedly see very little use. However my son saw me searching pc parts and got it in his head that he'd like to build a game pc. And the perfect excuse to build was born... quality time teaching the kids anything is always worth the cost, plus he'll use the crap out of it :) So my goal for this build was to get a good rig that can handle new games in high settings and hopefully provide an advantage over console gaming on a 1080 32' TV and keep it under $700. No overclocking as I just need something that will run consistent and smooth so the boy doesn't have to mess with settings every time he plays a new game.
Started the build by picking up a refurbished Dell Optiplex 990 w/i5-2500. Got what I think was an amazing deal on this at dellauctions.com, $211.94 including taxes and shipping. From this, I used the case, cpu, mobo, 4gb ram, optical drive, and 500gb hhd (for a little additional storage space). First I replaced the psu with a new EVGA NEX750B1. Was looking to just to upgrade to a 500w-650w psu but found this 750w for less than the 550w 80-bronze I had in cart at the time of purchase. I later read that the B1 model is considered low quality and less reliable than other EVGA Supernova models. However, the sources were somewhat contradicting to the info I had in hand so I'll take it with a grain of salt. I'm pretty sure it will hold up under the non-oc workload of this build. Next I added 8gb (2x4) 1600 ram and kept the existing DDR3-1333 ram in place. Since the mobo can only support speeds upto 1333 I figured leaving the slower ram in would not slow down the new DDR3-1600 set (please correct me if I'm wrong). For video I purchased a MSI GeForce GTX950 2gb. From what I've read this card should be enough to provide decent frame rates with med-high settings to a 1080p 60hz tv. For the main drive, I picked up the Samsung 850 EVO 250gb ssd. And after witnessing windows start-up time on the ssd I don't think I could ever choose a hdd for os start-up again. It takes about 4-5 seconds for windows to start from a dead sleep and 3-4 seconds for a restart. I also had to purchase a 64 bit version of windows 7 (since the refurb only included 32bit), and a wireless network adapter.
When I received the refurbished 990, I determined by the sheer size of the case that any parts I added should fit with ease. However, space turned out to be an issue when replacing the PSU as well as when installing the GPU... Live and learn ;)
For the PSU, I had to remove the locking mechanism for the side panel on the case. Once removed, the PSU was able to slide into place without a mm to spare (and the panel still stays in place without the lock).
The GPU was a different story. On this particular mobo, the sata connections are lined up just below the pcie slot. The MSI GeForce GTX950 2gb is thick and nearly blocked access to the sata connections and the connected cables were pressing against the GPU fan. Fortunately, I was still able to use 3 of the 4 sata connection by carefully routing the cables under the fan's shield. The 4th sata connection is directly under the fan and any cable connected there will keep the fan from spinning. Good thing I only needed 3 connected :)
After all was said and done, the boy is extremely happy with his new system. And we both learned a ton through the experience. I was able to get him a great rig for under $700 (about $640 all tolled). All the games he's tried so far have had no issues running on this build. And more importantly, he's been doing his own research to get things like the ps3 controller to work on pc and Developing his own troubleshooting skills.
Edit: All parts with the exception of Dell refurb were purchased from Amazon.com. Parts marked as $0 were included in refurb and are only similar representations of the actual parts.
This was my first attempt at a build/upgrade of this proportion and I can say for sure there will be more!
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think and what I could've done differently. Thanks for reading!