Let me start by saying I used to be an avid PC gamer and built one other PC prior to this one but it was back in 2002. I built that one to play Morrowind! I transitioned to console when the Xbox 360 launched and didn't look back. I bought an Xbox One when it launched and have been mostly satisfied with it until the last year. I've seen how inexpensive PC parts have become and how much easier it is to build a custom PC so I decided to give my Xbox One to my 11 year old son and build my own gaming PC. It's good to be back! I had a very strict $600 budget to work with and I had a few very specific goals in mind for this build. I wanted a PC that would play Elite Dangerous (pretty much the only game I play anymore) at 60fps at 1080p with high settings. I knew that if what I built ran Elite well then it would also run Path of Exile (I've had my eyes on that game for ages) at high settings too. I wanted to build something that could be upgraded in the future as well. And of course simple web browsing, some very light photo editing, and word processing.
I did a ton of research on this site and many others. I decided that for my needs and interests I wanted to go with an Intel processor and Nvidia card (I have no interest in overclocking). I went with the i3-6100. It gets great reviews and was very reasonably priced. I don’t need a true quad-core processor for anything I do. The hardest decision was the gpu. I went back and forth on so many different models. I settled on the EVGA GTX 950 because of solid reviews and a good price. The one I got is actually the SC version but that is not listed on the site for some reason. I went with a micro ATX mobo to save some money. That presented some challenges during the build process. The case has quite a bit of room but plugging everything into the mobo was a little tight. Overall the case is good. Two stock fans and a decent amount of space and grooves for cable management (which I’m terrible at). It felt flimsier than what I would’ve liked. But it held up good throughout the build process. And it looks good with the LEDs. I robbed an 500gb hd from an old Dell sitting unused in our basement. Wiped it and its working fine as backup storage. Its funny because whenever I talked to someone about building a PC they were like, “Dude, you gotta get an SSD.” And I’m like, “What’s the big deal about an SSD. I’ve never used one before. I think I’ll be ok with a good old 7200rpm.” But because I was able to save some money here and there I ended buying the 120gb Sandisk SSD. Needless to say, everyone was right and I couldn’t have been more wrong. A bigger SSD is at the top of my Christmas list this year! I also pulled the media drive, keyboard, and wireless adapter out of the old Dell and saved more money there. One of the biggest money savers was with the OS. My wife is back in college getting her teaching degree and so I was able to get Windows 10 Education edition at no charge through her university. That saved me a lot! The G700s mouse was an unplanned purchase since I already had an old mouse. But I was at Target and saw it on clearance for $29. An extra discount at the register brought it down to $26. I’d say that was a pretty good deal for an amazing mouse. I don’t even use the keyboard when playing Path of Exile.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the final product. This PC is so much better than I expected. The processor is blazing fast with multiple programs running. The gpu is amazing. I’m running Elite Dangerous Horizons at maxed out settings at 1080p. In space, I consistently get over 100fps. In stations and driving on planets I get consistently over 70fps! Again, that’s with all settings maxed out. It’s so much prettier than on Xbox One. Everything is whisper quiet and runs cool. Even when the 950 fan turns on I barely hear it. Again, I’m very happy with the build. And all for under $600!
So I've had this card for a month now and I just can't get over how good it is. You can read in my build description how it runs Elite Dangerous: Horizons. It far exceeded my expectations in that game. I've tried a few more games since.
Crysis 3: High settings, 1080p, 60+fps consistently. Dragon Age: Inquisition: High settings, 1080p, 60+fps consistently. Battlefield 4 Single Player Campaign: High Settings, 1080p, 60-80fps.
It never goes above 60 celsius under load. The fan is whisper quiet.
All that said, unless you can find the 950 on sale like I did you might as well get the new 1050.