Description

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!

Part Reviews

Video Card

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.

Comments

  • 32 months ago
  • 4 points

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.

You should also share your pc with your son, so he could be from the Hybrid Master Race

  • 32 months ago
  • 3 points

Haha! He plays Ark and Path of Exile on it. It runs Ark pretty well too. A mix of medium and high settings at a solid 30fps at 1080p.

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

What games have you been able to comfortably play on it?

What are some games are you not playing but you think your build could handle?

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

I added a review for the video card with some specifics. But I've been playing Elite Dangerous: Horizons at Ultra settings at 1080p at over 60fps. I've played Dragon Age Inquisition, Crysis 3, and Battlefield 4 at high settings at 1080p 60fps. I also played Star Citizen during the free weekend a few weeks ago at medium settings at 25-30fps. That one really surprised me because it specifically says a quad core processor is required and its so unoptimized in alpha. It was actually playable. I didn't even expect it to run.

I'm hoping to be able to play Mass Effect Andromeda at medium settings at 1080p 60fps. I'm hoping that since I can run Battlefield 4 and DA:I at high settings I might be able to run it well with medium settings.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey, just curious why you went for the gtx 950 rather than a 1050 at the same price point?

  • 32 months ago
  • 2 points

The 1050's weren't out when I bought everything. And interestingly enough, in all of my research on GPU's I didn't come across anything about the 1050's. And I did a lot research on a lot of different sites and forums. From what I've read since their release, the GTX 950 and 1050 are quite similar performance wise. If I were doing the build today, I would definitely get the 1050. But this build is a month old. I just now got around to writing about it.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Is there anything you don't like about the case? I'm thinking about getting it for almost the same build.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

As I said in my post, my first impression out of the box was that some parts of the case felt a little flimsy. The clear side panel felt like a cheap plastic. But, it's help up well. I've removed the side panels several times, transported from home to work a couple times and nothing has broken. The side panels are easy to remove, there's plenty of room for cable management, and the two stock fans are working well. I like the top placement of the ports and power button. My only complaint now is that the LED power light is rediculously bright. So much so that I've considered unplugging it from the mobo. I haven't yet. I've just put a small piece of electrical tape over it. I keep the PC in my bedroom and that LED is so bright that it lights the whole room!

Overall, I'd say its a good case for the price. I'd give the case 4 out of 5 stars.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Idk when you built, but you easily could've gotten the Pentium($50 less than the i3) and OCed it and gotten similar performance, allowing you to spend a bit more and buying a more relevant card. That said, even with the i3 you could've bought the RX 460 for a similar price point and gotten a better card. That's not to say your build isn't sufficient, it's just not the best for this budget. I don't know the game very well but it seems like your frames are killing it. I hope you enjoy it and continue to explore the glorious world of PC gaming

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the comment. When it comes to this sort of thing I have a pretty casual interest. As I said in my post, I am not really interested in overclocking. I wanted the best performance I could get for the price without overclocking. I just really don't want to have to worry about temps and power. I did consider the RX 460 and read a lot of comparisons between it and the 950. The card I got is oc'd to 1.2ghz even though that's not what is listed on the parts list. Perfomance wise I think they're very comparable. The tipping point for me was in specifically researching how these cards run Elite. I found better results from users of the 950 than the 460. That's not to say the 460 wouldn't run it the same. I just couldn't find info to confirm that. For what I'm playing and doing with this build, the 950 is perfect. Other than Elite, I play Path of Exile, Sunless Sea, and plan to get Civ VI. Those four games will occupy me for a very long time so the 950 will be relevant for my needs for quite a while.

Thanks again for the comment! And yes...I've missed the glorious world of PC gaming!

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey, thanks for sharing your build! I was just wondering if this build could handle playing Cs:Go and League of Legends, while also streaming to twitch? I have little doubt (though correct me if I'm wrong) that this build could handle the games, but I'm worried that streaming might not be the best thing for the computer.

  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm fairly certain this build would crush those two games. I often have multiple programs running while I'm playing Elite Dangerous and I haven't had any issues at all. But I don't do any streaming so I can't say how this build would handle that specifically. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

  • 31 months ago
  • 1 point

hello there fellow exile!

  • 31 months ago
  • 2 points

YES!

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  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the comment! I'm very happy with the build. Its far exceeded my expectations. I'm not sure when you plan to start buying the parts but a couple things to keep in mind. First, the GTX 1050 is out now. Its very comparable in price to the 950 that I got and may actually perform a little better. Second, I've read recently that DDR4 RAM prices are on the rise but are expected to go back down to more normal prices down the road.

Good luck with your build!

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  • 32 months ago
  • 1 point

I used a Micro ATX in this build. The second pic I posted shows the whole inside of the case with the mobo in. Is that not what you're looking for? I'll post something else if that'll be helpful.

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