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Build Guide

Entry Level Gaming Build

by ThoughtA

NOTE: A more recent version of this guide is available here.

Description

Our CPU of choice for this budget is the i3-6100. While it features only two cores, the 6100 also employs hyperthreading to help close the gap between it and a 4-core i5. Hyperthreading adds an additional logical core for each physical core, which is handy for streaming, video editing, and multi-tasking CPU-intensive tasks.

We're using a sparse selection of motherboards, which will display which is the cheapest of the four. All four motherboards feature the B150 chipset and an LGA 1151 socket for compatibility with the i3-6100. They include up to 4 DIMM slots for up to 32-64GB of DDR4 RAM (see specific motherboard specs for max RAM). They're also capable of using the CPU's integrated GPU, in case you need to RMA your GPU or are waiting for a sale or upgrade.

A parametric filter is being applied to choose the best priced 1x8 or 2x4GB kit of memory within Intel's recommended specifications. With the extra DIMM slots on the motherboard, we have space to choose whichever of the two kit counts saves the most money, so future memory expansion will be easy. We're also using parametric filters to select the best priced 240GB SSD available, along with the best priced 2TB mechanical hard drive. The SSD can be used for your OS and a good handful of games, while the mechanical drive will have plenty of space for media storage or extra games. Everyone's needs are different, so feel free to change out capacities to fit yours.

This time around, we're going with a filter for the best-priced AMD Radeon R9 380, which will run modern games at 1080p admirably. You may want to keep an eye out for how the RX 480 benches and see if you'd like to wait until that is available for purchase. However, you won't go wrong with the R9 380 either.

The Fractal Design Core 1000 USB 3.0 is a mini tower case that can fit all of our components. It offers decent cable management, which can sometimes be a problem at our budget, and there's room to expand with hard drives or a solid state drive. It also has 1 front panel USB 3.0 port and 1 front panel USB 2.0 port. This mini tower case also won't take up as much space as a mid tower. Cases tend to be highly personal choices, so make sure you browse our listed cases to see what suits you.

For the PSU, we're using a parametric selection of a few well-reviewed semi-modular and modular units, which are all rated for good efficiency and can provide plenty of power for this build.

Part List Customize This Part List

Compatibility Check: No issues/incompatibilities found.

Estimated Wattage: 148W
Component Selection Base Promo Shipping Tax Price Where
CPU $158.00 $158.00 Shopping Express Buy
Motherboard $90.00 $90.00 IJK Buy
Memory
From parametric filter
  • Type: 288-pin DIMM
  • Size: 8GB (1x8GB), 8GB (2x4GB)
$96.98 $96.98 Mwave Australia Buy
Storage
From parametric filter
  • Capacity: 240GB - 256GB
  • Type: SSD
  • Interface: SATA 6 Gb/s
  • Form Factor: 2.5"
$105.00 $105.00 Umart Buy
From parametric filter
  • Capacity: 2TB
  • Interface: SATA 3 Gb/s, SATA 6 Gb/s
  • Form Factor: 3.5"
$87.00 $87.00 Umart Buy
Video Card
No Matches Available
From parametric filter
  • Chipset: Radeon R9 380
Case $65.00 $65.00 IJK Buy
Power Supply $119.90 $119.90 Newegg Australia Buy
Total: $721.88
* Using your selected merchants and only including nearby in-store pickup prices)
* Some physical dimension restrictions cannot (yet) be automatically checked, such as cpu cooler / RAM clearance with modules using tall heat spreaders.

Comments Sorted by:

blightfall 3 points 14 months ago

So I actually ordered this computer just a couple weeks ago and came to give my thoughts. The only differences being that I did not get the solid state drive.

Starting with the building of it. If you go to build this, make sure to get your graphics card placed inside before you start putting your drives in. Speaking of which, I don't know if there actually is any space to fit the solid state drive, unless crudely placed in the disc drive slot, due to the sheer size of the Radeon 380 graphics card. Also your wires may get rather cluttered, but if you use the ties provided you can keep them out of the way of the intel heatsink fan good enough. (I'm also a novice builder, so my wire management could just be bad.)

Now on to performance. This beautiful little train engine that thought it could, really can. Every game I want to play I can play at max graphics with no problems. Some examples being - Overwatch rests at 70+ fps, (with 100% render scale), Spec ops: the line rests at 60fps or more, Dark Souls 2 60fps+, and if those youtube performance videos are anything to go by, Doom and Dark Souls 3 should also be getting 60+ fps. (I plan on getting them when I have the spare cash) And considering I'm happy enough with 30fps, this is a real boon. I could not be happier. It actually outperforms my buddies rather new gaming laptop that was more than double the price, at a discount.

Not to mention all of it looks great on my HD 62 refresh rate 42" TV. Highly recommended for anyone on the fence about getting a gaming computer. Considering my last laptop was dying and could barely even run skyrim at 24fps, it feels good to come from the mentality of; "I wonder what this graphics setting means? I should probably turn it off." And now my mindset being, "I wonder what this graphics setting is? Better set it to maximum."

Thanks a lot for putting this together ThoughtA. It's treating me pretty well.

PeterABryan 1 point 15 months ago

what OS can I install with this build? I'd prefer WIndows 10, but do I go for the 64 or 32 bit. Home or Pro?

ThoughtA staff submitter 1 point 15 months ago

You should absolutely go with 64-bit. As for Home or Pro, you'll want to look at the feature differences and what prices are in your region and see which you'd want. Either will likely be fine for you.

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MobiusCipher 1 point 15 months ago

Now, you could go with the RX 480 for a snappy performance boost.

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Stycks32 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago

Can't ******* wait for AIB cards. drools

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dood1776 1 point 15 months ago

Is 6th generation intel really such a good idea in a budget gaming build? I am currently designing such a build and torn between i3 4160 and FX4300.

ChrispyComputers 1 point 15 months ago

the 4300 has more of a limited upgrade path and the intel side it really doesn't matter whether you get the newest generation or not

Stycks32 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago

Yes. The i3 6100 is a hell of a chip.i have it in my rig. While I can't say firsthand that it does well with graphics cards just yet, there's plenty of information saying just that. Sure it's a duel core bit it's single thread performance is great. It won't do great in rendering but most games should be no problem. And as for me not having a gpu yet, I've still been doing some gaming around 720 while I wait for the card I'm eventually gonna get.

REDRAGON818 0 points 15 months ago

intel has better cores amd has more cores. lol i feel like amd is bast bang for your buck'

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morgancs 1 point 15 months ago

Do you know what kind of frames this build would provide on a game like csgo?

ChrispyComputers 1 point 15 months ago

For csgo you can build a cheaper 300-350 dollar computer and still be hitting max settings 1080p 60 fps. This computer would probably let you hit around 100 fps 1440p maxed out.

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ChrispyComputers 1 point 15 months ago

I get that for beginners a modular power supply is easier but with a good fractal design case what is the point? There is more than enough space to tuck the cables behind visible sight.

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Stycks32 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago

I have the same mindset about modular vs non modular. The only reason I got a modular was because microcenter had one refurbished when I was getting one so I thought why not since it was the same price as the one I was gonna get.

XxICTOAGNxX 1 point 15 months ago

For some reason pcpartpicker says "1 additional PCI-Express 6-pin power connector is needed" even though the motherboard have one...

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FatPanda510 1 point 15 months ago

I am a new PC gamer transferring from console and I don't know much but I have created a build with a budget of around 600 dollars and I was wondering if I could get some feedback. Also what type of games would this be able to run in medium or higher settings with the frame rate. Thank you. http://pcpartpicker.com/list/xCyGf8

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FatPanda510 1 point 14 months ago

Thank you so much

cotton2014 1 point 15 months ago

How long can you use this computer for a period time?

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Pcjulian12343 1 point 15 months ago

When the RX 470 comes out, i think it should replace the 380 in this build

TurkeyHawker 1 point 15 months ago

Agreed.

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erdufjgoiuo 1 point 15 months ago

Complete beginner here. If I were to go with this build, what else would I need to buy? I'm assuming I'll need a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, but what about cables and what not?

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ShadowBorn 1 point 15 months ago

So now that it is out, how will the RX480 do in comparison to the 380?

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ShadowBorn 1 point 15 months ago

Will it make a noticeable difference on csgo? It's the only gpu-intensive game I'll really be playing :p

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GradeAPLAYER 1 point 15 months ago

I'm also a complete beginner here to computer gaming and man do you guys have a lot of options lol but I was wondering if you could tweak the part list to drop the price closer to a straight 500 my budget is pretty low but I think I can definitely get to 500

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Zangouse 1 point 14 months ago

Hey, just saw your build here and wasn't trying to steal someone else's thread but would this work to run games like No Man's Sky and eventually the next Mass Effect at high quality? I haven't even dabbled in PC gaming before, so all this is way over my head but I like the budget you got haha

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Gabepintaro 1 point 15 months ago

I would say you need a better video card/ processor and you went to big on the power supply, 650 watts!?

ThoughtA staff submitter 1 point 15 months ago

The PSUs range from 520-650W, and the sparse selection chooses whichever is cheapest.

A better video card or processor would cost more.

blightfall 1 point 15 months ago

I ordered this about a week ago and I'm currently waiting on the rest of the parts to come in from super biiz. I had only a couple questions, when I ordered, the list showed the non compact r9 380. So is the big one I got going to be a problem? My second question, (I'm brand new to this as this will be my first gaming pc) do I not need something to cool the pc? Or is that what those gigantic fans on the r9 380 do?

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blightfall 1 point 15 months ago

Alright thanks for the info! The rest of the parts should be here by the end of the week. I will probably post a comment here about how the computer ends up performing.

Joshua7442 1 point 15 months ago

Can anyone help me, im wondering if this build would support a GTX 960 2gb instead of the already listed graphics card?

thewilsonasylum 1 point 14 months ago

Yes, you would definitely be able to use the GTX 960 in this build. Is this a card that you already own or did you intend to buy a 960?

Joshua7442 1 point 14 months ago

I already own one its actually a EVGA GTX 960 sc 2gb, i got it from a friend this would work right?

thewilsonasylum 1 point 14 months ago

Yes! It is definitely compatible. That would be a good card for 1080p monitors and newer games on medium/high settings. What kind of games will you be playing?

Joshua7442 1 point 14 months ago

Just games like battlefield 3,4,1, csgo, crysis 3 and other games that i know will play at ultra or high. But i was aiming for med-high.

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Joshua7442 1 point 14 months ago

Im not expecting to play on ultra on everything med-high is just fine!

Zarinde 1 point 15 months ago

Never built a computer, have only swapped parts around, why is it that OS is never included in these build guides? Thanks! :3

theone9032 1 point 14 months ago

Personally i would spend the extra money for the R9 380X

averasko 1 point 14 months ago

I would through in more memory: 2x8GB

G_I_L 1 point 14 months ago

Why though..

averasko 1 point 14 months ago

Two reasons: first, more memory is always good -- it's the cheapest way to make your machine faster second, the motherboard is dual-channel (http://motherboardbenchmark.net/asrock-b150m-hds/) and is designed to have memory modules in pairs... I'm not even sure it'll start on only one... but the memory bandwidth will be doubled on two for sure

G_I_L 1 point 14 months ago

How is it a way to make your machine faster if 8GB is enough for a gaming build? Usually doesn't even use up more than 6GB. While gaming, with everything else in the background just doing it's job. I'm not sure that a motherboard is like: I have 2 slots, better fill them both or I won't get your PC started, alright? You hear me?

ThePcNovice 1 point 14 months ago

Hi there, like many posting here I've never built a computer before, I noticed a compatibility note for this build. "The Fractal Design Core 1000 USB 3.0 MicroATX Mid Tower Case supports video cards up to 350mm long, but video cards over 210mm may block drive bays. Since the Asus Radeon R9 380 2GB Video Card is 271mm long, some drive bays may not be usable." Will this give me any troubles? Also, if I wanted to, could I not use the SSD and replace the 2tb HDD for a 1tb western digital blue or something?

Explorerjay 1 point 14 months ago

I think you can get a little bit more bang for your buck here, here's the entry-level build i just made. Works great, possible upgrades : geforce 780/780 ti gpu, EVGA 600B PSU, motherboard?* Optionals : extra fans, logitech G400S gaming mouse, logitech rgb semi-mechanical gaming keyboard

This is what im running with the optionals, super cool and quiet with 5 controllable fans, and runs all the games ive tried at full settings.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor $98.88 @ OutletPC
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler $29.38 @ OutletPC
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3P ATX AM3+ Motherboard $60.88 @ OutletPC
Memory Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2400 Memory $71.99 @ Newegg
Storage A-Data Premier SP550 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive $59.94 @ NCIX US
Storage Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $60.00 @ Amazon
Video Card EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB FTW ACX Video Card $93.98 @ Newegg
Case Zalman R1 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case $49.99 @ Newegg
Power Supply Corsair Builder 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply $29.99 @ Newegg
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total (before mail-in rebates) $625.03
Mail-in rebates -$70.00
Total $555.03
Generated by PCPartPicker 2016-07-31 12:02 EDT-0400
G_I_L 1 point 14 months ago

Ehhh..

Generally, the i3-6100 is a better CPU in terms of gaming. Not to mention the 750 Ti is a major drop of graphics card as well compared to this build guide. Upgrading to a 780/780 Ti is not worth it, you'd want to upgrade further. EVGA 600B PSU isn't too much of an upgrade, the PSU itself isn't even recommended all that much around here, not to say it's crap, it's not, but.. There's more for your buck.

I don't think this is a better bang for buck, actually, I don't agree with most parts in this build. The FX series isn't that great for gaming, 16GB of RAM is unnecessary and the speed isn't that helpful, just a waste of money, the motherboard is probably one of the cheapest selections for the sake of being the cheapest selection without a real check-up, although I don't mind if it works just fine, the 212 EVO now has better and sometimes cheaper alternatives.

I would not build this, honestly, but it's your build and I'll leave you up to it. But this is my opinion. I had to throw it out.

Explorerjay 1 point 14 months ago

Hey thanks man, what would you reccomend? Its only my second build, the last one being 4 years ago, and Im all ears.

ashro 1 point 14 months ago

I would just stick with the original build without making your own changes.

Joshua7442 1 point 14 months ago

Would my EVGA GTX 960 SC 2gb fit in this case?? I reslly hope so bc i already bought everything haha.

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Joshua7442 1 point 14 months ago

Already built it haha tha ks though!

sameoldkid 1 point 14 months ago

If i just buy all of the parts on this list to access wifi will i still have to purchase something for that? really would like to know so i dont just buy all these parts then cant get wifi

mindhoney 1 point 14 months ago

I'm wondering this too. Idk why almost all replies have been deleted, but this will be my first build and I need to know if I need an adapter. I'm assuming yes but I really don't know..

LemonComputers 1 point 14 months ago

rolfejc was really active in the build guides comment section and now their profile is 404 Page Not Found. I think they might have been banned and that would pull all of the comments and make them [comment deleted by staff] if that's the case.

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sameoldkid 1 point 14 months ago

hey another q, i was reading the reviews on the case in this build and most of them say there in not much room to work inside the case. I am very new to computers so i figures while i am building my first computer i should give a little more room to make it easier. Would you be able to recommend a bigger/easier case?

Also need disk drive to install whatever windows i decide to get.

price range for case: up to 170$

Thanks

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Japsu 1 point 14 months ago

Is this good?

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/list/2g3x6X

CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor (Purchased For $0.00) Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory (Purchased For $0.00) Storage: Sandisk SSD PLUS 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($69.99 @ B&H) Storage: Sandisk SSD PLUS 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($69.99 @ B&H) Video Card: MSI Radeon R9 380 2GB Video Card (Purchased For $0.00) Case: NZXT S340 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case ($64.69 @ SuperBiiz) Power Supply: Corsair CXM 750W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($89.78 @ OutletPC) Other: Water cooling ($200.00) Total: $494.45

I need help with the ssds, motherboard, powersupply, water cooling.

P.S.

I need to be able to upgrade this so make sure its not a mini atx motherboard.

Also, I found this:

http://www.magicool.biz/product_systems.htm

But I figured I should make a custom loop...

Thanks!

AnyOtherWay 1 point 14 months ago

I'd suggest the "MSI Z97 PC MATE" for the motherboard. You said you'd need to be able to upgrade this, and this motherboard should provide that. in part because you can crossfire in the future with it. PSU is also a bit expensive for what it is, I'd go with the Rosewill Capstone instead, 750-850 watts. I like the SSD, but having two... It's better to just go with an SSD and an HDD, rather than 2 SSD's. You shouldn't need water cooling for a non overclockable CPU, so spending $200 on that is... Redundant. Maybe if/when you upgrade the CPU, but non overclocked it should run every game just fine. I'd prefer to spend that money on a better PSU, and some more ram, with some left over, or just crossfire.

Japsu 1 point 14 months ago

I wanna be able to do crossfire but 850 wats feels way to much. If I did crossfire I would use two r9 380 or 90s. I just don't have the money :(.

AnyOtherWay 1 point 14 months ago

I said 850-750 watts, not just 850. It'd be a bit better, in my opinion, to go with 850, but my opinion could be wrong. 750 should be enough, so if you can't go up to 850, that's fine. If you're gonna overclock at some point, however, you'd probably need more. But as your CPU can't overclock, as I mentioned previously, it shouldn't be to big a concern.

Crossfire is a nice thing to have, hence why I recommended a motherboard that could do so.

oHAMBURGLARo 1 Build 1 point 14 months ago

I'm building a rig for my brother based on this, but what are the reasons for a B150 mobo? I see a lot of H110M boards that fall within my desired price range and are compatible with my build, and I'm not thrilled with the B150 boards that I can choose from in my price range. Here is a sample list of boards that could likely work with my build.

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d312da1 1 point 14 months ago

hi, will i be able to run dota 2 on high graphics?

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reyb0tovercl0ck 1 point 14 months ago

Two cores really bottleneck performance in modern games designed for quad-core CPUs.

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Zangouse 1 point 14 months ago

Hey, so only ever done console gaming before but I'm currently without a console and have more friends on PC than not. Honestly I'm not looking to play much other than One Man's Sky and the Mass Effect when it comes out, using a ps4 controller if I can because I really like having two control sticks. Any recommendations on cheap builds that would cover what I need to run these games well?

Also, I have a 27" HDTV, idk if that works as a monitor but I don't know what all I'd need to have a fully functional PC sitting in front of me so any advice would be very appreciated :)

Luchadorelibros 1 point 14 months ago

I have a question, what about software or coolers. I do not believe that the case even has fans? But however this is amazing for someone with a strict budget. This is definitley better than my laptop. Smart choices

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Luchadorelibros 1 point 14 months ago

Thank you. Im sorry i never built a computer and im desperately saving up

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Leneord 1 point 14 months ago

I would have chosen the r9 370

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Djwhatcott 1 point 14 months ago

Wasn't there a instructional video for this build?

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Djwhatcott 1 point 14 months ago

I can't find it

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Djwhatcott 1 point 14 months ago

Thank you so much!

Djwhatcott 1 point 14 months ago

Why 2 things of storage?

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Djwhatcott 1 point 14 months ago

But how necessary is it? Also, What monitor would you suggest with this budget beginner build?

LemonComputers 1 point 14 months ago

An SSD is not needed but having one greatly increases your PC's performance.

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Djwhatcott 1 point 14 months ago

You are amazing

maxime123489 1 point 14 months ago

will this play Dayz? and if yes at what frame rate Thank you

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maxime123489 1 point 14 months ago

thanks

VMANCOOL 1 point 14 months ago

would you recommend getting the rx 460 over the 380

LemonComputers 1 point 14 months ago

No, the R9 380 has better performance.

VMANCOOL 1 point 14 months ago

ok thanks dude

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secondgust 1 point 14 months ago

Is this PC easily upgradable to better parts later on down the road?

LemonComputers 2 points 14 months ago

Yes

secondgust 1 point 14 months ago

Ok, thanks!

z_armaan 1 point 14 months ago

looks like a very nice value build :)

Tobaganner 0 points 15 months ago

I know that you are going to get the r9 380 for a great price, but the rx 480 only costs $50 more and performs like a beast.

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peter_griffendor 0 points 14 months ago

I'm seeing here what I see everywhere else no OS no monitor no keyboard no mouse. Why leave out these crucial elements? Without these all you have is a pile of electronics.

ThoughtA staff submitter 1 point 14 months ago

It's a matter of scope. Monitor needs and preferences vary far more wildly, for example. The guide is intentionally only about the box. No one is pretending you don't need peripherals and OS, just as no one is pretending you don't need a modem and internet connection in practice.

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ThoughtA staff submitter 2 points 14 months ago

Please keep feedback polite and constructive.

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ThoughtA staff submitter 5 points 15 months ago

Good feedback. Obviously a lot of it came down to personal preference for a particular buyer. It's good to have alternate options shown like this.

As for the G2, the problem there is that the price of the G2 (and other EVGA units) fluctuates regularly. This is great when you're hunting for a sale, but for a guide, it needs to be a little more robust and stand up to price fluctuations better. Hence the sparse selection of multiple units that will make it more likely to keep the price a little lower. The G2 is one of the better units out there, and you never want to skimp on a PSU, but all of the PSUs listed are acceptable quality - especially at this budget. None of them are actually skimping.

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ThoughtA staff submitter 1 point 15 months ago

Yeah, keeping an eye on the prices in a timely manner like that would be a pain. I'd personally drop an extra $10 for the G2 too, most likely, but not always. It really depends on how tight the budget is, and I don't want to decide that for someone else. I'd rather they have the option through the sparse selection.

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yberreby 1 point 15 months ago

the BackBlaze study is also flawed and is a giant piece of misinformation that should not exist

I'm curious: why do you think that? Because their drives rarely experience power cycles and run continuously, unlike consumer drives?

I've found the Backblaze study to be very useful. Ratings on Amazon and similar sites do not allow for detailed statistical analysis, and I'm pretty sure people who have had their HDD fail are more likely to post a review than those who had no problems with their drive.

What other resource would you recommend?

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ThoughtA staff submitter 2 points 14 months ago

It's a budget build. Keeping the cost down is important.

Luchadorelibros 1 point 14 months ago

Sometimes certai. i3s can be better than i5s and this is also a budget build which is meant to pick the best of steals and cheapest parts to make a decent pc for cheap.

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Luchadorelibros 2 points 14 months ago

I agree that an i5 is not far off from an i3 pricewise but i believe that this build is to be as tight as possible. For example there can be a low quality i5 and a good i3 but the i5 might still be better a bit, this build is the kind to go with the cheaper one but you are right

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Luchadorelibros 1 point 14 months ago

Hey can you check out my part list "The Real Dream", "Custom Build" and "Prob gonna end up as my first" those are all the pcs im thinking off and you seem to know so if you could just review them it would be great. Thank you

LemonComputers 1 point 14 months ago

Please create a new topic in the Parts List Opinions Wanted subforum. More PCPP users that can provide advice will see it there.

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