Build options

Option 1:

THE BAREBONES HOTROD

CPU: AMD FX 8350 $139.00

Motherboard: ASrock 970M Pro $24.99 (save 40 dollars for buying with the CPU). $9.99 after the 15 dollar rebate.

Ram: 16 gigs DDR3-1600 (2×8 gig sticks) $49.00

Power Supply: Sentey 725 Watts $44.99

Case: Corsair Mid Sized gaming case $47.99 ($37.99 after a 10 dollar rebate).

Video Card: GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 960 4GB WINDFORCE 2X OC EDITION $185.00

SSD: ADATA USA Premier SP550 120GB 2.5″ SATA III $38.00

Heatsink: CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo $30.00

Total Cost:

Microcenter: $283.00, with tax, with $25.00 in rebates.

Newegg: $215.00

Amazon: $83.00, plus any possible tax.

Total: $581.00 before rebates and any Amazon tax. $556.00 after rebates.

Pros: Great performance, very cheap.

Cons: Slightly higher energy usage from the CPU, not the very latest technology

Summary:

This PC is built to give you the best performance on a budget. If you are gaming at 1080p resolution, this build should allow you to play almost any current and games coming out overt the next several years at Ultra or High settings on 1080p with 30+ more frames per second. The AMD 8350 has 8 cores and doesn’t do as well on single core performance as an Intel i5 or i7, but for mutli core applications and usage it performs far better and with the new graphics APIs coming out (DirectX 12, Vulcan) multi core processors are supposed to start seeing significant performance boosts. 16 gigs of RAM should be more than enough for any applications or games. The Geforce 960 GTX is somewhat future proofed for 1080p gaming with the 4 gigs of RAM for texture loads and it has a modest power need, so running at hot temperatures shouldn’t be an issue, which will also help balance the power the 8350 uses.

The 8350 is the best value for money for a gaming CPU out there. It also has a lot of overclocking potential. The motherboard selected here does not support a large amount of overclocking options, but is very stable. If you want something that allows you to do that, we could find it and add about 20 more to the total price, taking it to right around 600.

The knock against this build is that the 8350 is older technology, as is the ddr3 RAM, etc. For gaming and performance versus money saved? I don’t think it’s relevant. If I was trying to make the best gaming PC for the least amount of money, this is the direction I would go. For the next two-three years it will guarantee access to almost every game at fairly high settings with solid performance.

I built a computer like this for my nephew last year, with a previous generation videocard. He loves it. Yours would outperform his with double the ram and a better video card.

How to maximize this build: sub out the 960 GTX video card for a 970 GTX, but that will add at least 100 dollars to your cost. (New price with the selected 970 GTX would be $716.00 before a total of $40 in rebates. 686.00 after rebates).

 

Option 2:

FUTURE-LOOKING ROCKET SLED

CPU: Intel Core i5-6600K $209.00

Motherboard:ASUS Z170-E LGA 1151 ATX

$91.00 (save 45 dollars for buying with the CPU; that according to the bundle deal, doesn’t show up right in cart but they would adjust that in the store). $71.00 after $20.00 rebate.

Ram: 16 gigs DDR4-2133 (2×8 gig sticks) $49.00

Power Supply: Sentey 725 Watts $44.99

Case: Corsair Mid Sized gaming case $47.99 ($37.99 after a 10 dollar rebate).

Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 100ME $320.00, with a $15 rebate.

SSD: ADATA USA Premier SP550 120GB 2.5″ SATA III $38.00

Heatsink: CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo $30.00

Total Cost:

Microcenter: Approximately $375.00 after tax, before $30.00 in rebates ($20.00 for the motherboard, $10.00 for the case)

Newegg: $350.00 before $15.00 in rebates.

Amazon: $133.00, plus any possible tax.

TOTAL: $858.00 before $45 in rebates. Total after rebates is $813.00.

Pros: Future proof

Cons: None besides price.

Summary:

You will be blazing ahead on the PC gaming track for years to come with this set-up. Fast and fully loaded, this build features the best compromise between high performance, features and price.

Overall you are getting a little less performance per dollar than you would with the 8350 build, but you are also getting the newest technology. The CPU is Intel’s 6th generation i5. It’s unlocked, which means you can overclock it down the road if you want to. The motherboard supports the new USB C and M.2 standards. The motherboard is an LGA 1151 Socket, which should support the next generation of Intel CPUs if you decide you want to upgrade your CPU (shouldn’t need to). The i5 is also much more energy efficient and runs cooler than the 8350. It does better in single core processing, but not as well in multi core usage and only has 4 cores and 4 threads compared to the 8 of the 8350.

The LGA 1151 motherboards exclusively use DDR 4 ram. It’s faster than DDR3…right now the difference is extreme, but that gap will likely widen down the road with new apps and games. This is another part of your build that is looking towards staying relevant in 3-5 years.

The 970 GTX is essentially the best card at the moment for quality versus price. But it’s not cheap. It will run any 1080p game at basically Ultra settings. that should continue with future games, at least for the next several years. You can drop the price on this system by going with something like the 960 GTX and then upgrading to a newer card in a year to two years (starting with the 960 GTX brings the cost down on this build to $723.00 before $30.00 in rebates). 

The one item you most likely to be upgraded one or more times in a PC is the video card. The usual lifespan is 1.5-3 years, due to new releases and triple AAA game advancements. Nvidia and AMD are both slated to release their new offerings later this year, but they will also release at a premium price. Selling an older video card to upgrade to a new one is usually a pretty painless process through word-of-mouth, Craigslist, Ebay, etc.

To really make this PC Rocket blast off, add $110.00 bucks for the best 6th gen i7, and this PC (approximately $970.00 before rebates and with the 970 GTX), with a video card upgrade down the road, will last 5 years and still be a top performer.