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Ever since I have started writing this weekly article, people have been saying “Why not just buy prebuilt computers instead?” Other than the cost savings you can get or performance per dollar, I always use the point that you learn something by building a computer. You learn an increasingly valuable skill, one that has helped land me two jobs, as well as something you can point to and say “I built that.” Building your computer, even if you have a busy schedule, is easier than ever and instills a sense of pride and workmanship that some could say is dwindling these days. This article is pretty much a direct response to a recent tweet I saw that asked what are some good $1000 prebuilt machines. Why settle for prebuilt? This is the Screw Prebuilt edition of The Round Up.

CPU: Intel i5-4690k

The Devil’s Canyon refresh for the unlocked Haswell i5 and i7 chips boasted some nice improvements. Better thermal design, ups in clock speeds, and better overclocking potential for the same price as the old chips angered early adopters and sold a lot for people looking to upgrade. The i5-4690k is one of those chips and offers a great amount of power to performance. This chip is perfect for people who want to multitask while keeping power and heat to a low. If only Intel would lower the price to be as competitive with AMD.

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo

Let’s face it, the Intel stock cooler sucks. You know it. I know it. Even your dad who types with two fingers knows it. So let’s not let that thing whine inside your case; let’s get something you can work with. The Hyper 212 line is legendary among builders. Go to any computer subreddit and ask what air cooler to get on a budget. 4/5 people will say Hyper 212 Plus or Evo. It’s that good. And cheap, never more than $35, and it allows a decent overclock if you want that.

Gigabyte M5 Sniper

Motherboard: Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5

We’re gonna go mATX with this computer, but it’s still a full featured board. It looks a little bit ugly, but I’m sure someone is into it. Plenty of USB ports, SLI/Crossfire support, onboard USB3.0, and everything else. You can’t go wrong with this, even if it is a Z87 board. Z87 is nothing bad, and because it’s older, it is usually cheaper for great hardware. Just don’t try to go crazy with certain components.

RAM: Team Elite Plus 8GB (Newegg)

Finally! Finally RAM is below $50 for the minimum recommendation of RAM for gamers! This has been a long day coming since the major fire that happened a couple years ago. Team Elite RAM is great, usually really inexpensive, but it’s the cheapest RAM with a heat spreader and can even look pretty good. And it’s less than $50 for 8GB. Just get it, please.

HDD: Seagate 2TB Hybrid Drive

Since hybrid drives haven’t been on here in a while, let’s do a refresher. Hybrid drives combine the speeds of SSDs with the cost and capacity of hard drives. They won’t be as fast as SSDs, but they will be significantly faster than standard hard drives. The Seagate 2TB hybrid drive is perfect for this build, giving plenty of room compared to any prebuilt computer and being a lot faster as well. Definitely a good choice if you want speed and capacity under $100.

Strix GTX 970

GPU: Asus Strix GTX 970

If you want really silent performance for your game, nothing beats the Strix, apparently. It’s really good, and plenty fast. The large fans will keep it cool as well as quiet, and the heatsink is so good that if the temperatures are under 60C, the fans won’t even run. A League of Legends fanatic? You won’t even hear this card on the highest settings, and since it’s a 970, it will destroy any game at 1080p, which is still the dominant resolution these days.

Prodigy Blue

Case: Bitfenix Prodigy M mATX in Blue

Everybody likes the Bitfenix Prodigy. So much so that they made a micro ATX version. The Bitfenix Prodigy is meant for a small build, so some things like hard drive cages won’t be able to be used with the GTX 970. However, you will still have room for a single HDD and SSDs, so it doesn’t effect it too much. If you need more hard drives, definitely get a different case, but if you want something cool, this is one cool case. And not hard to build in either, even for the noobiest of builders.

PSU: Corsair CX750M

Semi-modular for easy installation, 80+ Bronze, and won’t break the bank, this PSU is perfect. I like recommending Corsair products cause they don’t have too many problems, and when they do, their customer service is really good. One of the people here at TechRaptor had an issue with a Corsair power supply, and they RMA’d it years after the warranty was up. They’re good, and they like their customers. Definitely a recommended option and gives plenty of space for upgrades.

There you have it. A great looking, great performing PC that will beat anything prebuilt at a big box store, teach you a new skill, and last a long time. If you don’t use discounts, rebates, or shop around, the total price is $1069.12 according to PCPartPicker, so we’re a bit over budget, but I do recommend you use anything in your power to save money. Thank’s for reading, everyone.

Ben Kuyt

Gamer, Computer geek, Musician, Writer. Favourite series are Star Fox, Halo, Battlefield, and Forza. My last name is pronounced kite. Or kout, for the European Football fans.

  • Tobias

    I’ve been using a prebuilt for the past 8 years, and other than a burnt out GPU (Which was my fault), I’ve had no real problems with it. However, I’m about to build my first computer since my old machine is on it’s last legs, So I’ll see if building one myself is as great as everyone says it is.

  • Bodom910

    I’ve started only recently building PCs, and I have to say that if you have a free afternoon, you are alone and you have some nice music in the background, it’s a nice way to spend your time…
    unless you are unlucky like me.
    Of 3 PCs I’ve made, I’ve had problems with 2 of them that were out of my responsibilities; with the one I’ve made for myself the Noctua cooler I’ve bought came with a stripped bolt, so I had to go to a hardware shop and buy a surrogate because I didn’t want to wait the bolts that they were sending me after contacting their customer service ( that I can confirm it’s excellent).
    Then I’ve made another for my cousin, and that one came with a doa PSU, so we had to wait a week to get another one from Amazon.

    In the end I’ve made one for my brother a couple of weeks ago and luckily everything went fine 😛

  • webkilla

    I’ve been building my own rigs since before… well, since before I was able to pay for them. My dad bought me my first PC and I helped assemble it. I’ve repeated the glorious experience about three times now, and I’ve paid for each of them myself.

  • Mark Andrew Edwards

    Just started building my first PC from the ground up based on your articles. So, thanks for that.

    I will add that this is a real learning experience. Like learning that wifi doesn’t come stock on these PCs. You’ll need a card/USB wifi card if you’re like me and have cut the CAT 5 cable. Also, don’t neglect the DVD drive. For some reason both of those items have been left off these lists.

  • Mr.Calavera

    Thanks I always wanted to build a computer.

  • Ben Kuyt

    Thanks for reading, hope it helps you join the PCMR.

  • Ben Kuyt

    I usually decide not to put in wireless wifi and a DVD drive for a couple reasons. First is because these are pretty much main PC builds, and since gaming on wireless can be iffy, wired is recommended. A DVD drive is a soon becoming obsolete format cause there is no real need to install off discs for drivers. If you’re using a genuine copy of Windows, you can usually put it on a flash drive using another computer or something, or just get the cheapest disc drive or external disc drive you can get and add it to the cost. These lists are for the major things, the things you NEED to get a great computer.

  • Ben Kuyt

    Building is a lot more fun than dealing with a dude trying to sell you the over-expensive warranty and the underpowered computer. You get to build it yourself, and point at it and say “I built that!” It’s like having a kid. You get to look at them and say “I made you.”

  • Ben Kuyt

    Building a computer is best, and I guarantee you’ll get more for your money when you build. Look for deals on newegg, amazon, and if you’re in the US, check if there is a MicroCenter nearby. You can get every component for $20 lower than most other sites.

  • Freeman


  • Farmer John Jensen

    Honestly, that’s really too large of a PSU for NVidia and Intel. A healthy overclock with those components, and what that board can support, should come in well under 600. You’re likely safe at 550, to be honest. But it is a GREAT build.

  • Ben Kuyt

    Gotta leave space for upgrades and future paths. PSUs can go a long way if taken care of. I’ve got a 500W Thermaltake that is only 80+ certified, and it has been in the parent system since 2010.

    At max load, this system pulls around 340, according to PCPartPicker. But again, leaving room for any upgrades is something I like to do.

  • Ben Kuyt

    Then go with AMD and have a room as hot as mine (27C in the summer). Until she wants to make gender neutral chips or some whacky taffy crap like that, I don’t care, and you shouldn’t either. System builders can’t hold a bias because of politics.

  • Farmer John Jensen

    No, I completely understand that. But with the Green team card and the intel chip, if you aren’t planning on a crazy OC, dropping down a size or two you can get a silver, gold or platinum and maximize energy savings and still have room for a second card or a bigger card down the line. Team green has been VERY good about each iteration getting better on power consumption. It’s one of my sticking points against AMD at the moment. They AREN’T iterating their silicon at the same rate, and their power per watt is HORRID given their process sizes.

  • Farmer John Jensen

    A lot of boards are also shipping with wireless NICs these days, too. It’s almost a guarantee if you buy all but the most budget minded mITX boards, for example.

  • karmashock

    I like to build myself because my systems designs are unconventional. I like to have multiple harddrives that do different things.

    One drive for the system. one for games, one for downloads, one for documents. One for back ups… etc.

    Also check this out:


    You can do really cool stuff with a custom rig.

    Personally, I’m using gaming laptops at this point. I just like the portability of them. I take my gaming machine with me when I go on vacation or go to a friend’s house, or go on a business trip.

    Why settle for whatever shit is waiting for me? I can also plug it into my TV for living room gaming.

  • NorBdelta

    I wouldn’t mind pre-built but they are usually gratuitously overprices and mediocre spec’ed. A few companies are quite reasonable but quite a few really exploit the people who know very little about gaming PC components to know any better.