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.
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.
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.
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.
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.