OVERVIEW: I managed to put this build together on a college budget without skimping too much on power. It uses some pretty popular parts at the moment (like the i5 4460) which have a great cost-to-power ratio at the time of purchase. This won't bust out every latest-and-greatest game on ultra settings, but I haven't been forced to use low settings yet to get 60fps on any game I've tried so far. Granted I don't have every new game, but I'd be willing to bet nothing will give this rig a huge problem in the near future. At the time of purchase, the CPU and GPU were at the top of the list for performance in their respective price brackets.
CPU/GPU: This isn't an entirely original build; I've seen lots of budget gaming builds that use the i5 4460 / GTX 950 combo. After doing my own research, it was obvious why this combo was popular. Nothing beats their value at their price point. For more hardcore dedicated gamers that can't handle not playing everything at ultra with 120fps, this hardware won't scratch that itch. The i5 is potent enough but lacks the ability to overclock (as far as I know). The GTX 950 is especially an economy gaming component with comparably low clock speeds and bus width compared to other high-end cards; some people may be turned off by this. For me, it has gotten the job done plus some. My GPA may or may not be taking hard hits due to my new-found gaming experience. On a side-note, Nvidia's Shadowplay has been especially fun to work with.
STORAGE: For this built, I decided to start off with just an HDD. The Barracuda is reliable and not too expensive for a decent amount of space. I will very likely pick up an SSD and move my OS and other applications over to it in a few months when I feel the itch. For now, though, the Windows 10 boots up fairly fast and the HDD works fine.
POWER SUPPLY: The Corsair power supply was a nice find. Reliable and cheap. The CPU and GPU don't consume a lot of power, which gives a lot of wiggle room here.
OTHER JUNK: The motherboard, RAM and case were simply components that had decent reviews, were compatible with the rest of the build and weren't too expensive. The motherboard can support up to 32 GB of DDR3 RAM, although I'll probably never put more than 16 GB in it. The Cooler Master case has some rudimentary cable management and has generally been a good case to work with. It also looks quite nice.
- Nice bang for your buck
- Intel and Nvidia components are well supported and should last a long time
- Low power consumption
- Low heat (no crazy cooling systems required)
- Soft on your wallet
- Not ludicrous-speed fast
- CPU can't be overclocked
- Motherboard doesn't support SLI (choose a different board if you're going to want this)
- Went with an HDD to start with for budget reasons (it's easy to swap this out or upgrade to an SSD later)
- Stock case fans aren't especially silent
Side note: The pictures show a DVD drive in there as well. I got it for free from school surplus, so I thought "why not". It's nice to have one though, and they aren't expensive to pick up.
I'll try to update this if anything major comes up.
Fairly potent CPU that gets the job done. Being Intel and low-power, it should last a long time. The single-thread rating easily beats AMD chips with similar general ratings, which is why I thought it was worth the extra money. The only problem is that it doesn't support overclocking (as far as I know).
A great board as far as boards go. It supports a lot of RAM and seems to be built well. It doesn't support SLI though.
It won't bust out every latest-and-greatest AAA game on ultra, but I've never had to resort to low settings to get 60 FPS. This is a great card if you're on a budget. I believe it's even SLI compatible, although if you're into that you're probably also into higher-end hardware than this. The low heat and low power consumption will hopefully result in longevity.
Nice price point, looks nice, and has decent cable management (although in a micro it always ends up being a cluster f*** anyway). Would buy again.
Reliability at a nice price. The semi-modular component is also really nice. I'd recommend this to anyone with a build at this power load.