Gaming PC Builds – December 2015
Jump to a specific budget build –
- Gaming PC Build of the Month ( $1500 ): December 2015
- Gaming PC Build of the Month ( $1000 ): December 2015
- Gaming PC Build of the Month ( $600 ): December 2015
- Gaming PC Peripheral Considerations (Keyboards, Mice & Monitors): December 2015
- Operating System Options
Gaming PC Builds of the Month Introduction:
If you’re looking to build a PC that’s affordable and capable of playing any game out there, then you’ve come to the right place. Below you will find three separate builds of which are posted on a monthly basis. The first is a $1500, which is for the gamers that not only want to ‘future-proof’ their gaming pc build a tad, but also max games out at both 1080p and 1400p and even play at 4K should they want to. The $1000 build is for those that want to game maxed out at 1080p and even play at 1400p and then the $600 build is for those that want to game comfortably at 1080p at higher settings in most games.
This month there have been some changes to the motherboards in the $1000 and $1500 build. Specifically, the $1000 build now uses the same board that the $1500 build did last month (which means it now supports SLI) and the $1500 build now has an MSI Z170A Gaming M5 motherboard. The $1500 build also features the newer Cooler Master MasterCase 5, a fully modular pc case that is pretty unique. Also to note is that both the $1500 and $1000 build now include SSD’s and don;t include an HDD anymore – although it is still an option for those wanting affordable space.
The $600 gaming pc build for December now features an R9 380 graphics card, which is great news as this is a slight bump in performance. Also included in the builds alternatives section is the newly released R9 380X for those that want that option and have a bit more to spend.
I hope you enjoy the pc builds for December 2015 and until next time have a great holiday season and I will see everyone in the new year!
December 2015 PC Builds ( $1473 )
Gaming PC Build Recipe:
Game with Extreme settings at resolutions of 2560×1400 and 1920×1080 & 4K!
Overview: Gaming PC Build ( $1500 )
The $1500 gaming pc build of the month for December 2015 is for those that are looking to max out any game with resolutions up to 2560×1440 resolutions and even for those that want a little bit of “future-proofing” in their build. Here we have an Intel i5 6600K processor and the PNY GTX 980Ti graphics card – a powerful combination to max any game out. The GTX 980 has been a prime card for a little while now and if you look at example benchmarks, such as these ones from TomsHardware you can see why.
The included CPU is the Cooler Master Hyper 212 CPU cooler will help you overclock the 6600K cpu no problems once to ever, and plus it’s even more affordable this month, which is great. You need a cpu cooler since the Skylake processors (such as the Intel 6600K) don’t come with a stock cooler, so why not get one of the highest rated air coolers. For those who want to spend a little more, there is even a liquid CPU (the Corsair H100i) included in the hardware alternatives section below, which will give you a much quieter, more customized cooling experience.
The included motherboard has been switch this month to the is the MSI Z170A Gaming M5 – voted a ‘Damn Good Value‘ in the HardwareCanucks motherboard review and even the 2015 EDITOR Approved tom’s Hardware award. Thh Z170A M5 boasts the following (learn more at msi.com) –
- Supports 6th Gen Intel® Core™ / Pentium® / Celeron® processors for LGA 1151 socket
- Supports DDR4-3600+(OC) Memory
- DDR4 Boost: Give your DDR4 memory a performance boost
- USB 3.1 Gen2 2X FASTER: USB 3.1 Gen2 offers performance twice as fast as a regular USB 3.0 connection
- Twin Turbo M.2 64Gb/s + Turbo U.2 ready + USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C + Type-A combo + SATA 6Gb/s
- GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Killer™: The best online gaming experience with lowest latency
- Audio Boost 3: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality
- Nahimic Audio Enhancer: Immersive sound quality that pushes the limits of reality
- Game Boost: This one goes up to eleven; 11 levels of easy overclocking
- GAMING Hotkey: Assign macros, launch your favorite games or do real-time overclocking using a single button
- Designed for overclocking: with OC Essentials and OC Engine 2
- XSplit Gamecaster v2: 1 year free premium license to show off your skills and achievements to the world
- SteelSeries Certified: Optimized for SteelSeries gaming gear
- Military Class 5: The latest evolution in high quality components featuring the brand new Titanium Chokes
- MULTI-GPU with Steel Armor: Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports NVIDIA SLI™ & AMD Crossfire™
- Click BIOS 5: Award-winning brand new Click BIOS 5 with high resolution scalable font
- BIOS Flashback+: Easy BIOS recovery without the need of a CPU, memory and VGA card
- GAMING CERTIFIED: 24-hour on- and offline game testing by eSports players for the best gaming experience
As per usual included is a kit of 16Gb of RAM, but with the skylake cpu / z170 chipset motherboard combo, we can now include the newer DDR4 memory instead of DDR3. Included is 16GB (two 8GB sticks) of Corsair Vengeance, plenty of memory for this gaming pc build and priced perfectly well.
I have no longer included an HDD in the $1500 pc build and have opted just for a Solid State Drive “SSD”, which will perform much better helping with those load / boot times and reading speeds. The included SSD is the Samsung 850 EVO 250GB which will give you enough space for your OS and to store numerous games / software. If you find you will need more storage you can always add in a separate HDD (such as the $600 builds included 1TB Seagate drive or the 1Tb SanDisk Extreme Pro in the alternatives section found below)
The power supply used for many months is the highly rated EVGA SuperNOVA 750W G2 Gold Certified power supply, which is a high quality & efficient PSU and I highly recommend it and it should be more then enough for the $1500 build. Keep in mind that for those that do plan on going with SLI (two graphics cards / GTX 980Ti’s) in the future that you will want to plan for at least an 850W high quality PSU (such as the 850W EVGA SuperNOVA G2)
The gaming PC case included for December 2015 is the Cooler Master MasterCase 5, which was released just a few months ago and has what Cooler Master calls a “freeform modular system”, which essentially means that the case is fully modular giving you the flexibility to adjust the exterior or interior structure the way you want. In order to get the whole breadth of what this case features and includes please the case description page at coolermaster.com.
I have now started to leave out optical drives in all of my pc builds. The main reason is that I’m finding there is little use to having one anymore and it does bring the overall cost of the build down slightly. I also find the biggest usage to having one is to install Windows / your Operating System, which can be easily accomplished via a USB stick or external hard drive.
$1500 Gaming PC Build Upgrade Suggestions
The following is some extra alternative hardware for those that have a little more to spend or for those that want upgrade ideas for the future for the above $1500 gaming pc build either now or in the future.
Included in the build is an i5 Intel 6600K Skylake, but for those that do more then gaming perhaps an Intel i7 6700K cpu might be needed; this would be beneficial for those that do video work or even graphics work where there is some rendering that could benefit from an i7.
As I stated in the $1500 gaming pc build overview above, there is no HDD included in the build which shouldn’t matter for most unless you need lots of storage room. Included below is a larger SanDisk Extreme PRO 1TB SSD for those that may want the extra space, but also use one drive for ultimate speeds on an SSD; this does come at a higher cost, but is much cheaper then is used to be.
You could also really increase your graphics power by SLI’ing your GTX 980 Ti by adding in a second PNY GeForce GTX 980 Ti, but it will cost you another $639.99 or so. This could also be a future upgrade idea to boost your gaming pc’s performance when you need it later on, but right now it probably isn;t worth it unless you are serious about 4K gaming. If you do plan on going SLI’ing in the future or now, you should consider getting at least an 850W PSU such as the EVGA SuperNOVA 850W G2.
Also included below is the Corsair Hydro Series H100i GTX liquid cpu cooler. This cooler would be a substitute for the above included Hyper 212 EVO air cpu cooler and would provide a quieter, more efficient / more customized cooling experience.
|Intel Boxed Core I7-6700K 4.00 GHz 8M Processor Cache 4 LGA 1151 BX80662I76700K ($414) – Do more then gaming? Like show off? – Then an i7 might be the right choice
|PNY GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Graphics Cards VCGGTX980T6XPB-CG ($639.99) – SLI with two GTX 980 Ti’s for some super graphics performance.*If you want to SLI you should consider at least an 850W psu such as the EVGA SuperNOVA 850W G2 PSU ($120.03).
|Purchase a liquid CPU cooler (instead of the included air cooler): Corsair Hydro Series H100i GTX High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler CW-9060021-WW ($116.19)
|A very fast 1TB SSD: SanDisk Extreme PRO 960GB SATA 6.0GB/s 2.5-Inch 7mm Height Solid State Drive (SSD) With 10-Year Warranty- SDSSDXPS-960G-G25 ($329.41)
December 2015 PC Builds ( $1010 )
Gaming PC Build Recipe:
Capability: Game with Extreme settings at 1920X1080 resolutions and even High Settings in some games at 2560×1400
|Intel Boxed Core I5-6600K 3.50 GHz, 6 M Processor Cache 6 for LGA 1151 (BX80662I56600K)
|Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO – CPU Cooler with 120mm PWM Fan (RR-212E-20PK-R2)
|ASUS Graphics Cards TURBO-GTX970-OC-4GD5 (Also a $20 mail in rebate if purchased before December 31st, 2015)
|*None – I have switched the $1000 build to include an SSD with the option of adding storage if possible with an HDD (see alternatives section)
|Samsung 850 EVO 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-75E250B/AM)
|EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G1 80+ GOLD, 650W Continuous Power, Fully Modular 10 Year Warranty Power Supply 120-G1-0650-XR
|No optical drive included in base build cost – *This should be considered optional (LG Electronics Internal Super Multi Drive Optical Drives GH24NSC0B)
Overview: Gaming PC Build ( $1000 )
The December 2015 $1000 gaming pc build is capable of maxing out most games at around 60fps at 1920×1080 resolutions and can even do reasonably well at 2560×1440 depending on the game. This build uses a combination of the skylake Intel i5 6600K cpu and either the ASUS Turbo GTX 970 or alternatively a Gigabyte Gaming R9 390 graphics card.
This, like the $1500 build above also includes the highly rated Cooler Master Hype 212 cpu cooler, this helps tremendously when overclocking your unlocked Intel i5 6600K processor and since the Intel i5 6600K doesn’t come with a stock cooler, you need to purchase a cpu cooler anyhow. If you check out the hardware alternative table below, you will also see an option for a liquid cpu cooler which could be for those that want a quieter more customized cooling option.
The included z170 chipset motherboard we have was actually the same motherboard from the $1500 build last month and is the Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 3. What this means for the $1000 build this month is that is now supports both Crossfire and SLI, so that you do have the option to include two of either the graphics card options. The Gaming 3 motherboard has the following specifications (and you can learn more on the product page at gigabyte.com):
- Supports 6th Generation Intel® Core™ Processor
- Dual Channel DDR4, 4 DIMMs
- Intel® USB 3.1 with USB Type-C™ – The World’s Next Universal Connector
- 3-Way Graphics Support with Exclusive Ultra Durable Metal Shielding over the PCIe Slots
- Dual PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Connectors with up to 32Gb/s Data Transfer (PCIe NVMe & SATA SSD support)
- 3 SATA Express Connectors for up to 16Gb/s Data Transfer
- 115dB SNR HD Audio with Built-in Rear Audio Amplifier
- Killer™ E2200 Gaming Networks
- High Quality Audio Capacitors and Audio Noise Guard with LED Trace Path Lighting
- APP Center Including EasyTune™ and Cloud Station™ Utilities
- GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™ Technology
Again this month, there are two graphics card included in the build table above. The first graphics card included, is the ASUS Turbo GTX 970 and alternatively for the exact same price there is also a Gigabyte Gaming R9 390. Both of these cards will perform very similarly, so I’ll leave the choice as to which you would like to go with. Either graphics card will max any modern game at 1920×1080 and even in resolutions beyond that up to 2560×1400, but they may differ slightly in particular games at specific resolutions. What I would do if you are debating which to get is to gather a specific set of games you may have in mind, and try searching specific benchmarks for either the GTA 970, or AMD R9 390 as they might perform slightly better then one or the other in a specific game (*note YouTube can be great for looking up specific gaming hardware benchmarks).
The RAM included is a kit of Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB DDR4 RAM, which is generally enough memory for a standard gaming pc build, and you always have the option to upgrade more (ie. 16GB by adding in two more 8GB sticks in the future).
So this month I have taken out the Standard 1TB HDD drive and have put in a 250Gb Samsung 850 EVO SSD.This makes much more sense as it now fits into the build and provides a much nicer user experience when you have those load / boot times accelerated. Should you want more space, you have the option of either buying a more expensive larger SSD or also getting a 1TB Seagate drive such as the one included in the alternatives section below.
The power supply unit used is the EVGA SuperNOVA G1 650W power supply, which is a great PSU with all modular cables and it provides the perfect amount of power for this build along with room for some upgrades.
For a gaming PC case, I’ve included the Zalman Z11 Neo mid tower gaming pc case. This is a sturdy case that provide low noise and not at the cost of bad cooling. Overall, this is a nice looking case that is a great value for what it’s currently priced at. Read the full specifications at zalman.com.
$1000 Gaming PC Build Upgrade Suggestions
Here is some alternative hardware upgrades for those wanting to spend a tad more or for those that want some upgrade ideas for the December $1000 gaming PC build.
If you want more graphic power in the future you could potentially Crossfire two R9 390’s. If you go this route, then you will also need a stronger power supply, as much as 850w, which I have included along side that recommendation below (I would only consider the larger PSU if you really plan on doing this). Likewise, if you go the GTX 970 route, you can add in another ASUS Turbo GTX 970 in SLI to boost your graphics as well.
There is now an SSD included in the base $1000 build, but featured below is a super fast quality SSD, the SanDisk Extreme Pro 240GB SSD – or maybe you have tons of media or simply need extra space, so you could also get the 2TB version of the Seagate HDD.
You could also go with a liquid cpu cooler such as the Corsair Hydro Series H80i GT. This could help keep things quiet and a tad cooler when overclocking and it offers a more customize cooling experience (learn more about the Corsair h80i GT at Corsair.com).
*Note: If you plan on doing Crossfire or SLI you will probably want at least an 850W power supply such as –EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2 80+ GOLD, 850W ECO Mode Fully Modular NVIDIA SLI and Crossfire Ready 10 Year Warranty Power Supply 220-G2-0850-XR PSU ($136.01).
|Add a Faster SSD with a Larger Capacity:SanDisk Extreme PRO 480GB SATA 6.0Gb/s 2.5-Inch 7mm Height Solid State Drive (SSD) with 10-Year Warranty- SDSSDXPS-480G-G25 = ($184.99) –
|Crossfire your graphics card:
(*Potential future proofing upgrade? – *only if you went with the AMD R9 390) Gigabyte GV-R939G1 GAMING-8GD G1 Gaming Graphics Card AMD R9 390 512 Bit GDDR5 8GB 2xDVI/HDMI/3xDP +(additional $299.99)
SLI your graphics card: (*Potential future proofing upgrade? – *only if you went with the GTX 970) ASUS Graphics Cards TURBO-GTX970-OC-4GD5 (additional $299.99)
|More Hard Drive Space With 2TB (or 1TB available) –Seagate 2TB Desktop HDD SATA 6Gb/s 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive (ST2000DM001) Price: $74.99
|Corsair Hydro Series H80i GT Performance Liquid CPU Cooler CW-9060017-WW – Add a liquid CPU Cooler for quieter, more customized and efficient cooling ($88.68)
Monthly Gaming PC Build ( $589): December 2015
(Game at Smoothly with High settings at 1920X1080 resolutions in most games)
Gaming PC Build Recipe:
Overview: $600 Gaming PC Build
The $600 gaming pc build is a standard gaming pc build for those that want to get into PC gaming at a reasonable cost and even though this is the lowest budget build here, it’s a fully capable 1080p gaming machine that you can expect to play a variety of games maxed out with decent fps. The reason I include a $600 build is because this is what I would consider a worthwhile build for a budget gamer that is the perfect starting point for pc gaming at 1920×1080 and being able to achieve high settings in lots of games and sometimes, is all you’ll need.
Included is the AMD FX-8320 8 Core Black Edition processor, which provides significant potential for a $600 budget gaming PC and this processor is also unlocked and easily overclockable (to get the full potential of overclocking I do suggest upgrading the cpu cooler, such as the one included in the hardware alternatives table below).
The motherboard included is the ASUS M5A97 R2.0 AM3+ AMD 970. This has been a popular budget AM3+ motherboard for quite some time -the Asus M5a97 has the following specification according to Asus (read more at asus.com):
- Dual Intelligent Processors – TPU + EPU.
- Remote GO! – One-stop PC Remote Control and Home Entertainment
- USB 3.0 Boost – Faster USB 3.0 Transmission with UASP
- Network iControl – Real-time Network Bandwidth Control
- DirectKey – A Dedicated Button to Access the BIOS Directly
- USB BIOS Flashback – Easy, Worry-free USB BIOS Flashback with Hardware-based Design
- UEFI BIOS – Flexible & Easy BIOS Interface
This month there has been an upgrade in a graphics card to the XFX R9 380, which is great news as it now fits comfortably into the budget. Also a worthy note to those that purchase before December 15, 2015 there is a $20 mail-in-rebate (which wasn’t factored into the build cost).
The included memory is a kit of Crucial Ballistix Spor DDR3 8GB, which should be enough memory for this gaming pc. And for a hard drive we have a 1TB Seagate Barracuda, which is a standard HDD with plenty of space at a great price – you can check out the hardware alternatives table if you would be interested in using a solid state drive instead.
The power supply is the EVGA 600B 600Watt power supply, this is a great budget PSU and more then enough power for this build.
The PC case included for December is the Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus, which is an affordable mid tower case featuring a side window and easy to build in with a tool free design as seen in the case’s details (read more at coolermaster.com):
- Front 120mm blue LED fan for improved cooling performance
- Tool-free mechanical design for quick assembly and maintenance
- Large side panel window provides the best inner view for components
- One super speed USB 3.0 port for faster file transfer and phone/tablet charging
- Supports high-end graphics cards up to 315mm/12.4″ in length, including AMD HD 7970 and NVIDIA GTX 690
Upgrade Suggestions for the $600 Gaming PC Build:
If you want some suggestions for upgrades or some hardware alternatives to those in the gaming pc hardware in the December $600 pc build above, then you may be interested in some of the suggestions below.
I would suggest a CPU cooler other then the included FX 8320 stock cooler if you want to take full advantage of overclocking, such as the Corsair Hydro Series H55 liquid cpu cooler – I’ve included this cooler since it provides a quality low profile solution as a higher air cooler may be a tad tight for this build, although you can fit in a more affordable Cooler Master Hyper 212 in the above case as well.
The second choice here is a better graphics card, such as the Sapphire NITRO R9 380X. This may be worth while if you have a little more to spend now and is a brand new card released just this month.
You can speed up your read and write times with an affordable solid state drive such as the 250 GB Samsung 850 EVO you see below, which can either be purchased with the included HDD in the $600 build above, or on its own.
This month I have also included a better motherboard suggestion for those that may have a tad more to spend on one – the included motherboard is the MSI 990FXA GAMING board featuring tons of extra features (which can be read at msi.com)
|Better CPU Cooler (liquid cooler): Corsair Hydro Series H55 Quiet Edition Liquid CPU Cooler (CW-9060010-WW) ($59.86) OR you can get a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO ($27.99)
|Better Graphics Card (Radeon R9 380X –*Newly released graphics card): Sapphire Radeon NITRO R9 380X 4GB DL-DVI-I/DL-DVI-D/HDMI/ DP Dual-X OC Graphics Card 11250-01-20G ($249.99)
Better Motherboard – MSI Computer ATX DDR3 1066 Motherboards 990FXA GAMING Price: $137.99
December 2015 Gaming PC Build Mice, Keyboard & Monitor Peripheral Considerations
The peripheral considerations are included as an attachment to the December 2015 gaming pc builds of the month. The builds above include the essential hardware to build a gaming pc, however you do need peripherals in order to control your gaming pc. So if you already don’t have a mouse, keyboard, monitor or OS, then you may want to check out the following article for some suggestions on gaming specific peripherals.
The December 2015 gaming pc peripherals article is separated into three separate categories including each in a higher end, mid-range and basic peripheral category.
To view this months peripheral suggestions please visit: December 2015 Gaming PC Peripherals of the Month
Operating System Options
If you don’t already have an operating system for your new gaming pc build, then you’re going to have to either invest in purchasing a standard OS such as Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10. Otherwise, there are some free alternatives that you could consider below as well. Keep in mind that you will need an optical drive should you decide to purchase the install discs, however you can also purchase Windows online or as a USB stick and install it that way – this would be the process for installing your OS without an optical drive (which isn’t included in each of the base builds above).
The following are some operating systems you can consider installing upon putting your Gaming PC build together. The first three will cost you and are either Windows 7 or 8.1, or 10 – I have no opinions here so I’ll leave the purchase of these up to the discretion of yourself, but do keep in mind that either way you do have the option of upgrading to Windows 10 for now. I have also included two other operating systems that are both currently free. Ubuntu is a Linux based operating system. The last OS is SteamOS, which is also a Linux OS being developed by Valve Corporation and is being made to be used for a Steam Machine game console.
|Windows 8.1 System Builder OEM DVD 64-Bit
|Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit, System Builder OEM DVD 1 Pack (New Packaging)
|Windows 10 Upgrade
|Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit System Builder OEM | PC Disc
|Ubuntu – Desktop
|SteamOS Beta “Build your own Steam Machine”