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The January 2015 – Monthly Gaming PC Builds

Gaming PC Builds – January 2015

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Gaming PC Builds of the Month Introduction:

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the January 2015 gaming pc builds of the month. I’m now going into the fourth full year of doing these monthly articles, which is just crazy to think about if you ask me, and I would like to thank everyone who tunes in monthly and to those coming here to learn and build for the first time.

Starting off January hardware prices seems to have gone up overall, but this is most likely due to post holiday inflation and all of the exciting things going on right now such as the 2015 International CES – Consumer Electronic Show where so many exciting things in the world tech and in pc hardware are announced every year. However, each build has been changed to accommodate for any price fluctuations and none of their performance have been affected in their respective budgets of $1500, $1000 and $600.

Along with the three main builds, there is also an included gaming pc peripherals section located at the very end of this article, which I urge anyone who needs a new mouse, keyboard or monitor to check out and also there is an operating systems section for those of you who need that as well.

I hope you enjoy this months builds and please feel free to leave a comment or question in the comments section below the article.

January 2015 PC Builds ( $1500 )

Gaming PC Build Recipe:

Game with Extreme settings at resolutions of 2560×1400, 1920×1080

Hardware Link Price Image
Estimated Price: $1499.89
Processor Intel Core i5-4690K Processor 3.5 GHz LGA 1150 BX80646I54690K $238.99
Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO – CPU Cooler with 120mm PWM Fan (RR-212E-20PK-R2) $34.99
Motherboard MSI ATX DDR3 2600 LGA 1150 Motherboards Z97 GAMING 5 $144.99
Graphics Card Zotac GeForce GTX 980 AMP Edition 4GB GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 HDMI DVI DisplayPort SLI Ready Graphics Cards ZT-90204-10P $549.99
RAM Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB Kit (8GBx2) DDR3 1600 MT/s (PC3-12800) CL9 @1.5V UDIMM 240-Pin Memory BLS2KIT8G3D1609DS1S00 $139.99
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 1 TB HDD SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST1000DM003 $54.00
SSD Samsung 850 Pro 128GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-7KE128BW) $103.99
Power Supply EVGA SuperNOVA 750G2 80PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V/EPS12V 750W Power Supply 220-G2-0750-XR $112.99
Computer Case Phanteks Enthoo Pro Full Tower Chassis without Window Cases PH-ES614PC $98.46
Optical Drive Lite-On Super AllWrite 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive – Bulk – IHAS124-04 (Black) $18.77

Overview: Gaming PC Build ( $1500 )

There have been zero changes to overall performance of the $1500 build this month, however we have had to cut back on some of the hardware from December’s build to accommodate for price changes. Last month we saw a ton of price decreases in overall hardware costs, however with the new year price have caught up again.

The included processor is the Intel i5 4690K processor, which is fully unlocked and very easily overclockable. Using the included MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard, you can easily overclock the 4690K and especially if you use the included OC Genie option on the motherboard (or you can manually do it). The MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard can overclock the processor and ram quite easily and comes with an array of features that can be read directly on MSI’s Website.

I have switched back to the Cooler Master Hyper 212 CPU Cooler, down from last months upgrade to the Corsair Liquid H100i cooler, however this is due to costs, since that cooler is about $70 more.

For the graphics card, I chose the Zotac GeForce GTX 980 AMP Edition, which is priced at exactly what the GTX 980 should be priced at right now and it has gotten great reviews and it is priced just perfectly when compared to similar cards.

Our RAM package has stayed the same with the Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB (8Gb X 2). 16Gb of memory is more then enough and it will last in a gaming pc build for years to come.

The included hard disk hard-drive used is the same one I’ve included for a few months now, the Seagate Barracuda 1TB. There is also an included Samsung 850 Pro 128GB Solid State Drive. For the same price as the Samsung 840 PRO that has 550MB/s Read speeds and 470MB/2 Write speeds. You can also opt for the 256 GB version of the Samsung 850 Pro if you scrapped the Seagate Barracuda 1TB Hard Drive for pretty much the same price given the saved cost of the Seagate drive. Likewise, you could get a 250GB regular Samsung 850 250GB SSD for $132; it all depends on how much space you have and how much you have to put towards your storage.

The power supply unit included is an EVGA SuperNOVA 750 Watt PSU. This is a feature packed quality built PSU that is fully modular Gold Certified PSU (with up to 90% efficiency). So this PSU will perform quietly and use less energy while also looking pretty good – in my opinion one of the best PSU buys in the 750Watt range these days. And on the plus side, this power supply dropped back down in price making it a fantastic purchase right now.

The full tower case included for the second month in a row is the Phanteks Enthoo Pro Full-Tower chassis. The one featured in the table above is a nice sleek looking one version without the side window, as there is also a windows version available. So far there have been no notable new PC case releases since last months article, so I thought it be best to include this very well values full towered case again.

A quick overview of the Phantek Enthoo Pro case as taken from phantek.com is –

Phantek Enthoo Pro Overview

Features:

Enthoo Pro includes 1 x 200mm fan in front and 1 x 140mm fan in the rear. Ability to upgrade to additional fans is possible. All fans included are Phanteks’ new redesigned and better performing SP series fans. Budget friendly case, Phanteks’ Enthoo Pro, unleash unlimited possibilities.

Appearance:

-Brushed plastic with an aluminum appearance
-Stealth interior: hidden PSU / hidden HDD

Cooling:

-Extreme cooling capacity
– 2 included Phanteks’ premium fans
– The PWM hub makes it possible to control all the connected fans (also 3-pin fans) with PWM function through 1 PWM connector and create a better cable management.
– Extensive water cooling support. Provides up to 4 different installation areas for slim and thick radiators varying from single to triple (120mm and 140mm form factors). Clearance for push-pull fan configurations.
– Innovative liquid cooling mounting systems: radiator brackets for easy installation

Functionality:

– Closed HDD panel strengthens the chassis’ rigidity, even when both HDD cages are removed.
– Removable Drop-n-Lock SSD bracket that can be installed on 2 different locations. (1 bracket incl.)
– Removable dust filters for easy maintenance.
– Pre-installed cable management tools behind the motherboard tray that can be fastened and released.
– 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, microphone, 3.5mm audio jack

Lastly, we have the optical drive, which I went with the LITE-ON optical drive which is simply one of the cheapest optical drives you can purchase at the moment.

$1500 Gaming PC Build Upgrade Suggestions

If you have a little bit of extra  cash then you may be wondering what else you could spend it on either over and above the $1500 budget outlines above or in the near future.

If you do more then gaming, then an  Intel i7-4790K processor may be a worthy upgrade from the Intel i5 4690K processor included in the $1500 gaming pc build. You can also splurge a bit more into your graphics budget and go and SLI with another GTX 780, or you could go for a Dual GPU Radeon R9 295X2 graphics card that comes with a closed looped liquid cooler. You could also go with more storage in your SSD by going with an affordable Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD – or any combination of drives mentioned in the $1500 build overview above.

Intel Core i7-4790K Processor (8M Cache, up to 4.40 GHz) (BX80646I74790K) ($335.99) – Do more then gaming? – Then an i7 might be the right choice. SLI with another –Zotac GeForce GTX 980 AMP Edition 4GB GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 HDMI DVI DisplayPort SLI Ready Graphics Cards ZT-90204-10P (+$549.99)
Get the Best Dual-GPU Card with a closed looped liquid cooler:VisionTek Radeon R9 295X2 Video Graphics Card ($899.99) An Affordable 1TB SSD:Samsung 850 EVO 1TB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-75E1T0B/AM) ($469.99)


January 2015 PC Builds ( $1044 )

Gaming PC Build Recipe:

Capability: Game with Extreme settings at 1920X1080 resolutions and even High Settings in some games at 2560×1400

Hardware Link Price Image
Estimated Price: $1044.42
Processor Intel Core i5-4690K Processor 3.5 GHz LGA 1150 BX80646I54690K $238.99
Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO – CPU Cooler with 120mm PWM Fan (RR-212E-20PK-R2) $34.99  
Motherboard ASUS Z97-A ATX DDR3 2600 LGA 1150 Motherboards Z97-A $129.99
Graphics Card

EVGA EVGA GTX 970 4GB GDDR5 256bit, DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI, DP SLI Ready Graphics Card (04G-P4-1970-KR) Graphics Cards 04G-P4-1970-KR
$329.99
RAM Kingston HyperX FURY 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 CL10 DIMM – Blue (HX316C10FK2/8) $71.99
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 1 TB HDD SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST1000DM003 $54.00
SSD *none – check the additions / alternatives section below for options!
Power Supply EVGA SuperNOVA 750G1 750W ATX12V Power Supply 120-G1-0750-XR $89.99
Computer Case Corsair Graphite Series 230T Orange with Window Compact Mid-Tower Computer Case (CC-9011038-WW) $74.99
Optical Drive Lite-On Super AllWrite 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive – Bulk – IHAS124-04 (Black) $18.77

Overview: Gaming PC Build ( $1000 )

The included processor is the Intel i5 4690K processor, as it has been for months now. With such an easily overclockable processor,  I have also included the Cool Master Hyper 212 Evo cpu cooler into the January $1000 build. You may notice that this build does go a little over budget this month coming in at a current cost of $1044, but I couldn’t avoid this without losing the performance of this build from previous months. My suggestion for this month build would be to keep an eye out for an Intel 4690K that drops a little bit in price (as it is a little high at the moment) and then any slight decrease in the rest of the hardware.

The included motherboard is the same as last months as I went with the Asus Z97-A motherboard, which is a great pick for this budget and is more then capable of getting a ton of overclock out of the Intel 4690K processor. Some of the included features of the board include: (To learn more about these features visit the motherboard page here at asus.com)

The included graphics card is the EVGA GTX 970 graphics card, which is a great choice in this budget range and well worth the cost where it’s at. In this budget category you really have two choice of similarly performing cards at the moment, the first which is the GTA 970 you see in this build as well you can also go with the Radeon 290X if you find one with a lower price then $329. The biggest difference between these two cards is that the Radeon 290X does use more energy, white the power consumption of the GTX 970 is much lower.

For memory, I have switched to a kit of 8Gb of DDR3 Kingston HyperX Fury – where 8Gb of RAM should be the perfect amount for a good build. We have a 1TB Seagate Barracuda hard drive, which should be plenty of space for most gamers – I didn’t include an SSD since the budget just didn’t allow for it, however you could swap for a low storage SSD option if you wanted, or spend a little more and add one in (as seen in the alternatives section below).

The power supply unit being used is the EVGA SuperNOVA G1 750W power supply, which is a great PSU with all modular cables, high-quality Japanese brand capacitors. Yes I did switch this PSU from the  previous EVGA SuperNOVA 650 Watt version, this is because the 750 Watt version is priced lower then the 650W version; I have no idea why, but I would scope out the cost of each and just by the cheaper of the two.

For a PC case this month I have included the well priced Corsair Graphite Series 230T, a compact Mid-Tower case. This case dual front intake LED fans and has a refined gaming pc appeal.

Corsair Graphite Series 230T Specifications [corsair.com]

As with all of the builds, we have the same optical drive. I went with the LITE-ON seen in above table, which is simply one of the cheapest optical drives you can purchase at the moment.

$1000 Gaming PC Build Upgrade Suggestions

Below are some hardware additions should you have some extra cash and want to upgrade a specific piece to the above build. Whether you have some extra cash over and above the $1000 budget to spend or want some future considerations here they are.

You could get some serious graphics power with the SLI of two EVGA GTX 970 graphics cards, which would definitely be enough juice for higher resolutions (2560X1600 for example) or even high resolution multi-monitor setups. You could also consider this a worthy future upgrade consideration should you find you need the graphics juice in the years to come.

Since there is no SSD included in the base $1000 build, I do suggest you highly considering one if you funds allow. This month the Samsung 850 PRO SSD is included. For those that simply want more space for large sums of media etc. you could consider getting a 2TB drive (doubling your space) with the Seagate Barracuda 2TB drive.

I have included a pc case alternative for those that want a second option for the $1000 build this month. Actually, the extra case is the same as the one used in the $1500 build and this is because I think its an awesome purchase for a quality well priced full tower gaming pc case option.

Also, please *note that if you do decide to SLI with another GTX 970, I would suggest you have at least a 750W PSU (already included in the above build).

Add an SSD Boot Drive:Samsung 850 Pro 128GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-7KE128BW) = (+ $103.99) – SLI your graphics card: (*Potential future proofing upgrade?)EVGA EVGA GTX 970 4GB GDDR5 256bit, DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI, DP SLI Ready Graphics Card (04G-P4-1970-KR) Graphics Cards 04G-P4-1970-KR ($329.99)
More Hard Drive Space With 2TB – Seagate Barracuda 2 TB HDD SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST2000DM001 Price: $79.99 Alternative PC Case:Phanteks Enthoo Pro Full Tower Chassis without Window Cases PH-ES614PC ($98.46) *Very affordable Full Tower that is still of great quality.


Monthly Gaming PC Build ( $587 ): January 2015

(Game at Smoothly with Medium – High settings at 1920X1080 resolutions)

Gaming PC Build Recipe:

Hardware Link Price Image
Estimated Price: $ 586.70
Processor AMD FD6300WMHKBOX FX-6300 6-Core Processor Black Edition $99.99
Motherboard
Gigabyte AM3+ AMD DDR3 1333 760G HDMI USB 3.0 Micro ATX Motherboard GA-78LMT-USB3
$58.99
Graphics Card Sapphire Radeon R9 280 3GB GDDR5 DVI-I/DVI-D/HDMI/DP Dual-X with PCI-Express Graphics Card Boost 11230-00-20G $189.99
RAM Kingston HyperX FURY 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 CL10 DIMM – Blue (HX316C10FK2/8) $71.99
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 1 TB HDD SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST1000DM003 $54.00
Power Supply EVGA 600B 80PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V/EPS12V Active PFC 600W Power Supply 100-B1-0600-KR $54.99
Computer Case Fractal Design Core 1000 USB 3.0 Computer Case FD-CA-CORE-1000-USB3-BL $37.98
Optical Drive Lite-On Super AllWrite 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive – Bulk – IHAS124-04 (Black) $18.77

Overview: $600 Gaming PC Build

Just as good as ever, the $600 build has had some changes to accommodate for price differences, however nothing really had t change too much or get lost.

We still have the great budget CPU in the $600 build this month – the AMD FX 6300  is the processor used, which can be easily overclocked since it has an unlocked multiplier.

For the graphics card, we again have a Radeon R9 280, however this month we have the Sapphire Radeon R9 280, which will give you great performance in most games at 1920×1080.

The motherboard included for the third month in a row is the Gigabyte AM3+ GA-78LMT Micro ATX motherboard. This is a Micro ATX motherboard and will allow for a smaller PC case to make a nicely compact build without missing out on performance increases. The Gigabyte AM3+ GA-78LMT Micro ATX motherboard has the following specifications – (To learn more visit gigabyte.com)

We have a total of 8Gb included in the $600 gaming pc build – a kit of  Kingston HyperX FURY 8GB. As for a hard drive for each build this month we have the same for each build, which is the 1TB Seagate Barracuda.

The PSU has switched to a different brand for the first time in a while. The new power supply is the  EVGA 600B 600Watt power supply, plenty of power for this build and a great price for 600Watts of power in a solid budget psu.

Switching PC cases this month, featured is the Micro-ATX Fractal Design Core 1000 Case -this is a great looking  value per performance micro atx sized pc case. The following are some key features of the case [fractal-design.com]

The last little pice of hardware is our optical drive – due to its current lowest cost option, I went with the included LITE-ON that you can see in the above table.

Overclocking the AMD FX 6300 – The following information video (AMD FX 6300 Overclocking Guide (Overclock to 5 ghz) Step by Step Guide) can help you if your new to overclocking and if you decide to go with this $600 gaming pc build.

Upgrade Suggestions for the $600 Gaming PC Build:

These upgrades and alternatives below are for anyone who might have some extra spending cash or want some ideas for future upgrades over and above the allotted $600 budget for this gaming pc build.

The upgrades and alternatives this month include an upgraded eight core AMD FX-8320 processor, for about $45 more you could get a faster cpu with 8 cores.

I have included two hard drive alternative solutions. The first being a 2TB Seagate Barracuda for those that need a ton of storage, perhaps you have a large movie collection? The second drive is a Samsung 850 EVO 120GB solid state drive if you want to have a super quick boot drive.

The final suggestion I put here is a quick case alternative for those that want a difference higher quality micro atx sized case. Such as the Corsair Carbide Series Air 240 case seen below, which has a unique box layout and tons of space.

Processor Alternative: AMD FD8320FRHKBOX FX-8320 FX-Series 8-Core Black Edition ($145.95) Alternative (micro-atx) PC Case: Corsair Carbide Series Air 240 High Airflow MicroATX and Mini-ITX PC Case – White (CC-9011069-WW) ($89.99)
More Hard Drive Space With 2TB – Seagate Barracuda 2 TB HDD SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST2000DM001 Price: $79.99 Samsung 850 EVO 120GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-75E120B/AM) ($92.67)

January 2015 Gaming PC Build Peripheral Considerations

Here are the peripheral suggestions this month. The $600, $1000 and $1500 builds in this article include the hardware you need to setup up the base PC, but over and above that if you don’t already own a keyboard, mouse and monitor, then your build would be useless. Furthermore, you will also need an operating system to run as the backbone to seamlessly run your hardware with your software / games, so there are also suggestions for these included below.

By all means this is not a comprehensive list or meant to be the best of the best, but they are some of the best in the respective “higher end”, “mid-range” &  “basic” peripheral categories for gaming specific builds.

Higher End Gaming PC Peripherals – January 2015

The “higher end” peripherals are meant to showcase some of the more popular higher end / gaming specific peripheral hardware that one may consider to have the top of the line gaming peripherals.

The keyboard below is the Razer BlackWidow Chroma Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, with fully programmable keys and 5 additional gaming keys with on the fly macro recording. mechanical keys with distinct tactile feel and fast response and more [learn more at razerzone.com]. The included mouse is the Logitech G502 Proteus Core – a very comfortable mouse with 11 large programmable buttons and easily one of the best mice out there [learn more at gaming.logitech.com]. Last, we have a higher resolution (2560X1440) ASUS PB278Q monitor, a 27 inch LED lit monitor perfect for a higher end gaming pc (such as the $1500 build) – The ASUS PB278Q specifications can be read at [asus.com].

Hardware Link Price Image
Keyboard Razer BlackWidow Chroma Mechanical Gaming Keyboard $169.95
Mouse Logitech G502 Proteus Core Tunable Gaming Mouse with Fully Customizable Surface, Weight and Balance Tuning (910-004074) $69.99
Monitor 2560×1440 ASUS PB278Q 27-Inch WQHD LED-lit Professional Graphics Monitor $459.99

Mid-Range PC Peripherals – January 2015

The mid-range category is perfect for those that want to have great gaming peripherals, but not necessarily the most expensive. This month the mid-range gaming peripherals have stayed the same.

The keyboard chosen is the Razer Black Widow Ultimate, a great performing keyboard with comfortable keys and wrist area – one of the best all around gaming keyboards [learn more on the razerzone.com website]. This was included in the higher end gaming hardware last month, however I thought it better fit here. The included mouse is the Logitech G302 Daedalis Prime mouse, which is a comfortable minimalist designed mouse with highly responsive buttons and shape [Learn more at gaming.logitech.com]. The monitor included is the ASUS VG248QE, which is a popular 24-inch 1920X1080 and very fast response times, definitely a great pick for any caliber of gamer.

Hardware Link Price Image
Keyboard Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2015 Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard $89.99  
Mouse Logitech G302 Daedalus Prime MOBA Gaming Mouse $49.99  
Monitor (1920×1080) ASUS VG248QE 24-inch LED-lit Monitor 144Hz refresh rate 1ms pixel response time & 3D capable $265.14

Basic PC Peripherals – January 2015

If you are starting out from scratch and have absolutely no peripherals for your new gaming pc build on a budget, then things can get quite pricy very quickly. The “basic” peripherals are meant to showcase some of the most popular basic peripherals that are not exactly gaming specific, but are definitely quality pc hardware that would fair just fine. Just because these are labelled “basic” doesn’t meant they are cheap or not good, just cheaper and not always gaming specific.

The included keyboard this month is the Corsair Raptor K30 Gaming Keyboard. This keyboard replaced the previous Microsoft Sidewinder as a viable budget gaming keyboard choice since the Sidewinder shot up in price significantly by more then $40. The Corsair Raptor K30 has adjustable backlighting, programmable G-keys and anti ghosting keys to give it the prefect feel for gaming. The mouse is a basic affordable, comfortable ambidextrous gaming mouse call the ROCCAT LUA Gaming Mouse, which is the same as used in the previous month. The monitor you see below is actually really good even though it is categorized into the budget category – the BenQ RL2455HM 24-inch with 1920×1080 resolution and quick 1ms response times,

Hardware Link Price Image
Keyboard Corsair Gaming Keyboard (Raptor K30) $54.42
Mouse ROCCAT LUA Tri-Button Gaming Mouse, Black $24.99  
Monitor (1920×1080) BenQ Gaming Monitor RL2455HM (24-Inch LED) $206.29

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 or 8. Otherwise, there are some free alternatives that you could consider.

The following are some operating systems you can consider installing upon putting your Gaming PC build together. The first two will cost you and are either Windows 7 or 8.1 – I have no opinions here so I’ll leave the purchase of these up to the discretion of yourself. 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. The official release of SteamOS has not been announced, however you can try out the beta.

OS Link Price Image
Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1 System Builder OEM DVD 64-Bit $92.00  
Windows 7 Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit, System Builder OEM DVD 1 Pack (New Packaging) $95.88  
Ubuntu Ubuntu – Desktop Free
SteamOS SteamOS WebpageSteamOS Beta – Download Page Free

January 2015’s Gaming PC Hardware Overview Video:

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