Build A PC – May 2014 Recommendations

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So it has been a couple of days since the official introduction of a new chipset Z97! Around here this is pretty big news as it means there is a lot of hands on testing, tweaking, tuning and building. Over the last 6 months I have spent considerable time working with our design and development teams to help bring to market the best motherboards in the industry, whether it be the features or functionality or the total experience they offer. Building on a ASUS Z97 series motherboard is an amazing experience and helps to ensure superior reliability, stability and outstanding performance.


Getting the ball rolling though that can be tricky especially with so many different options to choose from. There can be a lot of confusion on how to approach specing out / defining a PC and its components. Here at PCDIY we are looking to make the process easier. With this in mind I am excited to announce the launch of our PCDIY System Recommendations. These recommendations will provide specific component recommendations whether you are looking to build a system targeted at gaming, content creation, general productivity or the media centric system we will cover them all. In addition we are looking for the provide form factor specific recommendations including ATX, mATX and of course mini ITX. Over the next weeks and months I hope these guides provide assistance and insight in pricking the components for your next PC.
First up we will be looking at build recommendations for the here and now May 2014. If you are looking to build a gaming PC this a great place to start. Before jumping into the component is important to note some key criteria of how we have reached out selection on components.
1. We want to ensure complete experiences. While there will be components that may cost less we are not just evaluating pure cost but the value of the components. The value is derived from the ease of use and the functionality the product allows for.

An example will be the motherboard we have an expectation of want to control any fan connected to the motherboard enabling a superior experience when it comes to cooling and acoustics for your PC.

Another example is the total experience. The GPU we selected features non only an improved design offering higher quality and superior reliability but offers superior than reference design in the cooling and acoustics. This nets up improved performance and cooler and quieter operation.

2. An operating system is not included in the cost of system as you may already have a copy of the OS. If you do need a copy of an OS then you would want to add an additional 100 dollars to the total. This would be for the recommended OS – Windows 8.1 64bit.

I am not recommending any OS outside of 8.1 for multiple reasons
Superior USB performance
Improvements in file system and explorer management
Rich search functionality along with live tile integration
Extremely quick post and boot speed
Windows app store support
Synced accounts across Windows 8 devices
Advanced features ( ISO support, File revision history backup, Refresh/restore abilities ) and much more.
3. Keyboard and mouse along with monitor still need to be selected. As these can be very personal and relative to functionality and s environment default selections are not included. Recommendations will be outlined for those who would like some options to pick from.

4. We have defaulted to a single vendor for pricing. This is done to ensure consistent pricing and minimize on issues in the long run whether it be returns, rebates, promo codes or a number of other factors. With this noted system pricing could be potentially cheaper when factoring multiple vendors but it is important to consider applicable shipping and tax.

Lastly keep in mind with any one of the system below you upgrade a component and maintain the rest of the build

Examples would be upgrading build 1 to a higher performing GPU but maintain he rest of the specific specifications.  Another example would be upgrading the memory from 4GB to 8GB or even 16Gb should you want the increase or have a usage model or application that benefits from it.

All three systems below are based on the new Intel Z97 series chipset ( which supports overclocking with applicable CPUs ) as well as USB 3.0, SATA6G and dual GPU support ( SLI and CROSSFIRE ) – Z97 Gaming PC System Recommendations

For our first entry gaming build we have a system targeted at approx 700.00 dollars.

This system has been designed to provide great general system performance and very good gaming performance. The CPU while being an i5 effectively reaches CPU gaming performance also 90% + of any faster CPU. In this respect it essentially does not bottleneck you regardless of the GPU you select. Additionally the board offers improved outstanding fan controls, great network connectivity with packet and priority control via Turbo Lan ( which allows you to prioritize gaming, streaming, downloading or specific applications ). In addition improved audio with specialized modes for music, movies or games.  Overall a very solid entry level performance system with capability of 1080 gaming.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3JeQG
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3JeQG/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3JeQG/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i5-4430 3.0GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus Z97-A ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($48.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital RE3 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Video Card ($172.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair SPEC-01 RED ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($26.97 @ Newegg)
Total: $690.90
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-05-13 13:43 EDT-0400

Our second system has a number of key upgrades and is targeted at approx 1125.00

1. An overclockable CPU – 4670k. This cpu not allows offers faster performance but clearly breaks the overall CPU bottleneck and will generally ensure we have the best performance for any GPU we select. In addition due to its unlocked nature ( being a K cpu ) it can be overclocked for further performance.
2. We move up to a more advanced cooling solution. Due to the CPU offering overclocking we have selected a high performance closed loop watercooling solution. This will help to ensure we can keep temperatures in check even when overclocking. The double wide design is also beneficial in allowing for additional heat dissipation and helping to keep the fans operating at lower RPMs. This helps us in not having to compromise between acoustics and cooling.
3. We move into offering our MAXIMUS VII HERO. A gamer’s centric motherboard offering all the key improvements a gamer could ask for
Improved audio, Improved Networking, and much more.
4. We also have add an SSD allowing us to have significantly improved post and boot speeds along with improved application installation and loading performance.
5. Stepping up to the GTX 760 we really begin to see the performance of what a strong midrange GPU can offer. Whether it be 1080 or even 2560 the GTX 760 is an outstanding GPU offering very cool and quiet operation but while offer impressive FPS and frame latency performance.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3Jf8y
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3Jf8y/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3Jf8y/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($239.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H80i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus MAXIMUS VII HERO ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($238.49 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($48.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Sandisk Extreme II 120GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital RE3 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 760 2GB DirectCU II Video Card ($249.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair Graphite Series 230T Black ATX Mid Tower Case ($74.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($84.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($26.97 @ Newegg)
Total: $1121.37
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-05-13 13:43 EDT-0400)

Our third system makes further upgrades and focuses on prioritizing 2560 gaming performance along with general system performance and expansion flexibility. The system is targeted at approx 1625.00

1. We move up to the 4770K Intel fastest mainstream series CPU its 4 core 8 thread design allows for outstanding performance in every type of application or usage as well as offering impressive multi GPU performance where the increased cores and frequency aid in offering ultra low frame latency. In addition due to its unlocked nature ( being a K cpu ) it can be overclocked for further performance.
2. We move up to the most advanced type of closed loop water cooling solution in a 240mm design. This ultra large radairtor assembly allows us to dissipate extremely high thermal loads helping to ensure cool operation even when overclocked. Due to the increase in cores this additional cooling can be needed especially when heavily overclocking the 4770K.
3. For system memory we move up to 8GB allowing for more flexibility in the number of application application being run. In addition an increase to the frequency in the memory provides us additional bandwidth helping to improve system performance.
4. We maintain the usage of a SSD but move up to a larger capacity allowing for the system to have more applications and games loaded on the SSD improving the overall usage experience of system by allowing for quicker game and application launching.
5. We move up to a GTX 770 GPU an extremely h igh performance GPU design for maintain high to ultra image quality settings and running high resolutions. Paired with the DirectCU II design also used in the previous GTX 760 GPU this helps to ensure extremely cool and quiet operation as well.
6. Lastly we move up to a higher efficiency PSU with a modular cable design allowing for not only superior power efficiency but cleaner routing and cable management.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3Jfn9
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3Jfn9/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3Jfn9/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($339.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($94.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus MAXIMUS VII HERO ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($238.49 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($86.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Sandisk Extreme II 240GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk ($160.98 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 770 2GB DirectCU II Video Card ($355.91 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair 730T Black ATX Full Tower Case ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 750W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($109.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($26.97 @ Newegg)
Total: $1624.29
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-05-13 13:42 EDT-0400)

That wraps up our initial recommendations. Stay tuned for more as we continue for the rest of the month to outline and define recommendations for different form factors, usage models and much more. We hope to even begin offering system build guide recommendations for key PC applications and games.

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