March 27, 2012

1083 words 6 mins read

Build Complete: My Gaming Rig

This is the 3rd post in a series. Check out the first and second entries for information on planning and building your own PC.

A few weeks ago I decided it was time to build myself a new desktop, despite not having had one for many years. I set out to build a machine that was reasonably competent at playing games; I also wanted it to be fairly small and quiet. Lastly, I wanted something that would handle future upgrades with a minimal amount of part replacement. This wasn’t going to be a crazy complicated build since I didn’t want to sink a ton of money into it. I ended up with a bit more than I expected…

The completed machine, named [Excalibur][3], is a solid machine by any stretch of the imagination. I can play the latest games (in this case [Battlefield 3][4]) at 1920×1080, max quality, and still hit 60FPS. I hadn’t realized it until I finished building, but this machine actually beats the “recommended” system specs for Battlefield 3 by a slight margin. Since all my previous PC gaming had always been based on attempting to meet the minimum requirements… this was an amazing change.

Core System


][5]I could have built the system cheaper than I show it below, but I love Amazon’s return policy (i.e. they take EVERYTHING, no questions asked). The prices listed here (for the sake of history) are what I paid when I purchased the parts earlier this month (March 2012). The parts were based off of my [ plan][6]. Note: I already had the 10k RPM HD so I figured I’d use it instead of plunking down more cash for an SSD drive, though I do still plan on getting an SSD eventually.

  • CPU: [Intel Core i7-2600 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor][7] — $315.00 on Amazon
  • Motherboard: [ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 Micro ATX][8] — $189.99 on NewEgg
  • Memory: [Corsair Vengeance Low Profile 8 GB PC3-12800][9] — $49.99 on Amazon
  • Video Card: [MSI GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1GB Video Card][10] — $244.99 on Amazon
  • Case: [Thermaltake Armor A30 ATX Mini Tower Case][11] — $109.49 on Amazon
  • Power Supply: [Cooler Master 650W ATX12V Power Supply][12] — $79.99 on Amazon
  • Storage: [Western Digital Velociraptor 300 GB SATA III 10,000 RPM][13] — Already owned
  • Total: $989.45
Peripherals and accessories


][14]The following is a list of gear I already had that I’ve hooked up to this machine. The Xbox controller was a gift from [John][15] for my Birthday (since I had only wireless controllers for my [360][16]). The gaming headset also came from my 360, but works FANTASTICALLY on the PC.

  • [Xbox 360 Wired Controller][17]
  • [Tritton Xbox 360 AX Pro Dolby Digital Precision Version 1.0 Gaming Headset][18]
  • [Alfa AWUS036H 1000mW 1W 802.11b/g USB Wireless WiFi Adapter][19]
  • [J-Tech Digital SuperSpeed USB 3.0 4-Port Hub][20]
  • [Belkin High-Speed USB 2.0 7-Port Hub][21]
  • [Logitech USB Laptop Speaker Z305][22]
Future additions

On my PCPartPicker plan, I put down a Blu-Ray drive, but wasn’t sure if I’d have the space for it, which is why I left it out of my build. The SSD will eventually replace my 10k hard drive for OS storage, but I’ll keep the 10k drive (along with the 3TB) for additional storage. The rest of the bits (like the TrackIR and G13) are just for gaming goodness.

  • [Lite-On IHBS112-04 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer][23]
  • <a href=" tag=shakata03-20” title=”[amazon] Rosewill RDCR-11003 74-in-1 USB3.0 3.5” Internal Card Reader w/USB Port">Rosewill RDCR-11003 74-in-1 USB3.0 3.5” Internal Card Reader w/USB Port
  • [Logitech G13 Programmable Gameboard with LCD Display][24]
  • [TrackIR 5][25]
  • [Crucial 256 GB m4 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive][26]
  • [Western Digital Caviar Green 3 TB SATA III][27]
  • [Corsair Vengeance Low Profile 16 GB PC3-12800][28]


][29]I have a lot more pictures of the machine than there is space on this blog to put them, so I’ve [put up a set on Flickr][29]. Beware, I’m a bit of a photog (which is the secondary purpose of this machine — [Photoshop][30] and [Lightroom][31]), so I get a little artsy with some of the component pictures. I’ve also included some benchmarks there. I’m extremely pleased with how the machine turned out. It runs everything I want and is generally very quiet. The GPU spins up when running games, but quiets down once I’m done. Overall, the system runs very cool even though I’m running stock cooling. For a machine that’s sub-1k, I’m extremely happy with the results.

tag=shakata03-20 [3]: “[wiki] Excalibur (Crusade)” [4]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Battlefield 3” [5]: /wp-content/uploads/2012/03/DSC_0666.jpg [6]: [7]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Intel Core i7-2600K Processor” [8]: “[newegg] ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard” [9]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Corsair Vengeance Low Profile 8 GB PC3-12800 1600mhz 240-Pin DDR3 Dual Channel Memory Kit SDRAM CML8GX3M2A1600C9” [10]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] MSI GeForce GTX560 1 GB DDR5 2DVI/Mini HDMI PCI-Express Video Card N560GTX TI TWIN FROZR II OC” [11]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Thermaltake Armor A30 Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX Mobile Portable LANparty Gaming Case 230MM Oversized LED Fan Long with Graphic Card Support VM70001W2Z” [12]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Cooler Master GX Series 650W ATX 12V V2.31 80 PLUS SLI Ready Power Supply RS650-ACAAE3-US” [13]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Western Digital Velociraptor 300 GB SATA III 10,000 RPM 32 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive - WD3000HLHX” [14]: /wp-content/uploads/2012/03/DSC_0675.jpg [15]: /author/John/ “[blog] Author: John” [16]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Xbox 360” [17]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Xbox 360 Wired Controller” [18]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Tritton Xbox 360 AX Pro Dolby Digital Precision Version 1.0 Gaming Headset” [19]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Alfa AWUS036H 1000mW 1W 802.11b/g USB Wireless WiFi Adapter With Original Alfa Screw-On Swivel 9dBi Rubber Antenna and Suction cup Window Mount dock” [20]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] J-Tech Digital SuperSpeed USB 3.0 4-Port Hub Backward Compatible with USB 2.0 with USB 3.0 Cable” [21]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Belkin High-Speed USB 2.0 7-Port Hub” [22]: tag=shakata03-20 [23]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] LiteOn iHBS112-29 12x Internal SATA Blu-Ray Combo Burner 8Mb Cache, Black” [24]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Logitech G13 Programmable Gameboard with LCD Display” [25]: [26]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Crucial 256 GB m4 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive SATA 6Gb/s CT256M4SSD2” [27]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Western Digital Caviar Green 3 TB SATA III 64 MB Cache Bare/OEM Desktop Hard Drive - WD30EZRX” [28]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Corsair 16 GB Vengeance Low Profile 1600mhz PC3-12800 240-pin Dual Channel DDR3 Memory Kit 16 Dual Channel Kit - CML16GX3M4A1600C9” [29]: [30]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Adobe Photoshop CS5” [31]: tag=shakata03-20 “[amazon] Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4”