Review Index:

Take me to your Leaderboard - Holiday 2013 Build Guides

Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Low End System Leaderboard; $500 target

For those who want a new PC but are on a limited budget, or perhaps have been asked by a family member that doesn't do much more than surf or email then the Low End System is where it is at.  AMD may not be pressuring Intel's high end CPUs to the extent they once did but they own the bottom end with a truly functional APU.  The AMD A8-6600K isn't going to compile screaming fast databases or win benchmarks but that is not its intended purpose.  For general purpose usage and for a quiet system without a GPU Richland is incredible at what it does.

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The same can be said for the X85 chipset, for a fraction of the cost of a current Intel motherboard the feature set of the current, if aging, AMD chipset offers a lot of functionality as well as the ability to upgrade to a Crossfire system.  This system has aspirations, you might not be able buy all the greatest components immediately but you can really move up in the world from this base system.  The recommended board is the full sized MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 but if you wanted this to be a small HTPC system the GIGABYTE GA-F2A88XN-WIFI FM2+ is a Mini-ITX board with WiFi for the same price.

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You can skip the PowerColor Radeon HD 6670 when building this system and save up for a better GPU unless there is an immediate need for a bit of Hybrid Xfire.  Once you upgrade beyond this card the GPU in the A8-6600K will be disabled so make sure to upgrade like you mean it.

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4GB of DDR-1600 is quite inexpensive now and fully worth the investment now that operating systems have learned how to take advantage of pools of RAM and a 1TB HDD is also not a major investment when are looking to hold onto family memories.  Audio is more than taken care of by the Realtek ALC892 which offers more audio channels than the Soundblasters of a few years ago and while you might have to upgrade the CORSAIR Builder Series CX430 V2 430W if you get a serious GPU at $44 it is not a huge investment

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  Low End System Leaderboard
Processor AMD A8-6600K - $104
Motherboard MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 - $89
Memory G.Skill 4GB DDR-1600 - $54
Graphics Card Powercolor AX6670 1GB - $79
Storage Seagate Barracuda 1TB SATA 6G 7200 RPM HDD - $61
Case Apex PC-389-C ATX Tower - $29
Power Supply Corsair Builder Series CX430 - $44
Optical Drive ASUS 24x DVD-RW - $21
OS Windows 8 OEM - $99
Total Price $580

Video News

December 19, 2013 | 05:20 PM - Posted by funk (not verified)

What is the case in the picture for this article that you dont even use in the article?

December 19, 2013 | 05:28 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

Stole it from Ryan's Hadron review ... we didn't have a good half built system picture handy

December 22, 2013 | 09:03 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That is an EVGA Hadron Case. Here is the link:

December 19, 2013 | 05:33 PM - Posted by KevTheGuy (not verified)

I think it would be better if you replace the APU with the Athlon x4 750k and then add an HD 7770 or 7790 maybe? Also that RAM is so expensive! ._.

December 19, 2013 | 08:35 PM - Posted by Fishbait

Really great choices, you can't go wrong with them. I personally would pony up for the i3-4340 and a decent motherboard for the mid-range and then go for the i5 4670k on the high end. Gaming isn't really effected by the CPU beyond that :D

December 20, 2013 | 03:25 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So how good is the A8-6600K + Radeon HD 6670 in hybrid Xfire?

Is 1080p gaming possible with that combo or is hybrid Xfire a joke?

December 20, 2013 | 01:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yay I've been waiting for this :)

December 20, 2013 | 01:57 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Nice but can you give some though to doing SFF builds as well? That's a growing market :)

December 21, 2013 | 03:26 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yay for all Nvidia garbage for all these builds.... Guess the writer of this article loves the money he is getting from the Green trolls!! I come out cheaper with my custom water cooled R9-290X that is OC to 1275 MHZ that &*^% all over the so called "Dream Machine" build with its pathetic 780Ti. Guess I'll be racking up the kills in BF4 on you Nvidia users. lol! Enjoy the low FPS.

Just wait till mantle. LOL. Then you Greenies will be crying as the red lava of AMD/ATI takes you down. The burn is already there with the cheap R9-290X slapping around the 780's like little candies, but it will be complete vaporization when mantle comes rolling around town.

December 21, 2013 | 07:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

.... Guess the writer of this article loves the money he is getting from the Green trolls!!

↑↑↑ You sir, are an idiot ↑↑↑

December 22, 2013 | 10:31 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

For future guides, I still think it would be helpful for you to include a liquid cooling recommendation since they are almost mandatory these days. With so many choices, it is hard to know which coolers to choose from.

December 22, 2013 | 09:23 PM - Posted by brucek2

Cases and coolers may be subject to personal preference, but they are also potential sources of parts incompatibilities. For example, there are motherboard / RAM / cooler combinations that just won't physically fit for say lack of physical clearance above the RAM heat spreaders. For that reason its hard to put much faith in system recommendations you haven't built and can't guarantee even are buildable.

In addition to flat out incompabilities, there are also more subtle synergies or conflicts that can make one set of gear achieve much better or worse cooling & acoustic performance than another. These factors can be hard to predict ahead of time especially working just from spec sheets; it seems one of the critical things a build guide should do is check that a proposed set worked out in an unusually good way vs an unusually bad way.

December 31, 2013 | 03:36 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

A checklist for those kinds of specs might be a good idea, I'll think about that

January 3, 2014 | 08:40 AM - Posted by Jamrc (not verified)

Just listened to the last podcast...
How do you cat proof your computer?
And I mean that as a serious question, pulling cat hair out of everything is never fun.

I'm currently running an old case Thermaltake VA3003BWS and it's an excellent vacuum for cat hair.

Any suggestions would be welcomed from everyone!

January 3, 2014 | 03:15 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

I'm using an NZXT Hush, so the entire outside is coated in high density foam, including all the intakes for fans and on thr floor.  It works great at slowing the penetration of cat hair and the hair seems to prefer sticking to it, not the PCBs.

You could always try shaving the cat too.

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