The Weekly Dracus #13: High-Performance Mid-Range Gaming Build V1

Another build for you people. Right here, right now.

This time we focus on a mid-range to high-end gaming PC, for a quite affordable price and a great bang for your buck.

Read on for parts, and analysis.

Thus, without further ado, behold our parts list:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i5-7600K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor $238.75 @ OutletPC
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212X 82.9 CFM CPU Cooler $29.88 @ OutletPC
Motherboard Asus PRIME Z270-A ATX LGA1151 Motherboard $161.99 @ NCIX US
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 Memory $124.89 @ OutletPC
Storage Sandisk SSD PLUS 240GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive $74.99 @ Best Buy
Storage Western Digital BLACK SERIES 2TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $123.89 @ OutletPC
Video Card MSI GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Video Card $394.99 @ Newegg
Case Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 5 ATX Mid Tower Case $109.99 @ Newegg
Power Supply EVGA SuperNOVA G2 550W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply $78.89 @ OutletPC
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total (before mail-in rebates) $1388.26
Mail-in rebates -$50.00
Total $1338.26
Generated by PCPartPicker 2017-02-27 00:27 EST-0500

CPU

We’ll begin a rundown of all the parts, one by one, with analysis and reasoning behind each choice.

CPUs are generally not as important for gaming as are GPUs. It is usually an underpowered GPU that bottlenecks the system, not the CPU. Nevertheless, one may obviously not fully rely on a low-end CPU in a mid-range or high-end system – there are certain games that are CPU-intensive, and nearly all games nowadays require 4 cores or at least 2 cores and 4 threads to operate properly.

The i5 7600K is the overclockable 7th generation CPU, running at 3.8GHz base clock and 4.2GHz boost clock with no overclocking, utilizing 4 cores and 8 threads – perfectly ideal for all gaming purposes. Rarely will a game require more CPU power than this, and if it does, it will hardly be noticeable.

CPU COOLER

The Cooler Master Hyper 212X cooler is a more-than-sufficient air cooler compatible with the LGA1151 chipset of our processor.

Based on the ever-tested Cooler Master EVO 212, the Hyper 212X offers some certain modifications that optimize its heat dissipation capability, making it an excellent upgrade over the previously recommended EVO 212.

With Hyper 212X, overclocking the i5 7600K at 4.5GHz is a breeze, with higher clock frequencies being possible, with testing – and of course, depending on the CPU binning of course, and all that overclocker jazz which you can find everywhere online. The basic idea, is that this cooler, with this CPU, can offer satisfactory overclocking results, and you can get quite some performance and cooling efficiency out of this pair.

MOTHERBOARD

Many choices for a mid-range motherboard. There’s tens of Z170 and Z270 models to choose from, many of which are similar and their choice is purely subjective.

The “Z” designation is required, as it denotes motherboards that allow for overclocking of the supported Intel CPUs.

This leaves us with two choices that support the i5 7600K.

The first one would be the Z170 chipset (officially designed for the 6th gen Intel Processors, e.g. i5 6600K), and Z170 motherboards will most probably need a BIOS upgrade to be able to support 7600K.
This is mostly for people who already possess a Z170 motherboard, and do not wish to upgrade it, just to upgrade their CPU from 6th generation, to 7th generation.

However, since we are building a PC from scratch, and since we are including a 7th gen CPU, there is no real reason to use previous gen motherboard chipsets.

That being said, we choose Z270. And this is where the subjective part starts.

So many motherboard vendors, so many models thereof. I’ll straight ahead drop my choice here: The ASUS Prime Z270-A.

The Prime Z270-A is absolutely barebone, and will facilitate all the functions of our components, with no extra jingles and cosmetic features, or features that are only required for extreme overclocking or other unconventional tasks.

This motherboard boasts top electronics, material, and build quality, as ASUS are renowned for excellent quality control of their products.

Their BIOS is modern, secure, and user-friendly with features such as easy one-click overclocking.

Connectivity-wise, it’s fully equipped, with 4 USB3 back ports, 1 USB3.1 Type-A and 1 USB3.1 Type-C back port, and 2 front USB3 ports, 2 M.2 slots, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI, 1 x Display Port, and Intel LAN.

It supports RAM frequencies up to 3866MHz in OC mode (utilizing Intel XMP profiles), as well as 2-way SLI and 3-way CrossFire for multiple linked GPU system configurations.

RAM

Even with modern triple-A titles, a ton of memory is usually not necessary. A good amount of games are playable even with 8GB memory, though, due to fluctuations in their memory usage, depending on the scene in the game and other factors, the RAM usage may exceed 8GB (especially in RTS games).

The above, combined with potential multitasking that advanced users perform while gaming, increases the memory demands of modern gaming PCs.

Thus, we settle rightfully on 16GB DDR4, which is simultaneously not overkill, and sufficient for all gaming purposes.

As far as memory frequency is concerned, the default DDR4 clock speed of 2133MHz should suffice for gaming tasks, with higher speeds only affecting tasks like archive creation and extraction (e.g. .zip, .rar, .7z, etc).

Nevertheless, for the sake of this build, I decided to go with a much greater clock speed of 3200MHz, instead of the base 2133MHz, to facilitate increased speeds in tasks unrelated to gaming.

In addition, the chosen RAM model has a CAS latency value of 14, and overall great timings, which should also grant a performance boost (albeit minimal) in various operations, for only an additional $20 compared to the 2133MHz CAS16 model of the same vendor.

Do note that one could get a 2133MHz model and overclock/tweak it to run at 3200MHz and CAS14, but the model that comes overclocked from stock, has actually been tested to run at that speed and timings, and thus there is no fear of lower binning.

SSD

As far as solid-state storage is concerned, we will not try to overdo it, so as not to break our budget (even further). Usual storage size tiers for SSDs are 120 or 128GB, then 240 or 256GB, and then 512GB and above. 512GB are spacious enough to house many applications and games, but their prices range from $150 and above, which is rather unreasonable, compared to the relative prices of the rest of our components.

A 120GB is too small, while a 512GB is too expensive for our demands. A 240GB SSD drive would be a great middle-ground choice. It offers ample storage space for the operating system, the required applications, as well as a few of the most frequently played games. Most games, aside from faster loading times, do not particularly benefit from SSD storage, so in that respect, a 240GB drive should suffice, considering that most of the main storage will be in the other 2TB HDD drive which we will outline below.

This SanDisk SSD drive offers the standard speed and durability ratings of an average SSD drive, and should be perfect for our build.

HDD

The HDD we are using is nothing special, yet does the job. Western Digital ranks among the top consumer-grade HDD manufacturers, and their products are characterized by excellent quality control, and come at reasonable prices.

2TB of storage size should be more than adequate for any sorts of files – from media, to games and other miscellaneous documents.

GPU

Now we arrive at the juiciest part of our gaming build: The GPU (of course). Nothing affects gaming performance more than the GPU. And for this build, rest assured that we have selected an absolute powerhouse of a GPU, all the while not breaking the bank.

I am talking about the beastly Pascal-based nVidia GTX 1070, specifically the GTX 1070 Gaming X model by MSI.

The GTX 1070 Gaming X has 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM, 1920 CUDA cores, and three preset clock and memory frequency profiles:

PROFILE MEMORY FREQUENCY BASE CLOCK FREQUENCY BOOST CLOCK FREQUENCY
Silent Mode 8010 MHz 1506 MHz 1683 MHz
Gaming Mode 8010 MHz 1582 MHz 1771 MHz
OC Mode 8108 MHz 1607 MHz 1797 MHz

Reviewer and user benchmarks rank the GTX 1070 as one of the most cost-effective, high-performance GPUs currently on the market, providing minimum 60fps for the vast majority of titles on the market, at maximum settings, at 1080p.

It doesn’t back down on 1440p either, offering minimum 60fps at maximum settings for quite a few modern games as well, especially ones that are well-optimized.

CASE

When it comes to our case, I am going to be direct. We want a rigid, high-quality case, made with excellent materials, offering a lot of room for our components and for cable management, as well as decent airflow. This is exactly the definition of the mid-tower Cooler Master Mastercase 5 case – with an extra feature by Cooler Master, namely “FreeForm”, which allows for the customization of the various areas of the case, introducing a form of “modularity” into the case: from hard drive bay switching, to side-panel customization, to dust filter and fan switching. All the right tools and functions to make the case yours, are here. Even without any heavy customization, this case offers the exact characteristics we need, as we described above: Optimal airflow, ample component and cable management space, and and high build and materials quality. The Cooler Master Mastercase 5 fulfills all these requirements.

PSU

And lastly, the power supply unit. There really isn’t much to say about the EVGA SuperNOVA G2 550W PSU. More than enough power for our system, outstanding performance as benchmarked by experienced testers (such as JohnnyGURU.com, which gave it a perfect 10/10 score), a magnificent price and an excellent 7 year warranty. There is literally no better choice for a PSU for this system.

 

That would be all for this weeks’ build. Have any suggestions? Do post them in the comments for discussion.

See you next week!

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