We're seeking a PC build writer, and you can apply!

Hey Escapists! If you've ever wanted to see your name atop an article on The Escapist, this may be your chance.

We're seeking a PC-savvy writer to contribute a monthly PC build guide to the site. We know many of you are PC enthusiasts, and wanted to give you all the first opportunity to apply!

Each month, we'll need someone to write an article containing a recommended build, including all components, final specs, and around 150 words per section explaining each component and why it was chosen. The final article should be between 800 and 1200 words. This article should be focused on cost-efficient power, because even the PC Gaming Master Race has a budget. However, you can also include one or two "upgrades" that would boost performance (and price) at the author's discretion.

This contributor position is a paid gig. Specifics will be discussed with the candidate(s) prior to establishing a contract.

Want to take a shot at winning this spot? Here's what you need to do.

First, you're going to want to create a smaller version of one of these articles. Your entry should include a full PC build, final specs, and miniature version of the writeup. You should be shooting for 200-300 words total, with only very brief descriptions/explanations of individual components. Once you're done, post this article here in this forum thread. Formatting is not required, but is definitely a plus!

We'll likely allow the thread to carry on forever, but we'll update once we've confirmed a candidate for the gig. Entries will be judged by our editorial staff, and any prospects will be contacted through private messages on the site.

I hope they will also include info on software, & tweaks to programs to get as much out of their current set up before or even after their builds.

So are we talking just a straight parts list, how they fit together, and where your bottleneck is going to be or are there other concerns?

Oh, whatever, I'll just detail how the bits I built my brother's PC out of

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-78LMT-USB3. Cheap board, good manufacturer, fits quite nicely in a mid-ATX case. I seriously doubt this will be the thing giving you problems years down the line. Not a lot of room for accessories like a sound card or a wireless card unfortunately.

Case: Rosewill Challenger. If I'm being honest, I didn't put a massive amount of thought into this one. It was there, it fit the components(although not by much) and it came with 3 fans including a top fan to cool the CPU and one that glows blue(always good). Biggest downside is no USB 3.0 slots, which the MOBO does support. Hey, I built this one out of random things I had laying around, sue me.

CPU: AMD FX-6350. It's a workhorse. More and more games are taking advantage of more and more cores, so it's generally going to get better. Unfortunately, the poor single thread performance means that retro titles will run much more poorly than they should.

GPU: AMD R9 270X. The baseline of what is acceptable for gaming. They are also really really cheap right now. Grab one with a beefier cooling apparatus. These cards run hot and do come with really easy overclocking controls on account of AMD being nice like that. Keep in mind this isn't a massive case, so it might take a little doing to get it to fit.

PSU: Anything 500W and above, from a trusted brand of course(Antec and Corsair are my favorites). It really depends on how much overhead you want and what upgrades you intend to make in the future.

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB(2X4GB). These look cool and more importantly are the maximum frequency the MOBO supports. Spending more on faster ram won't get you anywhere. Getting larger ram will, as the MOBO supports up to 32 GB and has 4 slots, but this is supposed to be a cheapish build.

Everything else is gravy. If you are focused on value, buy a standard hard drive. If you want more speed on start up and loading, go for a solid state, extra fans should be unnecessary and the stock CPU cooler should work fine if you don't intend on overclocking. The only other essential is an optical drive, but those are like 20 bucks. Just pick one, they're all functionally equivalent for the average PC gamer. Hell, mine just gathers dust until I need to burn a CD for my car... It's a 2003, of course it doesn't have a line out connection for an iPod or smartphone...

Final cost(via PCpartpicker.com) between 600-700 dollars depending on specific manufacturers of the PSU

Is exactly 300 words pushing it? Including headers at least. I had so much more to say about each component in this build, it was a struggle just getting it down to that.

EDIT: Including a more fleshed out version of my first draft for this, including more detailed descriptions of each component, for anyone interested. Not part of my submission, but anything that may help! http://pastebin.com/YTxYpV0S

---

You don't always need a beast of a tower heating your home to play the latest PC games. Sometimes a smaller, more understated build can attract some attention too.

Motherboard

Intel option - Gigabyte GA-B85M-DS3H
AMD option - Gigabyte GA-F2A78M-D3H

Very similar boards, one for Intel, the other for AMD. Decent amounts of USB ports, with 2 USB 3.0 for performance boosts in compatible peripherals.

Processor

Intel Pentium G3258 - Slightly cheaper than the AMD, superior single-core performance, a better choice for those playing older games.

AMD Athlon X4 860K Quad Core - Higher multi-threaded benchmarks than the Intel choice, potentially superior performance in multi-threaded applications.

Memory

Corsair XMS3 1x8GB - Decent, moderately cheap sticks of RAM from a reliable brand, with enough memory to handle modern games.

Graphics Card

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 4GB - The GTX 960 is the new 'budget' option, with enough power to run the latest games at decent settings, and older games at 1080P 60 FPS with ease.

Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM - Caviar Blue is the standard for budget builds, providing decent read/write speeds with low power usage.

Power Supply

EVGA SuperNOVA GS 550W 80+ Gold - Plenty of juice for this system, with enough power to allow graphics upgrades later on.

Case

Zalman ZM-T4 - Chosen for its small size, a semi-aggressive design and plenty of features usually reserved for more expensive cases, such as cable management holes and plenty of drive mounts.

Intel Build price: £414.32/$558.88
PC Part Picker link: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/Z3r4f7

AMD Build price: £424.81/$562.09
PC Part Picker link: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/DZhhcf

Potential Upgrades

Samsung 850 EVO 120GB SSD - £51.81/$67 - Will give a great decrease in loading times of your most used programs.
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro - £15.99/$19.99 - A fantastic budget CPU cooler.

Welcome to the PC Gaming Master Race! The may your ping be low and specs high... right? But what are high specs, and how can you join the coolest sector in gaming (get it, "cool." Because temperatures.. we'll get to that). Well first things first, you're going to to need a PC. But will you buy one? No! You will construct one! Much like how the Jedi of old made their lightsabers. So let's begin.

Processor
Much like how a person needs a brain to prevent drooling on themselves, a computer needs a brain to do... everything. You need to have a CPU. The bare minimum that you can get away with these days is a dual core, and to avoid maintenance problems cause by patches you'll want hyperthreading too. So buy this:
http://www.amazon.com/Intel-I3-4160-Processor-Hyper-Threading-BX80646I34160/dp/B00LV8U0VE/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1441824613&sr=1-1&keywords=i3+cpu&refinements=p_89%3AIntel%2Cp_n_feature_four_browse-bin%3A2289794011%2Cp_n_condition-type%3A2224371011%2Cp_72%3A1248879011

Motherboard
Next up is the motherboard, the nervous system of the PC and for the less technical of you: the thing that all the other things plug into. Having chosen a CPU already out choice of mobo (masterrace lingo for "motherboard") is easy. The cheapest one the the CPU can plug into.
http://www.amazon.com/Gigabyte-Intel-Micro-Motherboards-GA-H81M-DS2V/dp/B00I6DLKE8/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1441824664&sr=1-1&keywords=LGA1150&refinements=p_n_feature_six_browse-bin%3A2057507011

Ram
Most games will require you have a minimum of 4GB, and around 8GB benchmarks show that you experience diminishing returns. Which is perfect because our mobo has two slots. Buy this:
http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-Ballistix-PC3-12800-BLS2KIT4G3D1609DS1S00-BLS2CP4G3D1609DS1S00/dp/B006WAGGUK/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1441824928&sr=1-1&keywords=DDR3+1600&refinements=p_n_feature_five_browse-bin%3A673263011

Graphics card.
This is where things get expensive. For most of the games you play you'll bottleneck at the GPU before the CPU, so you'll want to invest a fair bit. That said, the best bang for your buck would be this:
http://www.amazon.com/EVGA-GeForce-Super-Clocked-Graphics/dp/B00NVODXR4/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1441825058&sr=1-1&keywords=gtx+970

Storage drive.
The storage drive is where all your data goes. These days you can chose between Solid States and Hard drives. Because games today are several gigs (up to 50GB per game) it's more economical to start with a hard drive. Here's one:
http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Desktop-7200rpm-Internal-Drive/dp/B0088PUEPK/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1441825288&sr=1-1&keywords=hard+drive

Cd drive.
You'll need this to install your operating system and some basic drivers to get your computer connected to the Internet. After wards you'll be downloading all your drivers and never need it again. If you're a beginner buy, if you can handle copying Windows to a flash drive then skip this.
http://www.amazon.com/Asus-Serial-ATA-Internal-Optical-DRW-24B1ST/dp/B0033Z2BAQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1441825402&sr=1-1&keywords=cd+dvd+drive

Powersupply
Now that you have all your components, they need electricity. So buy this:
http://www.amazon.com/EVGA-Continuous-Warranty-Supply-100-W1-0500-KR/dp/B00H33SFJU/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1441825435&sr=1-1&keywords=500w+psu

Badass case
And now you need a body to put it all together. But careful! This isn't your grandma's PC we need once with plently of air circulation potential lest we destroy our new toy. So buy this:
http://www.amazon.com/Xion-Performance-Meshed-Tower-XON-560_BK/dp/B00B19L8LO/ref=sr_1_9?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1441825528&sr=1-9&keywords=matx+case
And that's it. Total price: $594.2

Internal PC Build:
DIYPC Zondda-B Black SPCC Computer Case
Cougar CMX700V3 700W ATX Power Supply
Gigabyte GA-970A-D3P Motherboard
AMD FX-8350 Black Edition
PNY GeForce GTX 960 VCGGTX9604XPB
Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600
HGST Ultrastar HUA723020ALA641 2TB 7200RPM 64MB Cache 3.5" Internal
LG Black Blu-Ray Disc Drive SATA Model UH12NS30
$757.86

With Peripherals:
Acer V226HQL Bbd Black 21.5" 5ms LED Backlight LCD Monitor
Logitech Proteus Core Tunable Gaming Mouse
Motospeed K107 Keyboard
Tt eSPORTS HT-SHK002ECBL Circumaural SHOCK Gaming Headset
$995.62

(Prices based on product listings on Newegg for new, non-refurbished parts as of 9/9/2015)

My goal with this build was to create an internal hardware build that could not only play the games out now but should also be able to play games comfortably for years to come, all for under $800 and including peripherals for under $1000 total.

The real strength of this build lies in the CPU and video card. On the face, the AMD 8350 is a nice chip, with 8 cores and base speed of 4.0 Ghz, it can handle much of what you can throw at it, but it's also unlocked, meaning if you need even more speed it's rather easy to crank it up. The Geforce 960 is also able to comfortable handle all current-gen games on rather high settings as well as allowing for future 4K support, but this model is also the 4GB video memory model , which is worth the bit of extra money you might pay for it.

All other components were chosen to allow expandability for a good cost, with peripherals being chosen for their gaming utility and style. The motherboard allows for more expansion and SLI support, the PSU provides ample power one might need to grow the system even more, and the build also keeps two RAM slots open in case one wants to expand on memory. The system could also be simply converted into a comfortable 4K rig when that becomes an industry standard. The Logitech Proteus Core mouse is a good option for those looking for a very customizable mouse at a reasonable price, the headset is a generally good choice for most head/playing styles and the keyboard, while not mechanical, looks nice and will get the job done.

This build is a budget gaming system. It will run your games at 60fps if you use medium quality settings and less than 1080p resolution. You have to make sacrifices somewhere if you're going to save money.

CPU: AMD FX6300 ($99.99)

Six cores running at 3.5GHz.

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3 ($51.99)

Gigabyte makes a solid board that can support up to 32GB of RAM.

Case: Rosewill Mini Tower w/400W PS ($54.99)

This is a nice little case that includes two fans. It's a little tight inside, but it includes a good PSU for a low price.

Memory: Kingston HyperX 8GB DDR3 ($44.99)

This is a single stick of 8GB RAM, leaving you room to add more as your needs grow.

Hard Drive: Samsung EVO 250GB SSD ($129.99)

For speed you need an SSD. You'll also need a 2.5 inch to 3.5 inch adapter to fit the SSD into the case (about $7).

Graphics Card: Sapphire Radeon R7 250 ($89.95)

This card has DDR5 memory and meets the dual needs of fitting into a small case and consuming little power.

Optical Drive: LG Super Multi Drive ($17.99)

A PC without a DVD/CD burner is called an "ultrabook."

Keyboard/Mouse: Amazon Basics Bundle ($14.99)
Monitor: Viewsonic 22" 1080p (120.99)
Speakers: Logitech Z313 w/subwoofer ($29.99)

You can't game without input/output. These are the basics. You can spend a lot more, but that defeats the purpose of a budget system.

Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 OEM ($89.98)

Windows 10 hasn't baked long enough and Win8 is a disaster. This OEM version is tied to your computer once you activate it.

Total for all components: $762

You can save some money by using monitor, KB, mouse, and speakers from an old system. If you're starting from scratch, this is the minimum you need for a gaming PC.

Note: This is an updated version of this blog post: http://papagamer.com/index.php/blog/127-diy-gaming-pc-build

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming GT: $220
Based on Intel's Z97 chipset, the GA-Z97X-Gaming GT offers high-end features and plenty of expansion room. It even features unique audio upgrades, sparing the desire for a sound card, and offers upgrade potential up to the top-tier i7-4970k.

CPU: Intel i3-4130: $120
The i3-4130 is a low-power processor is capable of moderate gaming. Intel's entry-level processors provide better frame time variance than AMD competitors.

GPU: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition 2GB: $190
NVIDIA's mid-range champion, the GTX 960, comes in at a low enough price point to beat out AMD's older, power-hungry offerings.

RAM: G.SKILL Sniper Series 2 x 4GB DDR3 1866: $50
These G.SKILL modules are proven performers and would not need upgrading, only another two modules to maximize performance.

Drive: Crucial BX100 250GB: $80
Crucial's solid state speed and reliability can be sacrificed for hard disk size, but this is the age of the SSD, and storage is an easy upgrades.

PSU: Corsair CX430M: $50
The CX430M is a fantastic starting power supply unit, but should be upgraded before adding a new video card or high-end processor.

Case: NZXT Source 210 Black: $40
It may be tempting to go with a cheap and flashy case, but if you drop the second adjective there are many better options available. The Source 210 is one of them.

Total - $750 (Newegg Estimate) - $680 (PCPartPicker.com)

When I graduated high school my gift from my parents was a computer of my choice. They were probably hoping I would choose a cheap laptop, but my heart was set on learning to build the best gaming PC I could with the budget they gave me. My goal then was to maximize the upgrade potential while providing a satisfying experience, and the above build was created in the same spirit as my original attempt.

Are these articles going to be aimed at people who want to switch to PC gaming? I have experience on that since i made the jump meself three years ago.

Welcome to the PC Gaming Master Race, the first thing you need to know; this is all about your choice. If you want to lay on your couch and play GTA V with a controller or have a party and play Mario Kart with your friends or just pwn n00bs in CS:GO (or Dirty Bomb) then its your bloody choice, and yes this can all be done with a PC.

So i am here to provide you with a starting point, the budget is $724 to $1030, even the cheapest path will handle 60FPS and 1080p in High to Ultra settings for most games:

Processor: AMD FX-8350 Black Edition --- $140
8 cores, base speed of 3.5Ghz can be overclocked to 4.2Ghz just with the AMD Catalyst software so it'll be as easy as clicking an "OC PLZ" button.

Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 290X 4GB VRAM --- $340
This beauty can be Overclocked to R9 390X levels; simply the best you can get for the 300 bucks range (you might even find it for $275 on Ebay), the only difference being for 4K resolutions but hey! you also need a 4K monitor and those are pretty expensive.

Motherboard:
ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z --- $210
OR
GIGABYTE GA-970A-D3P --- $78
Second option is the cheap Motherboard, first option does pretty much the same but looks WAYYY prettier and comes with Windows 8.1 and all the cables you'll ever need (SLI 2 and 3 way, 6 SATA cables, even an old VGA adapter and male-to-male USB), So it will make the jump to your new PC much much easier.

Memory: G.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) --- $50
RAM is reeeeeeally cheap right now, you can get 2 * 8GB = 16GB for $90, but you wont see the difference between 8 and 16 GB RAM for a very very long time.

Storage:
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM --- $50
AND (OR)
OCZ ARC 100 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive --- 90$
Run of the mill Hard Drive, will fit all you want. On the other hand the SSD will improve loading times a lot!! It also reduces hitching in open world games (i.e. MGSV).

Case: Rosewill BLACKHAWK Gaming ATX --- $40
This is actually more of an aesthetics choice, just buy something labeled as mid ATX (not mini!), the golden rule for fan slots is: top, side, rear and lower front. You can usually find versions with pre-installed fans for up to $100 on E-bay or Amazon.

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper TX3 54.8 --- $15
Its quiet, its cheap and ITS IMPORTANT. You can easily hit max temps of 50 C° with proper thermal paste, securing the life of your processor.

Powersupply:
CORSAIR HX Series HX1050 1050W $100
Gold certified and with 1050W its all you'll ever need no matter what kind of overpowered monster you plan to upgrade to.
OR
Raidmax 730W Semi-Modular $54
Still cool and silent as the other, but your electricity bills might suffer it.

CD Drive? You dont need one, you need an 8-16 GB USB memory. I can describe the entire process from assembling your PC to launching your first game, iv'e done it at least 8 times now XD. I'll also teach you how to cannibalize your old PC :D

(All prices from https://pcpartpicker.com/ special offers end as soon as september 11th).

Today's build is a system for around $800, primarily for GPU-bound games (most out there.) Have a bigger budget or want upgrade ideas? Got you covered too.

CPU: The i3-4160 does the job. I like the Pentium G3258 but having HT here should keep up with losing OC ability. The best part is you can easily move up to the i5-4960K, still my mainstay for gaming PCs.

Cooler: Stock fan for i3. Overclockers, a 120mm solution like the Cooler Master Seidon 120M at a minimum.

MB: The popular ASRock H97M-ITXac rocks 802.11ac wifi and all the current features. Nothing wrong with aMSI Z97I GAMING AC but if strapped for cash, save it here for better GPU.

RAM: 8GB of G.Skill's Ripjaws X DDR3-1600 are cheap and low latency. Faster is cheaper but more is probably overkill for most.

Storage: Here we want the best of both: SSDs for your OS and newer games, HDD for everything else. The Kingston V300 240GB and the 2TB Barracuda helps balance storage with speed.
Note:Check your old HDD! Drives 4 or less years old may still be just fine!

Case: The Cooler Master Elite 110 is small but packs a punch. Want bigger? Consider the Corsair SPEC-01.

PSU: With the Elite 110 the Corsair RM450 modular design comes in handy, eliminating unnecessary cables. Overclocking may need more.

GPU: By saving elsewhere we can afford a gem in the Zotac GTX 970. Will eat anything at 1080p for breakfast.

Utilites: Intel's XTU - a must for Intel-based overlocking. With the Zotac their Firestorm Utility squeezes every ounce out of the 970. And with the SSD/HDD combo, grab the Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver; contains Smart Response (SSD caching).

Building a PC can be a daunting task for first-time builders and their wallets. Hopefully, this guide can serve as a great starting point for aspiring PC gamers on a budget.

CPU:
Intel - Pentium G3258
AMD - Athlon X4 860K

G3258  860K

Both of these processors serve as the golden standard for budget builds for their respective companies. The Intel option leaves room for a processor upgrade (up-to the i7-4790K). The 860K, however, is the end of the line on AMD's FM2+ socket. A potential upgrade would involve a motherboard swap-out once AMD's Zen series of processors releases sometime next year.

Motherboard:
Intel - ASRock B85M-DGS Micro ATX
AMD - ASRock FM2A88M PRO3+ Micro ATX

B85M  A88M

Both of these ASRock boards offer solid performance and basic overclocking at the $50 price point.

Memory:
Intel - G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600
AMD - Kingston HyperX Fury White 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1866

Ripjaws  HyperX

At equal prices, the Ripjaws stick is recommended for the Intel build due to the board's max support of DDR3-1600.

Storage:
Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive

Seagate

For budget builds, an SSD is simply too expensive as the sole storage solution. This Seagate drive offers a ton of storage and great mechanical disk speed.

Video Card:
MSI GeForce GTX 950 2GB Video Card

950

Considering both AMD and Nvidia, this Nvidia GTX 950 from MSI is a price-to-performance winner.

Case:
NZXT Source 210 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case or Thermaltake Versa H25 ATX Mid Tower Case

210  H25

Both great cases, but the Source 210 does not feature USB 3.0 ports.

Power Supply:
XFX 550W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply

XFX

XFX is a quality PSU manufacturer with a great warranty.

TOTAL:
Intel: $447.41 or $449.41
AMD: $453.40 or $455.40

*Current prices according to Amazon and Newegg.

Okay guys, today I'm going to attempt to bring you a powerful yet cost effective way to game which allow you to game on high setting for a few good years, while you can upgrade as you need to.

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690 -$225
Clocked at 3.5GHz this is the workhorse of the mid range gaming CPUs, performing well in both low and highly threaded applications.

Motherboard: ASUS Z97-E/USB3.1 - $129
While not the prettiest board on the block, it brings USB 3.1, two full PCIe 3.0 slots, M.2 and SATA Express support to the table all for a modest price.

Memory: G.SKILL Ares Series 8GB 1866MHz (2 x 4GB) - $54
Your basic, no-nonsense low-profile with gaming RAM with lifetime warranty clocked at 1866MHz. What's not to love?

GPU: MSI Radeon R9 390 GAMING 8GB - $330
A higher end graphics card packing with a wicked looking custom cooler, an included backplate and an MSI three year warranty. More graphics power than you can sneeze at.

Case: Bixfenix Shinobi Mid Tower - $132
A favourite of mine, sporting a simple yet elegant design, whilst also bringing killer looks and allowing for virtually effortless installation. The outside is made of a scratch-proof material meaning it stays looking sharp years after you buy it.

Power: Antec HCG-520M - $68
A semi-modular 520W gaming PSU with an 80 PLUS Bronze rating. The OEM is Seasonic so you know it's reliable.

Storage: Western Digital Blue 1TB - $53
A simple 1TB drive made by a reliable company for your games and documents.

Optical Drive: LG 24x DVD Drive - $20
Finally your run-of-the-mill DVD drive in case you still use discs. Some people do.

That's a total of $1011 which is pretty good considering what you get. A 64-Bit copy of Windows 10 will set you back another $100 if you don't already have a copy. Combo keyboard and mouse will only be about $30, a spare monitor and speakers/headphones shouldn't be hard to get, though I'd have to dedicate another section on which ones would be best for gaming.

If you have any spare dollars lying around:
Samsung 850 EVO 120GB SSD - $75
This essentially completes your build. Install your Operating system and critical programs on this bad boy and watch general loading and startup times drop.

Hello everyone, and welcome to The Workshop.

Most people think a decent gaming PC is something you'll have to drop over a thousand dollars on, but that simply isn't the case. Today we're going to be discussing building a quality PC on a budget, and we're going to do it for just barely over $600. Let me show you how. You'll find the best components for the best prices below.

GPU: Nvidia GTX 960 - $185
Your bread and butter. This is what makes the things on your screen pretty. The 960 is an efficient mid-range card, perfect for what our purposes.

CPU: Intel i3 4160 - $117
A 3.60GHz dual core CPU with hyperthreading capability. It's a bit on the cheap end, but the value for the price is very good, especially for gaming.

HSF: Stock - $0
Your CPU will come with a basic heatsink, so no need to worry about this when you're building on a budget.

Motherboard: ASRock H97 Pro4 - $84
Nothing fancy, but with H97 and DDR3 support, its got everything we need.

Ram: G.SKILL Ripjaw 8GB - $43
8GB is plenty for a basic gaming computer, and ripjaw gives us what we need for a good price.

HDD: Seagate 1TB - $51
With a 6Gb/s NCQ Interface, the Seagate 1TB is the best value you can find in this budget range.

PSU: Antec NeoECO 620w - $65
A 620 watt power supply system, with high-efficiency, short circuit and over-voltage protection.

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 - $60
For the PC gamer, a case is less a plastic box to hold your parts, and more a personal statement. But on our budget, the HAF 912 has everything. And you can add your own red LEDs to it later. Y'know, to make the computer go faster.

Final Specs: 1178MHz GPU, dual-core 3.6GHz CPU, H97 Motherboard, 8GB DDR3 Ram, 1TB HDD, and 620W Power Supply.

Grand Total: $605

And lastly, if you're looking for an upgrade, consider:

SSD: SanDisk Ultra II 120GB - $58
It's small, sure. But installing your OS on this bad boy will drop your boot up time to less than 10 seconds, and it'll speed up your basic system functions as well.

CPU: Intel i5 4430 - $181
If you want to get into overclocking, the i5 is the way to go. You'll get 4 cores and better overall value for the dollar.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them below, and I'll be happy to answer them. Good luck, and welcome to the master race.

So you have decided to join the PC Gaming Master Race and you don't want to starve to do it, below is a build in two parts. The first purchase is a fully functional PC for gaming on mid to low settings (No AA). The second purchase lets you beef up your rig to maxed out 1080p gaming. This build lets you cram some real gaming performance into a tiny space without cooking the people that have to sit next to it.

First Purchase: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/Dk6YFT $391.72 ($30 mail in rebates)

CPU: AMD A10-7870K 3.9GHz Quad-Core Processor
The build starts with a solid quad core APU. The CPU contributes very little to modern games, what we really need is to save space in the budget for a beefy GPU later down the line.

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler
This thing is a work horse for APU's, it will let you get the full performance out of the on-board GPU until you can afford the GPU upgrade in the second purchase.

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-F2A68HM-DS2H Micro ATX FM2+ Motherboard
This board is cheap, it has USB 3.0, and dual bios. This is a budget PC build, but having that dual bios capability means that even when you replace this machine you will be able to use it for overclocking practice when you go to join the elites of the PC Gaming Master Race.

Memory: Mushkin Redline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 Memory
The build utilizes an APU, and I am assuming that you are splitting the cost of the build between two purchases. This ram is fast enough to make full use of the on chip GPU in the CPU above.

Case: Cooler Master N200 MicroATX Mid Tower Case
This case is small, its sleek, its not going to kill your budget. Chassis for PC's are as much about the end user's idea of beauty as they are about functionality. Pick something you will like looking at, as the case will be the most prominent component.

Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
This is your standard work horse storage. For the moment an SSD would overly eat into the budget, but feel free to tack one on for faster boot speeds and performance later while using this 1 TB as your long term storage.

Power Supply: Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply
This power supply (PSU) has one of the best in the industry warranties, and honestly the PSU is the most underrated component in PC building. You might be scratching your head wondering why I have choosen a 600w PSU for a PC that so far consumes less than 200w at full power. This decision lets us buy our GPU on the next free paycheck or the next time you can get some money together.

Optical Drive: Buy the cheapest thing you can find, provided you actually need an optical drive at all.

Second Purchase: Graphics Card ($200 budget)

Video Card: MSI Radeon R9 380 2GB Video Card AMD
MSI GeForce GTX 960 2GB Video Card nVidia
So these two cards come in right around $200 USD, in real world benchmarks at 1080p they can trade back and forth. You are really going to need to look at what games you want to play and see which card has a better frame rate. Of course if you are a fan of one company or the other, buy with your heart, it is really a toss up for this price point on which is better.

Final Build (AMD): http://pcpartpicker.com/p/gCLtf7 $576.70 ($45 mail in rebates)
Final Build (nVidia): http://pcpartpicker.com/p/mH2HMp $571.71 ($50 mail in rebates)

Light Gaming and HTPC budget build - "What's a Steam Machine?"

Slightly longer version with short introduction and closing is here

Processor:
AMD A10-7700K - $140 CAD
Your GPU (graphics) has shacked up with your CPU (processor), to make what AMD calls an APU. You now have both at a respectable price with respectable power, and because of Hybrid Crossfire/Dual Graphics you can always add a dedicated Graphics Card later on to get even more power.

Motherboard:
Asus A78M-A - $60 CAD
A little bare on the connections out back, but you at least get two USB 3.0 ports, and a variety of video ports including HDMI for your TV/Home Theatre Reciever. All the space for RAM you'd ever need and plenty of expansion on the board itself for Graphics Cards, more USB, and Hard Drives.

Memory:
A-Data XPG V1.0 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 - $60 CAD
Fast memory from a reputable vendor with low latency at a great price.

Storage:
Seagate ST2000DM001 2 TB (2000 GB) Hard Drive - $85 CAD
This is good enough for now with ample room for media and games.

Case:
Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case - $70 CAD
It may not be pretty, but it's well-designed from a company that specializes in this kind of thing. Some room for expansion and High-Speed USB 3.0 on the front too.

Power Supply:
Antec Basiq 350W - $30 CAD
Budget PSU from a reputable source.

Optical Drive (Optional):
LG UH12NS30 Blu-Ray Reader - $60 CAD
Reads Blu-Rays, burns DVDs and CDs as well. There are other ways of getting games and even installing Operating Systems now, so you can forego this if you're hurting for cash - unless you really want to watch Blu-Ray movies.

Monitor:
Well, your TV in this case.

Final Price (Hardware Only): $510 CAD

Operating System:
Windows 7-10 - ~$130 CAD
You can also experiment, and try SteamOS. It may be daunting, but we can cover that in a later guide.

Our monthly update for first time builders' best bang for the buck to build the beast on a budget, and a long term value prospect that you'll still be able upgrade incrementally and resell for decent value when you fully upgrade in several years.

Philosophy:
Intel's K chips are the best price/performance option, with the i5 being the sweet spot for price/performance.
The price premium for the NVidia GPUs is worth the cost up front. However the flagship product premiums are not.
Various Intel LGA 1150 socket motherboards are available on the market in the non-Z variety that still allow overclocking. This is your first build, you can buy the option to overclock now, and only upgrade your cooling at a nominal cost in the future to extend the price/performance ratio of your build long term.
Most of the other parts are commodities, the total effect on your build is and should be unnoticeable as long as it doesn't particularly bother you, i.e. a loud fan, a particularly slow hard drive or SSD, a power supply unit that has a high pitch hum.
IN the end, no matter how much you spend, always buy a PC case with a flat top, so it can double as an ottoman, a very expensive ottoman.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
Simply the best long term value for PC gamers on the market right now.

Motherboard: ASRock H97M-ITX/AC Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard
Overclocking ability without having the Z price tag.

Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory
The difference between CAS 9 , VOLTAGE 1.5V, DDR3-1866 and and CAS 9, VOLTAGE 1.5V, DDR3-1600 is usually no more than 1 or 2 FPS in a game. However for a fiver upgrade you can buy 1 or 2 FPS in most games.

Storage: A-Data Premier Pro SP600 128GB 2.5" Solid State Drive
Storage: Kingston Savage 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive
(Pick one)
Any 32MB or 64MB Buffer 3.5" HDD that is the storage capacity you need.
So the real trick to SSD storage is not the initial speed tests you see advertised, but the long term ability to maintain read/write speeds when the drive is getting closer to full. As the SSD market has matured, there is very little difference in real world benchmarks, so go for best price in most scenarios.

Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 4GB Video Card
This GPU while mired in some controversy, is the best bang for the buck on the market right now, being 2 steps below flagship products.

Case: Cooler Master HAF Stacker 915F Mini ITX Tower Case
A very compact, high airflow case that allows multiple water coolers.

Power Supply: Silverstone Strider Plus 500W 80+ Bronze Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
http://silverstonetek.com/product.php?area=en&pid=274
In the above HAF Stacker case, fully modular PSUs are strongly strongly encouraged. PSUs have efficiency curves where the highest efficiency possible is somewhere between 40% and 80% of rated wattage load, with the GTX970 and a possible future overclock on the i5 CPU, a 500W PSU is recommended as around 250W to 320W will actually be used at peak wattage during gaming at a advertised 85% efficiency rate.

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM (64-bit) Or pick another one, but Win10 will have DX12 for gaming by this time next year.

Ever wanted a nice mid-range PC? One that could play games on high FPS while not compromising too much on the graphics side?

Maybe high FPS don't matter to you or you want more money for games while still enjoying a slew of graphical goodness?

Here is an easy to follow build that won't drain your wallet:

CPU: AMD FX-8350 Black Edition Vishera 8-Core 4.0GHz - $170
- A beast of a workhorse that can hold its ground.

After-market cooler: Hyper 212 EVO by Cooler Master - $30
- A downside of AMD CPU'S is that they require an after-market cooler. But you get a powerful cooler that fits in any case.

Motherboard: ASRock 970 Extreme3 R2.0 - $90
- A solid motherboard, fully featured including lots of USB and enough space for extras and upgrades.

GPU: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 amp! Omega core - $345
- Sure, Nvidia had some unfortunate problems - still a solid card for the 1080p gaming experience.

PSU: EVGA 120-G1-0650-XR 80 PLUS GOLD 650 W - $85
- A solid PSU with enough connectors for your upgrading needs and modular.

RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) - $40
- 8GB will be plenty for current games for a while and give you a decent bang for the buck. *upgrade option

HD: Western Digital 2TB 7200RPM - $65
- Simply solid good storage does what it says - hold large amounts of data.

Case: COUGAR MX200 Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $30
- Basically any you can get will do. Any 30-60$ midi-tower case will work nicely.

total price tag: $855
OS not included...

*Upgrade options at buyer's discretion:
- twice the RAM, especially for video encoding.
- A SSD $60-120 depending on size (120GB - 240GB)
extras you will need: monitor, keyboard and mouse. $100 and more depending on personal demands, not covered in here.

Is it weird that the more I read these, the more I think of the word "collaboration"?

Anyway, some of these sound like pretty cool builds and good luck to those chosen to contribute monthly!

So I misread the rules and wrote what would normally be a full article, I sadly do not have the time to edit it down right now but still wanted to enter, its mainly focused on what everything does with the parts as a bit of an after thought but I still think its of decent quality.
So sorry if its too long feel free to remove it, if nothing else the people reading this may get a chuckle or learn something.

__________________________________

So computers are complex and trying to explain what each part does can be like watching a bad episode of star trek, in Spanish backwards, and slightly upside down, by about 12 degrees.... so just kind of tilted... ok I'll stop...
Well to explain each component I'll be using a juggler

Now the CPU effects how fast the computer runs, so think of it like a juggler juggling a few balls if you have a better CPU then the computer runs faster and the juggler juggles better.
Image cores as you would additional hands -work with me here...- some things use and benefit from more hands, like if you are juggling 12 balls, but other things work better with fewer faster cores (or fewer stronger hands), such as juggling 6 balls that weight twice as much.
Now which thing benefits from what depends on how its coded and things can be coded to work with either.
The consoles use 8 core CPU's so it likely would be a go idea to go for more cores
and hyper threading(Intel's technology) is basically just a hand(well set of hands) with the ability to split into 2 weaker hands.
For best bang for the buck AMD's FX-6300 seems like a good option 6 cores for 100$.

The GPU is pretty similar but it handles graphics, so umm ok forget the analogy for now...Basically the GPU hands graphics and the CPU handles math, there's a bit more too it but that's all you functionally need to know, You generally will get more out of a GPU then a CPU spend your money here.

O and the difference between AMD and Nvidia at least at the moment, AMD have more power behind their cards but they are less refined at the moment so it doesn't transfer well to games, they are also usually hotter and draw more power(a few more $ a year maybe) but doesn't matter too much, their benefit is in stuff like rendering and bit coin mining, which has driven the price up.
At the moment id say the best bang for the buck is the GTX 970 for 430-ish$ or the GTX 960 for 200$,
Ok ram basically short term memory or what your computer is using right now, going back to the juggler imagine if he had a basket that held things to juggle now if he ever only juggled a few items he likely doesn't need a huge basket, but if he can juggle more thing then he has a basket for then its kind of a waste spending all that money on juggling college(the GPU and CPU).

Id suggest...
4 GB as a good minimum
8 for a gamer if you run things in the background or just run allot of things,
16 for a content producer or someone who is running ALLOT of stuff in the back ground ,
32 GB if you are doing really intensive stuff,
and if you need more the that you are either doing something horribly horribly wrong or working on something advanced enough that you already should know this.
40-50$ for 8 GB any brand should work as long as its DDR3.

Storage is basically the jugglers warehouse of stuff for juggling,
Or your where you store your pictures and videos and stuff.
the two main types are HDD and SSD,
with a HHD you get a better deal on space but the drive is a bit farther (it takes longer to load)
and SSD is getting a closer but smaller warehouse for a not as good price(for reference its around 5 times are much per GB assuming you get a 1 TB HHD and a 200 GB SSD)
Usually the best way to go is to take the stuff you use often(such as your OS, which will make your computers start time much faster) and put it on a small SSD then use a HHD for everything else.
You probably don't need more then 1 TB and if you want to use a SSD for booting 60GB though I will use 120GB since there's very little price difference.
So West digital blue 1TB 50$
Optional 120GB Kingston digital for 50$ or a 240GB SSD for 75$ if you think you can live off of 240GB.

The motherboard connect all these components and allows them to communicate, so I guess the circus that the juggler is preforming at... O and there are several types of CPU sockets, thing of this as a stage, some jugglers won't/can't preform on certain stages, check you CPU to make sure it works with what ever motherboard you pick.
Id suggest the Gigabyte 78LMT-USB3 for around 50-75$

O and the Power supply unit delivers power to all the components, like RAM if you have more then you need its kind of pointless, unless you are going for a crazy build 500W should be fine.
I'd say a EVGA 500W for 40$

The case doesn't matter too much some are easier to work in or have nice features but for sake of price lets go with the
Rosewill FBM-01 for 35$

Price and optional upgrades
If you spend the bare minimum(with 8 GB) it will cost about 550, but I would suggest spending the extra money 120$(total 670$) on the GTX 970 as it will make your system run better for a good while longer.

As for the SSD its nice but not necessary and if you have more to spend dual monitors is the best upgrade for the money in my opinion.

Objective: A mid-range PC from scratch build capable of expansion. Prices are provided in both GBP and USD as a guide.

CPU: AMD FX-6300 (£80/$110). Overclocking capability, 8MB level 3 cache, more than capable of playing past and modern games and those to come. Recommend Corsair Hydro H55 liquid cooler (£40/$60) or Cooler Master Hyper TX3 air cooler (£20/$30) over the stock fan.

Motherboard: Biostar TA970 (£45/$60). Two PCIe slots (16x and 4x respectively) offering AMD Crossfire support, although I recommend against using Crossfire (or Nvidia SLI) due to glitches. More important are the four DDR3 memory slots and the usual USB (2x3.0 and 6x2.0 with a header for the front case ports), sound, networking and other onboard accompaniments.

Graphics: GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB (£90/$125). Offers decent performance with extremely low power consumption (60w), and ideal as a dedicated PhysX card when you upgrade. If your budget allows though, the GeForce 960 is superior (£150/$200).

Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 (£28/$40).

Storage: Any Seagate/Western Digital 2TB drive (around £60/$80) and 1TB/120GB SSD for OS and core applications (£40/$60).

Optical drive: Budget £15/$20 for a basic DVD burner or twice that for a Blu-Ray drive - at this point, just pick one (little, if any, difference).

PSU: EVGA 600w Bronze 80+ (£40/$60), allowing for an addtional graphics card later.

Case: Thermaltake Commander G42 (£40/$60). Supports liquid cooling, has 2x front USB 3.0, plenty of room.

Peripherals: Non-mechanical gaming keyboards are little more than fancy office keyboards. The Element Beryllium Mechanical (red switch) keyboard retails for around £60/$80, any gaming mouse for around £15/$25, eBay for a 1080p flicker-free monitor (budget £60/$100).

OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (£112/$140) with the possibility of upgrading to Windows 10 and the ability to rollback. Around half the price for the Home editions.

Budget: £600-£800/$700-$900.

there are a lot of things to consider when building a new PC, but here are the cliff's notes for those that just want to jump on in.

1.) AMD FX-4350 4.2GHz Quad-Core Processor $89.89 OutletPC

This CPU is somewhat modest, but it is still an AM3+ Socket. It boasts a 4.2GHz core clock and is readily overclocked.
It will be quite sufficient to play even a lot of the more demanding games out there.

2.)ASUS M5A99X Motherboard. $116.99 Newegg

This motherboard has one of the best know reputations for this socket. It is known for it's reliability and price to performance value. it can take up to a FX-8350 and still give it a respectable overclock. It also supports a Front-side USB header for USB 3.0 for easy access.

3.)Kingston Savage 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory $47.97 Newegg
Name brand is not od utmost importance, what is important is configuration, in 1x8 you will get 8GBs of RAM and be able to add another later for dual channel. Higher MHz will make video rendering less painful.

4.) Kingston SSDNow V300 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Drive $49.89 OutletPC
This will be your boot drive and boasts performance WELL outside of standard HDD's. It will store your OS and making booting and reading MUCH faster.

5.) Hitachi Ultrastar 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $43.00 Amazon
Hitachi was selected for one reason; durability. It edged out WD on the anvil test, where data is written and re-written until the unit fails.

6.) MSI Radeon R9 380 4GB Video Card $239.00 Superbiz
This card is a great beginners card. It supports a full 4GB of VRAM for those of you who like modding Skyrim. For those worried about $5 less on the power bill, the GTX 960 is a good option.


7.) Raidmax ATX-295WBP ATX Mid Tower Case w/500W Power Supply $59.99 Newegg
Most cases with PSUs have their PSUs located at the top, this gem has it located at the bottom. Is also has a window, durable looking exterior, and front side USB inputs. the
included PSU is removable in case you upgrade your PSU to something more beefy.

Total Cost $645.71
Full parts list http://pcpartpicker.com/p/w9ypP6

Building the ultimate budget console killer.

A lot of gamers these days turn towards consoles for multiple reasons: they're inexpensive, and "easier to use." That's not always the case considering that building a PC has never been easier and more affordable.

The parts? This build only involves 7 separate components and are as follows:

The AMD A10-7850K APU- a budget powerhouse. This is not your dad's processor. As a matter of fact, it's an inexpensive processor that, aside from housing 4 cores clocked at a comfortable 3.7 GHz, also contains a whopping 512 stream processors; individual compute units for gaming. That's right, this is a system on a chip that was developed for out of the box gaming.

The Motherboard- The Gigabyte GA-F2A68HM-DS2H: A solid, inexpensive motherboard. It's not something you would want to overclock on, but it's just right for the build.

The RAM - Kingston Savage DIMMs: In this case, I've opted for a single 8 gigabyte stick of 2400 MHz RAM. RAM speed is not usually crucial, but when using an APU, higher RAM speeds can mean higher FPS in games.

The Case - The Fractal Design Core 1000: Nothing special, a solid case from a reputable dealer.

The Power Supply - The Corsair CX 430: Like the Core 1000, it's a solid PSU from an amazing brand. It's 80+ bronze certified, which means that this power supply is reliable and efficient, so you don't have to worry about literally blowing up your computer. It's also semi-modular, which means that some cables are removable if you don't need them.

The Operating System - This one's up to the user. Windows 10 is out, and it's amazing. You can pick up a copy for around $100. If Windows isn't your thing, then hop over to Ubuntu.com and get a free copy of Ubuntu Linux 14.04, a solid and easy to use OS.

The Storage - Western Digital Caviar Blue 1 Terabyte: Reliable, and plentiful.

(NOW, considering the length of this, I'm going to streamline the "build guide portion")

Unpackage the motherboard and set it on top of the box. Touch something metal to ground yourself. Carefully remove the CPU from it's box, lift the metal retention arm on the CPU socket, and place it in the CPU slot on the motherboard, aligning the arrows on the CPU and the motherboard. Place the retention arm back down- there should not be a struggle. Get the heatsink from the CPU box (the big metal piece that isn't the CPU) and place it over the CPU socket, aligning the two clips. Clip the heatsink on to the board. Next, place the 8GB ram stick in to the ram slot on the board, it only fits in one way. Press it in until the two prongs on the sides click and hold it firmly. Place the motherboard in the case, after removing both side panels, so that the I/O faces through the I/O shield on the back of the case. Screw in all six screws on the motherboard. Place the power supply in the compartment in the case and screw in the four required screws. Run all necessary cables from the power supply and case to the proper inputs on the motherboard. Refer to the motherboard's manual for information. Next, search "Windows USB boot drive" or "Linux USB boot drive" on youtube.

You just built a Battlefield 4 ready PC for a little over 300 big boys.
PCPARTPICKER : https://pcpartpicker.com/user/masonvand/saved/#view=RqM7YJ
Possible upgrades include more RAM, better storage, and better graphics.
Graphics upgrades can include the AMD R7 240 or 250 for crossfire.

(All apologies to Escapist Magazine for the 550 word entry. You just can't fit the necessary information in a 300 word submission. Thanks!)

Hi all!

I offered to provide some writerly words of wisdom from a regular contributor, and the editor in chief said "Go ahead!" So, here they are...

1. The first rule of writing is to write about the important stuff. In an op-ed column like Garwulf's Corner, that's fairly easy to do. But, even though this is not quite the same sort of op-ed column, the same thing still applies. It has to be about more than just the hardware - talk about how that hardware will make the reader's PC build dreams happen, and why. So long as you can follow the first rule, you can make them care, and keep them reading.

2. Get ahead of your schedule. Don't just write the upcoming installment, write the ones following it too. That way, if life happens and something comes up, you're not going to be scrambling.

3. The editor is your friend. I really mean that. You know that last Garwulf's Corner about the Hugo Awards? I think my editor and I went through about 3 different passes on that to dial it in. Very few writers are good editors of their own work (at best, they are competent) - the reason is simple: they're just too close to it. If there's something missing, your editor will find it.

4. Have fun with it!

And, good luck to everybody!

Robert B. Marks:
Hi all!

I offered to provide some writerly words of wisdom from a regular contributor, and the editor in chief said "Go ahead!" So, here they are...

1. The first rule of writing is to write about the important stuff. In an op-ed column like Garwulf's Corner, that's fairly easy to do. But, even though this is not quite the same sort of op-ed column, the same thing still applies. It has to be about more than just the hardware - talk about how that hardware will make the reader's PC build dreams happen, and why. So long as you can follow the first rule, you can make them care, and keep them reading.

2. Get ahead of your schedule. Don't just write the upcoming installment, write the ones following it too. That way, if life happens and something comes up, you're not going to be scrambling.

3. The editor is your friend. I really mean that. You know that last Garwulf's Corner about the Hugo Awards? I think my editor and I went through about 3 different passes on that to dial it in. Very few writers are good editors of their own work (at best, they are competent) - the reason is simple: they're just too close to it. If there's something missing, your editor will find it.

4. Have fun with it!

And, good luck to everybody!

Thank you for your words of wisdom. I do have some points to make where it concerns PC construction.
When writing about "how it will make their dreams come true" it helps to know what those dreams are. in 200-300 words, that is asking a lot.
Did they want a media editing rig? then we need faster RAM. how does faster RAM help in rendering content? Is this a concern if I just want to game? why cant I have a PC that DOES EVERYTHING for less than $400? You see, the criteria was for a system that was great for price vs performance, but that is a given, what really needs clarification is who is wanting this system?, and why? Is it college kids that are on a budget of maybe $700? is it a gamer wanting the MOST out of the system? is it a guy with a big YouTube following that needs rendering power? or is it just mom and dad that want a home media machine that can hold a ton of movies?
Price to performance is on all of our minds when building, but without knowing for whom we are building it, we are left with simply the hardware. And if we build a machine THEN start talking about what it would be great for, 200-300 word mini articles are all but out of the question.

Decepticon_Prime:
snip

Hey Decepticon!

You raise some good questions. The primary focus here is to create gaming rigs that deliver the best performance-to-cost ratio, but we don't want to exclude the possibility of other systems in the future.

The actual column will be roughly 1000 words - the 200-300 word constraint here is just so that we can get a sample of A. your writing style and B. your ability to put together a system.

Cheers!

As someone who puts together systems regularly, i get asked "what is the best?" In my opinion the best system is the one that grows. You see, the problem with some systems, namely those carried in big box stores, is that you do not have a good idea of how soon they will be outdated.

One of my favorite platforms to build on is AM3+. it has been my go to for a cost vs. performance platform in the $700-$800 range for a while now. And will continue to be until prices for DDR4 go down. That being said take a look at this build http://pcpartpicker.com/p/w9ypP6 This is the kind of build that allows a user to start doing CPU intensive tasks right away, but the real glory behind it is it's ability to upgrade. The ASUS M5X99A R.2 is a great motherboard with support for a beast of a chip for gamers, the FX-8350. It is one of the most versatile motherboards out there, and it does this without asking for all your nuka cola caps.

another feature of this build is The SSD drive. If you are not familiar with SSDs, it is a good time to start. not only are SSDs faster, and more resistant to physical damage, they also make less noise and weigh a lot less. The Kingston SSDnow V300 is a great place to start housing your OS. It has FAR better boot times than any HDD I have seen, and comes in at a very affordable sub $50 range.

The next, and most controversial, part of this build is my choice to go with the MSI Radeon R9 380 it actually is a smidgen more powerful at the cost of heat and power consumption. If this is truly an issue for you, any GTX 960 would be a decent replacement.

What this system will allow you to do is get started on your gaming *now*, and work up to a beast later without having to change motherboards. The one downside I see to it is that the first real upgrade you would need to make would be the power supply unit. I would likely throw in a 750 to 850 watt unit. Oh, and do yourself a favor; try to get at least a semi-modular design. you and your case will appreciate the reduction in cables and increase in cable management.

Decepticon_Prime:
snip

I noticed that but I just tried to fill as much info as i could into my 400 words (no, i didnt achieve 300), being able to be sparse and do simple declarative sentences that communicate as much information as possible is yet another skill you need for writing, i suppose.
Also my Captcha agrees XD it says: Yes Definitely.

Also Robert Marks advice is very appreciated, its more about what you will be able to do with the hardware than the hardware itself.

Robert B. Marks:
3. The editor is your friend. I really mean that. You know that last Garwulf's Corner about the Hugo Awards? I think my editor and I went through about 3 different passes on that to dial it in. Very few writers are good editors of their own work (at best, they are competent) - the reason is simple: they're just too close to it. If there's something missing, your editor will find it.

4. Have fun with it!

And, good luck to everybody!

Took this to heart and edited my post. Hopefully this helps put it in better perspective.

Hmph,

garwynn:
Today's build is a system for around $800, primarily for GPU-bound games (most out there.) Have a bigger budget or want upgrade ideas? Got you covered too.

CPU: The i3-4160 does the job. I like the Pentium G3258 but having HT here should keep up with losing OC ability. The best part is you can easily move up to the i5-4960K, still my mainstay for gaming PCs.

Cooler: Stock fan for i3. Overclockers, a 120mm solution like the Cooler Master Seidon 120M at a minimum.

MB: The popular ASRock H97M-ITXac rocks 802.11ac wifi and all the current features. Nothing wrong with aMSI Z97I GAMING AC but if strapped for cash, save it here for better GPU.

RAM: 8GB of G.Skill's Ripjaws X DDR3-1600 are cheap and low latency. Faster is cheaper but more is probably overkill for most.

Storage: Here we want the best of both: SSDs for your OS and newer games, HDD for everything else. The Kingston V300 240GB and the 2TB Barracuda helps balance storage with speed.
Note:Check your old HDD! Drives 4 or less years old may still be just fine!

Case: The Cooler Master Elite 110 is small but packs a punch. Want bigger? Consider the Corsair SPEC-01.

PSU: With the Elite 110 the Corsair RM450 modular design comes in handy, eliminating unnecessary cables. Overclocking may need more.

GPU: By saving elsewhere we can afford a gem in the Zotac GTX 970. Will eat anything at 1080p for breakfast.

Utilites: Intel's XTU - a must for Intel-based overlocking. With the Zotac their Firestorm Utility squeezes every ounce out of the 970. And with the SSD/HDD combo, grab the Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver; contains Smart Response (SSD caching).

So I'm not interested in the position at this time, but for credibility purposes I'm a Network Engineer III and work in one of the Largest Network Lab facilities in the United States(They do Daily tours of it.) and I work on this stuff all day. I can present evidence via pm if needed. I took the time to read through this thread because I was very very disappointed with the last time The escapist tried to do this kind of column and wanted to give my two cents.

On initial browsing, of the posters, this one is the most technically accurate in regards to the quality, functionality and price point of the hardware. I still have some qualms regarding some choices from a Master race perspective, but all of the other posters seem to be more interested in hitting price quotas than Hardware performance and quality of the physical components.

Just my two cents. It's probably asking too much but I think whomever ends up in the position should be able to back up their choices with reviews and or test data. Last time Escapist posted one of these it was like the person just randomed up a cart on newegg. If garwynn fleshed this out into a full detailed post I as a random clicker would take the time to read his/hers hows and whys.

piscian:
Hmph, So I'm not interested in the position at this time, but for credibility purposes I'm a Network Engineer III and work in one of the Largest Network Lab facilities in the United States(They do Daily tours of it.) and I work on this stuff all day. I can present evidence via pm if needed. I took the time to read through this thread because I was very very disappointed with the last time The escapist tried to do this kind of column and wanted to give my two cents.

On initial browsing, of the posters, this one is the most technically accurate in regards to the quality, functionality and price point of the hardware. I still have some qualms regarding some choices from a Master race perspective, but all of the other posters seem to be more interested in hitting price quotas than Hardware performance and quality of the physical components.

Just my two cents. It's probably asking too much but I think whomever ends up in the position should be able to back up their choices with reviews and or test data. Last time Escapist posted one of these it was like the person just randomed up a cart on newegg. If garwynn fleshed this out into a full detailed post I as a random clicker would take the time to read his/hers hows and whys.

Thank you for the feedback! I'm in a much smaller environment (IT Manager) but was recommended by a friend to put something together here since he felt it was right up my alley. I respect that from a PCMR perspective this isn't one of the most "sexy" systems, and certainly the G3258 OC'd with a good 240mm rad (either pre-filled or custom loop) could fit the bill. But I went this route for a few reasons:

1) Biggest bang for buck out of the gate. That G3258, even overclocked, will suffer in some games from a lack of hyper-threading. It also experiences games with some issues blocking it (some can be bypassed.) The i3, while losing OC, is a much more stable and easy-to-use machine as soon as it's built. Maybe not an issue for experienced folks but for those doing this as a first build that ease of use is crucial. And once we get above the i3 the Core series still beats AMD for CPU-intensive applications or CPU-bound games... for now.

Also i5 + HDD or i3 + SSD + HDD: Second option removes a bottleneck at a arguably minimal performance loss for GPU-bound gaming.

2) Upgrades will happen. It's the nature of the beast. There's nothing that convinces me (for now) that Skylake is worth the premium; a user in this budget range will get far more options upgrading this system and can easily do so in pieces. Want to get that 4690K with a rad? Both the 110 Elite and SPEC-01 allow for a 120mm rad loop easily and the SPEC-01 can easily fit a 240 in the front if want/need to go more. The GTX 970 allows them to get a great gaming choice right now and focus on the logical choice of a CPU upgrade before anything else.

Also, if go with a SPEC-01 case, potential buyer may want to look at a microATX or ATX board for the PCI-E slots that would allow further expansion, such as m.2 card, SLI/Crossfire and additional headers on the board. (Cases are upgrades too!)

3) Power consumption. I love AMD for certain uses but I also acknowledge that electricity is EXPENSIVE for some. I used to pay in Japan 4 times the amount for the same electric use in US. After all, if a person is on a budget to build a PC, likely they are on a budget for their utility bills as well.

I don't know much about computer parts and I'm not very good at writing, but I'm going to apply anyway.

How To Build A Computer For Cheep-Cheep. ;)
First you are going to want to go to your local electronic supplier. To save gas you can opt to walk or bike, if the store is not too far away. Another option is to take the bus, be sure to get a seat to reduce the chances of getting groped!

Next you want to find the computer section. Once there, buy the cheapest computer you can find. Get back on your bike and lug the computer home.

Once home, open box. If you cannot open box, get back on your bike and return computer. Otherwise, remove the tower (the big metal rectangle), the monitor (the miniature TV screen), the power cord (the black rubber snake), and the HDMI cable (the thick garrote wire). Now, plug the power cord into the wall, the monitor into the HDMI cable and the tower to everything else.

You are now gaming elite! ;0


Okah, please pay me all the monies now.

Drathnoxis:
Okah, please pay me all the monies now.

Bits only.

What's the news on the job position? The thread died out lol.

Just a note - for November I'm still sticking with my original build recommendation as conditions haven't changed enough to merit a modification.

GPU GTX 960 $220
MOTHERBOARD MSI Z97 LGA 1150 $150
CPU i5 4690k $275
RAM Corsair RAM 16GB $85
CPU COOLER Corsair Hydro H55 $80
POWER SUPPLY EVGA 650WT $105
SSD Samsung 120GB SSD $80
HARD DRIVE WD HDD 1TB $70
CASE Cosair Case $60 -
$850

A non-budget, budget build, as it were. Whilst this won't force your socks to be blown from your feet in raw power, it will quite happily play just about anything you want for the next few foreseeable years. Which as a new entree to the PC gaming world, you will probably appreciate. From Minecraft to Fallout 4, you'll be able to power it up, install the games and play. No overclocking, tuning or external forces of tech support required. So, what do we have under the hood? Let's look!

We start off with a humble, yet powerful GTX960. This little fella is right in the middle of mid-tier components. Suitable for just about anything, as long as you don't run a NASA simulation of the Universe ( Sorry NASA, if you're reading this. ) Followed by a sturdy and reliable MSI board, that features future safe components. Upgrading RAM? Got you covered. Want a new sound card? covered. Suitable for a range of Processors under the Intel wing, you'll be able to upgrade easily.
Following onwards, we picked up an Intel i5 4690k. Overclockable, powerful, and fast this CPU will do just about anything you want it to, all at a great price point.

Moving onto the less important, but still shiny pieces, we have a hearty sixteen gigabytes of RAM, you'll be surfing the web, playing games and whatever else you can imagine with little to no slow down ( we all know the pain of a slow PC... ) six hundred and fifty watts of clean and reliable power. A corsair brand liquid cooler with no manual cleaning required, and a one terabyte hard drive for storing all your bits and bobs. On top of this, we chose an SSD for the operating system, decreasing boot time ( The time it takes your PC to start ) and a spacey Corsair Carbide series case, to keep everything quiet and looking neat.

Whilst it comes in at a slightly strong price point, it is a great starting place for any emerging PC gamer joining the club.

 

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