£840 First Time Build

WARNING: Can't be arsed to read a wall of text? Skip to the TL;DR header and read downwards from there.

Budget and General Info

My computer that I'm currently using is from 2005 time so maybe it's about time I upgraded. :p My budget is currently £840, but this can stretch to £880 if I'm getting something impressive for the extra £40. I live in England, so I don't want to have to order off European businesses that operate outside the UK, to avoid in hassle with RMAs (thus avoiding sites like Pixmania). Amazon would be my preferred retailer, but I don't mind the likes of Aria, CCL, Ebuyer, Scan, OCUK, PC World etc. If the site is generally trusted and offers the cheapest products, I'm happy to buy form there (things like extended warranty may be worth an extra few £).

Due to the need to budget for Christmas expenses and the fact that I'm not going to get paid in December, I probably won't buy my GPU until January (payday is on the 5th), or at the earliest as a Christmas present, but I'm still including it in the total budget and the build list as it needs to match the colour of my mobo (just as long as the GPU isn't a complete different colour from the mobo), so keep that in mind.

I plan to use this machine for a good 3-4 years before upgrading the mobo/gpu/cpu and I want my PSU and case to last even longer then that.

What Will I Be Using The PC For?

I will be using it primarily for gaming, but also for capturing footage (of said gaming, as well as capturing console footage), some video editing (mainly Sony Vegas, maybe a small amount of Adobe After Effects as well) and casual photoshop use. It'll be in use everyday.

I'll be overclocking my CPU and my RAM but I'll probably leave the GPU at stock speed. I'm using air cooling for now, but I may upgrade to a closed loop cooler in the future. I won't be building a custom cooling loop though.


I'm happy with gaming at a rock solid 1080/60, so that's what I'm aiming for. I'll be playing any type of game apart from MOBAs, but I'll probably primarily play FPS games.I'm looking to max out anything at 1080p for the considerable future (unless a game is horribly optimised, not much I can do about that).


As mentioned earlier, I'll be mostly using Sony Vegas, with a few addons like Magic Bullet Looks & New Blue FX. I won't be rendering anything bigger then [email protected], and I'm happy to use CPU or GPU rendering, which ever is more effective really.

Inclusions (MUSTS)

The CPU has to be either an i5 4690k or i7 4790k (I'm happy with the i5 tbh) and the motherboard has to be a Z97 board because of Intel's cashback offer (EU only), which means the CPU and mobo need to be on the same receipt (to avoid complications, if buying from sites with multiple vendors, just choose the native vendor, for example Amazon EU SARL from Amazon). This could get me up to £40 cashback with certain combos, so it's the reason I'm going for a z97 board. The mobo also needs to support dual SLI.

The ram needs to be an 8GB singular stick bare minimum. The GPU needs to be a 970, as it seems to be the best I can get for sub £300 (yes, the 780Ti is a great card, but that 3GB VRAM isn't the greatest). The PSU needs to be modular and future proof me, as I plan to SLI down the line.

Exclusions (MUST NOTS)

I already brought a 512GB SSD (Crucial MX100) so I don't need storage included (I'll buy a mechanical drive later). I also already have a monitor (AOC i2369vm). M&kb will be brought later down the line when I have more money (most likely the same time I buy my GPU), but I'm open to hear suggestions for them anyway. And I'll obtain an OS separately form the budget, so don't worry at that.

Future Expansions

I'd like to improve this initial build in the future. As mentioned above, I'd like the ability to go SLI, so providing the next few generations of GPUs don't have massive advancements, I will probably buy a secondary 970 in 1/2 years time. That should allow me to get a 1440p monitor as well, and hopefully by the time I have SLI GPUs there will be more 1440p monitors with freesync/g-sync. I'd also like to have the ability to use M.2/ Sata Express devices, but I certainly won't be buying one now, I just want a mobo slot to future-proof me for when adaptation becomes widespread. I'll also add more RAM (hence the choice to have 1 8GB stick instead of running a couple 4GB sticks in dual channel) and throw in some HDDs for secondary/tertiary storage. I might also add another 2 monitors, but not for gaming purposes (too costly), more for improved productivity (I'll probably buy two of these monitors some time next year).


I've never built a PC before, looking to build a gaming/editing rig to keep me comfy @ 1080p/60fps for the foreseeable future. Budget is at most £880, but monitor, mouse & keyboard, storage and OS don't need to be included. I need a dual SLI capable z97 board with a Devil's Canyon CPU, 1 stick of 8GB RAM, a singular 970 and a modular, future proof PSU.

What I've Got So Far & My Personal Thoughts

Blue Build

Total: £836.02 (exc cashback)

This is the strongest of the two lists I have, but results in less cashback (£22.50) and it's the pricier build. As mentioned earlier, I don't see the need for a 4790k, so I picked the 4690k. The 212 EVO is fairly cheap whilst being well thought of, and I'm happy with using air cooling so it seems the obvious choice.

The mobo gives me the ability to SLI, and allows me to use an M.2 x4/Sata Express device (although unfortunately not whilst SLIing, but Xfire seems ok), has a all the display outputs I need, gigabit ethernet (as well as a secondary ethernet port) and is well reviewed. The only problem I have is that there aren't any great 970s with blue colour schemes.

ASUS's Strix is one of the pricier 970s, despite not being much more powerful (if at all) than the alternatives, but it fits in with the mobo's colour and is well reviewed. I don't really like the physical length of Gigabyte's G1 Gaming 970, and it's similarly priced to the Strix so I didn't see the point of getting it, and EVGA's ACX 970 has bad feedback regarding the cooler so I'm steering clear of that.

The PSU may seem overkill but it's excellently reviewed and has an amazing 10 year warranty, as well as being aggressively priced (650W 80+ Gold PSUs seem to cost similarly to the Supernova G2, so I'm happy to pay a little bit more for peace of mind and a better manufacturer warranty).

The case is the area I put the least amount of research into, so the more suggestions for alternatives the better really. From what I've seen in reviews, the R5 would give me alot of flexibility if I ever upgraded to a closed loop cooler with a shit ton of places to put all sorts of rads in. I can also remove all the HDD bays seeing as I'm going SSD only for now, which should help with airflow, no? It offers good cable management and the sound dampening pads are supposed to be good.

I don't really need a windowed cases so anything that isn't obnoxiously designed, keeps cool and most importantly, is easy to build in (it's my first time, remember?) will be considered.

Red Build

Total: £815.15 (ex cashback).

This is weaker then the Blue Build, but costs less and offers more cashback (£40.00).

The mobo doesn't have a DisplayPort output (which isn't a must, but is still kinda annoying) and doesn't have a Sata Express port (but it has an M.2, so that's not to bad), but it's marginally cheaper than the Extreme6, gives more cashback, has a more common red and black colour scheme & Asus's OC software and mobos in general are well thought of. Any alternatives for sub £150 would be appreciated, I don't mind the Ranger but I know I can get better for a small increase in price.

I like the MSI 970 and it's comfortably cheaper than any rival. If colour wasn't an issue I would probably go with this GPU regardless of the other components, but the thought of a black and red card against a blue mobo seems kinda silly.

Everything else in this build is the same as the Blue Build.


Any modifications to my existing parts list, or new parts lists all together would be appreciated. Sorry for the wall of text, but it saves me having to reply to any messages with components that wouldn't be suitable. The more info the better, right? :p Thanks for taking the time to read (and respond).

Why is it that when I copy and pasted the table form PCPartsPicker it was nice and formatted, but after posting it's turned into a messy block of text. Any way to fix that?

Not really.  This forum works a bit differently than others.

Now onto the builds.

They both look good.  The motherboards are a bit overkill imo, as with the Hyper 212 you won't notice much of a difference between using a super overclock board versus a lower end Z97 board.

Power supply is also a bit overkill.  If you've got two GTX 970s with everything at stock clocks, you'll pull under 500 watts.  650w is probably the most you'll ever need when you overclock.

Blue build: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/mrx2TW

Z97-G55 SLI supports 2 way SLI.  You don't really want to go higher than that.

Gigabyte GTX 970.  Better cooling, and isn't red.  I believe the one I picked comes with a backplate.  There is a cheaper model without a backplate as well, if you want to save some money.

As stated before, lower wattage power supply.  Now you may be thinking, "wtf is super flower.  it sounds hella jank."  Super Flower is in fact the OEM for many companies.  The Leadex platform is the same platform that EVGA's Supernova G2 lineup uses - EVGA went to Super Flower for their OEM.  Great performing power supply.


Similar changes to the red side as well.

Thanks for the reply, it's appreciated. So do you reckon it's not worth trying to future proof my mobo? I'm open to getting something cheaper, but I had the mindset of staying with it for a good 3-4 years, would I be better off spending less now and just upgrading sooner then planned? 

With the PSU, I didn't know that about SuperFlower, but the G2 is only £7 more than the PSU you linked, can provide more wattage (I know I'm unlikely to need it unless I go Xfire in the future) and has that monstrous warranty. I think I'm happy with it.

With the GPU, I guess I'll look into the Gigabyte cards more, but again it's quite closely priced to the Strix. I'm surprised to hear it has better cooling (because of the 3 fans I take it? I haven't seen many 970 3 fan cooling designs).

No need to change the case?

EDIT: I've also just noticed on PCPartPicker this quote on the Gigabyte 970:

The Fractal Design Define R5 ATX Mid Tower Case supports video cards up to 440mm long, but video cards over 310mm may block drive bays. Since the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 4GB WINDFORCE Video Card is 312mm long, some drive bays may not be usable.

I imagine that would be especially annoying with two GPUs (I did plan to remove some of the HDD bays anyway, but it could be annoying in the future if I run SLI and use HDDS)

Motherboards will only support 2 sockets (different CPU generations) and they pretty much perform exactly the same as each other so there's no point in going future proof with it. Just get whatever matches your CPU and GPU configurations and setups.

Ok thanks for your input. It's not worth spending that extra 30-40 pounds for support of M.2 devices, an extra ethernet port & a display-port output? Seems fair enough. Maybe I'll focus on motherboards sub £100.

One final question, what else will I need in the build process? I presume thermal paste is included with the CPU and I know I should get an anti-static wristband, but is there anything else?

M.2 needs some time to become mainstream and mature.  They're getting there - but they aren't there yet.  Most are pricy, and PCIe SSDs are available as well if you really want to plug storage directly into the bus.

Extra ethernet port?  Depends.  For the majority of people, it won't do anything.

As for the display outputs on the motherboard, they're most likely going to be disabled.  You plug your monitor into the graphics card, not the motherboard!

Thermal paste is included with the CPU cooler, yes.

Anti static wristband?  Meh.  If you're in an extremely humid place or one with lots of dust and static, then maybe.  I personally just touch the case(with the power supply plugged in, installed, and turned off) so that there's proper grounding.  Don't pet cats and don't rub your feet across the carpet,  That's it, basically.

Also, do you need Wifi?  Do you need an operating system?  Do you need an optical drive?