Parts list for a friend

I've been compiling a parts list for one of my recent friends, and I wanted to see if anyone had any deep and insightful comments to lay against it. Here's the parts list, because most people don't care to read too much if they can just skim the list:


So, the explanation: she's really into streaming gameplay from both her computer and her various gaming consoles, and to that end she's already got an external capture device that uses HDMI. The problem is that her laptop, which is her primary computer, is kind of garbage. So she wants to build a desktop that is fairly inexpensive but will last her a considerable amount of time before anything needs changing. I thought that, for this price-point, AMD was definitely the better option to consider, so here are the components that we decided on:

  • Bitfenix Prodigy (Black) with the windowed side panel: a relatively small case with room for plenty of components. I decided that this case would be a good size for a system that is aimed squarely at the entry-level components (primarily because, when the time comes to make an upgrade, you basically have to replace what needs upgrading anyway, because they don't usually scale well, especially Nvidia.). The primary consideration at the time when she ordered this case (she's already ordered it, if that is still in question. It was on a considerable enough sale to go ahead and buy) was that she was planning on getting a GTX 750 Ti as her graphics card, and that is incapable of SLI in the first place, so it wouldn't really be detrimental to go ahead and build small. This changed, as I'll show later, but since the case has already been purchased, all comments should keep in mind the mini-ITX form factor.
  • AMD Athlon X4 760k: clocked at 3.8GHz, this quad core processor is AMD's alternative to their A-series processors, for those people that already plan on going with discrete graphics. I chose this chip because it is quite inexpensive and it is comparable to their FX 4350, when you clock them the same. So, there isn't any particular reason to bother spending more money on the chip.
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus: this is really just the most basic cooler that we could find that would be sufficient for the time being. To be honest, if there were any other half-way decent options out there at this pricepoint, I wouldn't recommend this cooler. It's only okay at cooling and the fan isn't actually that fantastic. I'm waiting to see if Xigmatek's Prime 140mm cooler will ever go on sale, because it's really nice even at the current price.
  • Gigabyte ga-F2A88XN or MSI A88XI AC: a mini-ITX board with what appears to be the standard feature list associated with FM2, backed by Gigabyte's usual flair with their rugged component choices. The primary consideration when choosing this motherboard was that it have very good wireless, since that is her primary form of internet connection. This features wireless AC-850 built in. It also supports up to 2400 MHz RAM, which will prove useful. I probably could have achieved a greater degree of flexibility if I had opted for a full-ATX motherboard, but do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a full-ATX motherboard in the socket FM2+ line that features decent wireless? Well, they don't exist. The cheapest wireless AC card that I could source was $46 and made by Intel. I like the card, I didn't like the price. To drop the price of the motherboard enough to fit that card in would have lowered the quality of the motherboard and the chipset features to such a degree as to be utterly unpalatable. This board features everything necessary.
    Another possible option that we're considering the the MSI alternative to this board: the MSI A88XI AC. I prefer the Gigabyte board primarily because of what appears to be a superior power management solution, but feel free to weigh in. 
  • 8GB AMD Radeon R9-series 2133 MHz DDR3 RAM: this was just on too good of a sale to pass up. The other nice thing is the black-on-black color scheme and the fact that AMD says that all 2133 MHz kits should be unlockable to 2400 MHz through the overclocking tools of any motherboard that supports that speed of RAM. If it's still on sale, I'd recommend you go buy some from NCIX.
  • 1 TB Western Digital Caviar Blue: much like the cooler, this is the most basic HDD that we could find that would be sufficient for the time being. It's just large enough to be useful for long enough. The cache is sizable, the RPM and random seek speeds are fast enough to not make my head ache from the lag.
  • (Edit) XFX Radeon R9 270 Double Dissipation Edition or EVGA Geforce GTX 750 Ti FTW ACX Edition: Since the donation of the graphics card fell through, we're back to the drawing board. It's currently a tossup between this card, which I like, and the EVGA Geforce GTX 750 Ti FTW ACX Edition, which I also like. I do, however, have this OCD desire to match at least something among the components. I would match the brand of the graphics solution to the board, if the Gigabyte card wasn't so... ...unappealing. The motherboard seems to be great, but the graphics card is less so. The XFX card, however, looks very nice and has a sufficiently large cooler with sufficiently large and numerous fans to actually keep it cooling. The EVGA Geforce card has similar features with their ACX cooler. It really comes down the personal preference, here. The AMD solution is slightly more powerful, but it draws more power to begin with. The Nvidia solution has some interesting new technology that might be implemented soon into streaming services, that may reduce the encoding overhead. Still a tossup, but I'm going to side AMD, for my OCD satisfaction.
  • Corsair Builder Series 500W Power Supply: much like the cooler, this power supply is sufficient to power the components and that's about it. It's 80+ Bronze certified, so it's somewhat reliable, and it's cheap for the wattage.
  • AOC i2367fh 23" IPS Monitor: I actually chose this one for a few reasons, the first of which being the rather shallow appreciation for its appearance. It is a very pretty monitor. The entire thing is covered by glass except for the chin which has a metallized plastic bit that looks incredibly nice. Having seen this display in person, I can attest that the quality is quite good, although the stand can seem a bit wobbly or loose if you feel the need to fiddle with it often. Of course, there is the option to ditch the stand and set it on your desk like a photo frame. This fixes that wobble. The display itself is crisp with a slightly washed-out color saturation from the factory. Delving into the settings is sufficient to fix this, and the color accuracy winds up as appreciable as on any other 24-bit (8-bit per channel, 16.7 million colors) IPS display. The primary reason to go with this specific model, instead of one of the other alternatives, even within the same brand, is the speakers. She doesn't want to have to bother with figuring out a setup for speakers if she wants to play on one of her consoles, and I can't blame her. So I found a monitor that features not only the traditional two 2W speakers, but also multiple HDMI inputs, so that she can switch between her different inputs and only bother with external speakers should she desire to.

Just a heads up: the Hyper 212 can only be put onto the motherboard parallel to the PCIe x16 slot.  Otherwise, it will clash with the GPU.  Make sure the case has clearance for this orientation.

DDR3-1333 will work perfectly fine.  However, there's only a $5 price difference, and if you really want 2133, it's not a bad deal.

GTX 660 is a bit weak, but may work fine at medium settings for most games.

Since she's already purchased the case, it really limits her options at this budget.  Overall, the build looks good enough to get her through most games, and considering she has a capture card, the 760k should perform just fine.

Thanks for the tip about the cooler, I'll see if I can find a different solution that won't impede quite so much on the RAM or the graphics card, since I really don't like having that massive overhang on the RAM, it is unbecoming.

I think that DDR3 1333 is the spawn on Satan. I'd know, I'm stuck with it. Stupid socket 775 RAM speed restrictions on cheap motherboards. 

I'd agree that there are better options out there than a GTX 660, but it's still more than sufficient as an entry-level card at this price-point. Saying this and receiving sad news about the state of that donation, I've switched it out for something else.

I agree, to an extent. I think that mini-ITX is an excellent form factor for entry-level computers, especially if you don't have ambitions of greatness, because there's only so much that you can upgrade any system before everything becomes obsolete and you wind up having to junk the whole thing. Here, she could at least use it as a router, if she wanted to, instead of junking it.

Hello :) I'm really into small form factor PC's (as i own one myself) and I will have a good look over the next hour or so to try sort out the ideal PC in my opinion so i'll be right back :D

To be honest i'd just change the cooler to a cooler mast geminII M4 and the hard drive to a 1TB seagate barracuda as it is cheaper and better i believe.

Don't go with the 750ti ftw. It's very loud. A r9 270 or r7 265 would be a better option.

I don't think that the GeminII M4 will fit on that motherboard, since Gigabyte moved the CPU socket so close to the PCI-e slot.

As for the HDD, it was really just up to personal preference. I don't hold any particular personal preference for any brand, but she already had a Western Digital drive on her build, so I assumed that it would be a safe brand choice, considering the minimal difference in price.. At the time, the Seagate wasn't even $5 away from the price of the WD. 

Is that with the new BIOS flashed? I know that EVGA tried to sort out the unnecessarily high fan speed with a BIOS update, since they weren't ramping down like they were supposed to. Any news on whether that worked, since I'm going off of the assumption that it did. The ACX cooler is a really good cooler, but it does suffer some noise issues if the fans are running at really high RPMs.

Also, which brand of Radeon R9 270 would you recommend, since it is not the case that all are created equal. The stock cooler, for instance, sounds like a hair dryer at all fan speeds. 

i have a r9 270 from msi. it's amazing. 1200mhz and i can't hear it. i'm a silince freak and that thing is quiet. the evga new bios makes no difference i believe. pcper had the same problem. msi has nice warrenty btw. i oc my card and it broke. even with that big oc i got a new one:)

I'd go for the MSI gaming series 750ti. They're supposed to be relatively quieter. The EVGA cards do however give you the blah blah blah... nvidia gsync.. blah option

I've just scrolled through several pages of reviews concerning the EVGA Geforce GTX 750 Ti FTW ACX, and many people seem to think that the card was either very quiet out of the box, or that the BIOS update sorted it out and returned software fan control to you.

it's a good thing that she already has a capture device, that cpu wouldn't be able to muster it.

about unlocking the ram...that mtherboard doesn't support 2400mhz you may have trouble?

you can look at this board

On Pc part picker it said the cpu cooler would be fine

I'd personally go with the r9 270 because of mantle, it'll blow away the 750ti

you may need to get low profile ram though

It really depends on the price of each when she goes to buy. I prefer AMD, but that's just because I have some OCD tendencies, and I enjoy matching brands where possible. I do think that Mantle could become a really awesome thing in the future if you can get more Indie developers coding for it. At the moment, it still out-performs the GTX 750 Ti, but it does draw considerably more power to do so. It's a trade-off.

a 120 mm tower can't be mounted in the usual direction, which would be parallel with the RAM slots on this motherboard, because it overhangs the PCI-e slot. The GeminII M4 features a 120mm fan and a centrally mounted cooling plate. It doesn't fit.

I suppose, if all else fails, the Cooler Master Seidon 120V is always a cheap liquid cooling alternative. It is very cheap, for any liquid cooling, and the performance shows in comparison testing. Despite this, it should be able to manage the thermal displacement of that processor. If she decides to go that route, I'm not sure which placement would be the best for that case, at least, appearance-wise. You could mount it in two different places. One looks atrocious with the side panels off, but you won't really see it past the graphics card, the other looks equally silly, but that is because it wouldn't be a 240 mm radiator.

Well, you could try out the GTX 660, as it's only slightly weaker than the R9 270.  If your friend requires more graphics power, then invest in a better GPU.

I've got the Seidon 120V, since it was $30 after a mail in rebate on newegg.  The fan is a tad bit noisy, especially at max speed.  I had to RMA my first one since the pump made a ticking/clicking noise that was too noisy for me to bear.  The one I got directly from Cooler Master has a much quieter pump.  You may want to look into something like the SP120 Quiet PWM fans if you need silence.  I've had mine for a couple months and it seems to be working pretty well.  It is indeed noisier than the stock Intel cooler.  Reducing the pump speed to around 80% via the UEFI helps the noise as well(since it's only a CPU loop, the pump doesn't really need to work super hard).

And here's my build for reference: