Science and TechThe Best Mid-Range PC I Would Build: September 2014Science and Tech - RSS 2.0
CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K
$239.99 on Newegg
As this is a gaming PC first, and everything else second, I picked what I think is the best gaming CPU on the market. Intel's Core i5-4690K is just above the sub-$200 price range that AMD is currently dominating, but sits below the Intel i7 SKUs that many gamers and enthusiasts like to target.
$240 gets you an unlocked quad-core CPU humming along at 3.5 GHz (which boosts up to 3.9 GHz in Turbo Mode). The only CPU feature that I might miss is Hyper-Threading, but with so many PC games still only using one or two cores (and not utilizing threading tech at all), there's very little performance difference between the i5-4670K and it's more powerful i7-4790K brother.
And if I do need to fiddle with some non-gaming apps on this PC? The 4690K is no slouch - just look at the benchmarks.
Motherboard: ASUS Z97-PRO (Wi-Fi ac)
$208.99 on Newegg
Now we need a motherboard to drop that Core i5-4670K into, and the Z97-PRO from Asus is a prime candidate. There are a few different -PRO models, so I'm targeting the "Wi-Fi ac" model, specifically.
The Z97-PRO has everything a gamer and/or mid-level enthusiast needs, including support for Nvidia Quad SLI and AMD Three-Way CrossfireX, front and rear USB 3.0 support, SATA Express, M.2 (mobile SSD) support, and Crystal Sound 2 built in. For the overclocking crowd, there's support for DDR3 RAM speeds up to DDR3-3200, and Asus makes the process newbie-friendly (relatively speaking) with one-clicking optimization, and a feature-laden UEFI BIOS.
As for the 802.11ac wireless baked in? It's a luxury I want to have around, even if I don't use it often. I always try to keep my gaming desktop near wired Internet, but sometimes that's just not possible (friends house for a LAN party, and so on), so why not have the latest Wi-Fi standard handy? Bluetooth 4.0 is also included.
There are plenty of admirable socket LGA 1150 motherboards at the lower $150 price point, but the Z97-PRO Wi-Fi ac is the motherboard I want, for a price I'm comfortable with.