Science and Tech
The Best Mid-Range PC I Would Build: September 2014

Devin Connors | 2 Sep 2014 22:00
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September PC build 640

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: CPU and Motherboard
Page 3: Memory and GPU
Page 4: Case and Power Supply
Page 5: SSD, Storage, Optical Drive, and Final Thoughts


Memory: Team Xtreme 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2400

$154.99 on Newegg

Team Xtreem Memory

While 8 GB of RAM is my new norm (and should be for you, too), 16 GB is a good target for gaming PCs. Between games chewing up 2-4 GB of memory, those 20 or so Chrome tabs I have open at all times, and the lingering prospect of multimedia work? More is always better.

Team Group has always specialized in bringing solid memory products in at digestible prices, as is the case with the Team Xtreme DDR3-2400 kit I chose. This Xtreme kit is par for the high-end DDR3 course, evidenced by big heatsinks and respectable timings. If I built this rig tomorrow, I wouldn't be overclocking anything - that's always a path I save when a system is at end-of-life - otherwise I might choose a faster kit with quicker timings.

16 GB RAM kits generally bottom out around $145-$150 dollars, so spending $155 is nearly as cheap as you can get.

Graphics: AMD Radeon R9 280X by Sapphire

$269.99 on Newegg

AMD GPU

Nvidia! AMD! IN A STEEL CAGE!

It's never an easy choice, as the Mean Green Machine and Big Red both have compelling options all over the price board. I wanted to stay under $300 for my GPU choice, while still retaining the ability to max out games at 1080p, or have respectable fps at higher resolutions.

I'm a big fan of Nvidia's 700 series, from GeForce Experience onward, but AMD's R9 280X is the sub-$300 king. The model I chose - a little dual-fan number by Sapphire - is $270 ($260 after MIR), which is at least $40 below the GTX 770's price range.

The R9 280X is a beast, and it manages to stay right in the GTX 770's blind spot while coming in $40 (or more) cheaper. Even 4K gaming is a reasonable affair, Bioshock Infinite included. And if one was to enter the cryptocurrency game, having an AMD card is exactly what the Dogecoin doctor ordered.
Other reasons to look at an AMD GPU? Improved drivers (even if Nvidia's software is still better), along with Mantle support - a must-have for any Battlefield junkies out there (yours truly included).

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