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

Devin Connors | 2 Sep 2014 18:00
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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

SSD: SanDisk Extreme Pro 240 GB

$199.99 on Newegg

SanDisk SSD

There are a number of ways you can set up storage on your PC, or your home network. As far as internal storage is concerned, I've been a two-drive man as far back as my wallet has allowed. But gone are the days of the 150 GB Raptor drive and 500 GB media dump. Now it's all about that precious solid state hyperspeed.

The amount of choice in the SSD space is fantastic, from Intel and Samsung, to Mushkin and OCZ/Toshiba. But for an OS drive, I went with one of the newest, fastest drives around.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro is a brand new offering, and it's one of the fastest consumer drives available today. I chose the 240 GB model (options go up to 960 GB) because this drive is going to be primarily for my OS of choice (Windows 8), some apps, and - maybe - one or two go-to multiplayer PC games.

So how does SanDisk's newest break down? Along with a solid ten-year warranty, the Extreme Pro packs SanDisk's own 19nm flash memory, a Marvell 88SS9187 controller, and benchmarks that can best even Samsung's latest 850 Pro.

You would not be wrong to choose the Samsung 850 Pro over SanDisk's Extreme Pro - both are stellar offerings - but the latter is a few dollars less (on Newegg, anyway), and the 240 GB vs 256 GB difference is of little consequence in an OS drive.


Storage: WD Black 2 TB

$139.99 on Newegg

Mechanical storage is largely a two-horse race - Seagate versus Western Digital. Like the Samsung vs SanDisk battle above, both companies are compelling offerings. I chose a 2 TB WD Black drive because of its warranty (five years), and lower price compared to a Seagate equivalent.

The WD Black has 64 MB of cache, the latest SATA III 6 Gbps interface, and... well, it's about what you'd expect in a 7,200 rpm hard drive. No low-power 5,900 rpm malarkey here!

Optical: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD Burner

Price on Newegg

It plays, burns CDs and DVDs, and it's $20. High five? High five.

All totaled, my hardware shopping list comes to about $1,478. Once we include Windows 8.1 OEM, that price comes up to $1,578 - call it $1,600 just for kicks. That's a mid-range PC budget if I've ever seen one, and the end result will keep me in the 1080p and 1440p sweet spot for years to come. As for 2160p/4K gaming, hitting 30fps-plus in most games (your Crysis 3's of the world aside) should be possible.

There are a number of ways you could have a few shekels off the final price. You could opt for a lower Intel Core i5, like the respectable i5-4430, or one of the many awesome sub-$200 options AMD currently offers. RAM could be stepped down from DDR3-2400 to a lower speed like -1600, or even downgrade to an 8 GB kit.

I could go on, but as this is the PC that I want to build, I don't need your precious compromises. But I will take your suggestions/snarky quips down in the comments. Would you go all AMD? Maybe drop the SSD in favor of a hybrid drive? Post your (reasonable) dream build in the comments.


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