I'm just a small-time guy working a normal job as a physician assistant. My passion is building PCs and testing/reviewing PC hardware.
The Budget Builds for October 2017
Hello everyone. Will here and today, I am going over my monthly PC builds, specifically for gaming. However, instead of doing the normal (Is one month/one article the norm?) budget build, I’m going to put together a list of parts for a budget build list for AMD Ryzen, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake processors. Also, I am going to include options which will allow for upgradability with the Ryen and Kaby Lake processors; current motherboards for Coffee Lake will allow for upgrades anyway. So, without anymore delay, let’s take a look at these builds.
Coffee Lake Core i3-8100
First, we are going to start with the new kid on the block, which happens to be a bit of a beast in gaming and productivity and that’s the new Coffee Lake series of Intel processors. In this build, I am going to start the build off with the new i3-8100 4 core, 4 thread CPU clocked at 3.6GHz built on the 14nm die and only pulls a TDP of 65 watts. This processor supports of up to 64GB of RAM, includes integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 and CPU cooler but does not support simultaneous multithreading.
I would also say you would have an option of a third party CPU cooler like the Hyper 212 EVO or a Be Quiet! Pure Rock Slim cooler. However, I would go with an AIO liquid CPU cooler just for the future upgrade path to an overclockable CPU like the Intel i7-8700K.
For the motherboard, I am going with the MSI Z370 PC Pro ATX LGA1151 motherboard. For these new Kaby Lake CPUs, unfortunately, at this point, the only boards available are the Z370 chipset boards and budget building is difficult. However, those budget boards should be available beginning early in 2018. This motherboard is the Z370 chipset which will allow for overclocking of the unlocked Intel CPUs, the K-series CPUs like the i7-8700K, i5-8600K, etc. At any rate, this motherboard supports DDR4 RAM clocked at 2133MHz up to 4000MHz and up to 64GB total memory. It will support onboard video with all Intel processors that include integrated graphics like this i3-8100 CPU.
Memory for this build will be from Corsair and it is the Corsair Vengeance LPX 2400MHz DDR4 RAM in the 2x4 configuration and 8GB total. I really like Corsair RAM as I have said before in other builds and will continue to use the RAM on future builds because of how good the RAM is and how easy it is to work with and overclock. Not a lot to say about the RAM except it is fast and is easier to make a bit faster.
Storage is next and in this build and with all other builds, I will recommend both a smaller SSD for your OS and most used programs/games and a mechanical hard drive for its price vs amount of space you get. So, for this build, I’m going with the Kingston A400 120GB SSD and a Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 7200RPM Mechanical HDD.
Next, for the graphics card, I was a little torn on this given the supposed power of the i3-8100. However, I decided to go with the MSI GTX 1050ti 4GB graphics card. This is a great entry level card but maybe underkill for the new Coffee Lake processors, even the low end i3 series of processors. A better option would probably be a GTX 1060 or an RX 570/580 but price is the limiting factor here if we are attempting a budget build, which we are. Right now, prices are still a little too high to go anymore than a GTX 1050ti.
The case for this build will be the Corsair Carbide SPEC-04, black and gray edition. I have built in this case and it is a wonderful budget case and has plenty of space to build in and is very easy to build in. With its black and gray color, it matches the MSI motherboard that I would put in this build.
To power this build, I am going with the Corsair CX550M, 550 watt 80+ Bronze Certified semi-modular power supply. It has plenty of power for this budget build and has a lot of headroom to upgrade in the future to a GTX 1080 or RX Vega 56/64 as well as a liquid cooler and an i7-8700K.
Intel Kaby Lake Budget and Upgrade
Kaby Lake Budget
Next is the Kaby Lake Budget build. This is a straight budget build. In this budget build, I am going with the Intel Pentium G4600. Normally, most of us tech folks would recommend the Pentium G4560 but at this point in time, the cost of the G4560 is insane, especially compared to the G4600, especially when you get better performance from the G4600. The Pentium G4600 is clocked at 3.6GHz and is a 2 core, 4 thread processor that supports simultaneous multithreading. The processor is built on the 14nm die, includes a CPU cooler, and pulls just 51 watts. The processor has integrated Intel HD 630 graphics and supports up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM.
The MSI B250M Pro-VD is a micro ATX motherboard with an LGA1151 socket and has the Intel B250 chipset. The benefit to this chipset as opposed to the B150 and other more budget friendly chipsets that have the LGA1151 socket is that you will not have to worry about a BIOS or even updating that BIOS. The MSI B250M Pro-VD board supports DDR4 RAM of 2133/2400 MHz memory of up to 32GB in dual channel configuration; limited with just 2 DIMM slots. Onboard video is supported and the board includes 6 SATAIII ports.
In this build and the Kaby Lake Upgrade build below, I will be using the Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 8GB (2x4 configuration) 2400MHz DDR4 RAM in dual channel configuration. This is a great budget RAM that is easily overclocked with XMP profiles.
For storage, again, I am going with a smaller SSD and a conventional mechanical hard drive. The ADATA Ultimate SU800 128GB SSD and Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 7200RPM HDD. This is a nice combination for speed and overall storage amount.
For the GPU on this true budget build is a Zotac GTX 1050 Mini which is the 2GB version of the 1050. This is a great graphics card, especially for entry level gaming and has a great price for budget builds such as this one. This card comes with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM and has a core clock of 1.35GHz with a boost clock of 1.46GHz. The card pulls only 75 watts TDP and is a single fan card. There is no need for a 6-pin power input and the card’s size allows us to fit this card into a smaller, cheaper case as it measures just 5.71 inches.
For the case, I am going with the Fractal Design Focus G Mini case which is a microATX mini towoer. The case offers 2 external 5.25 inch bays, 1 internal 2.5 inch bay, and 2 internal 3.5 inch bays. The case is compatible with the Micro ATX and Mini ITX motherboards and supports graphics cards of up to 14.96 inches.
Powering this budget build will be the EVGA B3 450 power supply. The power supply offers 450 watts, is 80+ Bronze certified and is fully modular. It is a great power supply for a small microATX build in a microATX case.
Kaby Lake Budget Upgrade
Kaby Lake Budget Upgrade
The next build will be the Kaby Lake Upgrade build. This build is essentially the same build as the Kaby Lake budget build but a few additions such as the Corsair H60 liquid CPU cooler, a Z270 motherboard which will support overclocking, and a larger power supply to support the added components.
In addition to those components above, I would go with the MSI Z270M Mortar MicroATX motherboard. The motherboard will support overclocking an upgraded i5 or i7 unlocked Intel processor. In addition to the overclocking capabilities, this board supports 4 modules of DDR4 RAM ranging from 2133MHz to 3800MHz and up to 64GB total. There are also 6 SATAIII ports available and the board will also support integrated graphics.
For cooling and on this upgrade path, I am going with the Corsair H60 but would consider the H100i given how how the Kaby Lake series of processors get, specifically the i7-7700K. I have had great success with overclocking the hot 7700K with the Corsair H60 liquid cooler but would definitely give thought to the H100i for better cooling.
And to power this system, on an upgrade capable path, I’d go with the EVGA 650BQ 600 watt 80+ Bronze certified semi-modular power supply. This will supply ample power to the budget parts as well as an upgrade to an i5 or i7 processor.
Ryzen Budget and Upgrade Build
Ryzen Budget/Upgrade Build October 2017
Finally, we have the Ryzen budge with upgradability. To start this build, we are going with the Ryzen 3 1200 CPU that offers 4 cores and 4 threads without simultaneous multithreading capabilities. This processor is clocked at 3.1GHz out of the box but can be overclocked as it is an unlocked processor but will overclock itself to 3.4GHz with the turbo.
For the cooling option, if you are going strictly budget, I’d go with the included air cooler, the wraith stealth but if you are in the thought process of upgrading later to a Ryzen 7, I’d go with the Corsair H60 as it will be plenty of cooling for these chips as they have far better thermal properties than the Intel chips.
The motherboard in this build is the MSI B350 Bazooka which will give you the option to overclock later. I do not and will not recommend any board that does not allow overclocking these unlocked processors. This is a MicroATX board on the AM4 platform and the B350 chipset. There are 4 memory slots that support DDR4 RAM clocked from 1866MHz to 3200MHz and also supports overclocking of the RAM with a maximum of 64GB of DDR4 RAM. There are 4 SATAIII ports.
I will once again recommend the Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 8GB kit of RAM clocked at 2400MHz and recommend overclocking to 2666MHz.
Again, as above, I’d recommend an ADATA Premier Pro SP600 128GB SSD and a Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 7200 Mechanical HDD. The graphics card for this build at a budget level would be the EVGA GTX 1050ti 4GB SSC Gaming ACX card. It is a good bargain, especially if you can get one of EVGA’s B-Stock versions.
Housing this build is the Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 5 ATX Mid Tower case which has a single internal 2.5 inch bay and 2 internal 3.5 inch bays. The case supports ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX as well as graphics cards up to 15.75 inches in length.
Powering this build will be the EVGA 600BQ 600w 80+ Bronze certified semi-modular power supply. This provides plenty of power for the budget build as well as enough power for the future upgrades.
So, there you have them. These are what I would recommend with today’s market prices being where they are. However, you could replace some parts and spend a few less dollars and get a decent budget build for around $450-$500 with fairly quality parts.
Steve of Hardware Unboxed Reviews Coffee Lake
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.