Description

A middle of the road in terms of price, but I've managed to squeeze a lot of performance out of the parts.

8gb RAM would be more than sufficient for what I'm using this machine - I thought for the sake of future-proofing I'd get another stick for good measure.

I have noticed that Zotac's GTX 960, more specifically the AMP edition is the most under tested and under reviewed card I've found while researching. I have no idea why - this card is a performer all over. It comes with a backplate at no extra cost, it is one of the cheapest 960's out there and it has a boost clock of 1419Mhz after some tweaking in MSI afterburner.

I have yet to put it through it's paces but I've been non stop modding Skyrim (there goes my favourite benchmark again) since I got it and I have to say, it chews up and spits out all but the most demanding texture overhauls. It runs 8k, 4k, 2k textures in its stride at 60fps constantly and parallax is nothing; everything I throw at this card does not faze it.

I benchmarked the boost clock with Unigine's Heaven and it always averages 60fps or above at maxed out settings. Some of the more demanding scenes in Firestrike had it working hard but 3Dmark is always a brutal test.

It should be noted that I've never been famous for my skills in photography.

Part Reviews

CPU

Fantastic processor, overclocks high out of the box, actually had to tune it back a little because my single radiator water cooler couldn't keep the temperatures safe. Sitting happily at 4.3Ghz now and no problems. Do not underestimate the GPU on this card, it packs a serious punch, it can run Skyrim at low graphics at 60fps, which may not sound like much but it impressed me all things considered.

If you are on a budget and looking for power, the 4690K has you covered.

CPU Cooler

I bought this when E-Buyer had a clearance event on with 20% off so I grabbed it for just £32, plus delivery. I bought it as an older double radiator cooler wouldn't fit in my mid-tower and I have to say I have been impressed every step of the way. The mounting bracket I recieved is dual purpose AMD and Intel, full metal on the backplate and the waterblock mounts. Came with stock thermal paste however I cleaned that and applied my own.

Keeps my i5-4690K at 28-30C idle and 78-80C under load at 4.3Ghz with push-pull fans as intake, and that is with cheaper fans. When I upgrade I may be able to squeeze the CPU to 4.4Ghz. The cooling block also has a breathing LED Deepcool logo, which is a nice touch, and the water pipes are very flexible, but sturdy.

For the price, this cooler cannot be praised enough.

Motherboard

Nice looking board, I love the black and gold, although the IO is a little muddled. IO shield could have been a little easier to install but they are pretty notorious for being fiddly. Plenty of space for RAM, more than you would need for a budget build and the 1866Mhz is a nice speed to sit at. SATA III, USB 3.1, everything you would like from a board, at a modest price.

The only downside is that I would have liked at least 2-way SLI, but unfortunately there is only one 16x PCI slot.

Memory

Excellent RAM, fast enough for mid/high level gaming at 1866Mhz, looks nice in my case, looks subtle unlike some sticks, so it'll go with any design.

Storage

Lightning fast as you'd expect from an SSD, from power button to desktop is usually faster than my TV can switch on. Reduced Skyrim loading screens from 20 seconds or more to 2 or less. Fantastic little drive for keeping your OS and some of your more demanding games on.

Doesn't come with its own software, but for the price I won't be complaining.

Video Card

This is the most undersung card I've seen while researching which GTX 960 to buy. If you're looking for performance and affordability, I absolutely cannot recommend this card enough. I have yet to test any games from the last two years or so but I have fully modded Skyrim to complete 4k+ textures and parallax, and I have to say that this card just keeps going and going.

With Unigine Heaven and MSI Afterburner I got the GPU boost clock up to a respectable 1419Mhz (+100Mhz core , +50Mhz Memory and 108% voltage limit). 3Dmark's Firestrike did manage to put this card through its paces rather brutally, seeing some fps drops to 30 or less during the more demanding scenes, but that isn't anything surprising t from just a 960.

If you're building a mid/high end rig on a budget, this card should definitely be on your shopping list.

Case

I paid less than £40 for this case, which was an absolute steal considering the quality. The side window has full view of motherboard and components, which is good for your cosmetic builder, while thumbscrews keep the two side panels secure, which are easy enough to remove, the rear panel hiding a decent amount of cable storage space behind the cable grommets.

The case is a little too small for a top mounted double radiator cooler, unless you can find a VERY slim rad with just one set of fans (push-pull would definitely not fit). Also the maximum video card you'd fit in couldn't exceed 280mm before things start getting a bit cramped.

Top two fan bays have a stylish dust filter which clicks on and off with a push, a very nice touch. Front fan has a dust filter as well as two removable filters on the bottom for a PSU fan and additional 120mm case fan. This case will support 5 fans and has a molex fan controller built into the top near the standard USB ports, opposite the USB 3.1.

For the price, this case is matt black, heavy, with style and excellent cooling potential, compact enough for a desktop build with enough space for custom loop cooling and all your cables if management isn't on the top of your to do list.

Power Supply

Brilliant PSU, well built from Corsair with wired CPU and 24pin ATX. ATX cable is sleeved except for the last 2 inches or so, but some heatshrink or electrical tape can remedy that if you are concerned about seeing the unsheathed cable.

More than enough power for single GPU setups.

Case Fan

This fan is well built, high CFM and good static pressure. My only issue is that the LEDS are not particularly bright for what I'd expected, but they add a nice accent. Don't expect them to illuminate your case.

However as a fan, they keep my case very cool, usually around 20C.

Comments

  • 42 months ago
  • 3 points

Those HyperX Fury are performers in disguise. Although not needed, little or no gains for doing it, I had mine running at 2400Mhz, 1.65V, CL11 for several months without any issues before settling back to it default speeds.

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

i did read your review on that ssd, i was looking at the ssd myself and was wondering if it was worth it, also awesome build and 1+.

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice Build 1 thing U could have gone a wee bit less fancier , with those 4 fans, They dont really help in cooling for their price, A 12 £ fan for a dercrease of 2-3 degree celcius aint clever to me That could have gone to the video card and resulted in R9 380. Though u already built so , Good Luck, Enjoy

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

Awesome build! :)

My Birthday is coming up on Friday, June 3!

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

Happy early B-day!!

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I'm actually celebrating early on May 29.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Cool mine was last week!!

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

+1 One for making a legitimate budget build. It would be a little cheaper to buy a 2x8 GB memory set. Other than that I'm loving it!

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

I originally meant to only buy 2x4gb modules but when I ordered it I wasn't thinking and just grabbed one 8gb stick, so future proofing led me to buy another 8gb, which won't really be tested a huge deal by games for a few years at least.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build. I have to ask though, why that Corsair power supply? The Seasonic M12II Evo 520W and Cooler Master G550M are both better, (fully) modular, cheaper and have a higher wattage.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Tbh it's my first 'from scratch' build as it were, and I trust Corsair a great deal, especially when it comes to PSU. Next time I might go outside my comfort zone as it were.

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

That's fair enough. Quick tip: their lower end units (CX and CS) are somewhat lower tier, so most of the time it's better to look at other manufacturers like Seasonic and EVGA in that price range. Their HX and AX ranges however are very high tiered.