After a decade of buying pre-built laptops and computers from Dell, I grew tired of paying premium prices for computers that couldn't push all my favorite games to their full potential. I decided in November that I would learn to build my own gaming PC myself even if that included spending extra time researching on how to properly build and troubleshoot all possible hardware and software complications that I knew would probably arise due to my lack of experience. Thankfully I found The Tech Buyer's Guru's $1,500 High-End Gaming PC Build which made it straightforward and simple to buy all the parts I would need for amazing performance while gaming at 1080p.
Built: December 2015
As shown above, Allan came to TBG wondering if he could build a gaming PC that could out-run a standard off-the-shelf gaming PC. Turns out that's not such a hard thing to do! Allan already had a number of great components from a previous PC, and he realized he could re-use many of them to create the ultimate dual-card AMD Radeon Crossfire system without spending a ton of money. As he notes, he based his build on the $1,500 High-End Gaming PC Build, as of November 2015, but with TBG's help was able to incorporate parts he already had to end up with an even more powerful system. Below you can see Allan's complete parts list. As Allan hails from Toronto, we've included links to the products in both the U.S. and Canada when available.
- Processor: Intel Core i7-4790K (Canada)
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming 5 (Canada)
- Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R9 390x Tri-X OC (Canada)
- Video Card 2: Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X OC from previous PC (Canada)
- Memory: Patriot 8GB (2x4GB) Viper III DDR3 2133 Low Profile Red Heatsink (Canada)
- Solid-State Drive: Crucial MX100 512GB from previous PC (Canada)
- Hard Drive: Western Digital WD5000AAKX from previous PC (Canada)
- Case: Rosewill Blackhawk (Canada)
- Power Supply: EVGA Supernova G2 850W (Canada)
- CPU Cooler: Thermalright True Spirit 140 BW Rev. A
- Operating System: Windows 10 Professional (Canada)
- Monitor: Dell ST2320L 23" LED from previous PC
Allan actually started this system out with less lofty intentions. He didn't realize he could combine his existing Radeon R9 290 with a newer 390-based model, so he left the 290 out of the system when he purchased and installed the R9 390X. Well, the great thing about AMD's Radeon line is that it's extremely flexible in terms of the dual-card configurations it allows. Alas, Allan had purchased an EVGA Supernova G2 650W power supply for his new system, and while it was an excellent unit, it wasn't quite up to the task of powering two hot-running Radeons. So he exchanged it for the 850W version, and everything was smooth sailing from there.
Well, almost everything....
First Allan had to figure out how to handle the bulky cabling required to run a system like this. He passed along a humorous photo to show what things looked like before he got his build under control. Working on cable management can seem like a chore when you're itching to press the power button and just start having fun, but it pays off in the long run. It will increase airflow, reduce noise and temperatures, and also reduce the collection of dust. Plus once you have your cables under control, you can proudly show off your system! Note that he also had his CPU fan oriented in a sub-optimal fashion upon initial installation (you always want your CPU cooler fan blowing front front to back), so he had more than one reason to crack the case open to rework his system.
And rework it he did, ending up with the beauty you can admire below. Everything is in its place, and the case is packed full of nothing but power, ready to take on any gaming challenge.
He ran his R9 290 Tri-X at 1100 core, 5600 memory, and his R9 390X at 1100 core, 6000 memory. In case there's anybody out there wondering if this mixed Crossfire system, which we affectionately refer to as a "Frankenfire" system, can actually put out the frames, check out this monstrous 3DMark Fire Strike score:
For comparison, here's one of TBG's nearly identical systems, running a Core i7-4770K at 4.4GHz and a single Radeon R9 290 Tri-X at 1000 core, 5800 memory:
Yup, Allan has properly dusted us! Indeed, he's achieved over double the Graphics Score, showing that this unmatched pair of cards is running just fine. By the way, Allan passed along the following feedback about his experience using the system:
Almost two months later my new High-End Gaming Desktop has been working perfectly pushing every video game I've played to the limit with no drops in FPS in full 1080p. My next build will definitely be guided by Tech Buyer's Guru!
In the end, it seems Allan more than achieved his goals, and his system is a very fine example of the benefits of learning to build your own PC. You can mix and match components, combine old and new, and end up with something much more powerful than anything you'd find on store shelves, for a whole lot less money!