Charles' Feedback:

 This is basically [TBG's] budget gaming PC build with a couple of small changes/upsells: 600W PSU in case I want to add a 2nd graphics card someday. 8GB of RAM, to give me some headroom for other apps running at the same time as the games. 250GB SSD - it's like flipping on a light switch, amazing. I figure I'll get the 1 TB HDD drive later when I need it/see it on sale. Corsair Carbide - I got it the day you posted it while it was still cheap, and upgraded to the silent version which is, indeed extremely quiet (the NZXT Source 210 and the Antec One were also in the running).

Basically, with the gaming console due for an upgrade I decided to go back to PC gaming instead. So this box resides in my living room where I use it as a game console and jukebox. I wouldn't mind picking up a Blu-ray player as well to remove one more component from my shelf.

This was my first build by the way. Online resources like [TBG] were key!

The Build

Built: April 2015

As charles mentioned, this build was based off of our $750 Budget Gaming PC Build, as of March 2015, but with a number of optional upgrades, meaning it ended up looking quite a bit like our $1,000 Gaming/Productivity Build. We're always happy to hear when first-time builders have been inspired to take the plunge with the help of our guides, and Charles checked in with us ahead of time to make sure his combination of parts would work well together. Remember, we're always here to help any way we can, so post in the forum if you need additional help beyond what our guides can provide.

Component List:

  1. CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 3.3GHz Quad-Core
  2. Motherboard: MSI H97 PC Mate
  3. Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 2x4GB DDR3-1600
  4. SSD: Crucial BX100 250GB
  5. Hard Drive: None (may add a Western Digital Blue 1TB later)
  6. Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R9 280 3GB
  7. Case: Corsair Carbide 100R Silent Edition
  8. Power Supply: EVGA 600B
  9. Optical Drive: Samsung 24x DVD Burner
  10. Operating System: Windows 8.1 64-bit 

So we know this system looks sleek on the outside, thanks to the brand-new Corsair 100R case, and it's also very quiet, due to the 100R's solid front panel, built-in 3-speed fan controller, and sound-absorbing padding. But how does it look on the inside? Well, let's take a look:

The Inside Shot

Folks, this is how it's done. Keep in mind that the EVGA 600B power supply that Charles used here is powerful, but it's not modular, meaning it comes equipped with a lot of non-removable cables. Despite that fact, this system is as neat as can be, with excellent use of the case's ample cable cutouts, along with some very smart cable routing. For a first build, this is truly an excellent showing.

Now, let's dive deeper into what makes this system such an all-around winner. First, Charles made the decision to pass on a large capacity hard drive to score a smaller but much faster solid-state drive. We all know that games can fill up an SSD a lot faster than an equally-priced hard drive, but there really is no comparison when it comes to performance - SSDs feel infinitely faster. So if you can manage your data well, it always makes sense to use an SSD instead. Maybe some of those old Steam games don't really need to be hanging around anymore, right?

Next, Charles picked up a dual-channel 8GB RAM kit rather than sticking with a single 4GB stick. This will provide a small speed boost in CPU-intensive applications (on the order of 2-3%), but more importantly, provides some breathing room for multi-tasking and app-switching.

Finally, we get to the guts of the gaming system - the Intel Core i5-4590 quad-core processor and the Sapphire R9 280 3GB video card. The i5-4590 isn't overclockable, but trust us here - it is so fast out of the box that this system will never be limited by it. We've done plenty of CPU benchmarking in our Gamer's Guide section, and what we've found is that Intel's current CPUs are so good that you can set 'em and forget 'em. And as for the R9 280 - this is a card that will go down in history as one of the most popular and versatile GPUs ever released. It has plenty of headroom for overclocking (and in the case of GPUs, this really does make a difference), and its 3GB of video RAM makes it viable all the way up to extreme resolutions like 2560 x 1440. It will of course handle 1080p with no problem - in fact, it's over twice as powerful as the GPUs in the Xbox One and PS4, meaning you really can get console-beating performance without spending a lot of money on your PC. And that's exactly what Charles has accomplished here.