Our Mission and Part Selection
About a month ago we were tasked with one goal; build a gaming system for $700. With the advent of new technology, older technology is typically discounted. Since Intel's last three generations are all based on the same foundational microarchitecture, it's now possible to build a great system around the first or second generation of the Skylake microarchitecture, which is one of the best for gaming. Supermicro's SuperO division is sponsoring this guide and the build, and as such we are going to use one of their motherboards, the C7B250-CB-ML. We found that the Core i5-7400 offers solid price to performance ratio for gaming scenarios. You get four real cores, which many games are optimized for, and a 3.5GHz Turbo Boost.
We wanted to use an SSD, which limited our budget a bit because the cheapest reasonable SSD was $85, so you could always get a 1TB HDD for around $50 instead, but we like the speed of an SSD. Not only are NAND prices high, but DRAM prices are high as well, the cheapest reasonable kit we found was a Ballistix Sport LT 2400MHz 8GB kit for $92. We made sure to get a kit with two sticks for dual channel instead of one 8GB stick, which would limit you to single channel memory. The EVGA 500W PSU we purchased had good ratings and fit our price range. The GPU is very important for gaming; we chose the Zotac GTX 1050 Ti, which should provide us with decent 1080P gaming performance. The Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 3.1 looked great and came at a reasonable price point.
The motherboard is the backbone of every system, and as such, this guide will go over the motherboard, how to install components, and best practices. The good news is that the i5-7400, C7B250-CB-ML, and Ballistix Sport RAM work well together. CPU, motherboard, and memory compatibility are very important, as they are the root of many issues. Not all LGA1151 motherboards are the same; be sure to only use 6th or 7th generation CPUs with a 200-series chipset motherboard. In this case, we went as low we could while maintaining decent performance on multiple parts, so the GPU was one of the last choices in our build since we wanted more than 4GB of RAM and more than 128GB of SSD storage. The rest of our components are what we would consider minimal, but if you want to make your build an $800 build, you can get a much more powerful GPU.
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