MY $538 BUDGET HTPC/LIVING ROOM MACHINE

GOAL: To build a machine that can handle my living room gaming and media needs for as close to $500 as possible.  It should be able to go between my media archives and my Steam games fluently without error.  It would be nice to run the newer games at a “next-gen” level.

MY PART SELECTION
CASE:
COOLER MASTER ELITE 110 – $49.99 + $3.99 s/h
case

I went with the Elite 110 because of how small it is.  I wanted this machine to fit in with the other items in my living room such as my HDTV, PS3 and Nintendo Wii.  It would have it’s own shelf under my HDTV.  I also really wanted it to have a few front facing USB ports for my Xbox 360 controller and wireless multimedia keyboard, but these side USB ports should work just as well.  This case was the only item out of them all that cost me shipping and handling.  A whopping $3.99!

MOTHERBOARD:  ASROCK H61MV – $49.99
mobo
A small case requires a small motherboard.  This was my first time touching anything this small.  There isn’t a huge selection of Mini ITX board online, but the ASRock H61MV had the most reviews of them all on Newegg.  It lacked USB 3.0 and some other features, but it didn’t matter much to be since I wouldn’t be connecting any flash drives or external storage to it.

CPU: I3-3220 IVY BRIDGE – $114.99
cpu

I went against the grain in my budget build and got an Intel i3 CPU.  Most budget builds have some kind of AMD processor that is $50 less than the cheapest i3 (mine) and are still apparently great for gaming.  I didn’t even bother looking into AMD vs Intel for budget build gaming because I am brand loyal to Intel.  I decided to go with this specific i3, even though though there was a newer version…because it had 200+ positive reviews on Newegg.  I will buy a product that is a year old if it is tried and true with hundreds of backers over a new version that hasn’t been on the market for very long.  I don’t normally ever have problems with this buying method.

GPU: EVGA 750ti – $149.99
gpu
I went with the newly released 750ti because I knew it was a great bang for buck and the reviews were awesome.  I also liked that it didn’t require any power from the PSU.  This was a great thing since I knew the case was going to be cramped and having another active PSU cable would be a pain.  I reviewed the 750ti a whole lot before buying.  There is an AMD competitor for the same price that has a little bit more power and could get you a few extra frames – but it needs dedicated power from the PSU.  If I went with an AMD processor, I would have went with the AMD card.

RAM: G.SKILL SNIPER 8GB – $69.29
ram
Looking for RAM was pretty depressing.  I bought 32GB of G.Skill Ripjaw RAM under 2 years ago for $150.  At today’s rate, that would have cost me about $280.  Sucks, but that’s life.  I hunted and hunted until I found a promo code that knocked a few bucks off of the 8GB pack, so I hopped on it.

STORAGE: WESTERN DIGITAL BLUE 1TB – $59.99
hdd
I figured that if the current consoles have 500GB of storage, I should have double.  I wanted to keep a bunch of games installed while also having a ton of my favorite shows and movies.  After buying SSDs for the last 2 years, I have become spoiled.  I no longer enjoy hearing the hum of a drive.  This is the only thing inside of this build that can be heard.  Luckily, you can’t hear it from the couch!

PSU: CORSAIR CX500 – $49.99
psu
I spent the least amount of time researching the power supplies for this build.  I saw that this one came with a $20 Mail-In-Rebate so I jumped on the deal.  I didn’t really need a 500W PSU, but it came out to be $29.99 after that rebate came in.  If I was not on a budget, it would have been a much smarter choice to go with a modular PSU since I knew this box would be cramped.

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