(Guide) Budget and small systems guide - Mid 2016 (part 2)


~680 SGD

Cheapest custom built gaming system (System cost: 680 SGD or 879 SGD with monitor)

 

source: www.coolermaster.com

 

At 680SGD, we can still opt for an NUC-like devices with higher performance than the Brix. However, I would strongly recommend to go for a custom built system and the reasons for that are:

  • Offer a lot more flexibility in term of component choices. Different component can be tailored based on user's needs.
  • Offer more upgradability. If you need more processing power as well as graphic power, you can do that quite easily.
  • More connectivity.

System breakdown:

 
Component
Remarks
Cost
Source
Simlim’s pricing
CPU + mobo
i3-6100 3.7GHz 2 cores 4
threads + Asus H170i-Plus w Wifi
365 SGD
Simlim
365 SGD
RAM
8GB DDR3L Crucial Ballistix
Tactical LP 1600MHz Single
37 USD / 53 SGD
Amazon
69 SGD
SSD
120GB SanDisk SSD Plus
40 USD / 57 SGD
Amazon
65 SGD
Case
Cooler Master Elite 110
69 SGD
Simlim
69 SGD
Power Supply
520W Seasonic M12-II
Modular 80+
99 SGD
Simlim
99 SGD
OS
Windows 10 Home Premium
37 SGD
Kinguin
158 SGD
TOTAL
Without monitor and
peripherals
680 SGD

825 SGD
 

Reasons behind component selection:

Case: Cooler Master Elite 110

As seen in the image above, this chassis is actually quite small compared to the usual 'CPU' that you usually see. Moreover, though small and compact, this case can accommodate some serious level of hardware: there is no problem putting an high end gaming system in this casing without much worries about heating and thermal throttling.
 

Asus H170i-Plus and Intel Core i3-6100

 
source: www.asus.com

source: www.asus.com

Compared with the Intel Core i3-6100U in the Brix, the Intel Core i3-6100 is:

  • 64% faster in term of compute performance.
  • Equipped with Intel HD Graphics 530 which is 30% faster in term of graphic performance.

Combine with the Asus H170i-Plus which have:

  • Wireless-AC connectivity and Bluetooth 4.2.
  • 1 M.2 slot for high speed storage.
  • 5x protection increases system stability and reliability.
  • Excellent fan control in Bios.
  • 6 USB 3.0 ports on the motherboard (with another 2 USB 3.0 on the casing).
  • 1 DVI, VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort each.

This combination give average user a very well rounded system in term of performance, connectivity and reliability. With Wifi capability, you are not constraint to where you can put your desktop. Furthermore, the ability to stop the fan from spinning when the system idle helps a lot with issues like dust build up as well as noise level.
 

8GB of RAM

 

8GB of RAM is actually more than enough for casual gaming. I decided to go for just one single RAM stick instead of two to give user option to increase RAM capacity to 16GB in the future.
 

Power Supply

Why should I pay for a PSU? Why is the PSU so expensive?

source: tweakers.net

PSU is what supply the power needed for all the component inside a system. It converts 230V AC to whatever the DC needed inside the computer. Once a power supply go bad, it can result in instability (which is very hard to diagnose) or straight out disaster, in which any of the component inside your PC can be fried and damaged.

Therefore, I always choose a good power supply to go with the system. The Seasonic M12-II 520W PSU comes with 5 year of warranty, it's 520W power output is more than enough for even the most demanding system that we can assemble. Furthermore, the PSU is also fully modular, which means that we can remove any unused cables that come from the PSU. This allow better airflow, better cable management inside such a small system. Last but not least, Seasonic is very well known for the quality of their PSU.
 

SSD and OS

The choice of SSD and OS for this system is the same with the cheapest NUC. Refer to the 300SGD Intel Celeron NUC in part 1 for the explanation.


What is it good for?

Beside being able to handle all the standard computing/multitasking that an average user can do on the system, this system can run less demanding game without much problems as well. For example, Dota 2 can be ran at 1920x1080 resolution with all graphical settings turn off except for 'Game Screen Render Quality' set at 100%. When this preset is at 100%, the game is rendered at native resolution while running at a comfortable 40+fps which is very playable. The same can also be applied when running LoL.

In my experience,  this system is perfect for anyone who only play casual game such as Dota2 and LoL. If user want to play more demanding games, we only need to buy a discreet graphic card and that's how we get the next system.


~880 SGD

Entry-level gaming system (System cost: 880 SGD or 1079 SGD with monitor)

source: techreport.com

source: techreport.com

This system configuration is exactly the same with the previous 680SGD custom built system except for the new discreet graphic card from EVGA. You may not have heard of EVGA before, but they are a well known brand for quality as well as customer services in the US.

 

System breakdown:

Component
Remarks
Cost
Source
Simlim’s pricing
CPU + mobo
i3-6100 3.7GHz 2 cores 4
threads + Asus H170i-Plus with Wifi
365 SGD
Simlim
365 SGD
Graphic card EVGA Geforce GTX 950 2GB 140 USD / 200 SGD Amazon 265 SGD
RAM
8GB DDR3 Corsair Vengeance
LP 1600MHz C9
37 USD / 53 SGD
Amazon
69 SGD
SSD
120GB SanDisk SSD Plus
40 USD / 57 SGD
Amazon
65 SGD
Case
Cooler Master Elite 110
69 SGD
Simlim
69 SGD
Power Supply
520W Seasonic M12-II
Modular 80+
99 SGD
Simlim
99 SGD
OS
Windows 10 Home Premium
37 SGD
Kinguin
158 SGD
TOTAL
Without monitor and
peripherals
880 SGD

1090 SGD

Reasons behind component selection:

EVGA Geforce 950

The Geforce GTX 950 is more than 6x faster than the onboard Intel HD Graphics 530 in term of graphic performance. Moreover, it's a shorter card which means that it can fit inside our small system without much problem.

The GTX 950 is also a very power efficient card. Therefore, the card won't affect the thermal performance of the system that much at all.


What is it good for?

source: www.geforce.com

According to www.geforce.com as well as other reviews across the internet, the GTX 950 can handle pretty much every current 2016 games with medium to high graphic preset while keeping the frame rate to be above 30fps running at 1920x1080 resolution. Therefore, this 880 SGD system is perfect for those who want to play more demanding games while keeping budget relatively low.


Monitor 199 SGD

Dell S2316H 23 inches full HD IPS monitor

source: www.144hzmonitors.com

The Dell S2316H is a gorgeous monitor that bring accurate color rendition, sleek design with thin bezel, built-in speakers and touch control while maintaining a very friendly asking price of 199SGD.

Reasons behind the selection:

  • IPS panel: This monitor is able to cover 97% of sRGB color space (measured with a Spyder5 monitor calibrator). While it's not able to cover the whole 100%, 97% percent is considered very good for a budget monitor. In comparison, general budget laptop monitor only cover 60-80% of sRGB (that explains why laptop monitor doesn't look vibrant most of the time).
    Moreover, IPS panel does have a much higher viewing angle. As such, you won't be able to perceive any color shifting when looking at the monitor from the sides, or from the top.
  • At full HD resolution (1920x1080) and 23 inches diagonal, the monitor provide crisp image and allow user to enjoy full HD movies/content at native resolution. Moreover, 23 inches is a 'just nice' size for a monitor. It's not too big that will cause discomfort sitting too close to the monitor, it's also not too small to render word and text unreadable.
  • The design of the monitor is elegant and simplistic. The monitor bezel is one of the smallest in this price point (less than 7mm). Two S2316H can be put side by side without creating much discomfort that caused by the bezels of the 2 monitors.
  • The monitor also has 2 built-in speakers that's sufficient for basic entertainment. If you are tight on budget and cannot afford a separate set of speakers, you can connect this monitor to your machine using HDMI cable and the sound will be automatically directed to the speakers on the monitor.
  • There are no physical button on the monitor to control it's brightness and contrast and other settings. All buttons are touch enabled.

Note: So far, you can only get this monitor at 199SGD at Cybermind Computer, Simlim Square level 4.


 

Disclosure: The content in this blog come from author's personal experience working with PC component and does not serve as any promotion to any of the company with name mentioned.
At the time of publishing this blog, the author is an employee of Micron Technology working as SSD Validation Engineer.