So, here’s the original build:
Core i3–4130: I was looking for a relatively capable CPU, but one that I could eventually replace with the (considerably more expensive here) i5 or i7. This was some months before the overclockable G3258 hit the market, and I was able to get the i3 for some 20% off the regular price.
MSI Z87-G43: I was actually looking for a H87 motherboard (RAID + Intel Smart Response Technology), found the Z87 one at a discount that brought them to nearly the same level.
MSI Radeon HD 7770: Wasn’t the top of the line when I bought it two years ago, but it was the best I could fit in my initial budget and served me well enough until I upgraded
8 GB RAM: Not much, but it was becoming clear that 4 GB wouldn’t cut it. Found a 20% off deal on the 8 GB kit, and went with it.
2x 500 GB HDD: Had one already from my previous rig, bought a second pre-owned. I’ve got a bit of PTSD as far as hard drive failures are concerned, and have set them up together in RAID 1 for redundancy. The capacity isn’t the highest, but practically more than enough to have a bunch of games installed at once.
Bitfenix Comrade: I’ve been fussing over the cases for several weeks to decide what was the right choice for me. Went with this in the end: tool-less drive bays, some basic dust filters and acceptable cable management options for relatively cheap price. Turned out kind of cramped, though, and might be an issue with regards to aftermarket coolers (I’ve got a list of compatible ones, though)
Thermaltake Smart SE 530W: Not the best one, not the worst either. have gone over numerous reviews to make sure this thing wasn’t a time bomb. Inexpensive, modular… good enough to handle a few good upgrades to the system.
Here’s the upgrades I’ve made in the two years since:
Crucial MX100 128 GB: Finally, an SSD. Set up with the Intel Smart Response Technology, half of the SSD’s capacity serves solely as a massive cache for games installed on my hard drives.
MSI GTX 970 100Me: I had the budget to upgrade - I could either split it between CPU and GPU, getting mediocre ones in both cases, or go balls to the wall on one part. Went with the GPU, and this baby is the result.
At this point, I’m looking at the following future upgrades:
Better power supply: the Smart SE is, as noted, not of the highest quality.
Aftermarket cooler: Will need one whether I want it or not. The Core i3 can hit 70 degrees when hammered by the likes of Witcher 3.
Better CPU: Well, duh. The i3 is a bottleneck in some games, but it was never a true quad core CPU either. Most likely will try getting an i7–4770K, if my budget permits
Cosmetics: There are possibilities, and frankly the idea is rather tempting: windowed side panel, a pair of cold cathodes, neon wire on the front panel, this sort of thing.