New Gaming PC Build $1120 — Micro Center

New Gaming PC Build $1120

edited May 2 in PC Builds
I currently own a 2018 Blade 15 Base model with GTX 1060.  I took it in to Microcenter a couple days ago to be looked at.  The coil whine has been pretty bad and then the other day the fan got so loud, that it woke me out of my sleep.  They just called me and said that its overheating should be replaced. Microcenter no longer carries Razer computers so they are giving me a $1120 gift card.

 I recently purchased an 11-inch iPad Pro and I am able to use that for most things.  iPadOS has gotten pretty good and it covers a lot of what I need, other than of course gaming.  With the iPad helping as a small portable device, I’ve been considering building a desktop instead. My issue there is I live in a small 1BR apartment with my wife and dog.  Though we just hopefully be buying a house in the next year.  A friend suggested a smaller desktop? I saw a small Silverstone one. 

I’m thinking AMD would be better than Intel, but I’m having trouble completing the rest of my build.  Something small would be best but I want something that would last as well.  I also wasn’t sure if I needed a hard drive or if only a SSD would be better.  I already have a monitor, keyboard and mouse.  I’m a student so I can get my hands on Windows 10 Education.

Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks.


  • TSTonyVTSTonyV admin
    edited May 2
    Hello @Capcityff3531! Welcome to the Community. 

    First, I'm gonna do a shameless self-plug here and mention that I've been working on a multi-part guide to help people understand how to choose their parts, and I think it'd be worthwhile for you to read through what's been posted so far. 

    Personally, I'm partial to AMD because they offer a very strong overall value with their current lineup. I have Ryzen 7 3700X in my computer and it's been a great experience so far. 

    If you're looking for something small, you could look at doing a mini-ITX or mATX style build that would be a little smaller in form factor than your standard mid-tower case. Something like the Corsair Crystal 280X or the Lian Li 205M mATX would work for this purpose. Those two examples aren't the smallest cases you can buy, as there are some mATX and mini-ITX cases out there that are quite tiny, but personally I'd prefer something a little more "standard." These cases kind of fit in between a typical mid-size tower and a traditional small-form factor option. 

    SSDs are valuable because the provide fast boot times and load times for applications. "Only SSD" would technically be better, but they're still more expensive than regular hard drives. There's nothing wrong with running an extra hard drive if you need; it's not uncommon for people to run an SSD for their operating system, and then run a hard drive alongside it for storage. I came up with this for you:

    It's an AMD mATX build with that Lian Li case I mentioned. Comes out under $1000 before taxes, so depending on your preferences you have some room to switch some stuff around for upgrades, like a more powerful video card or a larger SSD instead of the secondary hard drive or upgrading the CPU and motherboard for a 3700X instead of a 3600X
  • TSTony's build at the bottom is a very good build, I actually have close to the same components in the build, except I'm using a 5700XT instead of a 2060. If you don't mind spending a little bit more money and lose the chance of doing current-day ray tracing, I'd recommend the 5700XT, it works really well with the 3600X CPU and you'll practically be able to run whatever game you want for the next 5-10 years (at least).
  • edited May 5
    Thank you guys for the comments. It definitely helped a lot and that build looks great. 

    With AMD, would a Ryzen 7 be recommended over the 5?  My Razer Blade had an i7.  From what I’ve been reading, it seems like the 5 might be enough, as long as the graphics card is up to par?  I’d definitely like to future proof this as much as possible without going over budget.  One thing that appeals to me with going the desktop route, over another laptop, is that all of this is able to be upgraded in the flute.

    Would a 2060 Super be better than the 2060 in that build for different price?  I’ve kind of getting the hang of some of the numbers, but had no idea that there were so many different types of 2060s.  I thought it was all just NVidia. 

    Also with that build, would a cooling kit be needed?  Or is the included fan with the Ryzen 5 good enough?

    Last, I went to MicroCenter today.  I really liked the Lian Li Tu150.  It is a little smaller though and not showing as an option with your suggested build.  I’m guessing one of those parts is too big.  I like the handle and the portability but I’m wondering if maybe its too small.
  • TSTonyVTSTonyV admin
    edited May 5
    Definitely sympathize with you on the GPU stuff. Nvidia really saturated their product lineup and it's hard to make sense of it at times. 

    The 2060 Super is better than the 2060. I did a pretty extensive guide on choosing a video card, and I think it'd be worthwhile to read through it. Any of the "Super" variants are higher powered versions of the original version of the card. A 2060 Super is closer to the original 2070 in performance than the original 2060. 

    I would supplement the information in that video by looking up benchmarks for different video cards online so you can see performance differences directly compared on different games. Gamers Nexus is a great website/Youtube channel for those sorts of things, among others. 

    For modern gaming the Ryzen 5 3600/X and Ryzen 7 3700X will be very close, and the 3600 is certainly enough for modern gaming. Gaming is more GPU bound than CPU bound these days unless you're pushing really, really high refresh rates. A 3600 will pair well with any GPU. 

    The main advantage of the 3700X comes with the two extra cores which means better longevity and advantages in use cases that can take full advantage of all 8 cores/16 threads, which most games currently cannot do. That will change as time goes on though, so if you want "future proofing," the 3700X would be the way to go. 

    The Lian Li TU150 is an ITX case so you'll have to choose an ITX board. This link will list the mini-ITX AMD boards we carry:

    Any of the B450 or X570 ITX boards should pair well with a 3600. 
  • edited May 5
    Thanks.  Do you have any experience with that case?  I like that its a big smaller and with the handle, it seems easy to move if I want to use the tv or something else to game. I used some of what you had in the previous build and switched things to work with that case.  I also grabbed the 2060 Super.  Though I’m still confused on which 2060 is best for my build.  And is there a difference in performance between EVGA and Gigabyte?  Some of the non Supers are the same price which has me confused.

     How does this look?
    I picked up my gift card today and its $1187.  So this puts me just below it before taxes.  

    If I got all of that to build it, how simple would the build be?  Ive watched some videos and it doesn’t seem that bad.  Would I need anything else for it?

    Also I saw a prebuilt computer on sale when I was there.  The Acer Nitro 50 is on sale.  Seemed to have decent specs and was pretty small. How would it compare to the build I have above?

    Thanks again.
  • TSTonyVTSTonyV admin
    edited May 5
    The build looks solid overall, however the power supply you selected will not fit in that Lian Li case. You need an SFX form factor PSU for the TU150. I'd personally recommend switching to this EVGA Supernova, there are other good SFX power supplies depending on availability at your local store. 

    For a small build, ideally you want a smaller card. The Zotac 2060 Super Mini would be a good option, or the MSI RTX 2060 Super Ventus.

    Here's the deal about graphics cards: more expensive doesn't mean you're getting that much more performance. The cheapest 2060 Super is going to perform maybe a few percent slower than the most expensive 2060 Super. At they're core they're still the same graphics card. What you're really paying for is better cooling, quieter operation and/or aesthetics and very minor performance bumps with factory overclocked cards.

    I never recommend going for the top-price GPUs of a given model because they usually overlap on price with the starting price of the next tier of GPU. At $400, there is absolutely no reason to get a normal 2060. Even the beefiest, most expensive 2060 will be outdone by a 2060 Super. It's just how the specs play out. 

    The i7-9700 in that Acer Nitro would be a little better than the 3600 for your CPU, but it comes with a normal 2060 instead and if you go with 2060 Super in the custom build, it would make up the difference. The main advantage the Nitro has is that it comes with Windows, so that's an extra $140 to consider for the custom build. 
  • The Fairfax, VA store doesn’t seem to have any mini 2060s.  Would the normal size still fit?  It’s showing it’s compatible on the system builder.  The other issue is the PSU.  None listed at the Fairfax store for SFX.  It shows the others fit though.
  • I made a few more changes.  I found a motherboard that seems to fit.  I just have to go to a different MicroCenter.  It was difficult finding one with everything in stock.  I got rid of the HDD and made the 512GB SSD 1TB.  My biggest decision right now is the 2060 Super or the 2070 Super.  Then the Silver or Black case.
  • Hi, I'd just like to add the suggestion to consider the Thermaltake Core V21 mATX case (if in stock). 
    Of my many PC builds over the last 25 or so years, this is perhaps my favorite case - and absolute favorite for mATX builds. I also have its' big brother, the Core X5, which is a beast, but huge and quite frankly only really needed for multiple H20 radiators. The V21 is a solid, well made frame and parts case, with plenty of fan options and room for full size GPU'S (one build running a Gigabyte GTX 1070ti Windforce Triple fan with room to spare). Keeps all internals cool, and front pre-installed fan is dead silent. Room for H20 cooling too if needed/desired. I've gotten rid of all my personal tower type cases and switched to cube type cases. (Just my opinion and preference based on my experience, so not trying to flame others). Sometimes they go on sale for under $50, which is a steal. I've bought extra cases and swap parts for fun and experimenting/testing.
    The factors that make it a pleasure to work on are:
    • Horizontal motherboard layout - simply open the top panel and swap out GPU, RAM, even the MOBO. Plus, no GPU "SAGGING" like on vertical case layouts. I've  dropped in and tested a AMD 5700XT and GTX 1080ti and both ran fine without any physical issues. (FYI, not impressed by the AMD card though.)
    • Split Level - with power supply and drives on the bottom it makes wiring simple and tidy. Also separates heat to respective levels.
    • Interchangeable Top/L+R Side panels - since all three sides are the same you can orientate the airflow and window as needed.
    • Fan layout options - front, top, Left, Right, back and bottom.
    • DUST FILTERS - are amazing and a must IMO.
    • Lightweight - Easy to lift and move around when needed, yet not flimsy.
    • Front panel can be rotated - allowing you to put the Power/USB/Audio ports on top for easy access when in floor use, or side for desk usage.

  • TSIanLTSIanL admin
    Everything there looks good. The video card would fit into the case as that specific case is listed at a Max Video Card Length
    12.60 in, and the video card you have selected is 10.44 in.
  • TSTonyVTSTonyV admin
    I made a few more changes.  I found a motherboard that seems to fit.  I just have to go to a different MicroCenter.  It was difficult finding one with everything in stock.  I got rid of the HDD and made the 512GB SSD 1TB.  My biggest decision right now is the 2060 Super or the 2070 Super.  Then the Silver or Black case.
    Overall your build looks good, but I can say with certainly that you need to use an SFX form factor PSU with that case. Lian Li only lists compatibility for SFX power supplies on their website for it. 

    The 2060 Super and 2070 Super are both great cards and I think you'd be very happy either way. If you have the budget for it, I would go with the 2070 Super. 
  • I found a location with an SFX PSU. It’s: 

    However after changing that, I no longer see the 2070 Super or anything higher. I’m not sure why. 

    I do see a 2070 mini though which seems pretty decent. 
  • TSTonyVTSTonyV admin
    The 2070 Super typically recommends a 600-650W Power Supply, so the 550W PSU is probably getting left out on the compatibility filter.

    That card you linked is a regular RTX 2070, which is about the same performance as a 2060 Super. 
  • Great thanks. Appreciate all of the help. The Thermaltake case that Notabot recommended was one I’ve looked at in the past. So now I’m considering that one as well. 
  • TSTonyVTSTonyV admin
    I think you'll end up with a great setup no matter which you choose. Make sure to post pictures once you've got it all assembled!
  • I think I got everything right because it boots up and I can get to the BIOS screen.  I'm using a ROG STRIX B450-I motherboard.  The only thing I do not see in there is my SSD.  I'm not sure if I'm just missing it or if I installed it wrong.  Its a NVME M.2 SSD.  I thought being an M.2 installed directly into the motherboard, I dont need any cables going anywhere for it.

    I am using Windows 10 Education since I'm a student.  I downloaded the ISO and I tried installing it on multiple flash drives and a portable SSD.  When I start BIOS, I select that drive to be the boot drive.  Every time I start the PC it sends messages saying to reboot and select proper boot device.  I've tried everything I can think of at this point.

    I am replacing a broken laptop and only have a Mac to download Windows.   So maybe downloading it on the Mac created an issue as well.

    Any help would be appreciated.
  • TSMikeWTSMikeW admin
    We'll need some information on how the drive was made bootable. The issue you're going to run into here is whether it's UEFI or legacy bootable, and how you made it bootable. With the latter, it's a question of whether it's bootable at all. So you copied the contents of the ISO file to a flash drive. What format was the flash drive in? Did you use any third party tools to make the drive bootable?

    If you have a Education key you can create media from this site:

    It'll format the flash drive and do all the work for you.
  • I ended up using a Windows PC at work and formatted the drive without issue.  It must have been due to the Mac.  I spent an entire day trying to figure that out with no luck.  I read that using a Mac can be difficult when making your Windows drive.

    Everything works perfectly now though!  Thank you everyone for the help.  When I bought the PC, I made a few last minute changes after talking to an employee at MicroCenter.  I got rid of the 2TB HDD and upgraded my 512GB SSD to 1TB.  They had a 1TB WD drive on sale for $130.  I figured I'd prefer less noise and the fast speed.  I already filled half of it up but I think it should stay steady for a bit.  Worst case, I can always add a drive later on.  There's still plenty of room in the case.  I also changed my RAM to his recommendation.

    The system runs great.  The total was $1226 which only cost me $40 after using my warranty gift card.  The only thing I seem to have completely missed were fans.  I just bought a cheap 2 pack for $12 from Amazon.  I wasn't sure how many I should have so I figured I could reevaluate after installing those.

    Final build was:
    G.SKILL 16GB ZX8 D4 3600 RIPJAWS

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