Hello again all you PCPartpickers!
Computer building, I think I can say, has become one of my all time favorite hobbies. I feel as though one’s personality comes through their machine that they create. There are so many parts, so many ways one can go, there are very few identical custom-built machines out there and that’s what makes them so special.
Unfortunately, it is also very expensive. I grew up not wealthy enough to explore high end machines. I spent most of my young gaming years playing top down strategy games and laggy low end titles on an HP Pavilion given to my family. Both me and my two brothers would take turns sharing it, all huddled around the screen, back-seat gaming for each other.
It was only into my teen years that I was able to buy for myself a modern console, and the PC gaming scene was lost to me. Fast forward a decade and I still didn’t know computers had specified gaming hardware until a few years ago when my younger brother built his first PC. I saw what he was doing and I had to do it I too.
Life story aside, I realize that computers are an expensive investment not everyone can pick up easily. For some, even the value of this machine - $430 - might as well be 4 million because their finances do not allow it. However, I do my best to build cost efficient, yet powerful machines that can handle the most game for the lowest price. The best way to do that in my opinion is to buy parts used. Risky, perhaps, but it might make a previously impossible to afford computer into one that’s within financial reach and it helps those looking to get rid of their old hardware for newer stuff.
I like to think I’m helping two groups of people by buying what they’re selling and recycling those parts into a solid PC for those who can’t afford the equivalent hardware at their new price.
It’s become a bit of a challenge for me to try to find the best performing hardware for the lowest price. I live in a place where deals on hardware are somewhat frequent, but one might have to wait a week before something REALLY good pops up on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist. Some parts I’m forced to buy new such as the CPU, power supply, and RAM.
I didn't get a whole lot of time to fiddle with the settings before the new owner received it, but from what I could tell, the GPU likes to run quite warm. The case is no doubt to blame. Even with re-circulating interior vents covered with custom drilled and tapped metal plates, the tiny front/side vents just aren't enough to get all that warm air out the front. Still, it achieved a respectable Firestrike score of 7800.
In the end, this turned out being the best looking build I've ever assembled. I'm incredibly happy with the final result. Looking through the Phanteks Shift builds on here I realized I was one of the only ones who decided to go with air cooling. Mostly out of economics, sure, but I find they really clean up the inside of this small form factor with their simplicity.
In my opinion, this is the CPU that changed the game recently. The higher end ones with tons of cores are cool, but to get 4 real cores for less than $100 was unheard of 3 years ago. It doesn't overclock extremely well, and doesn't have the instruction per clock speeds that some Intel processors do, but its a capable budget option for cheaper gaming computers.
Small motherboard that looks great with tons of features. RGB header if you're into that stuff, 2 fan headers, pump/fan header, M.2 slot in the back. Full 7.1 sound output. USB 3.1, Type-C. Looks great too! Can't comment to much on the overclocking abilities as I didn't utilize that feature, but it looks capable enough. Bios is easy enough to use and has easily navigatable features.
This was cheap RAM that was $67 delivered. So just by the price it deserves five stars for working at the advertised speeds and ratings. For me, RAM is either a dud or a win and for me, this RAM is winning. Computer booted up, recognized both stick perfectly.
What can you expect from a 5400RPM 2.5 inch drive? Not a whole lot! But this drive is like the trusty fast food joint that always gets your meal right. Sure it's not the finest, most luxurious drive in the world. But it's cheap and you can fill it up with a bunch of stuff.
Perhaps it's a bit unfair to be reviewing a card that is four years old. I could have taken the opportunity to replace the thermal paste but didn't think it was absolutely necessary. However I bought it for $90 bucks off a local ad and for that price, it deserves the recognition for a borderline VR ready card for less than $100.
It looks great! Could use a backplate, especially in my circumstances with the glass of the Shift facing the PCB.
Only complaint is that this card is power hungry, requiring 250W for performance just above that of a 1050Ti, yikes! With all that power comes heat that needs dissipating, but remember! It's a $90 card or less. For that price, the complaints seem much smaller. Just get the needed airflow over it and pay the extra buck or two a month. :)
Boy this case looks great. And for the size and awkwardness of it, it's not the hardest case I've ever built in. I managed to fit a non-modular SFX power supply in there and stow away all the cable in the back storage quite neatly. Mileage may vary depending on the system. But I was surprised on the cleanliness of the system. Let it be known though, that while it worked out well for me, I could see any other system with varied other parts running into issues with clearance, cables, etc. It's a bit of a toss up and probably best to do some research, lots of it, before purchase.
Now for the bad, there is not a whole lot of options for proper airflow in this thing. Air can really only be directed one way, and I wish there was a way to properly put a fan on the top cover to suck air out the top. Another inch wouldn't have looked terrible if we could screw a fan onto the top grill covering the I/O. It would've had made airflow 100% better.
I was really impressed with this thing. Not a whole lot of options in the SFX market, but this was the cheapest 450W option with all black cabling.
Now for the star subtraction. When installing, the grill covering the fan was bent incredibly easily. The metal covering the fan is soft so if one puts too much pressure on it when installing, or if cables are pressed against it when putting a cover back on, etc. Not unheard of in a tight SFX build, the grill can bend and hit the fan, causing noise, or stopping the fan altogether causing the power supply to overheat and fail.
Just be careful on install and if you do bend it a bit like I did, take a screw driver and re-bend the grate back out and spin the fan a bit to make sure it doesn't interfere with the blades.
Got these fans with the case when I bought it, super quiet.
EXPENSIVE. Would have never bought them standalone if they didn't come with the case.