Description

Last year I was at a job that had a storage room with around ten (give or take) Dell Optiplex boxes doing nothing. I asked the general manager about them and he said I could take what I wanted. I took five of them without inspection and wound up with four LGA 1155 I5 builds. I figured I'd create a couch gaming system on the cheap and this is what I came up with.

I've never transferred guts from an OEM build to an aftermarket case so this was a great learning experience regarding the OEM motherboard. This Dell board actually does support crossfire! I tested it outside of the case and Heaven benchmark on Ultra at 1080P was achieving around 170 FPS on average with crossfire R9 380 4GB cards at stock speeds. The big things to note about the motherboard is multiple connectors that will not be used once the board is moved to an aftermarket case. What this means is every time you turn on the PC an error/warning screen populates before heading into your OS of choice. There are some ways out there to prevent this, but I've opted for hitting F1 and moving forward. The SATA ports are in a somewhat bad spot as a large GPU cooler can block them or the card can't be installed due to protruding SATA cables. This board does have a front panel USB 3.0 header. Unfortunately when trying to disconnect after testing outside of the case the plastic connector from the board stayed attached to the case connector. In the end it didn't matter anyways because if it was connected the GPU wouldn't fit. I opted for a 3.0 to 2.0 connector and the connectors work fine.

About the video cards. I purchased both of these cards from Ebay for a good price. The price was right and the seller was basically unloading their mining operation. Since the cards were listed as working I figured worse case scenario is if I had issued I'd return them ASAP. The day I received them I tested them in my main build and sure enough artifacts galore once anything with stress was applied. I contacted the seller for a return and to my surprise he refunded me minus shipping and said not to worry about returning the cards. So now I have two cards that can either be paper weights or I can try to fix them. For one, all it took was some new thermal paste. I tested Heaven a few hours later and at first it still had artifacts occasionally. So I let the PC run for two full days before testing again and then ran Heaven for a full 24 hours. No crash and after watching the benchmark it was devoid of artifacts. The second card wasn't so lucky. The Asus cooler had been overworked to the point of failure and one fan was a wobbly mess which made temps terrible. After replacing TIM I noticed that as soon as the card was crossing over 75c or so it was crashing or having crazy artifacts. Since it was just collecting dust I decided to slap the NZXT Kraken G10 on it with the Corsair H55 I had laying around. The card now has not crossed 50c and so far has been stable. Unfortunately the case I chose is not big enough for two of these cards so now I have one without a purpose, yet.

1080P BENCHMARKS

Heaven Benchmark

Maxed out all settings - min: 10 | avg: 47 | high: 81

Sleeping Dogs

Older title but extremely fun and worth checking out if you haven't played it. Dropping some settings gave huge gains in FPS.

Extreme Preset - min: 33 | avg: 48 | high: 59

Lowered AA, shadows, motion blur off - min: 67 | avg: 94 | high: 115

Tomb Raider (2013)

Ultimate Preset - min: 45 | avg: 62 | high: 84

Thief

Very High (highest preset) - min: 34 | avg: 55 | high: 80

Grand Theft Auto V

Since the in game benchmark does not have final min/avg/max numbers I tested using lowered AA and shadows but kept textures maxed. Advanced Graphics Settings was not touched. The benchmark never went below the low 50's and stayed in the mid to high 60's while reaching the low 90's at some points.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

After testing Ultra preset (motion blur and lens flare off) it would take multiple settings turned down to see any real gains. To achieve 50+ FPS at 1080P we're looking at textures at high with others turned down. Still, very playable on an older card.

Ultra (motion blur and lens flare off) - min: 27 | avg: 34 | high: 44

Far Cry 5

This title and it's cousin FC: New Dawn share funky results with the in game benchmark. Even high end hardware can at times show disappointing results. Lowering settings showed minimal gains. Textures would need to be lowered with AA and shadows off if we're aiming for 60 FPS.

Ultra - min: 39 | avg: 44 | high: 55

Ghost Recon Wildlands

A title I need to play a lot more of. It's a beautiful game and will put your hardware to the test. This title has a ton of graphical settings that can be tweaked to help reach peak FPS.

Ultra - min: 20 | avg: 24 | high: 29

Very High - min: 34 | avg: 40 | high: 46

Part Reviews

CPU

At the price of free in 2020 it's hard to give anything but 5 stars. However, these processors can be found in workstations sold for cheap or just cheaper in general on Ebay. The issue will be finding a motherboard. Since it's not a K chip there is no worry about finding a Z board.

CPU Cooler

At $9 it is a decent upgrade to an overworked stock cooler. I bought two and the other one had a slight buzz noise to it. Nothing too annoying but at $9 it's nothing to be too concerned with. Three pin connector.

Memory

CAS 9 1333 speed. I wanted to use a CAS 9 1866 speed kit, but Dell boards only allow up to 1600 speed and from what I experienced you cannot tweak ram speeds. Simple ram for a cheap price in today's ram economy. It gets the job done.

Storage

Same as the Seagate drive. Excellent value and excellent drive. Very happy with it.

Storage

Bought second hand for a build that fell thru. Price was right at the time and it's your standard 1TB 7200 rpm drive.

Storage

Purchased from Amazon Warehouse Deals during one of their numerous "take an extra 20% off" promotions. Drive had zero hours logged on it and looked as if it was only repackaged. Would buy again.

Video Card

In 2020 this video card is showing it's age, but it is still capable. I wish I could have done crossfire like I wanted to, but this is still capable at 1080P.

Case

Purchased during Black Friday week sales. I've used Antec cases before and liked their quality. This case tho is incredible, especially at $30 after mail in rebate. This case is well thought out with having two 2.5mm brackets included behind the motherboard. 3.5mm HDD drive space is perfectly placed while still providing great room to hide cables. Speaking of which, ample room for cable management behind the scenes. Airflow is great with room for plenty of 140mm fans if desired.

I have two incredibly minor gripes. First is behind the front cover is a box with a cheap LED bulb in it. It hinders the use of a bottom fan, but this box is removable. Second is the PCI slot covers are tearaway instead of being able to remove them but then reinstall if desired. I removed all when I thought I'd be able to crossfire so now I have nothing installed in three slots. Better airflow I guess?!

Overall at $30 I'd be hard pressed to say there is a better mATX option out there. This case is high quality with great options and a great looking tempered glass panel just tops it off. An easy recommend.

Power Supply

Purchased for a build that fell thru. Overkill for this build but I don't have any other use for it. Seasonic quality speaks for itself.

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Comments

  • 11 days ago
  • 2 points

love seeing things like this

  • 9 days ago
  • 2 points

This was a fun and very well thought out read. You make me want to raid my works PC dungeon and build a retro arcade machine! Our "IT expert" is our sales manager and is just about as ine0t as one could be...but the owner of the company lets him buy whatever he wants. Bonus for me....thanks for doimg this project it was a good read.

  • 9 days ago
  • 1 point

Absolutely! I was planning on selling all of the other leftovers, but I think I'm going to do a build for a friend's preteen stepson. They aren't super into tech and have my buddy has been an Xbox'er forever. He's seen my main PC but he's never owned a gaming PC. I can use that other R9 380 which will be a nice intro to PC gaming for them and will give them a good PC for their kid to do homework.