Blackout: The Budget Streamer

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Seth
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Best Build

Blackout: The Budget Streamer

This is Blackout. The goal of this PC is to game at 1080p on high and highest settings, stream games at a decent quality (720p/30 or 60 fps), and do light content creation. The mATX form factor gives this build a smaller footprint over normal ATX builds while still housing a motherboard that has enough PCIe slots for future expansion.

I tried sticking to a budget of between $650 to $700 but ended up with a cost closer to $800 (little over $850 after shipping and taxes are added) due to the current volatility within the PC parts market and lack of availability (Looking at you PSUs!).

Check out the following videos I made about the build and the parts:



Why I chose specific components:

CPU
Originally, I wanted to use the Ryzen 5 1600 AF CPU for this build. Effectively a lower clocked Ryzen 2600, the 1600 AF is a great value at $85.00 USD. Unfortunately, it has either been out of stock or is selling for 80-90% over the $85 retail price. If you cannot find the 1600 AF for $85.00 or very near it (say maybe $95) DO NOT BUY IT! It’s just not worth it.

I bought the Ryzen 5 3600 instead. It comes with the Wraith Stealth Cooler just like the 1600 AF, but the 3600 has a higher base and boost speed. It also has more L3 cache, better memory compatibility, and is PCIe 4.0 compatible should I ever upgrade to an X570 or B550 motherboard.


Motherboard
Cost dictated I’d be going with mATX, so I opted for the AsRock B450M PRO4. I was very happy to see the "Ryzen 3000 Ready" sticker present when I opened the shipping box. This means the 3600 will work without any BIOS updates.

The AsRock board has loads of rear USB ports including one Type-C port. The Rear Audio solution seems anemic with just 3 ports although it still supports 7.1 surround sound. If the onboard audio doesn’t do it for you, you can always add an external DAC/Headphone AMP. I’ve been using Creative’s SoundBlaster X7 for years now and love it.

There are 3 PCIe slots: 1 x16 for your GPU and a x4 and a x1, so you can insert a capture card or NVMe PCIe adapter if you wanted.
It also has 4 RAM slots.


RAM

My budget allowed for 16 GB of memory, and I went with Team’s T-Force Vulcan Z ram. It’s 3200 MHz CL 16. The heat sinks aren’t too large and are a nice black chrome color.

3200 speed memory is still cheap, and while 3600 Mhz has also become less expensive, and is the sweet spot for Ryzen 2 CPUs, the AsRock B450M PRO4 is limited to 3200. According to the product website you can use 3600 speed RAM but only at 8GB. I could be wrong of course, so if you’ve used 16 GB of DDR4 3600 with this motherboard, please let me know.


Storage

Thankfully this isn’t 2018. SSD prices have come down considerably, but there are still many, many options to choose from. The goal here was to have an SSD drive for my boot drive, commonly used programs, and for use in video editing. As such it needed to be big enough to accommodate.

Enter the WD Blue SN550. At 500GB, it’s big enough for Windows and some oft used programs. I should also be able to edit from it as well. One pitfall of this drive is it doesn’t have dRAM cache, which is a concern. It does have a write cache, but after that fills performance will degrade. I won’t know by how much until I test it. If I wanted to buy an SSD with dRAM cache, I’d have to increase my budget. And if you’re wondering why I chose NVMe over a 2.5” SATA ssd, the prices were actually the same for the capacity.

For mass storage I chose the WD Blue Caviar 7200RPM HDD. It’s 1TB and will be sufficient enough to store other programs as well as local recordings when I want to capture those epic gaming moments. However, I think I’d recommend going with Seagate’s 2TB Barracuda drive even if it uses slower SMR technology. It costs only a little more while offering twice the storage capacity.


GPU

This was a tough decision. I had mulled over going with the 1650 super, but after discussing it with some people, I ultimately settled on buying the 1660 Super and went with the Gigabyte GTX OC version. I originally wanted to get the Asus TUF Gaming card as it has a higher boost clock out of the box of 1845 MHz versus 1830 MHz with the Gigabyte card, but it was out of stock. Hopefully the the speed difference will be negligible and can be matched or surpassed with an overclock.

For $20 more I could have bought a higher clocked Gigabyte or ASUS GPU, both of which have a 3-fan design, and have clock speeds coming in at 1860 MHz.

So why team green over red? I wanted to take advantage of Nvidia’s newer NVENC encoder while streaming. The 1660 Super should also be able to play almost any game at highest settings in 1080p. If you think I should have gone with a Radeon card, let me know which model and why.


Case

For the case, I had a few requirements: Good airflow, included fans, and a glass side panel. When I saw the Cooler Master NR400 I knew I had found the case for this build. It has a sleek, if not understated, grey and black design. It has a mesh front panel for good airflow. It has a tempered glass side panel and comes with 2 fans. It also has grommets for cable management, which is a rarity for a case at this price point. Depending on your region you can even get a version without an optical drive bay. Unfortunately, that option isn’t available in the US.


PSU

The only requirements I had for the PSU was to not have any ketchup and mustard cabling and to be certified 80+ Bronze or better. Ultimately, this was one of the hardest components to buy. What made it difficult was the fluctuating market. Every time I settled on a PSU it either went out of stock or the price soared within a day of me putting it on the parts list. This was maddening.

Ultimately, I bought Corsair’s CX 550W 80+ Bronze PSU, which was recommended on the PC Part Picker forums. This PSU has all black cables that includes your standard 24-pin ATX cable, an 8-pin EPS cable, 2 PCI-e 8-pin cables (6+2), 2 SATA cables for a total of 5 connections and a peripheral cable with 4 connections (molex eww).

The Corsair CX 550 also has enough wattage to support a GPU upgrade in the future as well as more fans and storage.


Well, that's it. What do you guys think? Check out that 4th video for FPS results on the games I played. Your support is always appreciated.
Color(s): Black
RGB Lighting? No
Cooling: Air Cooling
Theme: none
Size: Micro-ATX
Type: General Build

Hardware

CPU
$ 173.99
AMD - Ryzen 5 (3600)
Socket: AM4
Cores: 6
Motherboard
$ 82.99
ASRock - Pro4 (B450M)
Chipset: B450
CPU Socket: AM4
Size: Micro-ATX
Memory
$ 99.98
TeamGroup - Vulcan
Type: DDR4
Capacity: 16 GB
Graphics
$ 195.93
Gigabyte - GeForce Super Gaming OC
Chip Manufacturer: NVIDIA
Chip: GTX 1660
Storage
$ 28.99
Western Digital - WD Blue Desktop
Form Factor: 3.5 Inch
Interface: SATA 6 Gb/s
Capacity: 1 TB
Storage
$ 56.22
Western Digital - Blue SN550
Form Factor: M.2
Interface: PCIe x4
Capacity: 500 GB
PSU
$ 74.99
Corsair - CX
Wattage: 550
Form Factor: ATX
Efficiency: 80+ Bronze
Case
$ 69.99
Cooler Master - MasterBox NR400
Type: Mini-Tower
Side Panel: Tempered Glass
Estimated total value of this build:
$ 1,057.91
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