Build needed to finish last 2 years of grad school


Jul 11, 2016
My old Sandy Bridge system has begun to show its age; it feels slow and USB ports are starting to flake out. I am finishing a PhD in Music Ed Research and have a semester of class and a year of dissertation work left and am trying to thread the needle between decent longevity and affordability. On to the requisite questions!

1) What will you be doing with this PC? Gaming? Photoshop? Web browsing? etc
Word, Excel, Browsing; Finale/Sibelius/Dorico (music composition), Adobe CS (I do video and audio work for the marching band and conducting students at my university); SPSS (quantitative data analysis); Guild Wars 2, Overwatch, Far Cry 5

2) What's your budget? Are tax and shipping included?
$600, including shipping

3) Which country do you live in? If the U.S, please tell us the state and city if possible.
US, Hattiesburg, MS

4) What exact parts do you need for that budget? CPU, RAM, case, etc. The word "Everything" is not a valid answer. Please list out all the parts you'll need.
Motherboard, CPU, RAM

5) If reusing any parts, what parts will you be reusing? Please be especially specific about the power supply. List make and model.
Cooling: NZXT X62
HDD: Samsung Pro 860 500GB
PSU: Seasonic SS-760XP2 Platinum
Video card: MSI GTX970
Case: Corsair Carbide Air ATX
Audio: Fulla Schiit DAC
Mic: Blue Yeti

6) Will you be overclocking?

7) What is the max resolution of your monitor? What size is it?
Monitor: ASUS VG248QE 24" 1920x1080

8) When do you plan on building/buying the PC?
Next Tuesday (Sept 5)

9) What features do you need in a motherboard? RAID? Firewire? Crossfire or SLI support? USB 3.0? SATA 6Gb/s? eSATA? Onboard video (as a backup or main GPU)? UEFI? etc.
USB 3.1, UEFI, M.2 (future storage upgrade), Intel NIC, At least 8 USB ports built in (the more the merrier)

10) Do you already have a legit and reusable/transferable OS key/license? If yes, what OS? Is it 32bit or 64bit?
Yes, Windows 10 64bit


Limp Gawd
Nov 1, 2004
Live near a Microcenter by chance? If so you can save on a cpu\mb combo.
I would want 32GB ram for what your doing, which will eat up over half your budget. Something along these lines:
With what you got left I think you would have to go Ryzen 5 1600 for the additional cores for the work you do. Either a B350 or spring a little extra for a cheap X370 like:

A 7700k combo is going to run you a little over your budget with 16GB:


Jun 13, 2003
That budget looks like a challenge.

The Intel system will be fast enough for everything, but mostly faster than you need for games; the Ryzen CPUs will be faster for video production and probably for SPSS (will be workload dependent), but you need faster, compatible RAM to make Ryzen shine and right now that hurts. The Intel CPUs mostly don't care.

And then there's Intel's 8000-series releasing later this year. Whether you pick up one of those or save on newly discounted parts, you'll get more for your money. So best advice: wait if you can.