My desktop PC was becoming long in the tooth, considering it was a pre-built HP Intel Core 2 Quad 9550-based system with only 4GB of RAM. Even though I wasn’t in desperate need of more performance, I didn’t want to worry about my primary, 8-year-old PC dying.

I haven’t assembled a PC from parts since the early 2000s, but I decided that the cost savings were worth the effort. I was actually surprised just how simple the process was using modern equipment.

Without further ado, here’s the parts list:

  • CPU: Skylake Core i5-6500 ($180)
  • Motherboard: MSI B150 PC Mate in ATX ($90)
  • Memory: GSkill Ripjaws DDR4 2133 16GB (2 x 8 GB) ($54)
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX500 500W ($30 after rebate)
  • Case: Thermaltake VERSA H25 ATX ($40)
  • Drive: Samsung 850 EVO 500GB ($110)

So, for a bit over $500, I had a PC that perfectly fit my needs. Notably, I did not purchase a video card. I don’t do much PC gaming (I do some 8/16 bit gaming on emulators), and the Skylake i5’s integrated HD Graphics 530 is more than sufficient, and actually surprisingly good.

The physical build was simple, and even though the case is a budget model, I found it more than adequate. Cable routing was decent, and the ATX form-factor has plenty of room for 3.5 inch drives and bays specifically for SSDs. I had a license for Windows 8 Pro, which I upgraded to Windows 10 Pro. I then did a completely clean install of Windows 10 Pro from USB to ensure there wouldn’t be any performance issues.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with my choice to build instead of buy a HP/Dell/other pre-built machine. Most pre-builts in that price range come with a standard hard disk and only 8GB of RAM. In addition, I was able to pick a motherboard that had the features I wanted (USB 3.1, HDMI/DVI-D/VGA) without features I didn’t care about (Bluetooth, WiFi.) The only oversight that I made was this motherboard only supports PCIe 3.0 x 2 for the M2 slot. This will limit my transfer speeds if I upgrade to a Samsung 950 M2 SSD, but at least for now, those drives aren’t worth the $ premium for my use.