After building an Intel budget gaming PC for $700, I wanted to see what I could build with a somewhat higher budget. To make it more interesting, I decided to build a system that was more focused on content creation or development. This post will be about building a mid-range Intel Content Creation PC.
My ground rules were as follows:
- This would be a white build (meaning as many white components as possible)
- Must have a discrete GPU
- All new parts
- No open box parts (even though open box is a good way to save money)
- All reputable “name-brand” parts, no house brands
- At least a 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 boot drive
- A fully modular 80 Plus Gold power supply
- The case must be air flow focused
- Good wired and Wi-Fi connectivity
- All parts that I could actually buy (they were in stock)
Recently, I published a post titled: Can You Build an AMD Gaming PC for $900? I also wrote a similar post: Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850? Before that, it had been a while since I had done a build list for a budget 1080P gaming machine.
Building a Mid-Range Intel Content Creation PC
Yes, you can build a complete Intel Mid-Range Intel Content Creation PC with all new parts for about $1750. Let’s look at a set of components that let you do this. Note: The Amazon links are affiliate links. The Micro Center and manufacturer links are not affiliate links. These prices were accurate at the time of writing, but they can change at any time.
I wanted a mid-range Intel Alder Lake CPU with integrated graphics (even though I was going to use a discrete GPU). The reason for this is because many Adobe products will take advantage of the integrated graphics (in addition to the discrete GPU) for some tasks.
This made the Intel Core i5-12600K Alder Lake processor a great choice. There are six Performance cores and four Efficient cores, so it works best on Windows 11, which can use Intel Thread Director. The Performance cores have a base clock of 3.7 GHz and a Turbo clock of 4.9 GHz.
After building this system, I am very impressed with this CPU, especially at this price point. It is hard for the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X to compete at its current pricing.
I decided to use a 240mm AIO CPU cooler for this project. The NZXT H510 Flow case is fairly small, so I couldn’t use a 360mm AIO. I also wanted a white AIO if possible. Another very important consideration was LGA1700 compatibility for Alder Lake processors.
The Lian Li Galahad 240 ticked all of these requirements and is pretty affordable for an AIO. Remember, the Intel Core i5-12600K does not come with a stock CPU cooler in the box.
I decided to use a Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3060 Vision OC 12G discrete GPU that I already had on hand. There were several reasons for this. First, an RTX 3060 with 12GB of VRAM is a very capable mid-range discrete GPU. Second, the Vision model is primarily white and was the predecessor to the Gigabyte AERO motherboard line. This means that this GPU “matches” the motherboard that I selected. Finally, this is a triple-fan model with a metal backplate with good cooling capabilities.
I wanted a creator focused Intel Z690 ATX DDR4 motherboard in order to support a mid-range Alder Lake-K CPU. A Z690 motherboard has more total PCIe lanes and more DMI bandwidth between the processor and chipset compared to lower-end Intel chipsets.
Another requirement was 2.5 Gbe and Wi-Fi 6E. I ended up picking the Gigabyte Z690 AERO G DDR4 motherboard.
This is a great board for $289.99. It has an Intel 2.5GbE LAN port, a Wi-Fi 6E radio and four M.2 PCIe NVMe 4.0 slots. This is a pretty nice-looking motherboard with a lot of useful features.
I wanted 32GB of RAM, with two 16GB DIMMs so I would be in dual-channel mode. Another requirement was at least DDR4-3600 CL16 speed and timings. I ended up choosing a G.SKILL Trident Z Neo DDR4-3600 CL16 (F4-3600C16D-32GTZNC) memory kit.
I wanted a 1TB Samsung 980 PRO M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD for a boot drive. I’ve owned multiple Samsung 980 PRO drives, and I have been very happy with their performance and reliability. The Gigabyte motherboard I am using can have a total of four M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 x4 drives.
I wanted a good quality, relatively compact white case from a reputable company that had good air flow and could hold an ATX motherboard. Another requirement was a USB Type C connector on the front panel. My choice was an NZXT H510 Flow.
This case comes with two 120mm three-pin fans and an open mesh front panel. The side panel is tempered glass, not plexiglass.
I wanted a good-quality 550-watt 80 Plus Gold fully modular power supply from a reputable company. For this build, I selected a 550-Watt ASUS ROG Strix 550G 80 Plus Gold power supply.
A 550-watt power supply is actually more capacity than this system will need, but it gives you a reserve for a better GPU in the future. This system will draw less than 250 watts at 100% CPU and 100% GPU usage, so there is a decent amount of reserve capacity. Power supplies are most efficient when the load is about 50% of their rated output.
Sneak Peak Benchmarks
This mid-range Alder Lake CPU has very impressive single-threaded CPU performance in CPU-Z. The single thread score of 775.1 beats a Ryzen 9 5950X processor, while the multi-thread score of 7201.2 beats an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X system.
The CrystalDiskMark results for the 1TB Samsung 980 Pro are in line with what I expect for that SSD.
In Cinebench R23, the Multi Core score was 17,495, which is not too shabby for a $250 CPU.
The RTX 3060 performs as you would expect in 3DMark Time Spy. This GPU has plenty of horsepower for 1080P and some 1440P gaming.
How to Flash the Gigabyte Z690 AERO G DDR4 with Q-Flash Plus
I also made a video about how to flash the BIOS on this motherboard, using Q-Flash Plus
This is a very capable system with a lot of room for expansion and upgrades over time. You can easily upgrade to a 12700K or 12900K. Later this year, you could upgrade to an Intel Raptor Lake processor. This system has about $1,750.00 in parts at current prices. I have something special planned for this build, which I will announce on March 1, 2022.
Update: I have announced a Women’s History Month Computer Giveaway for this machine, that runs from March 1 – March 31, 2022.
Building a Mid-Range Intel Content Creation PC
At this point, I have built the system and done some initial testing. I still have to do some final cable management in the case, after which I will do more complete testing. One additional thing I am planning is using some white and black cable extensions to replace all of the stock power cables.
This is what the back side looks like after some cable management.
If you have any questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!