First time computer builder.

88 posts

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I figured since I trust the people here more than anyone else, I would like to ask for recommendations for building a new pc here rather than some tech forum. It will be a somewhat high-end gaming PC.

Do you recommend looking around the sites of Dell and/or HP to specify the parts and then order the computer, or another site?

I was thinking 8GB Ram, 1TB Hard drive, and an i7 processor. I will of course have external hard drives as well.

I have no clue about graphics cards either, so what would be a good one that could run most games on high settings at good fps. Currently, on my laptop, the graphics card is the major problem, as it’s an integrated intel one.

Any recommendations and tips for a first time builder are appreciated :D

 
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I’d like to build my own sometime too, when I get enough money :D

I heard newegg.com can be good from a family member who does a lot of computer stuff.

 
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New Egg.

While I highly recommend building your own PC at some point, if you’re just looking to save a few bucks, have something “off brand” and more customized, I’d suggest Porta Tech

You can pick pretty much anything, but they pare down things that Absolutely Do Not Work together, reducing the “oops” factor1 (as well as testing to make sure it works before even shipping it to you).

1 a former machine of mine burnt out its CPU, and as CPUs cost like $300+ I wasn’t willing to risk replacing it myself. I got a recommended CPU for the motherboard I had, and handed it off to the Best Buy Geeksquad. Four CPUs sent back to the manufacturer as Dead on Arrival, someone informed the guy actually working with the machine that “that CPU and motherboard don’t get along.” So they picked out a different model which worked fine. Moral of the story: always buy them in pairs.

 
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Don’t build your own in sites like Dell. It defeats the purpose.

By doing it yourself, you’ll get the parts cheaper and save a ton by excluding all the random crap that they force you to purchase. Then you can use your old XP disc, download a free AV and install the software that you actually need, instead of getting a new computer filled with (mostly crap) software that you’ll never use, yet had to pay for.

For a gaming PC, you need a hardcore video card. Take a look at the GeForce series and find the newest model. I think it’s the GTX 690. Or the Newest Radeon HD, which should be the 7970.

Note that they’re quite expensive (and I mean it; you can buy a couple of cheap computers for the price of the nVidia card. Radeon is cheaper and almost as good), but are arguably the core of a gaming PC. If you can’t afford them and don’t mind having some performance impacts, look for the older models (GTX 600 and HD 7000 series), which will be cheaper than the most powerful versions.

Also, make sure to pick a powerful cooler. You don’t want you super computer to die because you went for a cheap cooler.

E: There are even extra coolers designed for that particular kind of cards. Look here.

 
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No-skimp CPU cooler

I have one, got one for my sister, works like a dream that’s been thrown down a greased slide.

 
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Yeah, just checked out the GTX 690; it is rather expensive. My budget should be around $1500, and it looks as if that graphics card is anywhere from 1-2 grand.

I know this is going to sound like a stupid question, but what are the parts of the computer that I need?
These are the parts I’m looking at, and was wondering if it’ll all be compatible, if it looks like I’ll be getting a good value, and if I actually have the parts to build the computer.

Case

Case Fan (I don’t need a fan and a heatsink, do I?)

1TB 7200RPM Hard Drive or 1.5TB 5900RPM Hard Drive?

16GB RAM (Bit much?) or 8GB RAM (Half the price)

I have no clue about the Motherboard, but I should look for something under “Motherboard/CPU/VGA Combo” right?

This looks like a good graphics card, right? Will it be able to run something like (I know this is sort of obscure) Oblivion with some graphics overhaul mods on max settings at 40+ fps? To add more references, would it be able to run something like Borderlands 2 and Torchlight 2 on max settings without lag at a fairly constant high fps?

As for the OS, my dad can probably get Windows 7 for cheap so that is not a problem.

External Hard Drive – This is a bit expensive, but it’s not necessary, but it looks best to me

Total cost so far if I didn’t miss anything (Prices added up according to the more expensive items, and excludes motherboard/cpu/vga combo): $846.

 
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I got a gaming laptop from Origin and I can say it’s definitely satisfactory if you can throw that much money at it. I run everything at max settings and haven’t had problems so far. (Other then a 6000 degree lap.)

People telling you to build your own in the literal sense are spot on if you’re building a desktop. If you want a laptop, though, I’d recommend having someone else build it from the pieces you choose. (IE: Origin, Dell, HP, whatever. Probably not Dell or HP if you really want a gaming computer though.)

 
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pcpartpicker.com is another good site for seeing where your parts are selling the cheapest.
You probably don’t need a case fan. Your case comes with 3, that’s plenty. Most rigs have 1-2.

The parts you need are as follows:
1. CPU
2. GPU (graphics processing unit, “the video card”)
3. PSU (power supply unit, it comes with a power socket and lots of cords to plug into the motherboard and the video card)
4. MOBO (motherboard) with compatible slots for your ram and video card, and a compatible CPU socket. (make sure your mobo has pci-x3.0 socket for vid card or whatever v you end up buying) also you want to be sure the mobo supports dual-channel memory for your ram if you’re getting dual or multi channel like most rigs have these days
5. RAM
6. HDD (hard drive, make sure the cables SATA/ATA/SATAII etc etc match the sockets on your motherboard)
6. case – make sure your motherboard fits it (ATX mid, ATX full, etc)
7. anything peripheral like a CD drive which I personally never use anymore (USB ftw) and mice, keyboard, headphones, monitor etc make sure your monitor has compatible socket to your video card unless you want to use a cable adapter. CD drives are also SATA typically, so make sure it’s the right type for the mobo and you’re set.
8. extras: cpu cooler (necessary if you want to overclock or simply extend the life of your rig, I got one just because parts tend to wear out faster nowadays) you can get a good one for around 40$, read a LOT of reviews before you get one and make sure that if you do get one it fits around everything else on the motherboard, like for example your video card and ram sticks (look at the dimensions of the cooler heatsink and the vid card and be sure you understand which way the vid card will face)
9. thermal paste – if your CPU doesn’t come with thermal paste, you will need some. It’s like $2-5 and basically you put a very thin layer of it all over the non-chip side of the CPU so that the CPU and the heatsink/CPU fan unit do not touch each other directly (heat issues, if you don’t have thermal paste your CPU can literally fry in seconds so this is very important)
10. an OS, sometimes you can find a cheap windows someplace if you look hard enough
11. mayyybe an audio card, but usually those come with motherboards nowadays

I know it sounds complicated but it’s really like putting together a lego set. I recommend not building in a carpeted room because static can bust your parts in one mistake if you don’t know about it. You can buy a static wristband if you want. If you must build on carpet, touch the case before any components every time you go to put something in, this will discharge any static into the case instead of the part. If your parts all fit together and the computer doesn’t boot, you can buy a mobo speaker that will beep to tell you which component isn’t working. There are guides out there on that. If all else fails I suggest trying different sockets on the power supply or just RMA it (send it back for a free replace/repair). You can send each part back individually and get a new one until it works. It’s rare nowadays that a build won’t work first try though.

You will want to put the parts in in this order
1. case fans
2. motherboard
3. power supply
4. cpu
4a. cpu cooler
5. hdd and cddrive etc
6. ram
7. video card

That’s it! Good luck and try to be sensible when considering price vs value.

 
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Building at Cyberpowerpc.com or iBuyPower.com is cheaper than actually building yourself, for whatever reason. I prefer cyberpower though :P.

 
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http://tinyurl.com/FalconGuide

relevant

 
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Heatsink is really useful if you’re concerned with noise. Of course, a silent fan is also required. It’s also required if you’re gonna overclock it.

For the HDD, unless you’re going to focus on MMOs that require you to load a different map every 30 seconds, go for the 5900 one. Way less energy consumption (which means cheaper bills), plus it has twice the cache size. Not to mention that the extra storage will be a nice addition, given that games, applications and files in general (especially video) tend to get bigger and bigger in size. And as you said, external HDs aren’t as cheap.

Regarding the RAM. “A bit much?” you ask. At this point, I’d say yes. Of course it’d be nice to have some extra RAM, especially for games, but if you consider the tendencies, you’ll be able to get another 8 GB one for what? 70%, 50% of the price in two years?
Go for 8 and whenever you feel like it needs some more, you can always buy another one for a lower price.

About the graphics card. Yes… if you can’t go for the 690, the 680 is still a great choice, although it’s supposed to be half as good as the 690 (which is reflected in the price), I’d still pick it over the newest Radeon.

But don’t be fooled by that “half as good” line. At this point,even the 680 is more than enough for gaming. It can even handle triple-monitor setups without any problems. The benefit of getting a 690 is that you won’t have to change it in a very long time.

I can’t tell you about those particular games. That depends on so many factors.
Sometimes a game will perform bad, even in a great system.

ie, I have an EA game (BFTME2) which sometimes lags in a new (made less than a year ago) Xbox 360. Also, the game is way older than this console model. Go figure. The developers world is full of crappy programmers and no video card can make up for that.

I have Borderlands for the Xbox, but don’t know the others. You may want to ask in forums specific to those games where someone will surely know about what’s best for them.

 
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Regarding the RAM. “A bit much?” you ask. At this point, I’d say yes. Of course it’d be nice to have some extra RAM, especially for games, but if you consider the tendencies, you’ll be able to get another 8 GB one for what? 70%, 50% of the price in two years?
Go for 8 and whenever you feel like it needs some more, you can always buy another one for a lower price.

Getting 2 8gb packs will not work as well as getting 1 16gb pack.

 
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Originally posted by lSWATLLAMA:

Regarding the RAM. “A bit much?” you ask. At this point, I’d say yes. Of course it’d be nice to have some extra RAM, especially for games, but if you consider the tendencies, you’ll be able to get another 8 GB one for what? 70%, 50% of the price in two years?
Go for 8 and whenever you feel like it needs some more, you can always buy another one for a lower price.

Getting 2 8gb packs will not work as well as getting 1 16gb pack.

His 16 GB option is a 4×4GB pack.

 
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Getting 2 8gb packs will not work as well as getting 1 16gb pack.

Yes, especially the part where he will never use more then 4GB of it at once :P

 
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Originally posted by truefire:

Getting 2 8gb packs will not work as well as getting 1 16gb pack.

Yes, especially the part where he will never use more then 4GB of it at once :P

Back when I got this computer, having 256 MB was totally amazing (the other option was getting a expensive and “huge” 512 one). You got to play Starcraft, the latest Sim City and Civ versions and didn’t have to worry about performance issues.

That was a bit over a decade ago. Thing re moving faster nowadays. Electronics are becoming dispossable and as people seem to enjoy wasting money to buy the latest product, be sure that the companies will do their best to keep accelerating things to meet the unhealthy needs of their costumers.

 
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Thanks for the help, I definitely feel that I have enough information to go on now to research this further. If I start ordering, it won’t be for a few days, possibly a week. But hopefully I can get it ordered and delivering before I start college on the 27th.

I’ll be sure to keep this topic updated if I need any more help.

If what I understand is correct, I won’t need the extra Case Fan, and I’m not bothered by a little noise, I’ll probably have my headphones in anyways, so I won’t need the heatsink that much. Also, aren’t 3.5 inch bays for floppy disks only? If so, why would a fairly new case come with those?

Since the case comes with 4 external 5.25 inch bays, does this mean I could technically have one cd drive and 3 of those 1.5TB Hard Drives in it (Not that I can afford that extra stuff, just hypothetical)?

Also, I still have no idea which mobo and cpu would fit in that case and be able to connect with everything.

I figured that this power supply would be good enough for what I want. Does it look good?

E @ Below: I completely overlooked the processor, thanks for mentioning that :P Also, I wouldn’t think of putting XP on when I can quite easily get Windows 7, which I am used to now anyways.

 
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Originally posted by uzzbuzz:This looks like a good graphics card, right? Will it be able to run something like (I know this is sort of obscure) Oblivion with some graphics overhaul mods on max settings at 40+ fps? To add more references, would it be able to run something like Borderlands 2 and Torchlight 2 on max settings without lag at a fairly constant high fps?

THe components you’re loooing at are all far over what you need to run Borderlands 2 or TL2 well. You could easily drop the graphics card down but a long way and still run it just fine. Not that I’m recommending that, because the idea is to having something ready for more demanding games, of course. But yeah, you won’t need to check specs on any current games with that setup.

I don’t think 16gb of RAM is worth it , and it won’t be for a long time. It’s also the easiest thing to upgrade later, so it’s not something to worry about. Go with 8gb and put the difference in getting a top of the line processor instead.

If it’s for gaming, take the faster of the hard drives. Otherwise you’ll find performance bottlenecks whne levels or maps load, especially where there’s large textures etc to load in. That said, you’re unlikely to consciously notice a significant difference, but the same goes for the difference between any two potential components. Taking the faster option, where possible, works out to be better even if you don’t actively notice the diff in speed.

Oh and get as much cooling as you can if you want to run games maxed out. A watercooling system would be perfect. Even if the PC itself can handle the heat with fans, the room you put it in might not be too comfortable.

Bonus tip: even if you don’t plan on buying from them, use the PC builder on Cyberpower to check the components will work together, and the framerates similar systems get.

Second bonus tip: someone suggested putting XP on it. That’s an awful suggestion, don’t even consider puting XP on a brand new gaming PC.

 
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9. thermal paste – if your CPU doesn’t come with thermal paste, you will need some.

Nearly all CPUs come with thermal paste these days, sometimes even the cooling kit. Although I’d advice picking up a tube of high quality stuff anyway.

 
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His 16 GB option is a 4×4GB pack.

Assuming he’s getting an x79 processor and motherboard, that would be optimal. If he’s getting an x58, get 3 DIMMS (no idea why…) and anything else, 2.

I don’t think 16gb of RAM is worth it , and it won’t be for a long time. It’s also the easiest thing to upgrade later, so it’s not something to worry about. Go with 8gb and put the difference in getting a top of the line processor instead.

It’s a nice extra $20 – though the prices vary from what brand of RAM, the speed, how many DIMMS, etc.

Oh and get as much cooling as you can if you want to run games maxed out. A watercooling system would be perfect. Even if the PC itself can handle the heat with fans, the room you put it in might not be too comfortable.

Yah, and you don’t need a 240mm one either – those are more expensive. If you can get one, make sure you have a case big enough for it. They’re nice to have.

Second bonus tip: someone suggested putting XP on it. That’s an awful suggestion, don’t even consider puting XP on a brand new gaming PC.

If you put XP on it, get 3gb of RAM and x58 processor.

I figured that this power supply would be good enough for what I want. Does it look good?

Yes, it’s definitely powerful enough. I’ve never heard of Seasonic though. I know that the best power supply’s come from Corsair, followed by Thermaltake, Coolermaster, and possibly Diablotek or Raidmax.

Case

The ventilation on the sides look mediocre. If you have a Microcenter store near you, go there and check out some of the cases. And definitely spend more money on a case than $40 if you want your computer to last. Cheap cases are not good. Somewhere around $80 is probably the minimum you’d want to spend.
This is a pretty good case.
So is this
And a cheaper one

Last note.

I got a gaming laptop from Origin and I can say it’s definitely satisfactory if you can throw that much money at it. I run everything at max settings and haven’t had problems so far. (Other then a 6000 degree lap.)

Origin is really overpriced… until you get into the higher end parts. Then they’re actually cheaper – and way more reliable – than a lot of their competitors, like Alienware or Cyberpower.

 
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I went to a shop (not online) that allowed me to pick out the computer parts I wanted and they’d build it. It was a tiny shop, but I got a high-end desktop at $500.

 
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Don’t go water cooled. Just don’t. But if you want to liquid cool, go mineral oil

It’s just as messy, but you’re less likely to ruin your computer (if the former leaks, it’ll short something (and have air bubbles that ruin the efficiency of the system), if the latter leaks, all you have is a wet carpet).

 
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I was worried about leaks too, but I’ve never actually heard of them leaking.

 
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Originally posted by lSWATLLAMA:

I was worried about leaks too, but I’ve never actually heard of them leaking.

I had a friend in college that had their system leak. His electronics were fine, but he ended up with air bubbles inside the cooling system.

 
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Was it a laptop or desktop?

 
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Originally posted by Draco18s:

Don’t go water cooled. Just don’t. But if you want to liquid cool, go mineral oil

It’s just as messy, but you’re less likely to ruin your computer (if the former leaks, it’ll short something (and have air bubbles that ruin the efficiency of the system), if the latter leaks, all you have is a wet carpet).

If you go with mineral oil, Don’t use PVC components.