Author Topic: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)  (Read 6590 times)

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Offline Mr. Vega

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Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
I've decided I'm crazy enough to want to build my own computer despite my complete lack of experience of doing anything beyond swapping out ram and a graphics card. Mostly because my old desky, in addition to being inconvenient for me to access for a while, is getting really old in some key areas, and because I need to conserve liquid assets at the moment and I won't buy my usual vendor (Dell) anymore when I can just build it myself for a lot cheaper. Assuming I can actually figure out what parts are right and how to do it. I might be receiving help from a friend who's done it once before, but I might not.

Since most of the games I want to play are already out for a while (my desky couldn't handle them very well because it's a Pentium D) or are about to come out, so I'm perfectly fine with this not being a super-duper-long term build. If it can play Skyrim, ME3, TOR/GW2, and/or The Witcher 2 on high detail with FPS consistently at or above 50-60fps, I'm good. Especially if I can upgrade later.

What I'm looking for is a barebones (ie, under 700, preferably even lower. As low as possible) gaming pc that can play that stuff fine. Monitors, perpherals, and the OS do not not need to be taken into account. My general idea for specs:

Intel Core i3 3.0-3.3 mHz, or if that's just too expensive
Phenom II X4 of similar clock speed
A motherboard that can handle those two

A Radeon 6770 or 6850, from research the best vendors seem to be Sapphire (good experience previously), MSI, HIS, and Asus
4 GB Ram (Crucial? Kingston? 1333? 1600? Does it really matter?)
A 500 GB HD (expensive I know thanks to the Thailand floods, but they might stay high for a year and I don't want to wait that long)
A 600W Power Supply (is that too much W for one radeon?)
And actually want a cheap Creative SC instead of the onboard stuff. Not sure what I need as far as motherboard connections go though
A case that will comfortably fit all of this

By biggest issue is getting the motherboard right, making sure a big graphics card doesn't make the SATA connections inaccessible (which is a problem with Gigabyte boards apparently, which is driving me towards ASUS) and there are enough connections for everything I want, etc.

And I do not care where or how I get the parts, so long as I am not running a risk of being scammed or getting something DOA with horrible customer service.

I know a lot of you have experience with building machines, so advice would be appreciated. Am I going about this the wrong way?
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Offline Ghostavo

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
Since most of the games I want to play are already out for a while (my desky couldn't handle them very well because it's a Pentium D) or are about to come out, so I'm perfectly fine with this not being a super-duper-long term build. If it can play Skyrim, ME3, TOR/GW2, and/or The Witcher 2 on high detail with FPS consistently at or above 50-60fps, I'm good. Especially if I can upgrade later.

1680x1050? 1920x1200? 2560x1600?

Without knowing what display resolution you are aiming for, the recomendations will vary wildly.
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Offline Mr. Vega

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
I would consider myself among the least picky of gamers with resolution. I'm used to 1280x1024 or even lower (although that may just be because it was my only choice for a while with the hardware I had). But 1680x1050 sounds good.
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Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
MotherF, accidentally deleted my post.

OK, check out the Tom's Hardware System Builder Marathon guides.  Here's the link to the most recent comparison:  http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i5-fx-6100-overclock-benchmark,3099-13.html

As you can see, the $600 gaming PC, despite being built on a low budget, is a pretty decent performer.  As a general rule, I start with the $600 system, and add better components as my budget allows where I get the most bang for my buck - CPU, GPU, and memory being obvious places where a little extra money spent can help out.  SSD too, if you can afford it.
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Offline Mr. Vega

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
In what universe is that PC $600? i5's are easily 200 or more.
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Offline TwentyPercentCooler

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
MotherF, accidentally deleted my post.

OK, check out the Tom's Hardware System Builder Marathon guides.  Here's the link to the most recent comparison:  http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i5-fx-6100-overclock-benchmark,3099-13.html

As you can see, the $600 gaming PC, despite being built on a low budget, is a pretty decent performer.  As a general rule, I start with the $600 system, and add better components as my budget allows where I get the most bang for my buck - CPU, GPU, and memory being obvious places where a little extra money spent can help out.  SSD too, if you can afford it.

Came to say this, beaten to the punch. Tom's Hardware systems are an excellent starting point for a parts list and they're very extensively tested and benchmarked. OP, don't be intimidated about the build; it's like putting LEGOs together, difficulty-wise. It just requires that you do your homework about the parts is all.

In what universe is that PC $600? i5's are easily 200 or more.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i5-overclock-performance-gaming,3097.html

Yes, the i5 itself is nearly $200. Mid-range hardware is getting ridiculously inexpensive, though.

 

Offline LHN91

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
both i3's and Phenom X4's will be solid performers, the i3 having fewer cores but more single-threaded grunt, and the Phenom having more cores and (IMO) flexibility but being slower in single-threaded apps.

8 GB of RAM is so trivially more expensive than 4 (i.e. 4 at $40, 8 at $55) that it makes no sense to not go ahead and grab at least 8.

The issue with power supllies is that at any given wattage you can have good power supplies and very bad ones. Keep in mind that in general it is always preferable to be a bit overkill than to find yourself without enough power. http://psucalc.net/ - is an application that gives you a conservative judgement of how much power you'll need based on what you're planning on putting in, and gives you recommendations of ones they know are good.

I would probably go with at least a 6850 given the option, as AMD has in a way dropped the "level of goodness" down one notch with the 6000s. the 6850 will more or less match a 5770, IIRC.

Also, don't be afraid of the build. It's not as difficult as it might first appear. The comparison to LEGO is a pretty fair one, and once you've done it once you'll probably not buy an OEM system ever again.

EDIT: PSUCalc suggests a 400w supply for the i3 based build, and a 450w for the Phenom X4 build. Bear in mind I I drove up the requirements a little bit by checking the boxes that add room for overclocking, in order to give it a sort of 'worst case scenario' set.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2012, 08:29:37 pm by LHN91 »

 

Offline KyadCK

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
AMD rig:

CPU: Phenom II x4 960T
MB: Asus M4A87T
RAM: Corsair Vengeance 1600 9-9-9-27 2x4GB
GPU: Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 6850
PSU: Corsair 500w
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912
Sound: Creative SB X-Fi Xtreme Audio
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB
Total before rebates and shipping: $677.92
Vid card is 10% off with code "SAP127" (ends on 1/31/2012, think quickly) and $35 in mail in rebates. If you don't need an HDD, let me know. It would completely re-balance the rig.

I'd do an Intel rig involving the i3 too, but I don't have the time right now.

Thanks for running it through PSUcalc LHN91, saved me some time.
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Offline LHN91

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
Just as a side note, because otherwise I entirely agree with KyadCK's build right there: Creative sound cards, in general, are overpriced for what they provide. The XtremeAudio is especially bad, believe me I had one. It refuses point blank to work in Linux, and the majority of its sound enhancements (Crystalizer, whatnot) happens in software (read, uses CPU cycles for sound processing).

Save a bit of money and go with: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132020 ,

Or spend a little more and get: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132017

Either one has excellent reviews and consistently outperform Creative and Auzentech cards in their price range.

The only issue I can see with them is them both being classic PCI, but the board he picked has 3 PCI slots, and so should have plenty of space for them.

 

Offline KyadCK

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
Just as a side note, because otherwise I entirely agree with KyadCK's build right there: Creative sound cards, in general, are overpriced for what they provide. The XtremeAudio is especially bad, believe me I had one. It refuses point blank to work in Linux, and the majority of its sound enhancements (Crystalizer, whatnot) happens in software (read, uses CPU cycles for sound processing).

Save a bit of money and go with: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132020 ,

Or spend a little more and get: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132017

Either one has excellent reviews and consistently outperform Creative and Auzentech cards in their price range.

The only issue I can see with them is them both being classic PCI, but the board he picked has 3 PCI slots, and so should have plenty of space for them.

Completely agree, good find, both are superior to the SB card I listed (it really is crappy, but the Titanium is $100  :( ). I was just going off what brands he chose. If I could find a 890GPA-UD3H on newegg that would be an instant choice in MB, but newegg doesn't carry any good AM3 Gigabyte boards and its cheaper to get everything from one place.
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Offline Klaustrophobia

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
my personal opinion on soundcards is that if you're not going to go all the way and get one of the somewhat expensive very high-end ones, you might as well stick with onboard.  unless there is another weird reason you want one other than sound quality (do NOT buy one for the performance increase of offloading sound from CPU, you will notice zero difference.  if you don't, you need a new CPU).
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Offline KyadCK

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
my personal opinion on soundcards is that if you're not going to go all the way and get one of the somewhat expensive very high-end ones, you might as well stick with onboard.  unless there is another weird reason you want one other than sound quality (do NOT buy one for the performance increase of offloading sound from CPU, you will notice zero difference.  if you don't, you need a new CPU).

Because the non-expensive ones are more likely the high-end cards of the previous generation and it doesn't change that much in a single generation anyway? The X-Fi Titanium is going to start going down in price with the Recon3D out, that doesn't make it any worse of a card.

Also, when you care about quality and are on a budget, a mid-range sound card is enough to get the job done most of the time. There is really no need to go drop $200+ of the perfect card if only want to spend $700 on a rig and just want some better quality sound. This is why they make them in the first place.

Besides, going "all the way" in computers is a silly concept. You're only "all the way" for about a month before something new comes out and kick the ass of what you have. "all the way" is generaly reserved for $1200+ builds where you have the room in the budget to play with it.
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Offline LordMelvin

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
http://www.newegg.com/Store/Promotion.aspx?storeid=33&name=DIY-PC-Combos

While I've never found the perfect build kit on here, I've always used it as a first point for thinking about what I'd want - They've always got a wide enough range to get me thinking, and usually at least one thing that gets close to what I want.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.789222

This one, plus a cheap case, midrange video card (slash-high-end-previous-generation) and psu, and a decently large spinnydisc, for example, might be worth considering.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 11:57:10 am by LordMelvin »
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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
**** creative and anything they ever had to do with anything (at all, yes I'm including OpenAL in that) post-win98se.
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Offline KyadCK

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
http://www.newegg.com/Store/Promotion.aspx?storeid=33&name=DIY-PC-Combos

While I've never found the perfect build kit on here, I've always used it as a first point for thinking about what I'd want - They've always got a wide enough range to get me thinking, and usually at least one thing that gets close to what I want.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.789222

This one, plus a cheap case, midrange video card (slash-high-end-previous-generation) and psu, and a decently large spinnydisc, for example, might be worth considering.

1: No, DIY kits will never match asking someone to build it, they cheap out like Dell does. (not the best ram you could get, not quality psus, etc) and they dont offer any special 'deals'. You can get all the parts manually for the same price.

2: No. No bulldozer. Shame on you for even suggesting it.
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Offline Mr. Vega

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
If I want just want something better than integrated audio, what's my pick? As long as the sound quality is good and it can handle EAX in games then it's fine.
And do clock speeds on RAM matter at all? Should I just get 1333 and be done with it?

Quote
EDIT: PSUCalc suggests a 400w supply for the i3 based build, and a 450w for the Phenom X4 build. Bear in mind I I drove up the requirements a little bit by checking the boxes that add room for overclocking, in order to give it a sort of 'worst case scenario' set.
I'm assuming that's max and not average power, right?

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Offline KyadCK

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
If I want just want something better than integrated audio, what's my pick? As long as the sound quality is good and it can handle EAX in games then it's fine.

Either one LHN91 linked up there is fine.

And do clock speeds on RAM matter at all? Should I just get 1333 and be done with it?

2x4gb 1600 9-9-9-27 1.5v is the 'standard', I linked it because its really not worth the money to get less. You'll probably have to go into bios and set the speed/timings manually because XMP sucks. (Well, the lack of support for it does)

Quote
EDIT: PSUCalc suggests a 400w supply for the i3 based build, and a 450w for the Phenom X4 build. Bear in mind I I drove up the requirements a little bit by checking the boxes that add room for overclocking, in order to give it a sort of 'worst case scenario' set.
I'm assuming that's max and not average power, right?

It is maximum usage, correct. That's why I linked a 500w. I prefer to go 50w over what PSUcalc says, just to be safe.



If you could look at the full rig I listed above and give any feedback/concerns that would help. Make sure to substitute the sound card with one of LHN91's.
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Offline Mr. Vega

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
My specs look like this at the moment:

Intel Core i3-2120 3.3Ghz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115077

ASUS P8H67-V
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131783

Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) 1333
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148476

Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200RPM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148767

Corsair 500W PSU
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139027

Asus Xonar DG Sound Card (way tougher than it should be to find a cheap card definitely compatible with Win7x64)
http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Channel-Sound-Card-XONAR_DG/dp/B0045JHJSS/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

An HIS 6850 1GB or
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161384

Its Sapphire equivalent
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102908

And I do like that CM HAF 912 Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119233

Oh, and one optical drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135204

Again, if it can run Skyrim at 60fps consistently, at high detail at 1680x1050 (doesn't need high AA or AF settings), I'm good.

Any objections or suggestions?
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 03:59:44 pm by Mr. Vega »
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Offline LHN91

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
Looks good to me, with one or two changes that, personally, I would make, but that are more based on personal bias than anything.

I've not had particularly good luck with Seagate drives; for me, I usually go with Western Digital. For primary OS discs, usually a Caviar Black, and if costs are prohibitive a Caviar Blue.

I am currently using a Sapphire 4870, and have used XFX cards before, but I've not heard anything bad about HIS either.

Personally, I would go with the slightly cheaper HIS card, and grab a Western Digital Caviar Blue: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136769, But keep in mind that the Seagate may be perfectly fine as well.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/skyrim-performance-benchmark,3074-5.html claims that at high (not ultra) with FXAA, a 6850 can churn out a more than a constant 60 fps. Personally, I'm fine right down to 25-30, but that's up to you.

In fact, if you look further along in that review, Skyrim completely mostly maxed out (4x AA, etc.) at that resolution sits at around 47 fps on average. Plenty quick enough in my books.

 

Offline Mr. Vega

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Re: Building A New Computer (or just finding the right stuff)
Yes well I haven't had top of the line tech in a while (high detail AND smooth fps). And by a while, I mean like, since 6-7 years ago. I would like to have my fun for a year or two before I have to start turning the settings down again on new games. I would have gone for a 6870 just because that large jump in clock speed has to matter, but unless I swipe one in good condition off ebay I'm not interested cause of the price. 130 for a new 6850 sounds great to me.

Also, define not having good luck with Seagates. Short lifespan?
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