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May be buying first computer in a long time, need some help

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July 19, 2013 11:06:57 PM

I've decided to use the outline shown in the sticky in this forum. Any answers/help are appreciated.

Approximate Purchase Date: A while. I've recently started to consider not using my laptop anymore, I think a desktop would be a better idea for me, I'm simply exploring my options. This is nothing serious or specific, just wanting to see what I can get with my wants.

Budget Range: Should not exceed $700. The lesser the better, so long it is a good value and can perform best what I want. By 700, I mean No more, Not some really good $720 deal, I do not want to exceed $700, including any shipping/handling/add-ons, whatever. I'd prefer a few options each of under $700, 600, and 500, if that can be done. I don't want to spend too much on this, but I will if I need a good system for my desires.

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
1. Playing games (League of Legends, Minecraft, Civilization V, Total War 2, Guild Wars 2, etc.) Nothing way too demanding, My $700 laptop could play all of these perfectly fine, I'm assuming the same thing could be done with an affordable computer.) I have several other games on Steam, but I am not very interested in playing stuff like Battlefield/Crysis on the computer. I like gimmicky indie/strategy games that usually aren't so demanding.
2. Rendering movies in Sony Vegas. Possibly streaming. I've been able to render movies on my laptop, I am not exactly sure what kind of system you'd need to stream stuff viably. If it's not something within my range, that's alright.
3. Downloading stuff (although this would be more internet-sided)

Are you buying a monitor: Maybe. We have two monitors already but I am not sure if upgrading them would be a good idea, it probably would be, since I'm looking for a pretty good monitor fit for gaming. They're old and crappy resolutions. Most likely, I'd be getting a new one, so suggestions for that would be appreciated.

Parts to Upgrade: Everything, really. Starting from scratch as I don't have any parts already.

Do you need to buy OS: Yes, I do. The cheapest version of Windows 7 would be best, Windows 8 looks like crap for what I want to do.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I haven't ever bought any computer related gear online. I have an HP laptop, and the laptop has served me well, so I can only vouch for HP.

Location: Creve Couer, MO (Basically STL). There is a Microcenter about 20 minutes from my house, same place where I got this laptop for a great deal. Would not mind shopping there again, great service and prices.

Parts Preferences: No preference.

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Additional Comments: As for Overclocking and SLI / Crossfire, I don't know if I'd want this or not, as in I don't know WHY I'd want it or not. So some clarification on this is necessary. If Overclocking means risking health of computer parts, I have bad experiences with that so I'd *like* to stray away from it, but not a deciding factor. I'd prefer a quieter computer. I don't want a highway travelling through my room. Also, a smaller box/tower whatever you guys call it would be preferable. My desk isn't that large and I'd like for it to accommodate my comp so it doesn't have to be sitting out by itself. I'd also like to keep in mind this is a possibility. I probably won't be getting this computer for a few months.

Also, I'd prefer to buy a pre-built machine. I have heard that putting together a computer is a better bang for the buck, but I don't want to have to buy individual parts and then assemble them together. Unless I can't get a good deal for a pre-build machine, I will resort to building my own. Also, it isn't completely necessary that my computer lasts too long. I'll be going into my Junior year this fall and as long as it lasts me until I start college, that's good enough.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: My laptop has done everything i wanted well, but as of recently the GPU fan has broken in it from overusage. ;)  I am wanting to get a PC because I think it is a better fit for me than a laptop. Most people buy laptops for its mobility, and a lot is sacrificed for it in that matter. I have not been as "mobile" with my laptop as I had originally thought I would be when I purchased it, so I think my laptop breaking down would be good reason to replace it with a PC. My warranty expired on the laptop and I've been told I'll have to pay at least $80 or so to get it fixed. I will fix it, but I am also wanting to get a new PC so I can have the PC.
July 20, 2013 5:08:27 AM

Intriguing.
I think you could get a Dell Optiplex for around your budget,and maybe add a radeon hd7750 in it for about $80. That's the easiest way to not "hassle" with building a PC. The 7750 is plug and play and very capable for the Indie stuff you'll be running. Be informed overclocking and sli go out the window with such a prebuilt,but at least you can get them with OS,and I doubt you need it anyway.
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July 20, 2013 10:48:34 AM

Hm

You also need screen, correct?

The cheapest new to consider without screen is $499.99 Inspiron 660 http://www.microcenter.com/product/414525/Inspiron_660_... this is a little too much, considering you will need to add monitor and video card.

Below this are only Slim form factors - limited upgrade capabilities.
And a few refurbished ones, which could be a steal, just need more time to compare your games.
Help me - which one of your games is most demanding on PC?
As stated above, video card is easy to upgrade, CPU is more difficult.

Regarding screen, what size you are looking for, 17" or much larger, give us your preference.
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July 20, 2013 10:55:55 AM

Thanks for the answers guys. If SLI / Overclocking can't be done with Pre-built, that's okay. I'll have to live without it.

For my games, I'd say probbly Skyrim/Arma 2 would probably be the most demanding - but even then, I don't need to play it on max settings to enjoy it. I'll spend 90% of it on LoL / Civ5 / MC. If it can play those smoothly, I should be happy.

My current laptop is 15", and it's prety decent, I'd say 17" or a little bit larger (no more than 20) SHOULD be sufficient. The monitor is still something I need to do a little research in as I'm not sure if I want a larger one or not.

As just a question - is it easy to put a video card in a computer seperately? I've read that this kind of stuff isn't as hard as it sounds - but I don't want to spend hours trying to figure out where plug X goes into the card.
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July 20, 2013 11:10:09 AM

Thanks for quick answer, my next one will take time.

Just a few clarifications. $700 should include monitor as well? If yes, you are looking for about $500 PC, minus video card for at least $100, means $400 PC (without video card), am I correct?

If yes, you are looking into refurbished ones. Is Amazon and newegg ok?
Or only Microcenter?
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July 20, 2013 11:22:06 AM

Yeah, $700 is my limit. If I'm not getting it from Microcenter, that will also include shipping. 700 is the bills I have and I don't want to exceed it. I'd prefer Microcenter, I like to stick away from buying online but I won't limit my options to them, I don't mind looking at Amazon/Newegg. Refurbished is also alright with me. I got this laptop refurbed from Micro and I think refurbs are great deals, so long they have a decent return policy for the first 30 days or whatever MC gave me for this laptop.

If that's what needs to be done with my budget than yes that is correct.
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July 20, 2013 11:42:51 AM

Like I said,the 7750 is a very convenient card. It'll get great frames on a small monitor and its just a matter of plugging it in. All it's power comes from the motherboard. The slot only works one way so you can't miss it.Just read the manual and plug. Not technical at all,most of the manuals are leaflets.
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July 20, 2013 11:53:27 AM

allanitomwesh said:
Like I said,the 7750 is a very convenient card. It'll get great frames on a small monitor and its just a matter of plugging it in. All it's power comes from the motherboard. The slot only works one way so you can't miss it.Just read the manual and plug. Not technical at all,most of the manuals are leaflets.


Now we need to find refurbished one.... below $400....
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July 20, 2013 11:58:06 AM

What kind of FPS can I expect to get with that card on some games
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July 20, 2013 1:02:19 PM

Ritzycat said:
What kind of FPS can I expect to get with that card on some games


No matter what I try, I am ending up with Optiplex 755 MT http://www.microcenter.com/product/416871/Optiplex_755_... for $149.99.
If I would not be able to find better one, maximum upgrades for this one.
1. CPU to Q6600 about $100 (cheaper http://www.amazon.com/Intel-Core-Q6600-2-40GHz-Processo...) or Q9650 about $180 (this one more expensive http://www.ebay.com/ctg/Intel-Core-2-Quad-Q9650-3-GHz-Q...)
2. For any of them cooling would have to be upgraded, I would say about $35 or so, will look later.
3. RAM upgrade, will have to look into this.
4. Video card, the strongest one to physically fit is HD7770, which will require power supply upgrade.
5. Power Supply.
6. Screen.
7. Speakers, 2 speaker system is enough?

Manual http://www.dell.com/downloads/global/products/optix/en/...

This is the plan. Will need more time to finalize all parts.
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July 20, 2013 1:19:13 PM

I don't care too much about the speakers, I will probably use a headset most of the time, so anything half-decent will be sufficient. A question about the processor, how does the one suggested line up to the one in my laptop (mobile i7-2630QM @ 2.0ghz)?

Also - when you say screen, that is the monitor, yes?

One last question: I know the market in GPUs/processors evolves very quickly. Since I don't plan on making something like this for a few months, would there be a similar viable option in what will be available then?
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July 20, 2013 1:38:51 PM

Ritzycat said:
I don't care too much about the speakers, I will probably use a headset most of the time, so anything half-decent will be sufficient. A question about the processor, how does the one suggested line up to the one in my laptop (mobile i7-2630QM @ 2.0ghz)? Very bad Q9650 is below...

Also - when you say screen, that is the monitor, yes? Yes

One last question: I know the market in GPUs/processors evolves very quickly. Since I don't plan on making something like this for a few months, would there be a similar viable option in what will be available then? Grr, in this case if you still want to buy refurbished or OEM PC you would have to spend more...



Considering your laptop power I see that Optiplex option is no good - we need to find i5 PC at least and insert Video Card, in this case Video Card will be limited to HD7750 or GTX650 (both can run on 305 watt PSU).
I seen Inspiron 660 with i3 for $499.99 without video card and without monitor, I am afraid it is the only option. Inspiron 660 maximum upgrade for CPU I think is i5.
Need more time here.

Building your own would be cheaper and will have possibilities for future upgrades...
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July 20, 2013 1:45:51 PM

That's fine, time is no issue :) 

If this truly is the only option you can find, I will explore my options with building my own PC, although the truth is I have no experience whatsoever on building computers.

Although buying from Microcenter is preferable, I don't mind having to go online if necessary. I just like not having to wait and getting what you paid for instantly.
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July 20, 2013 11:23:40 PM

I deliberately recommended the 7750 because it's the most powerful card you can drop in a prebuilt without changing the psu.Runs circles around the gtx 650. You can expect 60-80 fps on any monitor not Full HD on the games you listed.Used to get +30fps in Criterion Most Wanted at 1080p too.Fifa was also buttery smooth, I'd say you'll be blown away.
Yeah,core 2 quads are a bad idea. A powerful i3 or an entry level i5 would match or beat your laptop. Actually your budget is sounding like a job for FX 6300. Badass processor for only $100.
You shouldn't knock PC building just cause of waiting a few days for your order.
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July 21, 2013 1:05:25 AM

allanitomwesh said:
I deliberately recommended the 7750 because it's the most powerful card you can drop in a prebuilt without changing the psu.Runs circles around the gtx 650. You can expect 60-80 fps on any monitor not Full HD on the games you listed.Used to get +30fps in Criterion Most Wanted at 1080p too.Fifa was also buttery smooth, I'd say you'll be blown away.
Yeah,core 2 quads are a bad idea. A powerful i3 or an entry level i5 would match or beat your laptop. Actually your budget is sounding like a job for FX 6300. Badass processor for only $100.
You shouldn't knock PC building just cause of waiting a few days for your order.


Thanks for the response. Figured I would have been able to beat my laptop, brother told me I could get a great PC with the money I paid for the laptop but I didn't listen. I mainly didn't want to deal with PC building because I always find a way to screw up technical stuff, always. But if pre-built isn't a viable route - I don't mind building my own. Also I was not referring to just buying computer parts online, more so buying anything online :D  Regardless, from what it seems the people at Microcenter know how to do this kind of thing so I could get some support from them if it comes down to this.
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July 21, 2013 2:27:34 AM

So, if you want easy solution, this is the only one which will beat your laptop.
Inspiron 660 MT $499.99 http://www.microcenter.com/product/414525/Inspiron_660_...
Monitor Dell (Dells have superb viewing quality, I own 2 from the past and still kicking great) $89.99 http://www.microcenter.com/product/415851/IN2030M_20_HD...

Video card, Microocenter doesn't have one so 7750
This one better cooling and a bit faster, but cost more at $109.99 free shipping GIGABYTE GV-R775OC-1GI Radeon HD 7750 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This one cost less and free shipping, but slower, at $89.99 XFX FX-775A-ZNP4 Radeon HD 7750 Core Edition 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So, round up 1 cent - $500+$90+$110=$700 + TAX, yours within a week (7750 shipping time) - will beat your laptop. If later you decide to upgrade video on Inspiron 660, most of today not full length cards will fit, power supply is upgradable, CPU is upgradable to i5.

Or you can build your own, you can save some from $500. Choice is yours.

Anything else I can help you with?
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July 21, 2013 9:17:45 AM

That looks like a good set up, and I suppose I may go something like that if I decide to go with a pre-built machine. However after learning a bit more, could you show me what I could get if I decide to build my own?
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Best solution

July 21, 2013 9:32:57 AM

Ritzycat said:
That looks like a good set up, and I suppose I may go something like that if I decide to go with a pre-built machine. However after learning a bit more, could you show me what I could get if I decide to build my own?


There are so many choices, that I would advise you to setup new topic, since activity here is decreased due to your initial request for OEM machine.
Follow the same structure as you did first and request for new build, you will have tons of offers within 30 minutes, I am not so good with this. My credo is with upgrading Dells and OEM machines, not building.

Good luck.
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