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Advice on gaming/video build for ~£500

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June 9, 2014 9:46:03 AM

Hi,

I'm new at this in a way... I've not build a PC system since before Y2K, and things have changed a little in the past 15-20 years!

My aim here is to try and build a system that achieves the following:
1) plays games at 1080p with a high fps and reasonable quality
2) will be able to plug in an Oculus Rift or similar device in ~ 1 year's time (or whenever they hit mainstream and I have the cash)
3) decodes and plays back 1080p video without getting stressed
4) runs silently when not playing games (inc during 1080p video playback)
5) has a small enough case to fit in the cabinet under the TV (approx 50cm x 20cm x 39cm - WxHxD)
6) plays the Elite Dangerous beta ;) 

What I have:

    - It's going to be plugged into the TV (a 46" Samsung LED), so no new monitor is needed.
    - I also really like the Logitech K400 for using when on the sofa (I already have one of these), but willing to take recommendations for a more sensible gaming keyboard. I have a mouse suitable for gaming.
    - I've got a couple of spare hard drives which should be good enough


Current build plan:
http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/hfyK23


    - Intel i5-4570
    - MSI GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB TWIN FROZR
    - ASRock H87M Micro ATX LGA1150 (chosen only because it was mentioned in another thread as a reasonable MoBo)
    - Crucial 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600
    - Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (OEM)
    - Got hard drive, keyboard and monitor
    - Going to buy an X52 Pro (PS34) joystick system (~£110) when they're in stock somewhere in the UK
    - Need advice on case, PSU, better keyboard, possible CPU cooler/wifi card


Timeframe:
- the plan is to order parts this week (next day or two) and build over the weekend

Questions:
Q1) what on Earth do I look for when choosing a motherboard? There's a chipset, ok, and some hard stats/ports... but then there's lots of marketing speil. Does it make a big difference which one is chosen?

Q2) what type of PSU do I need? PcPartPicker reckons my system needs 213W. So I need a 240W PSU? Or a factor of this... e.g. 2x + a bit = 600W?
This one looks quite popular, would it be suitable?
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/700w-storm-silent-lpk19-...

Or is it worth spending more to get something like this?
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/630w-be-quiet!-pure-power-l8-pure-power-l8-hybrid-modular-80-plus-bronze-1x120mm-atx-psu

Q3) how do I know if the components chosen (especially PSU and Graphics card) will fit into a given case?

Q4) will I need a special CPU cooler if I'm not overclocking the CPU? I'm pretty sure CPUs used to come with a heatsink in the good old days. Do you need something special these days?

Q5) do I need to get two (paired) memory sticks or can I get one now and perhaps add a second (identical) one in future?

Q6) some cases advertise that they have a "built in card reader"... does this need something special on the motherboard? How would it connect? It might be nice to have this, but it's certainly not essential.

Q7) I saw one of the Gigabyte motherboards advertised some interesting features... are these worthless or worthy? They don't seem to be on the newer Z97 motherboards, just the Z77 ones so perhaps they have been dropped?
http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=...
- "Lucid Universal MVP Support" to increase performance of the Graphics Card
- "Switchable Graphics" to disable the Graphics Card (particularly, would this help things run cooler/quieter when not gaming?)

Q8) Any recommendations for a smallish case that will fit the components, run quietly and be generally awesome?

Q9) Motherboards have built in networking right? So I'd just need to get a wifi card if I decide not to situate this machine next to the router. Is that correct? Is there any particular card/features that I should look for?

Q10) If I wanted to run multiple monitors (say 3 screens) from this box in future, is that purely a function of the graphics card? Or does any other part of the system need to meet a certain specification?

Thanks in advance for any help you can the way of this old fogie! I feel a bit like my dad must have done back in the day when I was a cheeky teenager spending his money on my PC build.


Christian

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a c 278 4 Gaming
June 9, 2014 11:43:31 AM

Wow, that's a lot of stuff. To answer your questions:

1. Choosing a motherboard depends on several factors. When I buy a motherboard I generally make a check list with these questions:
- What CPU you plan to use (most important)
- Whether or not you want to overclock (second most important)
- What form factor your case is going to be (third most important)
- Whether or not you plan to run more than one GPU
- How much RAM you want to run and at what speed
- What your budget is

Answering these questions will immediately filter out several candidates you might have.

2. Choosing the PSU based on what's popular is never a good way to go. There's a lot of crap out there, but a lot of OEMs now are getting wise to the fact that people don't want to buy crap power supplies. Wattage is one of the key factors, but the most important thing in choosing a power supply is the quality of the construction. You get a poorly made 700W version, it won't run. You get a solid 430W version and it will.

3. Depends on what case you want to use and what form factor you go with (standard ATX, micro ATX, mini ITX and so on).

4. If you're going Intel no. If you're going AMD yes - the AMD stock coolers are terrible.

5. Yes - always buy matched sets.

6. Most of the time those card readers are junk. You can always buy ones that are better made for less money than you would getting one that's built in.

7. If you don't plan to overclock don't worry about getting Z97 or Z77, and it's too late in the game to be considering Z77 unless you're on a strict budget. If you can be flexible definitely get the newest. But if you're not overclocking then get the Intel H87 / H97 series.

8. Here's a few micro suggestions if you're going that route:
- Fractal Design Core 1000: http://www.scan.co.uk/products/fractal-design-core-1000...(s
- Nanoxia Deep Silence 4: http://www.scan.co.uk/products/nanoxia-deep-silence-4-a...
- Corsair 350D: http://www.scan.co.uk/products/corsair-obsidian-series-...
- Bitfenix Prodigy: http://www.novatech.co.uk/products/components/cases/cas...

9. Yes - and it's always better to use the built in LAN connection if you have that option. Most routers now will allow you to hook LAN lines into them so you shouldn't have to worry.

10. Yes. It's definitely a function of the GPU to run multiple monitors or not, and I generally prefer NVIDIA but both NVIDIA and AMD cards can run multiple displays.

Also what's your budget? If you post that we can fill in the gaps for everything. If it's around the £500 mark and you're willing to be a bit flexible I'd do this:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4430 3.0GHz Quad-Core Processor (£119.99 @ Aria PC)
Motherboard: ASRock H87M Pro4 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard (£57.11 @ Amazon UK)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory (£66.12 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£35.94 @ Aria PC)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Superclocked Video Card (£117.30 @ Scan.co.uk)
Case: BitFenix Prodigy M Midnight MicroATX Mini Tower Case (£65.52 @ Aria PC)
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12G 550W 80+ Gold Certified ATX Power Supply (£69.00 @ Amazon UK)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer (£11.74 @ CCL Computers)
Total: £542.72
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-06-09 19:47 BST+0100)
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June 9, 2014 2:15:29 PM

Thank you for the rapid and detailed response!

My budget is around the £500 mark (sorry - it's in the subject line but not in the post itself), but not too strict if spending a little more here or there will give a big benefit.

I don't think I need to buy a hard drive and don't need a DVD drive (unless it's needed to install something... Windows? Last time I installed an OS I think it was done via USB stick, hopefully can do this with Win7 too). So I think your suggestion comes in just under £500, excluding the $%^& Win licence fee (which is annoying me purely because I will only load windows to play games... everything else will be in Ubuntu).

I'll look into your suggestions in more detail (and do some research, like the difference between Z97 and H97) and post a follow up later tonight.

Thanks again!


Christian
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June 9, 2014 6:36:14 PM

Thanks again for your tips. I'm now trying to figure out how attached I am to the current space limitation of the cabinet and if I can use a larger case instead. If it's a smaller case then I think the Silverstone SG09 looks like the best option.

For PSU is "be quiet" considered to be a quality brand? They seem to be highly considered and quieter would be better (also seems to be a bit cheaper than Seasonic - e.g. be quiet! Pure Power L8 630W for £57.1)

For video cards, are the different manufacturers much the same as each other? I'm leaning towards the MSI twin frozr instead of the EVGA SC since it seems to run a lot quieter.

Thanks again and I look forward to building this soon!
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June 13, 2014 3:40:08 AM

plays games at 1080p with a high fps and reasonable quality
will be able to plug in an Oculus Rift or similar device in ~ 1 year's time (or whenever they hit mainstream and I have the cash)
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