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Father/Son Project: First Build for a Home + Light Gaming Rig (budget: approx. $500-600?)

Hello all,

My son and I thought it would be fun and educational to build our first computer. He’s 13, science/engineering minded, and likes building things—and I work a (non-computer) day job but have been using computers since the 90s. We currently have some pretty old budget laptops that are just too slow nowadays.

We’ve read a good number of posts here on TH and have seen some good builds, but we thought we would ask the pros for some quality advice on a good build based on current parts and prices.

We’re not looking for a super-high performance gaming rig, but a nice jack-of-most-trades home computer. My son will be using it for school work (documents, internet research, research, communicating with other students, etc.) and light gaming (currently he only plays Team Fortress 2 every now and again) and of course web surfing (YouTube, online games). I don’t see serious photo/video editing in the near future, but perhaps down the road. I tend to store pix/vids/music on external drives, so uber high capacity doesn’t seem necessary (1TB, perhaps?).

Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next two weeks-ish (but if sales/rebates or upcoming releases of good parts are on the horizon we can wait for that).

Budget Range: I put $600 as rough estimate. If we can do it for less, then great; at the same time, if spending more is justified to get a good machine, I’m all ears. We both realize that we don’t need a Ferrari when a dependable Honda will do.

System Usage: (1) School work (documents, internet research /watching videos, research, communicating with other students, etc.), (2) light gaming (currently he only plays Team Fortress 2), (3) of course plenty of web surfing (YouTube, online games). I’m sure our family needs will be evolving as our pre-teenage sons grow over the next few years, so it would make sense to have potential more taxing uses in mind as we build this today.
Are you buying a monitor: My brother has a flat screen TV he’s willing to give to the effort, so we’d like to use that and save the cash (unless you think that is not doable).

Do you need to buy OS: Yes. Thinking Windows, but not wedded to any particular version.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Doesn't matter

Location: Glendale, California (very near Frys and not far from mwave I’m told, so traveling there could be a fun part of the project).

Overclocking: Not high on our priority list, but my son might want to go there in the future-–if that performance boost is desired.

SLI or Crossfire: I’ve read about it only generally here, but not sure we need do worry about that.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: Current computers are old and slow, and we want to gain some understanding of how a computer works, what’s inside, and being geeky nerds about it.

As far a CPU, we're thinking an Intel i5 would probably make the most sense (overkill?), but not opposed to an appropriate AMD. Not sure if a separate graphics card would even be necessary. What do you all think? Save the cash since we're going high performance gaming?

Hopefully, we’ve provided the key facts to get some good builds and good prices. My son and I have really enjoyed reading the posts here on TH and learning about what is needed to build a PC.

We really appreciate this community—and especially the deep knowledge that so many folks have and the willingness to help noobs like us embark on a really cool journey. Props to you all.
30 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about father son project build home light gaming rig budget approx 500 600
  1. With your budget, I wouldn't go for an i5. I would go for one of those amd apu processors. IT's a cpu with integrated gpu.
  2. poolshredder said:
    Hello all,

    My son and I thought it would be fun and educational to build our first computer. He’s 13, science/engineering minded, and likes building things—and I work a (non-computer) day job but have been using computers since the 90s. We currently have some pretty old budget laptops that are just too slow nowadays.

    We’ve read a good number of posts here on TH and have seen some good builds, but we thought we would ask the pros for some quality advice on a good build based on current parts and prices.

    We’re not looking for a super-high performance gaming rig, but a nice jack-of-most-trades home computer. My son will be using it for school work (documents, internet research, research, communicating with other students, etc.) and light gaming (currently he only plays Team Fortress 2 every now and again) and of course web surfing (YouTube, online games). I don’t see serious photo/video editing in the near future, but perhaps down the road. I tend to store pix/vids/music on external drives, so uber high capacity doesn’t seem necessary (1TB, perhaps?).

    Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next two weeks-ish (but if sales/rebates or upcoming releases of good parts are on the horizon we can wait for that).

    Budget Range: I put $600 as rough estimate. If we can do it for less, then great; at the same time, if spending more is justified to get a good machine, I’m all ears. We both realize that we don’t need a Ferrari when a dependable Honda will do.

    System Usage: (1) School work (documents, internet research /watching videos, research, communicating with other students, etc.), (2) light gaming (currently he only plays Team Fortress 2), (3) of course plenty of web surfing (YouTube, online games). I’m sure our family needs will be evolving as our pre-teenage sons grow over the next few years, so it would make sense to have potential more taxing uses in mind as we build this today.
    Are you buying a monitor: My brother has a flat screen TV he’s willing to give to the effort, so we’d like to use that and save the cash (unless you think that is not doable).

    Do you need to buy OS: Yes. Thinking Windows, but not wedded to any particular version.

    Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Doesn't matter

    Location: Glendale, California (very near Frys and not far from mwave I’m told, so traveling there could be a fun part of the project).

    Overclocking: Not high on our priority list, but my son might want to go there in the future-–if that performance boost is desired.

    SLI or Crossfire: I’ve read about it only generally here, but not sure we need do worry about that.

    And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: Current computers are old and slow, and we want to gain some understanding of how a computer works, what’s inside, and being geeky nerds about it.

    As far a CPU, we're thinking an Intel i5 would probably make the most sense (overkill?), but not opposed to an appropriate AMD. Not sure if a separate graphics card would even be necessary. What do you all think? Save the cash since we're going high performance gaming?

    Hopefully, we’ve provided the key facts to get some good builds and good prices. My son and I have really enjoyed reading the posts here on TH and learning about what is needed to build a PC.

    We really appreciate this community—and especially the deep knowledge that so many folks have and the willingness to help noobs like us embark on a really cool journey. Props to you all.


    http://pcpartpicker.com/p/DHRxxr

    Thats the list I made. Thats the best setup I could think up for around $600. You really should get a GPU (graphics card) since it takes the stress off of the CPU and does the job better. Its worth the extra $58 in my opinion.

    Remember that there is no DVD drive in that as many people do not use them at all.

    Aaron.
  3. I tried really hard to stay within your budget. This is the build I made with 35 dollars left over for a mouse, keyboard, or a wifi card if you want.

    http://pcpartpicker.com/user/eivuwan/saved/NnqPxr

    CPU AMD A10-7850K 3.7GHz Quad-Core $169.99 (This has a decent integrated graphics card)
    Motherboard Gigabyte GA-F2A88X-D3H ATX FM2+ $67.49
    Memory G.Skill Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 $76.50
    Storage Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM $52.92
    Case NZXT Source 210 (Black) ATX Mid Tower $39.99
    Power Supply SeaSonic 400W ATX12V / EPS12V $43.98
    Optical Drive LG GH24NSB0 DVD/CD Writer $13.99
    Operating System Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) $102.98

    Edit: You can get an additional $10 off the operating system at newegg. Just look at the promotions link in your check out cart.

    Edit 2: I also tried to stay with amazon and newegg for my builds because I trust them. If there's a microcenter near you, you can also check to see if their prices are better.
  4. He sounds just like me when I was 13! I absolutely loved science, computers, and how things worked, and I still do. An i5 in a $600 just isn't possible without sacrificing performance and reliability in other areas unfortunately. I included the anniversary Pentium (Pentium G3258) because it is a blast to OC. You can easily get a 30-40% OC on it from it's 3.2GHz base clock. It also outputs less heat and is easier on the electricity bill because of it has a very low TDP. It will teach him how to OC safely and properly (obviously), but it is the best CPU for under $100, especially when OC'ed (it outperforms any i3). If you don't plan on an extreme OC (4.7-5.0GHz), then the stock cooler should work just fine and you can cut $30 off the build. I got a friend's G3258 up to 4.5Ghz stable with the stock cooler. That mobo is the same price as older Z87 chipset mobos, and allows for an upgrade to an i5 or i7 in the future. 1TB HDD is pretty much standard nowadays, SSDs are to expensive for general consumers still. The GTX 750 is probably the best value for a GPU around the $100 mark. Will play TF2 at max settings @ 60fps no problem (I had the older GTX 650 and it got 60fps easily). It also allows for room in case he starts playing more graphically intensive games. The case is okay... probably the most well built case under $40. It's got a side window so you two can see your masterpiece inside ;). The PSU also isn't the best, but the Corsair CX series is a high quality PSU for the price. Pretty basic CD/DVD drive... Windows 8 performs better than Windows 7 in games, and also runs smoother, looks cleaner, and is overall a good improvement over Windows 7.
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor ($59.00 @ Amazon)
    CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.99 @ Micro Center)
    Motherboard: ASRock Z97 PRO3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($69.30 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.92 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 1GB Video Card ($115.26 @ Amazon)
    Case: Enermax ECA3253-BW ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($49.99 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: LG GH24NSB0 DVD/CD Writer ($13.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
    Total: $615.42
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-23 21:37 EDT-0400
  5. Thank you so much for the build, Aaron. I hear you on going in for the graphics card--that actually makes sense. And I'm sure it would make whatever gaming we'll be playing and all video playback much smoother, as well. You say that it's worth the extra $58, and I would agree, but looking at the build list, the graphics card is $131, right? Or am I missing something. Would it still be worth it at that price.

    Looking over the other build suggestions below, they don't use the i5--that makes me think it's overkill for my needs. Should I just bail out on the i5?

    You read my mind on the optical drive--I haven't used one in years and don't really plan on using one so it seemed unnecessary. But I think I read here, however, that you would use the optical drive to load your OS. So without the optical how would I load the OS?
  6. Teemi said:
    I tried really hard to stay within your budget. This is the build I made with 35 dollars left over for a mouse, keyboard, or a wifi card if you want.

    http://pcpartpicker.com/user/eivuwan/saved/NnqPxr

    CPU AMD A10-7850K 3.7GHz Quad-Core $169.99 (This has a decent integrated graphics card)
    Motherboard Gigabyte GA-F2A88X-D3H ATX FM2+ $67.49
    Memory G.Skill Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 $76.50
    Storage Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM $52.92
    Case NZXT Source 210 (Black) ATX Mid Tower $39.99
    Power Supply SeaSonic 400W ATX12V / EPS12V $43.98
    Optical Drive LG GH24NSB0 DVD/CD Writer $13.99
    Operating System Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) $102.98

    Edit: You can get an additional $10 off the operating system at newegg. Just look at the promotions link in your check out cart.

    Edit 2: I also tried to stay with amazon and newegg for my builds because I trust them. If there's a microcenter near you, you can also check to see if their prices are better.



    Thanks, Teemi. I don't know much about the AMD processors, so I'll look into that one. I think I read on a build guide on this site that the AMD has a sufficient enough integrated GPU so that would mean I wouldn't need the graphics card.
  7. poolshredder said:
    Thank you so much for the build, Aaron. I hear you on going in for the graphics card--that actually makes sense. And I'm sure it would make whatever gaming we'll be playing and all video playback much smoother, as well. You say that it's worth the extra $58, and I would agree, but looking at the build list, the graphics card is $131, right? Or am I missing something. Would it still be worth it at that price.

    Looking over the other build suggestions below, they don't use the i5--that makes me think it's overkill for my needs. Should I just bail out on the i5?

    You read my mind on the optical drive--I haven't used one in years and don't really plan on using one so it seemed unnecessary. But I think I read here, however, that you would use the optical drive to load your OS. So without the optical how would I load the OS?


    For the extra dough i would go Intel(not an APU) and with a GPU. Its far easier to install in the socket than AMD. Plus the GPU is one of the best cheaper ones. It really makes for smooth gameplay on medium settings where an APU (as suggested earlier) would be smooth at the lowest settings. As for the other guy saying an i5 wouldnt be possible, I think i proved it can be.

    Plus for the extra $58 (by the $58 earlier i meant $58 over budget) you are upgrading to an i5 which helps future proof you from buying a new CPU once your son grows older and becomes computer power crazy like me (I'm 17). And OS can be loaded from a USB flash drive.

    Aaron
  8. Also I suggest finding the cheapest prices on your parts and going to Fry's to get them. Fry's price matches so if you find it cheaper anywhere(online, in ads, etc.) they will match that in store minus shipping.

    Aaron
  9. Will post my build soon. For the price you should at least have a strong cpu with a decent graphics card.
  10. modernwar99 said:
    He sounds just like me when I was 13! I absolutely loved science, computers, and how things worked, and I still do. An i5 in a $600 just isn't possible without sacrificing performance and reliability in other areas unfortunately. I included the anniversary Pentium (Pentium G3258) because it is a blast to OC. You can easily get a 30-40% OC on it from it's 3.2GHz base clock. It also outputs less heat and is easier on the electricity bill because of it has a very low TDP. It will teach him how to OC safely and properly (obviously), but it is the best CPU for under $100, especially when OC'ed (it outperforms any i3). If you don't plan on an extreme OC (4.7-5.0GHz), then the stock cooler should work just fine and you can cut $30 off the build. I got a friend's G3258 up to 4.5Ghz stable with the stock cooler. That mobo is the same price as older Z87 chipset mobos, and allows for an upgrade to an i5 or i7 in the future. 1TB HDD is pretty much standard nowadays, SSDs are to expensive for general consumers still. The GTX 750 is probably the best value for a GPU around the $100 mark. Will play TF2 at max settings @ 60fps no problem (I had the older GTX 650 and it got 60fps easily). It also allows for room in case he starts playing more graphically intensive games. The case is okay... probably the most well built case under $40. It's got a side window so you two can see your masterpiece inside ;). The PSU also isn't the best, but the Corsair CX series is a high quality PSU for the price. Pretty basic CD/DVD drive... Windows 8 performs better than Windows 7 in games, and also runs smoother, looks cleaner, and is overall a good improvement over Windows 7.
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor ($59.00 @ Amazon)
    CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.99 @ Micro Center)
    Motherboard: ASRock Z97 PRO3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($69.30 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.92 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 1GB Video Card ($115.26 @ Amazon)
    Case: Enermax ECA3253-BW ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($49.99 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: LG GH24NSB0 DVD/CD Writer ($13.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
    Total: $615.42
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-23 21:37 EDT-0400


    modernwar99,

    Thanks a million! That's too funny about the similarities bw you and my son. Some people are just drawn to and/or have an aptitude for technical/science-y things and that's totally us (moreso my son, but we share a lot in that respect). Although overclocking wasn't something I was even thinking about right now (just getting something that works was goal #1), I like that you think it's something well worth doing--at least for my son's sake--for the learning value. I'm leaning on going that route.

    "Intel Pentium." Now that takes me back. They've been making Pentium's forever, right? I totally was not expecting to see that among the suggested builds only because I didn't think they were still around. I don't have to worry about the Pentium you chose as being old, right? The price is jis just so unbelievably low compared to the other chips out there I see. Sorry for the lack of knowledge on that--I was only thinking i5 because all us noobs really hear about is i3, i5, and i7, so I figured the middle of the road made sense. (But I'm curious about the other suggested build above that had one--perhaps that build compromised somewhere else??) But if an i5 is simply not workable at our price range, so be it--and like you say, it sounds like we can upgrade in the future. So that means the mobo is compatible with the Pentium and the i series CPUs? That's cool.

    For the importance of the PSU, should I spend a bit more for a better one than the Corsair CX which you say "isn't the best"? I would do that it if you think it makes sense. I'm not sure skimping here would be wise, but if you think the Corsair CX is good enough, then I'll stick with that.

    I'm going with your recommendation on Windows 8.1--we tend to hold on to computers for longer than most (I'm writing this on an XP--I know, stupid move), so getting the most recent OS would makes sense for the future.
  11. PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor ($59.00 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: Asus H81M-D PLUS Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($44.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($38.99 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.91 @ OutletPC)
    Video Card: XFX Radeon R9 270 2GB Double Dissipation Video Card ($150.20 @ Newegg)
    Case: Enermax ECA3253-BW ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Antec Neo Eco 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($41.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
    Total: $513.05
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-24 01:35 EDT-0400

    If TF2 is the only game he's playing right now this is overkill. You could save a decent chunk of money by removing the graphics card and adding one later on when he's ready to play more serious/ graphically demanding games. The PSU is top notch quality, and it's 620W which is able to support high end graphics card if you choose to add one down the line. You can also upgrade the CPU to an i5/i7/ Xeon later on or add another stick of 4GB ram.

    No optical drive included because you can install windows through a USB, but if you still use CDs/DVDs it can be easily added for another ~$15.


    The price of this build is around $597 before rebates. It will also dominate any of the other builds posted here (no offense to other posters).
  12. aaronfield said:
    poolshredder said:
    Thank you so much for the build, Aaron. I hear you on going in for the graphics card--that actually makes sense. And I'm sure it would make whatever gaming we'll be playing and all video playback much smoother, as well. You say that it's worth the extra $58, and I would agree, but looking at the build list, the graphics card is $131, right? Or am I missing something. Would it still be worth it at that price.

    Looking over the other build suggestions below, they don't use the i5--that makes me think it's overkill for my needs. Should I just bail out on the i5?

    You read my mind on the optical drive--I haven't used one in years and don't really plan on using one so it seemed unnecessary. But I think I read here, however, that you would use the optical drive to load your OS. So without the optical how would I load the OS?


    For the extra dough i would go Intel(not an APU) and with a GPU. Its far easier to install in the socket than AMD. Plus the GPU is one of the best cheaper ones. It really makes for smooth gameplay on medium settings where an APU (as suggested earlier) would be smooth at the lowest settings. As for the other guy saying an i5 wouldnt be possible, I think i proved it can be.

    Plus for the extra $58 (by the $58 earlier i meant $58 over budget) you are upgrading to an i5 which helps future proof you from buying a new CPU once your son grows older and becomes computer power crazy like me (I'm 17). And OS can be loaded from a USB flash drive.

    Aaron


    I can think of many things worse to be "crazy" about at 17 than "power crazy" (if that's the only thing you're crazy about at this point.) Ha.

    I'm pretty much sold on going in for the GPU. I agree with you that It just makes sense. And like you say, if it makes the install easier, all the better. I don't want this first attempt to be overly frustrating.

    Thanks for the clarification on the $58--I now understand what you meant. And, yes, it'll likely be worth the extra cash in the future.

    So the OS can be loaded from a flash drive? That would be awesome if I could do that. So how do you get it on a flash drive then--when you buy the OS, does the package not have discs but a flash drive? Sorry for the ignorance--I've never purchased an OS before.

    And I think I'd rather go for Windows 8.1 over the 7 you suggested--more for the future proofing than anything else as we tend to keep our computers for a long time (like I informed in another post, I'm actually writing this on an XP machine that they'll likely have to pry from my cold dead hands--or it just gets a virus and dies before I do).
  13. RazerZ said:
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor ($59.00 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: Asus H81M-D PLUS Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($44.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($38.99 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.91 @ OutletPC)
    Video Card: XFX Radeon R9 270 2GB Double Dissipation Video Card ($150.20 @ Newegg)
    Case: Enermax ECA3253-BW ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Antec Neo Eco 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($41.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
    Total: $513.05
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-24 01:35 EDT-0400

    If TF2 is the only game he's playing right now this is overkill. You could save a decent chunk of money by removing the graphics card and adding one later on when he's ready to play more serious/ graphically demanding games. The PSU is top notch quality, and it's 620W which is able to support high end graphics card if you choose to add one down the line. You can also upgrade the CPU to an i5/i7/ Xeon later on or add another stick of 4GB ram.

    No optical drive included because you can install windows through a USB, but if you still use CDs/DVDs it can be easily added for another ~$15.


    The price of this build is around $597 before rebates. It will also dominate any of the other builds posted here (no offense to other posters).


    Thanks for the build list, RazerZ. Overkill isn't necessarily a bad thing--it should result in a longer lasting computer, right? I'm assuming that paying a bit more now to have a computer that somewhat exceeds one's needs will only mean it has a somewhat longer useful life, or so I would think. If so, I'm willing to do a bit of overkill. But you really think it's overkill with only 4 GB of RAM? I would think 8 is as low as you'd want to go for a new build.

    I totally hadn't thought of what you suggested--save the dough and just buy the GPU later. That seems like a brilliant idea. It might actually be fun test, after we get the system up and running and use it for a while, to see the performance boost after a GPU install. I think I might do that--unless you think it would cause complications when trying to install it later one. Something tells me that would not be the case.

    I agree that an optical drive seems unnecessary--as I said above, I haven't used one in years and don't really plan on using one. So do you buy the OS on a flash drive rather than on discs? That would be great, if so, but I'd like to know how that works because I thought when you bought an OS it came on discs.
  14. RazerZ said:
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor ($59.00 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: Asus H81M-D PLUS Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($44.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($38.99 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.91 @ OutletPC)
    Video Card: XFX Radeon R9 270 2GB Double Dissipation Video Card ($150.20 @ Newegg)
    Case: Enermax ECA3253-BW ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Antec Neo Eco 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($41.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
    Total: $513.05
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-24 01:35 EDT-0400

    If TF2 is the only game he's playing right now this is overkill. You could save a decent chunk of money by removing the graphics card and adding one later on when he's ready to play more serious/ graphically demanding games. The PSU is top notch quality, and it's 620W which is able to support high end graphics card if you choose to add one down the line. You can also upgrade the CPU to an i5/i7/ Xeon later on or add another stick of 4GB ram.

    No optical drive included because you can install windows through a USB, but if you still use CDs/DVDs it can be easily added for another ~$15.


    The price of this build is around $597 before rebates. It will also dominate any of the other builds posted here (no offense to other posters).


    Honestly, I didn't think of using an intel pentium. But if you take the rebates into account there's about 80 extra dollars that he can spend. Why not buy a better gpu or cpu with that money?
  15. Step by step tutorial on how to install windows via usb. That's what I did and the procedure was painless. You do buy the cd with Windows on it, and more or less copy the files onto a usb using a special program.

    http://pcsupport.about.com/od/windows-8/ss/install-windows-8-usb-tutorial.htm

    You can buy the GPU later and install it without a problem. TF2 isn't very demanding and he should be able to play it smoothly with the Intel Pentium's integrated graphics. To me this would make more sense because if you buy the GPU in a year or so, newer and faster cards will be out, and existing card prices should have dropped.

    BTW: I'd pick up that CPU immediately. Right now it's $60 on amazon with free shipping. Usually it goes for around $75.
  16. Teemi said:
    RazerZ said:
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor ($59.00 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: Asus H81M-D PLUS Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($44.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($38.99 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.91 @ OutletPC)
    Video Card: XFX Radeon R9 270 2GB Double Dissipation Video Card ($150.20 @ Newegg)
    Case: Enermax ECA3253-BW ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Antec Neo Eco 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($41.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
    Total: $513.05
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-24 01:35 EDT-0400

    If TF2 is the only game he's playing right now this is overkill. You could save a decent chunk of money by removing the graphics card and adding one later on when he's ready to play more serious/ graphically demanding games. The PSU is top notch quality, and it's 620W which is able to support high end graphics card if you choose to add one down the line. You can also upgrade the CPU to an i5/i7/ Xeon later on or add another stick of 4GB ram.

    No optical drive included because you can install windows through a USB, but if you still use CDs/DVDs it can be easily added for another ~$15.


    The price of this build is around $597 before rebates. It will also dominate any of the other builds posted here (no offense to other posters).


    Honestly, I didn't think of using an intel pentium. But if you take the rebates into account there's about 80 extra dollars that he can spend. Why not buy a better gpu or cpu with that money?


    I could adjust the parts to come closer to the $600 total after rebates. I just wasn't sure if the budget included rebates or not.
  17. I would add an SSD:

    http://pcpartpicker.com/part/samsung-internal-hard-drive-mz7te120bw

    This will allow for a <10 second boot time, and will reduce the loading times for programs overall.

    Otherwise if boot/ loading times aren't of much concern I'd upgrade the motherboard to an AsRock Z97 Extreme 3 and add a Cooler master hyper 212 EVO. The Z97 chipset will support crossfire and the Broadwell CPU generation when it comes out. The 212 EVO will keep the CPU cooler and will allow for overclocking.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor ($59.00 @ Amazon)
    CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ OutletPC)
    Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Extreme3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($104.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($38.99 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.91 @ OutletPC)
    Video Card: XFX Radeon R9 270 2GB Double Dissipation Video Card ($150.20 @ Newegg)
    Case: Enermax ECA3253-BW ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Antec Neo Eco 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($41.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
    Total: $603.03
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-24 02:39 EDT-0400
  18. RazerZ said:
    I would add an SSD:

    http://pcpartpicker.com/part/samsung-internal-hard-drive-mz7te120bw

    This will allow for a <10 second boot time, and will reduce the loading times for programs overall.

    Otherwise if boot/ loading times aren't of much concern I'd upgrade the motherboard to an AsRock Z97 Extreme 3 and add a Cooler master hyper 212 EVO. The Z97 chipset will support crossfire and the Broadwell CPU generation when it comes out. The 212 EVO will keep the CPU cooler and will allow for overclocking.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor ($59.00 @ Amazon)
    CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ OutletPC)
    Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Extreme3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($104.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($38.99 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.91 @ OutletPC)
    Video Card: XFX Radeon R9 270 2GB Double Dissipation Video Card ($150.20 @ Newegg)
    Case: Enermax ECA3253-BW ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Antec Neo Eco 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($41.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
    Total: $603.03
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-24 02:39 EDT-0400


    Thanks for the update--that's an awesome system. Boot up/load times are rather important--I hate waiting like 5 minutes for my current machine to boot up (yes, 5 minutes--probably even longer, actually). Because of that I was kinda hoping to include an SSD in the mix--I didn't think it would be in the budget, however. I'll have a closer look at your build in the a.m.

    Thanks again, we really appreciate all the input.
  19. No problem. It's getting late here so I'll be signing off.
  20. Well, adding a ssd will likely improve boot time by about 20 - 30 seconds. It's not like this computer will take 5 minutes to boot up even with a hdd. I prefer a better motherboard for easier upgrades later.
  21. True. Bootup time should be around 30 secs without the SSD and programs will still be blazing fast in comparison to what you currently have.

    An SSD isn't a bad thing, but it's just nice to have if it can fit the budget. Now that I'm thinking about it you can always add one later on, where as with the motherboard you would be stuck with what you have. I'm not sure how much Broadwell will bring to the table, but it's always nice to have a better upgrade path.
  22. Thanks again you guys for all your help on this. It looks like modernwar99 and RazerZ's builds are very similar, so I'll go with their recommendations on the Intel Pentium G3258 CPU. The price is right, and we just might try OCing it. The research seems to agree this is a great chip for the money, too. This LinusTechTips video, although over my head on a lot of issues, was helpful in confirming that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evXpqpNhu_Y.

    A few last questions on the differences between the two builds:

    MOBO: it seems there are two choices here--both are Z97s, but somewhat different (although I know not the distinctions). Modernwar99's build went with this one: ASRock Z97 PRO3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($99.99 @ Newegg), and RazerZ went with this: ASRock Z97 Extreme3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($104.99 @ Newegg). Is one preferable over the other? I doubt the $5 would make for a huge difference, but thought I'd run it by you all.

    GPU: My options seem to be (1) modernwar99's less expensive EVGA GeForce GTX 750 1GB Video Card ($115.26 @ Amazon) and RazerZ's XFX Radeon R9 270 2GB Double Dissipation Video Card ($150.20 @ Newegg). If the EVGA GeForce GTX is a suitable solution, I think I'd save that cash and add in an extra 8 GB RAM over RazerZ's build with only 4 GB. Is that a good strategy?

    Alternatively, I'm thinking of holding off for now on the GPU and buying one later--waiting for part spec upgrades or falling prices. Same with the SSD--hold off for now as it's a luxury we don't immediately need and can save that cash.

    OPTICAL: Seems that there is no need for one--I'll install the OS via the USB method suggested earlier.

    Thanks again for your help.
  23. I would get the gpu for team fortress.
  24. I chose the Z97 for forward compatibility, the new broadwell CPUs coming out are guaranteed to be compatible with H97 and Z97 mobos. I would choose the extreme 3 personally, because it has 8 power phases, which should theoretically overclock better and cooler. The 8gb kit of RAM will be better than the one 4gb stick. Mixing two different 4gb sticks might cause stability issues. Intel HD processor graphics will be really bad at running TF2. If you buy the R9 270 now, you shouldn't have to upgrade for a while. You will probably have to upgrade the CPU before the GPU anyways. Also good call on the SSD. They are still really expensive and in the next few years, they should have a large drop in price. Same with DDR4 RAM.
  25. modernwar99 said:
    I chose the Z97 for forward compatibility, the new broadwell CPUs coming out are guaranteed to be compatible with H97 and Z97 mobos. I would choose the extreme 3 personally, because it has 8 power phases, which should theoretically overclock better and cooler. The 8gb kit of RAM will be better than the one 4gb stick. Mixing two different 4gb sticks might cause stability issues. Intel HD processor graphics will be really bad at running TF2. If you buy the R9 270 now, you shouldn't have to upgrade for a while. You will probably have to upgrade the CPU before the GPU anyways. Also good call on the SSD. They are still really expensive and in the next few years, they should have a large drop in price. Same with DDR4 RAM.


    Thanks, modernwar99. I think I'm going with your build--esp the Extreme3 and the 8GB. I just checked it out as ASRock's website, and I agree it's worth the extra $5. I think I'll also do your GPU--the price fits in nicely.

    Since you weren't overly stoked on the Corsair PSU, what about swapping it for the Antec Neo Eco 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($41.99 @ Newegg) also suggested here? I don't know the performance difference between those two brands and the 500W and 620W specs.
  26. So the extreme 3, 8gb RAM, and R9 270? Also both brands are in tier 3 of the PSU tier list, but I would trust Antec PSUs better than Corsair, it's also a higher wattage so it should last through upgrades. I also am not happy with my Corsair CX600 because the fan constantly makes noise, so idk why I even recommended it... maybe I just got a bad one.
  27. Seasonic is the OEM for the Antec Neo Eco 620W PSU. It's a great PSU. The PSU tier list needs to be updated. The 620W Neo Eco should be somewhere in tier two or tier one. Corsair does make some good quality units, but they are often overpriced and their CX series is average, nothing great.

    The CX series is manufactured by CWT and use cheap Samxon capacitors in their psus.
  28. modernwar99 said:
    So the extreme 3, 8gb RAM, and R9 270? Also both brands are in tier 3 of the PSU tier list, but I would trust Antec PSUs better than Corsair, it's also a higher wattage so it should last through upgrades. I also am not happy with my Corsair CX600 because the fan constantly makes noise, so idk why I even recommended it... maybe I just got a bad one.


    -Yes to the Extreme3
    -Yes to the 8 gb RAM
    -But not the R9 207--I was thinking the EVGA GeForce GTX 750 1GB Video Card ($115.26 @ Amazon) you originally suggested. That's probably fine for our needs, right? I'd like to keep the price somewhat lower on that. If you have any other thoughts, feel free to let me know.

    I'll also go with the Antec PSU. The quieter and more reliable the better imo.

    Could you put together an updated pcpartpicker that I could just buy everything from--and choose as the solution?

    Thanks again, man.
  29. Best answer
    I took off the Hyper 212 EVO because the G3258 has such a low TDP, you can get it to 4.5Ghz on the stock cooler. The price is about $20-30 higher before rebates.
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor ($59.00 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Extreme3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($119.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($69.30 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.92 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 1GB Video Card ($115.26 @ Amazon)
    Case: Enermax ECA3253-BW ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Antec Neo Eco 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($66.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
    Total: $608.44
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-24 14:15 EDT-0400

    Some good PC building videos aimed at beginners:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1Q8ksRI1Eo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0XMvS5I7AY&list=UUmWNCO9wSjzOz1UV8jCvIHA
  30. A huge thanks to modernwar99, RazerZ, and Teemi for all their assistance on this. All three provided valuable expertise that created a really great first build for me and my son to put together--at just the price we were looking for, too. I can't believe how much we both have already learned from you, so I can't even begin to express my gratitude for your willingness to share all you know.

    I've ordered everything, and it should arrive in time to put it together by next weekend. If not, it'll be the weekend after.

    Keep the fingers crossed that the assembly and OS install go as smoothly as working out the build details. If not, I know I can come back here and get some solid advice.
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