First time builder. Please be patient with me. Thank you!

Dear Community,

Forgive me if this is the wrong forum as I am new here and still learning the ropes of how forums work.

As you know that I own an Intel Pentium Dual Core e2160 Processor and was set off to build the system with the MicroATX case I had. However I was unable to find a suitable MicroATX motherboard within a decent price range. After a long talk with a local shop owner, I decided to just purchase a Full ATX Tower case as well as a Corsair 650W power supply.

My need to upgrade comes after not being able to watch the newest H264 based movies and not being able to play any new games such as Crysis at its full settings. So I've set off to build a brand new system from scratch. I've bought the case and power supply as stated earlier since I was able to get a good deal on both right off the bat.

Now I am looking to get a CPU, Motherboard, and RAM.

I have looked at various makes from both Intel and AMD. Now I don't want to get dragged into preferences. I am new coming into this and this will be my first build.

This is what I would like my PC to be able to do.

A) Handle games like Crysis with all settings high comfortably.
B) Encode video/music with ease.

Pricing/Return Value is very important to me. I do not prefer one brand over the other as long as the differences are trivial and I can squeeze as much performance out of the system as possible.

As long as the Motherboard is upgradeable (perhaps to DDR3) and CPU offers a good reliable platform for the GPU to work on, what is the best price/performance/value ratio I can come up with?

Again, I prefer no biased reponses. Just facts based on what will fullfill my needs, which again are, building a powerful enough Gaming PC. Please bear in mind that I am in my 30s. Gaming is not my life, however I enjoy playing games comfortably when I do play them. I am fairly proficient with building things but my lack of experience with this market has taken me into loops.

I hope someone out there can give me some great unbiased advice. I am sure any platform out there is as good as the other in its own ways. But what will serve my needs the best as we head towards mid 2009? I am going to take my time, so there's no hurry.

Thank you very much for reading this post.
16 answers Last reply
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  1. What is your budget and the size of your monitor? This info is crucial to have in order to spec out a gaming build. And when are you planning on said mid 2009, does that mean you won't build til may or june? Prices of current hardware will change considerably by then and new better things will be available for the price of current offerings. If you won't build for a couple months then there isn't much of a point in spec'ing out a build right now. My PC that I built in late Dec would cost $200 less now to build only 2 months later.
  2. Yes. I want to give myself ample time to familiarize myself with what exactly is going on.

    I do not have a brand preference. Instead I am looking based on my needs which is why all these benchmarks, reviews, etc, has lead me nowhere. Everyone has some preference. I strictly need a PC that will be used for gaming and video and music encoding and editing.
    So far I have been liking the mainstream E8400 processor offering the best bang for the buck with very good stock overclocking.

    I have a rough budget estimate of about $400 for which I should be able to pick up atleast the processor and motherboard if not RAM as well.

    Like you said the market is changing very fast, so I just need an insight on how to predict where the trend will go and narrow the choices down to when I am ready. Again, being able to handle some great games without slowdowns, encoding audio/video, HD, etc is what I am aiming at.

    I have never built a computer, so please bear with me. I think this will be a rewarding experience. I am dead sure that building it physically will be the easiest part. The hardest part is what components to buy.

    Also, as a note, I don't plan on having many hard drives, add on cards, etc. The only thing I can see myself adding down the line would be more RAM. I have decided to buy the GPU last. So CPU, motherboard, RAM, and GPU in that order.
  3. Again, there isn't any point in trying to pick out items now. Just wait until you have the money for this rig, that will determine what parts you will pick most of all. Buy everything at the same time, not one by one. If you buy parts now they will just sit in your closet and collect dust while their prices continue to fall.
  4. ocd said:
    Yes. I want to give myself ample time to familiarize myself with what exactly is going on.
    Visit the DIY sections of the PC websites to see what (and why) they're suggesting.
    THG System Builder Marathon: $625 Gaming PC
    TechReport $750 Utility Player Value without major compromises
    ExtremeTech $800 Gaming PC edit; 1 year of out date now and not recommended :non:
    BitTech: What Hardware Should I Buy? - March 2009

    edit; The ExtremeTech article is a good example of how fast things change. ;)
  5. As far as familiarizing yourself, WR2 has made an excellent suggestion. Understand why it is that they chose the parts that they did.

    The case and PSU are the only things that don't really fluctuate that much in a PC as far as price goes, and those would be things you could buy now if you wanted. However once again, the other components of your system will determine what you need.
  6. ocd,

    don't be too surprised to find out that $400 is not enough to meet your needs. Playing Crysis with settings on high, video encoding and a motherboard that can run DDR3 is in conflict with that price point. Processor will set you back ~$200, so will the that's $400 right there...and that definitely won't be top line CPU or motherboard. Good ram will also cost ~$150 for 4gb.

    you also have to think about which GPU you want to run. This is because the motherboard will favor either nVidia (SLI) or ATi (crossfire) for a second card down the line. And running a second card down the line will extend your gaming another year or two. I think DFI has a x58 motherboard that can run either sli or crossfire, but it's $300 right now on newegg.
  7. I don't know. E8400 about $200.
    GA-EP45-DS3P - less than $150. L model less. Similar Asus models, the same.
    4 GB DDR2 RAM about $50.

    My opinion, if you are not running an i7, DDR3 is a waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere. And if you are going to run an i7, your $400 budget is highly unrealistic.
  8. After much thought and online shopping, I settled on a GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3L motherboard.

    I didn't need RAID or anything, and this board seems to get a good review. My only gripe is Gigabyte has no Toll Free support. This rig will take some time building. Maybe 3 months more. That's not including the future screen and speakers I will have to get. Maybe a Hard Drive, DVD, mouse, keyb. etc.

    So far I have

    1) Apevia mx Alien case (The name probably isn't right for the case. It looks serious, no window, lights etc. Just decent all around and a good size)

    Total Cost = $163.02 (Tiger Direct)

    2) Corsair 650W PSU

    Total Cost = $110 (Tiger Direct) - There is a $20 mail in rebate but I'm not sure if I should go for it. They want me to rip out the real UPC Bar Code proof of purchase. Anyone think its a good idea?

    3) Motherboard mentioned above.

    Total Cost = $136.48

    4) Single 80mm Mascool case fan.

    Total Cost $7.89

    Grand Total = $417.39 CAD. (Expensive as hell just for 1/3 of what I need to finish this thing off)

    In the coming months, I will be looking for

    GPU card

    I expect all this to run upwards of $600 including shipping/taxes. Prices for these last three fluctuate and I will need to get the cooling components before I get the rest of these.

    Cooling componets will be Heat Sink for CPU, and another 80mm Front intake fan. I don't know much about cooling, but I understand the basic concept of air flow.

    - For CPU I am looking at Intel E8400 for the CPU in the next few months.

    - RAM = Corsair DDR2 4GB(Still confused about timings, speed, etc)

    - GPU = 4870 (When it hits $200 CAD mark)

    We have high GST/Shipping charges here so I'll be looking out for the best deals.

    What do you guys think?
  9. As others have said, save your money and buy everything at once. In 3 months from now you will be able to get better hardware on the's how it is with electronics. But you are going in the right direction so to say. Also that Corsair you found is a good deal for that price, but if you need the $$$ now, then go down a bit ... $10 is $10 when your on a budget. This psu down below will push just about any card out there. Same board as you chose...and it's a good one. :)

    Ok then... if you take a look at this case down below, it's a great mid sized case for a single card set up like you have chosen, and it has great airflow. It's what I call a gamers case. Quality where it counts, so you save your money for such things as a better vid card. Also try this site for prices. ---->

    It never hurts to shop around. :) $75.49
    COOLER MASTER Centurion 590 RC-590-KKN1-GP Black SECC / ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $99.99
    OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Modular Active PFC Power Supply - Retail $123.99
    GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3L LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

    Total: $299.47 CAD
  10. You are absolutely right about that. It is exactly what I have been thinking. This is why I bought the case first, then PSU, and got a great deal on both of them. The case is expensive, at $163 and change, but its what I wanted. I also got a good deal on the PSU as well as the motherboard.

    Remember that these prices you are talking about are simply just prices. I don't just look at some price like 299.99. One penny less than $300. I have my own gripe about the way pricing is done to fool the public. The most important thing I look at is how much did I pay? What is the Tax? Duty? Shipping/Handling/Restocking Fee incase the item does not work out. Lots of other hidden and unknowns. I like to know the reputation of the company. If it does not have one, then I try to establish one. I try calling, or emailing to see how quickly and in what capacity they reply.

    I am almost always willing to pay extra if I know that someone there will assist me if and when the time comes. Some companies like to leave you on your own and let you deal with the manufacturer. I found out that Gigabyte has a Canadian site, but no location in Canada? That is hard to believe...They have no major establishment here. Secondly, there's no Toll Free phone number for support. It's just like the "You break it, You bought it" policy. Only that its more like "You bought it, Now you deal with it, SUCKER."

    I am sure it is a good board, but it will be going back. Why? because the company I bought it from failed to specify the absense of RAID and onboard video. I learned that too cheap is not good, and too expensive isn't either. I also didn't need to go with a P45 based board. A G45 chipset would have been just fine for me and probably more features for the same price!

    Luckily I was able to cancel my order. Chances are low that I will ever push the motherboard to go beyond its listed Bus speed. I'd rather have less USB ports, and more FireWire and eSata/Sata ports. USB 2.0 is becoming so useless to me that I rarely ever bother using it unless they are really small files. Now eSata hot plugable devices would be VERY hot. The board also didn't have any onboard video. Which means I'd have to wait for a Graphics card to come by mail while my 15 day return policy runs out. NO THANKS. And Gigabyte has a 1 year warranty. Kind of scared me to think they don't really care about their products or what? Have you ever dealt with any of these companies?

    I know that you can just tell me to go to Hell (pronounced Dell) ..Heheheh), or HooletPackin' for all that customer support experience, but the truth is, they are just as terrible if not more. The only support I would ever need would never be technical. Mostly to do with a DOA or if the board had some electrical malfunction. In this case, I'd like to know who I'm dealing with.

    Thanks for the links, also, what is the deal with DDR2 timings or latency? What is a good decent number? Are these numbers even noticeable to a human being?
  11. @ Why_Me; you may have missed the part where he said he already bought the case, PSU and motherboard.
    Have you found any reviews on the OCZ Fatal1ty PSU to use as a basis for recommending it?

    @ ocd; It look's like you've spent about 25% of your $CAD 1K (is that right? ) budget on the case and PSU. We usually expect to see about 10-15% for the case and PSU combo.
    If you cut the UPC code off the PSU case you won't be able to return the unit to TigerDirect - you'll need to work directly with Corsair for warranty work.
    It's not clear what you're using the case, MB and PSU for at the moment. Are they just sitting on the shelf? Or is that e2160 being used with the rest of your system?
  12. ocd said:
    Yes. I want to give myself ample time to familiarize myself with what exactly is going on.
    I see the MB order got canceled. Or maybe it was the entire order?? You're going to take your own advice now?
  13. Hello OCD, I think you have been given a lot of really good data so far but I need to venture a couple words. 1] already suggested that you build funds then buy instead of piecing together. With out getting into my spec's this is what I'm in the process of doing for my first build.
    Case and case mod. parts, optical drive are in and on the way--gives me something to do
    tools,testers antistatic, KVM and PSU I'll get over the next few months
    Final Build estimated July-August:
    MOBO CPU Cooler RAM HDD OS I'll order at the same time so that I can hopefully get the items I want but right now can not quite afford. A 20-30 dollar drop over 4 months on my CPU will be great but is not a given. The important thing is that when I go to build if I have DOA components everything is in about the same 30 day window.
    Good luck and your not the only one going for that first build :)
  14. ocd said:
    I'd rather have less USB ports, and more FireWire and eSata/Sata ports.
    Use the NewEgg PowerSearch option and then tick the boxes that match what you want.
    eSATA - IEEE 1394 (Firewire) - Onboard Video Chipset - RAID, etc
    to help narrow down your search.
  15. Regarding firewire, as was pointed out by a friend. <make sure you get the latest firewire (1394-b 800) so that you do not need to buy a card in the first few months.
    1394b is backward compatible with the old firewire standard (1394a)>

    I was looking at two boards, one with FW and one without. I thought that of course I would want the board with built in FW, but it's 1394a.
    Therefore, I'll get the other board that *does not* have FW, but buy a PCI-e firewire 1394b card.


    [quotemsg=1907015,I'd rather have less USB ports, and more FireWire and eSata/Sata ports.
  16. Hey guys, thanks for the advice. Much appreciated.

    Much of what I am learning is some really great stuff. I'm more on the conservative side. While I understand your point of view of just jumping right in and getting it all, I just cannot afford it. Correction: I can afford it financially, but I am choosing to be smart about it. Reason? Money spent on living life is just much more pleasurable than a PC. If I save up, I'll keep saving and not wanting to spend. The last time I saved up to buy a car, I ended up saving over a hundred thousand. It's hard to let go of money you saved up working so hard.

    I mean, I am willing to spend a fair amount now that I realize what its actually going to cost me to build a decent gaming PC. Just not all right away. While I realize prices drop consistently, I'm trying to speculate where the market is headed and which components I want will go down in price and how long will they stay down before disappearing or becoming obsolete.

    The estimated cost of a decent gaming PC that will do Crysis on all high + Decent 1080p Screen = $1200. + change for some extra stuff.

    I know what Processor I want. I know what type of motherboard I want with what features, and I know fairly well on what Ram I want except for the latency. I'm still not quite informed on RAM that well. I am also not too well informed on what it means when it comes to RAM Speed vs RAM size, in both cases of System Ram and GPU RAM.

    My guesstimate is around August as well but it seems that people with top of the line PCs are having trouble playing bleeding edge games like Crysis. I've looked at a ton of reviews of the top ATI cards (within reasonable price ranges) and these things are barely handling Crysis. So my take is to wait a while. I'm not building a mission critical PC. It's just a gaming/Video PC.

    By the way, that PSU suggested to me might be good. It seems like its modular. But I already have a Corsair PSU. I bought it for $110 CAD (TOTAL). And it is a 650W to boot. Case I already have. Seems more expensive than the Centurion, but it is bigger and shipping/taxes were included in the price I stated. Remember, what we pay is quite a lot here in GST and Shipping.

    Jumpnice: My biggest fear would be DOA components. Thats exactly what I'll be spending a lot on in straight one shot. Motherboard, CPU, RAM. Just to make sure it all works together. Will be costly... I say around $600CAD for E8400 + Decent Motherboard + Decent RAM. Video card will come last.

    So yes I'd say 1/3 of the build is complete. Still learning about Cooling techniques.
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