Homebuilt PC Buying Guide

This is the same content-wise as my original post, but I needed to repost using more separate posts for the new Master Sticky :).

Welcome to my guide! My goal in writing this guide is to help you to be able to build your own computer. I organized the material in a manner that makes choosing all the necessary parts for a new build as straightforward as possible. There is a separate section for each of the parts which begins with a list of a few of the most relevant terms, their definitions, and a number of links to helpful sites. This section does not necessarily need to be read word for word to begin with, it is intended to be used as a reference whenever you run across an unfamiliar term. The paragraph that follows is a provides general guidelines to selecting the right part to suit your needs, uses, and budget. Next, there is a table containing all of my current recommendations, complete with their specifications. For many of the parts, you will also find a graph showing each part’s performance relative to the others. Next, there is a list, usually broken down by price range, of my recommended choices, a quick description of each part, and a link to that product’s page on Newegg. Finally, there is a list of alternatives to be considered if none of the recommended choices suit your needs or budget. These are generally niche parts.

There are no complete, pre-selected builds, for several reasons. One, I feel that each build should be unique in order to best suit your uses. Two, there are many variables to consider – resolution, uses, crossfire, overclocking, etc. Providing pre-built options would undo the benefits of building rather than buying. Lastly, I enjoy choosing parts for a new build and I think you will too. After reading through my guide, feel free to post in the Systems Forum using the How To Ask For New Build Advice form, and ask any questions you may have. You will certainly receive help. As I am trying to keep the length of this guide reasonable, I generally try to only include the best and most affordable options at the time of posting. These may change over time however, so once you have picked out all your parts, I recommend that you do a quick check on Newegg, to see if there are any especially good deals, or combos available on other, competitive parts. Finally, the best way to ensure that you stay on track with your budget is to add the parts to your Newegg cart as you go. Good luck with your build, I hope I’ve helped you narrow down your choices and expand your knowledge. Certainly, if you have any feedback, please PM me or post below, I would really appreciate it!

Last Updated 10/31/10

Table of Contents

Graphics Card
Hard Drive
Power Supply
Power Supply Part II
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More about homebuilt buying guide
  1. Section 1: Choosing Parts


    Important Terms
    Cache (MB) – Cache acts as a buffer in order to prevent the CPU from being forced to access the far slower RAM, and thereby speeds things up and decreases traffic. As seen in the Athlon II series(which lacks L3 cache), processors sometimes operate surprisingly well without any L3 cache (they still have closer, smaller, faster L1 and L2 cache levels). Athlon II versus Phenom II at same frequency
    TDP (W) – Lower thermal design power is better as it is related to the chip’s power consumption; lower TDP is easier on your power bill, produces less heat, and requires less cooling.
    Hyperthreading – HT is a technology found in Intel Core i3 and i7 processors (and some others). A processor with HT enabled is recognized by the OS as having twice as many virtual cores as it actually has (physical cores). Physical cores are still better than virtual ones though. HT is more beneficial in highly threaded applications. Core i7 hyperthreading on/off comparison
    Turbo Boost/Turbo Core – Turbo boost is a feature found in Core i series processors (and some others) that automatically increases the clock rate of active cores when some cores are inactive. For example, if a quad core processor has a TDP of 100W to be shared by all four cores, but only two cores are active, the processor will automatically increase the clock rate of the active cores using the power borrowed from the inactive cores. This effectively eliminates any advantage a faster clocked dual core processor might have over a slower quad. Turbo core is AMD’s answer to turbo boost and is essentially the inverse of Cool ‘n’ Quiet. It is utilized in the Phenom II X6 series. Turbo boost summary Turbo core summary
    Black Edition – BE processors from AMD have their multipliers unlocked which can simplify overclocking.
    Manufacturing Tech (nm) – Smaller is better in terms of heat production, power consumption, and overclocking capability. Only consider 45nm or smaller chips.

    Thought Process
    Here’s how I would recommend choosing a CPU for a new build. First consider what the computer will be used for. This determines how many cores you should look for. Then decide how much you are willing to spend on the CPU alone. This determines the clock rate as well as what extra features the processor can be equipped with. You can use the table I created below with the important specifications for each of my recommended processors as a reference.

    Step One
    If you will be using the computer for everyday tasks such as internet browsing and word processing, then you will be fine with a standard dual core. If you will be working at least part of the time with programs that need lots of processing power (photo editing, etc.) or if you plan to have a number of large programs open at once, you’ll need a quad core. Finally, if you plan on using your computer exclusively for things such as encoding and other well threaded activities, look into hexa cores.

    As you may have noticed, I have not stated the optimal number of cores for a gaming build. Well, this is mostly dependent on two things. The first being what games you plan on playing, and the second being how long you plan on waiting before upgrading/starting over. There are still games that see little benefit from additional cores, and if you happen to mostly play that type, then you will be fine sticking with a dual core as long as you realize that in the future this will become less common.
    Performance comparison of 2-6 core CPUs

    Step Two
    Now is when you need to focus on price. Assuming you’ve decided how many cores you would like, it’s time to look at what’s available and how much it costs. Let’s say you settled on a quad core. Well, judging from the table below you have a number of options. You can get a basic, stripped down quad for around $100. If you pay a little more though, you can get more speed and added cache. Then, there’s one with turbo boost for an additional cost. And finally, you can get all of the above plus hyperthreading in the most expensive offering. To help determine exactly how each step up effects performance, see the graph below. At this point, you simply must decide how much you are willing to pay for each feature and draw the line somewhere. For example, if you are not willing to pay $50 extra for a 5% boost in performance then you’ve found your processor. Use the listings below the table and graph to see how much each processor costs, and for a quick overview.
    Various dual and quad cores compared

    AMD Athlon II X3 445
    Good for budget gaming builds and for general usage. Only a few dollars more than the X2 250, operates at a higher frequency, and has the advantage of an extra core. Due to the extra core it is more competent at multitasking, and it does not sacrifice clock rate. Still no L3 cache. May be unlocked into a quad core. Offers more cores than both the X2 555 and i3 540 while still remaining competitive during less threaded usage. Upgradeable.
    AMD Athlon II X4 640
    A good choice for users needing more multitasking power on a reasonable budget. One more core than the X3 445, but with similar gaming performance.
    AMD Phenom II X4 965
    Ideal for mid-range gaming builds and as well as for multitasking. Quad core with a fast clock rate and L3 cache allowing for good performance in most areas. Lacks turbo boost, so often beaten by the i5 760 in less threaded workloads. Does have an unlocked multiplier.
    Intel Core i5 760
    Good for gaming and multitasking builds. Has turbo boost, which the X4 965 lacks, but does not have HT as found in the i7s. Platform cost may be a bit higher than the X4 955.
    Intel Core i7 870
    Best for heavier workloads than the i5 760 – little benefit is seen in games. Clocked slightly faster than the i5 760 and with the added help of HT.
    Intel Core i7 950
    Best for large workloads or heavy multitasking. It’s high platform cost makes it not ideal for gaming. Similar to the i7 860, but with less aggressive turbo modes. Has the advantage of triple channel RAM and support for full x16/x16 multi-GPU configurations.

    AMD Athlon II X2 250
    Only for very low budgets. Very affordable and operates at a high clock speed. Adequate for everyday uses. Because it has only two cores and no L3 cache, it falls behind in higher threaded environments. Can also be replaced later on by a higher end AM3 processor.
    AMD Phenom II X2 555
    Only for overclockers and those looking to unlock the disabled cores. Otherwise look into the X3 445. Clocked high and has the added benefit of L3 cache and an unlocked multiplier. Not a good choice for multitasking, but works well for some games. Good overclocker. May potentially be unlocked into a quad core.
    Intel Core i3 540
    Expensive for a dual core. Fast with HT allowing for moderate multitasking performance. Still best suited for gaming.
    AMD Phenom II X6 1090T
    Best suited for users working consistently with very heavy workloads. An upgraded X4 955 with the addition of two additional cores and turbo core. The additional cores make it ideal for heavy multitasking. Unfortunately, turbo core does not give it enough of a boost to beat the i7s in less threaded environments.
  2. MOBO/Motherboard

    Important Terms
    Socket – Your CPU and motherboard must have the same socket, with one exception: AM3 CPUs work with both AM2+ motherboards and AM3 ones.
    Chipset – The chipset is essentially the spinal cord of the computer; it determines many things about the motherboard including how many PCI-E slots it has, what RAM it supports, and whether or not it is equipped with onboard graphics.
    RAM support – Check and see which generation of RAM is supported (DDR2/DDR3) and whether the board supports dual (AM2/3, 775, LGA 1156) or triple channel (LGA 1366) configurations.
    Expansion slots – Choose a board with at least one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot for a single graphics card, or at least two at x8/x8 slots for dual GPUs, X4 bandwidth is too limiting for a modern GPU. Although there is a benefit to having a x16/x16 setup, the results are not dramatically different from x8/x8.
    x8 versus x16 bandwidth comparison
    Multi-GPU scaling
    Integrated graphics – IGPs are useful for budget builds and for users who will either not be playing any games, or who will only be playing less intense games at low resolutions and settings. Currently, the best IGPs are AMD’s offerings.
    Form factor – The two most common form factors are ATX (12”x9.6”) and microATX, sometimes denoted as µATX (9.6”x9.6”). In most cases µATX boards will fit in ATX cases, but ATX boards do not fit in µATX cases. µATX boards are sometimes available for cheaper than full-size boards while still retaining many of the features, but they often have fewer expansion slots and can feel somewhat cramped.
    Rear panel ports – Finally, if you require any special connectors such as PS/2 or eSata, it’s more convenient if the motherboard already has support for these devices onboard.

    Thought Process
    By now, many of the motherboards in the table below can be crossed off since you have already chosen a processor and socket. So, the next step is to make some decisions regarding your graphics card. You must decide first whether you want to make use of onboard graphics or purchase a discrete card. For onboard select one of the motherboards with IGP. If there is not a motherboard with IGP for your socket, you will have to purchase one of the non-gaming GPUs listed in the GPU section. If you want to stick to discrete cards, then decide whether you plan on adding a second GPU later on as an upgrade. For this you’ll need a motherboard with at least two x8 or higher PCI-e 2.0 slots. The table below indicates each motherboard’s capabilities.

    Gigabyte GA-880GA-UD3H
    Low budget, integrated graphics, non-Crossfire, USB 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s, ATX form factor, AM3 board.
    Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H
    Has integrated graphics, supports USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB/s, ATX, x8/x8 Crossfire.
    Asus M4A89TD PRO
    Supports x16/x16 Crossfire, no integrated graphics, USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s, ATX.
    Asus P7P55D-E LX
    Non-Crossfire 1156 board with USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s.
    Asus P7P55D-E Pro
    Supports x8/x8 Crossfire and SLI, as well as SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0.
    Asus Sabertooth X58
    x16/x16 Crossfire and SLI support, SATA 6Gb/s, and USB 3.0.
  3. RAM/Memory

    Important Terms
    Generation – Make sure you pick the right generation of RAM (DDR2/3) for your motherboard.
    Channels – For LGA 1366 motherboards, low voltage triple channel kits must be used. For LGA 1156 motherboards, look for low voltage dual channel kits. AM3 boards use standard or low voltage dual channel DDR3, and AM2+ boards utilize dual channel DDR2.
    Frequency – While higher frequencies are better, like with many other components, when you start to look at very high speeds, the performance increases tail off, and the price increases take off exponentially.
    Memory Scaling
    CAS Latency – The time in clock cycles that pass before a block of data can accessed. Surprisingly, latencies can have as much or more impact on performance as frequencies. Get the lowest latencies that price allows. There is one complication however: you should not think that high latencies as an absolute rule means lower speeds. A good way to get an idea for the relative speed of RAM is this equation: (1/(.5*Clock))*CL or with actual numbers (1/(.5*1333))*7. Smaller numbers indicate better overall performance.
    Memory Analysis
    Transfer rate – To calculate the maximum theoretical bandwidth of your RAM, you simply multiply the DDR clock rate by 8 (e.g. 1333 MHz x 8 = 10664 MB/s)
    Voltage – Some boards, such as all socket 1156 and 1366 ones require low voltages to operate safely (1.65V or lower). Also, it is generally best to avoid sticks that require especially high voltages to reach their given frequencies and timings as they can be less stable.

    Thought Process
    Look back at the processor you chose. Chances are, if you chose a low end dual core for everyday uses you could get by with 2GB or RAM. If you got something higher, all the way up to a quad you’ll be fine with 4GB. If you got a hexa core, you may be doing work that could utilize 8GB. One complication is the 1366 socket. For any build using the 1366 socket, you must get RAM sticks in multiples of three, whereas with other builds you must get them in multiples of two. Meaning, you need 3/6/12 GB rather than 2/4/8 GB. This is not an option. As for frequency and latency, look for something in the 1333MHz-1600MHz range with as low of latencies as is reasonable/you are willing to pay. One final word of advice, you will need a 64-bit OS in order to take full advantage of more than 4GB of RAM.

    Crucial Ballistix 2GB
    Low latency, low voltage 2x1GB set for AM3 and 1156 sockets.
    Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 4GB
    Low latency, low voltage 2x2GB set for AM3 and 1156 sockets.
    G.Skill Pi Series 6GB
    Low latency, low voltage 3x2GB set for 1366 sockets only.
  4. GPU/Graphics Card

    Important Terms
    Memory size – This varies between the two camps but generally, 512MB or more is recommended. Increases in memory size have more effect on higher resolutions.
    Memory bus size – Although GDDR5 GPUs’ memory bus size is often half as wide as those of GDDR3 ones, the GDDR5 cards effectively make up for this by executing twice as much per clock cycle as GDDR3 ones.
    Memory clock – The speed of the GPU’s onboard memory which, along with the memory bus size, determines the memory bandwidth of the card.
    Stream processors/Shaders – I’ll use a short analogy to help clarify what this term means in terms of performance. Essentially, stream processors are the number of hoofed animals pulling a wagon (you’ll see why I didn’t just say horses later). At first glance, it would appear that ATI had a huge advantage given their very high numbers of stream processors. This is not exactly true however because Nvidia is using horses while ATI is using ponies. Meaning, while Nvidia cards executes three times per cycle, ATI cards only execute twice per cycle. See the next point, to see what this means in terms of performance.
    Processing Power (TFlops) – A calculation which shows the relative strength of a GPU. To put this into numbers I’ll use the specifications for the ATI’s Radeon HD 4890 and Nvidia’s Geforce GTX 275. To calculate the processing power of each GPU in TFlops, all one must do is multiply the different specifications together.
    Executions Per Clock Cycle x Stream Processors x Shader Clock Speed =Processing Power (TFlops)
    GTX 275: 3 x 240 x 1404 =1,010,880 (1.01 TFlops)
    HD 4890: 2 x 800 x 850 =1,360,000 (1.36 TFlops)
    High-end GPU benchmarks
    Mid-range GPU benchmarks
    Shader clock – How fast the hoofed animals (see the previous point) are running.
    Core clock – The speed of the graphics processor on the card. Runs functions at the multiprocessor level, while the shader clock handles the individual stream processors.
    Transistors – No effect on performance, but does indicates the relative complexity of the chip.
    Manufacturing Tech (nm) – Like with CPUs, smaller is better in terms of heat production, power consumption, and overclocking capability.
    3D API – DX11 includes a number of new features including DirectCompute, tessalation, and improved threading.
    DX11 Explained
    Power consumption – More power hungry cards will not only run up your electricity bill, but will most likely also produce more heat and noise.
    GPU power, heat, and noise analysis

    Thought Process
    To choose a gaming graphics card first determine what resolution you will be playing at. Higher resolutions require much more powerful graphics cards to produce the same level of detail. Onto the hard part. After that, you must strike a balance between performance and price, just as you did your with CPU. See the graphs below to get an idea of what kind of performance to expect out of each card. Farther down, the listings indicate roughly what the maximum resolution the card will be able to output maximum quality settings while still maintaining playability. If you absolutely must have max settings for all games, consider getting a card that can handle maximum settings on a resolution higher than yours. If you are content with moderate settings, you may be able to get a cheaper, less powerful card.

    XFX Radeon HD 5670
    Max settings at 1024x768. Good for non-gamers who want don’t want to settle for integrated graphics.
    Gigabyte Radeon HD 5770
    Max settings at 1680x1050. Works well for most current games up to 1080p, and can be crossfired later on. For non-crossfire builds look into the 5850.
    Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850
    Max settings at 1920x1080. This card should not be thought of as a replacement for the HD 5850. AMD has changed their naming scheme for the HD 6000 series cards.
    MSI GeForce GTX 460
    Max settings at 1920x1080. Slotted between the 6850 and 6870.
    Gigabyte Radeon HD 6870
    Max settings at 1920x1080. This card should not be thought of as a replacement for the HD 5870. AMD has changed their naming scheme for the HD 6000 series cards.
    Gigabyte Radeon HD 5850
    Max settings at 1920x1800/2560x1600. Better performance than the 5770 and without the need for a crossfire capable system.
    EVGA GeForce GTX 470
    Max settings at 1920x1800/2560x1600. Performance between the 5850 and 5870 with Nvidia features such as PhysX and 3D vision.
    Gigabyte Radeon HD 5870
    Max settings at 2560x1600. Good for multiple monitors or for running the highest settings on intense games.
    Sapphire Radeon HD 5970
    Max settings at 2560x1600+. Overkill for almost any system.
  5. HDD/Hard Drive

    Important Terms
    RPMs – 7,200 is standard, while 10,000RPM can provide a performance boost at a cost.
    Hard drives compared
    Platter size – Denser platters are faster and often dense platters can make up for lower RPMs. Currently, 500GB platters are the largest in production and these drives offer excellent performance at a good price.

    Thought Process
    The first and most obvious question to consider when selecting a hard drive is storage space. After you have selected an appropriate sized mechanical hard drive, you have several options to consider. First, you could set up a RAID configuration to either boost performance (0) or to protect data (1). But, the really exciting possibility is adding a solid state drive. SSDs offer many advantages over mechanical HDDs including far superior performance, greater durability, higher efficiency, and less heat and noise production. The most practical usage of a solid state drive is to install a small one in conjunction with a large mechanical drive. This way you can install your OS and important programs (Office, browsers, etc.) on the SSD for excellent performance, and still have room for all your games and media on the large HDD. As SSDs are the only component in this entire list that are not required for a new build, it really comes down to your budget.
    SSD comparison

    Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB
    Fast, cheap, single platter drive.
    Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB
    Like the 500GB version, but with two platters.
    50GB SSD
    OCZ Vertex 2 60GB
    Very fast, quiet, and big enough for your OS and important programs. Add in a mechanical HDD for storage.
    120GB SSD
    OCZ Vertex 2 120GB
    Fast, quiet, and with more space. You’ll still probably want to add in a mechanical HDD for storage though.
  6. PSU/Power Supply
    *Be sure to see the PSU section in Post 2 as well.*
    Important Terms
    Quality – Before you buy a power supply check for reviews on the websites listed below under. Generally, Seasonic, Corsair, Antec, PC Power and Cooling, and Enermax, make the most reliable units, but even with these brands there are exceptions.
    PSU reviews
    More PSU reviews
    PSU rankings
    Efficiency – 80 Plus Standard Certification means that the PSU is guaranteed to use 80% of the power that it draws from the outlet (little wasted power) at 20%, 50%, and 100% load. This ensures that you actually do have enough power for your system and reduces wasted energy.
    PCI-e connectors – Many modern GPUs require two of these and so, you must purchase a PSU with at least 4 connectors in order to add a second card later.
    Modular cables – Although you often have to pay extra for it, modular (detachable) cables are helpful in cable management and improving airflow.

    Thought Process
    First look at the graphics card you chose. If you didn’t chose one, and instead decided to stick to onboard, then you’ll be fine with a 400W PSU. If you selected any single GPU (no 5970/295/4870x2) then you need to get something in the 550W range. Finally, for multiple GPUs you should get about 750W to be safe. As an additional consideration, look into how many PCI-e connectors your graphics setup will require, and ensure that your power supply has enough. Finally, I cannot stress enough that all power supplies are not created equal.

    SeaSonic S12II 520W
    Plenty of power for integrated graphics and most single GPU cards.
    XFX Black Edition 650W
    Enough power for any single card.
    XFX Black Edition 750W
    Will power any single graphics card and can handle two of most single GPU cards.
    XFX Black Edition 850W
    Will power most current dual GPU setups.
  7. Case

    Important Terms

    Thought Process
    In the end, choosing a case comes down to which one you like the looks of. But, first you have to narrow down your options to just those that will work with your build. To do so, first look at what motherboard you chose. If its form factor was µATX (micro-ATX) then you may want to get a case made especially for µATX boards, although ATX cases generally fit them as well. If you picked out a ATX board, you must get an ATX case. The next most important consideration is cooling. I recommend that you look for a case with at least one front fan for intaking cold air, and one rear fan for exhausting heated air. Additional fans are great, but remember they add noise as well. Now a 120mm fan is quite a bit better than an 80mm one. Here’s why. Their larger size allows them to move more air, meaning they can spin at lower RPMs, meaning they will produce less noise. Other considerations include, the material the case is made out of (generally steel or aluminum), the size and weight of the case, and whether it has a side window or not.

    Antec 300 Illusion
    Cooler Master RC-690
    Cooler Master Storm Scout
    Thermaltake V9
    Antec 900
    Cooler Master HAF 922
    Lian Li Lancool PC-K62
    Lian Li PC-7FNW
    Antec 902
    Cooler Master Storm Sniper
    Cooler Master HAF 932
    Antec Twelve Hundred
    Rosewill R102P-BK
    Silverstone LC13B-E
  8. Monitor

    Important Terms
    Resolution – If a 24” monitor has a resolution of 1680x1050, then it has 1,680 pixels measured left to right and 1,050 measured top to bottom. If the same monitor instead has a resolution of 1920x1200 there are more pixels in the same amount of space and therefore the overall size of each individual pixel is smaller, improving the quality of the image.
    Response time – Lower is better, especially for gaming as slow response times can sometimes result in ghosting or blurring. 5ms or lower is best but with larger monitors response time is generally higher.
    Contrast ratio – Higher ratios are better, this results in darker blacks and more vivid colors.
    3-D – 3-Dimensional monitors are becoming cheaper and more widely available. They operate at 120Hz rather than the standard 60Hz and must be paired with an Nvidia 3-D capable GPU and 3-D glasses.
    3-D technology explained

    Thought Process
    Basically, with monitors, you decide how big a screen you are willing to pay for. Keep in mind that if you get a higher resolution one, you will need a more powerful graphics card to maintain the same level of performance you would need on a smaller one.

    Asus VH242H
  9. ODD/Optical Disk Drive

    Important Terms

    Thought Process
    Don’t spend too much time on this component. Look for a standard 24X DVD+R, 48X CD-ROM drive. Do make sure that the drive uses a SATA connection. This ensures that it will be supported by newer motherboards and makes cable management easier, improving airflow. If your budget allows for it, and you wish to have one, there are Blu-Ray combination drives available as well.

    LG 22X DVD
    LG 10X BD-ROM

    HSF/Heatsink and Fan

    Important Terms
    Core temperature – Look for units that keep CPU temperatures as low as possible.
    Top HSFs
    Fan size – As with case fans, larger slower moving fans are usually best.
    Air Flow – Higher CFMs mean greater airflow which generally translates into lower temperatures.
    Noise level – If you want a quiet PC, pay attention to the dBA produced by each cooler.

    Thought Process
    If you plan on doing even a small overclock, it is a good idea to purchase a HSF. If you are not doing a heavy overclock, though, I would recommend against spending too much on one, as you could use the money to upgrade the CPU instead. Under $50 is reasonable.

    Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus

    TIM/Thermal Paste
    Stock HSFs come with a thermal pad already in place and many aftermarket ones come with some paste for you to apply, but in the case that yours doesn’t, or if you plan on doing an extra high overclock, then buy some separately.
    TIM rankings

    Arctic Silver 5

    Case Fan
    If the LEDs on the fans that often come stock in cases bother you, if you want to purchase some higher end or quieter ones, or if your case doesn’t come with any then buy some low dBA, high CFM ones. Remember that larger slower moving fans are best (see HSF).

    Scythe S-FLEX, 120mm

    For some larger cases with bottom mounted PSUs, it is helpful to buy an extender cable to help make your case nice and tidy.

    1ST PC CORP. 12" 8-pin EPS

    OS/Operating System
    Windows 7 64 bit is the best option available, either Home Premium or Professional if you need some of the extra features such as XP Mode.
    Versions compared

    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
    Microsoft Windows 7 Professional

    Some keyboards are ergonomically designed, others have backlit keys, and others have programmable keys. Determine which of these features appeal to you.

    Microsoft Comfort Curve 2000, Ergonomic (Includes Mouse)
    Logitech G15, Backlit, Programmable Keys
    Logitech G110, Backlit, Programmable Keys

    High DPI mice provide improved accuracy, some prefer wired over wireless, but never get a trackball one.

    Logitech SBF-96, Wired
    Logitech MX518, Wired, 1800 dpi
    CM Storm Sentinel Advance, Wired, 5600 dpi
    Logitech G500, Wired, 5700 dpi

    2.1 speakers are good for low budgets, while 5.1 surround sound setups are more expensive. Also higher total power output (W RMS) and wider frequency responses (Hz) are good indicators of quality. Headsets also offer good value.

    Logitech S-220, 17W, 2.1
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836121122" rel="nofollow">Logitech S-2300, 200W, 2.1
    Logitech X-540, 70W, 5.1
    Creative Fatal1ty Professional Series, Headset

    Surge Suppressor
    Look for a cheap, reliable suppressor with a high joule suppression rating, a good connected equipment warranty, and as many outlets, spaced as far apart from each other as possible.

    Belkin, 3940 Joules, 12 Outlets
  10. Section 2: Power Supplies

    Getting a quiet, efficient, and well-built power supply is crucial to every new build. Unfortunately, many new builders and veterans alike fail to dedicate enough time to picking out the right one. I have compiled a list of some power supplies that have received excellent reviews from reputable testers below. They are listed in ascending order based on the total watts available on the +12V rails. This list is by no means all-encompassing, but it does provide many viable options for consideration. As a side note, I have only included PSUs that I could find available on newegg, and which are at least 80+ certified, to make selecting one simpler. As always, feel free to PM me or post below with comments and suggestions.

    Brief Explanation
    A computer power supply’s basic purpose is to convert the 110V AC energy that it receives from an outlet into low-voltage DC current for your components to utilize. How well it does this determines its efficiency. But first a quick physics brush-up. There are just three units that you need to be familiar with: amps, volts, and watts. To explain this I will use an analogy that is quite over-used in the electrical field. Begin by thinking of electricity as water moving through a pipe. The pressure on it is voltage. The rate at which it is flowing is current. Power is simply the product of these two measurements, Volts x Amps = Watts.
    Now, a power supply’s total output is actually distributed across separate “rails” which are dedicated to powering different components in your computer. Have a look at the image below of the side of a power supply unit box.

    The important section is the DC output, as this is what is being fed to your components. Each of the columns represents power being delivered to different areas. The +3.3V rail powers the chips on the motherboard (not the CPU). The +5V powers all external peripherals (USB, etc.) connected to the computer that don’t have a separate power cord, as well as the RAM sticks. The -12V and +5VSB rails serve to power legacy devices like floppy drives. Onto, the most important rails, the +12V ones. The power supply above has only a single +12V rail, but this is certainly not true of all of them. The +12V rails are the largest and most important as they provide power to the remainder of the computer – CPUs, GPUs, fans, hard drives, etc. For this reason, when picking out a power supply, it is often better to focus on these rails’ output rather than the entire unit’s. You may be wondering what the relationship between +12V, 70A, and 840W is. Well, if you recall that Volts x Amps = Watts, then this may make a lot more sense – 12V x 70A = 840W. Essentially, you are providing 840W of power to most of the parts in your computer. Notice that the entire power supply is rated to provide 850W.

    Here’s one caveat regarding calculating the total amount of watts that can be produced by +12V rails though. With multi +12V rails, you can’t simply multiply the Amps by the Volts by the number of rails to calculate total power output.

    When you take the 30A current on each of the six +12V rails and multiply (30A x 12V x 6 rails), the result is a whooping 2160W, while the label lists the output as a mere 1044W. This is somewhat explained by the listing of 87A next to the total watts. The problem is that while each individual rail may be loaded to its max, all rails may not simultaneously be loaded to their maxes. In fact the total current that may be used out of 180A is 87A. 87A x 12V = 1044W.

    Now back to a quick discussion of efficiency. Recall that power supplies need to convert AC current into DC current. Let’s say that your computer needs 300W of power and that you have a 650W power supply. At first thought, the obvious answer is that you have 350W extra. You may also think that you are drawing the full 650W from the outlet. Neither of these notions is really true because power supplies are not 100% efficient. To calculate a power supply’s efficiency divide its DC output by its AC input. Inversely, if your power supply is 80% efficient then you are drawing 375W from the outlet because 375W (AC) x .8 = 300W (DC). Less efficient power supplies do not only increase your power bill, but also generate more heat requiring louder cooling. One way to quickly determine how efficient a power supply is at all loads is to check its 80+ certification. Here’s a table to make things easier.

    Finally, to get a rough estimate of how much power you need you can use this calculator. Remember to account for the power supply's inefficiency, future upgrades, and peaks in power usage.

    eXtreme Power Supply Calculator

    PSU List

    Now here's the list itself.

    Reviews And Newegg Links For The PSUs Above
    Corsair 450VX -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru -- HardOCP
    Antec EA500 -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru
    Seasonic S12II 520 -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru
    Corsair 550VX -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru -- HardOCP
    Antec TP-550 -- Newegg
    Enermax Eco80+ -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru -- HardOCP
    Seasonic S12II 620 -- Newegg
    Corsair 650HX -- Newegg
    Antec TP-650 -- Newegg
    Seasonic X-650 -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru
    Enermax Infiniti -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru -- HardOCP
    Silverstone ST75F-P -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru
    Antec TP-750 -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru
    Corsair 750HX -- Newegg
    Seasonic X-750 -- Newegg -- HardOCP
    XFX XPS 750W -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru -- HardOCP
    Thermaltake TPX-775M -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru -- HardOCP
    Antec SG-850 -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru -- HardOCP
    Silverstone ST85F-P -- Newegg
    Corsair 850TX -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru -- HardOCP
    Corsair 850HX -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru -- HardOCP
    Enermax Revolution85+ 950 -- Newegg
    XFX XPS 850W -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru -- HardOCP
    Enermax Revolution85+ 1050 -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru -- HardOCP
    Silverstone ST1500 -- Newegg -- JonnyGuru
  11. In case I need to add more later :).
  12. Hi, Thank very much that is very helpful. I was looking for some sort of guide to assist me with this build. However two things.
    I live in Australia, therefore newegg is not a competitive place for me to purchase from.
    A 64 bit O/S in this country Iv been told is overkill.
    My main stumbling block is nutting out compatibility issue's, i.e making sure I buy compatible components, this is where I get confused and I then doubt my decisions.
  13. Very good, but how upp to date is this?
  14. Shommy said:
    Very good, but how upp to date is this?
    It's not! As you can read from the posts, it's from 2010, June 18th!

    Come'on jbakerlent! Ain't it time for some new specs and please, keep it simple this time, will ya?!

    I live in The Netherlands!
    The list I got now is,

    Case: Antec - Performance One P193
    PSU: FSP Group - Aurum 700
    MB: Asus - Maximus IV Extreme REV 3.0
    CPU: Intel - Core i5-2500K Boxed
    RAM: Kingston - Dual channel HyperX T1 DDR3 KHX2333C9D3T1K2/4GX (2x)
    VGA: Gigabyte - GV-N560SO-1GI-950
    Audio: Creative - PCIe x1 Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio
    HDD: Seagate - Barracuda XT 3.5” Internal Kitted Drive ST330005N1A1AS-RK (4x)
    Extra SATA-cables: SATA 6Gb/s signal cables (2-in-1) (2x)
    Optical: Plextor - PX-LB950SA (2x)
    OS: Microsoft - Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1 (English)
    Keyboard: Logitech - G19
    Mouse: Logitech - G9x
    Display: Dell - Display P2411H
    Speakers: Logitech - Z-5500
    Mousepad: Razer - Destructor Special Edition White
    USB-Flash: Kingston - 64GB USB 3.0 DataTraveler Ultimate G2

    The only part I still have doubts about are the VGA (has to be bang for the buck in Crysis 2) and HDD (they have to be the fastest 3TB in Crysis 2).
    I change those two parts allmost everyday in my list so, please! Help me out, will ya?!
    What I need is for the build to be as high spec but as low cost as possible.

    Remember, the parts and peripherals I mention are the ones I want atm. They may not apply tomorrow.
    Thanks in advance!
  15. aminebouhafs said:
    It's not! As you can read from the posts, it's from 2010, June 18th!

    Come'on jbakerlent! Ain't it time for some new specs and please, keep it simple this time, will ya?!

    I live in The Netherlands!
    The list I got now is,

    Case: Antec - Performance One P193
    PSU: FSP Group - Aurum 700
    MB: Asus - Maximus IV Extreme REV 3.0
    CPU: Intel - Core i5-2500K Boxed
    RAM: Kingston - Dual channel HyperX T1 DDR3 KHX2333C9D3T1K2/4GX (2x)
    VGA: Gigabyte - GV-N560SO-1GI-950
    Audio: Creative - PCIe x1 Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio
    HDD: Seagate - Barracuda XT 3.5” Internal Kitted Drive ST330005N1A1AS-RK (4x)
    Extra SATA-cables: SATA 6Gb/s signal cables (2-in-1) (2x)
    Optical: Plextor - PX-LB950SA (2x)
    OS: Microsoft - Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1 (English)
    Keyboard: Logitech - G19
    Mouse: Logitech - G9x
    Display: Dell - Display P2411H
    Speakers: Logitech - Z-5500
    Mousepad: Razer - Destructor Special Edition White
    USB-Flash: Kingston - 64GB USB 3.0 DataTraveler Ultimate G2

    The only part I still have doubts about are the VGA (has to be bang for the buck in Crysis 2) and HDD (they have to be the fastest 3TB in Crysis 2).
    I change those two parts allmost everyday in my list so, please! Help me out, will ya?!
    What I need is for the build to be as high spec but as low cost as possible.

    Remember, the parts and peripherals I mention are the ones I want atm. They may not apply tomorrow.
    Thanks in advance!

    Are you making this for Crysis 2???
  16. Correctomundo!
  17. great guide, very helpful :)
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