I'll be the first person to admit I'm new to the idea of building a computer from scratch, so I will probably have a lot of questions; I apologize in advance if I sound like an idiot, but here we go. I'm mostly a console gamer to be completely honest, but there is the occasional title that I'd love to be able to play on PC but I simply don't have the rig to run. I've been without a PC for years now, running off only my laptop and I'm not silly enough to even try running anything released recently with that.
I'm starting a job next month that will absorb the vast majority of my time, but I'd like a project to help me get over the crazy studying I'll be having to do in the downtime so I've decided to bite the bullet and start at least collecting the parts for my inevitable build. It doesn't have to be anything crazy, just enough to get me through the occasional new release that catches my eye. Like Shogun 2, which I want so bad it physically hurts me.
Any help with the build/advice in general would be greatly appreciated. With that, here we go!
Approximate Purchase Date: Within 3 months
Budget Range: Up to 1500 firm Before Rebates
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Strictly gaming, I have my laptop for day to day stuff.
Parts Not Required: Going to need the whole lot.
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Any
Country of Origin: Canada
Parts Preferences: Any, though a smaller build would be preferable as I haven't got a ton of space in my apartment.
SLI or Crossfire: Maybe
Monitor Resolution: Any
Additional Comments: A quiet PC is a must in my apartment, as I've got room mates who work odd hours. The speakers/keyboard/mouse don't have to be astounding by any stretch of the imagination, as I'm not looking to go hardcore on this thing. I am looking to have a gaming PC that can run some new interesting titles at respectable quality that I would not be able to otherwise play, and everything else is a bonus for me.
Three months is soooooooo long for computer builds. Whatever is suggested today will almost certainly change - even a month away. Often a specific recommendation is good for only a few days.
So, some time in the next three months, AMD is going to release their "bulldozer" series of next generation chips. It would probably be worth the wait. At least to see how well the current Sandybridge CPUs that Intel is now peddling will stand up against AMD.
Of course, Intel is also planning on rolling out their z68 products in that time frame, so that has to be considered also. Hope you can see, you need to come back here when you are within a week or so of pulling the trigger in order to get you the best deal.
Now, just to be fair, purchasing today at a $1500 budget, I would strongly recommend the current Sandybridge i5-2500k with a P67 motherboard, and dedicated graphics card - probalby an HD Radeon 6950. Add in 8GB of memeory, and a heat sink because overclocking is so easy these days. Don't worry there are guides for every step available here at Tom's Hardware.
Marry all that good stuff with a decent 23 inch monitor that has 1920 X 1080 resolution. Maybe add a headset so you can crank up the sound and not bother the roomates?
So when you said you do not have a lot of room, do you mean you don't have the space for a full tower? If you could pull out a ruler and take some measurements, that would sure help. Here are 4 cases that represent a range of sizes:
The Cooler Master HAF 912 is a medium sized mid-tower case with dimensions of 19.50" x 9.10" x 18.90" It already has quiet fans, and you can add four more with a fan controller to make it almost silent.
The COOLER MASTER Elite 430 is a little bit smaller at 19.30" x 7.50" x 16.70". It has a window to see the really cool stuff inside. Mine has extra LED fans and cold cathode ray lights.
Is that still too big? Check this out: Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower at 15.00" x 7.50" x 13.80" plus a little bit more for the front bezel. This case is inexpensive, and has an average of 5 eggs. It takes an mATX size motherboard, which will limit you slightly, but you can still get the kind of gaming machine you are looking for.
OK, if you want to take it down yet another notch, there is this beautiful and classic HTPC case: LIAN LI PC-V351B Black Aluminum MicroATX Desktop. This case is nice to build with because it still takes standard sized components and has a removeable motherboard tray.
If you pick your case first, then the other components can be selected to fit inside.
Sure hope that helps, and come on back when you can't stand to wait any longer.
To clarify, the reason I'm waiting as long as I am is that I'm starting a training course with the RCMP next month, and the vast majority of my time that I'm not in class will be spent studying for it. It's still a month away, and I'm already behind in the studying I should be doing for my first day of class and the first round of elimination testing. I would build right away quite happily, but lets be serious, any new game is a time sink and having a fantastic new build is just crying out for quite a few. I simply can't risk losing that much study time to new games, and I admit that my will is weak when it comes to a shiny new world to explore.
Right now I'm simply trying to gain information on where I would even begin building, and what kind of components I should be looking for with the budget that I have available to me. Any suggestions are always welcome, as even though I'm aware how quickly technology - especially computer technology - upgrades, a starting point so I can begin to look at what kind of specs I should be looking at is appreciated. I'm more than willing to do the research on parts myself, I just don't even know where to begin for what I'm looking for. This really is a foreign field to me.
Headsets are certainly an option, as it would also cut down on the space taken up on my desk. May well be the way to go.
When I say I don't have a lot of room, I mean that I do have room for a full sized tower, but that it would be a bit excessive for me. I can certainly find a place to put one, it would just take a bit of room configuring on my part, which I am willing to do. If it means an easier time putting the thing together, I will certainly factor a full size into my plans. I imagine it would probably open things up in terms of component size as well, I'm just worried I would have to add more fans to try to keep the noise level down.
As for the case, any mid-sized tower will give you all the room to build out an acceptable machine. The extra fans and controller that I suggested on the HAF 922 was just one way to make a quiet machine. Many cases have 200 mm fans that also lowers noise levels, since bigger blades push more air per rotation, which translates into slower speeds. There are lots of options here, so no need to worry at this poitn. Select one that you like at around $100 for your budget - make sure it has 4 or 5 eggs in Newegg, and read the feedback to avoid pitfalls. Cooler Master, Lian Li, Rosewill and Antec are traditional favorites, but there are others.
After that, the best way to stay abreast of the technology is to read Tom's Hardware articles.