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Building my first gaming PC

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January 4, 2012 6:15:30 AM

I've never built a PC before. I've been using what once was a killer laptop. Now that I've started playing KOTOR, I've realized after ~4 years, it's time for a new PC. I'm still going to keep my laptop for basic word processing/internet browsing, but I'm looking to get a solid PC that'll last me for at least 3-4 years. I've largely followed arstechica's guide, but I was wondering if you guys had any tips for me. I also known Radeon is coming out with some new videocards next week. Do you think they'll drop the prices on some of their current ones?

Approximate Purchase Date: This week or next week
Budget Range: $1000-1200

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Internet Browsing, Movies.

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers for now. I'll probably get some new accessories in the next couple of months, so if you have any great recommendations, let me know!

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg/Amazon. Or, if you know of any others that are cheaper, I'd be more than willing to go there.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: No preference. Whatever's best!

Overclocking: No idea what this is, so.. probably not?

SLI or Crossfire: No idea what this is, so.. probably not? maybe?

Monitor Resolution: 1680 x1500

Additional Comments: Quiet PC preferred. I've never built a PC before. I've been using what once was a killer laptop. Now that I've started playing KOTOR, I've realized after ~4 years, it's time for a new PC. I'm still going to keep my laptop for basic word processing/internet browsing, but I'm looking to get a solid PC that'll last me for at least 3-4 years. I've largely followed arstechica's guide, but I was wondering if you guys had any tips for me. I also known Radeon is coming out with some new videocards next week. Do you think they'll drop the prices on some of their current ones?

Additionally, I'm generally not a super hardcore gamer. I want to be able to play my games at the highest graphics quality with zero performance issues, but I'm not running dual monitors/overclocking/running video editing programs, etc. Please let me know if my wishlist is overkill. I'm most concerned with this PC lasting me 3+ years.

Here's my current wishlist on newegg:



TP-LINK TL-WN722N USB 2.0 High Gain Wireless Adapter $24.99
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM $99.99
LG 22X Super-Multi DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS90B - OEM $18.99
Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $124.99
2x G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL $89.98
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 $219.99
SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply $84.99
PowerColor AX6950 2GBD5-2DH Radeon HD 6950 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card $259.99
ASUS P8P67 PRO (REV 3.1) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $179.99
Fractal Design Define R3 Black Pearl w/ USB 3.0 ATX Mid Tower Silent PC Computer Case $119.99

More about : building gaming

January 4, 2012 7:29:59 AM

Check the $1000 build in my sig :) 
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January 4, 2012 7:36:29 AM

Should I go with 16gb of RAM, or is that overkill?
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January 4, 2012 8:24:40 AM

First things first:

SLI/Crossfire - This is basically referring to running 2 graphics cards on a single motherboard. SLI is when you have 2 identical Nvidia cards (x2 GTX 560Ti's for example) and Crossfire is the same, but when you have 2 identical AMD cards (x2 ATI 6950's for example).

Over-clocking - Basically means to increase the processor clock higher than its default factory speeds. The i5-2500k comes stock clocked at 3.3GHz. The processor has ALOT of over-clock potential and most people are able to gain 4.5GHz+ with some after-market cooling options.

The build looks good however you need to make some decisions....see below:

RAM: You wont need 16GB RAM. Games don't even use more than about 2-3GB since they are designed for 32-bit windows. 8GB is PLENTY.

Motherboard: $184 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Your getting a newer chipset (Z68) which has the same features as the P67 you listed, and more. The board is also PCI GEN3 and SLI ready.

If you do plan to SLI/Crossfire, get the motherboard above, and get a 750w PSU (520w one you listed isn't enough for 2 cards).

If you do NOT plan to SLI/Crossfire, keep the 520w PSU you had listed, but you can afford to buy a much cheaper motherboard since you dont need to pay the extra for the higher bandwidth PCI lanes with SLI support.

This motherboard would be a good option (and does infact still support SLI): $111 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Now, if you do NOT plan to over-clock you can buy a non-K series processor (i5-2500 instead of i5-2500k) and you can buy an even cheaper motherboard (H67 or H61 chipset)

CPU: $209 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Motherboard: $74 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
RAM: 1333MHz 8GB




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January 4, 2012 3:00:35 PM

Awesome! Thanks for the great tips. What about the case? $120 seemed a little pricey for a case. Are there some cheaper options, or is that pretty standard? Generally, for the future, what should I look for when buying a case?
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January 4, 2012 4:02:04 PM

Also, I probably won't overclock yet. However, I'm thinking about getting the 2500k and better motherboard so in a few years time, rather than buying a whole new PC, I can just get another GPU and overclock the 2500k to 4.0/4.2. Thoughts?
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January 4, 2012 9:13:05 PM

I can't seem to open that link - it only takes me to my shopping cart on newegg.
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January 4, 2012 9:24:12 PM

A good beginning case is the HAF 912. It comes with 3 120mm Fans. Most cases come with a bottom mount for the PSU due to hot air rising in a case or something like that. It also has good cable management and airflow, and is only $60. Good Case manufactuers imo are LIAN, Antec, Corsair, and Cooler Master.
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January 4, 2012 9:26:13 PM

Also, will I need an extra cooler for the i5, or will I only need that if I delve into overclocking?
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January 4, 2012 9:31:39 PM

As far as CPU's go, are you absolutely set on Intel? Because, in my experience, AMD is cheaper and performs just as well.

Stock coolers should work fine without overclocking, but if you do want to I would definitely get an aftermarket fan/heatsink.
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January 4, 2012 9:32:00 PM

Only if you delve into overclocking will you need an aftermarket cooler.
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January 4, 2012 9:33:31 PM

I'm kinda set on the i5. From all the guides/reviews I've read, they seem to all say the i5 is the best way to go for my price range. Thanks for all the help!
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