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Somewhat new to homebuilt and looking for a nice gaming machine.

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January 6, 2012 5:25:58 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: Unfortunately I cannot give an exact date. If I am to start this process it will be a slowly buy parts piece by piece until I have a full computer.

Budget Range: Not sure what my eventual budget range will be due to the problem I mentioned above. I just want to build something nice that I won't be changing out in a year but without being ridiculous.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Gaming & More gaming. surfing the net being a close second I suppose, and rarely some office work.

Parts Not Required: (e.g.: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS) ** I have a keyboard, mouse, decent monitor that I believe is 18". Speakers I already have as well. Unfortunately I will need an expensive Windows OS.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: No preferences just whatever turns out to offer the best deals and is compatible.

Country: (e.g.: India) U.S.

Parts Preferences: No parts preference as I am really not sure what company leads in the gaming realm these days. I'm not real savvy when it comes to pc parts unfortunately but i'm willing to learn.

Overclocking: I've never done it before but I am always game for a faster PC and better performance out of my processor.

SLI or Crossfire: This has to do with dual vid cards or something along those lines right? I would be interested if it isn't too difficult or doesn't take me into the enthusiast price range lol.

Monitor Resolution: I like to keep my monitor at 1280 x1024 any bigger and i'd need glasses

Additional Comments: I just want a reliable machine that plays games at a high level so I can finally get away from scraping by with scrap PC's. I have dabbled with little things like adding a power supply a video card or game but I have never bought a case, added a motherboard or any of what I would consider the major pieces of building a computer. I also admit I am a QA by trade so I am better at breaking things then I am fixing them unfortunately.

I admit some confusion as I hear a lot of different terms get thrown around like Raid arrays with hard drives or I was reading about SSD's but it always seems folks have a regular hard drive along with it which confused me as to why that would be. Really just any help getting me started will be greatly appreciated... starting with a case because i'd like whatever i'm buying to fit together nicely lol.

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Include a list of any parts you have already selected with descriptively labeled links for parts.

I haven't looked at any individual parts, I consider myself too inexperienced to really start making that decision yet at least not without a little bit of guidance hence why i'm here.

Thanks.
January 6, 2012 5:51:54 AM


OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W Modular High Performance
Amd FX 8150
Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS
GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 motherboard
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
RAIDMAX Tornado ATX-238WU


my beast build that im thinking to make.. stick with AMD fx for processor it will be way faster then intel i7 when windows 8 comes out which is in a few months!
Related resources
January 6, 2012 7:36:38 AM

Tom's Hardware's System Builder Marathon (SMB) is a good place to start. Without any idea of a budget or timeframe or what games you want to play at what settings, it's basically impossible to tell you any more than that.

To answer your questions: RAID is a method of combining multiple physical drives into one logical one, either to add redundancy (in case one drive fails) or for a speed increase (computers can work with data a lot faster than the hard drive can read or write it, so you give half the job to each of two drives). Solid state disks are faster than convention rotating platter hard disk drives, but they have a much lower capacity and are more expensive per gigabyte, so people often get a SSD for their operating system and programs so their computer starts faster and is more responsive when opening programs, in addition to a HDD for storage of videos and pictures and stuff.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 6, 2012 10:28:20 AM

If you build a gaming rig, you automatically become an honorary enthusiast whether you like it or not. It's all about speed. You want the highest frames per second at the highest resolution you can get. But it is a trade-off. Few of us have the budget needed to do it right---we all settle for the best we can do. But there is a sucks/doesn't-suck cutoff point below which you should save yourself the headaches and just buy a Gateway, so you should throw some money at it.

As for parts preferences, I think it's universally accepted that Intel is better than AMD but more expensive. You get what you don't pay for.

For graphics cards, some say AMD, some nVidia. Each has its merits, and each of their cards is different. I use nVidia because AMD (was ATI) is an evil empire of evil corporate clones who are plotting the downfall of freedom and democracy. I could be overreacting to the time they provided crap drivers with their capture card and wouldn't admit it. Anyway, the benchmarks are all over the place, and some games like the one, and some the other. The true enthusiast will get the fastest one he can afford for the games he plays regardless of brand name. The actual makers of video cards vary in their prices, support, and reliability. EVGA has built a good reputation, for instance. You can poke around in newegg.com and look at the reviews, taking them with a grain of salt, of course, throwing out the scores from the East German judges (the disgruntled morons, the fanboys and the company sock puppets).

I'll let somebody else address motherboards, but I will say was disappointed in the MSI K9N2 Diamond I used to have. For one thing, the manual was written in Chinglish, and the BIOS, too.

You may not need a sound card, but I avoid Creative. They jerk you around and obfuscate their capabilities.

SLI/Crossfire is a function of the motherboard. There is nothing hard about it, but it's a power hog and a space heater, not to mention a space hog. You need a big mobo and a big case. I like a big case---you never run into a crowding problem, and if you have the room, why not go big? Big cases cool better, too.

People in here seem to prefer Crucial memory.

I tried overclocking, but I didn't like it. It's a young man's game. Just get a fast rig stock, and bask in the stability, I say.

A resolution of 1280 is below that cutoff point I mentioned earlier. Resolution is not size. HDTV is 1920X1080, and I think we can call that a bare minimum.

For strictly gaming, you don't need RAID or an SSD. Put the money where it will do some good, like a big monitor, fifty-pound speakers, a screaming CPU, a mammoth graphics card, etc.
January 6, 2012 11:47:00 AM

Well allow me to be a bit more specific now that it's not 3 am on a work night. I generally play MMO's more than anything which I know aren't the highest end games. I do play other games but have always settled for the bare minimum quality which i'd rather not do if I can avoid it. I knew resolution was more than just size but as I said I don't know the intricate details of much.

I agree badass speakers and a huge monitor would rock but I still consider them as additional accessories after the fact when the rocking PC that can pump my games out at max quality is preferred.

I guess since I am not made of cash I don't want the greatest thing out there, i'll be building a PC until the end of time if I go that route. I just want to throw in SWTOR or Witcher 2 and feel like damn my PC is cruising through this on max no problem. Instead i've always had the ghetto PC that has to be replaced or worked on every 6 months because it's too old.
January 6, 2012 11:49:41 AM

Also I guess I should start with suggestions on cases to start with. I prefer a big case as i'm clumsy and have had the frustration of a tiny box many times in the past. Something simple to work in would be awesome. Also as far as power supply I would prefer to get one that I can use long term so i'm wondering how powerful I should go. Is 1000 too much or would it be suggested to get one that powerful for reuse purposes?
January 6, 2012 12:01:54 PM

Also timeframe is as soon as possible I just don't have any excess money so it's all going to come slowly over the next month or so.
January 6, 2012 12:35:18 PM

Okay, what are everyone's thoughts on this build which I totally ripped from a seperate site after reading around on the net. It looks like estimates are that it would come to about $1000 total and considering I play mostly games like Witcher 2 or SWTOR is this too much... too little?

Motherboard:
GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 Intel Z68

CPU:
Intel Core i5 2500 Quad Core

Ram:
Corsair Vengeance DDR3 8GB (2x4GB)

Video Card
EVGA GTX 560 Ti 1GB

Hard Drive
Crucial m4 2.5" 64GB Solid State Drive
Western Digital Caviar Blue 750GB

Optical Drive
Lite-On Internal 24x CD/DVD Drive

Case
Thermaltake Armor A90 Black ATX Case

Power Supply
Corsair Builder Series CX600(600W)
January 6, 2012 12:49:50 PM

Looks like a good build, the kind of system that'll run games on ultra today and medium five years from now. But it needs some tinkering.

First, you need an OS. Add $100 for Win7. Second, you don't need the SSD; they're nice to have, but that's the most expendable part. And with the increased HDD prices lately, if you can get one from your current machine, you should — in a year you'll be able to get a drive three times the size for the same price. Finally, if overclocking is something you're interested in, you should spend the extra $10 to upgrade to the i5-2500k and get an aftermarket cooler like the Hyper 212+ for $30. You can expect your processor speed to go from 3.4 GHz to at least 4.4 GHz.
January 6, 2012 12:51:42 PM

Oh, but if you're getting a system like that, you NEED to get a better monitor. A thousand dollar system is wasted on a 1280x1024 monitor.
January 6, 2012 1:02:34 PM

Im in luck that my dad can get a copy of Win7 through his job for like $10-20 so that's something I can cut down on at least. I have a 120GB hard drive in one of my PC's I could probably rip out my second really old PC has only 70GB and it's so low profile it would take me a few hours to get the damn thing out.

Will the i5-2500k fit on the motherboard no problem? Also do you have any suggestions on a monitor to go for with this rig?
January 6, 2012 1:11:37 PM

Thank you all by the way for your help, I would be lost on my own.
January 6, 2012 1:22:47 PM

Those hard drives are pretty small, they might be old IDE drives which that motherboard doesn't support. Check to see if they're SATA or IDE.

The 2500k will fit in that motherboard just fine. As for a monitor, I'd choose something with a resolution of at least 1920 x 1080 and a screen size between 20 and 24 inches (I have a 27" monitor right now and honestly I regret it — it's so big I have to move it back when I'm sitting up and typing or gaming, then bring it forward when I'm going to lean back and watch a movie). ASUS is a good brand.
January 6, 2012 1:39:23 PM

I know for sure the smaller hard drive is sata it doesn't have the little prong connectors but rather has the little slots. I'll have to check the other but of all the parts hard drives are pretty cheap. There's a microcenter by my house that sells 1TB hard drives for $50 all the time.
January 6, 2012 1:49:16 PM

Are you sure? Have you checked in about the last 8 weeks? Since the floods HDD prices have doubled or tripled. The cheapest terabyte drive on Newegg is about $125.
January 6, 2012 1:49:41 PM

Last two questions and then I should be good to go.

1.) Is there any real significant difference between one anti static bracelet and the next or do I just need to get any one I can find? Also is there anything else suggested to get before building for safety purposes?

2.) My second question is in regards to the way i'm going to be acquiring these parts. Is it okay and relatively safe to leave the products in their packaging left alone until i'm ready to fully build the PC?
January 6, 2012 1:51:19 PM

I haven't checked recently, it's certainly possible it's gone up which sucks if it has.
January 6, 2012 2:05:54 PM

1) I don't think so. Honestly, I don't even use mine. All I can say for safety is lock the cats outside your room while you're putting it together and read the motherboard manual as you assemble.

2) Well... I mean... they're not organic. They're not going to rot :p  Maybe don't leave them in a spot where they're in direct sunlight all day, or where someone might step on them or... outside? The biggest danger is getting a dud and not knowing about it until after the easy return window has passed, leaving you to deal with the manufacturer's customer service instead of the retailer's returns department.
January 6, 2012 2:21:05 PM

Well thank you for the info i'll probably try and get the MoBO & Processor together since those are going to be the biggest hogs price wise. I have an Nvidia GTS 450 in one of my PC's which could hold me over until I can get the better vid card down the road. At least the PC would be built just not as it's full potential.

So I have to ask, how hard is it for Overclock or do the SLI/Crossfire thing and what are the benefits/drawbacks. I know obviously air flow is huge in PC's these days so proper fan's are a must I didn't know if overclocking makes that even worse etc...
January 6, 2012 3:01:12 PM

Overclocking is easy, just google "sandy bridge overclocking guide." It does take quite a bit of time to do properly, though — at least two days of running stability tests and taking notes on speed, voltage, and temperature. Overclocking does make temperatures worse, but you're using a full ATX case (the largest) with lots of fans, plus the aftermarket CPU cooler. By the way, you'll need some thermal compound to put between the CPU and cooler; I use AS5. For SLI/Crossfire you'll need a motherboard that supports it (the one in your build does) and a power supply that can feed both cards (yours can't). If you go to the details page for your power supply, you can see next to "Output" that it says "+12V@40A" — 40 amps on the 12 volt rail (the one that feeds the video cards). I don't know off the top of my head how much power your GPU requires, but I'm guessing it's around 30 amps per card.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 6, 2012 3:59:44 PM

The benefits of SLI are several. You can get a graphics card and use it while you save up for a second, and then a third, if you want. Your fps goes up each time. You can often get better performance from an SLI setup with two so-so cards than you can from a better single card that would cost more than your two together. At the top end, you can go beyond the maximum performance possible with a single card. Two GTX 570s are better than a single GTX 590, for like $90 less. The reason is that the manufacturers have to hobble the dual-GPU card because it would get too hot at stock. With two cards, you have better airflow, so each one runs unfettered.
January 6, 2012 5:00:05 PM

for 1280x1024 res is not that hard to build. anything $100-150 gpus (new gen) will do, anything $60-100 cpus will do. expected to be $500 system will do (minus all the stuffs you already have).
January 6, 2012 5:33:33 PM

How many volts on the 12 volt rail would I need to run an SLI/Crossfire setup? Also do the video cards have to be compatible in some format or can you do it with any grouping of video cards?

Also this may be a dumb question but could you plug the monitor into any of the attached video cards and the crossfire setup just helps to improve the overall performance by using all of them together?
January 6, 2012 6:40:28 PM

I'll post later when I get home as I think I may be able to salvage some parts from my one CPU in the temporary until I can get more than just the case mobo and processor.
January 6, 2012 7:16:38 PM

By the way I noticed there are new and refurbished versions of the case. Any buyer beware horrors with refurbished cases or is that usually where you suggest buyers focus?
a b B Homebuilt system
January 6, 2012 8:05:49 PM

AQuebman said:
How many volts on the 12 volt rail would I need to run an SLI/Crossfire setup? Also do the video cards have to be compatible in some format or can you do it with any grouping of video cards?

Also this may be a dumb question but could you plug the monitor into any of the attached video cards and the crossfire setup just helps to improve the overall performance by using all of them together?


Nvidia has a page showing what PSU is suitable for each SLI configuration. The cards have to be the same model and memory size, but they can be different brands and clockings. I leave finding the Crossfire info as an exercise for the reader.

I don't know how you know which card gets the monitor---I've never SLIed. I wouldn't worry about it until the time comes. Google is your friend. I found the Nvidia page with "SLI PSU".
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