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First time prospective builder with numerous questions.

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February 6, 2012 1:20:41 AM

Hello there, this is my first time using the tomshardware forums (well, posting that is). I am looking to build a new computer, yet I have little experience in the matter. I've owned several units over the years, but felt ripped off. I could use some input on a range of topics concerning pc building. My room mate thinks it's as simple as ordering the parts, yet he's never built one himself. I want to make one for myself. If 700.00 is the cost of a decent gaming rig capable of handling most tasks count me in.

What parts should I get?
As far as I know people are getting parts that are mid tier due to bang for the buck. I don't want to spend an enormous amount of money for something that will be obsolete in six months anyways.

Where should I buy them?
I haven't bought computer parts since 2007 from newegg. Not sure how the market has changed and who holds the best deals currently. Where do you find the best deals? Tigerdirect, amazon, some other entity I'm unware of? Too many choices, but at least they're fighting for our dollars.

The parts I'm specifically interested in are as follows, please give some suggestions if you know of items more cost effective for performance.

CHASIS: To be honest, I don't particularly care what it looks like aside from maybe having a clear panel on the side so the parts are easy to view. I hear some chasis allow for better power supply wiring, thus increasing airflow (something like wiring behind motherboard mounted area between two panels).

Motherboard: No clue. Possibility of future upgrades would help. The motherboard is one of the parts that confuse me the most, as I don't know much in terms of this valuable component. All I know currently is mini vs regular has to do with future expansion or a raid zero configuration of multiple GPUs. The alphanumerical names given to alot of boards leave me baffled. I can't tell what it says by the name alone except for the fact that it might be have architecture specifically for an AMD or Intel processor.

PCU: Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I52500K

RAM: Something along the lines of the ripjaw series because I've heard good things.

Drive: SSD preferably. The price of flooding brought those HDD drives up in cost so that makes the SSD much more tempting. Is there a noticable sound difference or will the PSU fan/other fans dwarf any other noise emitting from my computer? I'm usually purge my system of any unnecessary files often and don't rack up much used drive space. Eventually I could just buy another hdd or sdd and do a raid zero config but 120gb should be plenty to start I think.

GPU: All my research has led to people continually praising the GeForce GTX 560 Ti. I have had problems with radeon in the past so I am definitely leaning towards Nvidia based video card. Maybe that's just me though.

PSU: A little breathing room with a single mid tier GPU + all the other fixins. That could be around a 550-600 watt but I don't know. Upgrading to a raid zero config if I ever use dual cards once my card starts slipping in modern games could pose a problem though.

Disc drive: Another thing I can cheap out on since I usually don't do much in terms of burning cds/dvds. It's all turning into digital downloads so why bother with an expensive blu-ray rw

Wifi: I can't hook up directly so I'll need a card unfortunately.

Monitor: I was contemplating just buying a new hdtv and using that for the monitor. I'm uncertain as to the drawbacks of using a large screen monitor or if I need a higher refresh rate. 32'' for cable and gaming in my room couldn't hurt. Not really including this into the price as the budget for parts would take a nose dive.

Hardware compatibility
Upon doing my research it looks like the biggest pieces for compatibility issues are the motherboard and power supply.



Bios
So people do alot of overclocking these days? I would rather play it safe. Other than firmware updates and raid zero configs when else would I have to visit the bios settings? Yeah, I'm not very computer savy aside from typing fast, or games.

I'm sure there will be the TL;DR, but for those willing to help thanks in advance for listening to my lengthy rant.

Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
February 6, 2012 6:18:48 AM

http://pcpartpicker.com

Great tool that'll keep you from making basic incompatibility mistakes while also informing you of pricing and where to buy.

PC building is a mixed bag. 90% of the time it is just a matter of buying the right parts and putting it together. It's really tough to screw it up as everything today is standardized and will only fit where its supposed to be.

That other 10% of the time it can be a living hell. You put everything together, and you have nothing but problems due to some part shipping to you that is faulty. In times like this it can be very frustrating to the novice builder trying to troubleshoot and figure out exactly where the problem is.

With that being said, I'd still say those are pretty good odds, and PC building is worth the risk. It's cheaper, you have more control over what you're getting, and the fact that you're showing interest indicates that you'd probably enjoy it.

As far as overclocking and bios are concerned the only real need to enter them short of what you've mentioned is to set ACHI mode for your SSD. Not a big deal. Some motherboard manufacturers like MSI have a single physical button on their boards that will automatically overclock for you.

Case, things to look for: Minimum 2x 120mm fans, one intake one exhaust. Dust filters are nice. Wire management holes. Painted Interior if you're going with a window. 2.5" SSD cage. Tool-less design is nice. USB 3.0 front support (make sure your motherboard has internal usb 3.0 headers if you go this route). CPU backplate opening for easier HSF installation.

Depending on your budget you can look at anything from the CM 430 Elite @ $39.99 to the more exotic cases like the Silverstone Raven RV02B-EW @ 189.99. It really just comes down to a matter of taste.

560ti is a fine mid-ranged card.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/322966-28-list-recomm...

^ Great link for PSU recommendations.

Motherboards: Z68 if you go 2500K look for one with x8/x8 if you plan to add another gpu down the road. The $129.99 Asrock Extreme3 is the most affordable full feature board that offers this. Keep in mind however it does not offer internal usb 3.0 headers. For that you'll have to dig around newegg a bit and under the Details section of any given mobo you'll find Internal Connectors section, it'll list USB 3.0 if you need that functionality.

HDTV as monitor: This is fine. Typically the TV will have a HDMI connection so that's something you'll want to look for on the 560ti you choose. Keep in mind that PC Monitors do tend to do a better job, but starting off this is a solid way to save some cash.

Alright, finally. $700 budget. You can build a decent gaming rig at this price. I would not however get your hopes too high about 2500K and 560ti. You might end up needing to look at something like the i3-2100 and the AMD 6870. This still constitutes a very solid mid-upper level gaming system. Use the pcpicker tool I linked earlier and see what you can come up with. Post it, and ask for opinions.

Best of luck, and if mine was TL;DR then turn-about is fair play lol!

edit: RAID0 is using multiple identical storage devices (HDD or SSD) together to form a single large array that data is then written and read from simultaneously (the term is striping). Using multiple gpus is called either SLI (nvidia) or crossfire (amd).
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February 6, 2012 1:31:30 PM

I'm checking out that pcpartpicker right now. There are so many parts to choose from my head is spinning! Amazing site though, I just have to use this filter by manufacturer and other specs I want with each part =). Any recommendations on manufacturers to avoid? I know ocz has higher ssd failure rates for example.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 6, 2012 3:54:35 PM

premium brands:

mobo: asus, gigabyte, msi, asrock
ram: crucial, corsair, g.skill
gpu: xfx, evga, sapphire, asus, gigabyte
cases: silverstone, lian li, cooler master, corsair
psu: silverstone, corsair, pc power & cooling
ssd: crucial, ocz, patriot, mushkin, samsung

There's some I've overlooked w/o a doubt, and then there's some like Intel that make great SSDs but as of right now they're just not in the same class performance wise as others.

OCZ doesn't really have a higher failure rate than others, it's just that the SF2281 controllers had early problems. The same can be said for Crucial and the other SF2281 drives like Patriot and Mushkin. These issues have been worked out for the most part.
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February 6, 2012 4:32:49 PM

Here's an attempt at using the website you suggested. http://pcpartpicker.com/p/4u3P

It apears the merchant microcenter has the best overall prices. I've never done business with them before. It's borderline thousand dollar range still. Is SSD even worth it you think? Also changing the GPU from 2GB on board ram to 1GB would save money. Then again the GPU is the bread and butter of gaming. Either way I should stop procrastinating on my pc and pull the trigger on a purchase soon. ^^

Side note: The usb 3.0 feature on mobo is totally unnecessary right? I mean aside from using thumb drives, keyboard, and a mouse what real use do I get from that? The only thing I understand about 3.0 is a faster data transfer rate.
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February 7, 2012 12:57:37 AM

Best answer selected by Blakexeal.
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