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Hesitant to build my own rig, a few questions/concerns.

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April 26, 2012 6:00:59 PM

Last year I made the mistake of purchasing one of those pre-built CyberPower towers on Newegg, for gaming, believing I was making an excellent purchase. It came with a Radeon HD 5450. Enough said.

This time around I've been intending to go on CyberPower myself and actually pick out my own parts for a system, doing all the research required to ensure that every part purchased is the best quality for its price and will be more than adequate for my needs. I did a lot of research on the forums, learned a lot, and have a much better idea of what I'll need for a worthwhile purchase. After putting together something decent on CyberPower, I decided to do a test and put all the exact same parts in my cart at Newegg. I discovered a savings of over $200. That money could easily go towards a much better graphics card, and has therefore motivated me to consider putting together a system myself.

I'm hesitant to do this for a few reasons. When it comes to the hardware, I'm worried that due to my inexperience I'm going to break or chip something important by putting it in the wrong way somehow, or that I'll static shock something and ruin it. When I was much younger, 7 or 8 years ago, I tried to put my own system together and it didn't go so well. The motherboard didn't fit properly into the case, the screw holes didn't line up and it was always a bit wobbly. I couldn't get the CPU fan on right, and after switching it back and forth a few times ended up breaking something. Once everything was together the computer worked well, but that experience left me feeling wary about trying again, especially with the bigger bulkier parts that exist today.

When it comes to the software I've always been convinced that there are little tricks and tips used by the "professional" sites to speed things up and increase efficiency, from the BIOS to the OS. I don't know if there is any validity to this, but in the past I've reinstalled OSes on pre-built systems and I perceive what feels like a noticeable decrease in speed and efficiency from what was present out of the box. I don't know if that's just due to my imagination, the PC aging, or if it's because I don't know something that those who installed the original OS did.

Also, though I've never tried it before, I'd like to try overclocking my CPU and for whatever reason I feel that would be safer on a system put together by people who do this for their day job. I'm concerned that if I do it all myself, I'll end up with a tower that doesn't have proper airflow and isn't cooled efficiently, or have put too much or too little cooling gel on the CPU, and I assume those at CyberPower would do a better job than I could at ensuring that doesn't happen.

Another consideration I have that's pushing me more in the direction of attempting to put together my own rig rather than relying on someone else is that if something were to go wrong with it I'd have to send the entire computer back to them, wait for them to fix it, hope it works, etc. I've read quite a few nightmare stories about people being without their brand new PC for weeks if not months due to this. If I purchased all the parts myself, I could more easily target what was wrong, exchange the broken part for a new one, and save myself from all that hassle.

Anyway, if you can't tell by now, I tend to over-think things and am more here just looking for someone to put my fears to rest. Thanks for taking the time to read.

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April 26, 2012 7:11:02 PM

Since the internet was born, I've always felt that if you want something done right, you should do it yourself. Because no one cares about your stuff more than you do. Provided you have the right tools.

Here's my advice......do it yourself, and KEEP IT SIMPLE until you build confidence and knowledge. So skip multiple drives, SSDs, overclocking, supplmental heat sinks, extra fans etc. Tell yourself you'll get in to that later this summer. For now, just build a basic PC that is fast and upgradeable.

So, to put together a PC, you need the following tools:
1) A mailbox and a front door.
2) a table
3) A screwdriver that is pretty small (the motherboard screws)
4) A computer to watch the video on youtube on how to put thermal paste on
5) A flashlight for plugging in components (I'm half blind)
6) The desire to read and the discipline to follow instructions, not just skip some of them and make up your own ...."meh, it'll be ok if I plug it in before connecting the PSU to the mobo".

What is your budget?
What are your gaming expectations?

Edit:
Actually, skip #4 which is the hardest part anyway, because you're just going to buy a fast CPU with no need to overclock and just use the stock CPU heatsink which has the paste preapplied.
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April 26, 2012 7:13:03 PM

I would build your own system, it's very satisfying. You will often get better quality components and generally better build quality doing it yourself because you can take that extra time to make sure everything is perfect. Someone working at Cyberpower building machines all day won't take that extra care I would imagine. Prebuilt systems tend to use cheaper PSU's as well and that is somewhere you don't want to go cheap, especially on a gaming system.

An OS installed by someone more professional shouldn't be faster really, it's the same software on the same hardware. It may be because Windows will often be fully updated on an OEM machine, whereas you would start from scratch on your own.

Those problems with the screwholes and things may have been becuase you went with a cheap case? Possibly do a bit of research into which case you want and look at how easy it is to build into it. My old Antec 902 could be a bit of a pain when putting the system together for example but I built into a Coolermaster 690II once and that was incredibly easy.

If you need any advice on which components to use, just fill out the 'How to ask for new build advice' form and I'll see what I can do to help.
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April 27, 2012 2:07:41 AM

catatafish said:
Since the internet was born, I've always felt that if you want something done right, you should do it yourself. Because no one cares about your stuff more than you do. Provided you have the right tools.

Here's my advice......do it yourself, and KEEP IT SIMPLE until you build confidence and knowledge. So skip multiple drives, SSDs, overclocking, supplmental heat sinks, extra fans etc. Tell yourself you'll get in to that later this summer. For now, just build a basic PC that is fast and upgradeable.

So, to put together a PC, you need the following tools:
1) A mailbox and a front door.
2) a table
3) A screwdriver that is pretty small (the motherboard screws)
4) A computer to watch the video on youtube on how to put thermal paste on
5) A flashlight for plugging in components (I'm half blind)
6) The desire to read and the discipline to follow instructions, not just skip some of them and make up your own ...."meh, it'll be ok if I plug it in before connecting the PSU to the mobo".

What is your budget?
What are your gaming expectations?

Edit:
Actually, skip #4 which is the hardest part anyway, because you're just going to buy a fast CPU with no need to overclock and just use the stock CPU heatsink which has the paste preapplied.


For the time being my budget is about $800, but I was planning to set aside at least another $400 over the next few weeks. So for now we'll say $800 - $1200. Willing to go higher if necessary, as the goal of this computer is gaming and I intend for it to last me at least 2 years playing games at high to max settings with a constant 60+ FPS (monitor is only 60Hz) at a resolution of 1920x1080. My #1 goal is to play Diablo 3 flawlessly at these settings, with no lag, but I also have other games in mind that I imagine will be more graphics intensive, such as Tera Online.

I've got all the tools you recommend, even #4 should it ever prove necessary, as I am looking to overclock at some point. I was really looking forward to getting an SSD for my new rig, as I've read on forums that it very significantly boosts the performance of Diablo 3 (at least during the beta). What makes it so complex that you recommend saving it for later?
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April 27, 2012 3:15:53 AM

jmsellars1 said:
I would build your own system, it's very satisfying. You will often get better quality components and generally better build quality doing it yourself because you can take that extra time to make sure everything is perfect. Someone working at Cyberpower building machines all day won't take that extra care I would imagine. Prebuilt systems tend to use cheaper PSU's as well and that is somewhere you don't want to go cheap, especially on a gaming system.

An OS installed by someone more professional shouldn't be faster really, it's the same software on the same hardware. It may be because Windows will often be fully updated on an OEM machine, whereas you would start from scratch on your own.

Those problems with the screwholes and things may have been becuase you went with a cheap case? Possibly do a bit of research into which case you want and look at how easy it is to build into it. My old Antec 902 could be a bit of a pain when putting the system together for example but I built into a Coolermaster 690II once and that was incredibly easy.

If you need any advice on which components to use, just fill out the 'How to ask for new build advice' form and I'll see what I can do to help.


That makes sense about the OS. The case probably was pretty cheap, I don't imagine I'd have spent more than $50 on it, so I won't make that mistake again. Reading the reviews will be smart, I really don't want to end up with a case that makes building any more difficult than it needs to be.
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April 27, 2012 11:11:03 AM

Setting up a SSD is slightly different to setting of a HDD, no more complex though. Often manufacturers ship a CD that does it all for you (after you install your OS of course.) I know Samsung did with my SSD. You should easily be able to manage one at this budget since you don't need insane graphics power.

This is at the upper end of the budget but would be perfect for your usage:

Intel Core i5-2400 OR i5-3550
(Performance of the 3550 will be slightly better but might cost slightly more)
G.SKILL Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB)
(Get 1333Mhz with the i5-2400 and 1600Mhz with the i5-3550)
ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP
ASUS HD 7870 2GB
Samsung 830 Series 128GB
Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM 500GB
SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W
Coolermaster CM690II
LG DVD Burner
Windows 7 Home Premium

Total - ~$1200


That's the sort of thing you could get for your full budget. It would blow those games away and you have a nice easy to use SSD for fast booting/loading along with a case I have personally used and know it's easy to build into.

If you want to bring the total down a bit you could easily drop the GPU down to the HD 7850 and still play those games fine. It is less demanding on the PSU too so you could get the cheaper 430W model of that PSU. You could also drop the SSD or the HDD and add it later. That would save you $200-300. I would recommend getting the slightly more expensive full retail copy of Windows though. The OEM copy won't allow you to use it again when you want to reinstall and you don't get any support from Microsoft.

I hope this helps.
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April 27, 2012 12:40:53 PM

Your budget and goals are almost the same as mine were. Check my sig for what I did. I don't know what Diablo requires, but I play BF3 on High settings and pull 55 FPS on multiplayer consistently. PC runs almost silent and my temps are stellar. I added the GPU later, but you could easily do 800 and then add SSD and CPU heatsink later when you decide to overclock. I tend to doubt an SSD will noticeably improve Diablo, but again, not familiar with the game.

Regarding OEM Windows......if you ever change motherboards, just call microsoft and tell them your mobo needs replaced and they will give you a new key.
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April 27, 2012 6:14:29 PM

catatafish said:
Your budget and goals are almost the same as mine were. Check my sig for what I did. I don't know what Diablo requires, but I play BF3 on High settings and pull 55 FPS on multiplayer consistently. PC runs almost silent and my temps are stellar. I added the GPU later, but you could easily do 800 and then add SSD and CPU heatsink later when you decide to overclock. I tend to doubt an SSD will noticeably improve Diablo, but again, not familiar with the game.

Regarding OEM Windows......if you ever change motherboards, just call microsoft and tell them your mobo needs replaced and they will give you a new key.


My original motivation for an SSD was this post on the D3 forum: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/4663256706
The OP talks about how upgrading to an SSD made drastic improvements in the game for them, and then people argue about whether or not this is possible and why. If there's even a chance it will have the same effect for my rig I think it's worth the money. I want to make sure I don't regret any purchases, or feel that I sold myself short by missing out on something. On the other hand I do think it would be nice to get used to the system and then a few months later overclock and throw in the SSD to see how much it improves things. It would make the experience more satisfying. Hopefully putting in an SSD isn't too much more trouble on an already established system.

The build in your sig looks pretty nice, do you keep BF3 on the SSD? I always hear complaints about the 60GB ones being too small for games, but I don't know if those people are just whiners. What resolution are you playing at while maintaining that FPS?

Also, I read in another thread that since I'm a student with a college email I may be able to get Windows 7 Pro for $65. Not sure if that's still available or if I have to jump through too many hoops for it but I'd like to look into that as an option. It would at least provide $40 or so to put toward some minor upgrade.
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April 27, 2012 6:24:13 PM

My SSD build isn't what most do. I am using the SSD as a cache to the HDD using Intel RST. It was kind of a pain to set up and it still takes me 38 seconds to boot to windows......but my read/write times are still that of an SSD, so that rocks. If I had to do it over again I would set it up like jdsellars post above probably. I'd probably get a 120gb SSD and put Windows and a couple of games on it and then store on an HDD 500gb.

If you wait and do the SSD later, it'll be a pain probably. You'll have Windows on your HDD and then you'll end up doing a fresh Windows install on the SSD, re-do all your Windows settings (pain!), then back up your files and reformat your HDD to use as storage only? Right?

From what I read, 64gb SSD though is just enough for Windows and 1 or 2 video games. My SSD was right at $100.

I'm playing at 1920x1080 and I have a 2nd 720 res monitor also plugged in that I keep IE8, Afterburner, and my temp monitor open in to keep an eye on while I'm playing.
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April 27, 2012 6:28:00 PM

jmsellars1 said:
Setting up a SSD is slightly different to setting of a HDD, no more complex though. Often manufacturers ship a CD that does it all for you (after you install your OS of course.) I know Samsung did with my SSD. You should easily be able to manage one at this budget since you don't need insane graphics power.

This is at the upper end of the budget but would be perfect for your usage:

Intel Core i5-2400 OR i5-3550
(Performance of the 3550 will be slightly better but might cost slightly more)
G.SKILL Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB)
(Get 1333Mhz with the i5-2400 and 1600Mhz with the i5-3550)
ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP
ASUS HD 7870 2GB
Samsung 830 Series 128GB
Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM 500GB
SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W
Coolermaster CM690II
LG DVD Burner
Windows 7 Home Premium

Total - ~$1200


That's the sort of thing you could get for your full budget. It would blow those games away and you have a nice easy to use SSD for fast booting/loading along with a case I have personally used and know it's easy to build into.

If you want to bring the total down a bit you could easily drop the GPU down to the HD 7850 and still play those games fine. It is less demanding on the PSU too so you could get the cheaper 430W model of that PSU. You could also drop the SSD or the HDD and add it later. That would save you $200-300. I would recommend getting the slightly more expensive full retail copy of Windows though. The OEM copy won't allow you to use it again when you want to reinstall and you don't get any support from Microsoft.

I hope this helps.


As far as the full retail version of Windows goes I am a student with a school email address so I may be able to get that $65 version of Windows 7 Pro. Not sure about the specific details for that offer though.

I'd be quite happy with that system, though since I'd like to overclock at some point would it be better to go with an i5 2500k/2550k?

For whatever reason I'm more inclined to go with an nVidia card for this purchase. After reading on the forums a bit I trust them more, and they seem to have a few features AMD lacks. Specifically with Diablo 3, since they claim to have put a lot of work into their game physics (and it was an option I had to put on low when I played the beta with my current AMD PC), I'm thinking PhysX will be able to handle that better. So is there a comparable nVidia card that will give equal if not better performance? The GTX580 seems to be equivalent in performance but costs quite a bit more.

It's important to me that I specifically be able to reach the goal of constant 60+FPS at 1920x1080 resolution and I would rather wait to buy and save up more money if there's any chance I won't be able to achieve that goal with a cheaper system.
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April 27, 2012 6:33:41 PM

catatafish said:
My SSD build isn't what most do. I am using the SSD as a cache to the HDD using Intel RST. It was kind of a pain to set up and it still takes me 38 seconds to boot to windows......but my read/write times are still that of an SSD, so that rocks. If I had to do it over again I would set it up like jdsellars post above probably. I'd probably get a 120gb SSD and put Windows and a couple of games on it and then store on an HDD 500gb.

If you wait and do the SSD later, it'll be a pain probably. You'll have Windows on your HDD and then you'll end up doing a fresh Windows install on the SSD, re-do all your Windows settings (pain!), then back up your files and reformat your HDD to use as storage only? Right?

From what I read, 64gb SSD though is just enough for Windows and 1 or 2 video games. My SSD was right at $100.

I'm playing at 1920x1080 and I have a 2nd 720 res monitor also plugged in that I keep IE8, Afterburner, and my temp monitor open in to keep an eye on while I'm playing.


In that case to avoid the trouble, since I'm practically going to be treating this rig like a console at first (barely for anything other than D3 for the first few of months), perhaps it would be ideal to start out with a quality 120GB/240GB SSD and when I get low on space invest in a nice 500GB - 1TB data drive. That sounds like a much simpler installation compared to the hassle you've described.

Does having that second monitor plugged in significantly lower your FPS or does it have no effect whatsoever? I've never tried more than one monitor so I don't know how that works.
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April 27, 2012 6:46:04 PM

The additional monitor has some effect I'm sure, but not noticeable to me. Maybe 2 FPS if I had to guess?

I think your strategy of starting out with an SSD and adding storage later is probably a great one. You can always pop in your current HDD to the new rig for storage.

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April 28, 2012 2:31:31 PM

Best answer selected by AntaresX.
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