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First time PC build - How does it look, what else do I need

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August 10, 2012 1:57:04 AM

Hello everybody! :hello:  , my names Billy and I am currently building, or re-building, a PC all with new and or working parts.

Since October of last year I have been getting all of the necessary parts to get a decent gaming PC, on a very tight budget, together. I'm mostly building a new PC for my self, but also rebuilding my last desktop that broke down, the only thing I'm using from it is the hard drive which still seems to be in pretty decent shape.

With the layout and help coming mostly from Newegg, I have gotten I believe at least half of the core items I need to get the thing running.

So far these are what I have right now laying around until I get everything else I need; btw these all here are from Newegg:

- 1 Rosewill Blackbone Mid-Tower Case
- 1 Asus DVD Burner/CD Drive

- 2 2GB Pareema Memory Drives (these aren't anything special, should I get something special?)
- 1 CoolerMaster HyperCooler 212 (I've been second guessing whether this is too big for the mid tower I've gotten..)
- 1 Westerngate 150GB Hard Drive (this is the hard drive I've had for years and holds everything from the old computer, should I keep it or get a new one?)
- 1 Biostar A880G+ micro ATX AM3 Motherboard (is micro alright? AM3 or AM3+ or FM1, XYZ, etc?)

..And these are what I don't have yet. I've been going on Amazon for these since my budget has gotten even tighter in the past few months since I started the build.

- 1 AMD Athlon II X4 631/or AMD Phenom II Black Editions (x2,3,4,6/or AMD APU (the processor is probably where I most need help, since I already have the motherboard (AM3 only) I'm not sure if I should upgrade to an AM3+ or better motherboard, plus I've recently found out about these APUs that are a CPU and GPU in one. They seem like a great deal, killing two birds with one stone, but would I have to re-evaluate what kind of a build I'm making here?

- 1 OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W Power supply (from what I can tell this seems to be pretty good for games for the price and performance)

- 1 copy of Win7 install disc (I can't really seem to find anywhere on Amazon where just the disc to install the OS isn't over $100. Is the disc really all I need or do I need more than that?

- 1 Graphics card (not sure if I need this or if I can find one cheap enough that can hold up with all of the other stuff without "bottle-necking", if that even is the thing that happens with stuff like this.

:sweat:  Anyway that mostly it, don't think I left anything out, hope not. It looks like I've made it sound more complicated than it is, but if anyone knows their stuff or if you can find something wrong (getting too cheap this or uncompatible that or whatever) with what I've got or have picked out to get let me know.

Thanks! :bounce: 

More about : time build

a b B Homebuilt system
August 10, 2012 3:16:46 AM

What's your budget?

As far as an OS - you aren't paying for the disk (hell, you can literally download Windows for free at any time from Microsoft's website). You're paying for the activation code. The $100 OEM OS versions are tied to your hardware, so you won't be able to change your MOBO or your CPU and keep the registration without calling Microsoft and convincing them that you only switched due to hardware failure.

Is your old hard drive IDE or SATA? If it's IDE then you won't be able to use it in your new computer, but you can buy an external HDD enclosure and use it as an external hard drive.

To build a gaming computer, you absolutely need a GPU. You won't be able to play any modern games using the onboard graphics card.

Finally, get a full ATX motherboard. The micros and minis might be a little cheaper but you have a mid-tower case and those MBs have no room for expansion. Get the full-size version.
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August 10, 2012 3:58:47 AM

JMer806 said:
What's your budget?

As far as an OS - you aren't paying for the disk (hell, you can literally download Windows for free at any time from Microsoft's website). You're paying for the activation code. The $100 OEM OS versions are tied to your hardware, so you won't be able to change your MOBO or your CPU and keep the registration without calling Microsoft and convincing them that you only switched due to hardware failure.

Is your old hard drive IDE or SATA? If it's IDE then you won't be able to use it in your new computer, but you can buy an external HDD enclosure and use it as an external hard drive.

To build a gaming computer, you absolutely need a GPU. You won't be able to play any modern games using the onboard graphics card.

Finally, get a full ATX motherboard. The micros and minis might be a little cheaper but you have a mid-tower case and those MBs have no room for expansion. Get the full-size version.


Hey Jmer!, thanks for responding :) 

As far as budget goes, its really muddy; has been for the past year. Whenever I get a paycheck I usually pull out $50 or closer to $75 if I can and put on a gift card for someplace where I can get whichever part I've got my eye on at the moment. I'm not too comfortable spending over $100-150, but I don't want to get a "buy cheap buy twice" item either.

I've been looking for someplace online (like microsoft and the like) to get a full download thats genuine and legal and not just an upgrade or add-on. Where do you recommend without paying the $100 fee the get a code? How far can it go compared to a retail version that your tied to?

The hard drive I have is an IDE (the computer I originally used it on is about 10 years old now) I do have a SATA/IDE 3in1 USB cable converter adapter, will I be able to get any use from it besides the HDD enclosure. What kind of hard drive do you recommend, I take it SATA is the way to go.

From what I've see of the GPUs they are very big, should I get one of those or settle for a smaller lesser performing one? Will the bigger GPUs fit in a mid-tower case?

The micro seemed a nice idea at the time, but you also don't see a lot of gamers with them, huh. Will any full ATX do? I've seen something like PCI 2x16 written on both full size and micro, is one like that best? Also I just thought about Overclocking; does that have more to do with the motherboard or processor or both? Also, will a big heatsink fan (coolermaster hyper 212) fit a mid-size enough, or will it be too cramped?

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August 11, 2012 4:14:54 PM

Hello Billy,
I guess I still need some clarification on your budget. How much total are you willing to spend on this build? If your budget really is that tight, then I can understand keeping your current motherboard and getting a Phenom II X4 965 for your CPU, which is on sale for $90 from newegg with this code: EMCNBJN46 (but that expires either today or tomorrow, and then it goes back up to $110, but I've seen it on sale quite a bit lately, so maybe it'll come down again). This is also good if you are just trying to put together your build one piece at a time, because it saves you from buying a new MB and lets you finish sooner. To further support the 965, you already have a hyper 212 (which does fit according to what other owners of the rosewill blackbone say), which will let you overclock it nicely. You couldn't do the same if you picked an intel i3 at a similar price and a new motherboard because those all have locked multipliers.

For rest of the parts, again, if you absolutely have to, you could settle for less than 500GB, but if you keep your eye out, newegg has deals on 1TB hard drives for around $90 every couple of weeks. Sign up for their newsletter and you'll get all the current deals and coupon codes. Whatever HDD you pick, just makes sure it's 7200 rpm, because I'm guessing a solid state drive is out of your budget range. Just don't make the mistake of getting a something at 5400 rpm for your main drive.

I read a few reviews from hardwaresecrets and overclockersclub on the OCZ psu you picked out, and frankly it seemed like a good budget choice. Others here at Tom's may disagree, but I'm using a well reviewed Rosewill PSU right now that works great, and lots of people think those are garbage as well.

And then for your GPU, just check out Tom's graphics hierarchy chart, look at your budge range, and go read some reviews on whatever card fits the bill. Pretty much any mid-level card should fit in the blackbone case also. According to newegg, cards up to 11.5" should fit, but I have a feeling it'll be pretty tight. I'm just making educated guesses here, but I think that as long as you don't get a higher-end card like a GTX 680, GTX 670 or HD 7970, HD 7950, or play a CPU intensive game, you shouldn't experience significant bottlenecking with an X4 965. I'm sure somebody will set me straight if I'm wrong about that.
Hope this helps
-jordon
edit: this was all advice given assuming a tight budget. If I assumed wrong, then a new motherboard and a better CPU would obviously be ideal. And about the Windows 7 install disc, I'm not sure how to avoid paying that much for it. I was able to get mine for $35 through my University, but few people have that advantage.
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August 12, 2012 10:38:12 PM

hey jordon, thanks for all the thorough info!

to clarify my budget, the most i plan on spending for each part is around $75 at most if i can. i figure getting something more expensive would depend on whether it is more worth it and won't outbalance the other parts, so each part has been close to the same price range. i've only been getting one part at a time each month too, though recently i've had other expenses to deal with and haven't gotten anything towards the new build in a while.

i've had the biostar motherboard for 8 months now sitting there till i have all the parts ready to be assembled. i'm not sure what i would do with it or where to take it if i went for another full size mobo; its got all of the specs (am3, ddr3, pci 2.0x16) that seem to cross with the other parts which made me get it in the first place. i've been coming back to the phenom ii cpus since they have the right socket and have a good review rap, so i probably stick with the x4 if theres a good deal.

i'd like to get a hard drive with 500gb, that seems to be a decent amount of storage. what can you add about the difference between a ide and sata hard drive? do they have different hook ups?

glad to hear the psu i picked is solid. the reviews and all looked good so this might be one to check off the list.

i recently spotted a geforce 9800 gt card thats around $70 that seems like it can handle decent graphics. my brother in law has a desktop thats good for gameing and he has a geforce 9500, so i've been using what he has for a little reference.

as far as the windows 7 disc goes i'm looking on amazon to see when someones got one for cheap, but if shelling out $100 is the best way to go i'll set aside a bit for it. not in much of a hurry anyway since its been 10 months since i started getting all the parts, so a couple more months here and there might not matter that much :p 

thanks for your help again :) 
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August 12, 2012 11:03:51 PM

btw i forgot to ask, what wattage should the psu be? is 500 ok or am i better off with a 600 or 700?
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2012 9:03:51 PM

Buy a Windows OEM or System Builder version (same thing) off Amazon. I think it's around $90 currently. You'll probably get a disk, but that's not a bad thing - it's good to have your OS on a disk around, and if you just downloaded it, many people including me would recommend that you burn the ISO images to a disk.

To be honest, you're not going to get much of an upgrade anywhere spending $75 per part. Except for smallish hard drives (500GB or less), you can't really get anything of quality or newness for that amount of money.

Yes, get a SATA hard drive. I'd be surprised if they even sell IDE drives anymore except at the secondhand store or eBay.

You absolutely need a GPU if you intend to do anything except perhaps casual flash gaming online. TomsHardware has articles to help you pick the best one - so find the one that fits your budget and buy it.

As far as PSU, 500W would be enough for your system with a single GPU, 700W would be enough for a newer system with multiple GPUs. So you could save a bit of money by going for a smaller wattage. However, getting a larger/more expensive one now will allow you to save money on that component in the future, since if you get a quality PSU, you can reuse it in a new build.
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August 13, 2012 11:19:40 PM

+1 for everything JMer806 said. SATA is the only way to go these days when it comes to buying new hard drives. IDE has different connectors that your motherboard doesn't have, and while you have an adapter that will let you use your old drive via USB, you can't boot windows from USB (or at least not easily. I've heard it's possible, but I don't know the process). There are IDE to SATA adapters you can use if you want to. I managed to find a couple on Amazon for $5-12. Whether or not you get the adapter to work is another story. According to the customer reviews, for some people they work great, and for others not at all.

And I'm afraid that if you want to stick with that Motherboard, the phenom X4's are pretty much the best CPUs you can go for that use the AM3 socket. That isn't to say they aren't good gaming processors, but they are getting harder and harder to come by. So unless you wouldn't mind potentially downgrading to an Athlon II or buying a used processor, you might want to jump on one soon. In all reality though, if your budget for a GPU is $75, then an Athlon II really isn't that bad, because a GPU in that price range is just going to bottleneck a decent phenom.
Regarding the GPU, Tom's current recommendation for your price range is the HD 6670 at $65. I can't tell you if the 9800 gt or the HD 6670 would perform better. They are both on the same tier according to the hierarchy, and that's all I can really tell you. The 9800 gt does use significantly more watts though. And try to get windows 7 before 8 comes out. Game developers aren't too happy with the way windows 8 is looking according to the articles that Tom's has been publishing with me.
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