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Newb wants advice on first home build (modest gaming rig)

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October 11, 2013 3:51:10 AM

Hello,

I know next to nothing about PCs - I've owned one iMac after another since they first came out.

I'm considering building a Windows 8 PC to play games on (and keeping my Mac for "serious" apps). I don't have a specific budget, but I'd like to spend as little as possible while accomplishing the following goals:

-Play modest games like Sim City, League of Legends, and Starcraft II at max settings and high frame rates.
-Ability to upgrade down the road if I decide I want to play more intensive games
-I want my OS on a SSD for faster boot times
-Want a quiet, attractive machine. I like the look of Mac design and build quality, would be ok with something like the bitfenix prodigy (but is it quiet, and is the small size difficult for a newb to build in?).

So again, no specific budget - I'll spend whatever it costs to accomplish the above. I definitely need advice on how to choose a motherboard, PSU, and cooling. I watched a couple youtube videos, but so far they haven't discussed why a given piece of hardware was chosen.

If I could spend $1,000 + monitor and get a super stable, trouble-free rig that I could upgrade again in 1-2 years, I think I'd be happy with that.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

October 11, 2013 4:09:14 AM

$1000 is enough to get you a fairly good gaming rig, definitely enough for what your after.

I think you can use iMac's as a dedicated display for other devices, which I recommend you do if possible. The panels used in iMacs and Cinema displays are very high quality AH-IPS panels. If you payed a decent sum when you bough the thing, it would also be 2560x1440 which is a very nice resolution to have with the way graphics cards are going lately.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($214.98 @ Outlet PC)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H87N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($114.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: G.Skill Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($73.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($99.99 @ Mac Mall)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.96 @ Outlet PC)
Case: BitFenix Prodigy (Black) Mini ITX Tower Case ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) ($94.98 @ Outlet PC)
Other: MSI R9 270X ($200.00)
Total: $1008.84
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-10-11 07:06 EDT-0400)

Non-overclocking (on the CPU anyway) gaming rig, should serve you well I think. The 212 EVO is a bit redundant given you cant overclock, but you mentioned noise so I thought it getting rid of the stock cooler would be a good move there. If you did want to overclock, change the CPU to the 4670k and the motherboard to the Z87 version, should add about ~$40 to the price.
I went for the Prodigy as it seems to be the case you had your eye on. I chose the black version because it has much better ventilation on the front panel than the other colours.
8GB of 1600Mhz CL9 RAM, bog standard for a gaming rig.
October 11, 2013 5:00:03 AM

Thanks for the input. I actually plan to buy a new 24" monitor so that both computers can be used simultaneously. I heard Dell monitors are similar quality to Mac (maybe even shared components?).

With your suggested setup, would the computer operate mostly silently, like the iMacs I'm used to? I watched a video review of an alienware x51, and the thing was noisy like an Xbox - big turnoff for me. That's what got me focused on wanting quiet parts inside my PC.

I greatly appreciate the advice.
Related resources
October 11, 2013 5:08:43 AM

Dell are mostly known for their Ultrasharp line, which use IPS panels (not sure on exact type, think the lower end ones are e-IPS) which should be similar to the Apple screens.

iMac's when you look at their components, they are basically laptops put into a much bigger case, which is why Apple can afford to make it so quiet as the metal body can sufficiently act as a heatsink for the low power components inside. With proper desktop hardware, you have a lot more power draw (which means heat) to deal with, and unfortunately that does mean fans and therefore noise.
The parts I picked have fairly good cooling systems on them and the case is good for airflow, but I wouldn't expect dead silence from it. It would be most noisy while gaming, so if your using a pair of headphones you likely wouldn't notice it anyway.
October 18, 2013 9:08:43 AM

I'm shying away from the Bitfenix Prodigy because it looks like a difficult build in the videos I'm watching - everything packed so tightly in such a small case. I'm thinking that the Obsidian 350d looks like a more enjoyable case to build my first PC in.

I would greatly appreciate feedback on this parts list. Have I successfully chosen parts that will be compatible with one another, not too difficult to install, and a quiet running PC at the end of the day? I'd like to order in the next few days if I have a reasonable looking build.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($229.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($94.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Asus GRYPHON Z87 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($164.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($78.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($132.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair 350D Window MicroATX Mid Tower Case ($79.99 @ Microcenter)
Case Fan: Corsair Air Series SP120 Quiet Edition (2-Pack) 37.9 CFM 120mm Fans ($27.98 @ Outlet PC)
Power Supply: Corsair RM 550W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($109.99 @ Amazon)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) ($94.98 @ Outlet PC)
Monitor: Dell U2412M 60Hz 24.0" Monitor ($284.95 @ Amazon)
Total: $1509.81
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-10-18 12:05 EDT-0400)
October 18, 2013 5:25:36 PM

I shuffled and changed some components around to let you fit in a stronger graphics card.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($229.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: Asus GRYPHON Z87 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($164.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($73.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($99.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon R9 280X 3GB Video Card ($304.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Corsair 350D Window MicroATX Mid Tower Case ($79.99 @ Microcenter)
Case Fan: Corsair Air Series SP120 Quiet Edition (2-Pack) 37.9 CFM 120mm Fans ($27.98 @ Outlet PC)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) ($94.98 @ Outlet PC)
Monitor: Dell U2412M 60Hz 24.0" Monitor ($287.83 @ Amazon)
Total: $1504.67
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-10-18 20:17 EDT-0400)

Main Changes
- PSU changed to an XFX Core 550W, no reason to pay $50 extra for 5% jump in power efficiency.
- Changed the cooler from the H100i to the 212 EVO. It will still let you overclock to a decent level, largely a cost saving measure here.
- Changed RAM to accommodate the new heatsink, the hair combs they glue to Vengeance RAM is pointless anyway.
- Changed the 840 Pro to an 840 EVO. Only difference between the 840 Pro and a vanilla 840 is Write speeds and durability of the flash (which is only of importance in a heavy write/delete usage, such as a scratch disk). You wont notice the difference.
- Changed the graphics card to a R9 280X, arguable overkill for your purposes, but it will be able to run high end games without difficulty.
- I could have changed the motherboard to something a bit cheaper, but I could tell you were going for a colour scheme so I kept that in.
!