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Advice needed (getting a computer for a grad gift, have a few choices to make)

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April 9, 2014 12:56:45 PM

Hello all! This is my first time on the forums here but I was looking into some options and the people here appear to be extremely knowledgeable and helpful, so here's my predicament.

I'm about to graduate from high school, and my relatives want to get me a computer so I can have one for college. I haven't had one for years, (it died and circumstances prevented me from getting a new one). However, I've saved up 3 grand from working, and my relatives had a price point of $500.

Now I also wanted to play games, I love them but have really missed out over time. Initially I thought I could buy a PS4 for gaming and their $500 could go towards a laptop for school. But looking into things another option could be for me to at least match their $500 and get an even better computer for both my school needs and also the gaming I've missed out on.

So I'm looking for advice on which road to travel here. How much money would I need to put forth to effectively beat out the PS4? Obviously I don't plan to blow all 3 grand of my savings being just a student and all ;D . But like I said I could definitely match their $500 at least.

There's also the issue of laptop versus desktop? The desktop seems much more flexible with what you can do with it, and a lot more secure of a machine. But the laptop seems better for a school setting.

I'm also interested in building the PC (pre built big box store machines are eh...) but i've never done so. But I'm confident that with all the guides and such, as long as I know parts and whatnot to buy, I could manage a build with some direction.

I thank you greatly for any advice you have!
April 9, 2014 1:33:11 PM

What do you need covered in your budget?

Spoiler
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H87N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($110.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($67.50 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($57.98 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card ($229.20 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 130 Mini ITX Tower Case ($42.99 @ Mwave)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 520W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NSB0 DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: Asus VS228H-P 21.5" Monitor ($129.99 @ Best Buy)
Keyboard: Cooler Master CM Storm Devastator Gaming Bundle Wired Gaming Keyboard w/Optical Mouse ($36.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $1040.57
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-04-09 16:17 EDT-0400)


Spoiler
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD FX-8320 3.5GHz 8-Core Processor ($129.99 @ Micro Center)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($30.98 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: MSI 970A-G46 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($69.99 @ Micro Center)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($57.98 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card ($229.20 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series 300R Windowed ATX Mid Tower Case ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 520W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NSB0 DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: Asus VS228H-P 21.5" Monitor ($129.99 @ Best Buy)
Keyboard: Cooler Master CM Storm Devastator Gaming Bundle Wired Gaming Keyboard w/Optical Mouse ($36.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $990.05
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-04-09 16:26 EDT-0400)


Personally, I'm planning to spend around $1500 when I get round to my build, which currently looks like this:

Spoiler
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Micro Center)
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS9900MAX-R CPU Cooler ($49.98 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($124.99 @ Micro Center)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($57.98 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card ($489.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: NZXT Phantom 530 (Black) ATX Full Tower Case ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Antec High Current Gamer 620W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.98 @ OutletPC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: Asus VS238H-P 23.0" Monitor ($134.99 @ NCIX US)
Keyboard: Cooler Master CM Storm Devastator Gaming Bundle Wired Gaming Keyboard w/Optical Mouse ($36.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $1489.82
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-04-09 16:30 EDT-0400)


Options are quite varied, once you figure out budget and purpose it becomes easier for you to figure out your options and what you like the look of.
April 9, 2014 1:44:03 PM

http://pcpartpicker.com/user/Danbuscus250/saved/4jSi
CPU Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core (Micro Center Override) $189.99
Motherboard MSI Z87-G41 PC Mate ATX LGA1150 $84.99
Memory G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 $64.99
Storage Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM $57.98
Video Card EVGA GeForce GTX 760 2GB $249.99
Case Cougar Solution (Black) ATX Mid Tower $36.99
Power Supply XFX 550W ATX12V / EPS12V $59.99
Optical Drive Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer $19.98
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) $89.98
Monitor Hannspree HE225DPB 21.5" $99.99
Wireless Network Adapter Asus PCE-N10 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 $14.98
Keyboard Cooler Master CM Storm Devastator Gaming Bundle w/Optical Mouse $36.98
Headphones Rosewill RHTS-8206 $51.98
Custom Microsoft Office 365 University $79.99
Total: $1138.80

here it is, should play most games on ultra 720 very high 1080p, and i included microsoft office cuz you are a student. i also didnt know if you needed a monitor, keyboard etc. so i included it all.
Related resources
April 9, 2014 1:52:41 PM

Seeking Solace said:
What do you need covered in your budget?

Spoiler
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H87N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($110.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($67.50 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($57.98 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card ($229.20 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 130 Mini ITX Tower Case ($42.99 @ Mwave)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 520W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NSB0 DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: Asus VS228H-P 21.5" Monitor ($129.99 @ Best Buy)
Keyboard: Cooler Master CM Storm Devastator Gaming Bundle Wired Gaming Keyboard w/Optical Mouse ($36.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $1040.57
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-04-09 16:17 EDT-0400)


Spoiler
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD FX-8320 3.5GHz 8-Core Processor ($129.99 @ Micro Center)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($30.98 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: MSI 970A-G46 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($69.99 @ Micro Center)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($57.98 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card ($229.20 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series 300R Windowed ATX Mid Tower Case ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 520W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NSB0 DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: Asus VS228H-P 21.5" Monitor ($129.99 @ Best Buy)
Keyboard: Cooler Master CM Storm Devastator Gaming Bundle Wired Gaming Keyboard w/Optical Mouse ($36.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $990.05
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-04-09 16:26 EDT-0400)


Personally, I'm planning to spend around $1500 when I get round to my build, which currently looks like this:

Spoiler
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Micro Center)
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS9900MAX-R CPU Cooler ($49.98 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($124.99 @ Micro Center)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($57.98 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card ($489.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: NZXT Phantom 530 (Black) ATX Full Tower Case ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Antec High Current Gamer 620W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.98 @ OutletPC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: Asus VS238H-P 23.0" Monitor ($134.99 @ NCIX US)
Keyboard: Cooler Master CM Storm Devastator Gaming Bundle Wired Gaming Keyboard w/Optical Mouse ($36.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $1489.82
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-04-09 16:30 EDT-0400)


Options are quite varied, once you figure out budget and purpose it becomes easier for you to figure out your options and what you like the look of.


I'm definitely looking to be able to hopefully run games anywhere from mmos like WoW/ESO to Starcraft II to Skyrim to Battlefield 4. What are the main differences performance-wise in those first two builds?

And are drivers and such really a hassle like some people make it seem?
April 9, 2014 1:59:03 PM

Danbuscus25 said:
http://pcpartpicker.com/user/Danbuscus250/saved/4jSi
CPU Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core (Micro Center Override) $189.99
Motherboard MSI Z87-G41 PC Mate ATX LGA1150 $84.99
Memory G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 $64.99
Storage Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM $57.98
Video Card EVGA GeForce GTX 760 2GB $249.99
Case Cougar Solution (Black) ATX Mid Tower $36.99
Power Supply XFX 550W ATX12V / EPS12V $59.99
Optical Drive Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer $19.98
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) $89.98
Monitor Hannspree HE225DPB 21.5" $99.99
Wireless Network Adapter Asus PCE-N10 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 $14.98
Keyboard Cooler Master CM Storm Devastator Gaming Bundle w/Optical Mouse $36.98
Headphones Rosewill RHTS-8206 $51.98
Custom Microsoft Office 365 University $79.99
Total: $1138.80

here it is, should play most games on ultra 720 very high 1080p, and i included microsoft office cuz you are a student. i also didnt know if you needed a monitor, keyboard etc. so i included it all.


I have a small TV that easily functions as a monitor. Not the best monitor but its something (might get the one you listed anyway), but I'd definitely need a keyboard and mouse, and microsoft office for sure. Is 8GB of ram all I'll need? Like is getting more just overkill for the most part?

I appreciate the help :D 
April 9, 2014 2:05:49 PM

8gb is plenty for you, the only reason you would need more is if you were photoshoping/video editing, or play multiple games at once.
April 9, 2014 2:06:22 PM

The first 2 builds, the graphics card isn't quite as powerful, meaning it won't be as good with the more demanding games if you are looking for performance. The third build also has an SSD to run the OS from for faster booting.

The first build is a mini itx, which means no SLI, you also won't be overclocking with it. Second build I /think/ is better than the first, though also doesn't have an SLI option.

The build I'm planning will be able to game very well on a single monitor, and I'll be using a second touchscreen monitor just for my side stuff like streaming, talking on skype etc. I'll also be able to look into overclocking slightly and it's arguably easier to upgrade than the other two. I've mostly been interested in $1500 budgets as I shape my own build (which I'm hoping to get working on next month), on a single screen, the $1000 budgets will do great, but I very much urge you to look into suggestions yourself to see what you like. The builds I suggest are only ideas, and not necessarily are going to be the best build for the budget.
!