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First time builder


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#1 The Flizzle

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 01:05 PM

I have decided to try and build my first computer. I am going to use it mostly for gaming and some video editing ... home videos that is. I live in the US and would like to keep it around $1000 - $2000. I currently play a lot of mmo's and some fps. Mostly WoW, Aion, WAR, DAO, Fallout3 and such. It is important to me to have the games run as fast as possible at very high video settings if possible. I plan on using a 22" widescreen monitor if that makes a difference. Having the ability to store music and video on the hard drive is a plus but not a neccesity. Any thoughts or places I should go to start? Im open to anything you can give me. I dont have any techy friends, so Im going blind on the internet .... and its a dangerouse place to be haha.

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#2 Venek

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 02:47 PM

Welcome grasshopper! (Always wanted to say that)

Perhaps the best place to start learning and looking around would be at tomshardware.com, they have tons of resources at your disposal for everything you want to know about building a PC, but that's just my personal opinion. Do a Google search with the string "build your own pc" or something like that and see for yourself which you may like best. Anandtech.com is another excellent site.

For all your component needs, I think everyone will agree when I say that newegg.com is without peer. Not only do they have the best selection I've seen, but their prices are very reasonable and their speed of service cannot be beat.

Since you're new to the world of building a PC, the best advice I can offer is research, research, research...and some more research. Personally, I would start off with the fundamentals, what makes a computer a computer? Here's a loose guideline:

1. Basic components of a computer: Motherboard, CPU, Memory (RAM), Video Card, Sound card (I just use my motherboard's onboard audio, but that's my choice), hard drive, power supply, and optical drives (DVD, CD, Blu-Ray, keep in mind if you want to burn any media)

2. Compatibility: Type of motherboards (ATX is most common) and appropriate case, AMD vs. Intel CPUs, and motherboard-compatible RAM. I can't stress enough the importance of compatibility of components. Do you plan to have a Crossfire or SLI machine? Then you need a power supply that's certified to do that, AND have enough/proper juice. What OS are you planning to install?

Considering your price range and the type of machine you wish to have, you're definitely going to be looking at the higher end of $2,000. It's very easy to blow a lot of money on high-end parts, but you DO get more bang for your buck if you build it yourself.

It took me years before I was comfortable enough to build my own computer. I started off with very simple upgrades, like additional RAM, and read exhaustively on any other upgrades I wanted. It's kind of funny how I got started too, I got frustrated enough with Dell's tech support (on which I'd be on the phone for hours with some guy in India barely speaking any English), and decided to fix the problems on my own.
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#3 The Flizzle

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 03:12 PM

Thanks for the info. Being as this is my first time ... I most certainly am going to absorb as much info and advice as I can. Browsing different sites and reading prduct reviews I cam up with a list of items that look like they may go well together and provide good performance. As I research, Im sure I will change a lot ... if not all ... of these items.

Motherboard - EVGA
Processor - Intel i7
Memory - Corsair I thought buying two sets of these
Case - Antec
Power Supply - Antec or Corsair
DVD RW - Sony
HDD - WD
OS - I would like to go with Windows 7
Video Card - I have no idea what I want for the video card

Any thoughts on any of these components?

#4 David Evans

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 03:43 PM

As Venek suggested, Tom's Hardware is a GREAT place to get information about components. They have a system builder marathon that they do every so many months, where they take a certain amount of money and construct PCs. I have often thought that a really easy way to guarantee compatibility of components and performance would be to just build what they build.

The last medium priced build they did is here....
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/build-own-pc,2503.html

And there are lots of pictorial lessons on how to build your computer and I would suggest reading as many as possible to cover all the contingencies.

You do hear a lot about people buying individual components that are not compatible, so watch for that.
Newegg offers combo deals on things but have often heard that that is NO guarantee that the parts are compatible... do lots of homework.

#5 DJBPace07

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 05:40 PM

That article is helpful, but out of date and most components work fine. You just need to know what you are doing before purchasing. For a budget of $1000 to $2000, you can get an amazing gaming PC. Here's a suggestion:

Case: COOLER MASTER COSMOS 1000 RC-1000-KSN1-GP - This is a full ATX case which means it can handle almost any hardware you put inside. This is an elegant, quality case. $179

Motherboard: ASUS P6T SE LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Given your budget, you can afford the expensive i7 systems. This motherboard is one of the higher-end boards catering to the i7 line. It has triple channel memory, allows for Crossfire/SLI, and will take the LGA 1366 CPU's. $204 (Before $20 mail-in rebate)

CPU: Intel Core i7-960 Bloomfield 3.2GHz - This processor is where Intel starts to pull ahead of AMD in a significant amount. The 960 will be able to handle most games thrown at it with ease. $587

RAM: OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - Most motherboards using the X58 chipset allow for triple channel memory, which is what this is. Remember, you need a 64-bit operating system to use 4GB or more of RAM. $160 (Before $30 mail-in rebate)

Graphics Card: POWERCOLOR AX5870 1GBD5-PPDHG Radeon HD 5870 1GB - The fastest single GPU on the market. The 5870 beats all others with the exception of dual GPU cards. Like all Radeon 5 series cards, this one supports DirectX 11 and Eyefinity. Since your motherboard supports Crossfire, you could add even more of these into the PC and have a very fast graphics setup, but a single card should do you nicely. $409

Power Supply: SeaSonic X750 Gold 750W - SeaSonic makes excellent power supplies and a 750W unit is more than enough to power this system. $179

Hard Drive: Western Digital AV-GP WD5000AVDS 500GB 32MB Cache SATA 3 - This is enough space for most users, but if you need even more space, get a hard drive with at least a 32MB cache for best results. $54

Optical Drive: LG Black Blu-ray Disc Combo SATA Model UH10LS20 LightScribe Support - This drive will read Blu-Ray's and write to DVD's and CD's. It can handle most optical media very easily. You could spend $50 more and get a drive that reads and writes to Blu-Ray. Those discs hold far more than a standard DVD and make backing up very easy. $104

Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - You need a 64-bit operating system. $104

Total Price: $1,988 (Before shipping and rebates)

Edited by DJBPace07, 16 March 2010 - 05:42 PM.

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#6 The Flizzle

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 06:32 PM

Thanks DJBPace07!! Im going to research these suggestions. Do you think all of these components are easy enough for a first timer to handle? Is there anything else I should research into purchasing to go along with these suggested items? What about an internal hookup for the internet ... wifi and direct to my cable modem.

Edited by The Flizzle, 16 March 2010 - 06:37 PM.


#7 Venek

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 08:26 PM

Thanks DJBPace07!! Im going to research these suggestions. Do you think all of these components are easy enough for a first timer to handle? Is there anything else I should research into purchasing to go along with these suggested items? What about an internal hookup for the internet ... wifi and direct to my cable modem.


Most motherboards today come with an onboard network hookup, so there's no worries there. You'd have to consult your internet provider for further info, but it's usually just a matter of setting the protocols. I just installed Windows 7 over the weekend and it took care of all the necessary drivers and network information that I needed. All I had to do was type in the WEP key (AT&T U-Verse user here).

Oh, I forgot to mention a very important and critical part of building a PC, the TOOLS! You will be working in a tight space with very little room to maneuver, so computer tools are a must. You can usually find several options at any computer store, I'd recommend getting a pack that is diverse. At the very least, needle-nose pliers and a screwdriver (usually Philips, but better have a flathead too, just in case). A good light source is especially helpful, I can't tell you how many times I've resorted to using a flashlight to see what I'm doing.

It's not so much are these components easy as it is reading through the instructions carefully. Pay special attention to the motherboard manual, power supply connections, and case installation. Read through all of them before even opening up the boxes, because you don't want to make the ugly mistake of realizing you should have put in the hard drive first before all the other components (that's just an example, not a real-life occurrence).

By the way, on the topic of compatibility, motherboard manufacturers usually post online a list of compatible CPUs and memory, at the least. Treat those lists as gospel.

Edited by Venek, 16 March 2010 - 08:31 PM.

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#8 The Flizzle

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 08:37 PM

That is a lot of good advice Venek. Thanks!!

#9 DJBPace07

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 12:27 AM

Don't worry about the CPU compatibility, I already checked it. That CPU has been out for ages so I would have been very surprised if the motherboard did not support it. The RAM should also work just fine too, the QVL for memory simply means that those RAM sticks have been tested with a motherboard. Unless you are getting some unusual or high speed RAM for overclockers, and as long as the RAM's speed and memory type matches, it will work. The motherboard contains several on-board components, like the network adapter for ethernet connections (You know, the thicker cable that has an end which sort of looks like a telephone connector) and sound card. This motherboard does not contain a modem for dial-up services.

Edited by DJBPace07, 17 March 2010 - 12:28 AM.

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#10 The Flizzle

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 07:36 AM

Thanks again for all the responses. I think that a larger HD would make me feel a little safer. My wife likes to put LOTS of photos on the computer and I would like to put a lot of my home videos on their as well. I was thinking WD HD would be good. Any thoughts on that one? Also, Im reading up on raid setups, so Im trying to figure out if thats a waste for me or if I should look into that later. Also, is that something that can be done after the build if I choose? The last thing I cam up with was using two vid cards in crossfire. From what I am seeing, it is about 1.5x better than using one, at that Im not sure its worth the money. On my current computer I have SLI, but I have it turned off because it causes more more problems than running without, and Ive never noticed any performance gains.

#11 DJBPace07

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 06:46 PM

I don't suggest getting a single massive drive. You should, if you budget allows, get once small-ish drive (about 320GB) to hold only your operating system and applications, then, get a larger drive for all the multimedia. That way, if one drive fails, your entire library of data isn't lost, you will either have all your apps or all your media. I have a 750GB drive and tons of videos, lossless audio, and pictures, and the drive is only half full. As for RAID, don't do it. RAID should only be used in businesses where data redundancy is paramount, for consumers, simple backups to the cloud or storage device is sufficient. RAID 0 should not be used since there is no data redundancy and RAID 1 can be accomplished though backing up and may cause slow downs. You can do it after you build the PC, just make sure all the drives you wish to use are the same size. Crossfire/SLI is only really effective if you have high-end graphics cards and your PC is already a higher end computer. Depending on the game being run and the hardware, there can be a 50% increase in performance, but each additional card has less and less of a performance benefit.

Edited by DJBPace07, 18 March 2010 - 06:47 PM.

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#12 OldPhil

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 09:48 PM

One of my buddies is a wacko gamer, not sure when the sun saw his body last! Point is that advice of using a small drive for the OS is very sound, it will cut you seek time. He used to run big drives he just put a 160g in and has his storage drives as plug ins when he needs them, he is water cooled and says the machine is killer setup this way.

Honesty & Integrity Above All!


#13 Baltboy

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 09:21 AM

A small drive has certain advantages if you use a high end drive like the WD Raptor or a SSD. If your not willing to plunk down the cash for one of those I have found a large drive to work the best. Due to the increased data density on the drive platters and the larger cache(usually) they tend to have better read, write and seek rates than their smaller counterparts. If you want to keep the OS on a smaller section, like I do, just partition the drive.

Also as a side note to purchasing parts I would spend some time looking at the different platforms first (i.e. AMD vs. Intel) and make a decision of the bang for your buck against buying the current top gun. I have found the usable difference between the two to be negligible at best. I don't think most people could tell the difference between the two. The same goes for almost everything I buy. Currently I do have some favorites: motherboards-gigabyte, proccessor- PhenomIIx4, memory-Gskill, Video- ATI, Sound-creative X-FI, Hard drives- WD or Seagate.

What ever you buy spend as much time as your patience will allow reasearching the various parts and reading reviews. If you do that I doubt you will be dissapointed.

Oh and most of all......HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
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