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post #1 of 213 Old 04-18-2013, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
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I am really wanting to get back into PC gaming, but I don't know the best way to go about getting a rig. I don't have a ton of knowledge on pc's, so building one is pretty intimidating. But a lot of people tell me that is the cheapest way to go. What do you guys think on this? If building is the way to go, are there any really good walk throughs?

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post #2 of 213 Old 04-18-2013, 09:50 AM
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A general piece of advice: Building a decent rig is not that difficult in this day and age, and you shouldn't be intimidated. However "cheapest" is another word for troubleshooting, which can be very intimidating and unpleasant. The key word in your mind should be "quality", and the difference in price is well worth it down the road, and usually not that much. I've built "cheap" machines for friends over the years, and have always regretted it.
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post #3 of 213 Old 04-18-2013, 09:59 AM - Thread Starter
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I was looking at the Alienware X51, and my friends seem to think it is a really good machine. But another person told me to stay away from alienware, because you are only paying for the name. I was thinking about spending roughly $1,000-$1,200 on a machine.

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post #4 of 213 Old 04-18-2013, 10:43 AM
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$1000-1200 should build you a solid mid-upper level machine, and is very realistic. If you are in no rush you should browse Newegg and other building sites looking for sales, get smoking promotional deals, and then assemble it when you have everything you need. There's nothing wrong with having someone else build it for you, but (to me at least) there's a certain pride in crafting your own bad ass machine that can run circles around pre-builts. This would be a good time to read up on the hardware and lingo while you're at it. Guru3d is a good place to start in my opinion as it's pretty well written without too much techno-babble.
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post #5 of 213 Old 04-18-2013, 10:48 AM
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I just built my first PC recently and it wasn't that difficult at all. I work in IT but not on the hardware side so it was a bit of a new experience for me as well. Fortunately there are a ton of great tutorials on Youtube to get you going. I think the hardest part for me was installing an aftermarket CPU heatsink but that is totally optional. Most motherboards have all the connections labeled and it is easy to figure out what goes where.

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post #6 of 213 Old 04-18-2013, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys.

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post #7 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 09:21 AM
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Two main things to remember when you're comparison shopping:

Don't forget the cost of the OS if you're building....that $99 needs to be factored in.

If you're building, you are your own tech support. Things can and will go wrong. I just built a PC, turns out the motherboard had a bad sound chip. I've got 20+ years experience of dealing with this stuff, didnt take me that long to figure it out...but I already knew what to look for. With a prebuilt you just get to send it back and let them figure it out.

At the midrange (~$1000ish) you'll prob save $100-200 at most over prebuilt, although high end ($2000+) tend to leave a higher profit margin for the builder. But building your own brings with it a certain pride of ownership that a prebuilt can't.

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post #8 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
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I think I will most likely buy a pre built this time. I just want to get into pc gaming and go from there. I can always upgrade stuff later to make it better. I can't see myself sinking enough money into something right away to melt my face with graphics, but I am guessing that something with at least 8gb of ram and a really good video card would make a lot of modern pc games look pretty good.

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post #9 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 02:02 PM
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Let us know when you have a system picked out. There's some helpful people here that can look at your choices and help with suggestions.

If you design this PC knowing you aren't going to try to run every game at maximum graphics settings, then you are ahead of most of us and have a more realistic perspective of this hobby. biggrin.gif


Sub-1080p/60fps is not next-gen.


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post #10 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Well I was looking at the Dell XPS 8500 system, and was going to jump to the Nvidia GeForce GT 640 video card. I know a lot of people hate dell, but I have a brother and a friend that have them and are able to run a lot of games with pretty high setting. I don't know a ton of stuff, so I am not sure of what I would eventually have to change to get more power out of the machine. It also comes with 8gbs of ram, but I can upgrade it to 12, but my brother says that it would be overkill right now.

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post #11 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by americangunner View Post

Well I was looking at the Dell XPS 8500 system, and was going to jump to the Nvidia GeForce GT 640 video card. I know a lot of people hate dell, but I have a brother and a friend that have them and are able to run a lot of games with pretty high setting. I don't know a ton of stuff, so I am not sure of what I would eventually have to change to get more power out of the machine. It also comes with 8gbs of ram, but I can upgrade it to 12, but my brother says that it would be overkill right now.

GT 640 is pretty weak. What are they asking for that? 12gb is overkill, money is better spent on the vid card.

Dells aren't bad, but I don't think their gaming line is a good value. I'm not sure about that particular model, but they often use non-standard cases and barely enough power supply, that will limit your potential for upgrading.

I haven't personally bought from them, but check out ibuypower - they use standard cases and components, and the prices are generally reasonable from what I've seen. A GT640 is a sub $100 video card - you'll get a LOT more performance by spending another $50 and bumping to a 650 ti or ti boost. From there, diminishing returns on performance/dollar really steps up.

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post #12 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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So would it make more sense to stick with the standard 8gb, and the standard AMN Radeon HD 7570 card. And then take that money and go to new egg and get a better video card? If I do that, what else do I need to upgrade? It comes with the i7 proccessor in it. If I went with the two stock items I just listed, I would save an additional $150. I wouldn't mind spending $300-$500 for a video card a couple months down the road, but I don't know if I am crazy to think that it would make it any better. Like I said, I am pretty new to the idea of getting a pc. I am just really bored with console games, and do miss some of the good MMO's I played a few years ago.

Edit: One more question BD, will I see a huge difference between the Nvidia and AMD video cards I listed? If it isn't going to be a huge deal, I will just go with the stock AMD card up front and then a couple months after I get it, upgrade to a better video card. Right now I plan on getting in on WoW, Civ 5 (for my wife actually), and maybe Guild Wars 2. Then once I get used to the kb/m, I will start looking at some newer stuff.

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post #13 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 02:27 PM
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I would avoid most of the inexpensive pre-built (so called) GAMING pc's since they are seldom truly capable of a reasonable level of gaming.

The easy way out is to find a decent pre-built pc (making sure the power supply can handle a decent video card - power/connections) and then toss a video card in there that is in your price range.

Most come with an open PCI-e 2.0/3.0 x16 slot but be sure to verify before purchase and make sure there is room inside to house the video card you plan to install.

A modern quad core with 8gb of ram plus a 660ti / 7870 Ghz will do very well at 1080p 2D gaming with most games set at or above medium graphic levels to obtain constant 60 fps (honestly many games will run at max settings with those cards).


* Just saw your recent post... you're not going to be doing much with a 640 or 7570 but as far as I am aware the 640 is faster than the 7570 (especially if it is GDDR5).

Best of luck,
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post #14 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok. I know on another site I go to, people recommended maybe going through Digital Storm or Puget Systems and having them build me a machine. They seemed to think that they will be way better machines than the dell's. I went to both of them and kind of did a machine and came up with one for around $1200.

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post #15 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 02:32 PM
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As those guys said, if you are planning to upgrade video cards, be aware that you must have a solid power supply to handle it.

The video options on that Dell line are low-power cards with no options for anything higher, so chances are the Dell has a smaller power supply that can't handle a beefier card. And I would be concerned with the ability to replace the power supply for that line of computers - it might be soldiered into the case or something.

Just some things to be aware of.


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post #16 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by americangunner View Post

So would it make more sense to stick with the standard 8gb, and the standard AMN Radeon HD 7570 card. And then take that money and go to new egg and get a better video card? If I do that, what else do I need to upgrade? It comes with the i7 proccessor in it. If I went with the two stock items I just listed, I would save an additional $150. I wouldn't mind spending $300-$500 for a video card a couple months down the road, but I don't know if I am crazy to think that it would make it any better. Like I said, I am pretty new to the idea of getting a pc. I am just really bored with console games, and do miss some of the good MMO's I played a few years ago.

Edit: One more question BD, will I see a huge difference between the Nvidia and AMD video cards I listed? If it isn't going to be a huge deal, I will just go with the stock AMD card up front and then a couple months after I get it, upgrade to a better video card. Right now I plan on getting in on WoW, Civ 5 (for my wife actually), and maybe Guild Wars 2. Then once I get used to the kb/m, I will start looking at some newer stuff.

If you're already considering upgradinv the video card, better to just buy it with a better one to start. 7570 might be even slower than the 640, I'm not sure of the equivalence between the nvidia and AMD cards, since I'm an nvidia guy.

The goal here is to strike the right balance - doesnt help to have a fast CPU if your GPU can't keep up. Dunno exactly which i7 it is, but I wouldn't go above i5 unless you were considering something like a 660 or 670. Whether its i5 or i7, make sure its quad core, and it won't matter nearly as much as the video card.

I'm not saying as specced out it won't run games fine, but you can do a lot better by shopping around and balancing the GPU and CPU better. That's always been my problem with dell - they sell you a fast and expensive CPU, and then totally skimp on the GPU. It's the exact opposite of what you actually want to do.
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post #17 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Well now my head is spinning, haha. I will look at those websites and when it comes closer to time to get one, I will probably PM a couple of you with specs and see what you think. If that's ok with you guys. It won't be until probably August, since I want to make sure I have more than enough money for our family vacation.

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post #18 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 02:37 PM
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Let us know your budget and we can give you a much better idea of what to look for.

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post #19 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, probably no more than $1300. I don't expect anything super amazing with that, but hopefully something I can continue to upgrade as I get more into PC gaming.

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post #20 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by americangunner View Post

Well, probably no more than $1300. I don't expect anything super amazing with that, but hopefully something I can continue to upgrade as I get more into PC gaming.

$1300 will get you serious gear, you won't need to upgrade for years. I didnt even spend that much on my build.

Here's one for approx $1200 before tax.

http://www.ibuypower.com/Store/Chimera_4se-E1

You can back off a tad on a few of the options and cut it another $100 or so.

The good thing about a system like this is that it uses standard gear. The CPU and mobo support OCing. The video card will get you a solid 60fps at just about anything out now at high settings/1080p.

By August the parts will have changed, but you don't really need to make any real compromises with your budget, you're going to get something killer. It's the people that aren't willing to spend more than $700 that need to manage their expectations.
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post #21 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
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That looks like a good deal. I know this is stupid but I do hate the case it is in. But it looks like a pretty powerful rig. How much does a good 22-27 inch monitor run you?

Edit: is that overkill on the ram? 16 gbs seems like a lot from everything I've heard.

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post #22 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 04:02 PM
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That looks like a good deal. I know this is stupid but I do hate the case it is in. But it looks like a pretty powerful rig. How much does a good 22-27 inch monitor run you?

Edit: is that overkill on the ram? 16 gbs seems like a lot from everything I've heard.

Yeah the case is hideous, I think you can swap it though. A good 22-27inch monitor maybe 300ish.

16gb is overkill....but only like $50 worth, so not a big deal.

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post #23 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 04:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks bd. I'll save that link.

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post #24 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 04:35 PM
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Here is another very capable example for under $1K...

http://www.ibuypower.com/Store/Gamer_HAF_92A/c/4107254

With some careful balancing you can keep this one under $1K with a Radeon 7950, 650 watt PS, 8 gb ram, 1 TB hd, 3.8 ghz quad core, a more normal looking case and a bunch of free games to get you started.

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post #25 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 06:32 PM
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Here's another building site

http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/

If nothing else they have a cheesy little fps build calculator that can kind of give you an idea of performance with swapping out parts for cost per horsepower estimates.
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post #26 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your help guys. Now I just need the next few months to fly by.

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post #27 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your help guys. Now I just need the next few months to fly by.

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post #28 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 08:14 PM
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Quote:
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Yeah the case is hideous, I think you can swap it though. A good 22-27inch monitor maybe 300ish.

16gb is overkill....but only like $50 worth, so not a big deal.

Don't forget you can hook your video card up to a nice HDTV - LCD or plasma - with HDMI and save the cost of a monitor. Throw in an Xbox 360 controller and you have a heck of a next gen game console. Trust me, I went from PC gaming back in the day to exclusively console gaming because I like the simplicty and playing in a relaxed position with a gamepad, not at a desk. But this latest PC I built over Christmas I've been totally immersed in "console" gaming on it with a gamepad, and haven't touched my 360 or PS3 in 2013!

I agree with bd - 16 gigs is a bit overkill, but it's pretty cheap -- and with a modern OS like Windows 8, it serves a purpose, so it's worthwhile overkill. Some might say I've been drinking DLJ's cool-aid. tongue.gif

An SSD drive for your OS might be a bit overkill too, but I feel it's essential. So that's another good place to consider to splurge, and with your budget you can afford it.

Those ibuypower rigs look like they are well equipped, so they are good places to keep an eye on. Good luck with your decision, and stop back to say hi when/if you feel close to pulling the trigger.


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post #29 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 09:49 PM
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Don't forget you can hook your video card up to a nice HDTV - LCD or plasma - with HDMI and save the cost of a monitor. Throw in an Xbox 360 controller and you have a heck of a next gen game console. Trust me, I went from PC gaming back in the day to exclusively console gaming because I like the simplicty and playing in a relaxed position with a gamepad, not at a desk. But this latest PC I built over Christmas I've been totally immersed in "console" gaming on it with a gamepad, and haven't touched my 360 or PS3 in 2013!

I agree with bd - 16 gigs is a bit overkill, but it's pretty cheap -- and with a modern OS like Windows 8, it serves a purpose, so it's worthwhile overkill. Some might say I've been drinking DLJ's cool-aid. tongue.gif

An SSD drive for your OS might be a bit overkill too, but I feel it's essential. So that's another good place to consider to splurge, and with your budget you can afford it.

Those ibuypower rigs look like they are well equipped, so they are good places to keep an eye on. Good luck with your decision, and stop back to say hi when/if you feel close to pulling the trigger.

Oh trust me, I feel you. Used to be a big PC gamer back in the day, but XBL made online play with friends so easy, and integrated so well with a home theater that I slowly got over those things I didn't like about consoles...mostly the frame rate. Then over the past few years, steam got really good, 360 controller support became almost standard, and 3D started to become a thing....I fought it for so long waiting on next gen consoles, and finally broke and bought a PC. I've barely turned my consoles on now that I'm used to 3D at 60fps....720p/2d/30 FPS makes my eyes bleed. On the one hand the PC gameplay experience is light years ahead of current gen consoles right now....but it's still somewhat annoying to use in a HT since you really do need a mouse/kb to launch and configure most games. And there's a part of me that wishes I didn't spoil myself, because seriously, I can't stand to look at 30fps anymore, and there still will be plenty of that on console going forward.

And as much as I love my SSD....it's still below having enough CPU, GPU and RAM on my list....but at $170ish for 240GB its worth it. Definitely at his budget he should go for it...but I don't want to throw too much at him at once. tongue.gif

As far as the ram goes...I've got a resource monitor open 24/7....and I've just never seen a game use even close to the full 8GB. Even when adding the OS, Crysis 3 on high or skyrim with the HD texture pack barely breaks 4GB. With an SSD you don't really need RAM HDD caching....so that's excess memory that literally sits there doing nothing. Even 8GB is technically overkill at the moment for current PC games. That might change very quickly once they start porting from next gen consoles, but that's still a few years out. More ram never hurts, but its money better spent on GPU power that will actually get used vs useless excess memory. When the time comes that you need 16GB+, it'll be cheaper...so no rush. With a HDD it makes a little more sense - but even then that $60 is better spent upgrading to a full SSD or adding a SSD cache.

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post #30 of 213 Old 04-19-2013, 10:31 PM
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Just to drive the point home - this is Crysis 3 running in a window on max settings:



Including the OS, just 3GB main memory in use, 1.5GB VRAM in use.



This is Crysis 3 and Skyrim maxed out, running at the same time. I couldn't get the C3 window to move out of the way, but 40% free = 5GB total in use.

Arguably even more than 4GB is currently overkill for a pure gaming box, since you're never going to run two games at once. 8GB is way more than enough. 16GB is absolutely pointless.

Steam/PSN/Xbox Live: Darius510
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