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PC Building and Part Picking Thread

Discussion in 'Technology Discussion' started by John Madden, Aug 15, 2014.

  1. John Madden

    John Madden resident policy guy

    (Preliminary note: this thread is primarily tailored toward users from the US, Canada, or the UK. You're not exactly out of luck otherwise, but you should be aware that what you're reading won't be entirely accurate if you're not in one of those three countries.)

    So a lot of users on the Serebii Forums are reaching, or are already at, the point in their lives where they can actually manage to buy parts for their own PCs or at least start planning one out. (Also I've been posting about PC stuff in Misc's GCT too damn often; this subforum was basically made for this.)

    Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Serebii Forums PC building thread, in which I post a bunch of crap meant to help you understand what parts you're supposed to be buying for your brand spankin' new computers - regardless of whether you're going for an ultra-budget $500 build or a balls-to-the-wall $1,500+ enthusiast build.

    I don't even know where to start.
    In a general sense, you're going to want to buy the following components no matter what you're aiming for:

    - A processor, or CPU
    - A motherboard compatible with that CPU
    - Random access memory compatible with that motherboard (so right now, any DDR3)
    - A mechanical hard drive, so you can store music/games/videos
    - A case, so you can house the blasted thing
    - A quality power supply, so the entire thing won't blow up and take out components with it.
    - A monitor with VGA, DVI, and/or HDMI connectors.
    - A keyboard and mouse.
    - An operating system - either Windows or Linux for a self-built machine ("Hackintosh" isn't really an option unless you're at the Hydrohs/Madden tier of "knows what the hell they're doing")

    The following components are optional for budget builds but a necessity for higher-end builds:
    - A video card, or GPU, so you can run games at higher settings (and generally higher frame rates)
    - A solid state drive, or SSD, so you can boot your computer (and some games) faster
    - A CPU cooler, for overclocking or quietness

    The following components are completely optional based on your usage case:
    - An optical (DVD or Blu-Ray) drive; you can install your OS from a USB stick, most PC games are sold via digital distribution platforms like Steam or Origin nowadays, and iTunes and Netflix have been a thing for long enough that you probably aren't getting music or movies on disc anyway.
    - A sound card; depending on your motherboard, it's going to have built-in audio ranging from adequate to (surprisingly close to) audiophile tier.

    General build tips
    - Aim for a minimum budget of $450 (without monitor/keyboard/mouse) - anything lower is going to make it exceedingly hard for your build to even be passable.
    - Even if your budget is on the low end, try to fit an SSD into it - it's simply incredibly fast compared to even the fastest mechanical hard drives.
    - Do not, under any circumstances, buy an AMD processor/motherboard for a PC you intend to use for anything more than home theater applications - they're slower than Intel in every way and not particularly cheaper. Their video cards are still good and currently hold the best value as of mid-August.
    - If you're planning on building or upgrading a PC, check with this thread first so you can avoid buying cheap-but-garbage parts.

    Need help coming up with a build, or just need a look-over?
    You can use PCPartPicker to plan out your build and find the best possible prices for each of your parts. (Currently available in US/CA/UK/AU/NZ and Germany/Spain/Italy.)

    You can also fill out something along the lines of this template and I'll post a PCPartPicker recommendation ASAP:
    • Current Specs (CPU/motherboard/RAM/GPU/PSU/Case/HDD)
    • Budget (price range, country)
    • Main Use (Gaming? Emulation? Streaming? General school usage?)
    • Monitor resolution (1080p?)
    • Reusing any parts? (List specific models if you can)
    • When are you considering building?
    • Considering overclocking?

    Sample builds
    Here's a sample build recommendation sheet (currently) ranging from a competent budget build to a mid-level enthusiast build (click thru)

    (With credit to Hazaro, of NeoGAF)

    Where can I buy computer parts?
    If you're in the US, you should be buying from Newegg, Amazon, NCIX US, or Micro Center - they're generally going to have the lowest prices for any given component.
    If you're in Canada, you should also be buying from Newegg, Amazon or NCIX - Canada Computers and Memory Express are also options depending on where you are.
    If you're in the UK, try to buy from Novatech, Overclockers UK, or Amazon.

    How do I even know if these parts are good?
    By checking one of several review/benchmarking sites - I'd recommend Anandtech, TechPowerUp, PC Perspective and The Tech Report in general, with Jonnyguru as a secondary option for reviews of power supplies.

    What utility software would you recommend?
    [To be edited in later]
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2014
  2. Zazie

    Zazie So 1991

    A tip for people wondering about integrated graphics chips:

    I got one of the Intel I5 Haswell processors last year. The built in chips can handle L4D2 at minimum settings as well as Serious Sam BFG with a few hiccups. Probably not enough where I would recommend going without a graphics cards for those people who want to play all the latest games. But for older and a lot of indie games, they should be fine, and also good for most non-graphics intensive applications as well.

    So they are optional as John Madden says. Though personally I think they are more optional based on what you want to do with your computer rather than your budget.

    One thing that wasn't mentioned that is important to take OS into consideration, since if you want to upgrade your Windows, or getting a new license because you want another computer to use, that will cost money too. Or if you are using Linux you want to make sure the parts are compatable, since some parts don't play nice with Linux or certain Linux Distros. (Ubuntu seems to not play nice with a particular sound chip in my experience)
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014
  3. Hydrohs

    Hydrohs 安らかに眠ります、岩田さん。 Staff Member Super Mod

    Just some things that I want to point out:

    In regards to integrated audio on motherboards, nothing will ever be audiophile grade. For that you want something like a DAC or a dedicated sound card.

    I think you accidentally some words here:
    - Aim for a minimum budget of $450 (without monitor/keyboard/mouse) - anything lower will probably be

    And last, in Canada you also want to be using Newegg, Newegg is often the cheapest and they have sales pretty frequently.

    So yeah, I'm also available to answer any questions in regards to builds, recommendation, compatibility etc.
  4. John Madden

    John Madden resident policy guy

    My brain does weird things when I'm up that long. Fixed.

    (Also I'm exaggerating w/r/t onboard audio, but it's gotten pretty damn nice at the RoG tier or above.)
  5. Hydrohs

    Hydrohs 安らかに眠ります、岩田さん。 Staff Member Super Mod

    Yeah, they're definitely vastly improved. Just wanted to be clear, otherwise it makes the absurd amounts of money I've spent on my audio setup seem silly.
  6. tomatohater

    tomatohater Golden Sun 4?

    Right, I know this is probably a big ask, but I was wondering if you guys could help me.

    I have been contemplating making my own laptop, but for under £650. For that money, I want at least an i5 processor and 4gb RAM (minimum), as well as a not-too-shabby GPU/Graphics Card. Do you guys have any recommendations? Also, 1tb of HDD is practically a must. 128gb of SSD would be a dream too, although I think I would need a bigger budget to stretch that far. Of course this is a big ask, but any help would be great!

    Also, does anyone know of a website/company in the UK where I could pick some upgrades, then send in my current laptop and they do all of the fiddley stuff? Thanks!
  7. Hydrohs

    Hydrohs 安らかに眠ります、岩田さん。 Staff Member Super Mod

    You can't build a laptop, they're all proprietary. You can make some customizations for specific models before you buy, but that's it, you'd need to buy one with the specs you wanted outright. All you can really upgrade in a laptop after it's built is RAM and HDD/SSD.

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