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FlorbFnarb

How to start planning out a PC build -or- Florb's Adventures In Building A Computer Without Burning The House Down

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EDIT:  I'm going to add some links here in the OP to show various stages of the process from beginning to end.  I'll edit the OP to include links as I go.  You can jump to the links to see various points in the process, or you can just start reading right here to see how the sausage is made from the very start, with my uneducated questions about the process long before I had even the thimbleful of knowledge I have now.

If you want solid expertise from people in the know, ask guys like @Folterknecht; if you want to know what it's like to go through the process as a rookie, find the answers to some questions you didn't know you had, maybe save yourself some money, and just all-around get the basics down by watching a rookie fumble through the process before you go badger the experts, this is your thread.

Many people helped quite a bit in this thread, but @Folterknecht, @BlackAdder, and @Assassin7 basically helped the whole way through and helped me finalize many part choices, as well as all contributing suggested builds on PCPartPicker.com; thanks to all.

How the sausage was made - links to various points in the discussion, selection, and assembly processes:

  1. I come back to the idea after discussing it and letting it sit for a year of struggling with my dying laptop.
  2. I discover a deal on getting Windows 10.
  3. @xWulffx initiates an interesting side discussion about monitors, frame rates and refresh rates.
  4. I commit.
  5. The discussion about Ethernet versus a PCI wireless card versus a wifi dongle.
  6. The case, last item of the bunch, arrives at home.  Building begins late that evening.
  7. Everything installed in the case and hooked up, ready to power on.

Tips I came up with based on my experiences:

  1. Why you want to build your own...maybe.
  2. Shopping for, selecting, and purchasing your parts.
  3. Things to consider before you actually start randomly plugging components into other components.
  4. The installation process, in order.

 

Everything below the red line is the original post:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 

 

Should I take it that the core items are the motherboard and case, and that all other items should be chosen in terms of compatibility with these items?

So far all I know for sure is I'm getting a full-size case to ease installation and choice of motherboard, which should make planning everything else a much simpler process.

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To start before folter comes in, find out how much you are willing to spend on a build, along with what other things besides the actual tower you need (ie, monitor, keyboard, hetset, etc). You can buget a gaming tower for <$500, or you can go all out and spend several thousand. Pretty much all of your part selections will come from that budget.

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You shouldn't have any problems with incompatible equipment, just make sure you buy a motherboard that works with your CPU. Most, if not all GPUs should use PCI-E slots, and only old RAM will be incompatible with most motherboards.

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I would really really really like to keep the total price tag for the whole thing to $1k or below.  I have a good monitor, I have a keyboard, I have a mouse, I have excellent headphones and I actually even have some good computer speakers in storage somewhere.  It isn't impossible I could salvage my blu-ray drive from my dead Toshiba Qosmio laptop, if laptops use the same form factor drives as desktops do.  Can you tell I've never done this before?

As for everything else, I guess the goal is to keep parts in balance with each other, and to spend enough that I'm not having to upgrade anything for a bit but not to get so high-end that I'm paying through the nose.

As for the motherboard-CPU question, should I pick a CPU then find a motherboard to fit it, or the other way around?

Oh, and I have no intention of overclocking anything.  I'm not computer hardware-savvy enough to be tooling around with that sort of thing,

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I would really really really like to keep the total price tag for the whole thing to $1k or below.  I have a good monitor, I have a keyboard, I have a mouse, I have excellent headphones and I actually even have some good computer speakers in storage somewhere.  It isn't impossible I could salvage my blu-ray drive from my dead Toshiba Qosmio laptop, if laptops use the same form factor drives as desktops do.  Can you tell I've never done this before?

As for everything else, I guess the goal is to keep parts in balance with each other, and to spend enough that I'm not having to upgrade anything for a bit but not to get so high-end that I'm paying through the nose.

As for the motherboard-CPU question, should I pick a CPU then find a motherboard to fit it, or the other way around?

Oh, and I have no intention of overclocking anything.  I'm not computer hardware-savvy enough to be tooling around with that sort of thing,

Are you including a copy of windows in the budget or no?

edit: always go cpu first, those have a much wider range. Mobo's are all generally similar and just have different bioses and options.

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Are you including a copy of windows in the budget or no?

Yeah.

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Pick CPU then mobo. You should go with a cheep mobo if you don't want to overclock. The case does not really matter. The most important thing is the cpu/graphics card. I would probably go with an i5 and 970/390 in your position. Folter will probably stress the importance of a good psu.

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Find a CPU you like, (Intel Core i7-4790K is a nice one) and a heatsink with some thermal paste if you dont wanna use mayo.

Find out how much max ram you need (you can buy cheaper ram, no need for those bullshit heatsinks, DDR4 is the new pricey shit but DDR3 works fine), and whether you plan to use SLI/Crossfire for dual cards.

Find motherboard compatible with these. (ASUS motherboards are nice)

Find small/large SSD (Intel or some cheapo brand) and a larger HDD (WD or Seagate) for porn and shit (like useless steam games that you will never play but dont want to re download in the off chance you want to play them)

Get a BluRay drive, Optical Drive, Floppy Drive, Card Reader drive or whatever the fuck else you think you'll need

Buy cables for the hard drives if they dont come with them.

Use this power supply calculator to find out how much power you need (http://outervision.com/power-supply-calculator), and then add on 100W for good measure.

Find a case that fits your motherboard size (I recommend ATX)

If you dont already have peripherals, try out the Logitech G710+ Keyboard and the Logitech G502 mouse

Monitors are pretty simple, just find a cheap 144hz mopnitor that is the size you like.

Put dat shee together if ya kno what im sayin.

EZ skinz EZ lyfe

 

Now to get the money to build the rig..... ;_;

 

 

 

 

Edited by Victrix
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Part of my reason for prioritizing case and mobo was to ensure ease of future upgrades.  Buy a little bit ahead on those two parts and the power source, so that I probably won't need to upgrade anything until the CPU or GPU get a bit outdated.

Not sure if that's a logical thought process, though - did I mention I'm new at this?

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Part of my reason for prioritizing case and mobo was to ensure ease of future upgrades.  Buy a little bit ahead on those two parts and the power source, so that I probably won't need to upgrade anything until the CPU or GPU get a bit outdated.

Not sure if that's a logical thought process, though - did I mention I'm new at this?

The issue with mobo's is that chip sizes change every couple of generations. LGA1150 was the standard for a while, and now that skylake has come out (LGA1151) that will probably end up being the standard for the next several years. Mobo's only fit 1 chip set, but they can work with any cpu from that set.

 

Part of my reason for prioritizing case and mobo was to ensure ease of future upgrades.  Buy a little bit ahead on those two parts and the power source, so that I probably won't need to upgrade anything until the CPU or GPU get a bit outdated.

Not sure if that's a logical thought process, though - did I mention I'm new at this?

What's your monitor resolution? I'm guessing 1920x1080

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Lemme tick off a few points here, so you'll know where I'm coming from:

  1. I've been reading a bit from Logical Increments to see what's what and wrap my head around prices.
  2. @Victrix: Yeah, I planned on a smaller SSD for the OS and any load-time-critical games like WoT and maybe Skyrim, etc., with a larger HD to put everything else on.
  3. PSU: They don't seem to represent a large percentage of the total cost, so I figured on calculating the total power needs of the whole thing then get a PSU that can do...150%, 200% of that, maybe?  Not sure, I just know cheaper ones (a) bullshit their way through their advertised power ratings and (b) aren't usually of a safe build quality.  Quality construction is key, and over-capacity would be nice to avoid having to upgrade it later down the road.
  4. My understanding was DDR4 is getting cheap enough there's no reason to get DDR3 now?
  5. I have no idea what I need in terms of graphics cards.
  6. As far as cases go, I just started looking and the CoolerMaster Storm Stryker caught my eye - obviously in part just for aesthetics, but also because it's large, has plenty of room for a neat installation and airflow, and seems to have quite a bit of room for anything I wanna put in there.  Plus the white looks like a Stormtrooper. :awyeah:
  7. RAM - any point in getting more than 8 GB at the moment?
  8. HSF - I plan on not skimping here.  I don't want a noisy computer, but at the same time reliability and cooling capacity are pretty critical to me.  I'm still unbelievably pissed that my Toshiba Qosmio that I bought in the fall of 2010 died of heat issues.  I started having heat problems in October 2014 - running WoT and Bandicam at the same time would get it hot enough the top of the case was actually uncomfortable to hold my hand on, and it would actually shut down with a little pink sound when I ran WoT and Bandicam.  It was stone dead by the middle of December.  I expected to get more than 3.5 years out of the thing.  Anyway, I don't want heat to be even kindasorta an issue with this desktop, so a large case for airflow and good HSF to keep things cool is a real priority.
  9. Okay, I'll pick a CPU and find a mobo that fits it.  What else do I need to look for in terms of a mobo?
  10. I have a monitor, keyboard and mouse.  Keyboard and mouse might be replaced with upgrades a while later, but for now they're perfectly fine.
  11. Yeah, 1920x1080.  Got a Samsung S27D590P.  Been pretty pleased with it.
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Build idea v1: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/6XPLMp

@Folterknecht I summon thee from across the seas to give judgement on this thread.

Bit under budget (as displayed), but many times I end up choosing different retailers for my parts just to make things more convenient.

 

florb snip

4. DDR4 is still more expensive than DDR3, mostly because it is only just now entering the common consumer area (previously it was pretty much enthusiast only) with Skylake requiring it, but the motherboards are still more expensive and the CPU's don't have the same variety in pricing as the previous generations do.

5. Graphics cards are stupidly simple now, the price is directly proportional to performance in pretty much all cases.

6. Cases can be pretty iffy. Stuff like the one you linked (imo) is pretty garish and over the top.

7. Not really, unless you are planning on doing any kind of video work.

8. Air coolers are more reliable and quieter, plus have longer lifespans due to only having 1 moving part that is easily replaceable.

9. Mobo stuff you want to look for includes USB ports, total sata connections, ease of bios usage.

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@SaintLuna @FlorbFnarb - Had the same budget and the same situation about 2 years ago 

 

With the way games are progressing along, consistently using more background processing to do more complex processes in-game, RAM may start to become more of a necessity, (and if you're planning on recording using OBS or Bandicam, and ESPECIALLY fraps, you'll want more RAM), so that's something to think about. 

You said you didn't really know what you wanted for GPU, which is fine, but I'd urge you to consider ALL options, and I do mean ALL. I rushed into buying a Nvidia GeForce EVGA GTX 780 Superclocked ... Sounds cool, sure, and it gets the job done no doubt, but I could have gotten much more performance out of say, an AMD card. 

For a case, depending on where you live you may consider an open top sorta ... thing. Like this. That would really only be for non-dusty/hairy environments like ... Canada? Norway? I dunno, just not Arizona. 

For a Mobo, I only have 1st hand experience with MSI's Bios program, but from what I've researched and such, Asus ROG has a really easy to use interface. Not to knock MSI, theirs is pretty swell as well. :disco:

 

That's my two sense. Hope it helps :)

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I know absolutely nothing about BIOS. :(

Read: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/bios-beginners,1126.html

If you want to build a rig, you will have to do some learning if you want to get the best out of it (OC'ing is actually really easy once you understand the process).

 

@SaintLuna @FlorbFnarb - Had the same budget and the same situation about 2 years ago 

 

With the way games are progressing along, consistently using more background processing to do more complex processes in-game, RAM may start to become more of a necessity, (and if you're planning on recording using OBS or Bandicam, and ESPECIALLY fraps, you'll want more RAM), so that's something to think about. 

You said you didn't really know what you wanted for GPU, which is fine, but I'd urge you to consider ALL options, and I do mean ALL. I rushed into buying a Nvidia GeForce EVGA GTX 780 Superclocked ... Sounds cool, sure, and it gets the job done no doubt, but I could have gotten much more performance out of say, an AMD card. 

For a case, depending on where you live you may consider an open top sorta ... thing. Like this. That would really only be for non-dusty/hairy environments like ... Canada? Norway? I dunno, just not Arizona. 

For a Mobo, I only have 1st hand experience with MSI's Bios program, but from what I've researched and such, Asus ROG has a really easy to use interface. Not to knock MSI, theirs is pretty swell as well. :disco:

 

That's my two sense. Hope it helps :)

I do streaming using OBS (somewhat) regularly, and even on a hungry game like Just Cause 3, I didn't really ever break 6gb of usage. 

Unless florb wants to go for last gen stuff, for new cards its only really a 380/960 that fit comfortably within the price point. But the 380 has better performance than a 960, so it's pretty much the only option.

Open cases are more for benchmarking rigs where you are doing a lot of swapping out of parts. Most of the time a closed tower is much better because you can quieter airflow.

 

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Oh, the open case looks exotic as hell, and if I was a millionaire building a computer I might use one, but I wouldn't feel safe with such a thing around.  I'd have visions of somebody spilling a whole Coke on it.

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@Florb:

  • What OS did your dead laptop use? If it was Win7 or newer you can use the license key from your laptop and don't have to spend money a new OS. You can download an ISO image from MS legally. The key should be on a sticker at the bottom of your laptop or on CD case that came with your laptop. If you can't find the sticker it's also possible to plug in your old laptop HDD into your new pc, and use a program to extract the key from your old installtion.
  • How big was your Laptop HDD? That's an other part you might be able to reuse as storage drive beside the SSD. You might need a power adapter though.
  • You optical drive from your laptop could olso be reused but it probably won't be cost effective because you also need adapters. What kind of drive was it exactly - could it also burn BluRays or just CD/DVD?

 

With above mentioned points in mind I put something together - it ain't the most fancy assembly but it would offer a lot bang for your bucks

 

http://pcpartpicker.com/user/F0lterknecht/saved/jMDLrH

 

i5-6500 + GTX970 + decent CPU cooler and PSU. I also put in a BluRay writer for 40$ because as explained above the transplantation and cost for adapters wont be worth the hassle. I skipped the HDD for now - depending on your laptop - but there is still room in the budget to buy a 1 TB 3.5" drive.

 

Edit:

Forgot to mention 16GB (2x 8GB) of RAM. Yes initially you might not need that much, but on the ofter hand you ll probably won't ever run out of RAM and it also allows for simultaneously running all kind of programms, games and browsers with 70 tabs open.

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yeah. you get a budget, then you choose a CPU and mobo combo based on that budget, and then choose the rest of the built to conform to it. Its also possible to pick a GPU and build around that, but I would only do that assuming I had a top end GPU (980ti etc)

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You forgot the full tower case m9.

 

Doesn't make sense for the avg user - a regular midTower has plenty of space. He doesn't plan on SLI/CF, HDD-farm or crazy watercooling setup. Where it get's cramped is µATX (sometimes) and especially miniITX but regular single GPU ATX builds in mid towers work fine mostly.

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Doesn't make sense for the avg user - a regular midTower has plenty of space. He doesn't plan on SLI/CF, HDD-farm or crazy watercooling setup. Where it get's cramped is µATX (sometimes) and especially miniITX but regular single GPU ATX builds in mid towers work fine mostly.

My first case was a really standard build, but I had some major issues getting my rear panel on properly just due to lack of space. If he wants a full tower case then give him a full tower case.

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My first case was a really standard build, but I had some major issues getting my rear panel on properly just due to lack of space.

With a modular PSU?

 

If he wants a full tower case then give him a full tower case.

 

If he has a 2500$ budget he even gets an Intel 750, but that isn't the case here. With 1K he has to cut some corners and a Full-ATX monster, that is useless for him anyway, is the best place to start.Spending 160$ on a case with only 1K budget is utter nonsense, when that means sacrificing 40-50% GPU performance (GTX960/R9 380 -> GTX970/R9 390).

 

 

 

 

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With a modular PSU?

If he has a 2500$ budget he even gets an Intel 750, but that isn't the case here. With 1K he has to cut some corners and a Full-ATX monster, that is useless for him anyway, is the best place to start.Spending 160$ on a case with only 1K budget is utter nonsense, when that means sacrificing 40-50% GPU performance (GTX960/R9 380 -> GTX970/R9 390).

Semi-modular. Includes the 24 and 8 pin cables for mobo, sata/pci cables came separately packaged.

And the reason I went for a 380 was because a 390 won't fit within a $1k budget if you include the windows OS and an actual hard drive. You don't have any idea of what may or may not work within the system, yet you assume he will be able to disassemble the laptop to pull the old drive out (which may not even be possible depending on the model), when he is so new to the hardware world that he doesn't know what a bios is?

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As I wrote a 1TB HDD fits into the budget for the build I assembled without problems. Regarding the laptop HDD.

  • Install Windows on the new system (just use a local account/installation - don't activate it)
  • remove backcover from the Laptop
  • take out the HDD and connect it to the new system (power adapter might be needed ~10$)
  • run key-extractor program

 

As you might have noticed I also mentioned he might want look for the key first (back of the laptop or CDs that came with the laptop) and two other points before I posted the parts lists ... . So I don't get what your problem is.

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