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Another "Help me choose a PC" thread

NerdtendoNerdtendo Registered User regular
edited December 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Tried this almost a year ago, but, as I kinda expected at the time, things came up.

I plan to purchase a suitable gaming PC in January, no later than February (get paid thrice in Feb). I already have a monitor that works. My planned budget is around 700 dollars, this is somewhat flexible. I'll probably bump this thread before I make the actual purchase, just in case any deals pop up around that time.

I prefer functionality over aesthetics, so those fancy towers don't really interest me unless it's only a few bucks more, and it includes a beer fridge. My experience with "building computers" includes reinstalling an OS, and changing out a video card, but I'm lucky enough to live with a guy that works at a Mac shop, and has had his share of run-ins with PC's. If I have to put it together myself, I think I'll be fine with that.

So, any known deals? Suggestions where to look?

I'm planning to waste months of my life to WoW with this computer, so getting that to look as pretty as possible would be great. Of course, I'm sure WoW's dated enough so that someone could probably to get it to run at 30 FPS on a decent graphing calculator at low settings. It doesn't need to be able to run next year's games well (or really, at all for that matter, plenty of games out now that I'm extremely interested in, have yet to play Oblivion or TF2, or even Half-Life 2).

I'd prefer some upgradability, and would therefore like to avoid any propriety nonsense. My previous computer left a terrible DELL aftertaste in my mouth (Pentium 4 chip with some bullshit propriety RAM needed, even today a 256 chip runs for somewhere in the 150 dollar range :x). But I'm also frugal enough so that a decent deal with the devil would probably leave me happy. If I can save two hundred bucks and still get a solid computer that's encased in an impenetrable titanium shell, I'll be satisfied, assuming it doesn't croak in two years.

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Nerdtendo on

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    FantasmaFantasma Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Hi,

    I don't know how the guarantee of parts works in the States, but the best route to own a solid machine that can be upgraded is actually assembling one, there is always the risk of trashing the machine even before you turn it on, but that would be your fault (or the person helping you out), this is why it is so important to read the motherboard manual and take safety precautions.

    Fantasma on
    Hear my warnings, unbelievers. We have raised altars in this land so that we may sacrifice you to our gods. There is no hope in opposing the inevitable. Put down your arms, unbelievers, and bow before the forces of Chaos!
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    NerdtendoNerdtendo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I always make sure to wear a wool sweater inside of a synthetic fiber jacket while sitting on a shag carpet. If my hair isn't standing on end, I'm doing it wrong.

    Dipshittery aside, I'm paranoid as hell. RTFM is a code I live by.

    Nerdtendo on
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    DixonDixon Screwed...possibly doomed CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I've built a number of PC's for myself and where I used to work (I'm in school now, so I didn't get fired or anything). You can buy the anti static bracelets if you want but it isn't a huge deal, I just touch a wall socket before i do work to discharge myself and there always grounded.

    All the games you listed will run pretty damn well on any mid-range card so no worries.

    Now I'm not to sure if you know that the new i7 intel processors have come out, but they are amasing. Even the bottom line one is better then the last generation q9660 which costs around 1300.
    If you want, I would suggest going for the i7 920, it costs around 299, the only problem with this is the mobos can be expensive to. The cheapest I could find was a gigabyte board for 299 which is expensive for a board.

    The new boards also only accept DDR3 ram so its faster but also more expensive.

    For a complete machine you would be looking at around 1000 maybe more.
    Now these prices may drop a little towards feb, so thats why I mention this route.

    Otherwise you can make something with:

    Processor: e8400 or q6600 (the 8400 is dual core and the 6600 is quad, they can both be OC'd really well)
    Mobo: I like evga but there is tons of elbow room here, just make sure it is socket 775. You could go SLI or crossfire if you want meaning you need two PCI-E slots. Also try to get something with PCI-E 2.0 and 4 memory slots.
    Memory: I would say 4gb of 800mhz, in two sets of dual channel
    Video Card: I prefer nvideo so I would suggest a 9800gtx+ or a gtx 260 (216) which could run you from 200 to 300 bucks.
    Powersupply: I like the antec quattro series, the 850 watt version. It has 4 of the 12 volts rails which will sustain more then one video card no problem if you ever decide to do that.
    Cases: the antec 900, I like the case but I'm sure other people have other choices

    Then you get to choose a moues keyboard and optical drive and harddrive, go for pretty much whatever you like here. Harddrives though I recommend seagate, I've had good experience with them

    Dixon on
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    NerdtendoNerdtendo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Well, I've been without a computer for a little over a year now... What's another month? Especially since I get an extra paycheck in February, and my birthday is in March. I'm such an awesome son, I could probably milk a couple hundred out of my parents. Since they're divorced, I can harass them individually.

    I'll start considering my options, and since the first game I want to get is WoW, a bit of waiting might net a battlechest with the game and BOTH expansions.

    Nerdtendo on
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    FantasmaFantasma Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Nerdtendo wrote: »
    Well, I've been without a computer for a little over a year now... What's another month? Especially since I get an extra paycheck in February, and my birthday is in March. I'm such an awesome son, I could probably milk a couple hundred out of my parents. Since they're divorced, I can harass them individually.

    I'll start considering my options, and since the first game I want to get is WoW, a bit of waiting might net a battlechest with the game and BOTH expansions.

    What wait?, the future is now.

    Fantasma on
    Hear my warnings, unbelievers. We have raised altars in this land so that we may sacrifice you to our gods. There is no hope in opposing the inevitable. Put down your arms, unbelievers, and bow before the forces of Chaos!
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    NerdtendoNerdtendo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Fantasma wrote: »
    Nerdtendo wrote: »
    Well, I've been without a computer for a little over a year now... What's another month? Especially since I get an extra paycheck in February, and my birthday is in March. I'm such an awesome son, I could probably milk a couple hundred out of my parents. Since they're divorced, I can harass them individually.

    I'll start considering my options, and since the first game I want to get is WoW, a bit of waiting might net a battlechest with the game and BOTH expansions.

    What wait?, the future is now.

    Playing WoW on my roomie's account, on his computer. It's a pretty nice Mac. I could survive til then.

    He'll be happy to have a level 80 DK when I get my own account.

    Nerdtendo on
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    Kate of LokysKate of Lokys Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Man, you don't need an 850W power supply in a $700 computer intended to run WoW and TF2.

    When it comes to computers, the point of diminishing returns tends to come at right around the $600-800 mark. You can spend more than that, absolutely, and you can totally squeeze some extra frames per second out of the extra $250 you dump into an SLI setup, but you always, always get more value for your money by spending $700 up front and then another $300 a year down the road than you do by blowing $1000 initially. If you've just won the lottery, by all means go for bleeding-edge; if not, though, go a couple of steps down in the tech tree, because that's where the values are.

    Core 2 Duos are definitely the sweet spot in price/performance ratio. Check newegg.com every so often over the next month, they usually have some sort of bundle deal (like a processor plus a motherboard) for a moderate discount. They're a great place for RAM, too - watch for rebates on the high-end stuff, or pick up some cheap-but-solid G.SKILL. For a case/power supply, I can't say enough good things about my Antec Sonata III: dignified serious business steel case that doesn't look like some 13 year old's wet dream of the cathode-lit cybernetic future, easy to work with, plus it comes with a 500W Antec Earthwatts power supply that will be more than adequate for your needs.

    As for waiting... well, the longer you wait, the cheaper things will get. That's how technology works. If you don't need it now, don't rush out and buy it; take your time, watch for deals over the next couple of months, and above all, set a limit and stick to it.

    Kate of Lokys on
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    NerdtendoNerdtendo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    YES! You get it. I call it the "financial sweet spot".

    Also, it's not really a need.... Well, no less of a need than crack is a need for that bum that harasses me for spare change.

    edit:

    Wait... Did I just call myself a bum, and my parents me?

    Nerdtendo on
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    NerdtendoNerdtendo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I'm checking out newegg, and I don't know too much about hardware, but I think I've got a solid build. Only problem is it's a bit more than I wanted to pay (and I'm not too sure on all of the hardware).

    Any suggestions for shaving off a few bucks here and there? And are there any known problems with my choices, or something reletively comparable that might be a bit cheaper? I know I've seen people link a build from Newegg before, how the heck did they do it?

    I'm copy and pasting everything, since I don't know what any of the numbers mean (very few of them).


    SAMSUNG 22X DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223F - OEM - 24.99

    Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - 44.95

    Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31000340AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM - 109.99

    ASUS M3A78-EM AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail - 78.99

    XFX PVT98WYDFH GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail - 189.99
    (the other 9800 was about 60 bucks cheaper, but this one was suggested earlier in this thread. Overclocking is something I do not intend to do. Is this one worth the price? Is there something that's decent enough that the cheaper price would be worth it?)

    Antec EA650 650W ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail - 59.99

    ALTEC LANSING BXR1120 2.0 speaker system for PC and MP3 player - Retail - 21.99
    (not a sound whore, as long as it's decent, I'm happy)

    CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-6400C5 - Retail - 54.99

    Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80570E8400 - Retail - 164.99


    Sorry for the wall of text. Total price is right around 800 bucks after shipping and taxes.

    Also, no sound cards? They're standard on board now, right? Am I forgetting anything? I have a monitor, and a keyboard + mouse are cheap enough at walmart.

    Also, I'm aware that a few of the posted items aren't really that important to the overall computer. I just included them in case someone knows if it's just a bad choice, or if something else might be cheaper.

    Nerdtendo on
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    LoneIgadzraLoneIgadzra Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Do micro-ATX motherboards fit in ATX "mid" cases generally?

    Also, sorry to hijack this thread, but I, too, am looking at machine building some time in the next years, but what is this buzz I keep hearing about dual channel memory "sets" and "kits" and such? I thought you just plug in the chips and the computer uses them.

    LoneIgadzra on
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    NerdtendoNerdtendo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Do micro-ATX motherboards fit in ATX "mid" cases generally?

    Also, sorry to hijack this thread, but I, too, am looking at machine building some time in the next years, but what is this buzz I keep hearing about dual channel memory "sets" and "kits" and such? I thought you just plug in the chips and the computer uses them.

    No hijack seen here. Any extra information, regardless of how it came about, is a good thing.

    I think it'd be awesome to have a stickied thread in here with an OP that's updated every couple months or so with a cheap, midrange, and expensive PC build. You know, for all of us nerds that never got into hardware (all one of me).

    If someone's interested in purchasing a new PC, they'd have a base to start from, or even go with.

    Nerdtendo on
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    Count FunkulaCount Funkula Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    There is a stickied computer build thread, it's just in a different section of the forums. Here you go:

    http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=70070

    They even have a suggested "bang for the buck" build all figured out.

    Count Funkula on
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    NerdtendoNerdtendo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Oh, awesome!

    I've fallen into the habit of visiting just a few parts of the forum. I really should look around more. This community is pretty fantastic.

    [/asskissing]

    Since I'd be purchasing about three or four months after that was posted, things would probably change a bit. But that build is two-hundred dollars cheaper than what I was looking at.

    Nerdtendo on
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    tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=9569352

    I put that together for you - I picked some parts that have mail-in rebates so you can save more. They are a little bit of work but usually work out.

    tsmvengy on
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    proXimityproXimity Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    That motherboard you posted is for an AMD processor, by the way.

    proXimity on
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    NerdtendoNerdtendo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    proXimity wrote: »
    That motherboard you posted is for an AMD processor, by the way.

    Yeah, see, that's the kind of thing that I don't know. =(
    tsmvengy wrote:
    http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/Pu...Number=9569352

    I put that together for you - I picked some parts that have mail-in rebates so you can save more. They are a little bit of work but usually work out.

    Thanks. Again, more than I was looking to spend, but I guess it really is only another 100 bucks. If I'm a little patient, that shouldn't be a problem at all.

    Nerdtendo on
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    MrMonroeMrMonroe passed out on the floor nowRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    4gb of RAM won't really be necessary.

    I put a Q6600, an 8800GT (the same damn thing as the 9800GT) and 2gigs of DDR2 800 RAM in my comp a year ago last month.

    You can be flying into Orgrimar on the FP and you'll never drop below the 60FPS cap, and that's at 1900x1200 with everything set higher than maximum settings by use of macros. WoW will run on a cheese sandwich with an LCD screen. Any parts you get newer than one year old will never, ever see their full potential usage in WoW.

    Of course, upgradeability is nice if you ever do break the WoW addiction.

    MrMonroe on
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    NerdtendoNerdtendo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Cool. I think I'll save the extra hundred, and put that towards the actual purchase of the game.

    One problem I noticed pretty quickly, is that with the "bang for your buck" build posted in the other thread, at least one of the items are currently out of stock. I believe it was the processor.

    It may or may not be in by next month. And I may or may not be making the purchase in January. I will definitely be purchasing it before the end of February though.

    Nerdtendo on
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    tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Nerdtendo wrote: »
    proXimity wrote: »
    That motherboard you posted is for an AMD processor, by the way.

    Yeah, see, that's the kind of thing that I don't know. =(
    tsmvengy wrote:
    http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/Pu...Number=9569352

    I put that together for you - I picked some parts that have mail-in rebates so you can save more. They are a little bit of work but usually work out.

    Thanks. Again, more than I was looking to spend, but I guess it really is only another 100 bucks. If I'm a little patient, that shouldn't be a problem at all.

    Those prices will update automatically, so if you bookmark that list and come back to it later you can see how the prices will have changed - of course by then there may be better choices.

    Also, you can swap out some stuff to bring that price down. Drop down to 2GB and put an 8800GT in there and you'll save that $100.

    tsmvengy on
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    LoneIgadzraLoneIgadzra Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    By the way, it would be be worth looking up video card reviews on anandtech: http://www.anandtech.com/video/ They do very extensive benchmarking so you can see in detail how all the candidates stack up. (They also have a useful CPU section.)

    I think ATI may currently have the price/performance advantage.

    LoneIgadzra on
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    ShawnaseeShawnasee Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    MaxForce PC.

    They are cheaper than CyberPower PC with customer service thats a million times better.

    Go here http://maxforcepc.com/component/option,com_fireboard/Itemid,26/ sign up and ask Max a million questions about budget, what will rock WoW's socks off and he'll get you there.

    3 year warranty and rock solid builds. He'll help you and he won't upsell you.

    Shawnasee on
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    CrashtardCrashtard Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Besides cutting down on ram, you could also cut down on the size of the hard drive to save a little as well. I don't imagine you'll need a 1TB drive for gaming. 500GB would be all sorts.

    Crashtard on
    I pinky swear that we will not screw you.

    Crashtard.jpg
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    MeizMeiz Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    700 dollars should be able to land you a rig that will run pretty much anything on the market. The key ingredient to look for is the video card. I have a 8800 GT and personally don't know what I was doing without it. My cpu is a dual core 1.8 Ghz oc'ed to 2.1 Ghz and I have no problems with current gen titles but mind you I haven't played crisis. There's also the next gen that looms over the horizon.

    Check your local PC stores for listings as they usually have some decent kits that encompass all the components you need without the overhead.

    I found this at my local PC store as a solid build:
    http://www.orleanscomputers.com/shop/item.asp?itemid=1131&catid=111

    Throw in an 8800gt in there and that should fall nicely into your budget. Keep in mind, that site is in canadian buckaroos.

    Meiz on
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    CrashtardCrashtard Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    One thing I just thought is that you might want to check newegg or tigerdirect for barebones kits. You can get some pretty good deals on mobo/cpu/case/psu combos and then just add what you need.

    Crashtard on
    I pinky swear that we will not screw you.

    Crashtard.jpg
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    LoneIgadzraLoneIgadzra Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    So can anyone shed light on my RAM terminology confusion?

    LoneIgadzra on
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