First time building a PC, need some advice

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#1 Posted by lo_Pine (5048 posts) -
So as a new hobby I am starting to get into computers and may even double major in computer science. Anyway, I bought an an Alienware Aurora in 2010 for $1800 (i know i know, Alienware is garbage ill get to that) because at the time I wasn't interested in doing any research or buying my own parts and figuring it out and had some funny money so I bought it. I only played WoW and Rift on it and actually it worked perfectly for what I wanted it to do, which was able to run both at ultra no problem. Have never had any problems with it so far and am pretty happy with it, for the most part. Until yesterday when I decided to really test it and got Witcher 2 and was struggling with terrible frame rate on just high. Must have been 8-9. Ultra was even worse. I'm kind of mad about that since I spent so much on it and expected when I bought it that it would be able to play any game maxed out for at least a few years. Obviously, this is not the case. So now I am going to take matters into my own hands and take a shot at building a really good PC, but first I know I need some practice before I dish out $1500-$2000 on a a DIY computer. I know that Dell or some other company might be able to build one with almost the same parts a little cheaper than I could because of economies of scale, correct me if I'm wrong. ( probably wont look as cool though). I plan on buying literally the all the cheapest components they have on newegg so I can get some experience in building my own PC. My question is, is there anything I need to know before buying the parts? Like, when buying a CPU and motherboard and RAM, how do I know which models will fit into which and how will they work together? What size case would give me a good experience in practicing for building my new gaming PC. I think case size should be based on the motherboard size but not sure. Am I missing any sort of important questions here? Probably. Your advice and input is much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
#2 Posted by blaznwiipspman1 (6047 posts) -

So as a new hobby I am starting to get into computers and may even double major in computer science. Anyway, I bought an an Alienware Aurora in 2010 for $1800 (i know i know, Alienware is garbage ill get to that) because at the time I wasn't interested in doing any research or buying my own parts and figuring it out and had some funny money so I bought it. I only played WoW and Rift on it and actually it worked perfectly for what I wanted it to do, which was able to run both at ultra no problem. Have never had any problems with it so far and am pretty happy with it, for the most part. Until yesterday when I decided to really test it and got Witcher 2 and was struggling with terrible frame rate on just high. Must have been 8-9. Ultra was even worse. I'm kind of mad about that since I spent so much on it and expected when I bought it that it would be able to play any game maxed out for at least a few years. Obviously, this is not the case. So now I am going to take matters into my own hands and take a shot at building a really good PC, but first I know I need some practice before I dish out $1500-$2000 on a a DIY computer. I know that Dell or some other company might be able to build one with almost the same parts a little cheaper than I could because of economies of scale, correct me if I'm wrong. ( probably wont look as cool though). I plan on buying literally the all the cheapest components they have on newegg so I can get some experience in building my own PC. My question is, is there anything I need to know before buying the parts? Like, when buying a CPU and motherboard and RAM, how do I know which models will fit into which and how will they work together? What size case would give me a good experience in practicing for building my new gaming PC. I think case size should be based on the motherboard size but not sure. Am I missing any sort of important questions here? Probably. Your advice and input is much appreciated. Thanks in advance. lo_Pine

on the economics of scale point, Dell and other major companies will only be able to sell you a low end computer for cheaper than if you were to build yourself because that is what most people buy...low end computers. High end computers with expensive parts are usually more expensive to buy from dell. Also one thing about pc gaming that you should know is that they are NOT consoles, they don't last 5 years putting out the same crap graphics every year. Game graphics are continually getting more demanding and any hardware you buy will get outdated, usually after 2 years. The best you can do is buy a build, don't blow your entire wad on it and make incremental upgrades. That way instead of spending $1800 and expecting it to buy a pc that lasts 5 years, you buy a pc for $1000 and upgrade what needs upgrading along the way. Such as $300 in another 3 years to get another grapics card that maxes out games for a total cost of $1300 in 5 years. After that point you can consider buying a whole new pc.

#3 Posted by lo_Pine (5048 posts) -

[QUOTE="lo_Pine"]So as a new hobby I am starting to get into computers and may even double major in computer science. Anyway, I bought an an Alienware Aurora in 2010 for $1800 (i know i know, Alienware is garbage ill get to that) because at the time I wasn't interested in doing any research or buying my own parts and figuring it out and had some funny money so I bought it. I only played WoW and Rift on it and actually it worked perfectly for what I wanted it to do, which was able to run both at ultra no problem. Have never had any problems with it so far and am pretty happy with it, for the most part. Until yesterday when I decided to really test it and got Witcher 2 and was struggling with terrible frame rate on just high. Must have been 8-9. Ultra was even worse. I'm kind of mad about that since I spent so much on it and expected when I bought it that it would be able to play any game maxed out for at least a few years. Obviously, this is not the case. So now I am going to take matters into my own hands and take a shot at building a really good PC, but first I know I need some practice before I dish out $1500-$2000 on a a DIY computer. I know that Dell or some other company might be able to build one with almost the same parts a little cheaper than I could because of economies of scale, correct me if I'm wrong. ( probably wont look as cool though). I plan on buying literally the all the cheapest components they have on newegg so I can get some experience in building my own PC. My question is, is there anything I need to know before buying the parts? Like, when buying a CPU and motherboard and RAM, how do I know which models will fit into which and how will they work together? What size case would give me a good experience in practicing for building my new gaming PC. I think case size should be based on the motherboard size but not sure. Am I missing any sort of important questions here? Probably. Your advice and input is much appreciated. Thanks in advance. blaznwiipspman1

on the economics of scale point, Dell and other major companies will only be able to sell you a low end computer for cheaper than if you were to build yourself because that is what most people buy...low end computers. High end computers with expensive parts are usually more expensive to buy from dell. Also one thing about pc gaming that you should know is that they are NOT consoles, they don't last 5 years putting out the same crap graphics every year. Game graphics are continually getting more demanding and any hardware you buy will get outdated, usually after 2 years. The best you can do is buy a build, don't blow your entire wad on it and make incremental upgrades. That way instead of spending $1800 and expecting it to buy a pc that lasts 5 years, you buy a pc for $1000 and upgrade what needs upgrading along the way. Such as $300 in another 3 years to get another grapics card that maxes out games for a total cost of $1300 in 5 years. After that point you can consider buying a whole new pc.

Ah, I see. That's originally what I thought about PC gaming and is why I have stuck to consoles my entire life.. Sadly I basically bought the Alienware to play WoW and Rift and didnt truly recognize the fact that graphics cards really do get outdated quickly. But even before I spend $1000 on a gaming PC, what is the least amount I could spend on a first time DIY computer? I want the parts to be as cheap as possible. Once it's built it's going to be mainly for Internet searching maybe school. On newegg it looked like the cheapest CPU was AmD for $85 or something. Similar for the motherboard. So just ~$180 for those I'm thinking once I add a graphics card, RAM, HDD, DVD drive, power supply, and a case it'll cost around $400... Is that about right? Anything I'm missing in that? I just want the cheapest parts available and when I buy them do I have to worry about them fitting? If you could recommend some cheap parts that'd be awesome.
#4 Posted by Bikouchu35 (7453 posts) -

Whats your spec anyway, parts could be salvageable like selling or carried over. Psu, hdd,dvd and ram are reusable. Old graphics card, cpu, etc can be sold at a small fraction to add to your budget.

You can re-use your alienware case if you want it to look 'nice' and some cable management. Gaming rigs are generally marked up to sell to a niche market, they know the ones buying them have cash to spend, but not the knowledge &/or sense to do make one themselves. I'd say Macs are on another league of ripping people off compare to AW. Still I bet you were ripped ~$600 give or take to be honest base on their track record.

To give you a sigh of relief, spending $1500-2000 would mean a pretty beasty rig, and $1000 would be already good for high/ultra settings ~60fps @ 1080p compare to outdated consoles running 30 fps low settings @ 720p upscaled :lol:.

$220 3570k intel i5

$150 extreme 4/6 asrock motherboard

$40/50 8gb ddr3

$250 hd 7870 amd

$100 harddrive

$100 win7/8

$100 case

$60-100 80+efficiency. psu.

This will help get you started. Go shop around newegg.com.

#5 Posted by blaznwiipspman1 (6047 posts) -

yeah tell us your specs. If you already have an alienware from 2010 it is still an excellent build, all you will likely need is a better graphics card. The cpu in your system is probably better than any low end cpu out there since 2010 alienware desktops had core i7 processors. If you really want to do a build by yourself, you can take the pc apart and put it part together. But yeah what are your system specs?

#6 Posted by taylor888 (2232 posts) -
If your budget is $1500 I would recommend buying an SSD as well. And basically the only things you have to look out for is will your CPU fit in your mobo and will your mobo fit in your case. Z77 mobo --> i5-3570, i7-3770 AM3+ mobo --> AMD FX series and some older ones too You will probably want a normal ATX mobo and a mid tower ATX case, but that is up to you. You can get micro ATX as well. Other than that, if everything you buy is fairly new, then you should have no problems with fittings. Also, you need to figure out how much power your pc will be using and buy a psu accordingly. Generally speaking a 500-600w PSU should be more than enough. Also, you might not be now, but if you are ever worried that a cheap mobo won't have the things you need, don't be. I just bought the cheapest mobo on newegg and it is great.
#7 Posted by lo_Pine (5048 posts) -

Here's my current PC's specs from My PC Information Alienware has it was hard to find information on exactly what the mobo is and PSU:

Processor(s) hr.gif

  • Processor
    • CPU_Name: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU 860 @ 2.80GHz
    • CPU_Manufacturer: GenuineIntel
    • CPU_Caption: Intel64 Family 6 Model 30 Stepping 5
    • CPU_Version:
    • CPU_ProcessorId: BFEBFBFF000106E5
    • CPU_CurrentClockSpeed: 2520MHz
    • CPU_AddressWidth: 64Bits
    • CPU_DataWidth: 64Bits
    • CPU_SocketDesignation: CPU 1
  • Verified Hardware Device against Order: VARIABLEXYZ
  • Verify Correct Processor Frequency

hr.gifSystem Memory hr.gif

  • Memory Module
    • Mem_Capacity: 2048MB
    • Mem_BankLabel: DIMM #1
    • Mem_Type: DDR3
    • Mem_Bandwidth: PC3-10660 (1333 MHz)
    • Mem_Frequency: 1336MHz
  • Memory Module
    • Mem_Capacity: 1024MB
    • Mem_BankLabel: DIMM #2
    • Mem_Type: DDR3
    • Mem_Bandwidth: PC3-10660 (1333 MHz)
    • Mem_Frequency: 1336MHz
  • Memory Module
    • Mem_Capacity: 2048MB
    • Mem_BankLabel: DIMM #3
    • Mem_Type: DDR3
    • Mem_Bandwidth: PC3-10660 (1333 MHz)
    • Mem_Frequency: 1336MHz
  • Memory Module
    • Mem_Capacity: 1024MB
    • Mem_BankLabel: DIMM #4
    • Mem_Type: DDR3
    • Mem_Bandwidth: PC3-10660 (1333 MHz)
    • Mem_Frequency: 1336MHz

hr.gifBIOS Information hr.gif

  • BIOS_Manufacturer: Alienware
  • BIOS_Name: Default System BIOS
  • BIOS_Version1: A01
  • BIOS_Version2: ALWARE - 20100312

hr.gifMotherboard Information hr.gif

  • MB_Manufacturer: Alienware
  • MB_Product: 0RV30W
  • MB_SerialNumber: ..CN697020422209.
  • MB_Version: A00

hr.gifVideo Adapter hr.gif

  • Video_Caption: ATI Radeon HD 5800 Series
  • Video_AdapterRAM: 1024MB
  • Video_DriverVersion: 8.660.0.0

hr.gifHard Drive(s) hr.gif

  • WDC WD1001FAES-75W7A0
    • Disk_Model: WDC WD1001FAES-75W7A0
    • Disk_Size: 1000 GB
    • Disk_Partitions: 3
    • Disk_TotalHeads: 255
    • Disk_TotalCylinders: 121601
    • Disk_TotalTracks: 31008255
    • Disk_TracksPerCylinder: 255

hr.gifOptical Drives / Other Storage hr.gif

  • PLDS DVD+-RW DH-24AAS
#8 Posted by taylor888 (2232 posts) -
I would say just upgrade instead of building brand new. Open up your case and have a look at your psu though. -new mobo -new CPU -new GPU -replace the 2x1GB with 2x2GB or 2x4GB That's all I would do.
#9 Posted by lo_Pine (5048 posts) -
[QUOTE="taylor888"]I would say just upgrade instead of building brand new. Open up your case and have a look at your psu though. -new mobo -new CPU -new GPU -replace the 2x1GB with 2x2GB or 2x4GB That's all I would do.

What are talking about when you say 2x1GB and 2x2GB and so on? The RAM? And say i was to buy new everything could i go 4x4GB? would it really make much of a difference? I am really new to this, excuse my ignorance. And thanks for all the replies guys. Much appreciated.
#10 Posted by 5SI-GonePostal (355 posts) -

[QUOTE="taylor888"]I would say just upgrade instead of building brand new. Open up your case and have a look at your psu though. -new mobo -new CPU -new GPU -replace the 2x1GB with 2x2GB or 2x4GB That's all I would do.lo_Pine
What are talking about when you say 2x1GB and 2x2GB and so on? The RAM? And say i was to buy new everything could i go 4x4GB? would it really make much of a difference? I am really new to this, excuse my ignorance. And thanks for all the replies guys. Much appreciated.

EDITED:

Yes he is talking about your current ram configuration which according to your specs is 2 x 1gb modules and 2 x 2gbs giving your 6 in total. So a cheap upgrade for you would be to buy a further 4gb in a 2 x 2gb kit and replace the two 1gb modules. But again this could wait as 6gb of 1333mhz in most cases is fine for now.

It depends how much multitasking you do (ie do you have 15 web pages open, fraps, and a video running when you play games?) if not 8 should be fine, but buying 16 wont be a problem as it is so cheap. Your CPU tbh is prob fine for a while longer, but wouldnt hurt to be upgraded. Unless of course you moonlight as a video editor/hardcore photoshopper then 16gb would be the way forward

IMO i would suggest to do the following:

NOW

New GPU (660-670/7870-7950)

SSD (Samsung 840)

600-800w 80+ PSU from a decent brand

And if you want 8-16gb of 1600mhz

Use your old case, DVD, and HDD

Few months

Wait for Haswell and change you CPU, mobo (and RAM if you didnt buy before)

I suggest waiting to upgrade the CPU as imo you wont see too much of a difference between an i5 3570 and your current i7, your current bottle neck is your GPU. The SSD will help with boot times and in general make the system feel more nippy. You could make grab a decent air cooler - lots of people suggest the Coolermaster Hyper 212 and put a little overclock on your CPU to around 3.4-3.6.

#11 Posted by lo_Pine (5048 posts) -

[QUOTE="lo_Pine"][QUOTE="taylor888"]I would say just upgrade instead of building brand new. Open up your case and have a look at your psu though. -new mobo -new CPU -new GPU -replace the 2x1GB with 2x2GB or 2x4GB That's all I would do.5SI-GonePostal

What are talking about when you say 2x1GB and 2x2GB and so on? The RAM? And say i was to buy new everything could i go 4x4GB? would it really make much of a difference? I am really new to this, excuse my ignorance. And thanks for all the replies guys. Much appreciated.

It depends how much multitasking you do (ie do you have 15 web pages open, fraps, and a video running when you play games?) if not 8 should be fine, but buying 16 wont be a problem as it is so cheap. Your CPU tbh is prob fine for a while longer, but wouldnt hurt to be upgraded.

IMO i would suggest to do the following:

NOW

New GPU (660-670/7870-7950)

SSD (Samsung 840)

600-800w 80+ PSU from a decent brand

And if you want 8-16gb of 1600mhz

Use your old case, DVD, and HDD

Few months

Wait for Haswell and change you CPU, mobo (and RAM if you didnt buy before)

I suggest waiting as imo you wont see too much of a difference between an i5 3570 and your current i7, your current bottle neck is your GPU. The SSD will help with boot times and in general make the system feel more nippy.

On the GPUs what's generally seen as being the best brand, and which brand is the best for performance vs cost?
#12 Posted by 5SI-GonePostal (355 posts) -

[QUOTE="5SI-GonePostal"]

[QUOTE="lo_Pine"] What are talking about when you say 2x1GB and 2x2GB and so on? The RAM? And say i was to buy new everything could i go 4x4GB? would it really make much of a difference? I am really new to this, excuse my ignorance. And thanks for all the replies guys. Much appreciated.lo_Pine

It depends how much multitasking you do (ie do you have 15 web pages open, fraps, and a video running when you play games?) if not 8 should be fine, but buying 16 wont be a problem as it is so cheap. Your CPU tbh is prob fine for a while longer, but wouldnt hurt to be upgraded.

IMO i would suggest to do the following:

NOW

New GPU (660-670/7870-7950)

SSD (Samsung 840)

600-800w 80+ PSU from a decent brand

And if you want 8-16gb of 1600mhz

Use your old case, DVD, and HDD

Few months

Wait for Haswell and change you CPU, mobo (and RAM if you didnt buy before)

I suggest waiting as imo you wont see too much of a difference between an i5 3570 and your current i7, your current bottle neck is your GPU. The SSD will help with boot times and in general make the system feel more nippy.

On the GPUs what's generally seen as being the best brand, and which brand is the best for performance vs cost?

Down to preference - people like EVGA because of the good build quality and long warrenties.

I like the gigabytes with 3rd party cooling

Have also had XFX, MSI and Asus cards that have all run fine

All the above brands are often within $20-$30 of each other

#13 Posted by lo_Pine (5048 posts) -

[QUOTE="lo_Pine"][QUOTE="5SI-GonePostal"]

It depends how much multitasking you do (ie do you have 15 web pages open, fraps, and a video running when you play games?) if not 8 should be fine, but buying 16 wont be a problem as it is so cheap. Your CPU tbh is prob fine for a while longer, but wouldnt hurt to be upgraded.

IMO i would suggest to do the following:

NOW

New GPU (660-670/7870-7950)

SSD (Samsung 840)

600-800w 80+ PSU from a decent brand

And if you want 8-16gb of 1600mhz

Use your old case, DVD, and HDD

Few months

Wait for Haswell and change you CPU, mobo (and RAM if you didnt buy before)

I suggest waiting as imo you wont see too much of a difference between an i5 3570 and your current i7, your current bottle neck is your GPU. The SSD will help with boot times and in general make the system feel more nippy.

5SI-GonePostal

On the GPUs what's generally seen as being the best brand, and which brand is the best for performance vs cost?

Down to preference - people like EVGA because of the good build quality and long warrenties.

I like the gigabytes with 3rd party cooling

Have also had XFX, MSI and Asus cards that have all run fine

All the above brands are often within $20-$30 of each other

Not sure which GPU ill get when I do build it. I will definitely wait for Haswell to come out and maybe even after Haswell cause it'll take some time to save up for it. Thanks for the info.
#14 Posted by Bikouchu35 (7453 posts) -

Throw in 2x4gb ram and chuck the 2x1gb. Sell 58xx card and buy a gtx 660ti/670 or hd 7870 then wait for haswell.

#15 Posted by blaznwiipspman1 (6047 posts) -

Throw in 2x4gb ram and chuck the 2x1gb. Sell 58xx card and buy a gtx 660ti/670 or hd 7870 then wait for haswell.

Bikouchu35

its strange that a 58xx card would struggle in witcher 2 on high. I would think a 5850 or 5870 would still run witcher 2 really well. The 7950 and the 7970 are better upgrades than the 660ti/670/

#16 Posted by jun_aka_pekto (16350 posts) -

Alienware isn't garbage. It's just overpriced for some like yours truly. If someone gave me an Alienware for my birthday, I'd be delighted.

#17 Posted by jun_aka_pekto (16350 posts) -

[QUOTE="Bikouchu35"]

Throw in 2x4gb ram and chuck the 2x1gb. Sell 58xx card and buy a gtx 660ti/670 or hd 7870 then wait for haswell.

blaznwiipspman1

its strange that a 58xx card would struggle in witcher 2 on high. I would think a 5850 or 5870 would still run witcher 2 really well. The 7950 and the 7970 are better upgrades than the 660ti/670/

There's also the 5830 which is much weaker than my GTX 560 Ti. It's a bit ahead of the 5770. A 5870 should be stronger (than the GTX 560 Ti).

Edit:

#18 Posted by obenns (343 posts) -
[QUOTE="lo_Pine"][QUOTE="taylor888"]I would say just upgrade instead of building brand new. Open up your case and have a look at your psu though. -new mobo -new CPU -new GPU -replace the 2x1GB with 2x2GB or 2x4GB That's all I would do.

What are talking about when you say 2x1GB and 2x2GB and so on? The RAM? And say i was to buy new everything could i go 4x4GB? would it really make much of a difference? I am really new to this, excuse my ignorance. And thanks for all the replies guys. Much appreciated.

There is a lot of discussion at the minute over this. You currently have 4 stick of RAM totalling 6GB of RAM. This could still be fine. Or if you wanted you could upgrade it as RAM is cheap. (2 x 4GB sticks for ~£30)
#19 Posted by Invisible_Kid2 (6330 posts) -
http://www.logicalincrements.com/ and get Speccy. It tells you just about everything you'd need to know, and even mobo/cpu temperatures.