Help Everyone Build A Gaming PC

By Jim Rossignol on September 29th, 2011 at 1:40 pm.


Okay, more hardware, I think. There are loads of “How To Build A PC” features out there, but it strikes me that, given the amount of experience, expertise and opinion that there is in the RPS comment threads, we can probably come to a rough sort of consensus on a recommended gaming hardware setup for a modern PC. I’ll make some inexpert suggestions below, then you lot can comment, and we’ll perhaps even come up with a few builds at different prices? Everyone up for that?

I’ll edit this article as we go along, so we can try and come up with something roughly definitive. Okay – GO!

Right, so if I was buying bits for a new PC I’d probably look for a spec like this:

  • Intel® Core™ i5-2500K Processor. You can probably pick that up for under £170. They’re a piece of piss to overclock, since it’s just a case of fiddling with the bios settings a bit. Getting them up over 4Ghz can be done in a couple of minutes by someone with no understanding of what they’re doing (ie: me).
  • I refer you to Bit-tech’s How To Overclock guide for this chip.

    Cheaper AMD option: AMD Phenom II X4 Quad 955 Core 3.2GHz

  • Then we’d need a motherboard to slot that into. I know fuck all about motherboards, but I reckon something like the Asus P8P67 should do the job. These seem to be just under £80, and so probably not the cheapest possible option, but certain one with a bunch of options in terms of how you set it up. If I remember correctly there was some kind of recall on chipsets of this type, but it was such a minor thing that it wasn’t worth panicking, and the issue might actually be fixed by now. (Anyone know more about that? My cursory Googling didn’t unearth anything useful.)
  • Cheaper AMD option: Asus M4A88T.

  • Motherboard on-board sound remains crappy, I believe. I got a free USB soundcard with my headphones, and it’s blatantly better than the on-board sound on my motherboard. Terrible, but true. I have literally no idea what a good soundcard solution actually is these days, mind. I am open to suggestions on that.
  • GenBanks suggests:

    For a high end sound card you could get either a X-Fi Titanium HD or a Xonar Essence… But there’s also the Xonar DG which is supposed to be great and cheap (£26) if you’re just going to use headphones, as they have a built in amplifier.

  • Then you might as well throw 4gb of DDR3 RAM in there, for say £30. Or 8gb if you really want to future-proof, I suppose. Looking at the types of RAM a board like that supports has me a bit baffled. I am not sure there’s a significant performance difference between the various clockspeeds and channel numbers, but there must be some difference, given the amount of extra cash you could spend on this. Any memory experts want to pick out relevant points?
  • phuzz points out:

    On the RAM front, I’ve noticed that you can pick up 8Gb of DDR3 for £35 over at scan, which is basically spot on.

  • The graphics card solution is going to be one people will debate, I suspect. I’m using the Palit GTX 560 Ti 2GB. Which cost me £199, not the £148 I thought in the graphics card thread. Oops.
  • Cheaper AMD alternative: ATI Radeon HD 6850

  • Storage! Oof. Well I think an SSD with Windows and apps on is the way to go, personally, with a large secondary storage old-school hard-drive for game installs. But if you were going for cheap then a standard HD at about 1TB is £70. I think I bought this one for my Dad’s Frankenstein’s monster of a PC, and that seems to work ok.
  • Infernox makes some HD suggestions:

    samsung F3 1TB hard drive £50- http://www.ebuyer.com/173804-samsung-hd103sj-spinpoint-f3-1tb-hard-drive-sataii-7200rpm-32mb-cache-hd103sj

    or you can go for a seagate 1TB hard drive for £45- http://www.ebuyer.com/252858-seagate-1tb-3-5-barracuda-sata-iii-6gb-s-hard-drive-7200rpm-32mb-cache-st31000524as

    samsung F4 2TB hard drive £60- http://www.ebuyer.com/237908-samsung-hd204ui-spinpoint-f4-2tb-hard-drive-sata-5400rpm-32mb-cache-hd204ui

  • A workable (if crappy) case can’t cost more than about £20, right?
  • Recommend me a PSU, I have literally no idea about this. I am using the same 750W one I bought years ago.
  • MerseyMal reckons:

    Providing the PSU comes with a pair of PCI-E 6-pin cables, it should be sufficient. Though if you plan to SLI later I’d get something like XFX 850W Black Edition.

    There’s been a lot of feedback about PSUs in the comments, but try reading this thread for clarity on what you need.

  • Oh yues, and a DVD drive. Another £10?

Budget so far: £580. And I think that would run anything out today at a decent spec.

So what should be cheaper? What should we spend more money on? What have I missed? Obviously the monitor, inputs and OS, but let’s take things one step a a time, eh?

[Actually, Cliffski and others recommend this monitor.]

USEFUL PC-BUILDING RESOURCES

- The Eurogamer How To Build A PC Article
- Some great big chart of possible specs related to budget, all prices in US$
- The Build A PC Reddit
- Simon Roth’s PC-choosing guide.

, , .

254 Comments »

  1. kael13 says:

    I’m reminded of Jamie Oliver.

    Whack that CPU in there, bish-bash-bosh and there you go, one custom-built PC. Pukka.

  2. iGark says:

    This looks helpful. I have a crappy computer that doesn’t run Batman: Arkham Asylum very well on the lowest settings, so I’ve been looking to save my money and get something that actually works. But I didn’t know what to go with, or what I’d need… I’ll keep an eye on this.

    • johnpeat says:

      There’s a big difference between a budget PC which will play games and what they’re building here.

      You can run Batman:AA on a P4 (I know because I did!!) so I assume your PC is truly ancient and wheezes just to power-up?

      Budget gaming would start with a cheap 2.9+ dual-core box from somewhere (eBuyer, eBay or whatever) and add a cheap GPU (5670/5770) and maybe some extra memory and voila, gaming PC for under £300 (plus an OS).

      Building an i5 rig with a decent GPU is going to cost more like £600 – the difference? A few FPS and slightly shinier textures – it’s your call.

    • iGark says:

      As I said, I literally know nothing about what I need, or really, what I want. All I know is that if I want to play games, I need a better one.

      My other question was, can I just buy a Mac and install Windows on it and be relatively fine?

    • johnpeat says:

      re: The Mac – erm, it depends on the hardware IN the Mac really.

      You need a decent CPU and GPU in the same way you’d need one in a PC…

    • johnpeat says:

      I just had a quick cast-around to see what super-budget options were available – a PC for someone who’d like to play games but doesn’t want to spend the £500+ everyone else here is talking about and doesn’t mind turning down the odd setting to achieve that.

      Sub £200 base units are aplenty on eBuyer/eBay and the other usual suspects. Most are AMD x2 or E5x00 chips (dual core around 3.0ghz) – most come with 4Gb of RAM which is plenty too – some even offer 4 DIMM sockets for more memory later (which you won’t need).

      To keep with the Jamie theme, you’d bosh in a 5670 (about £60) and you can play anything at med/high settings on a half-decent monitor for a little over £250 + OS.

      Note: I say 5670 because it does not need a PSU Power feed and thus will work with the cheap PSU a base unit comes with. If your budget will stretch, a 5770 and a decent PSU runs about £120ish – total still under £350.

    • enobayram says:

      @iGark I think Mac’s are extremely overpriced, hardware wise. In my eyes, the only reason why one pays all that money is either they have no knowledge about computer hardware, or they are hopeless Apple fanboys, and they’re not turned on by anything but Mac OS X…

      OK, Mac OS X is a very flexible OS like Ubuntu while being at the same time very well supported by hardware manufacturers and propriatery software developers, like Windows. Still not worth all the extra bucks, if you ask me, since you can have a dual boot PC with Ubuntu and Win for half the price!

    • simonh says:

      You could install Windows on a Mac and play games, but it wouldn’t be cheap and you’d have to spend a lot of money to get the same performance. You could get a bad-ass PC gaming rig with roughly twice the performance and half the price of the cheapest Mac.

      A quick comparison: the iMac (£1000) gfx-card (the most important piece for gaming) gets 43 points in a Toms Hardware gaming benchmark. A GTX 570 gets 110 points and you could build a computer with it that costs about £500.

      And if you can assemble a LEGO Technic set you can definitely build a PC. You could also buy one from Dell, you won’t get as good a deal, but it’ll still be way cheaper than a Mac.

    • grundus says:

      Now now, it’s 2011, this whole ‘Macs are only good for twats thing’… Actually that’s a fairly recent thing, never mind. I am a Mac user, but for two very good reasons. One being that I am (was) a graphic designer, and the other being that I’ve only ever owned Macs because my Dad ran Apple’s European service centers for about 13 years, up until they switched to Intel back in 2005. As such I’ve grown up with Macs, taking them apart, putting them back together, but mainly taking them apart.

      My current Pro is a pretty damn good gaming machine, but I’m so incredibly happy to see how cheap a decent gaming PC is, I was expecting to see £1,000+. I might even just build a PC instead of buying a 6000 series card for this, then I can have my gaming machine plugged into my TV and have my work machine at my desk…

    • Premium User Badge dirtyword says:

      I did the Boot Camp thing for years and the utter inflexibility of the Mac hardware just WORE ME DOWN. It sucks. If you’re serious about wanting to play games, just build one. I’m much happier now, certainly. If it’s more of a minor diversion to play games (why are you on RPS?), go for it. It’ll work for a couple years.

    • grundus says:

      Yeah, I am pretty serious about gaming, but I am also quite poor. That might sound like a lie because I have a Pro, but remember that it was bought with a student discount and a student loan. I mean, I game with a bloody Magic Mouse, and it sucks a lot of arse in that role; so many games use mouse wheels to do things, on one of these that means the slightest movement of your finger will scroll at the speed of light (sorry, speed of neutrinos), which can result in you changing weapon instead of shooting people in the face. Or, if it’s Arma II, shooting people when you meant to do something less violent.

      So yeah, I had been thinking about spending £250-300, if I remember correctly, on a new GPU for this computer to use exclusively in Boot Camp until I got round to flashing it for OS X as well, but if an entire PC rig is that much cheaper than I’d thought, and I’m quite a technical person (currently becoming an electronic engineer), I might look into this.

      Thanks, RPS!
      p.s. Is this article going to cover input devices as well? Tell me what keyboard and mouse to buy, please?

    • Atlas says:

      To those who say macs are overpriced for their hardware.
      http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/apple-mac-leopard-windows-vista,1985-2.html

    • Srethron says:

      At this point, if one is not afraid to get the hands dirty, one can build his/her own Mac and save a lot of money. They’re called hackintoshes, but it’s truly the PC approach to a Mac. Then one can also have Windows, Ubuntu and whatever else as other OSes. The cost is more research, no support from Apple and possibly another 100 monies or so, depending on what approach one takes. And I thought they smelled bad… on the outside.

      Another approach is to just get a powerful enough Windows PC and go the VM route to launch other OSes, all Yo dawg I heard style.

    • Wolfoz says:

      @Atlas
      An Article from 2008 to prove building a PC equivliant to a Mac Pro (that uses a lot of overpriced components and gets windows Vista ultimate edition for no real benefit), as proof that buying a mac is good value for money compared to building you own PC with parts that blow it out of the water in terms of performance?
      I’ll follow up with the cheapest Mac Pro is £2041 on the apple store, and I bet that Mac will be slower than the PC I built a year ago for £650 (including purchasing windows 7 for it).

    • Premium User Badge VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      The problem with Macs for high-end gaming is that Apple doesn’t make any that are properly specced for it. The iMacs have low-power GPUs, because they’re optimised for being silent (which is lovely, but not what I care about in gaming).

      The Mac Pros can take a few decent graphics cards, but not all cards are supported because of firmware differences or something. And the Mac Pros are built as workstations, made for lots of CPU and lots of I/O. They’re very good at that, but they are way more expensive than you need for a good gaming machine.

      I’ve alternated between using my Macs for games (dual-booting first to XP, and now to Win7) with having a budget gaming PC. Every few years when I replace my iMac, it performs better than my gaming PC. Then I upgrade that, and it leapfrogs the Mac by quite some way. And by alternating in this way, I’m spending less than I would to keep my Mac cutting edge (although selling the old ones keeps the total cost down a lot), while still being able to keep decent gaming capability in the in-between years.

    • grundus says:

      “The Mac Pros can take a few decent graphics cards, but not all cards are supported because of firmware differences or something.”

      Yep, but they can be flashed. They’re still a bit iffy after that, unfortunately, the process seems to be quite hit-and-miss because it depends on the PC GPU you buy’s firmware being compatible with the firmware Apple have on the iMac GPUs, I believe, because the guy who made the flashing software did so by ripping the firmware off an iMac GPU, but this may be a lie.

      Frankly, though, the 4870 can run almost anything I have all maxed out at 1680×1050, so I somehow doubt the 5870 you can get would be much worse, it’s just obscenely expensive when compared to a PC GPU. You can also buy two 5870s, have OS X just run one but then set them up to run Crossfired in Boot Camp. Or, just build a separate PC with a 6000 series equivalent for about what it would cost you to do that (I think).

  3. Garg says:

    What about a motherboard capable of SLI/Crossfire, for future upgrading? The driver/compatibility issue isn’t (much) of a problem anymore, at least not in my exerience.

    • simoroth says:

      Crossfire/SLI is a waste of cash. Produces a lot of heat and uses a lot of energy Its not worth it for pretty much _any_ user. In future just get a new GPU and sell the old. Its a much better idea imo.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Can anyone suggest an SLI-capable board, just for the option?

    • Novotny says:

      the asus p67 pro.

      edit:: you’ve actually linked to the deluxe above.

    • Item! says:

      @simoroth – I thought that…until I went SLi last week.

      Works great, my case and PSU are more than up to the job of keeping things fueled and cool and I can now play pretty much anything maxed out at 1080p locked at 60fps.

      I am pretty satisifed. Yeah, it isn’t for everyone but is worth a closer look depending on your circumstances.

    • Item! says:

      @Jim – My board is the Asus P8P67 “deluxe”. Seems great so far – has some useful features like a POST code LED on the board, along with a power switch etc for testing/troubleshooting outside of the case.

      It has allowed me to effortless clock my 2500k to 4.3Ghz at a low, safe voltage too.

    • chris says:

      @simoroth – Crossfiring a 1GB 6950 can help gain a near 100% performance boost in tests I’ve seen so I’d say dual cards is worth it now. Expect performance of Crossfire to improve with the release of the 7xxx series.

      @Jim – You can get the MSI P67A-GD53 for under £100, a very decent mobo for the price which offrs Crossfire, SLI and plenty of other fancy stuff. Check out the MSI P67A-G45 for something a bit cheaper and cruder and the ASRock P67 Extreme4 Gen3 for something a bit more expensive and fancier.

    • Premium User Badge MerseyMal says:

      Asus P8Z68-V

    • Gaz says:

      @Simoroth 2x GTX 560 is cheaper and outperforms a GTX 580, and ofc you don’t get full value for your second hand card. Crossfire still has more issues and is slower producing working profiles than SLI but has improved a lot over the past few years.

    • Orija says:

      Woah, this is really awesome given the fact that I’ll be doing a upgrade in a few days time. My specs are pretty much the same except for the psu (Corsair 650 TX V2 for me). I still haven’t decided which motherboard to get, though. Which one of these two would be better, the Intel DP67BG3 or the Asus P8P67? I don’t plan to Crossfire or SLI.

    • Anarki says:

      SLI just does not work. So badly supported, barely any games work with it properly, driver updates constantly break it etc. Really not worth it.

    • neolith says:

      I have to agree with simoroth – SLI is wasted money, at least for this kind of machine. Get a good GFX card now and maybe a better one in 18 months if needed.

      Regarding boards – I like MSI. Even though they are a bit more expansive they’re worth it. Good quality and all possibly ever needed cables included.

    • Garg says:

      @Anarki: That was true a couple of years ago, but now virtually all graphically intensive games support SLI or Crossfire modes, with a good chunk giving a hefty performance boost too.

      The main problem I’ve had is with overheating, but that’s remedied by simply increasing the fan speed in the Catalyst control center.

    • Mctittles says:

      Agree with SLI is a waste. If you buy two cards for twice the money, you won’t have the extra cash to get the new Shader 10.0 or whatever technology card that comes out next. SLI is just a way for them to try and sell more product by the genius idea of making customers buy MULTIPLES of their cards. Marketing B.S.

      Plus if you find a board with only single card support for the same price, usually they put the extra money saved in making other parts of the board better.

    • Sleepymatt says:

      Nobody has mentioned the other issue with SLI, which is microstuttering – see article here:

      Microstuttering investigation

    • Premium User Badge jezcentral says:

      What resolution will the GPU be pushing? If it’s just 1920×1200/1080, then there’s no need for multiple GPUs.

    • Specials4uc3 says:

      I think the SLi hate is a bit extreme here, I got 2 570s for less than a 580 and can outperform the single 580 rather nicely. As to the idea that many games aren’t supported I would say don’t worry, most gog.com games don’t need it. Every recent title I have bought is either supported at launch or shortly after. Also buying an SLi board makes a lot of sense since it is very easy and cheap to gain a good nudge in performance by simply adding a card. Just make sure the board supports 2 16x PCI channels and you have enough CPU to support the cards. If you can SLi do so imo.

      EDIT: Here’s some numbers to mull over. I did a Vantage run, GPU tests only, with SLi disabled and then enabled. Hard to miss the performance gain here.

      First with SLi disabled:
      http://3dmark.com/3dmv/3516845?show_ads=true&page=%2F3dmv%2F3516845%3Fkey%3DFExv4WusvxKwLr7KkQDt3yjwbWqw6U
      Graphics Score
      23405
      Jane Nash
      71.16 FPS
      New Calico
      65.87 FPS

      and with SLi enabled:
      http://3dmark.com/3dmv/3516856?show_ads=true&page=%2F3dmv%2F3516856%3Fkey%3DLaWpWvQbfwp6zT56f8YUr0DKAYkjph
      Graphics Score
      35852
      Jane Nash
      103.26 FPS
      New Calico
      106.84 FPS

      Here’s my rig and a couple friends setups, kind of a bit of what to expect if you slap together your own compy, which you should, it’s fun.
      http://specials4uc3.com/viewforum.php?f=9

      Also an open window and the harsh Canadian winter is a great cooling add-on, allows some good high speed runs ;D
      http://3dmark.com/3dmv/2939369

  4. simoroth says:

    I wrote this a few months back when I build my current machine as a rough guide for people in the same situation:

    http://machinestudios.co.uk/viewentry.php?id=41

    On board sound is now fine for 99% of users. Haven’t had a problem with any of the last dozen machines I’ve built people.

    “Any memory experts want to pick out relevant points?”

    Buy several smaller chips to fill every slot on your motherboard as you will get better bandwidth usage. Get a reasonably high mhz (that your mobo FSB supports), but ignore the brands with fancy coolers as the price premium is not reflected in performance.

    • Bushcat says:

      +1 Frightlever

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Yeah, so long as you have a relatively recent motherboard, the onboard realtek drivers are perfectly fine. Creative’s X-Fi series of cards claims to improve performance while gaming, but that was only true in the era of single core processors.

      I used a sound card for several months, and there were some subtle differences. You will see much larger difference by putting that mnoney towards a good set of speakers or headphones.

    • Premium User Badge steves says:

      If you care about your sound, an external DAC, something like this:

      http://www.itemaudio.co.uk/superpro_dac.html

      plugged into a spare USB port is the best way to get audio out of a PC – there’s far to much electrical and RF noise inside the case that interferes with even high-end sound cards.

      And as Snargelfargen says, decent speakers is where it’s at – these are absolutely incredible for the price:

      http://www.itemaudio.co.uk/audioengine2.html

      and don’t even need a sub. How they get so much bass out of something so small is bordering on witchcraft…

      This assumes plain old stereo only of course, surround is a whole different matter, but the horrid tangle of cables always put me off that.

  5. danbojones says:

    Some monitor advice would be grand, too. Just for a fresh start, like.

    • simoroth says:

      Get a Dell 24″ if you can afford them. Or get a 24wfp off Ebay.

      They are the standard for most games and 3d studios. I have 2 and couldn’t recommend them more.

    • Askeladd says:

      Dell UltraSharp U2412M seems to be a nice choice.
      I personally have a HP ZR24w.

    • cliffski says:

      Big recomendation for iiyama from me. They are cheaper than you might think, and the ProLite E2403WS that me and my buddy both own is very good. Speakers suck, but then who isn’t gaming with headphones these days? That’s an old mionitor these days, so you could try this:

      http://www.dabs.com/products/iiyama-prolite-24–e2472hd-2ms-dvi-vga-lcd-monitor-735P.html?refs=376750000&q=iiyama

      £188.

      Don’t forget you stare at the bloody thing all the time, so get a decent monitor.

    • evilmatt says:

      If you have desk space, get three. Monitors are dirt cheap these days, and once you go multi-monitor, you’ll never want to go back. Make the recommended graphics card a 6950 and you won’t even need SLI for 5760×1080 craziness.

    • Muzman says:

      Avoid TN based LCD panels. They are ghosty and up-scaled 6bit colour. IPS panels have the best colour rendition and no ghosting worries I’ve seen.
      I have a big Dell (that’s what she said) and it’s great. But I hear Samsung are also good. NEC are the godly, bleeding edge insanopriced ones, but apparently 120hz is the future of smooth comfortable viewing.

    • Premium User Badge Revisor says:

      Simple advice: Look at the cheapest IPS panels you can find, read a few reviews, buy the best of them.

      Like Muzman says, avoid TN screens. They change colors whenever you move your chair or stand up, two people almost can’t watch them at once. Bother.

      Edit: I am an avid gamer (obviously, I’m here) and have an IPS panel NEC EA231WMi. I have never noticed any ghosting. So I would happily ignore anything people say about seeing ghosts on non-TN panels.

    • neolith says:

      I’ll recommend the Iiyama displays, too. The quality is really good, especially for the price. The refresh rate is easily good enough for gaming and the color display is good enough for work (I’m a graphics designer).

  6. Sp4rkR4t says:

    I’m torn on this atm, yes the Intel chip can be much more powerful but that is mainly relegated to media stuff and general performance wise they are only marginally ahead of a stock AMD competitor which can be half the price. Plus AMD chipsets are far better than most of what you can get for an Intel rig and once again are cheaper. Plus I will never again touch a nVidia GPU.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Ha, well I feel the same about ATi, since I’ve only ever had enormous trouble with them.

    • johnpeat says:

      I’ve owned both and there’s really nothing in it in terms of support/problems or whatever.

      nVidia have effectively abandoned the low/mid end of the GPU market to AMD now anyway…

      Where the difference tends to appear is with developers – some of whom, seem too lazy to test on both – which means some games will be awful on nVidia and others on AMD/ATi – hence your experience largely relates to which games you play.

    • Bedeage says:

      I’m afraid that is simply not true. Sandy Bridge chips have higher IPC (google is your friend here) than AMD’s, so clock-for-clock the Intel chip wins out in almost every game. This is a gaming site.

      They are also more easily overclockable, and currently the fastest chips available on the market. Bulldozer is aimed square at SB, but it does not seem like AMD are particularly confident about their product so neither am I.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I would warn against Nvidia and Intel. I went for it due to a previous systems experience. Within 6 months my Nvidia exploded, I then replaced it with another ATI, which has been working fine for well over 3 years now. Now I’ve hit a brick wall with my cpu as it’s an Intel. It would be possible for me to upgrade significantly and keep with this Pc if I had taken the AMD option. Now that Bulldozer is arriving, it looks like a far better option to me.

    • johnpeat says:

      “This is a gaming site”

      Yes it is, one where people PLAY games…

      We do not want to turn into one of those “every FPS counts” sites which really only uses games as benchmarks to test their PC – do we?

      Fact remains that for someone looking for a budget PC, nVidia have nothing to offer under £100 (unless that’s changed recently).

    • ASBO says:

      I’m invested in 3D vision now, so nVidia have me over a barrel either way.

    • Askeladd says:

      Personally I wouldn’t adive to build a new PC just yet.
      Intel and AMD are at the end of their current generation. Next year they will have some very interesting tech.

      That means: People that have to upgrade should do that, others might just put up with it and wait.

    • Bremze says:

      @Bedeage: Care to link a game that gets bottlenecked by a PII x4 at a resolution of 1650×1050 or more? A 4 year old q6600 generaly won’t bottleneck you, but a 4 year old GPU will. So unless you do lots of video encoding, you can go for a cheaper CPU and put that money to use on a better GPU.

    • mike2R says:

      Bremze, while I agree that you give good advice for most gamers, it isn’t true for every game.

      My own taste seems to go for games that are a) highly CPU intensive, and b) made by small devs who haven’t quite got to grips with this whole multi threading thing yet.

      Prime example: Egosoft’s X3:Terran Conflict (think Elite on steroids). You need a decent graphics card too, but the real bottleneck is CPU – a truly big battle will bring almost any system to its knees since there can be hundreds of AI controlled ships, each running multiple scripts for different turrets and stuff. Not to mention several hundred sectors running all the time in the background.
      In case I’ve whetted anyone’s appetite, I recommend this Let’s Play if you want to know more:
      http://forum.egosoft.com/viewtopic.php?t=222994

      And most turn based/Paradox type strategy games are CPU bound rather than GPU bound.

  7. Darko Drako says:

    Get a nicer case!

    They computer is a big piece of equipment in whichever room it is situated, therefore you want it to look nice/respectable. I am a fan of the fractal design cases.

    They will also make a big difference to cooling, which will allow you to overclock higher and prolong the life of your equipment.

    + cases are one of the few items that can be kept when you do a full upgrade. Therefore cost over a lifetime is minimal. I would suggest spending around £100. I think I spent around £80 on my fractal plus £20 of extra fans.

    • Ovno says:

      Screw that….

      Why waste money on a case, it sits under your desk getting dusty doesn’t need to look nice.

      Personally I normally just make sure its got all the usbs and headphone sockets I need, no power supply (the bundled ones are always crap) and don’t really worry about the rest, though I do avoid old school computer grey as its horrible…

    • Vagrant says:

      While I’m a big fan of buying things cheap, I will support the idea of buying a nice case. It doesn’t have to be a $200 monolith, but there are a few great reasons to get something nice.

      A case will be around for years, staying when everything else gets replaced. This also means you’ll be installing/uninstalling hardware for years, so getting one that’s easy to work on is worth a little extra. Also, not everyone sits it under their desk; in fact, that could be a bad idea if you live in a dusty/dirty environment.

    • Aninhumer says:

      I wouldn’t spend that much on a case, but I definitely recommend not going for the cheapest you can get. Cheap cases tend to be very poor build quality, and that can actually make assembly and maintenance a nightmare later. I’ve had to tear out screws with pliers right next to my motherboard thanks to crappy cases before.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      Plus one for nice cases. I took ages finding the one I wanted and have stuck with it for years. Nowadays there’s much more advanced ideas out there in case design. Look for things with toolless drive installation and/or vibration damping mounts for drives, also stuff like removable motherboard trays and cutouts for easy heatsink mounting. Another thing to consider is fan mounting points and potential size limitations for GPU cards – high-end cards aren’t half massive these days, and cheap cases aren’t usually that big. The case is something you will likely keep longer than any other component, it’s just shortsighted to skimp here.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Good case thirded. If you’re at all upgrade/overclock minded, you want a case with good layout and easy access, which cheap cases do not have. Aesthetics are a matter of taste of course, and I wouldn’t personally reommend spending more to have a nicer looking one. But I would definitely recommend spending £50 plus on a case which you don’t need screws to open, has a side panel, has good ventilation, and has sliding drive bays.

      Likewise, do not scrimp on the PSU under any circumstances. It is the single most important component in your PC. You won’t realise that until it dies on you though.

    • Ryleth says:

      Something to be said about a bland case though. I personally wouldn’t want anything that looks remarkably different from a shop bought PC. Performance-wise it should be great, but flashing LEDs, under lighting, see through cases etc. screams 14 year old to me. That’s just personal preference though.

    • simonh says:

      Ditto, I just got a Fractal Design R3 white case for £80 and it’s very nice. It’s soundproofed, has dust filters on the intakes and great installation features. Also it’s one of the few white cases on the market, and a black case just wouldn’t fit my living room.

    • povu says:

      I always liked the Antec 300 case. Simple looking, plenty of space, and good air circulation.

    • Koozer says:

      I am the proud owner of a beige box that happily housed all my bits for at least 5 years. Any case using actual colours if just showing off.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      @ Povu

      Yeah, you don’t really need anything other than an Antec 300.

    • meatshit says:

      Thirding the Antec 300. It’s a really well designed case with excellent build quality that costs about $50.

  8. Premium User Badge oceanclub says:

    Would strongly recommend you get a Z68 motherboard so you can use an SSD drive as a cache. I got a ASRock Z68 Extreme4 during the summer and am delighted with it; a single physical drive which includes both my OS partition and my Steam games partition is cached and loading times are great.

    I’d also go for the 8GB as well. I thought that perhaps it was going to be overkill, but I’ve seen my system using more than 4GB on occasions so am glad I did.

    P.

    • Askeladd says:

      I’d really appreciate if Steam would include a way to tell on which drive it should install the game files.
      Important games would be on the SSD and less important on the HDD.
      As it is now Installing games on a SSD from Steam will not work for me.

    • nocash says:

      Agreed. Z68 board only cost about $20 more than their P67 counterparts, but are well worth it for the extra features, IMO.

      @Askeladd check out GameSave Manager. If you’re on an NTFS system like Vista or Win7 it will allow you to move select Steam games to a different (e.g. non-SSD) drive. I haven’t used that particular functionality, but I do use GSM for save game backups and love it.

      http://www.gamesave-manager.com/

    • Askeladd says:

      I’ll try this sometimes, thanks. But it still bothers me that Steam doesn’t support that feature.

    • Premium User Badge MerseyMal says:

      @ no cash – handy app, cheers. Have been buggering around manually with symbolic links. :)

    • enobayram says:

      @Askeladd check symbolic links in Windows 7. They’re very useful for this and many many other purposes (such as synchronizing your savegames without native cloud support using dropbox or the like).

    • Mctittles says:

      If you are getting a single TB drive, the best thing you can do for performance is split that TB into four separate drives and get a motherboard that supports RAID 0.
      One of the biggest slowdowns in games is the time it takes to access information on your drives. Four drives in RAID will outperform an SSD any day and for a fraction of the price with more storage. I’ve had rather old computers run games that some modern PC’s couldn’t just buy throwing more RAID 0 drive arrays at it. If the graphix card doesn’t have a large memory then speeding up load times from the drive fixes the problem for cheaper. It’s something that you will benefit long down the road from your purchase. SSD also has a slower write speed that can actually hinder some games and apps that constantly write to the drive (or windows).

      I would also recommend not cheaping out on your motherboard. You need a good foundation first. If the information travel from your drive to your memory to your cpu and gpu is not efficient then the quality of those parts cease to make a difference.

  9. Premium User Badge MerseyMal says:

    Providing the PSU comes with a pair of PCI-E 6-pin cables, it should be sufficient. Though if you plan to SLI later I’d get something like XFX 850W Black Edition.

    I’d personally go for a Z68 motherboard and use Intel’s Smart Response Technology to use the SSD as a cache for the main drive.

  10. Rossi says:

    If you’re going to overclock, get a decent CPU cooler (and also make sure your case has enough headroom to fit it, they can be huge). And also, if you’re going to overclock ensure your RAM is DDR3 1600 with a decent voltage (1.65v is good)

    • Premium User Badge MerseyMal says:

      The Thermaltake Frio does a fantastic job of cooling down my 2500K which is running at 4.6GHz. Noisy sod though, however I’ll try slowing its fans down as I think I’m running them faster than I need to.

    • chris says:

      Cooler Master Hyper 212+ is under 20 quid on play.com, decent performance for a very decent price.

    • Rossi says:

      Yes im running a ThermalTake Frio as well. Running a Phenom X6 1055T at 3.65 ghz at 30 degrees under load.

  11. Jibb Smart says:

    A rubbish and cheap case is great only if it has decent ventilation and fans. I got a deal where I got free liquid-cooling, which is fantastic, but my older PC ran into trouble as I continually Frankensteined it and its 2002/2003 case kept the thing running so hot it would crash during games.

    Also, nVidia was definitely the way to go. Much more reliable than AMD lately (although AMD cards are starting to pull their socks up).

  12. Premium User Badge oceanclub says:

    Argh, I posted a long response and it somehow got lost. Short answer – get Z68 motherboard + SSD cache as well, and cache your games drive. Does wonders for loading times.

    P.

    • roy7 says:

      ocean, thanks for mentioning that Z68. I haven’t followed hardware closely in years, didn’t even know a SSD caching solution like that existed. Since I hope to maybe upgrade next year sometime to a faster CPU, a MB with caching support and a cheap/small SSD could be a really cool direction to take. I’ve always wanted my boot drive on SSD but didn’t want to go through the hassle of moving stuff between partitions/etc.

    • Premium User Badge oceanclub says:

      Yup, it’s definitely a great stop-gap solution until the time that large SSD drives become cheap enough to use instead of disk ones.

      P.

  13. HexagonalBolts says:

    It is much better for people to give their individual budgets on a forum and for someone knowledgeable to help recommend the parts. Also you can get a good 8GB of RAM for £30, may as well go for that over that 4GB. A good case can make building a lot easier, only get a recommended one.

    I’d also like some sound card recommendations.

    • steviesteveo says:

      I think it’s reached a point where people who need an external sound card have very specific needs for one — do you need one that can do recording etc., if so, with what sources etc.?

  14. infernox says:

    a 1TB standard hard drive costs around £50, 2TB you can get for £60.

    samsung F3 1TB hard drive £50- http://www.ebuyer.com/173804-samsung-hd103sj-spinpoint-f3-1tb-hard-drive-sataii-7200rpm-32mb-cache-hd103sj

    or you can go for a seagate 1TB hard drive for £45- http://www.ebuyer.com/252858-seagate-1tb-3-5-barracuda-sata-iii-6gb-s-hard-drive-7200rpm-32mb-cache-st31000524as

    samsung F4 2TB hard drive £60- http://www.ebuyer.com/237908-samsung-hd204ui-spinpoint-f4-2tb-hard-drive-sata-5400rpm-32mb-cache-hd204ui

    4gb ddr3 ram is around £20 now, 8gb is £35.

  15. Feet says:

    If you ignore all the pro-console stuff in this article, and in fact any advice givenn at all, then this article maybe relevant.

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-05-20-how-to-build-your-own-gaming-pc-article

  16. Crainey says:

    You might want to throw in a CD Drive or good measure and as Rossi said Cooling is important. In terms of monitors I’d highly recommend having more than one, two monitors is extremely helpful and I don’t think I could go back to using one now. I was looking at buying two new cheapish monitors as mine are quite dated and low res, you can get decent monitors 1920 X 1080 for £80-200 and ideally you’d want 23 inch.

    Also I would highly recommend spending that tiny bit extra on buying at least 8gb of ram as I find my 4gb isn’t really sufficient these days. Speaking of processors I have the AMD Phenom X6 (6 core) (this – http://overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP-266-AM) and whilst it’s very good and I’ve had no problems with it I still feel the 6 core’s are wasted and the Intel i seies is better if not more expensive.

  17. Unaco says:

    Buy a DELL.

  18. GenBanks says:

    Ok so these aren’t budget option, rather ‘nice extras’ but still:

    For a high end sound card you could get either a X-Fi Titanium HD or a Xonar Essence… But there’s also the Xonar DG which is supposed to be great and cheap (£26) if you’re just going to use headphones, as they have a built in amplifier.

    I personally use an older Xfi Titanium Fatality, and am pretty happy with it.

    Headphones aren’t hardware, but the AKG K702s are fantastic. I’m paying someone to make a custom amp for them too.

    • ASBO says:

      I got an X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro (from Amazon) to plug into the USB of my aging mac, and coupled it with an Astro A40 Mixamp and Turtle Beach HPX headphones (both from limexb360.co.uk). Damn expensive (>£220), but worth it so I can game with 5.1 surround whilst the other half watches Desperate Housewives…

    • Askeladd says:

      I don’t believe in ’5.1′ Headsets.
      The reason is… they can’t work. You don’t need so many speakers so close to your ear that is because there is no positional difference between them. Anything you can archive with ’5.1 Headsets’ you can do with a stereo much cheaper.

      Try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ00TK-fFoE&feature=player_embedded#!

    • enobayram says:

      @Askeladd There is actually a huge positional difference. The problem is that the question “why exactly don’t stereo headphones feel exactly like real sounds?” is a hot research topic. It’s mostly to do with the precise acoustic properties of your ear, and the acoustic transfer function of your ear is dependent on the exact position of the speakers on the headset. By the way, I’m not asserting that 5+1 headphones are anything but marketing bullshit, I’m just saying headphones have a loooong way to go.

    • ASBO says:

      Actually they work pretty well. Not as dynamic as properly positioned speakers, mind. I also use 3D Vision from time to time. I look like an absolute berk in headphones and shuttered glasses sat in the dark, but the experience is incredibly immersive.

  19. Tmoore says:

    I just put a gaming rig together for my sister (prideful tear.) came out to less than 1k, US. This’ll probably get eaten up by akismet but links to Newegg included for further reference….

    Intel 5-2500k - workhouse, rock solid, OC’able 4ghz+ – hands down the best chip you can get for the price.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072

    8gigs Ripjaw – This was ridiculously cheap at the time – 8 gigs maybe over kill, but it can’t hurt.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231314

    Samsung Spinpoint 1TB – Consistently ranks at the top in satisfaction and speed. On my own rig i run a couple of SSDs for my boot drive and gaming storage – this tech is changing fast so i’d say just keep your eye on whats recommended currently if you want an SSD for boot (and i recommend it whole heartedly.)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185

    Antec BP550 Plus - Plenty of power unless you wanna SLI, if so you nee to jump up to 750+
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371016

    EVGA 560 GTX – I’m running an OC’d 570 in my rig, and i can’t complain – i fretted over stepping down to a 560 in this one but i still think for a mid to low range box a 560 will handle most anything fine.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130660

    AsRock Z68 Pro3 – I used to build exclusively on ASUS till i hit a a few bad boards. So i tried out AsRock and i havn’t turned back. Best bang for the buck, solid construction, extra features, price is right.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157251

    • Premium User Badge MerseyMal says:

      Have an Antec CP-1000 in my Antec Twelve Hundred v2. Weighs a bloody ton.

  20. Jams O'Donnell says:

    You can probably pick up that processor for less. I paid £145 for one of those about a month ago. Stock cooler ought to be fine if you don’t overclock, too.

    As for PSU, if you’re not going crossfire or SLI or whatever the kids call it these days you probably needn’t go much over 500W. I have an energy-efficient 550W Netzteil PSU I bought about 18 months back that’s also nice and quiet, though since my case is a micro-atx I think that if I’d known they existed I’d have preferred to go with a modular PSU instead.

    • schizopol says:

      hey are there any efficiency measurements or comparisons you could point me to? This PSU could pay for itself over time if it’s efficient enough, but I don’t want to get roped into an emperor’s clothes situation.

  21. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Request: Somebody sell me on the idea of dedicated soundcards, please.

    • johnpeat says:

      Unless you’re running into actual problems with your onboard sound or you’re plugging into £300 headphones or high-end speakers – don’t bother – seriously…

    • DrGonzo says:

      I use an external amplifier, I find it gives a better result. I used to have an X-Fi, but found it actually gave slightly worse sound than an onboard jobby with an amp.

    • puppybeard says:

      I’m with johnpeat, if you haven’t made any other significant investments in sound, a dedicated card is overkill.
      If your speakers are under a hundred quid, and you’re not doing 7.1 surround, it’s not a problem. Although if you use your pc for all your music, and you’re into it, it would be better quality. On the other hand, if your entire music collection is128kbps mp3s, the difference isn’t worth it.

    • Gaz says:

      Even a cheap soundcard <50 quid will give you a noticable difference in quality on any half decent speakers / headphones. I got an Asus Xonar DX a year ago and even though I'm not a big music listener I really appreciate the difference it makes in games and with what music I do listen to over teh bog standard Realtek onboard crap I was used to and thought was perfectly fine. It's definately somewhat of a luxury for someone putting together a system on a small budget but if you do listen to a lot of music or have some decent quality speakers / headphones and want to take full advantage of them then factoring in an Asus DG (£20), DS (£35), D1 or DX (£50) is something you would want to give consideration.

    • Srethron says:

      -Somewhat better sound quality. However, onboard is usually good enough already unless you have 5.1 / 7.1 speakers or a sound card specifically optimized for headphones. Also better positional audio in some games (the footsteps are coming from the left! as opposed to hearing footsteps.)

      -Nifty panel with front panel headphone/mic jacks and volume controls if you get the right sound card. However, some cases already come with this without the sound card. …and if you get the wrong sound card, well, it didn’t have one.

      -They rarely break. Once you get one you’re probably set for 10 years+.

      -Recording / effects software and such, which may be completely useless to you, fun toys, or very useful depending.

      -Notoriously iffy drivers across the board, as far as I can tell. Yay for more crashing and troubleshooting!

    • Starky says:

      Okay so here is the deal – gaming sound cards are a load of crap – there is literally not a single situation where you’d want or need a gaming soundcard (except 1 sort of, mentioned below).

      They’ve been utterly redundant ever since the first dual core processes. It is true they might have marginally better quality DAC, and slightly better SNR (and if you don’t know what those are you don’t need a card with “better” anyway) – but not noticeably better, even on top end hardware (speakers and headphones).

      If you’re a musician you’ll be wanting a multi in/out proper sound card with good asio support and low latencies (which gaming cards are not) and probably with a built in headphone amplifier, then you’d be sending that signal to a active monitor setup (or mixing desk/amp), these will be designed to give you a clean, flat and balanced output – and they are better (and not much more expensive) than any gaming focused card.

      If you’re wanting to go down the HTPC route, or have a decent surround system, then you’re 100 times better off using onboard via the optical output into an external DAC/amp.

      Gaming soundcards also tend to cheat to sound better – you plug them in and things sound “better” but this isn’t because the audio quality, or signal is better – it is because they tend to subtly and at a hardware level tweak the EQs to add more bass and treble. Which sounds better to human ears on cheap speakers/headphones – but is a con.
      you could just set up a EQ profile in software and get the same results – it also utterly buggers you if you are a musician and are wanting a flat EQ output.

      Literally the only set-up that requires a soundcard is with a 7.1* sound system because some onboard chips do not support it – and then you can a cheap arse card for a tenner that will do the job fine.
      *7.1 is a con – 7.1 can’t add anything that 5.1 can’t positionally, or audibly, you’re better off buying a higher quality 5.1 system than going 7.1 – but that is another issue.

      /an audiophile and hobbyist sound engineer.

    • Muzman says:

      I do wonder if that’s why people say souncards are still so much better than onboard: Onboard outs aren’t that special and they are plugging low grade , or even high grade, headphones and speakers directly into them. That is unlikely to sound very good and a Xonar or something probably has a little more oomph.
      But when amplified, onboard audio becomes perfectly acceptable.
      If you’ve got fancy headphones you want an amp of some sort for them anyway. So I suspect that’s the tradeoff. The onboard systems aren’t so inferior to a cheap dedicated card, just lesser in power.

  22. Shooop says:

    A 750 PSU is just barely fine if you’re sticking with a single video card. But you’re getting dangerously close to the edge if you slap another one in there. Since it’s such a pain to wrestle with all the cables, I’d recommend a 1200W box so you’ll never have to worry about replacing it for at least another 3 years.

    A full tower case is a necessity. Not only does it keep your gear cooler, but it’s much easier to stuff everything into. The Cooler Master HAF 932 is a great choice, has USB 3.0 outlets and removable dust filters included. Stay away from Thermaltake because they have a tendency to use flimsy plastic on the side panel and it vibrates. Like the PSU it’s something that will last you longer than most the other parts of your machine so it’s worth a little more investment.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      750W is not nearly anywhere close to problematic, apart for you energy bill maybe. 450W is fine for most single graphics cards, really.

    • Aninhumer says:

      You have to get pretty beefy graphics cards before 750W becomes a limitation. Obviously people should check their requirements, but for the majority of people 750W will more than provide for their needs, blanket suggesting 1200W is ridiculous.

      Also the power usage of your system will be mostly the same whatever supply you buy, so saying 750W is bad for your power bill is wrong. If anything a higher wattage PSU will probably use LESS power because it is likely to be more efficient.

    • Wahngrok says:

      I’m running a i5-2500K, Radeon HD6950 with a 450W PSU (Super Flower Golden Green Pro 450W). The peak load draw is about 380W at full load (measured at wall socket). Anything more is overkill, inefficient and overpriced.

      edit: There is a nice article on picking the right PSU on tomshardware: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/power-supply-psu-review,2916.html

    • Shooop says:

      I think you guys misunderstand, I’m going with the exorbitant option for two reasons which may not apply to you or Jim’s situations. I’m definitely not suggesting everyone go out and pick the highest possible number. I recommend it if you meet these two ciretra:

      1) You don’t think it’s fun wrestling with the cables of a PSU and because it’ll most likely outlive everything else in your computer “just one and done” sounds good.

      2) More importantly it keeps your options open for dual video cards.

      But of course if you never plan on using a dual video card setup 1200W is pure vanity. I’d recommend an 850W instead. They’re very reasonable on Amazon.com and you probably won’t have to replace it for a decade or so. Maybe I should have clarified this.

      Lastly, I’m fairly sure the PSU doesn’t draw much more power from your sockets than your computer demands at the time. It’s more of a conditioning unit. Higher ratings just mean how much more power it can pull out of your wall at a time when required.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      It doesn’t really matter who or what your comment was aimed at. Saying a 750W PSU is “barely enough” for a single card setup is just entirely wrong.

    • Starky says:

      750W is enough for almost any 2 card SLI setup also – you’d only run into issues on a 3 card setup.

    • thedosbox says:

      Regarding power supplies, a good quality 650W PSU with plenty of 12V capacity will be plenty for a system with a single video card, while still allowing headroom for the future.

      Here are some system measurements for power draw at the wall:
      http://techreport.com/articles.x/20889/9
      http://www.anandtech.com/show/4008/nvidias-geforce-gtx-580/17

      That’s less than 400W for system with an overclocked GTX 580 and a i7-980X CPU. Subtract 15% for conversion loss and the PSU is outputting less than 350W.

      The key here is to ensure (a) the 12V capacity is sufficient (b) the PSU can actually deliver that. Many PSU’s bundled with cases fail the latter test.

      Here’s a widely available Antec that has been well reviewed by sites such as jonnyguru and silentpcreview:

      Antec TruePower New 650W Modular
      http://www.ebuyer.com/159920-antec-truepower-new-650w-modular-psu-0761345-07660-9

      The cheaper Antec “Basiq” range aren’t as good quality. Alternatives from the likes of Seasonic and Corsair are also reliable.

  23. riadsala says:

    I always think it’s worth spending some extra and getting a better case. You’ll have more options for cooling, more space for plugging in new HDs and stuff, better air flow, and it will probably be quiet. Plus, a motherboard tray that slides out makes building the computer a lot easier in the first place.

  24. Luis_Magalhaes says:

    I’ve learned the hard way not to skimp on the box or the PSU – I live in Portugal and in last year’s summer it got hot, my graphics card kept over-heating, even with a good cooling fan. A new box with lots of room for air was the solution – NOX has some very good cases around 80€.

  25. Disaster says:

    Might be worth noting that the Asus P8P67 Pro would be better for anyone with a half decent SSD. I think it’s only a tenner more.

  26. johnpeat says:

    I’d take onboard sound over a USB/headphone setup EVERY time.

    USB-based systems are prone to glitching and games won’t always detect them properly.

    The fact they can be (and frequently are) detached throws more muck into the fan too.

    Onboard sound is fine for most people – everyone else buys a card from Asus (and NOT Creative unless installing 350Mb of ‘drivers’ (shovel ware) is your idea of fun).

  27. matredvers says:

    I really would’nt just throw all that decent hardware in a nasty cheap case. go for something with decent cooling capability and for possible upgrades in the future (ie more hd’s, water cooling, etc)

    something like a low/mid range lian li case would be a worthwhile candidate

  28. Bull0 says:

    Three words that will improve your gaming life more significantly than any other:

    Solid State Drive.

    • johnpeat says:

      Why would an SSD specifically improve gaming – as opposed to just making the PC boot and run a bit faster?

      We’re waiting…

    • Binary77 says:

      Yeah – i’ve tried gaming off both my SSD and regular drives and noticed no difference in FPS. You might get slighter lower loading times, but everything gets cached onto the RAM anyway after that, so in my opinion Jim has made the right choice choosing a normal (and larger) drive for his games, which is exactly what i do too. I just have my OS & video editing programs on my SSD.

    • Gaz says:

      @johnpeat An SSD is the biggest quality of life upgrade you can get for a PC that doesn’t have one, once you become used to teh load times for windows and your favourite games going back would slowly drive you insane.

    • Bull0 says:

      My rig uses the SSD for paging and stuff – it’s two 1TB hard drives and a 20GB SSD in a single drive configuration. It isn’t just quicker to boot the OS, everything is a bit quicker loading. But yes, as has been said, the difference between “I fancy some gaming, now I shall wait for my computer to boot” and “I fancy some gaming so oops now I’m doing it” is massive, but perhaps hard to appreciate without direct experience.

      Load times are basically a thing of the past for me now. I don’t mourn their passing.

    • johnpeat says:

      I’ve argued this before – SSDs still don’t make sense to me.

      1 – Windows loading time is irrelevant as I do it about twice a month…

      2 – SSDs are still too expensive to use as anything other than boot drives and so you’ll see little improvement other than startup time

      3 My personal experience of SSDs is that they’re too damned fragile and I don’t need anything else to worry about

      YMMV but an SSD does not specifically improve gaming in any meaningful way.

    • Vandelay says:

      Agreed. I see very little benefit with going SSD. I’m happy to wait the 10 seconds it takes to load my games. Half the price of them and then I might be interested, but it still would feel like an extravagance.

    • Binary77 says:

      Yeah, i must reiterate that buying an SSD for your OS is a very good idea, but is not necessary for gaming.

    • Bull0 says:

      In the interests of clarity, I bought a package PC and the SSD was part of it, and I thought I’d share how much happier my gaming experience is as a result. I wasn’t trying to do objective cost analysis – cost wasn’t a factor for me so I didn’t make it a factor here, and I didn’t really present it as if I had – no mention of cost whatsoever in my comment. “They’re too expensive, though” would have been more appropriate/less upsetting than “No YOU’RE WRONG and BAD”

      This “two boots a month” thing baffles me too- I don’t like wasting electricity or wearing out components, both of which I assume leaving my machine permanently on would do, so unless you let your computer go to standby all the time – which still takes ages to recover from and must surely still produce wear on components and use energy to some degree- I’m not following you. Besides, like I said, mine isn’t just a boot drive – it’s in a single drive configuration with two 1TBs. Uses some software thing to use the SSD for hard drive operations and store everything on the big drives. I don’t claim to really understand it, but loading times are very very short. I don’t think it’s fiction either, I just have better things to do than to get to grips with the technicalities of how it works. I just know it does.

      I’m not sure what’s so bad about wanting shorter loading times, either. Along comes a crazy person to tell me off for being a young impatient upstart who wants everything now, now, now, I expect (grabs binoculars)

      Anyway, back to work. Toodles

    • Shooop says:

      Not really. It can speed up your map loading times but that’s it.

    • johnpeat says:

      I use Sleep whenever I’m not using my desktop

      It ‘sleeps’ in about 5-10 seconds (depending on how much stuff is running I guess) and it wakes in less than 5 seconds and is ready to rock then-and-there.

      Your SSD can’t match that and never will :)

      My only reboots are for Windows Updates – my last 3 gfx driver updates haven’t even asked for one!!

      p.s. this idea of leaving a PC on “wearing our components” is nonsense – what will kill you PC is it powering on/off and heating up/cooling down.

      Most lightbulbs blow when you turn them on – yes? :)

    • Jake says:

      I used to install my games to my SSD but it’s too much of a hassle, even with a relatively large (120gig) one. If you like to have a bunch of games installed at once it is impossible to get them all on your SSD and you end up either having to install/uninstall a lot or mess around with junction link things. Now I just put all my games on a relatively fast, large hard disk. It makes no discernible difference to me in terms of loading times although I don’t exactly boot up games all that often. I am sure it makes a difference to more frequent loading times like my apps which get started up more often.

      In fact, I generally consider my SSD an annoyance as it will often get full up when my scratch disks, My Documents or downloads fill it to capacity, or I am careless about where I install. I have probably wasted more time moving things off it so it starts working again than I have saved from it booting games faster.

    • steviesteveo says:

      Agreed. I wouldn’t upgrade it ahead of say, your graphics card but if your next computer has the option of a small (or not so small, prices are rapidly falling) SSD go for it, they’re great. I’m the position of having an SSD in my laptop and a hard drive in my desktop — the desktop has considerably more storage and the laptop is screaming fast. The main thing is that an SSD suddenly makes your computer more responsive and that translates to a huge difference when you’re using it.

      Even if it just means you’re spending much less time staring at loading screens, that’s completely fine.

      Obviously, not everyone can use an SSD just yet, but if you can it’s well worth considering.

  29. Premium User Badge dangermouse76 says:

    I am on the i5, with a P55A-UD3 gigabyte board ( never had an issue with this company ).

    Running 4 gig of corsair DDR3 ram.

    Graphics is ATI HD6870 1gig. Draws less power than the Nvidia 460′s and 470′s ( I think )

    Running at 1400×900 this does the job for me.

    Power supply is I think an area not to cut corners. So I recomend Seasonic S12 ii. This is good as it has 2 x PCI 6pin power connectors. And from reviews ranging from Anandtec to ARStechnica they come off as reliable and not too extortianate.

    With Antec 300 case you have to get your head round good cable management but, from scratch my PC cost about £500 with a 1 terabyte HDD.

    I think it’s pretty good to go at that price.

  30. Squirrelfanatic says:

    I built my machine some months ago with components very similar to the ones mentioned in the post. The pieces that diverge are the following:

    - Graphics: I got a Sapphire Radeon 5850 1GB for 100EUR, it runs TW2 perfectly on very high settings, as it does with anything else I have thrown at it until now. This is possibly the component you can save the most at, as it is possible to get good performance for a reasonable price. The higher the performance, the more the price will explode.

    - PSU: I’ve got a 450W PSU which is really fine. This is another common misconception I think – you don’t need 600W+ units, even for overclocking if your other components aren’t that powerhungry (I hear that Radeon’s 6950/70 pieces demand pretty little power).

    Edit: I understand that it might be a bit different if you use crossfire settings or a otherwise overly powerhungry graphics card. Maybe read up on some of the pieces you are interested on.

    Edit: It’s this one: Super Flower Golden Green Pro 450W ATX 2.3 (SF-450P14XE). Got good ratings, is really quiet! and has high energy efficiency as well.

    - Case: Yes, you can save a lot of money here as well. Many cheaper cases (especially ones made out of plastic) will increase the volume level of your PC though. I got me a LianLi case (Lian Li PC-A04B) for ~60 (or 70?) EUR, small midi format, which is mostly made up out of aluminium.

    - Motherboard: P8P67 (pro?) here, small midi format. Pay attention to the size of your case when choosing your mainboard as well as your graphics card!

    - RAM: 4GB should be fine. Varying clockspeeds have only a very small influence on performance, but be sure to check whether your mainboard supports the RAM you are interested in.

    - If need be: the monitor. I got myself a DELL U2311H and am very content with it. Cost me ~200EUR. It should be pointed out that some people have reported issues with this one, personally I never had problems. You shouldn’t use it as an external monitor for a DELL laptop though. It’s a bit funny, but the power supply cable of some DELL laptops generates a flickering / background noise with this monitor.

    Edit: I also exchanged the case fans for some ScytheSlipstreams with rotation control (if this is the correct term). Makes everything so much less noisy.

    • Bremze says:

      This man speaks the truth!

      Except iirc Radeon 6850 ~ GTX 460(1GB), 6870 ~ 560, 6950(2gb) ~ 560Ti. Get the one that is in your price range and is cheaper.

  31. Feldgrau says:

    PSU: Antec Earthwatts 650W (Or anything above 500W and 80+ Bronze certified)
    Case: DON’T buy a crappy cheap case. Just don’t. When you’re dropping hundreds of dollars on something consider it an investment and don’t be stingy. Go for a Coolermaster CM690II. It’s not too expensive, has great cooling and (most importantly) has fantastic cable management.

  32. Wunce says:

    This article would have been useful 5 months ago when I set about building my own computer with pretty much no knowledge about hardware. Sure I probably could have got better deals but somehow I became the local expert on what computers will run what games decently.

    Also make sure you have a PSU over 550W as high end cards require quite a lot of power and low power is a fast way to mess up your entire system

    • Outright Villainy says:

      I can vouch for this, /buildapc was really helpful with all my questions when I was building. The links in the sidebar are great too.

  33. zind says:

    The Corsair AX-series (or the Seasonic X-series) are the only PSUs I’ll buy right now. They are bloody fucking brilliant. They run super-quiet (the fan rarely turns on during normal use) and are modular and 80+ gold rated for efficiency.

    As far as graphics cards manufacturers go, I cannot recommend MSI enough. Their non-reference cooling designs are tops, and their software utilities are great; not to mention the 3-year warranty. Sure, it’s no lifetime (RIP BFG Tech), but it’s good.

    For CPU cooling I’d recommend one of the Corsair H-series coolers if you don’t want to go full-out with a water-cooled build. They’re quiet and work as good or better than more expensive air coolers, especially if you’re running a cheap case.

    I’m still running an i7-920 CPU cooled by an H70, 6gb OCZ RAM, with an MSI gtx580 and a Corsair AX850 PSU, stuffed inside an Antec 300 case. I’m waiting till Ivy Bridge for my next major upgrade.

  34. Jim Rossignol says:

    Quite a lot of disagreement on PSUs here. Is there any way to be definitive about what’s needed?

    • Item! says:

      I always start by using an online calculator (http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp) to get an approximate idea of what is needed for the PC I am building.

      Unfortunately the Ampage on the 12v rail is as important if not more so than the total wattage output and this particular calculator keeps that information secret unless you subscribe…

      Stick with the major brands; Corsair (my preference!), Coolermaster, Thermaltake etc, overcook it a little to allow for future expansion and you should be fine.

      FWIW I have a Corsair TX850w which is ample for my i2500k and SLI GTX 570 setup.

    • Gaz says:

      A good name brand, enough power to give you wiggle room to overclock and if you think you may make an upgrade to the system in teh not too distant future. Better to spend a little more on a PSU initially if you think you might upgrade your GPU or w/e in teh future than have to buy a new GPU and PSU at teh same time.

    • Gaz says:

      @Item! Agreed about Corsair, a little more expensive but extremely reliable and PSU is the last thing you want going wrong.

    • Binary77 says:

      I’m using a Coolermaster Silent M Pro 600w PSU, which powers my overclocked intel i7 with ease. I’ve even ran SLI cards with it in the past, so it’ll give you plenty of juice.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      There are calculators on the internet, but those often give you inflated numbers. I got advice for my PC from two different computer boards online and let a mix of convergent opinions and information from various articles and reports lead my way.

      Edit: I second the above comments about major brands to an extend. Don’t spend too little on your PSU, there are a lot of problematic models out there. This is especially true for but not limited to cheap models from no-name brands. Mine is the Super Flower Golden Green Pro 450W ATX 2.3. It has good energy efficiency, is absolutley quiet and got good grades in hardware tests.

    • Premium User Badge dangermouse76 says:

      I have heard mainly positive stuff about Corsair, but again for my money Seasonic AMPS ( S12 ii and above 520w is mine ) have good 12v rail and consistant supply very quiet. And I think not too expensive mine was £67.

      Plus a good selection of leads 2 x PCI being a plus point for me.

      On choosing I would say give your self a 10-20 % overhead for upgrades and also a power supply will degrade over time and will not actually output it’s stated wattage.

    • zind says:

      If there is one piece of a computer that you don’t want to skimp on it’s the PSU, because when those fail they can take other parts with them (especially the cheap ones, which are also more likely to fail).

      You also don’t want to get a PSU that just barely covers what your parts are pulling, which is why a lot of online calculators give higher numbers than you’d expect. PSUs run best at lower loads (although the Corsair AX-series (and Seasonic X-series) run phenomenally under load, too), generating less heat and just generally performing better.

      As a general guideline you want to stick to a brand you’ve heard general good things about, and don’t pick a less-ideal PSU just because it’s cheaper – the power supply is the one piece of a computer you shouldn’t hesitate to pay full price for. That’s not to say that there aren’t cheaper ones available that work well, but I wouldn’t risk some bargain basement no-name brand I had never heard of just because it would save me 20 bucks.

      Generally for a one-GPU, non-OC system with a reasonable number of drives, 750W is a good number, although you can definitely get away with less. I prefer to have the extra overhead though, because it’s often cheaper to grab a second GPU and SLI/Crossfire than it is to buy the new top-of-the-line single card, for a similar performance boost.

    • Askeladd says:

      A small list of PSU’s that proved to be good:

      Antec (EarthWatts D; TruePower [New, Trio, Quattro (-OC)] High Current [Pro, Gamer];
      High Current Gamer Plus (= TruePower New), Signature; CP-850/1000, VP 550W)
      - ADATA (HM-xxxx, BNxxx)
      - Andyson (K Series)
      - Amacrox (Free Earth 88+[AXxxx-88FE], Pure Gold; Free Earth 85+)

      - be quiet (Straight Power E7 (CM); Straight Power E8 (CM); Dark Power Pro P9)
      - Chieftec (Nitro BPS-xxxC [ab 550W: CWT PSHII], Nitro 88+)
      - Cooler Master (Silent Pro; RealPower Pro [ab 850W])

      [...]

      - CompuCase/HEC (300/350TA-2WX, Win+, 350TB-2WK, xxxTB-2WX)
      - Corsair (AX, HX, TX, TX V2, VX, GS, CX 400W)
      - Enermax (Pro/Modu 87+, Revolution 85+, Pro/Modu82+ [II], Liberty ECO [II], MaxRevo, Platimax)
      - EVGA (Classfield SR-2 [identical to Antec TruePower Quattro 1200W OC-Version])
      - FSP (60GHN(85), 60HHN(85), 60EPN(80), Everest 85 Plus, Aurum [CM], 60EGA(90), 60EGN(90))
      - GlacialPower (GP-AX)

      [...]

      - LC Power (Legion X2)
      - NesteQ (ASM XZero)
      - OCZ (Zxxx, ZxxxM Modular; ZX; ZS; Fatal1ty 700W [Imprevio-Basis] and 750W)
      - PC Power&Cooling (Silencer [MK-II]; Turbo-Cool)
      - Sharkoon (Rush Power M/C)
      - Sapphire (FirePSU, PurePSU)
      - Seasonic (S12II, M12II, M12D, X-Series [Fanless], S12 Energy Plus)
      - Silver Power (SP-SSxxx)
      - Huntkey (Jumper 300G; 300G “Planet3DNow-Edition”; X7 1200W)
      - High Power (Plus Gold)
      - In Win (Commander II [750-850W]; Glacier)
      - Jou Jye (BITWIN [BW-BxxxJL])

      - Silverstone (Element PLUS; Element [till 600W: Enhance; from 600W: Seventeam / FSP] [excluding ST85EF 850W];
      Strider [STxxF; SST-STxxxx]; Zeus [STxxZF]; Strider Plus from 600W ; NightJar 300-450W)
      - SevenTeam (V-Force)
      - Tagan (SuperRock, PipeRock II, PipeRock III)
      - Thermaltake (Toughpower XT [TPX-x75M], Toughpower Grand [excluding 1200W-model])
      - Thortech (Thunderbolt (Plus))
      - XFX (Black Edition, XXX Edition, Core Edition PRO [[Basis: Seasonic S12II on 450-550W;
      - Zalman (HP [PLUS] [xxxx-HP; xxxx-HP Plus])

    • Muzman says:

      The main thing to remember when it comes to PSUs is you can be fairly certain all the cheap ones are basically lying about their capacity. They get away with it because most people’s computers don’t draw full current very often.
      Read up on a review or two of some $40 “550w” job. Read as it fails at 350w. Be afraid.

    • Wahngrok says:

      There is a good set of articles on tomshardware about PSUs:

      Why a cheap PSU is almost never a good idea: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/low-cost-psu-pc-power-supply,2862.html

      Efficiency Ratings and their meanings: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/power-supply-psu-review,2916-5.html

      Picking a PSU for your needs: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/power-supply-psu-review,2916.html

      Who really manufactures which PSU: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/power-supply-oem-manufacturer,2913.html

    • Shooop says:

      Depends entirely on what you plan to do in the future Jim. PSUs usually outlive everything else in your case so it’s not a terrible idea to get a little more than you need for future-proofing.

      My suggestion about the 1200W only applies if you want to go dual high-end GPU and not even think about replacing it for a decade or so.

    • Srethron says:

      As far as I can tell, the real stat that matters on a power supply are two:
      First, whether it is unrated, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum certified. Stay away from unrated. Most Bronze is good enough. Go for Gold or better if you have the money.

      The second stat is something called the amps on the 12v rail. Sparing the tech babble, this is the part of the power supply which will be powering your video card. Good enough is any 12v rail with 30A or greater. Future proof is anything with 50A or greater. The current thing to watch out for is manufacturers have started trying to sell power supplies with multiple 12v rails at a lower voltage. For example, I ended up with a 750W with *4* 12v rails, each at only 18A. :( It’s fine for my mid-range system, but if I ever upgrade, I’m going to need to get a better PSU. Which sucks, because 750W should be more than enough.

      If you live in North America I recommend buying from Newegg. They list all of these stats, usually have free shipping, and have a the-customer-is-always-right return policy.

      For wattage you just want 500W or higher if your graphics card is mid range or non-bleeding edge. If it’s higher you want 600+, more for multiple graphics cards.

      I am not a lawyer, consult your doctor, etc. etc.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      something called the amps

      Do they not teach basic electrical circuits in high school physics anymore?

      Buy Corsair. Buy a bit over what the calculators say you need. Done.

    • Srethron says:

      They did for me. It’s just how I speak.

    • Sleepymatt says:

      Also bit-tech/CPC have a very recent round up of PSU’s in two articles:

      PSU’s over 600W

      PSU’s under 600W

      My general thoughts would be allow yourself a good bit of headroom with the wattage, so you can run your PSU at 50-80% load:

      1) it allows for future upgrades (and the PSU and case are probably the only things that might last you over a decade)
      2) all PSUs will lose the ability to run at full load over time, so you will need at least a bit of leeway (not as much as I’m suggesting though)
      3) it usually will run a bit quieter and cooler too.

      Also if you can afford a modular PSU, it will make tidy cabling MUCH easier – this is not just for looks, but for better airflow in your case and therefore better cooling.

    • thedosbox says:

      Just noticed this, but I have posted some power consumption results in an earlier comment:

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/09/29/help-everyone-build-a-gaming-pc/#comment-812904

      However, if you want to take a worst-case approach, you can use the official TDP for each component (easily found via google) as a rough guide:

      CPU = 95W
      Video = 170W (for a stock-clocked Geforce 560 Ti)
      Motherboard/RAM = 50W
      HDD = 11W

      Total = 326W

      Almost all (>90%) of that will be on the 12V rail. However, it’s a good idea to leave a bit of headroom above that – if only so the PSU fan won’t be spinning at full speed and causing a racket.

      Anyone looking to learn more about PSU’s should read silentpcreview’s long and excellent primer:

      http://www.silentpcreview.com/article28-page1.html

      For PSU reviews, jonnyguru.com, hardwaresecrets.com and silentpcreview.com all do very thorough and geeky tests.

      For power consumption measurements, anandtech and techreport will provide system level measurements at the wall when they test CPU’s and/or video cards. However, this is usually ~15% higher than the power output of the PSU due to losses in AC-DC conversion.

  35. Stomatopodal Pride says:

    A few comments:
    · Audio
    I reckon that purchasing a soundcard is not a good investment if your build lacks a decent set of headphones/speakers, in which case you would be better off improving on those first; that said, there are a few notable products around, but the demise of EAX means that they are much more relevant for music than gaming.
    · Case
    I would recomment investing more on that: a good case, aesthetics aside, usually offer better cooling and easier assembling, maintenance. The aforementioned Fractal Design produces good cases; another interesting, quality-over-price option I have recently stumbled upon is the BitFenix Shinobi case.
    · PSU
    The main recommendation is to avoid no-brand units; choose among brands such as Enermax, Seasonic, Antec, Corsair, OCZ, et similia. Secondly, anything over 550W is overkill unless you are planning to use SLI/Crossfire.
    · Memory
    I think this is a good time to transition to 8GB, as many games are already recommending 4GB in their specification requirements. Timings and clock speeds barely (read: unnoticeably) affect you unless you are planning to heavily overclock your system (even i5 2500K @4+GHz often uses standard 1600MHz RAM, e.g. http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=BU-080-OE).
    · Storage
    Avoid cheap SSDs. SSD technology is maturing, but it is not yet at the point where a product from the budget segment can be relied upon.

    • moarage says:

      I agree, don’t get sound card get some good quality speaker or headphone if you are a real audiophile

  36. mkultra says:

    Any model of Seasonic is generally going to par or best the majority of other brand PSUs. You pay extra, especially for modular, but their level of performance, efficiency and – more importantly – reliability is money well spent if you’re one of those old lady gamers who want peace of mind.

  37. Chris D says:

    I’d be interested to know what you could get for under £200. What kind of PC can you get for about the same as you’d spend on a console. Alternatively if you want something with approximately the same performance as a console how cheap can you do it?

  38. D3xter says:

    This might be helpful, I pop it up every now and then when console gamers are trying to make the argument of “how expensive” PC gaming is: http://tinyurl.com/falconguide

    It’s a picture guide with lots of colors that offers PC buying choices in increments from 220 to 1500$ (yeah it’s in dollah’s) and is color-coded for “red” (it’s a piece of shit, but will run some games), “yellow” (eh… but will run most/all games on somewhat lowered settings), “green” (we’re getting there), “blue” (will run almost all games at max. settings) and “pink” (you’ve got a lot of money and don’t know what to do with it).
    Also, the guy that made it usually updates it once a month.

  39. Derppy says:

    PSU: Corsair HX650 or to be safe with future SLI upgrade, HX750(?).

    PSU is often overlooked, but a quality PSU ensures safety and long lifespan for your components and saves you from all sorts of weird problems, at least when you push the PSU to it’s limits.

    Corsair PSU’s are high quality and at least HX-models have modular cables, which lets you avoid some of the cable mess inside your case. HX650 might be enough even for GTX 560ti SLI, but I said HX750 because I’m not completely sure about it.

    I think it’s a good idea to throw in a few extra bucks to get a PSU that fits SLI / Crossfire builds, even if you aren’t currently planning to make one. The day when your rig is running out of juice will come sooner than you think and you’ll be glad if you can just throw in another GPU and gain a big boost in performance. If your PSU doesn’t support it, you’d have to buy a completely new one, which is way more expensive than the price difference between 650 and 750w PSU’s.

  40. thebigJ_A says:

    Hooray! I’m currently saving up to build a new pc (first time building myself, scared).

    Quick, rig to run open world games like Skyrim as well as possible for say $800-1000. Go!

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      You are me some months ago. :) You can do it! It’s not rocketscience, just read up some explanations and guides and you should be fine. To be perfectly honest: I got sweaty hands everytime I entered the kitchen with my components lying on the table. Never realised how thick my finger were before that.

  41. Squashyware says:

    2500k
    MSI P67A-GD53 Mobo
    8GB Corsair Vengeance 1.5v

    Monitor – Dell U2311H or whatever they replaced it with

  42. moarage says:

    For limited BUDGET build, but that would still last you a few years:

    Cpu: AMD’s are inferior to intel, however superior in price performance and nowadays you get gpu bottlenecked more often than cpu(heck any quad-cores nowadays are sufficient and overkill).
    Get a Phenom x4 955/965 BE edition

    HSU: stick with stock if you don’t plan on overclocking(or extreme overclocking, otherwise hyper 212 plus is best bang for your buck

    mobo: mother board for AMD cpu’s are cheaper and can be upgraded for bulldozer with bios update, I have the Asus M4A89 for example.

    Ram: don’t go for gaming ram, Kingston’s DDR3 1337 valueram’s are best bang for your buck, go for 4GB dual channel. Or 8 if you are paranoid and run lots of applications. Rams are considered reusable(if they are compatible).

    Case: do yourself a favor and get a slightly more expensive full aluminum case(Lian Li is a good brand). Reason is that it gives you better cooling; sure you might rather settle down with a 30 bucks ricer case with a side window, however to get your ideal temperature you might end up have to install tons of case fans making it sounds like a goddamn airplane. For Lian Li cases 2-3 fans running at low to mid speed usually does the job. (If you insist you can still rice it up with some led fans ;P)

    PSU: again do yourself a favor and get a slight more expensive quality one, I recommend Corsair. Wattage depends mostly on your gpu, 650 watt does the job in most situations, might 750-850W if you are planning to crossfire. PSU are only considered reusable if you have a good quality brand one and if they aren’t too ancient.

    HDD: Get a Samsung Spinpoint F3 or WD Cavier Black as your main drive. There is no need for SSD’s for budget builds as they only improve load times. Either get 1tb or 500 gb(or even less if you are low on budget) but no more than 1tb, but do note that you want all you games on this drive. Optional: For storage get eco/ green drives(5400 rpm)with size to your own preference.

    GPU: Again AMD for best best price/performance, anything from 6850 to 6950 would do the job. Sapphire/XFX for the cheapest price and Asus/MSI for reliability. Anything better would be an overkill for 1920 x 1080 resolutions. I do not recommend Crossfire/SLI as they scale different with different games(not to mention it’s problematic with some games) and single cards gives you more stable and predictable performance. Mobo’s with single pci-e express slot are usually cheaper as well.

    Monitor: get something with DVI

    OS: there are safe ways to get windows 7 with out spending 1 cent(wink wink)

    Keep in mind I’m talking about best bang for your buck here and not some ultimate gaming pc.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I was waiting for someone to mention AMD CPUs. When you look at the performance comparisons, AMDs are only fractionally inferior to Intel chips, and last time I checked, they cost rather significantly less. If a Ferrari and a Lamborghini race and one beats the other by half a second, it doesn’t make the loser a bad car, especially if it is significantly cheaper than the winner. It makes no sense to me to pay as much over the odds as Intel chips tend to command for such a small advantage.

  43. Moni says:

    A decent case is a worthwhile investment.

    The amount of blood, sweat and tears a case can save you is completely worth it.

    Look for nice things like: Slide out trays, hard drive enclosures, screwless design, and in-built cable management.

    • Diziet Sma says:

      I totally agree. Though my case is lovely it is lacking in cable management.

  44. Diziet Sma says:

    I can only personally weigh in the PSU requirements and I really really recommend a corsair. They’re good, reliable and the warranty is excellent. Mine failed on me a few months before the time warranty was up, contacted them, returned it and they sent me back a brand new one with the warranty. So I have a good PSU that I won’t need to replace with another 5 year warranty. Very very happy with that service.

    Although you do have to post the PSU abroad (holland IIRC). It’s still worth it in terms of money saved.

    Now I’m finally employed again I hope to fully upgrade my rig in the next few months, the only bits not going in the spree will be the corsair PSU and my posh alu case both of which I’ve now owned for over 5 years and were money well spent. £100± on each.

  45. puppybeard says:

    I have a Fractal Design R3 Silver Arrow case winging it’s way to me as I speak. Lovely looking tower (in a brutalist kind of way) and lots of places for extra fans.

    Extra fans, I’m led to believe are a great bump for your machine’s cooling, expecially when they’re only five or six quid.

    • moarage says:

      I considered that as well, but they seem kinda a pain the ass to open the front panel every time you want cooling.

      the Fractal Design Arc however, looks wonderful

    • puppybeard says:

      I know what you mean. I do like how neat it looks when it’s closed though, so there’s a trade-off there.
      Personally my last desktop had a front door I had to open to use dvds, and that was pre-Steam, so I’m used to it.

  46. Derppy says:

    20£ case for a rig like this would be a horrible decision.

    You’ll want something with good airflow, high-end components tend to generate a lot of heat and while they don’t get broken from overheating, higher temperatures require faster fan speeds, which generate more noise.

    A good case also makes the assembly process nearly enjoyable experience and you won’t be afraid to throw in new components in the future.

    Fractal Design R3 is a pretty popular case among gamers and for a good reason. It’s a quality case with good airflow and costs around 100$. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811352004

    If you want a really silent case, you might want to look for a case with noise absorption foam and silent fans, or buy them separately and apply them to your case of choice.

    Personally I’m using Nexus EDGE, it’s a very good, silent case and has a ton of room for components and cables, but it’s also massive (Full-tower ATX) and weights a ton. http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-Nexus_EDGE_full_tower_case_with_noise_absorption_foam.htm (Sells for roughly 180$)

    Oh, nearly forgot: As a warning if you are interested in the Nexus EDGE, make sure your PSU cables are long enough to reach from the bottom of the case to your mobo and GPU(s). I had to get an extension cable for 8-pin PCI-E connector.

  47. Olero says:

    I just finished building my very first custom build PC, so here are my mistakes so you can avoid them. I’ve tried to keep them general, but if needed, I’ll post the details:

    - Check if your DDR3 memory + big (non-stock) CPU cooler will cause conflicts on your motherboard. Motherboards these days seem be giving you all the options, but sadly not always at the same time. My memory sticks were too high, so I had to buy low profile ones instead.
    - Check the layout of your motherboard! Sure, the PCI/E-1 slot is on the board. However, the heatsink an inch further won’t let you install any card in it! And I’m sure this goes for other slots/options as well on different mobo’s. I had to install my soundcard into another PCI/E slot because of this.
    - Check if your DVD-writer/blu-ray player isn’t too long to collide with components inside/of the case. I had to mount it in a lower 5.25″ bay, looking a little stupid.
    - So you bought a big case? Check if your PSU cables are long enough (especially for cable management!). I had to buy an extra SATA cable because my SSD couldn’t be reached (well enough to manage the cable)
    - Check the specs of your parts. I had a card reader I could’ve sworn it was 5.25″. It was 3.5″, so I had to buy an extra adaptor bracket
    - Do you really need that big monitor? I bought a 27″ monitor, which is awesome. However, my desk is, though I hate to admit it, a little too small to be able have a good view. The monitor is a little too close for comfort. So 24/23″ is good enough most of the time!

    I must admit, I had expected to make a whole lot more mistakes. Alas, “better luck” next time

  48. piphil says:

    Should the total price include a copy of Windows 7, given that I would imagine the majority of gamers are running Windows (I’m going to start an argument aren’t I) and many have OEM copies that won’t transfer from their last PC?

    I get a little annoyed when sites/magazines claim “A PC FOR LESS THAN £500!!111122!?” when that doesn’t include the OS, which makes the hardware somewhat redundant. I understand this article is explicitly about hardware, but the final price should include this in my opinion.

    In before “Micro$oft tax” comments…

    • johnpeat says:

      I know people who’ve spent £1000s on their PCs but who pirate Windows because “it’s overpriced”.

      It’s that level of massive retardedness which gives PCs a bad name.

      Any PC prive should include a copy of W7 Home Prem – that’s about £85??

      The odd person who has a legally transferrable OS can just rub their hands together – the rest of us need to factor-in that cost.

    • hoobajoo says:

      The cost of Win 7 can vary so much, between upgrade deals, student discounts, bundling with other parts and other deals, that it generally isn’t informative to include it.