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LowKey
18-06-2012, 05:38 PM
Hello pals! Bit of backstory, I am looking at getting a new PC but being extremely technically incompetent I dont really relish building one. What I would like is a reasonably priced desktop that I could then upgrade part by part, which I think might be a bit easier? Anyway I was looking at this refurbished one from dell (http://outlet.euro.dell.com/Online/AccessoriesAndWarranties.aspx?familyId=1423&categoryId=SD&c=uk&l=en&s=dfh&cs=ukdfh1&suid=57cd2860)and wondered what you thought? Specs are as follows:

Processor: Intel Core i3-2120 (3.30GHz, 3MB L3 Cache, 2C),
1 TB 3.5inch SATA III Hard Drive (7200 RPM),
Memory : 4GB (4x1GB) 1333MHz Dual Channel Memory
Graphics: 1 GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GT 545,
English Genuine Windows 7 SP1 Home Premium (64Bit OS)
8X DVD+/-RW Drive, Wireless : Dell Wireless 802.11g/n

Comes to around £480 after VAT, I am not looking for a powerhouse, just something that will play something like the Witcher 2 at a reasonable pace.

Many thanks for any advice.

Feldspar
18-06-2012, 07:40 PM
Not sure about that processor when it comes to gaming, a 2 minute search came up with dinopc.com (UK company)

CPU:
Intel Core i5 3450
Operating System:
MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Motherboard:
Asus P8H61-M LE/USB3
Memory:
4GB DDR3 1333mhz
Hard Drives:
500GB S-ATAII 3.0Gb/s
Optical Drive:
22x DVD±RW DL S-ATA
Graphics card:
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1GB
Sound card:
Onboard 7.1 Audio
Case:
Xigmatek Asgard + Xigmatek 400W PSU
Warranty:
3 Year Platinum Warranty

at £489 inc VAT, looks like it's on offer (or just about to be replaced as a model)

When it comes to upgrading, memory, graphics card and hard drive are all easy, usually it's not worth upgrading a processor without the motherboard, so you'll probably want to pay attention in that department.

db1331
18-06-2012, 08:26 PM
You should really, REALLY reconsider building your own. There are guides online that are no more difficult to follow than the instructions that come with LEGOs. If you can match colors and shapes, you can build a PC. At least go on Newegg once you've decided what PC you want to buy, and see how much the individual components would cost. You will either save yourself a couple hundred bucks, or get something more powerful for the same amount of money.

LowKey
18-06-2012, 08:37 PM
Oh looks interesting! The pc next to that one has the same spec except a larger hard drive and more ram but different processor and motherboard for 20 quid less, presumably a poorer processor? as follows:

AMD Fx 4100 AM3+
Asus M5A78L -/MUSB3

Thanks for your help!

Edit: unfortunately I am im the uk so no newegg i think? Ill take your advice on comparing parts though thanks!

lasikbear
18-06-2012, 09:13 PM
Amazon is a surprisingly good place to find deals on parts if you decide to build your own. Its a little weird as its often a bundle deal (buy this processor and this power source together for 45% off) and the page for one of the items in the bundle may have a different offer than another. Worth looking around to hopefully find 2 or 3 things you are looking for at a nice discount, but it doest take some effort.

LaunchJC
18-06-2012, 09:46 PM
Can't give great advice on the parts, but if you're worried about building one - DON'T BE! I had basically no (so none) technical knowhow but its all pretty simple if you have a good guide or two to follow.

LowKey
18-06-2012, 10:07 PM
Ok guys many thanks for the advice, I'll have a look on amazon and if I can get some good prices I may put it together myself after all, cheers!

Feldspar
18-06-2012, 10:31 PM
Yeah, building your own PC gives you that "I built this" satisfaction that is so hard to get in this day and age.

byteCrunch
18-06-2012, 10:36 PM
If you can go for a Sandy Bridge, an i5 2500k to be exact, the Ivy Bridge CPUs aren't much of an upgrade, and the 2500k is great for overclocking, you should be able to get an OEM version quite cheap, certainly less than an Ivy Bridge.

On the GPU front, I would recommend a last gen AMD card, the 6870 is really good and can comfortably max out most games at 1080p, you can pick them up just over a £100 at the moment.

Finally never get a cheap PSU, you will only regret it when it goes pop and takes your PC with it, a good one will last you a very long time, I have another PC that's running a Seasonic PSU, still going strong after 8 years, expensive but worth it.

Building a PC isn't that difficult, it really is just a case of slotting things in the right places, and hooking up some cables.

FriendlyFire
19-06-2012, 04:02 AM
The one thing I can suggest when building your own: find a good case. It's not necessary, but the difference between a poorly designed case and a well laid out one can be dramatic when you're doing your first build. Something roomy enough with tool-less bays and ample back space for wiring is ideal. I can't really recommend a specific case (everyone has their own preferences), but do read reviews and watch out for it. You don't need to pay top dollar for one either, there are plenty of well-designed cases for very reasonable prices.

I also can't stress enough how byteCrunch is right about a PSU. This is one thing you just don't want to skimp on. At worst, a poor GPU/CPU means your games won't run as fast as they could. A poor PSU could mean your entire computer is turned into a pile of junk and all data is fried. Trust me, I had that happen. Corsair, Seasonic, Antec are all reputable brands, though you can surely find more.

One last thing would be to avoid i3s as much as possible. They're basically Intel's gimped line, since they're all dual-core CPUs in an era where just about any offering (outside of laptops, obviously) should be quad-core. You can get a low end i5 for a similar price to a top end i3, but the additional cores are worth it. If you can spring for a K series (unlocked multiplier), you'll be able to eke out even more out of it later down the line if you want to try your hand at overclocking (which really is so much easier and safer than it was). I'd even go for an AMD FX instead of i3s. Since they're struggling on the high end they tend to make fairly sweet deals on the low end, which can be profitable when your budget isn't enormous.

LowKey
19-06-2012, 08:46 AM
Wonderful advice chaps i very much appreciate it

thenagus
19-06-2012, 10:11 AM
One last thing would be to avoid i3s as much as possible. They're basically Intel's gimped line, since they're all dual-core CPUs in an era where just about any offering (outside of laptops, obviously) should be quad-core. You can get a low end i5 for a similar price to a top end i3, but the additional cores are worth it. If you can spring for a K series (unlocked multiplier), you'll be able to eke out even more out of it later down the line if you want to try your hand at overclocking (which really is so much easier and safer than it was). I'd even go for an AMD FX instead of i3s. Since they're struggling on the high end they tend to make fairly sweet deals on the low end, which can be profitable when your budget isn't enormous.

I'm not sure I'd agree with this, especially if you're building on a budget. I put together a PC last christmas, and went for an i3 2100 so I could afford a better GPU (560ti). And it was totally fine: everything I threw at it ran perfectly on maximum settings, including Witcher 2 (without ubersampling). When I looked it up, I'm pretty sure gaming benchmarks put the i3 on a par with many of AMD's quad cores. Eg. See this:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-fx-pentium-apu-benchmark,3120-10.html

Also, and intel based system offers a much better upgrade path!

In any case, as far as I can tell, 90% of games nowadays are much more GPU heavy than CPU heavy. I don't think there are many games which really benefit from quad core, and not many games where a high end GPU won't make more of a performance difference than a high end CPU....

djbriandamage
19-06-2012, 09:29 PM
As much as I love building my own PC, I'm not sure I'd recommend it as wholeheartedly as the others if you've never done it before. Best to do it with supervision, or perhaps to pick out the parts yourself and have a local PC shop put it together for you. It's easier than ever to hook everything up today but there are still a few harrowing moments where you must apply physical force to some expensive and delicate parts. Even the most seasoned PC builders' hearts stop for a moment while attaching a heat sink to a CPU, for example.

If there's any way you can bump up your budget a bit it would add significant longevity to your PC. An i3 processor and that GT545 GPU won't cut the mustard for long and may not give you a great experience with Witcher 2. Spending a little more up front will ensure your PC is still enjoyable a few years from now which will significantly reduce your price per year. The closer your PC spec is to the low end, the more significant each additional dollar becomes.

Of course, no matter what you buy there's always something better so you have to draw the line somewhere. Don't rush into it - do some homework and put together a list of components, then speak to a few PC stores for their advice and get a feel for who you trust to make the purchase and, if you choose, build it for you. The less of a hurry you're in, the more satisfied you ought to be.

Fumarole
19-06-2012, 09:45 PM
Even the most seasoned PC builders' hearts stop for a moment while attaching a heat sink to a CPU, for example.This is truth right here. I've built many PCs over the years, with the most recent one being two days ago. My heart does indeed skip a beat every time I attach a fan and heat sink to a CPU. I've yet to try a liquid cooling system as I'd probably bork the installation and short my system out.

LowKey
19-06-2012, 09:57 PM
Thats the sort of thing i feared, i think your right that if i am making a failry substantial investment then theres no point scrimping, relatively speaking, lots of food for thought, i might give it a while longer to make a better buy later on, side bar for desktops does anyone have any good suggestions for sellers, that dionpc one does look good

FriendlyFire
20-06-2012, 02:39 AM
@thenagus: Actually, there's a fairly sizable (and growing) chunk of games that are becoming CPU-bound. There's only so much you can offload to the GPU. AI, physics, logic, gameplay, interaction, and fair chunks of the rendering pipeline just have to go through the CPU, which means skimping on it might be a little sketchy.

I'll agree that a bigger GPU might be a more immediate buff, but I've always said that it's best to build something balanced. Further, it's just soooo much easier to swap in a bigger GPU than it is to swap a new CPU. Oh and, unless you use your computer for nothing but gaming, a quad CPU will help out whenever you're running parallelizable algorithms (video processing, compression...), running multiple applications at the same time, etc.

sinomatic
20-06-2012, 10:05 AM
If you're looking for sellers, rather than building it yourself, I can recommend Chillblast.com. Can only speak for myself of course, but the service I had from them was great, you can customise your pc (like most places these days) and most importantly for me: 2 year warranty included in the price.

I've also used pcspecialist.co.uk in the past too, though that was a few years ago now. They were pretty good for me then though.

baboonanza
20-06-2012, 10:07 AM
This is truth right here. I've built many PCs over the years, with the most recent one being two days ago. My heart does indeed skip a beat every time I attach a fan and heat sink to a CPU. I've yet to try a liquid cooling system as I'd probably bork the installation and short my system out.
That's nothing compared to the feeling you get when you power it on for the first time and get some horrible error. Usually it's only a cable I forgot to plug in though :)

Kamikaze-X
20-06-2012, 12:58 PM
That's nothing compared to the feeling you get when you power it on for the first time and get some horrible error. Usually it's only a cable I forgot to plug in though :)It's only really Intels terrible push pin mounting method that is actually horrible to try and use to mount a heatsink. most after market Heatsinks and the all in one water cooling kits just use a backplate and bolts, so its really bloody easy to do.

FriendlyFire
20-06-2012, 11:09 PM
Actually, I feel like the cooler isn't so bad. It's the latch holding the CPU that scares the shit out of me. I could hear the entire thing crunching as I pushed ridiculously hard to lock it in place. Took me 30 minutes because I was scared I was doing it wrong and didn't want to break over 500$ of equipment.

The cooler, at least the one I use, was a breeze to install.

djbriandamage
21-06-2012, 03:40 PM
It's the latch holding the CPU that scares the shit out of me. I could hear the entire thing crunching as I pushed ridiculously hard to lock it in place. Took me 30 minutes because I was scared I was doing it wrong and didn't want to break over 500$ of equipment.

This made me smile! I know the feeling all too well. I had much scarier experiences with AMD chips than Intel for some reason, but both make my heart skip a beat when I have to crank down that CPU actuator lever.

The really annoying thing is that this technology is known as "ZIF" - Zero Insertion Force. What an annoying name. This refers to the fact that you can just drop the CPU into its socket on the motherboard and it slides smoothly in, but ignores that frigging slot machine lever from hell that you have to crank down to keep the sucker in place!