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Asokn
06-01-2013, 02:59 PM
Hello,

I have finally made my decision to buy a new desktop PC and would appreciate any suggestions as I have not bought a new system for many years and have no idea what to get!

My budget is approximately £900.00 although I could go slightly higher for the right system. I have a good monitor so for that price I'd be looking to buy a base unit, mouse and keyboard. I want to use my PC for gaming and, in particular, playing strategy and simulation games which are not available on console. I have a PS3 which I use all the time but I miss my Civilization, Crusader Kings etc and I would really like to benefit from the generally higher quality graphics that the PC provides for multi-platform games. Having said that I don't really care for the latest FPS games so I'm not needing a computer which is absolutely cutting edge. I would like the ability to upgrade in the future rather than being stuck with a unit which I would have to replace wholesale as the years roll by.

I appreciate that this may increase the price but I would only buy from either an established online retailer like Amazon or a well known chain store, preferably the latter so that I can see my system before I buy it. I live in the UK and should be able to locate all of the major shops in a fairly short distance to me.

Also, and this is very much an optional extra, I would like a PC which is easy to move and connect. I have a nice TV downstairs and it would be great to be able to easily move my PC from upstairs and connect it to the TV for those evenings when the girlfriend is out for a few hours and I can really settle in for a gaming session! I'd appreciate any advice as to cabling I'd need to buy for this purpose. My TV is an LG 42LM602t if that helps.

So, please make your recommendations. I will of course be happy to answer any queries that may help to narrow things down.

Thanks,

P.S. Windows 8, thoughts?

Grizzly
07-01-2013, 10:47 AM
Two neat links to get you started.
Graphic cards (http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-graphics-card-review,review-32586.html)
Cpus. (http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-cpu-review-overclock,review-32582.html)

With a 900 pound budget, you actually can build a computer that is fairly cutting edge. Just get yourself a 670 and a i5, 8 GB DDR3 ram, and you are basically settled for a long time.

Asokn
07-01-2013, 02:07 PM
Thanks for the links. I think my post was perhaps not as clear as it could have been; I'm looking to buy a complete system rather than build my own. Thanks again though.

The Tupper
07-01-2013, 03:44 PM
Thanks for the links. I think my post was perhaps not as clear as it could have been; I'm looking to buy a complete system rather than build my own. Thanks again though.

Where do you live? I know a pretty good independent shop in Glasgow if that's any use.

Asokn
07-01-2013, 04:46 PM
I'm in the Coventry/Birmingham area so a bit of a trek I'm afraid! Thanks though.

If there are any good deals online or at major retailers I'd be grateful.

Sakkura
07-01-2013, 05:10 PM
Well if you're really hot on this portability thing you could get a mini-ITX build like this Titan Mini 750 (http://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/view/Titan-Mini-750/) from PC Specialist. I'd swap the case to a BitFenix Prodigy (nice handles for carrying it around and it looks sweet), and grab a Geforce GTX 660 (or Radeon HD 7870). The games you mention really wouldn't require more graphics performance than that.
I'd also swap to the Core i5-3450S and 8 GB Kingston memory.
That takes the build to around £830, leaving a bit of money for keyboard and mouse.

As for Windows 8, it doesn't really make any difference for gaming. Get 8 or 7 based on what UI you prefer, basically.

Asokn
07-01-2013, 05:45 PM
That's really helpful, thank you very much. I'll have a play with the options and probably come back with a load of questions! Has anyone used that site before? Any thoughts?

Asokn
07-01-2013, 08:47 PM
Now that I've had a chance to try out a few of the options I have got a few questions:

1) Are all of the hardware choices on the site compatible or do I have to ensure each chosen component will in fact work with everything else?

2) Sakkura has suggested the i5 3045s processor, how does this compare to the i5 3570t and 3470t also available? Is it worth paying the extra for an i7 processor?

3) Is there any difference between the 8gb Samsung RAM and the 8gb Kingston RAM?

EDIT: I'm also looking at a standard desktop PC rather than a mini PC. There are more options but, when it comes to the CPU, what does Ivy bridge and Sandy bridge mean?

Grizzly
08-01-2013, 10:13 AM
1) Are all of the hardware choices on the site compatible or do I have to ensure each chosen component will in fact work with everything else?

They do appear to be compatible with each other.



2) Sakkura has suggested the i5 3045s processor, how does this compare to the i5 3570t and 3470t also available? Is it worth paying the extra for an i7 processor?

You will most likely never need the i7 for just about any game - the i5s are already faster then any AMD processor so far - as a result, the i7s are waaay overpriced for what they do. As for which processor to pick: The 3470 appears to be a dual core processor - you want a quad core with that budget.
The S variant of the Core series processors are "Low Power" variants. Less speed, but less power and heat.
The T Variants are "Ultra low power" variants. Even less speed, also less power and heat.
There is also a K-variant, which allows for overclocking. If you do not plan to overclock, I suggest that you do not buy this variant.
I'd say that, if you want to choose, simply go with the i5 quad core (Vital!) variant with the highest clock frequencies, as the processors are identical in every other way.



3) Is there any difference between the 8gb Samsung RAM and the 8gb Kingston RAM?

On that website, the Kingstom RAM is the faster variant. Kingston is also quite reliable - I do not know anything about the reliability of Samsung ram. Never used it.


EDIT: I'm also looking at a standard desktop PC rather than a mini PC. There are more options but, when it comes to the CPU, what does Ivy bridge and Sandy bridge mean?

Ivy bridge is the upgraded variant of the Sandy Bridge processors. They are identical or slightly faster. They use 22 nanometer transistors, as opposed to the 40nm in the Sandy Bridge. Which means that Ivy Bridge processors are much more power effeciŽnt. They do appear to run slightly warmer, though. I'd pick an Ivy Bridge over a Sandy Bridge because it saves you in the long run.

Sakkura
08-01-2013, 11:49 AM
For Intel processors, S is for Slow, T is for Terrible. :p

In a mini-ITX build, a power-saving processor may be a good idea, but no need to go all the way down to the T models. Even a regular processor without the S should be fine. Overclocking, though, is pretty limited due to cooling issues.


Ivy bridge is the upgraded variant of the Sandy Bridge processors. They are identical or slightly faster. They use 22 nanometer transistors, as opposed to the 40nm in the Sandy Bridge. Which means that Ivy Bridge processors are much more power effeciŽnt. They do appear to run slightly warmer, though. I'd pick an Ivy Bridge over a Sandy Bridge because it saves you in the long run.
Yeah, that only matters for serious overclocking though. Ivy Bridge is better in small form factor PCs (as well as laptops) because less cooling is required compared to the performance offered.

PS: I should mention that you do get somewhat less performance for your money with a small form factor PC like the one I linked. Still much better than a laptop though, and upgradeable (though a little more finicky than a full-size PC).

Asokn
08-01-2013, 12:32 PM
EDIT: I've now had a look at the full sized PC options and have come up with this idea (as an aside is there any way to link to the specific set up I chose rather than having to type out the whole thing?):


Corsair 200R Gaming Case

Processor: AMD FX 8350 Eight Core CPU [I have no real idea if this is a good CPU or not, advice please!)

Motherboard: Asus M5878L-M

RAM: Kingston 8GB Hyper X Genesis Dual DDR-3

Graphics Card: 2GB AMD Radeon HD7870

2TB Hard disk

24x DVD writer

450W Quiet 80 PLUS Power supply

Superquiet AMD CPU Cooler with 2 case fans

Firewire port, 6 USB ports

Windows 8

Logitech MK260 wireless mouse and keyboard combo




That all comes to exactly £800.00 inclusive of VAT. I was thinking of taking 16GB of RAM as its only £30.00 extra, but would I notice any difference? Could I upgrade later?

The processor is a bit of a departure from what I was looking at earlier so I would really appreciate any thoughts on it. I'm still unsure as to the best graphics card as well as there are so many options! As per my original post, I have a budget of approximately £900.00 so I'm happy to increase the cost a bit from this initial build but I'm very happy with this price at the moment!

Finally, does anyone know of a cheap or free alternative to Microsoft Office? I would need to spend nearly £100.00 to get a copy of Office 2010 which I would need to add into my overall price. I will need to use my computer for work which will require being able to read, edit and create Word and Excel documents but I vaguely remember some free alternative (Open Office or something rings a bell) which allows you to do just that. Any ideas?

Thanks as ever!

Sakkura
08-01-2013, 01:36 PM
The AMD FX 8350 is a good processor, but only for particular tasks. It has a lot of cores (8) and doesn't cost too much. However, each of its cores is relatively slow, and the processor sucks up a lot of power. Even more so if you overclock it.

For gaming, you don't really need a lot of cores. 2 is okay, 4 is basically as much as you'll benefit from in most games. You do want those cores to be as fast as possible though.

So the FX 8350 doesn't really fit the needs of gaming all that well. It's still going to do alright, but a similarly priced Intel processor would be better (= Core i5-3570k, Core i5-3470 etc).
The motherboard is an older version, so it may not support the newer FX 8350 out of the box. If you buy it in a prebuilt computer the shop would have upgraded the motherboard with a newer BIOS to support the FX 8350 though. Being an older board, it doesn't have the newest and fastest port for hard drives, SATA3. That means the performance of an SSD in that system would be held back a bit.

8 GB RAM is plenty for gaming. You would not notice any difference with 16 GB. In a full-size desktop it's easy to upgrade later. Or at least replace (adding another 8 GB to it would usually work, but there are no guarantees if the two sets of memory aren't exactly identical).

A 450W power supply is a bit on the low side for that system.

As for Office, you can try LibreOffice (http://www.libreoffice.org/download), a free alternative to MS Office. It's the spiritual successor to Open Office, which was dead for a while but has now been revived under new management, so to speak.

Finicky
08-01-2013, 02:45 PM
The new amd cpus are worthless for gaming.
Cfr : http://techreport.com/review/23246/inside-the-second-gaming-performance-with-today-cpus/3

Average framerates don't mean squat when many of the seperate frames take much longer ... you'll get a reading of 60 pfs in fraps but it'll look and feel like 25 fps because of the stutter.

Seriously, avoid at all costs.
The old amd phenom II's fare better in gaming than these new abominations.

Sakkura
08-01-2013, 03:29 PM
The new amd cpus are worthless for gaming.
Cfr : http://techreport.com/review/23246/inside-the-second-gaming-performance-with-today-cpus/3

Average framerates don't mean squat when many of the seperate frames take much longer ... you'll get a reading of 60 pfs in fraps but it'll look and feel like 25 fps because of the stutter.

Seriously, avoid at all costs.
The old amd phenom II's fare better in gaming than these new abominations.
Please stop with the misinformation. That story is from before the FX 8350 was even launched. That's what's really worthless here.

Grizzly
08-01-2013, 06:55 PM
Basically, the FX8350 is from the new line of "Piledriver" processors which are designed to fix the flaws of the old "Bulldozer" CPUs, which did have quite a few gaming problems.
However, those problems are now gone, and the FX8350 is atleast a worthy contender.

But still, I would go for the i5s, for the reasons Sakkura mentioned.

Asokn
08-01-2013, 10:52 PM
Thanks for the replies. I was on Amazon earlier and saw this:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lenovo-K410-Desktop-PC-Graphics/dp/B008MVHH96/ref=pd_cp_computers_0

I appreciate that it's a much more modest system but it does come with a more modest price. I've been thinking that for the sort of games I'm intending to play, Civilization, Crusader Kings 2, The Sims 3, The Witcher 2 etc, a cheaper system with the capacity to upgrade may be a better idea. Any thoughts?

Sakkura
09-01-2013, 12:59 AM
Nothing wrong with the general idea of going a little cheaper and potentially upgrading later, but that system looks like a poor deal. The graphics card is a step or two lower than what I would consider entry-level gaming hardware. The CPU, RAM, and hard disk are alright, but there's no info on the motherboard or power supply. So you can't really tell how upgradeable the system actually is.

Asokn
10-01-2013, 06:44 PM
Thanks for all the replies. I've decided to put this purchase on ice as I'm finding it impossible to settle on a suitable system.

trjp
10-01-2013, 11:50 PM
Thanks for all the replies. I've decided to put this purchase on ice as I'm finding it impossible to settle on a suitable system.

Assuming you didn't just ask the question to send the PC nerds into adulation over the relative merits of components - I think you might find your problem is that you're coming at the problem from the wrong angle.

If you spend time worrying about getting the absolute best possible system in every possible detail, you will never buy a PC.

If you start with a budget and try to ram as much into it as possible, you will never buy a PC either.

Here's how it works - decide what you want your PC to do (if it's play games, which ones - if it's design, what software and so on). What monitor(s) do you have/want to use?? Do you want a fancy sound system or will you play with a headset?? Would you consider part/total self-build or do you want an off-the-shelf system (more expensive, obviously)?

Once you've established that, people can point you at a system which will achieve that AND which has potential for upgrade in the future.

You then see if it fits your budget - if it does, whoopee - if it's over, we cut a few corners - if there's cash left to add some gravy.

THAT is how it works.

You have to have a solid and objective aim with this stuff - don't just aim at 'tech', you'll get lost...

Asokn
11-01-2013, 09:34 AM
Thanks. I actually think my first post covered those points (except audio but that's hardly why I'm having difficulty!). I appreciate people give their time here freely to help and I hope to read up more and maybe resurrect this thread at a later date.

SirKicksalot
13-01-2013, 03:20 AM
Two neat links to get you started.
Graphic cards (http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-graphics-card-review,review-32586.html)
Cpus. (http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-cpu-review-overclock,review-32582.html)

With a 900 pound budget, you actually can build a computer that is fairly cutting edge. Just get yourself a 670 and a i5, 8 GB DDR3 ram, and you are basically settled for a long time.

Thanks to your CPU link I decided to upgrade my rig. I had an overclocked Q6600 since 2008.
Now I bought an i5 3570K and an ASRock Z77 EXTREME4. This costs exactly 500 dollars. The rest comes from my old system - an EVGA GTX 470 (1.28Gb, bought in 2010) and 6 Gb DDR 3.

I had to install Windows from a USB stick because I forgot to buy an optical unit (old one is IDE lol). Protip: if during USB installation Windows asks you to load a driver, cancel, go back to the welcome screen, pull out the stick, insert it in a different USB slot and restart the process. Don't try to use your old Windows installation with a new motherboard.

Crysis 2 max settings, with all the DX11 stuff on at 1920x1080, floats around 30fps. Stuttering is gone. Far Cry 3 also runs A LOT better (according to this (http://www.pcgameshardware.de/Far-Cry-3-PC-217540/Tests/Far-Cry-3-Test-Grafikkarten-CPU-Benchmarks-1036726/)the jump from a Q6600 to a 3570k doubles performance). Haven't tried much else but I'm happy. The GPU will be the first thing to replace but right now it's enough for everything.

Grizzly
13-01-2013, 08:28 AM
Thanks to your CPU link I decided to upgrade my rig. I had an overclocked Q6600 since 2008.
Now I bought an i5 3570K and an ASRock Z77 EXTREME4. This costs exactly 500 dollars. The rest comes from my old system - an EVGA GTX 470 (1.28Gb, bought in 2010) and 6 Gb DDR 3.

I had to install Windows from a USB stick because I forgot to buy an optical unit (old one is IDE lol). Protip: if during USB installation Windows asks you to load a driver, cancel, go back to the welcome screen, pull out the stick, insert it in a different USB slot and restart the process. Don't try to use your old Windows installation with a new motherboard.

Crysis 2 max settings, with all the DX11 stuff on at 1920x1080, floats around 30fps. Stuttering is gone. Far Cry 3 also runs A LOT better (according to this (http://www.pcgameshardware.de/Far-Cry-3-PC-217540/Tests/Far-Cry-3-Test-Grafikkarten-CPU-Benchmarks-1036726/)the jump from a Q6600 to a 3570k doubles performance). Haven't tried much else but I'm happy. The GPU will be the first thing to replace but right now it's enough for everything.

Hey! Thanks for the info. I have roughly the same system as you have (also a q6600, and a 5770 instead of a 460, but apperently they are similar in performance), so now I also know what to upgrade next :D. Good to see it worked out for you.

Sakkura
13-01-2013, 03:35 PM
The 460 (especially the 1 GB 256-bit version) is somewhat faster than a 5770, and of course that 470 is faster still. It makes sense to keep the 470 for a while more, it's still going to do pretty well in most games.

Grizzly
14-01-2013, 01:41 AM
Ah, I misread.

Ezra
15-01-2013, 07:25 AM
I want share with you specification of my system. May you get better idea form it.
Acer Aspire V3-571-9890 15.6-Inch Laptop
Processor: 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 (6MB Cache)
RAM: 6 GB SDRAM
Hard Drive:750 GB SATA
Graphics Coprocessor Intel HD Graphics 4000
Graphics Card Ram Size: 128 MB
Processor: Brand: Intel
Processor: Count: 4 (quad core)
Computer Memory Type: SDRAM
Hard Drive Interface: Serial ATA
Hard Drive Rotational Speed: 5400 RPM
gold coast computer repair (http://techability.com.au/)

Velko
16-01-2013, 06:06 AM
I want share with you specification of my system. May you get better idea form it.
Acer Aspire V3-571-9890 15.6-Inch Laptop
Processor: 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 (6MB Cache)
RAM: 6 GB SDRAM
Hard Drive:750 GB SATA
Graphics Coprocessor Intel HD Graphics 4000
Graphics Card Ram Size: 128 MB
Processor: Brand: Intel
Processor: Count: 4 (quad core)
Computer Memory Type: SDRAM
Hard Drive Interface: Serial ATA
Hard Drive Rotational Speed: 5400 RPM

You are not a real person, are you?

Ezra
16-01-2013, 06:11 AM
You are not a real person, are you?
Yes Dear, may I, know the reason to asking this question?

Velko
16-01-2013, 03:20 PM
Yes Dear, may I, know the reason to asking this question?

Oh, nothing special. Carry on!

Asokn
31-03-2013, 01:13 PM
So, after a long break I have come across this build:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=FS-247-OE

I've then upgraded to a 1TB hard disk and added Win 8. That takes me to £731.96. My budget is about £800.00 so I was thinking of getting one of the cheaper graphics card upgrades as well, thoughts?

Edit: I wonder whether, for gaming purposes, I'd be better off with Win 7 as it seems a lot of games aren't supported by 8. Any thoughts?

Grizzly
03-04-2013, 08:34 AM
Edit: I wonder whether, for gaming purposes, I'd be better off with Win 7 as it seems a lot of games aren't supported by 8. Any thoughts?

All my games seem to work under Windows 8, so no worries there. It depends on what is cheaper for you IMO.


Seriously, you should get yourself a graphics card upgrade on that build. The 6450 really is not powerfull enough for anything that has come out recently. I highly recommeend that you get yourself a 7850 at minimum so the system will last you a while. If you are not into the latest games, a 7770 will do.

Also: usefull if you want to save a bit of money (http://www.howtogeek.com/124286/how-to-uninstall-your-windows-product-key-before-you-sell-your-pc/).

Asokn
03-04-2013, 09:17 AM
Thanks for the helpful reply. Could anyone provide any guidance on what sort of games would run on the various graphics cards? I don't need my PC to be cutting edge but I would like to know its limits before I buy.

Grizzly
03-04-2013, 11:16 AM
The best way to compare is to find benchamrks of recent games, such as this one (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/crysis-3-performance-benchmark-gaming,3451-5.html).

Sakkura
03-04-2013, 11:18 AM
The Radeon HD 6670 will run just about anything, BUT often at the lowest possible settings and/or lowered resolution (or at slideshow framerates). The HD 7770 is highly recommended, as it'll let you do most games at reasonable settings and a reasonable resolution. The HD 7850 and GTX 660 are definitely worth the extra money, but then it's almost entirely about upping the settings.

Grizzly
03-04-2013, 11:22 AM
Here's another benchmark (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/call-of-duty-black-ops-ii-performance-benchmark,3357.html).And another one (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/far-cry-3-performance-benchmark,3379.html).


The HD 7850 and GTX 660 are definitely worth the extra money, but then it's almost entirely about upping the settings.

Or longetivity. I personally think that you will save money in the long run by going with those cards.
Although my 5770 still performs very decently in games.

Asokn
03-04-2013, 05:15 PM
Thanks for the links, I will check them out and decide on an appropriate card.

On another note, I'm hoping to be able to upgrade this PC as the years go by, keeping it well specced rather than buying a new system every few years. I assume the main issue will be getting a case which allows me to get in and add things; based on the cases available in the link I've posted does anyone have any tips for a good choice?

Sakkura
03-04-2013, 05:29 PM
Corsair are generally known for cases that are easy to work with, so one of their Carbide cases might be good. The Cooler Master Storm Enforcer is also pretty decent, and the NZXT Phantom 410 got good reviews (even if I personally don't like its looks).

But I actually don't think any of those cases would pose much of a problem. They're all midrange cases or above. It mostly comes down to what pleases your eye and your wallet.

trjp
04-04-2013, 02:28 PM
On the upgrade thing - there are really only 2 approaches to PCs IMO

1 - buy newer motherboard with lower-end/older/cheaper CPU - with a view to replacing that with a higher-end model when they're cheaper in 1-2 years

2 - buy new everything and hope that standards don't change and even newer things will come long

2 doesn't really work that well anymore - we're seeing changes to chipsets which make throwing the motherboard worthwhile and that usually means a new CPU and even new memory.

I've bought 3 PCs with the intent of upgrading and never actually done it - first one because the higher-end chips never really got cheap enough, second one because the motherboard failed and current one because a new motherboard would gain me things like USB3, SATA3, DDR3 and so on.

I think what I'm saying is "buy the best PC you can afford and reckon on maybe changing the GPU or throwing in some RAM and that's it!" :)

monk
08-04-2013, 06:56 PM
What I do is go online, look at sites that have PC builder web pages or that present set-ups for particular gaming needs, then copy the specs and ask technicians in a store to put the parts together for me.