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Help Everyone Build A Gaming PC

The Wisdom (?) Of Crowds

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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.

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Jim Rossignol

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