General Question

Ame_Evil's avatar

Building a gaming PC for the first time: how is this selection of components?

Asked by Ame_Evil (3033 points ) July 15th, 2010

I have read a few articles regarding building PCs, and has lead me to select this combination of components based on my needs. I was hoping for a decent gaming PC that can run stuff at 1900×1080 at decent settings (if not the best). I also use my computer to multitable poker, but I was assuming that by getting something that can run games pretty decently then it would take care of that at the same time. If I am wrong in this thinking, let me know.

I am still pretty inexperienced concerning building PCs so I wanted to check with our computer flutherite experts before going ahead and buying stuff.

So my questions are:

Is this selection of components good?
Are there other things I have missed?
Are there better products for the same price than what I have selected?

And here is the list of components.

NZXT Hades PC Case:
http://www.cclonline.com/product-info.asp?product_id=51183&tid=frooct#

AMD 785g AM3 DDR3
http://www.dabs.com/products/asus-am3-amd-785g-atx-ddr3-audio---gigabit-ethernet-64N8.html?refs=48620000-432790000

AMD Phenom II 550 3.1GHz 7mb
http://www.dabs.com/products/amd-phenom-ii-x2-550-3-1ghz-skt-am3-l2-l3-7mb-80w-pib-6NCB.html

Crucial 2gb ddr3 ram
http://www.dabs.com/products/crucial-2gb--240-pin-dimm--ddr3-pc3-10600-6B8H.html

sapphire ati radeon hd 650mhz 5770 2gb
http://www.dabs.com/products/sapphire-technology-ati-radeon-5570-hd-650mhz-2gb-pci-express-hdmi-6ZQ7.html

520W 8CM fan
http://www.dabs.com/products/best-value-520w-grey-psu-8cm-fan-sata-5HMH.html

1.8m power cable
http://www.dabs.com/products/best-value-iec-5a-uk-mains-lead-1-8m--black-2WP0.html

acer 21.5” display
http://www.crescentelectronics.co.uk/acer-h223hqabmid-lcd-display-tft-215.html

microsoft keyboard + mouse
http://www.dabs.com/products/microsoft-business-hardware-pack-ps2-usb-41XL.html

150Mbps network usb adaptor with antenna
http://www.dabs.com/products/best-value-802-11n-wireless-usb-adapter---antenna-6M1J.html

samsung 1tb 3gb 32mb
http://www.dabs.com/products/samsung-1tb-spinpoint-f3-7200rpm-sata-3gb-s-32mb-65QC.html

lg 22x optical drive
http://www.dabs.com/products/lg-electronics-22-x-dvdrw-sata-blackbare---sw-5CXT.html

surge protector
http://www.dabs.com/products/belkin-6-way-economy-surge-protector-25LZ.html

My overall budget was £600 for everything (including monitor/keyboard/mouse) and my list totals to £574 (including VAT and postage). Thanks for any help.

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36 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

I prefer more RAM, more fans and a 750 Watt Power Supply

Ame_Evil's avatar

@dpworkin The case comes with its own supply of fans, with only 1 slot remaining I think. Do I really need to buy any more? Also my friend said I didn’t really need more than 2GB of ram. I was thinking I would test with 2gb before deciding whether I needed to add more.

Finally, how do you decide how much watts you need for a PSU?

dynamicduo's avatar

Yup, you gotta boost the RAM. If you will run an OS that can handle more than 4GB of RAM, then put more than that in. Seeing your update, I disagree with your friend. You could only run games at 1280×1024 full screen max with 2gb of RAM. Any modern day game has 2GB recommended minimally, and in reality you need way more.

And as a sidenote I’m not liking that surge protector. Don’t go cheap with the one device which can save your entire system from getting fried. I use one that has a dedicated power switch and also has plugs situated far away so that bigger bulky plugs can fit in without problems. In fact mine also has the ability to protect one’s ethernet cord too, which could be another avenue for damage, though honestly I’ve never heard of it happening and don’t have mine set up.

dpworkin's avatar

I prefer excess power in case I decide to add something. I guess I missed the number of cooling fans you had. I do not think 2 Gb of RAM is at all sufficient, but to each his own.

dynamicduo's avatar

If you give us an example of a game you want to play, we can compare its stats and see if you’ll need more power.

Ame_Evil's avatar

Hmm if I need more DDR3 ram it starts to get more expensive, so I will be needing to change my motherboard altogether. Would bumping up to 4GB ram be enough?

@dynamicduo As for games, I want the ability to play pretty much anything. Some games I had in mind included: Fallout 3, Sims 3 as well as games coming out: CoD: Black Ops, FFXIV online. I intend to play MMORPGS quite a bit (like WoW, but probably not WoW).

mrentropy's avatar

I would also increase the RAM, 4GB minimum. And up the power supply. You may want to upgrade that video card someday.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@dynamicduo The ram won’t have anything at all to do with what resolution it supports. That will all come down to the graphics card.

If all you’re doing is running poker games online, you’d still want to upgrade the ram. You’d be surprised how much ram multiple browsing windows can take up.

The graphics card you’ve selected is decent, a nice middle of the road Radeon. If you want to be an enthusiast and play lag free games with graphics cranked up all the way, you may want to consider a 5750 or higher. But the 5570 graphics card is more than plenty for online poker or handling any resolution out there.

Also, the dual core processor is fine… but anymore I look at dual core systems (depending on the dual core) to be entry level. It may sound excessive now, but a quad core isn’t such a bad choice if you planned on keeping this system a while.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@Ame_Evil Also, I’ve built a few of my own systems as well, and if you need anymore help in regard to what’s good for certain things just send me a PM.

Ame_Evil's avatar

Oh I cocked up thinking that that 5570 was in fact a 5770. I swapped it out for a 5750 because it was only £93.50 and apparently pretty good? I was going to get a gts250 but a) its more expensive and b) its apparently worse. http://www.pixmania.co.uk/uk/uk/5998023/art/pixmania/radeon-hd-5750-1-gb-gddr5.html?srcid=867 Is the link to the 5750. Good swap?

I may keep the DDR3 mobo if that is a decent enough choice, and adding 4GB corsair ram http://www.cclonline.com/product-info.asp?product_id=40914&tid=frooct makes my total just under £600.

dynamicduo's avatar

@RandomMrdan You have misinterpreted that part of my comment. I was not speaking of the resolution it supports, I was speaking of the memory required to power that higher resolution with the same quality (framerate, settings) as the lower resolution. And this would likely depend more on the graphics card than the RAM, but I guarantee you that you would take a performance hit trying to run a maxed out 1920 game with 2 gigs of RAM versus 4 gigs.

As for DDR3 vs DDR2, I admit I don’t have an opinion on this matter. I’m running a system that’s at least 5 years old and I don’t find that RAM speed is a bottleneck for my gaming. If anything it’s my power supply nowadays. If I were building a system today, I would probably stick to DDR2 just to get more bang for my buck by investing the extra money in a higher end graphics card.

jerv's avatar

Well, the 5570 is solid but is 29 points below the GT240 (See here for the GT240 card I have, or check here for the latest on that discussion.) I’d save the £4 and go with the faster GT240.

I agree that 2GB isn’t much these days. That is the minimum I would consider for WinXP, but if you go with Win7 or * choke * Vista then you need 4GB, unless you are running a Core i3/5/7 in which case 6GB is better due to it’s 3-channel memory controller. If you are going AMD then 4GB should suffice. And stick with the name-brand stuff like Crucial; no-name RAM will kill you in the long run.

I did not see a power supply and that is one area where many people skimp and fry their system! Again, go name brand. I’ve had good luck with Antec and Thermaltake. Given that a good PSU wil actually put out what the sticker says it will, you can get away with a lower rating that if you went Brand X (which often only delivers 50–65% of what it says it does at normal operating temps), and you won’t get the “line noise” that kills components. I think that you can probably get away with 500W easily. I’ve run hungrier systems on a good 400W and melted inferior 550W PSUs, so stick with name-brand. Even if you have to downgrade something else, pretty much any system that runs beats a kick-ass system that doesn’t ;)

AMD may not be the best gaming CPU right now, but they are still solid and have a better upgrade path due to the way AMD does things, so that plus the price means that you are not being foolish.

As for surge protectors, I am a bit spoiled now since I have a small UPS from APC, but truth be told, I’ve never had a problem running straight from the wall. A good PSU can tolerate some abuse. In fact, most decent PSUs have many of the same things you find in a surge protector, making them somewhat redundant. I’ve had my house take hits that killed a couple of other electronic items yet my computer (which was on during a thunderstorm) didn’t even flinch.

Ame_Evil's avatar

Ok guys, with your advice, advice of a friend, and advice from my other thread I had updated the components. Basically changed most of them :D. Can you guys let me know what you think and whether I have missed something except for speakers (I included a cable to the monitor that I missed last time). I am including prices as well for easy reference and in case you know there is something better on the market at the same price.

I also decided to chose a motherboard, processor and ram bundle as it came £35 cheaper for more or less the same things (same processor, make of motherboard and amount of ram). If this was a stupid mistake please let me know.

Case: Hades (£57.41) http://www.cclonline.com/product-info.asp?product_id=51183&tid=frooct#

Asus Motherboard, AMD Phenom II X2 550 3.1Ghz 7MB Processor, CCL Value 4gb Ram bundle (£184.99) http://www.cclonline.com/product-info.asp?product_id=34887&category_id=491&manufacturer_id=0&tid=

Sapphire Radeon 5750 1gb (£104.50): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sapphire-HD5750-GDDR5-Express-Graphics/dp/B002RXM5WE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1279331173&sr=8-1

430W Antec PSU (I used jerv’s calculator and it said my system needed 350W so this should be enough even with OC’ing) (£34.77) http://www.pyramid.com/Antec_/Antec_BP430_BASIQ_POWER_430WATT_CONTINOUS_POWER_ATX_UK.aspx

Samsung 1TB 3gb/s 32mb (£49.19) http://www.dabs.com/products/samsung-1tb-spinpoint-f3-7200rpm-sata-3gb-s-32mb-65QC.html

LG 22x Optical Drive (£14.99) http://www.dabs.com/products/lg-electronics-22-x-dvdrw-sata-blackbare---sw-5CXT.html

Power Cable 1.8m (£1.48) http://www.dabs.com/products/best-value-iec-5a-uk-mains-lead-1-8m--black-2WP0.html

DVI to HDMI cable (£2.30) http://www.dabs.com/products/best-value-iec-5a-uk-mains-lead-1-8m--black-2WP0.html

Samsung 22” Monitor (£119.99) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Samsung-21-5-inch-Lavender-Monitor/dp/B001TUYT98/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1

Microsoft Keyboard/Mouse (£17.61) http://www.dabs.com/products/microsoft-business-hardware-pack-ps2-usb-41XL.html

Total: £598.73

Also if anyone would be kind enough to check the PSU link and check if I have all the cables needed for this setup. The Hades case comes with two 200mm fans, 140mm fan and 120mm fan. But I am not sure what cables they use.

Thanks again guys.

jerv's avatar

CPU/RAM/mobo bundles are often a good way to go if cost matters and the 3-year warranty eases my worry about going with RAM other than the big boys (like Crucial or Kingston) , you went with 4GB instead of 2GB, and the Phenom II x2 is decent enough, so I’d say that that part is good.

I like the case. Snazzy looking and allows for massive cooling.

I know the PSU is good :P

Most fans use the 4-pin Molex or a 3-in mobo connector (usually the Molex) and if they come with the case then they should be wired up nicely anyways. Even if they aren’t, you have the Molex connectors to spare.

I am rather fond of re-using my old power cords, monitor cables (though most monitors I’ve bought had them in the box, I am not 100% sure about that one so why not spend a pittance to make sure), keyboards, and mice whenever possible so you might be able to save a few buc.. pounds there; that’s up to you.

To my eyes, it looks like you now have the makings of a solid budget gaming box. Actually more than solid since the 5750 is no joke.

Ame_Evil's avatar

@jerv Don’t really have any keyboards/mice etc to recycle as this will be my first desktop PC. Have been using a laptop for the past 5 years, and it starts to wear especially when gaming is concerned – hence this project.

I will post pictures when I have it built and running :). Thanks for all the help. Enjoy the Lurve.

Ame_Evil's avatar

@jerv As for the ram, do you think it is worth asking for specs? I have searched on their site and on google and have found nothing to the identity of these mystery rams. If there is little difference between performance of ram, then I shall not bother and just go ahead and buy it.

jerv's avatar

The main difference in RAM quality is how it responds to overclocking.
At stock speeds, there is no appreciable difference, and none that isn’t covered by the warranty.

dpworkin's avatar

I have a personal preference for a smallish, really well-made C: drive, and additional data drives striped with RAID to form a redundant unit, rather than one huge drive.

Ame_Evil's avatar

@dpworkin Why do you have this preference?

dpworkin's avatar

Less chance of data loss. A real backup needs to be stored off-site so that it can’t be affected by fire or flood, but a redundant storage system can at least be rebuilt if one disk crashes.

Ame_Evil's avatar

I make sort of backups on an external hard drive every now and again, saving files like pictures/music. I do not ever have incredibly important information that needs to be properly backed up so I think this is less of an issue for me now.

dpworkin's avatar

I would hate to lose my music library which I have assembled over a period of 15 years. I doubt if it is all really replaceable. A lot of it is from the early days of Napster, before the RIAA cracked down.

jerv's avatar

@dpworkin Were this not a budget rig, I would also go with a RAID for storage, and likely an SSD (or another RAID with SSDs) for the OS, but drives are not exactly cheap compared to the budget that AE is working with, especially not SSDs, so I didn’t even consider that possibility here.
By the same logic, the Core i7-x980 and GeForce GTX480 are likewise out. Granted, even my Core i3–530 is a far faster CPU than the Phenom II x2 550 (by about 50%), but it’s also about 50% more expensive, and for what they charge for my chip, you can get a AMD Phenom II X4 925 which is considerably better and it will drop right into that mobo; I was also considering the upgrade path.
But I also assumed that the 925 is a little out of the budget, likely due to the desire for a kick-ass video card. Considering that many games tax the GPU more than the CPU, I don’t think that that is totally unreasonable here, especially sine the difference in price is enough to pretty much kick the video card off the list entirely (unless you buy a used one).

Ame_Evil's avatar

Bah, I changed my mind about the mobo combo. Although 3 years warranty is nice, I didn’t like the look of the £40 cheapo mobo which ran DDR2. Which brings the question: is DDR3 superior to DDR2, assuming I have 4gb of the same. I assumed the higher MHz of DDR3 was better.

So I decided that I either buy the bundle (I presume having 3 years warranty is better than saving £7 buying it separate, plus it was tested :D), or spend £22 more on buying a DDR3 mobo with corsair ram (links below) with the same processor.

http://www.cclonline.com/product-info.asp?product_id=47782&category_id=956&manufacturer_id=0&tid=90-mibca0-g0eay0gz
http://www.cclonline.com/product-info.asp?product_id=40914&tid=frooct

So what do you guys think I should do? Go for the DDR3 mobo/ram whch is £22 more expensive or go for the DDR2 mobo/ram which is £22 cheaper and has 3 years warranty and already setup/tested. Personally I have little problem spending £22 more into the £600 budget.

mrentropy's avatar

And, thus, the beauty of buying computer parts: by the time you make up your mind, everything will be cheaper anyway :D

Which then makes you go, “Hmm, if X dropped down to $Y then I can afford to get Z…”

Ame_Evil's avatar

Also I just wanted to know, will that PSU http://www.pyramid.com/Antec_/Antec_BP430_BASIQ_POWER_430WATT_CONTINOUS_POWER_ATX_UK.aspx
have enough connections for everything I have included?

jerv's avatar

Going with AM3 instead of AM2+ will make it more future-proof, as does taking DDR3 over DDR2. More importantly, the FSB is over 250% faster and that makes more of a difference than the CPU in many cases. If you can swing it and still have enough left over to get 4GB of DDR3 then it would be a wise move. However, that move will be more of a drain on the old wallet.

With three SATA, four Molex, and a PCI-e for the video card, you should have more than enough connectors unless you decide to install a RAID array at a later date. I’m thinking that you might lose a couple of Molex to case fans and two SATA plugs to your drives, and that will still leave you enough for at least one more drive and some case lighting. And if you figured that it only needs ~350W then the 430W unit should suffice.
I went big with my PSU mostly because my 600W unit it was on sale for less than the 400W at the time. (Well, that and I almost wound up with a hand-me-down 9800GTX that requires 265W and two PCI-e connectors on it’s own; far more than your newer-technology Radeon 5750.)

Ame_Evil's avatar

Meh, PSU was missing £6 beacuse I thought postage was free.

How about this little beauty? http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&Item=290453744827&Category=42019 . Have sent a question asking how old it is. Is this a bargain I should be snatching up?

jerv's avatar

Hmmm… I just ran across something you might find interesting.

The budget on this budget gaming rig by Maximum PC was $647 as of press time (29 Dec 09). That figures out to £422.88 at current exchange rates, which shows how much cheaper stuff is on this side of the pond.

CPU
– AMD Athlon II X4 620 $99 amd.com
Motherboard
– Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2 $57 gigabyte.com
Memory
– Patriot 4GB DDR2/800 $85 patriotmem.com
Videocard
– Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 $166 sapphiretech.com
Hard drive
– Seagate 500GB Barracuda 7200.12 $55 seagate.com
Optical drive
– Samsung SH-S223C $26 samsungodd.com
Chassis
– Rosewill R220 $19 rosewill.com
Power supply
– Cooler Master RS-460 $35 coolermaster.com
Operating system
– Windows 7 Home Premium OEM $105 microsoft.com

Of course, that is without a monitor or keyboard/mouse and includes an operating system, but I have operated on the assumption that you had an OS install disc all along; something I probably should’ve confirmed in the beginning. It would suck to have a kick-ass rig that won’t boot because it has no OS! :D

Still, they went with an AMD CPU and a 460W PSU so you are on the right track.

*

As for that 500W Antec, it appears to be from a reputable seller so I am sure it will work, it is an Antec so it should work for a long time, and the price is decent. I say go for it! Some people are uptight about buying used components, but I have yet to have a problem. The only used components I’ve had issues with were taken out of the dumpster (skip?) and there was probably a reason that they were there in the first place.

Ame_Evil's avatar

^ Yeah one of the problems I found is stuff was much cheaper in america. I was looking at estimates like these and was annoyed when I couldn’t find anything at that price converted here.

Anyways i’ve ordered all of the components minus the PSU because I want to wait until I see how old his one is. Thanks for the help.

jerv's avatar

No problem.

You should probably know that I have yet to kill an Antec Hell, if were stateside, I’d offer you the 400W Antec I have in my closet, but shipping something that heavy from here to the UK would cost more than that eBay seller wants for that 500W.

Ame_Evil's avatar

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&Item=250668304488&Category=11229&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26its%3DI%26otn%3D1

Looks legit? ^_^. Damn 3 star feedback score. I asked why he bought 6, and if it was a copy or not so waiting for an answer before I decide.

Also are the 32bit and 64bit copies separate or do all copies of Windows 7 contain both and you just select (or have it selected) which one you need?

jerv's avatar

You get both 32-bit and 64-bit in the retail box for Home Premium or higher, but not for OEM versions or Starter, and you have to send away for the free 64-bit disc with the retail Home Basic. Then again, Home Premium is the best version for most people anyways…

I do not like that seller. I recommend getting to this one quick

Failing that, you have the 32-bit OEM here and the 64-bit OEM here for about 70 pounds. It’s a little tricky to shop overseas, at least for me, so you might do better in UK stores than I can.

Ame_Evil's avatar

^ Thanks again for the help. Will try to bag that under £55 else i’ll go with my friend’s copy of Windows XP. I had already sent emails to that guy and he seemed really suspicious like he was selling illegal keygened copies. I should [probably report him to ebay

As a 4gb system I can choose either 32bit or 64bit right? Which do you think is the best?

Also found this just in case the other one goes for higher: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Windows-7-Home-Premium-DVD-/230500799793?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item35aaeb1531 . What exactly does this “hologram” he speak of do? Just tell you that the DVD is legit?

jerv's avatar

With 4GB, you can go either way, but with 32-bit you can go no further. Personally, I use the 64-bit version on my desktop and 32-bit version on my laptop (both were pre-installed at the factory) and haven’t noticed any functional difference except that my desktop has twice the RAM (6GB vs. 3GB), but there may come a day when you decide to add more RAM, so you may as well be prepared.

And yes, the “hologram” is an anti-counterfeiting measure so if it is there then it’s a legit copy. However, the listing you linked to has been removed for some reason.

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