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CuriousLoner's avatar

I want to build a gaming PC, can you help?

Asked by CuriousLoner (1809points) July 24th, 2014

I found a similar question, but it is 4 years old. From what my two friends who both have built their own computers say that it would be very outdated.

The 3 most important parts from what I have been told for a gaming PC is the CPU,GPU and motherboard.

I’ve look mostly at CPUs and still can’t decide.

My budget right now is no more than $1,000. Least for now if I need to save a bit more and it is worthwhile I will. If you can suggest to me specific parts, brands etc. Links and all that jazz would be extremely helpful as I have true no idea what is best. I do not have the knowledge to know what is a good deal or not.

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22 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

Here’s a link with three builds
Budget Gaming PC $600
Our Mainstream Enthusiast System $1200
The Balanced High-End Build $1600

Tom’s Hardware System Builder Q2 2014

CuriousLoner's avatar

@jaytkay Thanks for the article. I found it interesting, but not too helpful overall for making decisions. Apparently though the 1,200 build held up very well compared to the 1,600 build.

It seems AMD and Intel are the only CPUs really worth looking at…Any thoughts on that?

ragingloli's avatar

AMD and Intel are basically the only two manufacturers that exist in the PC-market, especially gaming.

jerv's avatar

Yes, AMD and Intel are, for all practical purposes, all there is.

Never skimp on the power supply! Cheap PSUs won’t put out the power they claim, and what power they do put out is filtered badly enough that you better hope that the PSU fries itself before it fries your components.

Video cards hit the point of diminishing returns around $150, but the difference between an $80 card and a $100 card is immense. In that vein, don’t bother looking at any card under $90 unless it’s only that cheap due to a big sale.

Most games depend a bit more on the video card than the CPU. Most CPUs will be at least adequate if paired with a good video card, but the best CPU will be choked by a weak GPU. My i3–530 rig can outperform computers allegedly twice as fast for that reason. The CPU is rarely the limiting factor in gaming performance.

Leave enough room in the budget for a good mouse and keyboard.

R7 260X is a great value; excellent “bang for the buck”.

dabbler's avatar

+1 for @jerv‘s advice “Never skimp on the power supply!”
The better brands and models are also very efficient at low loads. When your computer is idling the PSU doesn’t have to be a space-heater. (e.g. Corsair AX860 has monstrous 860W capacity and is at least 94% efficient down to 10% load)

CuriousLoner's avatar

@jerv Interesting, I thought I would be spending around $200–300 on a good GPU. My main worry is that I will attempt to get a good deal in my mind, on a certain part, and possibly be unhappy with the performance.

I don’t mind having to spend a little extra if it makes the difference, but at same time avoid going way over my budget.

I was told the difference between i5 and i7 for gaming is not big in relation to gaming. One of my friends explained to me that the CPU shouldn’t be doing that much work, if a good GPU is in there, at least that is the way I understood when he explained it. I am not that knowledgeable on it, so I may have misunderstood.

Going from the i5 to i7 depending on model was $100—$150 jump in price from what I seen.

Thanks for tip on PSU. My understanding is this is like the battery or “juice” for everything?

@dabbler That PSU is getting close to the cost of some of the CPUs I was looking at! Deng! Haha. Is that the one I should be aiming for?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

You’ll get one hell of a gaming PC for 1K!

FYI an i5 is what most gamers use. An i7 is unnecessary. Put that extra dough into the GPU. Like others said, you need a big, badass power supply, good CPU, plenty of fast ram and the best GPU you can afford but don’t go crazy. Between $100 & $200 will be the sweet spot. If you are not going to be the type of gamer that runs the latest Crysis at full detail but will do basic games like W.O.W. Then you can go real cheap with an APU based system. We’re talking around $200 for the MB, APU and ram here. I have one and use it for basic games but I’m not a big gamer these days. I play mostly sandbox games like minecraft or space engineers. I would not recommend this for any serious gaming.

CuriousLoner's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Thanks for the information.

I would say most graphic intense games I have at moment BF4, Skyrim, Farcry3, TitanFall and maybe PoE.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

An APU will probably run those but that is about their limit. BF4 would likely run at low quality. I’d just build a basic gaming system then. If you start with an APU you can upgrade the graphics and ram but the CPU will always be the bottleneck. An i5 or AMD equivalent, at least 8 gigs of ram, a mid-high quality GPU and reasonably fast HD will get you what you need. You should always overkill your powersupply. If you decide to add stuff later you’ll have the headspace to do so. Still well within your 1K budget.

dabbler's avatar

@CuriousLoner You probably don’t need that much wattage. Try to spec a PSU that is more than capable of doing the most power-hungry thing you could possibly do with the full add-in and peripheral complement . It doesn’t really mean anything if that cost is similar to the CPU cost, although a higher-powered CPU will cost more and because it will need more PSU capacity your PSU cost might go up in parallel.

Add up all the wattage of your CPU, drives, graphics cards… and anything you might imagine you’d want to add later (data acquisition cards? bitcoin miner ASIC card?) ..then build in as much headroom as you feel comfortable paying for.

Then you get to decide what efficiency you want in the thing and how much of a premium you want to pay for that. If you expect to use the machine in a heavy duty mode like gaming most of the time that it’s on then you only need be a bit concerned about the peak load efficiency. If you expect that in reality it will idle some good fraction of the time then taking a look also at the low-load efficiency can motivate your purchase. The “gold-rated” and “platinum-rated” have much more efficiency at low loads than garden variety.

jerv's avatar

Video cards are non-linear. A $100 is twice as good as an $80 card, but a $200 card I less than twice as good as a $100 card. If performance matters enough to you to spend twice as much for only 30–50% more power, then it’s your money; I just like going the efficient route instead of throwing money at a problem. My current card is roughly equivalent to an R7 260X, and I get decent performance on Max details at 1920×1080, though the R9 270 is enough of a leap up to justify it’s higher price. So look around $150.

I run an old 600w Cooler Master. My Thermaltake was also good for the rig it was in. For a single-card system, you probably won’t need more than that, I use about 350w with my i3–530/GTX465, so I have plenty of headroom to add drives, fans, and lighting.

Oh yeah… we haven’t talked cooling and lighting. My rig runs a little warm, so I added a case fan. Just one on the back panel to suck the hot air from just above my card. Some rigs run hotter and need more fans. My last rig had 5 case fans and doubled as a space heater. And because I can, the fan I have is lit with blue LEDs.

jerv's avatar

While I normally prefer nVidia, I think you would do better with the R9 270X if you’re going to go in that price range. The GTX 760 is a decent card, but the R9 270X offers comparable performance for about $80 less. Are you willing to pay 37% more money for a nearly imperceptible performance increase? IMO, once you get past about 50 FPS, you’re less into performance and more into bragging.

Also, I’m not sure Amazon is the best place to be shopping for that sort of stuff; it’s actually fairly low on the list for that sort of thing.There’s places that have better deals, better customer service, and better selections. For instance, NewEgg has better reviews as a seller, and has the same card for less

dabbler's avatar

@jerv Do you know whether or not game software would take advantage of the multi-threading of the i7 processors?
The i7 can ‘multi-thread’ making a quad-core i7 like a octo-core if the software is written to use the parallel processing thread. The i5s don’t do that.

(Stuff light photoshop or lightroom or moviemaker do use the multiple threads).

ragingloli's avatar

That depends on the game.
But in general, only few games actually use multiple cores,

dabbler's avatar

+1 Newegg…(I built two systems early this year, and after shopping around I got most of the components at Newegg.)
Runners-up.. tigerdirect and sometimes monoprice.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I have always been happy with my Newegg purchases. Been using them for over 8 years.

jerv's avatar

@dabbler Unlike the i5, my old i3 does have Hyper-threading; it’s a dual-core CPU, but is treated as a quad-core. I have yet to play a game that doesn’t dump the entire load onto one “core”, leaving the other “3” idling. They exist, but they’re pretty rare.

That is partly why so many gaming rigs use the i5 instead of the i7. The other main reason is price. Why pay more for something that won’t make a bit of difference? Now, a graphics designer or other person who does a lot of non-gaming multimedia work would be better off with the i7 as they are more likely to use applications that are multi-threaded.

CuriousLoner's avatar

@jerv That isn’t the same card though….? Also confused it says Nvidia?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I personally will not deal with Tiger Direct anymore. They did not honor their rebates for items I had ordered. Once I’ll understand but after several times thats it. I’m done. I use newegg

jerv's avatar

Yes, I posted 2 links to the same MSI R9 270X card from two different resellers at two different prices. No, it’s a totally different card from what you linked.

Just as the CPU world has AMD and Intel, the GPU/video card world has nVidia and Radeon (formerly ATI, now AMD).

Also, there are many companies that make video cards based on the same chips, but some of them do a better job than others. MSI is one of the better ones. Sapphire is also good, but I have a personal bias towards MSI. (No real reason beyond preference.)

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