[PC Gaming] Building a custom desktop

Discussion in 'Games' started by DarthXan318, Mar 2, 2011.

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  1. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    I've been thinking of building myself a new desktop for a while now. My current gaming machine is a two-year-old Acer laptop that is ... at best ... really just a media player rig that I've been abusing.

    So with Dragon Age 2 around the corner, I figured it's time. :D This is the build I'm thinking of ...

    Case: Silverstone SG07B-W with 600W. I really want a Mini-ITX computer because ... well, basically because they're cute, and cuteness is important. [face_whistling] This one seems to be the best available for gaming purposes - it's got a hefty power supply, a good cooling system, and enough space for a full-size graphics card. Bit on the pricey side but the case is the one component I'll keep the longest, so I think it's worth spending on.

    Motherboard: Zotac H67ITX-A-E. Didn't have a lot of choice with this one. I want an Intel Sandy Bridge board, and I'm building a M-ITX rig, and I'm in Australia: there appears to be exactly one available. Reviews seem to be pretty good, but if anyone knows of any better ones I can get across the pond, I'm all ears. :D

    CPU: Intel Core i5 2500. Again, Sandy Bridge CPU, and this seems to be a good compromise between price and performance.

    Graphics: HIS ATI Radeon HD5770 1GB. I confess I know basically nothing about graphics cards and picked this more or less out of the middle of a ranked list. :p Suggestions welcome.

    RAM: Corsair CMX8GX3M2A1333C9 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3. Nothing much to say here. It's RAM.

    Hard Drive: Western Digital Green 2TB. I can't imagine myself needing 2TB(!!!) but they're $99 now, so why not?

    Optical drive: SONY AD-7710 SATA Slim Black Internal DVDRW. Again, nothing much to say; the case I'm after only fits slim laptop-style drives, and this is one of them.

    The games I'm planning to run on this rig are Dragon Age, Mass Effect, World of Warcraft, Civilization V ... nothing terribly demanding (I mean, WoW will run on just about any machine you throw it on), but I'd like stuff to look pretty.

    What do you guys think? I'm a relative novice at this sort of thing - I'm really a software geek, not hardware, and this is all the result of a couple days of Googling rather than any real expertise. Is there anything else I need to consider?
  2. zacparis VIP

    Member Since:
    Sep 1, 2003
    star 7
    The HD5770 is a good card. Mine can handle pretty much everything I throw at it, but it is starting to age, especially against the new AMD 6xxx cards coming out.
  3. MarcusP2 Games and Community Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 10, 2004
    star 6
    1) Don't get a 'green' drive as your main drive. Slooooow. That's why it's cheap. Get a WD Black or a Samsung F3. Better yet, an SSD and a green drive.

    2) Newer cards will run cooler than that, which is a very important consideration in a case that small (expect your fans to be LOUD, you will have a lot of heat to disappate.)

    3) What's your budget?

    4) 8GB of RAM is huge overkill. Most struggle to make use of 4.

    Do you want this to crush games or just play them?

    These guys are very useful for this sort of thing.
  4. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    I'm just looking to play games, but I'm also looking to future-proof it a bit - I'd like to just buy this and not have to think about hardware again for a couple of years.

    Hard drive: Hmm, good point. I shall have to look into this. Having 2TB for $100 is very attractive, but not if it's gonna crawl.

    Newer graphics cards: that would be the 6xxx generation? What's a good one for roughly the same price/performance? My monitor's a 23" 1920x1080, so it's not like I'm running triple screens or anything.

    Budget: Bout AU$1000, give or take a few. Nearly half my budget is already going into the case and motherboard, which makes fitting everything else in a little bit dicey, but I'm willing to go over if there's a good enough reason.

    RAM: Yes but ... I can! :p Seriously, it's cheap, and getting it now means I won't have to upgrade for a while. I also multi-task a great deal, even while gaming, so more is better.


    And I've browsed Whirlpool a few times, but from what I've seen, as far as discussions go they tend to post blanket THIS IS AWESOME / THIS IS GARBAGE responses to most things with not much explanation, which is not very convincing. They're good for informational stuff, though.
  5. moosemousse CR - FF:UK South

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2004
    star 6
    What's the clock speed of the i5 you've gone for?

    Personally I prefer nVidia to ATI, but that's just personal preference. I got a GeForce 9800 GT and it's fine for gaming.
  6. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    3.3GHz. I think it can be overclocked higher but I don't really want to - heat will be a problem, as Marcus pointed out.

    nVidia vs ATI - erh - to be honest I went with ATI because it was easier to understand their numbering convention. :p I don't really have a preference either way.
  7. MarcusP2 Games and Community Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 10, 2004
    star 6
    ATI have released their newer cards and nVidia haven't, so they're ahead right now I believe.

    Basically $500 for HDD, RAM, processor, video card then? And I presume that motherboard isn't available in an AMD version (which is better value for money at the low end.)

    In all honesty, hard to go better than the recommended WP spec for an ITX gamer:
    CPU: Intel Core i5 760 $211
    MOBO: Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 $129
    RAM: Kingston 4GB DDR3-1333 $71
    HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB $57
    GPU: 1GB AMD Radeon HD6870 $270
    CASE: Lian Li PC-Q08B $159
    PSU: SilverStone ST45SF 450W SFX $95
    CPU HSF: Corsair Hydro Series H50 $119 top mounted
    ODD: Sony DVD burner $27

    Total: $1138 (lol)

    If you're deadset on using the SG05, then you'll have to get a different cooler. This one is great because its small footprint on the mobo (water instead of fan) lets it fit in the case. It's also quieter than a large fan. You will have to grind off the corner of the mounting plate to prevent damage to a chip in that location though.

    Oh, and unless your multitasking is 50 instances of AutoCAD 8GB v 4GB won't make much difference. :p

  8. moosemousse CR - FF:UK South

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2004
    star 6
    Could you explain it to me then? I know that the first digit of the GeForce cards is the series number and the second digit is the quality number, or something. So 9800 means 'series nine, quality eight'.

    As for overclocking, I don't think there's a need at 3.3GHz. Overclocking also reduces the life of the CPU and, as you said, produces more heat. Not only will you need to keep the case cooler but you'll need to get a new CPU cooler whereas a stock cooler is enough normally.
  9. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    It's basically the same for ATI - so 5770 means "generation 5, quality 77" or something like that, and 6850 (which is another card I'm considering now ... dammit) means "generation 6, quality 85".

    What confuses me about nVidia is they changed their numbering system so their newer cards have serial numbers like "GTX460" and "GTS570." From what little I've read, X is better than S but 5 is better than 4, so the only way to compare cards seems to be via benchmarking.
  10. Boba_Fett_2001 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2000
    star 8
    Why buy a video card when you can just download it?
  11. zacparis VIP

    Member Since:
    Sep 1, 2003
    star 7
    I've never had a preference for card brands, I just went for an AMD card because the base computer I was building had an AMD processor.
  12. Jedi_Matt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2002
    star 4
    If you weren't going for mini ITX then I would say to make sure you go for the i5 2500K as the K processors have an unlocked multiplier and are therefore better for overclocking.

    RAM - like MarcusP2 said, 8gb is overkill, and RAM is one of the things that is easiest to upgrade in the future as prices drop and you need more oomph. As for it just being RAM, your motherboard will support RAM up to a certain speed. Rather than going for 8gb of RAM at the slowest speed your motherboard will handle, go for less at the fastest. Again, when you come to upgrade in the future this will pay off as any new RAM would only operate at the speed of the slowest RAM stick (IIRC, correct me if I'm wrong).

    Also: What OS are you planning to run? - Remember that any 32 bit (standard Windows XP) operating system will only recognise 3-3.5gb of RAM.

    Finally, as has already been asked, what's your budget? If you can, an SSD would be an awesome addition. Remember, external HDD's are fine for flat file storage and (for instance) one with the hard drive in your original post would be perfect for not only storing your flat data but also backing up your new rig in case of any issues.

  13. MarcusP2 Games and Community Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 10, 2004
    star 6
    In terms of graphics ignore the names and use reputable benchmarking sites. I find this the most useful.
  14. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    That's a good point regarding the RAM. I'll have to double-check the speed supported by that motherboard. I'm planning on running Windows 7 x64, hence the temptation to go for As Much As Humanly Possible.

    I'm not sure if I can fit a SSD into my budget ... I could just go with a SSD instead of a 2TB green drive, as I've got enough external HDs lying around that I'm not pressed for storage space. [face_thinking]
  15. MarcusP2 Games and Community Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 10, 2004
    star 6
    I'd still get at least some internal storage, even if it's only a 500GB.
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