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Need some help buying a PC

Saboteur-6

Filthy Casual
So I haven't owned a desktop PC in a decade and a half but I'm wanting to purchase one this year. I'm not super fluent on desired specs so I could use some feedback, guidance, etc to point me in the right direction. Basically I do plan on gaming/using it for media primarily. Anyway on to some questions:

  1. Pre-built or custom PC? This is probably my biggest issue atm because, after reading around today, trying to pick up PC parts right now because of the pandemic is difficult.
  2. What's a reasonable budget? Because right now I'm leaning towards around $1000-$1500.
  3. Recommendations on brands and/or sites to purchase?
Thanks in advance for any and all help.
 

RoboCop

The future of law enforcement.
Administrator
Premium Supporter
I'm about to call it a night but will post a detailed response tomorrow. I know we've got some techies on the site who will give good advice, though. Is @Immortal still around? But hands down, pcpartpicker is where you'll want to go if you do your own build.
 

Marinjuana

Up rock incoming, ETA 5 minutes
reddit.com/r/buildapcforme and reddit.com/r/buildapc are good sources for info. I also really liked this guide(though I had it in a pdf form idk) https://artofpc.com/the-beginners-guide-to-building-a-pc-2/ And yeah, I second https://pcpartpicker.com/. It has been a tremendous help to me, can't imagine not using that.

I'm trying to build my first pc, but I want some higher end parts compared to your price range. Still learning but I think 1500$ could get you a pretty powerful PC or close to in terms of gaming. You're probably gonna spend most of your cash on a CPU and GPU so figure those out. But yeah being more specific about what you want to do could help, like even if you want to play a particular game at high or medium settings. What kind of media? AMD seems like the gold standard right now for CPUs.

Big problem right now though is that GPU/Graphics Cards are impossible to get for retail price in face of the demand. The folks at /r/buildapcforme helped me out a lot but the best they could find for a CPU on sale was a couple years old and selling higher then its original price. If you want it soon, some might even recommend doing a prebuilt to avoid the hassle but I'm sure there's others with better insight on this stuff. Personally I'm waiting for my CPU to restock and then I'm going to figure out the graphics card situation.
 
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Ashesfall

"Feel the wrath of Shao Kahn"
Good luck finding an affordable graphic card ... the PC market for gamers at the moment is really "shitty". I look for new components too.
(unless you are rich, then just buy one from the "scalpers", even tho, please don't support these scum people ... they will for sure burn in hell!)

PS: PS5 has kinda the same "issue"
 

RoboCop

The future of law enforcement.
Administrator
Premium Supporter
Not too much to add to what's been said. If building your own, the biggest thing is to ensure the graphics card, ram, and cpu are all compatible with the motherboard you choose. If you use pcpartpicker, it should help ensure all chosen parts are compatible. You can also view their pre-designed builds at https://pcpartpicker.com/guide/.

You can also go to newegg.com, search for the component (graphics card, cpu, etc), select up to 5, and do side-by-side comparisons (selected some random ones just for the example).

Make sure you're grounded when handling the components. You can get these little wrist straps for around $8 that work really well (Amazon link). You just strap it to your wrist and clip the other end to a metal component (like the computer case) and your components should be protected from your static electricity.

Overall, it can be a very stressful endeavor, considering the cost of the components, but it's very rewarding when you finish the build, flip the power switch, and see the computer turn on. But when you flip that switch and nothing happens, it's like the loudest silence ever lol.

[edit] One final thought is about storage. You'll certainly want your main drive (the one containing Windows) to be an SSD. It's tough to beat the Samsung Evo. You could get away with the 256gb for this drive and be totally fine, but you would certainly want more storage. Depending on your budget, you can save some cash by going with a hard-drive for file storage. This way, Windows is still on an SSD and will be lightning fast, and you can still have terrabytes of storage space for very little cash.

So, you could do a single large (500gb+) ssd that holds windows and everything else. You could do a small ssd for Windows and a giant hard drive for inexpensive file storage. Or, you could do the small ssd for Windows, and a 2nd ssd for more performant file storage.

Since this build is for gaming (and since it's 2021), I recommend doing the 2 ssd's if your budget can support it; one for Windows and one for your game library. You can get away with a small amount of storage if you're ok deleting old games to make room for new games.
 
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BanTheTesters

“Only the BEST are asked to be Lin Kuei...”
Moderator
So I haven't owned a desktop PC in a decade and a half but I'm wanting to purchase one this year. I'm not super fluent on desired specs so I could use some feedback, guidance, etc to point me in the right direction. Basically I do plan on gaming/using it for media primarily. Anyway on to some questions:

  1. Pre-built or custom PC? This is probably my biggest issue atm because, after reading around today, trying to pick up PC parts right now because of the pandemic is difficult.
  2. What's a reasonable budget? Because right now I'm leaning towards around $1000-$1500.
  3. Recommendations on brands and/or sites to purchase?
Thanks in advance for any and all help.
Defiantly seem like some others here are giving good advise.

hmm yes I’d say 1500 is a solid budget but that could change depending on your storage, gpu, processor and monitor (or in some cases, monitors!)

yea so the market for pc parts at the moment isn’t great as stated but pc part picker.com is definitely a good place to start.

Pc gaming is an interesting beast. As long as dealing with things that may or may not run and or play as anticipated etc then pc is the way to go!

if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of putting it together and or trouble shooting it yourself if something does not work I would recommend buying pre built as someone suggested in this thread.

Pretty hassle free you just need to keep an eye on the parts that make up the pre build. You can do that by looking at reviews on YouTube or pc part picker etc.

And Welcome to pc gaming bro!

I read a quote somewhere stating “my your fps be high your temps be low”!
 
Under normal circumstances, you'd be able to build a budget high-endish machine for about $1000 (assuming you already have a monitor), which is invariably cheaper than buying pre-built. If you want a high end machine for gaming, your figure of 1000-1500 dollars is right on the money; any more than that and you are overpaying. However, the market is currently experiencing an unprecedented shortage of gpu chips, which is causing prices to soar to historical levels. Tbh, this is the worst year possible to build a new machine. When you do decide to pull the trigger though, I would expect to spend the following, if you can get the items at MSRP:

  • $100-150 for a case. I recommend getting a large mid-size tower or a full tower, for ease of installing components and managing cables, providing unimpeded airflow through the case, and to accommodate for the ever-increasing size of GPUs these days.
  • $250-350 for a cpu. This should get you a nice intel i7 on the high end, or an i5 on the low end if you want to save money. You can also go for an AMD Ryzen if that appeals to you, but their prices have increased lately making them similar to intel in cost/performance. If you do go intel, wait for the 11000 series coming out soon this year. And whatever you get, just be aware that the days of quad-core cpus being adequate are gone; with more and more games being cpu reliant, you may want to go with an 8 core/16 thread cpu or better.
  • $100-200 for a mobo. This one varies a lot, because it depends on what your cpu is compatible with, but I think this price range will give you perfectly good quality. You could theoretically spend even more, but then you get into extreme enthusiast territory, with mobos that are meant for serious cpu overclocking. Personally, I like ASUS as a brand.
  • $100 for 16gb of performance ram. If you're not doing heavy video editing, then this should be plenty.
  • $100-150 for a PSU. I wouldn't recommend cheaping out on the power supply, as a poorly made one can and will die on you. In this price range, you can get a fully modular PSU at 750-850w that will give you more than enough power to run even the most advanced of systems. Meanwhile, going fully modular just makes your cable management and installation so much easier. I recently bought a CORSAIR unit, and am happy with it.
  • $100-200 in hard drives. With how much space games take up these days, you'd probably want at least a TB or two in total space. Personally, I would strongly recommend that you buy a smaller SSD and install windows to that, and then buy a larger SSD or HDD to store your games, non-essential programs, and media. By separating out your windows boot drive and your storage drive, any time you'll ever have to reinstall windows you'll only lose the data on the boot drive while keeping all your games and media on the storage drive.
  • A GPU. This is the tough one, the largest expense by far, and highly subjective. What you want to get depends a lot on the refresh rate and resolution of your monitor. If you are planning to play at 1080p but at very high refresh rates, then you can get away with a cheaper GPU, while GPUs that can keep up with 4k resolution will cost you a fortune. If we're talking NVIDIA, a 3060ti should be plenty to handle 1080p at high refresh rate or perhaps 1440p at medium refresh rates, and the MSRP comes in at $400+. Meanwhile, if you're trying to do 4k, you'd want to spring for a 3080 that goes for MSRP $700+. However, in the current market, you will never get these cards at this price and they sell for double that, because the whole market is screwed until the chip shortage ends. What you choose to do and how long you wait for this to stabilize is up to you.
So there you have it, at MSRP you could build a pretty sweet rig for under $1500. The good news is that the initial build is the only time having a gaming PC is this costly, as you'll only ever typically ever have to upgrade your GPU/CPU/mobo, and you can sell your old GPU and CPU on ebay to recoup over half your upgrade costs if you do it every few years.
 

BanTheTesters

“Only the BEST are asked to be Lin Kuei...”
Moderator
I would also like to add to @TheJaquio ‘s post a bit.

I remember reading/seeing some YouTube tech guys try to see pre built vs custom build and in this day and age as far as price goes it’s pretty close. Yes you can get away with building your own of for a little cheaper but that’s going to depend on a few factors. Again if you want to save yourself a headache of building it etc then I’d still advise on looking into pre built brands suggest in this thread.

but if your a beast then by all means build it yourself (plus you can learn a lot this way)...even though I built mine I still give BOTH sides of the coin regardless. You can still get good pre builds if you ask around and do a bit of re search.

it should also be noted that the price due to terrif laws has shot prices up as REGULAR msrp for pc parts..some of them almost in line with scalper prices..

At the start of it the pricing for the 30 series was sound but due to this law passing at least in the us it should be noted that mother board AND gpu prices for a lot of the heavy hitting name brands has since gone up aka we are talking about some of the 3070-80 series g close to $1000 regular price and mother boards are getting a price range as well.

its defiantly is a tough time to start this process but if you are dead set with some semi disposable income then I’d follow a lot of the helpful tips in this thread.
 

Sutter Pain

Your mothers main.
I would say right now if you can not get your hands on a affordable GPU it is really not worth it to build a new PC right now. I had to wait 5 months to finish my new build while waiting on a new gpu.

EVGA makes good products psu and gpu cant say about the rest. They have prob the best customer service with returns and replacements.

Buy everything you can from amazon as their return policy is the best and prices always completive. Best buy is always decent also, newegg is ass with customer service and returns and prices are usually more. Microcenter if you live near one might be your best bet for mobo\cpu combo also but they are instore only prices.

AMD vs Nvidia = Nvidia
AMD vs Intel = both close now buy whatever has the best prices per performance (stay away from fanboy drivel)

You might be able to get a decent 1440p 144hz build going for 1500 depending on GPU supply and if you have a monitor already. If you just wanna game at 1080p 60fps you could do that for dirt cheap.

Honestly it kinda comes down to what resolution and frame rate you wanna play at as that can really add or subtract big $$$ from your build.

Just for clarity you will not be able to find any Nvidia GPU anywhere close to retail unless you get extremely lucky or use bot services. Most prices also went up gpus due to supply shortages and tariffs.
 
it should also be noted that the price due to terrif laws has shot prices up as REGULAR msrp for pc parts..some of them almost in line with scalper prices.
True, but it depends on brand as to the extent. For example, EVGA's prices only shot up about 50 bucks across the board, not that you can find them at that cost.

Very valid points on the pre-builts as well. If you don't care about customization and are building entirely from scratch, a pre-built may be the only viable way to get a system with a 3000 series card at less than double or triple markup any time this year. Worth considering.
 

Sutter Pain

Your mothers main.
True, but it depends on brand as to the extent. For example, EVGA's prices only shot up about 50 bucks across the board, not that you can find them at that cost.
My card went up by $80 but evga is honoring the prices for people who got in the que until april, which is really fucking cool. What isnt cool is the cocksuckers charged me $17.99 to ship my card though.
 
Some great advice in this thread.

The only extra things I can contribute: I have an extended family member who works as a manager for AMD's QA department. He would never buy, or recommend an AMD product seeing first hand their "quality," as he calls it.

Of course, it's up to you, AMD CPU's and GPU's are usually cheaper than Intel/nVidia, but in his words, you get what you pay for.

For myself, I've always gone Intel/nVidia even before he started working for AMD.

Secondly, I usually budget around $1000.00 (Canadian), give or take, for the tower. I usually end up going with mid-range components, and the system lasts me for many years.

It really depends on your preferences, the kind of gaming you want to do, etc.
 

Saboteur-6

Filthy Casual
Thanks so much for the responses, it's a lot to process. I like the idea of trying to learn how to custom build a PC but ultimately for simplicity sake I'm leaning towards pre-built. Especially with the part shortages and inflated prices. There's been some mention of where to shop for pre built but to clarify, what are some ideal sites? Any advice on what to buy pre-built? Is AMD the superior choice over Intel? I've seen some responses here that speak otherwise.

People have been asking me what games in particular I'm going to play and I don't have anything specific in mind so I can't be real helpful there unfortunately. I really don't do a lot of FPS and mostly gravitate to Action/RPG/Fighting Games/MOBAs. I dont have to have the most optimized experience or anything.

Part of my motivation honestly is to start teaching myself how to Dev on Unity as a hobby.
 
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RoboCop

The future of law enforcement.
Administrator
Premium Supporter
Part of my motivation honestly is to start teaching myself how to Dev on Unity as a hobby.
For learning Unity, I highly recommend checking out https://www.gamedev.tv/courses. It's hands-down the best resource I've found on Unity, Blender, and just about anything you could want to know that's related to game development. The prices are nuts, but they go on sale very regularly for just $10 to $15.

I'm also crazy excited because my favorite game design book is about to get a 3rd release, and they're adding a ton of new Unity content. It comes out in about a month. https://amzn.to/2Orl996
 

Saboteur-6

Filthy Casual
For learning Unity, I highly recommend checking out https://www.gamedev.tv/courses. It's hands-down the best resource I've found on Unity, Blender, and just about anything you could want to know that's related to game development. The prices are nuts, but they go on sale very regularly for just $10 to $15.

I'm also crazy excited because my favorite game design book is about to get a 3rd release, and they're adding a ton of new Unity content. It comes out in about a month. https://amzn.to/2Orl996
Nice! Thanks man, I'll check it out. I forgot you were working on that "hero click" style game. How's that going?
 

RoboCop

The future of law enforcement.
Administrator
Premium Supporter
Nice! Thanks man, I'll check it out. I forgot you were working on that "hero click" style game. How's that going?
I've been taking a break on it to work on a few other things, but plan to return to it eventually.
 

CrimsonShadow

Administrator and Community Engineer
Administrator
Thanks so much for the responses, it's a lot to process. I like the idea of trying to learn how to custom build a PC but ultimately for simplicity sake I'm leaning towards pre-built. Especially with the part shortages and inflated prices. There's been some mention of where to shop for pre built but to clarify, what are some ideal sites? Any advice on what to buy pre-built? Is AMD the superior choice over Intel? I've seen some responses here that speak otherwise.

People have been asking me what games in particular I'm going to play and I don't have anything specific in mind so I can't be real helpful there unfortunately. I really don't do a lot of FPS and mostly gravitate to Action/RPG/Fighting Games/MOBAs. I dont have to have the most optimized experience or anything.

Part of my motivation honestly is to start teaching myself how to Dev on Unity as a hobby.
Most important thing is, overall, to know what range of things you might want to use the computer for. Do you see yourself streaming? Or doing anything that requires video editing, like making Youtube videos, etc? Making music? Computer graphics? Just gaming? Etc.

My experience is: be careful of anyone who gives you advice on a build without knowing these things. They determine what CPU you need, how much RAM, things like motherboard capabilities, case ports, and lots of other things that will save you major headaches down the line.
 

Vslayer

Kurses in moose
Lead Moderator
Premium Supporter
Use a site like this to help, it's especially useful to know if the parts you chose will work together but sometimes you still have to do the research to make sure. Putting one together is easy, it's slot this in here, slot that in there, it's like legos. The only long part is the damn wiring and you're going to hate it. But there are a lot of YT videos detailing all that stuff.
 

Marinjuana

Up rock incoming, ETA 5 minutes
Finally got my CPU by buying it with a monitor but now it's time to get my graphics card, which should be the hardest part

Can I set up my computer without a GPU/graphics card or do you guys think it's worth it to get a a really cheap one just to get my build up and running?
 
When I build a PC I just go to a German computer nerd forum where they have optimal gaming PC configurations in like 4 price ranges, follow the links to the cheapest sellers and put on a tutorial on how to piece the shit together, because I can't remember how to do it even though I did it like 3 times already.

If it helps this is the thread: https://www.computerbase.de/forum/threads/der-ideale-gaming-pc-spiele-pc-selbst-zusammenstellen.215394/

Should be easy to use with google translate, but I dunno if regional pricing is any different.
 

Sutter Pain

Your mothers main.
Finally got my CPU by buying it with a monitor but now it's time to get my graphics card, which should be the hardest part

Can I set up my computer without a GPU/graphics card or do you guys think it's worth it to get a a really cheap one just to get my build up and running?
if you have a integrated gpu you can but they are not so great but you could probably play a decent amount of indie games. Is it a pre built, if not you should def assemble the parts to make sure everything works so you can RMA. It could take months to get a decent gpu at a decent price depending on what you are going after.