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Advice needed on purchasing/building a gaming PC

Crazy Jamie Avatar
5y, 11m agoPosted 5 years, 11 months ago
So recently I've been giving some consideration to picking up a gaming PC. I haven't really played the latest PC games since about 2005, and my MacBook Pro from June 2006 clearly cannot cope with the latest titles. It can, however, still provide more than adequately for my day to day needs, so I'm literally looking at a PC (or laptop, but I expect a desktop is the way to go) for gaming purposes.

I don't need some all powerful behemoth that is futureproof. Something that runs the likes of Left 4 Dead 2 and Team Fortress 2 without complaining would be more than adequate. In terms of price I was hoping for something around £500 all in, though I have no idea how realistic that is.

I also don't know what I need in terms of the more technical specifications. Which is why I turn to you fine people. I expect I'll be looking at buying more than building (because I would need to find someone else to actually do the building), and don't mind buying second hand for the right product, but I need to know what I need to be looking for first.

So, any advice? I'm more than happy for people to cover the basics for the sake of completeness. I'm also more than happy to people use their own gaming PC specifications as examples. If people are actually selling gaming PCs at the moment I would be grateful for a guide as to price (though this is not a FS/FT thread).
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Crazy Jamie Avatar
5y, 11m agoPosted 5 years, 11 months ago
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#1
Hi

PC Format magazine (WHSmiths) has a page where it identifies components for a budget of (£500), midrange (£1000) and silly money specs (£2000) builds (take a pic of the page with your camera on your phone save u a fee quid). You could get a good idea from these then goto one of the PC builders like Yoyotech, Novatech, Overclockers, Ginger6, cclonline etc and ask them to build a system.

Or alternatively give the companies a call on the latest deals and advice as they are all very helpful. Tell them exactly what you want to use the PC for and your budget and they can recommend the specs. Get some quotes from each company for supply and build, most of them will have some off the shelf items which they can add / remove to the system to best meet your requirements (they might even overclock it for you). Then go for what you beleive is the best deal.

Dont forget to include the price for an operating system! If you are a student or know a student then the cheapest places to get a copy of Win7 are these guys http://students.pugh.co.uk/

Cheers

Flobadob
#2
To be honest, if you need a full system including monitor, you will struggle to get a gaming rig for £500. As a guide:

22" Monitor - £120
Speakers - £25
KB / Mouse - £25
Windows 7 OS - £70
1TB Hard Drive - £38
DVDRW - £12
After the above, leaves you with £210 for the important stuff:
Case / PSU
Motherboard
CPU
4GB Memory
Graphics Card

You can cut corners on the Case / PSU and pick up a cheap version for £30. You can get cheap memory for £40. This leaves you £140 for everything else - A previous generation ATI 4850 graphics card will cost around £50. A cheap Intel i3 CPU can be found for £75. You can potentially pick up a cheap 1156 motherboard for £50 which would leave you around £35 over budget not counting P&P.

You might be able to save money elsewhere e.g. if you are a student or with the right employer, you might be able to get Windows for a lot less than £70. You can probably pick up decent 19" monitors through Ebay for £60. If you go down this route, your place to spend any money is on the graphics card. The 4850 is a decent performer but you should be aiming to spend around £100 on a 5770 or similar. After this, I would want a better PSU and only then would I look for a better CPU / Motherboard.

You should be able to overclock the i3 by at least 30% even if using the stock cooler.

Unfortunately, unless you are buying a base unit, I don't see you being able to buy a pre-built gaming system for £500.
#3
Lowtrawler
To be honest, if you need a full system including monitor, you will struggle to get a gaming rig for £500. As a guide:22" Monitor - £120Speakers - £25KB / Mouse - £25Windows 7 OS - £701TB Hard Drive - £38DVDRW - £12After the above, leaves you with £210 for the important stuff:Case / PSUMotherboardCPU4GB MemoryGraphics CardYou can cut corners on the Case / PSU and pick up a cheap version for £30. You can get cheap memory for £40. This leaves you £140 for everything else - A previous generation ATI 4850 graphics card will cost around £50. A cheap Intel i3 CPU can be found for £75. You can potentially pick up a cheap 1156 motherboard for £50 which would leave you around £35 over budget not counting P&P.You might be able to save money elsewhere e.g. if you are a student or with the right employer, you might be able to get Windows for a lot less than £70. You can probably pick up decent 19" monitors through Ebay for £60. If you go down this route, your place to spend any money is on the graphics card. The 4850 is a decent performer but you should be aiming to spend around £100 on a 5770 or similar. After this, I would want a better PSU and only then would I look for a better CPU / Motherboard.You should be able to overclock the i3 by at least 30% even if using the stock cooler.Unfortunately, unless you are buying a base unit, I don't see you being able to buy a pre-built gaming system for £500.

Your assuming he's going to pay for Operating system.
And hasn't already got a suitable monitor, wouldn't bother buying anything till HD monitors come down.

So theres over £200 there back into the machine.

Not sure why anyone would use over 200gb on gaming atm. I don't live games on my machine that were never touched.
#4
dcx_badass
I'd get this:http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/prods/barebones/Novatech/BB-6404GB.htmlThen add a graphics card (nvidia 9800gt should run on that psu ~ £70)), and add a HDD (£40 for 1TB) and a DVD Writer (£15), or upgrade the PSU and get a better graphics card aswell if you want.

That machines even more expensive than the components I spec'd £195 v £215.


Adam2050
Lowtrawler
To be honest, if you need a full system including monitor, you will struggle to get a gaming rig for £500. As a guide:22" Monitor - £120Speakers - £25KB / Mouse - £25Windows 7 OS - £701TB Hard Drive - £38DVDRW - £12After the above, leaves you with £210 for the important stuff:Case / PSUMotherboardCPU4GB MemoryGraphics CardYou can cut corners on the Case / PSU and pick up a cheap version for £30. You can get cheap memory for £40. This leaves you £140 for everything else - A previous generation ATI 4850 graphics card will cost around £50. A cheap Intel i3 CPU can be found for £75. You can potentially pick up a cheap 1156 motherboard for £50 which would leave you around £35 over budget not counting P&P.You might be able to save money elsewhere e.g. if you are a student or with the right employer, you might be able to get Windows for a lot less than £70. You can probably pick up decent 19" monitors through Ebay for £60. If you go down this route, your place to spend any money is on the graphics card. The 4850 is a decent performer but you should be aiming to spend around £100 on a 5770 or similar. After this, I would want a better PSU and only then would I look for a better CPU / Motherboard.You should be able to overclock the i3 by at least 30% even if using the stock cooler.Unfortunately, unless you are buying a base unit, I don't see you being able to buy a pre-built gaming system for £500.
Your assuming he's going to pay for Operating system.And hasn't already got a suitable monitor, wouldn't bother buying anything till HD monitors come down.So theres over £200 there back into the machine.Not sure why anyone would use over 200gb on gaming atm. I don't live games on my machine that were never touched.

I did start by saying IF he needed a monitor etc. Let's get a response from Crazy Jamie before deciding what he does and doesn't need. Any reason he wouldn't need an OS? He implies his old machine is Mac and so he's unlikely to have a spare copy of Windows.
#5
dcx_badass
Except you didn't actually list any components really, just out rough parts and prices, and one I put is built already and is a quad core.

For gaming, the i3 is faster than the x4 640, even at stock speeds AND it is much better for overclocking AND provides a much better upgrade path for the future:

http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Athlon-II-X4-640-vs-Core-i3-530-CPU-Review/1041/10

It isn't really pre-built, you have to add the graphics, hard drive and DVDRW.

I think until we here back from Crazy Jamie on what components he needs, we are playing guesswork on how far his budget will go.
#6
Thanks for the responses guys. I'm really only playing with the idea of buying one of these at the moment. I may be able to source a monitor, keyboard, mouse and OS cheaply myself. If I can't I appreciate that these will add cost. My main concern at the moment is what I need from the base unit. The £500 limit was really only one that I plucked out of thin air; if I can get something significantly better for one or two hundred pounds more than so be it, and I may well go with that. Not looking to spend thousands, though.

I've been pointed towards this site on another forum:
http://www.dinopc.com/shop/pc/configurePrd.asp?idproduct=935

I'd like to use something like that in order to buy everything within the base unit in one go. The problem is that I don't know what sort of specs I need. For example, I more or less entirely clueless when it comes to differentiating between processors and graphics cards (there are 11 different options on that link, all are 1GB, and I honestly have no clue what the difference is between them). It's that sort of guidance that I'm after. Links to possible purchases in that regard would be welcome.
#7
Crazy Jamie
Thanks for the responses guys. I'm really only playing with the idea of buying one of these at the moment. I may be able to source a monitor, keyboard, mouse and OS cheaply myself. If I can't I appreciate that these will add cost. My main concern at the moment is what I need from the base unit. The £500 limit was really only one that I plucked out of thin air; if I can get something significantly better for one or two hundred pounds more than so be it, and I may well go with that. Not looking to spend thousands, though. I've been pointed towards this site on another forum:http://www.dinopc.com/shop/pc/configurePrd.asp?idproduct=935I'd like to use something like that in order to buy everything within the base unit in one go. The problem is that I don't know what sort of specs I need. For example, I more or less entirely clueless when it comes to differentiating between processors and graphics cards (there are 11 different options on that link, all are 1GB, and I honestly have no clue what the difference is between them). It's that sort of guidance that I'm after. Links to possible purchases in that regard would be welcome.

Using a site like that can make it a lot less daunting to configure the exact spec you want but, as you say, if you're not an expert you can end up specifying the wrong thing. As a result, I would recommend that you leave the specification to the experts and buy one pre-configured. Not quite what you want but if you upgrade the graphics card, you should have a stonking system for £600:

http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/desktops/360607/palicomp-core-i3-blast-530oc44
#8
Lowtrawler
Crazy Jamie
Thanks for the responses guys. I'm really only playing with the idea of buying one of these at the moment. I may be able to source a monitor, keyboard, mouse and OS cheaply myself. If I can't I appreciate that these will add cost. My main concern at the moment is what I need from the base unit. The £500 limit was really only one that I plucked out of thin air; if I can get something significantly better for one or two hundred pounds more than so be it, and I may well go with that. Not looking to spend thousands, though. I've been pointed towards this site on another forum:http://www.dinopc.com/shop/pc/configurePrd.asp?idproduct=935I'd like to use something like that in order to buy everything within the base unit in one go. The problem is that I don't know what sort of specs I need. For example, I more or less entirely clueless when it comes to differentiating between processors and graphics cards (there are 11 different options on that link, all are 1GB, and I honestly have no clue what the difference is between them). It's that sort of guidance that I'm after. Links to possible purchases in that regard would be welcome.


Using a site like that can make it a lot less daunting to configure the exact spec you want but, as you say, if you're not an expert you can end up specifying the wrong thing. As a result, I would recommend that you leave the specification to the experts and buy one pre-configured. Not quite what you want but if you upgrade the graphics card, you should have a stonking system for £600:


http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/desktops/360607/palicomp-core-i3-blast-530oc44
Thanks for that. The link to the Palicomb website is here:

http://www.palicomp.co.uk/pc-base-units/core-i3-i5-blast-base-units/core-i3-blast-530oc44/prod_294.html

What would people recommend in terms of graphics card upgrade from that list? Should I be looking at upgrading anything else?
#9
Out of the list they give you, the 5770 is the only one close to giving value at £100. However, I understand that they recommend you upgrade the PSU if you choose the 5770. They have a wide range of OC computers including monitor / speaker packages and so decide if you want the whole package or just the base unit then contact them with your spec. The PSU should not need upgrading to use the 5770 and so, you could buy the package as is then purchase a graphics card to upgrade, selling the 5450 on ebay. A 5770 costs about £100 and you would get about £30 on ebay for the 5450. All in, it comes to around £570 although you would invalidate your warranty.
#10
you will find that most pc on the market for around your budget will be more than adequate
#11
Hi me again :-)

This is a nice package just above your £500 budget and will be fine up for use up to a 22" monitor, if you decide to go above a 22" in the future you can lob in another GTS450 for around £100 and run it as SLI.

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=FS-237-OK&groupid=43&catid=1444&subcat=


The bigger the monitor you have the bigger more expensive gfx card you will need to run decent frame rates without lowering the quality game visuals.

My current system which I built myself a few years ago uses an old core 2 processor with a old 5850 all overclocked and happily running games on a 22" monitor without a problem. It will no doubt be upgraded in the future but there is still life in the old girl yet. Next upgrade will be to replace the gfx card possibly next year when decent DX11 games hit the stores. The processor is a dual core and still fine and hopefully will be ok for a year or so. Therefore dont be blinded with you must have the latest top spec items. Know what you are going to use the machine for and spec it out accordingly. PC specs move far faster than the programmers making the games and programmers dont want to release a game that can only be played by a few people with top spec machines.

I would approach a few companies and ask their advice.

Cheers

Flobadob
#12
I was just generalising with the monitor info as Jamie is new to the PC gaming scene. Badass is indeed correct in that the resolution of the monitor is important but currently there is not a lot of difference in resolution to the current crop of monitors that I should imagine are within his price range. A 22" widescreen monitor £130 - £180 is probably the sweet spot for Jamie to aim for considering his budget and the resolution of the monitors at this size would be around the 1080 resolution. The more expensive models out of his price range could exceed this.

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