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Help/Suggestion for a new computer


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#1
itsmay

itsmay

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Hey guys,

My computer is getting old (3-4 years) and I'm forced to play games (mainly starcraft 2 but not only) with low settings (or at max between low and mid) so I felt like it was the time to build a new one but.. I'm a total newbie with these kind of things.
I never built a computer before but this time I'm willing to spend some time learning how to do so.


What im looking for :
Basically, I just want to be able to run starcraft 2 at max settings (since I don't think it requires "that" much of a good comp but I might be wrong), run others game with high settings, do some streaming and do others random things, no professional usage whatsoever.
I wish to be able to use it for 3 to 4 years (knowing of course that I will have to use medium to low settings for games by this time)


Anyway, since I don't know much about where to start from, I found this little guide that you guys probably already know about :
http://i1002.photobu...Guide/Guide.png

But I don't really know which build I should be aiming for :
Something between "excellent" and "exceptional" I guess.
Am I wrong ?
Could you help me decide which one would be the most suitable ? (Or just suggest something different I don't mind, I just took this guide since I was lost)

Monitor :
About my monitor.. I'm clueless, how should I know if there's a reason to get a new one ? At the moment, I'm using a 22'' Philips 220WS8FB which is also 3-4 years old
Will it have compatibility issue ? Is it just bad ? Will it allows the best possible graphics I can have with the gpu ?

Budget :
I don't have a specific budget, I just want a build that meets my needs. I would guess/hope that it will be between 800-1100$ (but It can be more if needed) (without screen, OS, mouse, keyboard, etc). I don't want anything "overkill" though, since I will have no use for it anyway.


I apologize for being that much of a newb, I hope I'm not asking too much, I'm also sorry for my poor english (not my first language), hopefully it is still understandable.


I hope you guys can give me some answers and guide me a little bit in my way to build my first comp!
If you have any advice/warning, feel free to share aswell

(By the way, I'm from Europe (Switzerland) if that helps/matters.)

Edited by itsmay, 07 June 2011 - 10:42 AM.

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#2
Digerati

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Is your existing computer custom built - or factory made? While 3 - 4 years may be a whole "era" when it comes to computer technologies, depending on what's there, you may benefit from some simple and less expensive upgrades.

Today's computing world is much more intensely graphics oriented than ever before. If you have not already upgraded your system RAM and graphics card to something more current, you might be surprised how much better your game play will be, and the over all computer performance too. Now that much added hardware may, and likely will require a new power supply to support it. But still, more RAM, better graphics, and a new PSU is a lot cheaper than a new computer and new software licenses. You might even be able to find a better CPU too and it still cost less than a new computer. As long as you don't upgrade the motherboard, you can legally use your current Windows and other software licenses. And performing these type upgrades is good learning before taking on a whole new build. You might have to add an extra case fan too - to get rid of the extra heat. But that's simple too.

Something to think about.
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#3
itsmay

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Thanks for answering me.

My computer is custom built, though it wasn't built by myself.
I could probably upgrade it a little bit as you suggest and I agree that I could already learn some this way but sadly it isn't an option.
I'm almost sure it is just way too outdated to get the results I want AND I need a new one so that I can give this one away.

Also, I've skimmed the "how to build your own computer" guide of this forum (which is really well done!) and I feel a bit more confident than I first was, it doesn't look THAT difficult, only the CPU and cables part seem a bit tricky.

Anyway, I'm still stuck about knowing what kind of build I should be looking for to suits my needs..
From what I've seen here and there, many people are recommending the i5 2500k as CPU, apart from that, I'm still lost.
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#4
Digerati

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Asking someone what computer parts to buy would be like asking someone to pick out your next car. There are too many excellent options to choose from. I currently use Intel in all my builds and the i5 is a good CPU. But AMD CPUs make excellent platforms for excellent machines too. The next step is to find a motherboard that supports your CPU and has the features you want. Then find the RAM supported by that board. Any good motherboard maker will have QVLs (qualified vendor lists) for CPUs and RAM that work with their boards listed on the board's website.

The i5, with compatible motherboard, supports excellent graphics, even some gaming and is suitable for most computer users. Serious gaming and graphics editing and design would require a better graphics card.

Buy a good power supply from a good maker - but select your PSU last to ensure you buy the right size for your needs.

The case is responsible for protecting the innards from kicks and bumps. But the case is also responsible for providing adequate front-to-back air flow through the case. So pick a case that provides several and large (120mm or larger) fan support. I will never buy a case again that does not have removable and washable air filters.
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#5
itsmay

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Asking someone what computer parts to buy would be like asking someone to pick out your next car.


Haha, this might be the case for you, but actually it's quite hard to decide which parts to buy when you don't know much about computer.

Thanks for your advice concerning the PSU and the Case, I've chosen both keeping what you said in mind.

Anyway, I've read quite a lot these last few days, looked benchmark, etc.

I've come with build (gaming/media oriented!) :

CPU :
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz
http://www.newegg.co...5-072-_-Product

Motherboard :
GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3H ( Intel Z68 - LGA1155)
http://www.newegg.co...TE GA-Z68X-UD3H

Ram :
Kingston HyperX 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
http://www.newegg.co...4-173-_-Product

HDD :
Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5
http://www.newegg.co...6-533-_-Product

Dvd Writer :
LG CD/DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.co...6-238-_-Product

GPU :
MSI N560GTX-TI Twin Frozr II/OC GeForce GTX 560 Ti
http://www.newegg.co...rozr II/OC PCIe

PSU :
Antec TruePower New TP-550 550W
http://www.newegg.co...ANTEC TruePower

Case :
COOLER MASTER RC-692-KKN2 CM690 II Advanced Black
http://www.newegg.co...9-216-_-Product

Newegg links are only for convenience since many people seem to be buying from there, it won't be the case for me.

Now I still have a few questions :

- Is there any compatibility issue ? (even though I tried to choose carefully every part, I might have missed something)
- Is 550W enough power for this build ? Will it allow me future upgrade/overclocking as well ? (from what I've read it seems Ok but I have to be sure)
- Should I be adding fans ?
- What particularity/feature/stats should I be looking for when choosing a monitor ? I'm thinking about a 23''-24'' 1920*1080 resolution (to fully benefit of the GPU) but then what..? I'll be gladly taking suggestion/example of decent monitor.

Hope someone can help me a bit.

Feel free to give advice/criticism about the build.

Thanks :)

Edited by itsmay, 10 June 2011 - 07:34 AM.

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#6
Digerati

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Haha, this might be the case for you, but actually it's quite hard to decide which parts to buy when you don't know much about computer.

And when you know a lot about computers, you realize there are 1000s of options out there to make 1,000,000s of possible combinations - so the buying is no easier. It is also no less disconcerting knowing that as soon as you get your brand new product home, the next version comes out and yours instantly becomes outdated. :unsure: :)

I happen to prefer Gigabyte boards and Intels so we are good there. Using the eXtreme PSU Calculator Lite, your PSU is plenty big for your current hardware. Even when I tweak the calculator with High-End board, 100% TDP, 100% (Peak) System load, and 30% Capacitor aging, I get 506W minimum and 556W recommended. Antec is one of my preferred PSU brands (and my favorite case maker) so your 550W from a reputable brand PSU maker is spot on. And it will leave you some wiggle room for two more sticks of RAM, and maybe a better (but not two!) graphics card. Your case comes with 2 x 140mm fans and 1 x 120mm, which is a great complement for great cooling.

What particularity/feature/stats should I be looking for when choosing a monitor ? I'm thinking about a 23''-24'' 1920*1080 resolution (to fully benefit of the GPU) but then what..? I'll be gladly taking suggestion/example of decent monitor.

Well, choosing monitors is even more of a personal choice. I would not worry about resolutions. Any current monitor will support your card. I like Samsung, but I like ViewSonic too. I use two 22" monitors and love that setup - I personally don't understand how anyone could live with just one monitor. But one 24" is not bad, once you get used to the limitations one monitor imposes on you.

Like the computer, you need to set a budget. A bigger budget will get you a better monitor. 16:9 is best if you will be watching DVDs and videos as that is the widescreen standard for TVs. 16:10, designed for computers, gives you a little more vertical space which some folks prefer, but also more black bars with video content, which a lot of folks don't like. I think gamers in general, are divided down the middle. So, like keyboards and mice, monitors are too personal - you need to visit a consumer electronics store and touch, feel and view for yourself.

I note however that your graphics card has two DVI and one mini-HDMI port. If you are absolutely certain you will NEVER go to a multi-monitor setup, then you can look for a monitor that supports HDMI. And note if it has built-in speakers, the audio will be carried through the HDMI cable, assuming that graphics card supports audio throughput. But if you might take the plunge and go for two or more monitors some time down the road, then I would look for a monitor that supports DVI. Mixing HDMI and DVI on the same card has been troublesome for many in dual-monitor setups. Maybe HDMI 1.4 will address that. HDMI came out of the home theater electronics world and the transition into the computer electronics world has not been as smooth as was hoped. Note the video signal in DVI and HDMI is exactly the same - same protocols and same quality - the only difference is HDMI also carries 5.1 audio, and HDMI control data. If a monitor supports DVI and internal speakers, it will also have a standard speaker input for the normal speaker cable from the sound card.

One thing I always look for in monitors, and it is hard to find, is height adjustment. Most monitors just tilt and swivel. I like to adjust the height of my monitors to my head (and that's after I adjust my chair height to my liking). I don't want to tilt my head up and down to accommodate the height of the monitors. If you wear bifocals, or worse, trifocals, that can be a real pain in the neck! No pun intended. If your desk has a hutch, height might matter there too. With me and two monitors, I also don't want a wide bezel, as some monitors have for "styling". I look for thin bezels so I have a smaller bar where the two monitors come together. Also, bezel width affects height too. So measure you desk space before you look at monitors.

Some monitors include speakers. This can be nice if limited on desk space - you can get rid of your computer speakers. But monitor speakers will never sound good enough for "serious" music or video listening. They are great, however, for Windows sounds, Youtube, or casual background (though directly in your face!) music. That said, built-in speakers typically add significantly to either the bottom edge of the monitor, or both sides - depending on speaker placement.

Finally, I don't see an operating system. Note that only full "Retail" licenses of Windows can be transferred to new computers. If you don't have a full retail license, you will have to buy a new Windows license, in which case I recommend 64-bit Windows 7 Professional, or use one of the many free Linux alternatives.
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#7
itsmay

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Thank you very much for your thorough answer.

I have two more questions that hopefully you will be able to answer.

I note however that your graphics card has two DVI and one mini-HDMI port. If you are absolutely certain you will NEVER go to a multi-monitor setup, then you can look for a monitor that supports HDMI

Mixing HDMI and DVI on the same card has been troublesome for many in dual-monitor setups

- Couldn't I get a monitor that supports both HDMI and DVI so that I can use either HDMI when using only one monitor or using DVI when I want to use two of them (to dodge the trouble I could get) ?


And since my actual monitor has VGA :

- Is it possible to use two monitor this way : One monitor that support DVI (or DVI + HDMI if answer to my first question is yes) and one that supports VGA then using a VGA to DVI converter ?

My questions might be a bit stupid, I don't know but I don't want to make any mistake.
Thanks again for answering me this much, I really appreciate !
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#8
Digerati

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- Couldn't I get a monitor that supports both HDMI and DVI so that I can use either HDMI when using only one monitor or using DVI when I want to use two of them (to dodge the trouble I could get) ?

. Yes. And many monitors to have both HDMI and DVI. Some don't, but often you can use an adapter.

Your card does not have VGA support - although it may provide analog through an adapter. You might want to download the graphics card manual and read up on hooking an analog monitor.

If and only if your card does support analog, it will have to use a DVI (or HDMI) to D-Sub adapter and may come with the card.
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