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Advice on buying a new PC

59 posts in this topic

Posted

Hi All,

I am looking to purchase a new PC, what I am looking for is a gaming machine that will have a few years use in it, by that I mean it will be somewhat future proof and will be capable of running the latest games for a few years to come.

Having built my last 3 or 4 computers I would like to know if it's better to by a PC from a well known manufacturer have one made by my local PC shop or build it myself.

My latest PC is a few years old and it's starting to get a bit unreliable so it's time for a change, the problem that I have is that I'm out of touch with the latest tech regarding the best CPU's, graphics cards and motherboards etc.

I have always used the AMD Athlon CPU ( currently using a AMD 64 X2 Dual Core 6000+ 3 GHz) along with a NVidia video card (GeForce 9800 GTX+) when building by PC's, are these the best to use or would a Intel based machine be better for gaming.

If you think it would be better to buy a pre-built PC what are the best and most reliable PC's out there for gaming.

My budget for this is around £1,600, do you think I would get a descent PC for this kind of cash.

Thanks for all you help,

John

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Posted

If you want it to be "future proof" as possible:

Intel Core I7 processor (i7-930 minimum)

X58 Motherboard w/ 6GB RAM (minimum)

ATI Radeon 5870 (will be able to add a second for Crossfire later on when they are cheaper)

or

Nvidia GTX480 (again can buy another one later on for SLI when they are cheaper)

750W Power Supply (to be on the safe side).

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Posted (edited)

As you know your $2,300 will go a lot further if you put it together piece by piece, instead of buying pre-built, and even further if you can salvage items from your current system.

Future-proofing.

Limit your search of motherboards to those which offer SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 options.

Go SSD for your OS and critical apps.

Edited by NoQuarter

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Posted

Having built my last 3 or 4 computers I would like to know if it's better to by a PC from a well known manufacturer have one made by my local PC shop or build it myself.

If you're still comfortable with putting together all the pieces and troubleshooting problems if/when they come up, then I think you're still better off building from parts. Unless you get a really high end model, name brand PCs all tend to skimp on parts where they can.

I don't know what prices are like in the UK but for US$2000 you could put a beast of a machine together, especially if you can reuse some parts like kb/monitor/mouse/etc. Everything Bota mentioned plus a new case and a couple of terabyte hard drives wouldn't even hit that amount.

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Posted

Hi John,

Its what you feel comfortable with, DELL are a big no no! And so is PC world!!!

I bought a machine from CyberPower in 2008, it was a good machine but since then I've learned so much about PC's, I have upgraded everything in it barr the CPU.

£1600 will certainly buy you an excellent ready made PC, but almost everyone in the gaming world will tell you that its a better option to build your own. I just dont let myself get bogged down with fancy names and numbers of components etc!

It also depends on what you call 'future proof', me I say 4 years, some gamers on here are that keen and have so much money to waste they'll upgrade every 6-12 months! lol

If you don't want the hassle of building a machine then buy one form either:

Scan computers up here near me in Bolton: http://3xs.scan.co.uk/ShowSystem.asp?SystemID=1134 its £40 over your budget but will last for years!

Another great builder is Cude247

PC specialist aren't brilliant but OK for smaller budgets.

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Posted

Thanks for the quick replies.

I should have said before that I intend keeping my keyboard and mouse plus I have a dual monitor setup so I will be keeping those as well, all I need is the actual PC itself.

My local PC shop told me that if I give him the spec of the PC that I'm looking to get then he would give me a price to build it for me, this must be a better bet that going for a brand name machine.

I might see what the price would be using the spec that Bota posted above.

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Posted

John

I would certainly recommend the route of self-build as it saves money on assembly costs that you can divert into better quality components. I went down this road myself about 15 months ago not really knowing too much about how all of the parts work together but taking the point of view that if others can do it I too can learn how to do it. I started off by reading up articles off the internet about what components actually go into a PC, how they work together and then about the assembling process itself. There is certainly a wealth of information out there. Once I had shortlisted the items I needed I then went back to the internet to source them. As Ron mentioned I decided on Scan computers from Bolton who had all of the items I had shortlisted, in stock, at reasonable prices.

I spoke to them about particular queries I had and after satisfactorily answering my questions I decided to place an order with them. The package arrived just over 24hrs later, again delivery costs were very reasonable, and I was able to get started somewhat nervously at first but over a weekend I was able to put together a high spec system for far less money than I would have paid for a fully assemled PC from a "named" company.

For virtually the same kind of money you're are talking about I put the following spec PC together

Intel i7 920 Processor overclocked to 4.00GHz

6Gb Corsair Dominator 1600 RAM

Asus P6T Deluxe X58 motherboard

Noctua NH12 cooler

Coolermaster HAF932 case

WD 1TB HDD

Samsung 1TB HDD

Nvidia GTX295 graphics cards 1792Mb

Enermax Revolution 850W PSU

Windows Vista 64bit OS Home Premium

I too kept my monitor, keyboard and mouse.

For a PC that is relatively futureproof, at least for the time being, I would suggest this is the kind of spec to be looking for. In fact almost as Bota:16 recommended although one comment I would make regarding Bota's list is the rating of the PSU. While it's always the subject of some debate these modern components can be power hungry and if you were to add a second GPU in the future you might be safer going for a slightly larger PSU than 750W to be on the safe side. A little extra headroom won't hurt.

As you suggest it may be interesting to take a list like this to your local store and get a quote from them. An alternative halfway-house could be buying a bundled package which may provide a case, mobo, PSU and processor or some of these elements and you fill in the gaps. I think again Scan offer these but so do Novatech, Dabs etc.

I hope this is of some use to you and wish you well in your search for a new PC whichever route you decide to take.

All the best

Anthony :rocky:

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Posted

Thanks for the detailed reply Anthony.

I have no problem with building the PC myself but I was wondering if it was worth the effort these days what with the prices of PC's falling if it would be just as easy to get my local shop to build it for me.

As I mentioned before I have built my last 3 or 4 computers and normally get all the parts from this shop anyway, what I will probably do is get him to give me a detailed breakdown of all the prices for parts and labour so I can see just what I will be paying for.

I'll keep you posted.

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Posted

The markup on built PC's these days is extremely tight, there is hardly any profit in it. They make the money off things like warranties, and bulk OS deals. So I wouldn't really be so quick to disregard an off the shelf option if the hastle of building your own is something you'd rather pass on. It's fun as you'll know, but don't forget it is scary too, fitting those expensive components.

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Posted

If you do happen to go with an off the shelf option. Wait until you are about to hand over the readies, then hit them with: Oh, I take it this comes with the Windows Installation disc. I know many fail to include it, but usually always will give in, if buying a good model.

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Posted

^

You'll probably want to steer clear of the likes of Digital Storm, Falcon Northwest, etc. sites as well...or try to justify a $4,000 warranty markup.

Well clear.

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Posted

2 things to consider on rather to get it prebuilt or to build it.

Pre-built... one place covers your warranty for 1 -3 years

If you build it, you have to deal with manufacturers warranties.

Here is a thought... what about a barebones?

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/category/category_slc.asp?CatId=4149&name=Intel-Core-i7-Barebone-PC&Nav=|c:333|&Sort=0&Recs=10

This one is pretty sweet...

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=6370888&CatId=4149

The hardware is good... just add your video card, sound upgrade and O/S

(maybe change out the ps for and upgraded model also and keep that one as a spare.

This way you don't have to research as much as the components are made to go together.... but also they aren't marked up as much as a retail pc would be.

hmm wasn't thinking about you being from the uk... is there a tigerdirect or something similar there? (just realized this after i made the post... ack.

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Posted

Thanks for your help so far, much appreciated. :thumbsup:

I've been checking some prices and all the items listed below have been sourced from Amazon UK, I have used them in the past and they seem quite reliable.

INTEL Core i7-930 - 2.8 GHz - L3 8 MB Cache - LGA 1366 Socket £289.98

ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 - Socket 1366 - Chipset X58 - ATX £232.29

Zotac GeForce GTX 480 1536MB DDR5 PCI-E £399.99

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 Cooler - Special Edition £55.95

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Case £120.95

Western Digital Caviar 1TB SATAII 64MB Cache £58.60

Enermax - Revolution85 ERV950EWT PSU £199.95

Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate, 64 bit, English £169.46

Corsair CMP6GX3M3A1600C8 6GB £176.63

Total £1703.8

I can use the DVD drive from my current machine and if needed I also have 8Gb of DDR2 ram but I don't think it's as good as the Corsair.

I intend to take this list to my local PC shop and ask them for a price all these parts plus a price for the complete pre-built PC.

I know this is a bit over my budget but I think it might be worth the extra expense.

It would be good if some of you could take a look at the list to make sure everything is compatible and complete.

So what do you all think to the spec?

Cheers,

John

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Posted

Looks like an excellent combo to me. :yes: You going to use onboard sound?

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Posted

Power supply and cooler look a little expensive to me... You might be able to save a little there. And Windows 7 Home Premium is good enough for most purposes - you can save some cash if you don't need any of the extra features of Ultimate (remote desktop host, dynamic disks, domain joining, etc.) I would definitely not re-use the DDR2 RAM.

I'm also showing £237.60 for the CPU and £197.32 for the motherboard at amazon.co.uk - double-check those prices before you order!

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Posted

John

Looks good. I checked out the prices at Scan Computers and can tell you that I found the following:

Asus P6TD £214 There are a lot of models with similar titles. I hope I have the right one.

Inno3D GTX480 £381

HAF 932 £103

i7 930 £236

i7 920 £179 still a good alternative

XFX 850W Black PSU as alternative to Enermax which is an excellent unit £128

Other items not listed pretty much as your Amazon quotes

A bit of food for thought.

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Posted

Thanks for finding the cheaper prices.

I checked again on Amazon and the prices seem to change quite regularly so maybe when I'm ready to buy I will get a better deal.

I'll probably go for the GTX480 so will my 9800 GTX+ be ok for SLI until I can afford something better.

Anthony mentioned that "there are a lot of models with similar titles" when he mentioned the motherboard price, this is where it might get confusing for me (not being up to speed with the latest spec), is there anything I need to look out for or any variations between the MB or CPU which have the same model number apart from the amount of ram on the GTX480 and the clock speed for the CPU, I think the clock speed is the same on all i7-930 CPU's.

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Posted

If you plan on serious OC'ing down the line and look at the spec/cost ratio of the i7-920/i7-930, the former has been reported as achieving higher speeds as well as being the more reliable when amped up and less susceptable to over-voltage damage.

Your existing 9800GTX will be more than OK for PhysX use but not SLI (w/GTX480) as identical cards are required.

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Posted

Just a quick update as to where I am with the PC.

My local PC shop quoted me a price of £1675 to supply the parts that I listed here before and build the machine plus install the OS.

After checking the prices on Amazon again I found they were cheaper this time coming to around £1520. I think it's worth paying extra £155, this will save me having to build it myself plus all parts will be under warranty from the shop.

So I will be ordering the PC on Friday and it should be done by the middle of next week, then the fun will start! :)

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Posted

All sounds good to me John. Please try not to dribble too much when you find your frame rates up around 200 and remember to take that self satisfied grin off your face at least once in a while.

I hope you get many hours of gloriously uninterrupted use out of your new machine and we continue to get fantastic missions.

All the best

Anthony :rocky:

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Posted

Sounds great..I don't think you'll be disappointed with that setup... :thumbsup:

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Posted (edited)

sounds like fun enjoy

Edited by zeealice

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Posted

Well the PC arrived yesterday, all I need to do now is get everything installed and up and running.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I first saw the size of the case, it's a full size tower which stands twice the height of my old dual core machine and about half as long again, at least it comes on wheels making it easy to move around.

Although it's big there's not much room left inside once you have the graphics card and the large CPU cooler (it's a big vertical heat-sink with two fans attached) installed.

On a plus note, I got a free upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate (I paid for Win 7 Home premium) for placing their biggest PC order in a while. :)

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Posted

John

I was going to mention the size of the HAF932 but I thought you should discover it for yourself. It is a bit of a monster. Nice little bonus too with the upgrade to Ultimate.

Enjoy

Anthony :rocky:

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