/ Gaming computer specifcations

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wilkie14c - on 02 Sep 2013
The middle sibling has decided he wants a gaming computer for christmas. We've discussed this and I think it'll get him on the computing path and steer him away from xbox. I'd rather he'd spend his time away from games full stop but hey-ho, this is his generation...
He's starting computer studies at school this year and hopfully the start of a path into IT later in life. As we all know, having a computer means you have to start learing tips and tricks for when 'computer says no' so this could be his first step.
He has a PC anyway for basic stuff so has basic skills, he already has a 22 inch monitor so that'll save a bit of cash. My plan is to buy a component each month till crimbo and then the week before have him build it himself with me as mentor. I've already got him looking at cases to get us started and also at the sys requirments for the types of games he want to play. In the back on my head I sort of know what spec but looking at personal experience and reccomendations. I never work on gaming computers as these things tend to be custom, home builds and gamers what they are doing and generally fix their own faults. Budget is 500 ish and looking at:
Case & PSU <450 watts?>
DVD/R/RW combi, all format drive
500 gig HDD
1 gig AGP card
Motherboard & CPU <at least i5> MB can have on board sound as this is only for his bedroom and a soundblaster can be added later if needed.
4 gig RAM <board must be capable of supporting a future increase>
Will be running Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit.
Any reccomendations for MB and AGP??
r0x0r.wolfo - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c: I'd plump for more watts on the power supply. Maybe around 600+.

Go for a decent case with plenty of cooling options. Do you have space restrictions, mid or full tower?

I5 2500 is a very good processor, silly value for money last time I checked, high end and very overclockable. Might be something thats taken the highend bang for buck title since. Check the case dimensions for a cpu fan, most gamers replace the stock one for a much larger one. Nothing you have to buy now though.

Ask him what sort of games he wants to play. 1gb graphics card may not cut it, there are a lot of different cards at 1gb though, some older flagship cards and some new ones that arent nearly as quick. Quantity of ram isn't the most important statistic on a gpu. expect this to be the dearest component.

Get at least 8 gig ram to start with, ram is cheap. 2x2 is a bit old hat now. 8 is plenty and allows a considerable upgrade to 16 without binning 2 sticks of 2gig.

Get a good motherboard, check compatibility with other components. Most scrimped component usually but you can look to future proof a bit with a better one.
cap'nChino - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c: More RAM and HDD. And as high a Graphics card as you can go. Modern games on pc are hungry beasts. If the new GTA is anything like the last one its system requirements will be border line criminal.
wilkie14c - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to cap'nChino:
Need to up the RAM then huh, I have an i5 chip at home somewhere, I'll hunt it out, could save me a bit. I don't mind going second hand to keep cost down on some good but older kit. size wise space isn't a problem, I was going to get a midi case with side fans and fancy pants clear sides and red LEDs - his choice not mine! Thanks so far
fire_munki on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c:
Oldish i5 2500k is monster overclcockable, you won't find an AGP card anymore really it's all PCIe now.

I'd look at 8Gb of ram it's barely any more cost than 4Gb, get it in 2 stick leaving space for 2 more if required and he starts using the PC for learning using things like virtual machines.

I like Gigabyte motherboards so have a look at them, go for one that offers some overclocking as that is fun to learn. GFX cards are very personal, I've had ATI cards for ages so thats what I look at, plus they often give a couple free Steam games.
David Martin - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c:

How old is he? Building your own computer is surprisingly easy and will definitely spike an interest in the guts of computing and software.

500 is tough for a proper gaming rig though. A high-end graphics card (which is usually the choke point on games these days) will cost 250-350 alone. PSU in the <500 watt range will be another 70. Memory 70, CPU 130, Motherboard 70-140, HDD 70.

There is a lot of competition between motherboards but also a lot of crap about how one is better than the other. Cheap one work fine and many have so many ridiculous features (space for 3 or 4 graphics cards) that you simply don't need. A bog standard 70 mobo will do the trick.
wilkie14c - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to David Martin: He's 13 so prime age for learning this stuff. I run a PC repair business so he's quite used to seeing the insides scattered all around the house but he's never shown any interest in learning until now, because its going to be his own computer. Like I said, I never get to work on any gaming set ups because the owners are savvy enough to repair their own, reballed a few nVidia cards for gamers thats all. I've already got the hhd and maybe the cpu. The GFX is going to be biggie I know that, but that can always be upgraded later. What he really wants to play is minecraft and WOW so perhaps not too demanding
fire_munki on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c:
I should also ask what monitor? I've got an old 1Gb 6870 which will play things in high detail modes purely because I've got an old 1680 * 1050 monitor.

If it's an older monitor you won't need an eye wateringly expensive GFX card.
My whole system was about 600 a couple years back when i5 2500k was the top i5.
dunc56 - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c: He has a 22 inch monitor - check it has a decent response time - needs to be less than 10ms to prevent ghosting (or so they say) Also what is it's max resolution - if it's 19201080 then there is no need to go silly with a graphics card as they are now designed to go to higher resolutions than that. It would also appear that there aren't any games which really need the high end cards now. It's all just willy waving. I have a GTX460 and on price/performance they are still ok. Just get a second hand one ? (around 50)

Or go a step further and get a GTX580 for around 100.

Other thoughts - Blu ray ? And HDMI out ? SSD boot drive ?

What do others think ?

dunc56 - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to fire_munki:
> (In reply to wilkie14c)
> I should also ask what monitor? I've got an old 1Gb 6870 which will play things in high detail modes purely because I've got an old 1680 * 1050 monitor.
>
> If it's an older monitor you won't need an eye wateringly expensive GFX card.
> My whole system was about 600 a couple years back when i5 2500k was the top i5.

Beat me to it :)
wilkie14c - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to fire_munki: I'm not sure what the res of the monitor is, its a 22 inch though that I fixed ages ago and he's used it ever since and I've never gave it a thought. will check it out and what it can do though, thanks!
wilkie14c - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to dunc56:

> Or go a step further and get a GTX580 for around 100.
sounds perfect, will read up on them

> Other thoughts - Blu ray ? And HDMI out ? SSD boot drive ?

Na, its just for his bedroom so can cope without stuff thats gonna cost me even more! I've got a 500 sata already for him and I think I'll stick a spare laptop drive in there too and get him used to backing up his docs and photos to it. I've no doubt once he gets going he'll be knitting the main windows drive right up with all sorts of crap! A reinstall only takes a hour or less
cap'nChino - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c: http://www.game-debate.com/games/index.php?g_id=1308&game=Grand%20Theft%20Auto%20V

Might be a good starting point. Im only using GTA V as a reference point because it will be the must have game. That said if your kid is 13 gta might be a bit adult for him and the game play alone will set him back 4 years in social development and learning ;-)
needvert on 02 Sep 2013
4GB isn't much....remember more RAM = faster io from an app's perspective due to more caching (presuming your os doesn't suck).

I'd be getting at least 8, but probably 16gb.
fire_munki on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to needvert:
8Gb yes, 16Gb not really needed just yet.
Only time I've used lots of RAM is when having lots of VMs running photo editing and things like that, for gaming 8Gb will be fine, especially if we use the extra 50 on the GFX card instead of RAM.
itsThere on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c: Have a look into overclocked graphics cards, the newer silly cards are not made for gaming but people buy them anyway. Instead of buying the most expensive have a look on the next card down for an overclocked card. It could be faster/better/cheaper.

Dont buy cheap ram, get less(gig) faster ram. This gives you room for more later without wanting to replace anything. A fast 4gb stick or slower 8gb stick. You dont need more than 4gb right now.

Fans, get lots of fans. Then a few more. Minecraft is a fairly demanding game, belive it or not.
wilkie14c - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to itsThere: I know what you mean about overclocking a lesser GP, I've got a dark infared rework station so don't care about overheating the chip at all, I can simply remove, reball and replace the chip from the board anytime i like! :-)
Fan, yep sir, thinking good quality CPU sink and fan, rear and side exhusters.
RAM, I guess I can start with a 4 gig stick and see how the budget goes and if any left I can get another 4 stick <as opposed to a 2 x 2> Got to try and build this thing upgradable and fairly future proof <!!!>
The Lemming - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c:

I too would say that the PSU is a bit on the small side, as the Graphics cards are very power hungry. Expect your electricity bill to shoot up too. :-)

May I suggest a Solid State hard drive for the operating system and a regular hard drive for data?

I've got a SSD on my intel i3 PC and it boots up in seconds and is super dooper quick with software, including games. ;-)

If you are going down the road of a bit of hardware each month then I'd also suggest that you leave the graphics card till last. This is because the graphic card scene changes so quickly and prices drop like a stone month on month. Also around Christmas time graphic card companies have some excellent bargains, and I'd say that the graphics card is the biggest feature of a gaming rig. You don't want it to be obsolete before the rig has made it to Boxing Day.

I don't know if you have ever used Build your own PC forums before, but these chaps give some excellent advice on components, and especially love to salivate over specs and GPUs.

http://forum.buildyourown.org.uk/

While you are at it, set your kid up with a Steam account now and each week check out Humble Bundle for some quality deals on older games. Somebody on this site put me onto it and they are practically giving the games away. You buy the games, get a purchase code and then redeem them on the Steam site. By Christmas you can have amassed quite an impressive liberary of games for both of you.

https://www.humblebundle.com/weekly

The Lemming - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c:

> RAM, I guess I can start with a 4 gig stick and see how the budget goes and if any left I can get another 4 stick <as opposed to a 2 x 2> Got to try and build this thing upgradable and fairly future proof <!!!>


As we both know, I'm a punter with this computer malarky, but from what I've read people say that two 2Gb RAM sticks are quicker than a single 4Gb RAM stick. I don't know if this is accurate or correct but I do read this a lot on sites and computer mags.
wilkie14c - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
> (In reply to wilkie14c)
>
> [...]
>
>
> As we both know, I'm a punter with this computer malarky, but from what I've read people say that two 2Gb RAM sticks are quicker than a single 4Gb RAM stick. I don't know if this is accurate or correct but I do read this a lot on sites and computer mags.

Can be yes but then a future 4 gig upgrade would only really give 6 gig total as I'd have the new 4 gig stick in one slot and a 2 gig in the other. If I go one 4 gig from the off an upgrade later would give 8 gig, 2 x banks of 4.
I think I might just get him a new xbox ;-) Thanks for the steam tip, gonna look into this...
The Lemming - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c:

Top tip, buy RAM in pairs.

I've been stung in the past mixing and matching RAM where the combination became unstable and kept either crashing the PC or not even letting it switch on.

Don't want Christmas Day to be an anticlimax. :-)
rallymania - on 02 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c:

will add another voice to the

1) bigger powersupply
2) smallish ssd to boot from (do not underestimate the difference this will make!) regular hard disk to load photoshop cs5 20 to 25s... SSD? 5s flat! this more than most things will make the PC run faster
3) secondhand previous gen video card
4) i5-2500k cpu and don't scrimp on the cooler!!!!! (the k bit is important)
5) gigabyte and asus would be my mobo choices, cheap boards have cheap capacitors and when they blow, they can take other things with them.


needvert on 03 Sep 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
> (In reply to wilkie14c)
>
> Top tip, buy RAM in pairs.
>
> I've been stung in the past mixing and matching RAM where the combination became unstable and kept either crashing the PC or not even letting it switch on.
>
> Don't want Christmas Day to be an anticlimax. :-)

Yip, you want matched dimms for dual channel or 3 channel setups. Outside of that its not a big deal to mix dimms.

Also read the motherboard manual for which slots to use.
humptydumpty - on 03 Sep 2013
In reply to wilkie14c:
> What he really wants to play is minecraft and WOW so perhaps not too demanding

Uh oh... aren't these at the Class A end of computer game addictivity? I had a housemate who used to play WoW for about 16 hours/day...
rug - on 03 Sep 2013
> What he really wants to play is minecraft and WOW so perhaps not too demanding

There is a version of minecraft available (free) for the Raspberry Pi, which has an API for building via external programs. There are (free) on-line books available with details of how to do this - so he could be enjoying himself and learning a computer language at the same time.

A bit off topic, I know, but for around 30 + an SD card (and keyboard+mouse you already have presumably) it could be something to think about for the future ?

Back on topic ...

Don't think you need to go mad with GFX card either. I can run minecraft perfectly happily on 5 year old (not cutting edge then, either) kit, so something like an AMD 7750 card will be *plenty* powerful enough. Cost around 75, quieter and lower power than bleeding edge stuff.

By the time he 'needs' more powerful kit, he will be telling you what spec to look for !

Rug

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