Help me build my PC 2015 Edition Catch All

Keep an out on http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapcsales

You can regularly find amazing deals on better graphics cards than the 750 ti. I have seen 7850's which are slightly faster but older generation gpus for ~$100. The r9 280x which will blow the doors off the 750 ti is often reduced to $200 which is totally worth the $50 more. (if your cpu can feed it, but if not your next cpu upgrade will) The r7 260x is slightly slower than the 750 ti and I have seen them go for $80.

Here is an example of a $195 r9 280x 3GB (a friggen steal):
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...

Oh, and one important note: you need a 64-bit OS to run most current graphic cards. If you're still on XP, you're limited to 4 total gigs of memory, which means that if you plug in a 2-gig card, you'll end up with only 2 gigs of RAM available. In a 64-bit OS, whether Win7 or Win8, you'll get all four gigs of RAM, plus the two or more gigs on the video card, no problem.

So my main question right now is would it be worth just upgrading the video card now and doing everything else in a few months, and would something like that even work with my current setup?

Absolutely. A 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo isn't impossibly slow or anything. It's only dual-core, but a lot of games will run quite well on it. Your biggest limitation is definitely that 4650, and you'd improve the computer a great deal by replacing it. You could improve things a little more by overclocking the CPU, although my usual target on the Core 2 and Core 2 Quad is 3GHz, and that's not very far from where you already are. Some people got up to the 3.4GHz range on the Core 2s, depending mostly on the chip in question; some were very good, others would struggle just to hit 3.

Coming from 2.8, it might not be worth the trouble, but as long as you're very careful, all it should cost is time.

You probably don't want an AMD anything if you're going to be running Linux. The drivers are improving, but of the various options (closed AMD drivers, open AMD drivers, closed NVidia drivers, open NVidia drivers), only the closed-source NVidia drivers are truly good. In truth, they're the Windows drivers, with a thin shim layer to talk to X and the Linux kernel, so you'd expect them to be good.

The 750Ti fits your desired game profile pretty well. It's not a great card, but it's a lot better than what you have, it's not terribly expensive, and it should be very comfortable in Linux. The AMD cards that fang is linking to will have more speed per dollar, and would normally be a better buy, but for your stated use case, they're not a very good choice.

Note, however, that if you buy one that cheap, and then move up to a strong CPU later on, then it will once again become your biggest limitation. The 750Ti is a nice upgrade for your machine, but it would be a bottleneck for a 4.4Ghz quadcore i5 or i7.

Malor wrote:

Note, however, that if you buy one that cheap, and then move up to a strong CPU later on, then it will once again become your biggest limitation. The 750Ti is a nice upgrade for your machine, but it would be a bottleneck for a 4.4Ghz quadcore i5 or i7.

Good point. I hadn't really thought yet that the 750 ti would be an improvement now, but not necessarily when I upgrade everything else. What are some better Nvidia cards in the up to $200 range? That's probably about my upper limit for a graphics card.

I'll have to do another post sometime soon about what an entire new machine for me might be. After looking around, it looks like a typical recommended build is something like an Intel i5 (~$200), 8 GB ram ($70-80), mobo (~$100), and graphics card. I may or may not try to reuse my case, power supply, and HD to save money, if possible. That would push me up into the $6-700 total range, which is probably about the price range I'd be looking at.

Malor wrote:

Oh, and one important note: you need a 64-bit OS to run most current graphic cards. If you're still on XP, you're limited to 4 total gigs of memory, which means that if you plug in a 2-gig card, you'll end up with only 2 gigs of RAM available. In a 64-bit OS, whether Win7 or Win8, you'll get all four gigs of RAM, plus the two or more gigs on the video card, no problem.

It is still on xp. I was thinking to do the graphics card now along with either Win 7 or 8, and maybe a new 1080p monitor. My current monitor maxes out at 1600x900.

The next step up on nvidia's side is a 760 which is $230-250. It is a noticeable improvement over the 750 ti but not $100 better. (especially considering the cheaper ati alternatives) The 760 is nvidia's minimum card that will game at 1080p maxed out.

For a rough comparision between the nvidia and ati lines:

$150 750ti - r7 260x is slightly worse @ $80-100, 7850 is slightly better at $100
$220-250 760 - r9 270, 7870, r9 270x are a match if a few fps weaker @ $120, $140, $150-160 respectively
$330 770 - r9 280x is comparable (if not slightly better) @ $200
$475 780 - 290 is comparable @ $340-370
$650 780ti - 290x is sometimes better, sometimes worse for $480

What are some better Nvidia cards in the up to $200 range? That's probably about my upper limit for a graphics card.

Well, at the risk of a conflict of interest, I'm selling a 680 for $150+$20 shipping, in the Trading Post thread in Everything Else.

That might be a good solution, but because it IS a conflict of interest, I should let someone else analyze its relative merits for you.

(psst, JC, here's your chance to get me back for saying that the fans you were selling weren't that great. )

are the fans on the video card sleeve bearing?

Can't say anything bad about 680s as I had an SLI setup with them. They run warmer than the 700 generation but nothing horrible, was quite pleased with their performance and would still have them if it wasn't for an unfortunate experience with MSI...

@Malor: I'm not sure whether I would want it yet or not, but out of curiosity, how used was the 680?

After doing a little more research, I have a better grasp on GPU numbering systems, and see how the 750 is the entry level card of the current line from them. And how they compare to AMD, somehwat, though I'd like to stick to NVIDIA for the Linux compatibility issues.

In thinking about it, maybe it'd be better to look at what a complete new system might look like, then see if just the video card and Windows 8 would work as a useful temporary upgrade for now, or if I'd be better off just doing it all at once. Could someone help with a possible build in the $600-700 range? Would it just be similar to what TheGameGuru posted in the beginning of the thread, but with an NVIDIA gpu instead? I'll also be buying Windows 8, and probably a new monitor, but that doesn't need to be included in the price.

Also, would there be any issue in re-using the power supply, hard drive, and case? The power supply in particular, I don't know how long they normally last. I reposted my current specs below.

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 2.8GHz
MOBO: ASUS P5QL/EPU
RAM: 4GB (2 x 2GB) DIMM DDR2 (not sure what brand)
Video card: Radeon HD4650
PSU: Corsair TX 650W
HDD: Western Digital WD Blue 640GB 3.5” 7200RPM WD6400AAKS
Case: Lian Li PC-A05N ATX mini tower

Nothing wrong with recycling your case, HDD and PSU. You may have to reinstall your OS depending on the hardware changes.

That PSU should be just fine with an nvidia card.

how used was the 680?

It's been used for about two years, left on most of the time. (it's my understanding that power cycles are harder on electronics than just running.) It's been in a dust-filtered case, never overclocked, and always given all the power it needed. (an 850-watt supply, which is stupidly large, but it was on a killer sale.)

I see no particular reason why it wouldn't reach whatever the design lifetime is for the card (three more years??), but of course I have no way to guarantee that. If it breaks early, I didn't do anything to cause it.

then see if just the video card and Windows 8 would work as a useful temporary upgrade for now, or if I'd be better off just doing it all at once.

Given the kinds of games you've said you want to run, Win8 plus a new video card should be fine for now. Eventually, you'll reach the point where you want to play something that needs more CPU than you have, and you can do the rest of the upgrade then. If you get a strong card now, you'll be more likely to take it with you into your next computer, but the longer it is until that happens, of course, the less appealing keeping the card will become.

Basically, if you think your gaming habits are going to go upscale, and you're going to want a beefier computer, buy a stronger card. If you think you'll stay in the light-duty titles, a cheaper card should be fine.

Could someone help with a possible build in the $600-700 range?

I'd probably do a 4670K CPU ($225ish), a Z-class motherboard with Intel networking ($150ish), and 8 gigs of DDR3($90ish). Those three parts would end up costing somewhere around $500, and then you'd add whatever video card you wanted from there. A 760, which is a nice solid match for that system, would run about $240. I'm seeing 4-gig versions of the 760 for $260, and for $20, you should definitely go that way. You should be able to keep the rest of your parts... all you need to replace is CPU/motherboard/RAM/video card. $750 is a little over what you're thinking about, but that would be a real nice machine. And it will have some overclocking headroom; when it starts to feel slow, you'll be able to crank that K chip up quite a ways, and extend its useful life by probably a year or more.

Note that adding an SSD can offer a very large performance improvement, especially since your current drive is a WD Blue, which is reasonable, but no performance champ. Samsung's 840 Evo series drives are fast, and have very appealing pricing. I personally buy Intel SSDs, but Samsung's pricing of late has been hard to argue with. That'll knock you out of your budget range, but it will have a very large impact on the perceived speed of the machine.

My wife just brought home a PC she bought from her IT department for $5...

IBM THINKCENTRE A55e
Intel Pentium D3.0GHz 1,024 MB DDR2
160GB HDD DVD-RW GIGABIT LAN
WINDOWS XP PROFESSIONAL SP3 Mini-Desktop Case.

Has IBM and Lenovo branding on the front.

Did she just waste $5, or did I at least score a 'cheap' power supply, optical drive and network card?

wifey wrote:

Now you play those Steam thingies

/facepalm

Cheap optical drive maybe. That thing's old enough hardware wise that drive could be IDE in which case it's useless with any new motherboards. If it's a SATA drive then sure. $5 optical drive.

The power supply is likely some 350watt super cheap junk.

The LAN card, if it is separate, might be worth holding onto, but I'd only keep that if it was Intel. If it's realtek or whoever else not so much.

I'd lean toward it being a waste of $5, but... $5. That barely covers the cost of a crappy burger at McDonald's.

Not exactly the worst risk for her to take, right?

Eh you could always use it for a server for something or other.

The Pentium D was a nasty hack on top of a bad architecture, the P4. It's dual-core, but it glues those cores together in a strange way. The Pentium 4 was already badly bandwidth-starved, and the Pentium D sticks two of them on the same bus, the one that already wasn't enough to keep one core happy. It's probably the worst chip Intel ever did, at least in the x86 space. And I have some vague memory that it supported x64, but it did it through microcode or something weird, so it was even slower at 64-bit applications.

However, even knowing this ahead of time, I still bought one to use as a server. This was when I transitioned away from being an AMD fan, because my Linux server just would not run properly on the AMD chipset I had, giving me spurious errors all the time. The Pentium D was a sh*tty chip in comparison to the Athlon 64, not even *close* to being as good, but at least I could trust a machine running an Intel chipset to give me correct results. It served me (slowly) for years with nary a bobble. Whether fairly or unfairly, I haven't bought an AMD CPU since.

Despite being crummy, even for its era, it'd be fine for office work or web browsing. If you don't have any kids that could use a dedicated homework machine, I'd suggest maybe donating it to a thrift store. It's still a perfectly good tool for many purposes.

If you do keep it, you may want to put a new hard drive on it. One that old is probably on its last legs.

edit: also, XP isn't getting security patches anymore, so you would probably also want Win7, Win8, or a Linux variant for it.

another edit: also, tell your wife that was a smart buy for $5. Even if you guys can't use it yourselves, and end up donating it, someone out there will be delighted to have it.

A working computer for $5 is nothing to sneeze at. You can browse the web with it for sure and more than likely play any 2d game on it.
The graphics card is probably junk to do much current 3d stuff.

I think it will become a homework machine for the kids (6.5 and 5).

They use a lot of web based interactive software now in their push for an ICT (Information Communication Technology) component in early learning program.

I can log into Stepladder for that, and run some basic Flash educational stuff. My eldest can even use notepad for typing in her stories. She likes using the iPad, but a 'proper' keyboard will be a nice thing for her to interact with.

I mentioned how we would need to get a cheap keyboard/mouse/monitor.

"Oh, I forgot, those are in the car"

Wireless keyboard and mouse, plus a Dell LCD widescreen... The keyboard and mouse was included with the box, and the monitors were 'going out' for an additional $3.

All funds the IT department raised are going to charity, so that was good, and the kids have a decent unit for school work, by the sounds of it.

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

Just to make sure you saw it, I'll repeat my sole warning about the machine: the hard drive in it is old, and it could fail at any time. Hard drive failure rates go up steadily after about five years.

If you're not going to replace it, make sure to back things up routinely.

Malor wrote:

Just to make sure you saw it, I'll repeat my sole warning about the machine: the hard drive in it is old, and it could fail at any time. Hard drive failure rates go up steadily after about five years.

If you're not going to replace it, make sure to back things up routinely.

Will do. I don't see anything being saved 'locally' on it. A cartoon USB stick for their homework, and everything else they do is already 'in the cloud', which spins me out. We worked on some stuff last holidays, and my eldest received rewards/recognition when returning to school for the exercises she completed.

It still amazes me the world my kids are growing up in, compared to the one I've seen before 'now'.

To echo what Malor said, one thing also to consider is that machine may have been collecting dust in a closet somewhere and may not have been handled with the greatest of care when stacked up in the corner. The one thing in your pocket may be that because that generation of computers typically came with 40 or 80GB hard drives, it may have been replaced as a stop gap upgrade. (because the hdd filled up with emails with nested pdf's and xls's) And it may not have gotten all that much use before the system was replaced.

Also, a lot of places I have worked, older machines were cannibalized and frankensteined to make one good computer from 2-4 existing limpers. A lot of times these machines were still not fast enough and were replaced with a lot of life left in them.

I'd probably do a 4670K CPU ($225ish), a Z-class motherboard with Intel networking ($150ish), and 8 gigs of DDR3($90ish). Those three parts would end up costing somewhere around $500, and then you'd add whatever video card you wanted from there. A 760, which is a nice solid match for that system, would run about $240.

Offhand, I doubt I would want to overclock it down the line. Granted, it seems like it's a pretty easy thing to do these days, but I'd probably rather have a non-overclocked cpu. What would be the next best non-unlocked cpu? The sub-$1000 build in this post had an i5-4440, and I read that the i5-4590 is also a good cpu for around $200. Also, what motherboard would go with one of those? The Asus H97-Plus?

Note that adding an SSD can offer a very large performance improvement, especially since your current drive is a WD Blue, which is reasonable, but no performance champ.

I would love to get an SSD, but to keep the cost down, I think that will have to be a future addition, maybe either if I see one on super sale or sometime next year. That would be awesome, but probably optional at this point.

Would something like this work?

Also, I'm a little confused on the slightly different variations of the gtx760, and which one I would (maybe) get? And finally, why are AMD graphics cards so much cheaper than the comparable Nvidia ones, as fangblackbone posted above? I'd think they would be a little closer in price.

vlox_km wrote:
I'd probably do a 4670K CPU ($225ish), a Z-class motherboard with Intel networking ($150ish), and 8 gigs of DDR3($90ish). Those three parts would end up costing somewhere around $500, and then you'd add whatever video card you wanted from there. A 760, which is a nice solid match for that system, would run about $240.

Offhand, I doubt I would want to overclock it down the line. Granted, it seems like it's a pretty easy thing to do these days, but I'd probably rather have a non-overclocked cpu. What would be the next best non-unlocked cpu? The sub-$1000 build in this post had an i5-4440, and I read that the i5-4590 is also a good cpu for around $200. Also, what motherboard would go with one of those? The Asus H97-Plus?

I just got an i5-4590 and I'm very happy with it, especially for what I paid for it (Superbiiz had $15 off them over the 4th of July weekend, so I got it for ~$180). Theoretically it should work in most older LGA1150 boards, but since I was buying a board as well I went with H97 board to make sure I wouldn't run in to any issues.

The full parts list from my recent build is here -- I brought the hard drives with me when I moved to the US, but everything else was new: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/KvZXJx

It's a really cool little box; it's a file server and media server, and with the 750Ti it makes a nice little Steam box, too, with the caveat that it's all Linux, all the time, which does severely limit the number of AAA games I can play on it. The 750Ti is a great match for Linux, though since it's such a new card you're unlikely to find support for it build in to current distros -- if you're running Ubuntu 14.04, like I am on this system, then it's not too difficult to get newer NVIDIA drivers from the xorg-edgers PPA.

That is pretty similar to what I think I want, other than the extra server components. And since this is my main pc, I think I was convinced its worth it to go up one step on the gpu ladder to a 760 level. And I would be happy to get an Nvidia card that works better with linux, anticipating growing support for games on it.

Old thread locked...

Because I'm completely oblivious, I didn't know that there was indeed a new thread. Tagging for my continued education!

I am just here to tag the new thread. Carry on!

Thread not tagged

sub-bing. nothing to contribute

I just wanted to point out that if you visit the first post there's an "add to favorites" link.

complexmath wrote:

I just wanted to point out that if you visit the first post there's an "add to favorites" link.

People refuse to use it for some reason. I wrote that exact post for weeks after the favorite threads feature was added and was informed by many that they dont like the favorites thing. For some reason. I dont know. It never made any sense.