Help Me Build My PC Catch-All

Sorry for being a filthy skimmer but I want to ask for a brief guesstimation.

I'm intrigued, listening to the Giant Bomb gang, about possibly adding a TV to my home entertainment area as a gaming machine. I'm an all Mac house currently and nothing I have is powerful enough for modern games. I haven't had a PC at all for 2 years. Haven't had a Windows PC for gaming for over 12. So I have no clue what it would roughly cost to put together a quiet gaming PC that could connect to my HDTV and handle current games on theater easily.

My thinking is replacing playing Battlefield and games like that that I play on the 360 with a PC instead. Any ballparks? Anyone done this recently?

Malor wrote:

MrDeVil, that sounds like a loose heatsink on your CPU, at least for the heat problems. The CPU fan not speeding up might be because you've got it plugged into the wrong port, maybe, or you may have not have the port configured for temp-related speed adjustments. ASUS, for instance, calls this "Q-Fan", and you have to specifically enable it on a port for it to change the speeds.

Could also be a dying fan, but I'd check the heatsink seating before anything else. 2200RPM should be just fine to keep it cool.

Thanks Malor, I'm sure you're right about the loose heatsink. The fan speed has picked up to 3100 under load, so whatever setting I found worked, but it still gets hotter than I like. High 70s during a game, idling in the high 50s to mid 60s and it hits the 85C limit in OOCT in just over a minute, despite the faster fan speed.

Need to find somewhere I can get thermal compound tomorrow.

Battlefield likes lots of CPU, I understand, so you can't cheap out too much there. With most games, you can use kind of a wimpy CPU and a strong video card, but Battlefield suffers on large servers if you do that.

Our typical builds are usually around $800, with the luxury builds being about $1200, and I suspect a machine that will run well on a 64-player BF3 server will be somewhere in between. You can do reasonable machines down at $500ish, but they'll stutter with some games, and some titles will run best at lower resolution. You probably wouldn't like BF3 much on a $500 computer.

Note that this can look WAY better than your 360, if you're using games (like BF3) that can take advantage of the PC's horsepower. It costs quite a bit more than the 360, but the visuals will knock your socks off.

Oh, you know, I'm assuming you have a 1080P screen, but that might be wrong. What resolution is your TV? That's really critical to sizing everything.

Another thought: you mention wanting it to be quiet. You can absolutely make PCs whisper-quiet, but you'll usually spend more to do it. You'll need a better case, fans, and CPU cooler than usual, and you'll need to shop differently for your graphic card. Silence needs to be a major focus while you're speccing out your parts... trying to quiet down a loud computer afterward is much, much harder than just designing it correctly to begin with.

Yeah, that's warmer than it should be. I'm happiest with my CPUs staying at 70C or less under heavy load, though my current 2600K gets a little hotter than that.

The actual 'danger' spot is 90C, where the chip starts to actively self-throttle. You won't damage it, unless you run it that way for weeks or months, but your total throughput will drop drastically.

BF3 isn't as CPU dependent as BFBC2, but it still requires a decent rig to run. You can probably feel pretty safe suggesting that BF3 requires a better video card than CPU.

Hmm, I thought we just talked about this, and people were saying you really wanted a quadcore i5 to run BF3 on a 64-player server?

Given how cheap you can get i5-2500ks now(~$250 for processor and motherboard, provided you have a microcenter nearby), is there any reason not to go with that at a baseline?

Malor wrote:

Hmm, I thought we just talked about this, and people were saying you really wanted a quadcore i5 to run BF3 on a 64-player server?

BFBC2 is much more CPU dependent.

But garion's right, BF3 is less so. Ars did a CPU piece very recently that only really showed SP gameplay in the BF3 test, so keep that in mind, but still, it's swung pretty far toward GPU this time around.

I think one of the DICE devs said in response to that piece that CPU did matter a bit more in MP, but it's still not like it was in BFBC2.

That said, I wouldn't scrimp on CPU if my goal was BF3 and other upcoming graphical powerhouse games, Frostbite 2 or whatever engine.

DSGamer, I like what the KBMod guys put together in their monthly builds most of the time. You might start with that to get an idea of what parts would look like, then modify it a bit to fit your needs. You can build a pretty strong machine for $800 to $1000, assuming you don't need a monitor with it. You could probably go quite a bit less and still be today's consoles, but being right on the edge of new hardware there I'd build up a bit more to future-proof a bit for late next year.

There are probably a few recent builds you could find in the last few pages of this thread, too.

Thanks for that KBMod link. I was about to ask for something slightly more than the $500 machine a few pages back, but this looks like a good starting point.

garion333 wrote:
groan wrote:

Great, thanks for the advice. I'll see of our can find a good deal on it.

Someone's been hanging out with kexx it seems. ;)

phone => bad auto correct.

Recommend me a netbook! I'm looking for something under 300, that can do basic things like word processing and internet browsing. This is not a gaming laptop, just something I can take with me on the road. I don't know which brand to get (and unlike my usual business I can't really BUILD my own net book) Does anyone have any brand favorites?

Are netbooks still a thing? I thought they died to tablets. How about a Nexus 7? It's only $200.

Edwin wrote:

Are netbooks still a thing? I thought they died to tablets. How about a Nexus 7? It's only $200.

I think tablets and cheap laptops killed them. With a 15" laptop being only slightly more I don't see a netbook as a good buy.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Edwin wrote:

Are netbooks still a thing? I thought they died to tablets. How about a Nexus 7? It's only $200.

I think tablets and cheap laptops killed them. With a 15" laptop being only slightly more I don't see a netbook as a good buy.

As much as I appreciate everyone's love for tablets, I don't like them. I like physical keyboards and the clap-top lids on laptops. I have a laptop already, but I would like something that weighs less than 10 pounds and is easier to carry around. Hence the netbook idea.

Understandable. It's not for everyone. If you don't want to lug around a keyboard for the tablet, maybe a Chromebook? Here is one on Amazon for $350. Looking at Ultrabooks and they seem out of the price range.

Asus netbooks still exist, I think they sorta ruled the netbook roost.

I was quite happy with my old Toshiba NB205 as well.

Edwin wrote:

Are netbooks still a thing? I thought they died to tablets. How about a Nexus 7? It's only $200.

Whoa, whoa. Do those include the same four year lifespan as a fail-safe device, or was that limited to the Nexus 6 series?

Aendiev wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:
Edwin wrote:

Are netbooks still a thing? I thought they died to tablets. How about a Nexus 7? It's only $200.

I think tablets and cheap laptops killed them. With a 15" laptop being only slightly more I don't see a netbook as a good buy.

As much as I appreciate everyone's love for tablets, I don't like them. I like physical keyboards and the clap-top lids on laptops. I have a laptop already, but I would like something that weighs less than 10 pounds and is easier to carry around. Hence the netbook idea.

Fair enough. I'm not sure a tablet works for word processing and just wanted to make sure you knew how cheap laptops are. Yeah, if a netbook makes sense for your use case then I don't think you can go wrong with pretty much anything tbh, just see what has the best features within your price. When I was looking the Samsungs were pretty well regarded, but I ended up with a Samsung laptop instead, which has so far run with no problems for 3 years.

Thin_J wrote:
Gaald wrote:

The case looks pretty neat I guess but one HDD bay? Seems like they could have added a few more if they had wanted to.

And mount them... where exactly? There's no room.

Pictures from a completed build:

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/8obHol.jpg)
IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/7Jht5l.jpg)

I went through a build.. got a 2500K in there with Corsair H60 cooler.. Thankfully Silverstone makes a special SFF 460W Powersupply that is modular and really small.. as well as a slot loading Slimline DVD burner that fits in the optical bay drive (ironically using micro SATA connectors with a supplied special cable that ends in a Molex power connector not a SATA ARGH!!! dumb!!!).. theres no room for full size optical. Under the optical there is a 2.5" HD bay that I used a 2.5" 7200RPM Seagate 750GB HD. As well below that is a removable 3.5" Cage but I took that out for some breathing room... but it looks like you could get both a 2.5" HD and a 3.5" HD at the same time.

Nvidia moving the Power Connectors to the top of their cards really made these SFF builds challenging.. they are all designed currently for connectors at the rear of the card.. in theory it makes more sense at the top but everyone has to redesign their cases to accommodate.

I've got a lenovo T530 being built for me right now. (i5-3210M, nvs 5400m, 320g 7200 drive, 1600x900 display).

My plan is to get an SSD msata drive and make that my primary disk. I might keep the 320g hard drive for larger stuff, or I might get a larger drive.

The question is what size SSD should I get? From newegg I can get:
an ADATA 256GB for $270 or an OCZ Nocti 120g for $109. (Plus some 128G drives for more).

In my experience, windows ends up taking at least 32G of space no matter what I do and it can be really hard to get some programs to relocate their storage off of C:, so I can more than 64GB. Should I get the 120G drive and just move stuff to the hard drive or get 256GB and life off of that as best I can?

I have a 120 GB Vertex 2 in my laptop. It's enough space to hold quite a few games. Since the 120 GB drives are so cheap right now, I'd just get one of those.

256GB SSD's are often well sub $200 these days if you watch the deals. I saw two 120GB OCZ drives yesterday (in the past they've had some firmware issues) for $60 AR at different sites.

If I had to pick from what I've read, I'd probably go Samsung first, although there are other good choices.

I want to keep both the optical and hard drives in my laptop, so I'm stuck with the msata form factor, which also limits my connectivity to SATA II. There's a slight price premium and a very limited selection with msata's.

TheGameguru wrote:

I went through a build.. got a 2500K in there with Corsair H60 cooler.. Thankfully Silverstone makes a special SFF 460W Powersupply that is modular and really small.. as well as a slot loading Slimline DVD burner that fits in the optical bay drive (ironically using micro SATA connectors with a supplied special cable that ends in a Molex power connector not a SATA ARGH!!! dumb!!!).. theres no room for full size optical. Under the optical there is a 2.5" HD bay that I used a 2.5" 7200RPM Seagate 750GB HD. As well below that is a removable 3.5" Cage but I took that out for some breathing room... but it looks like you could get both a 2.5" HD and a 3.5" HD at the same time.

Nvidia moving the Power Connectors to the top of their cards really made these SFF builds challenging.. they are all designed currently for connectors at the rear of the card.. in theory it makes more sense at the top but everyone has to redesign their cases to accommodate.

I would love you forever if you could take some pictures.

  • How loud is your PSU? Someone at work wants to sell it to me for $50 because he found it too loud at full load.
  • How is the H60 fitting in? I saw some folks remove the drive cage and fit an H70/H80 with a 120MM fan on top of that.
  • Which video card did you fit in it? I was looking at a 660Ti with a reference cooler as recommended but I see some others using other cooler designs. I guess it matters less if you use a H60 for the CPU.

Pics..

IMAGE(http://img580.imageshack.us/img580/3904/photovhq.jpg)
IMAGE(http://img442.imageshack.us/img442/4852/photo2jc.jpg)
IMAGE(http://img837.imageshack.us/img837/9548/photo3mj.jpg)
IMAGE(http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/5734/photo4mcq.jpg)
IMAGE(http://img571.imageshack.us/img571/6189/photo5vi.jpg)
IMAGE(http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/951/photo6tk.jpg)

Edwin wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

I went through a build.. got a 2500K in there with Corsair H60 cooler.. Thankfully Silverstone makes a special SFF 460W Powersupply that is modular and really small.. as well as a slot loading Slimline DVD burner that fits in the optical bay drive (ironically using micro SATA connectors with a supplied special cable that ends in a Molex power connector not a SATA ARGH!!! dumb!!!).. theres no room for full size optical. Under the optical there is a 2.5" HD bay that I used a 2.5" 7200RPM Seagate 750GB HD. As well below that is a removable 3.5" Cage but I took that out for some breathing room... but it looks like you could get both a 2.5" HD and a 3.5" HD at the same time.

Nvidia moving the Power Connectors to the top of their cards really made these SFF builds challenging.. they are all designed currently for connectors at the rear of the card.. in theory it makes more sense at the top but everyone has to redesign their cases to accommodate.

I would love you forever if you could take some pictures.

  • How loud is your PSU? Someone at work wants to sell it to me for $50 because he found it too loud at full load.
  • How is the H60 fitting in? I saw some folks remove the drive cage and fit an H70/H80 with a 120MM fan on top of that.
  • Which video card did you fit in it? I was looking at a 660Ti with a reference cooler as recommended but I see some others using other cooler designs. I guess it matters less if you use a H60 for the CPU.

PSU doesnt seem that loud.. I left it running for several days and it seems fine.. granted the case is below me under a desk so I'm not going to hear it above all the other fans running (lol) As well I have a high tolerance for noise so this running by itself next to your head in a quiet room could result in a completely different perception of noise level. Noise is a really really subjective rating.. which is why I avoid always telling people "its not or is noisy."

H60 radiator fits at the bottom of the case.. you remove the 140MM fan that sits outside the case on the bottom.. then screw the radiator at the bottom of the case using some small screws Silverstone supplies.. then re-attach the 140MM fan.. what they don't tell you is that you now have to route that fan's power supply lead through the tab that allows the dust shroud to clip in the case.. it works.. you just need to be mindful clipping the dust cover back on.

That basically then cools the radiator.. but its gonna run hotter than a normal case... unless you do the above I guess with an H80 and its own dedicated fan..but even with the 3.5" cage removed adding another fan ontop of the radiator inside the case is gonna be a TIGHT fit.

I got a 660Ti in no problem.. I imagine a 670 and a 680 would fit as well.. I certainly don't want a fan that exhausts into the case so I stuck with a rear exhaust GPU.

Things I learned.. the SFF PS Silverstone sells comes in two flavors.. modular and non-modular.. ironically the non-modular probably works easier in this case than the modular.. because all the cables route out the single hold in the PS which I believe would be angled away from the bottom 2.5" cage that sits below the optical cage. As it was the modular ends up having cables exit the PS basically across the entire back of the PSU.. AND you have to take up every single modular slot anyway.. I had to spin the PS upside down in order to make the Optical Cage w/2.5" cage sit properly... Given I had to buy a Molex to SATA power adapter to get the Optical Drive power I would have been fine with the non-modular PS as that would have given me Molex and Sata PS leads.

Build was tricky.. all the space is tight.. and the screws are tiny! especially the ones to connect the Optical.. I had to break out a jewelers screw driver to get those installed... the USB 3.0 Cable for the front (top?) mounted USB 3.0 ports is ridiculously long as well as they (?? OEM's of the world??) need to rethink the whole connector in general.. its too big.. and not flexible at all.. I felt I was gonna snap it off a few times trying to figure out how best to deal with all the excess cabling. Much rather have had it been far shorter.

All in all it looks good.. not a huge fan of the cables routing from the top and then back out.. but it looks ok if you dont stare down at the unit... the ASROCK ITX mobo I got comes with Wifi and it works really well because the antenna is external.. any mobo with an antenna that mounts directly to the backplate of the mobo will probably not work.

Cool beans. That looks exactly like what I want to do, even the same video card. Thanks for sharing.

Hey guys, I figured I could just ask here, although it's not just a PC I want to build. I'm considering putting together a cheap (under $400) home server. I was thinking of using it as an HTPC, but I think I can actually forget about doing that. It will probably be in the living room near my desk and monitor/TV, so it possibly could play HTPC.

What I am really interested in though is having a file and web server. Not necessarily a web server accessible from the internet, although this might be helpful for loading a test website for someone else to view it. But I mostly want to have a web server that'll run PHP, Mysql, etc. for when I want to develop a site, especially new Wordpress websites. I have XAMPP installed on my work laptop, but I need to turn it on every time I want to work...

I also would like to keep all our media files as well as all my work files in one central location instead of across 2 laptops and different external hard drives. Music/TV/Movies will most likely be played off a laptop connected to a monitor or TV, so that's why I think I won't need it to be an HTPC.

So where the questions come in, is what type of hardware should I expect to need to purchase? Will a dual-core Atom be sufficient, or a newer-gen Celeron, or should it be a quad-core i5? Should I purchase all parts individually, or has anyone had good experience with some of the Foxconn or Biostar bare-bones being sold on Newegg?

Also, if in the future we decide to start purchasing Blu-Ray's, the Blu-Ray drive would most likely go in this server. But I assume I would be able to do the ripping on my quad-core i7 in my laptop with ease, and then store it on the server.

Finally... for the OS, since it'll be headless, FreeNAS? Will that be compatible with Blu-Rays? Or maybe WHS 2011, or some form of Linux.

Lot's of questions, I know. Thanks guys

Well, if it's just a file server, you hardly need anything for that. A single-core CPU is fine. For a toy web server, a dual-core might be nice.

I'd probably go bigger than Atom, although that would probably work. Atoms don't have out-of-order or speculative execution, so they are much, much slower than a mainstream CPU at the same clock speed. I have a 1.6GHz, um, I think it's a D540, and it feels about the same speed as maybe a P3-750, just with more network bandwidth. That's quite slow by current standards, and doing things like an apt-get update take quite a lot longer on that machine than on any of the ones with a more mainstream processor.

One of the Pentium G840s would probably be quite nice. You could go up to an i3 or an i5 if you wanted, but for those uses, it's not really necessary. 2.8Ghz, the real deal as far as CPU engine goes, Intel HD2000 graphics -- that would make an outstanding small server chip, for $85.

Should I purchase all parts individually, or has anyone had good experience with some of the Foxconn or Biostar bare-bones being sold on Newegg?

We usually do, here. It's not that hard to assemble a computer, anymore. If you can handle Legos, you can build a modern PC. The only tricky bit is mounting the motherboard in the case; you have to make sure your brass standoffs match the holes in the bottom of the motherboard exactly. Do that, and all's well.

Also, if in the future we decide to start purchasing Blu-Ray's, the Blu-Ray drive would most likely go in this server. But I assume I would be able to do the ripping on my quad-core i7 in my laptop with ease, and then store it on the server.

I've never tried remote network ripping. It might work, might not. I don't know if the rip programs need direct access to the hardware, or if they're okay working on just the file level. Someone else might know more than I do.

Finally... for the OS, since it'll be headless, FreeNAS? Will that be compatible with Blu-Rays? Or maybe WHS 2011, or some form of Linux.

Eh, you can use whatever you want, I think. Not sure about the Blu-Ray ripping, though. I use Debian for my servers: high quality, low maintenance, 100% free.

Thanks Malor. Actually the bare-bones idea wasn't so much time-saving or inexperience, I've put together quite a few PC's from parts over the years. It was actually more of the price difference, since the bare-bones go for as cheap as $100, while the parts would be ~$50 for the case, $50-75 for the mobo, and ~$50 for the PSU. But yes, it is nice to be able to hand-pick all the parts.

That's interesting to note on the Atom's as well. Although it probably won't need a lot of CPU power, it would be nice for it to handle an update while streaming an HD movie, and maybe even backing up a computer as well.