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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    So, like the title says, I want to build myself a computer- I'm aiming to make it my fall "coronavirus-stay-indoors" project. The problem is, I'm not a tech-head and IT issues really frustrate me, so I've got no idea what I'm doing. And I would love it if anyone offered me some personalized advice.

    I've several guides on building your own machine, and most of the start with picking out the parts, but I know so little about it, I'd basically be just purchasing stuff blind and hoping that it all works together. I've read some guides that say start with the motherboards, and others that say start with the graphics-card, and I've heard that the CPU is really important, too, and I can barely keep it all straight. (anything you want to say- dumb it down a few notches; you can't talk dumb enough to make me feel insulted)

    I'm looking to build a computer that will hopefully be relevant and functional for several years- I'm not one of those people who has to have the latest/newest/greatest whatever as soon as it hits the market. When I buy new ski-equipment, for example, I usually ask the shop what they have that was top-of-the-line...last year. That way I get stuff that almost-as-good as the best stuff on the market, but at a significant discount. That's sort of what I'd like for my PC, except no ski-mountain ever told me I couldn't ski there because my gear was too old. And that's kind-of a thing that can happen with electronics.

    As for budgets, I don't really have one; I'd rather pay what I have to to get what I want. That being said, if any of the parts are available on Amazon that would be great because I've got a gift-certificate I need to use up.

    So yeah, all of that. If anyone can offer any kind of advice, or point me to a dedicated forum that would be good for this kind of discussions, I'd appreciate it.
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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    The most important question you have to answer that I did not really see elaborated upon.

    What is the primary thing you want this to do?

    The guides say to start with different things, because different things will have different priorities. If you're primarily going to be gaming, your graphics card is one of the most important things. If you're going to be doing a lot of stuff with CAD, then you'll need a real good CPU and Memory, and so on and so forth.

    So, what are the things this computer will primarily be focused on doing? That will affect what parts need to be top of the line, and which can just be middling.

    Also, while you say you don't have a budget, a preferred price range would still help a lot, as just a graphics card can be $1,500.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Mystic Muse View Post
    The guides say to start with different things, because different things will have different priorities. If you're primarily going to be gaming, your graphics card is one of the most important things. If you're going to be doing a lot of stuff with CAD, then you'll need a real good CPU and Memory, and so on and so forth.

    So, what are the things this computer will primarily be focused on doing? That will affect what parts need to be top of the line, and which can just be middling.
    The most computing-intensive stuff will be gaming. Part of this is just building a computer for the experience of having done it- I admit I don't know a lot about this sort of thing but I hope to learn. But that's a good point- I'd hate to shell out for high-end parts in one area only to have performance throttled by something else.

    Also, while you say you don't have a budget, a preferred price range would still help a lot, as just a graphics card can be $1,500.
    I know you can buy an entire computer for less than that, so probably not that expensive, but what sorts of price-ranged am I looking at for a given level of performance, then? I was browsing motherboards earlier today and there seemed to be some labeled as for "gaming systems" in the $160-180 range, but I'm not sure where that falls in comparison to everything.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    The most computing-intensive stuff will be gaming. Part of this is just building a computer for the experience of having done it- I admit I don't know a lot about this sort of thing but I hope to learn. But that's a good point- I'd hate to shell out for high-end parts in one area only to have performance throttled by something else.
    Ok, what sort of gaming are you planning to do? Being able to run the latest shiniest games at maximum graphical settings (eg. Cyberpunk 2077) is very different from wanting to play something less graphically demanding (e.g. Crusader Kings 3 or a 2D sprite game like Stardew Valley).

    This will dictate what graphics card, processor and RAM you'll need. After that, it's finding a motherboard that has the right specifications to fit the aforementioned components, then a case to house everything.

    Depending on how hot the internal components run and your local climate, you may need to buy additional case fans to ensure your computer doesn't overheat.

    Will you also need other peripherals, like a keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers/headset? Do you need to include an operating system?

    You can look at pre-built PCs on websites for an approximate idea of cost to performance.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Basically, I'd advice you against it.

    Building a PC from scratch only makes sense when you a) know the specifics that you need and b) know that you can't simply upgrade an existing system to meet those specifics.

    The work itself is basically childs play. Components are standardized and you only need to connect them, so the "building" is done in under an hour, not much of a project going on there.

    To explain that a bit, I used to freelance as a SAP developer and needed at test system at home that was able to host a standard SAP environment. So I got me a rather cheap Dell server that met the specs and just added a Nvidia graphic card for my gaming needs.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Basically, I'd advice you against it.

    Building a PC from scratch only makes sense when you a) know the specifics that you need and b) know that you can't simply upgrade an existing system to meet those specifics.

    The work itself is basically childs play. Components are standardized and you only need to connect them, so the "building" is done in under an hour, not much of a project going on there.

    To explain that a bit, I used to freelance as a SAP developer and needed at test system at home that was able to host a standard SAP environment. So I got me a rather cheap Dell server that met the specs and just added a Nvidia graphic card for my gaming needs.
    Yes and no. You are not likely to get a significantly better machine by building it yourself, but the OP has stated that that is not their reason. The want to build it themselves to help understand it. It is not hard, but you don't know that until you have done it once.


    First word of advice would be to not skimp on the power supply. Not entirely sure why, but seems to be the first piece of advice everyone gives.

    Graphics card is probably going to be the most substantial component if you mostly care about gaming, and depending on your budget it might be worth holding out month. The 3070 is out next month and looks great value. They might knock the price off the 20 line then, but there is speculation that they will not, so don't bet on getting a great deal by going with the previous generation.

    If you are determined to do something now, it may be worthwhile building something with onboard graphics and putting the graphics card in later. It is going to suck for gaming until then, but will work. There are some super cheap gaming rigs out there that use onboard graphics, and function ok.

    Main considerations are:
    Will it actually fit together. Case and motherboard need compatible form factors. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATX. You can generally put a smaller motherboard into a larger case, but not a lot of reason to.

    Memory needs to be the correct type. DDR 3 will not fit into a DDR 4 socket on the motherboard.

    CPU needs to fit in motherboard socket. For AMD that will probably be AM4. Intel are I think a little more complicated. Most CPUs come with cooling, but aftermarket systems are often used. Almost all modern Bios will be compatible if the chip fits, but it is worth double checking.

    Hard drive needs to fit. SATA connectors are everywhere, but there are a couple of modern specialised ones that a motherboard may not have.

    After that, it will probably work. Matching memory speeds is helpful to get the most out of your memory, but not required. Likewise with the connector for the graphics card. A PCI gen 4 graphics card will work fine on a PCI gen 3 slot, but would work better on a gen 4 slot. Good airflow will let your hardware boost more, but modern hardware is pretty good at protecting itself even if you screw up.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    One thing to watch with memory:

    The advice I have always run with is "as much as you can afford".

    However, the thing to remember is that an on-board graphics card robs your main memory - my previous gaming laptop supposedly had 4G of memory, but that was effectively 2G as the graphics card took about 2G from the pool.

    My current gaming rig was deliberately chosen because it had a seperate graphics card, so the 8G of memory is fully available.

    On-board graphics cards aren't necessarly a bad thing (in fact most of my systems have used them), but you do have to make sure that you have enough memory to support them and the games/p;rograms you want to run.
    Warning: This posting may contain wit, wisdom, pathos, irony, satire, sarcasm and puns. And traces of nut.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    First word of advice would be to not skimp on the power supply. Not entirely sure why, but seems to be the first piece of advice everyone gives.
    The PSU is connected to the motherboard and a crappy one can potentially fry the motherboard and everything connected to it, or reduce the longevity of these components.

    What rating PSU you require is dependent on the overall load of your system, so it's something to back-calculate once you've got everything else planned (there are a number of websites that will do this for you). A rule of thumb is that the maximum load should be around 40-60% of the PSU's maximum wattage; ideally get the highest quality energy efficiency rating you can afford (bronze, silver, gold, etc).

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    Hard drive needs to fit. SATA connectors are everywhere, but there are a couple of modern specialised ones that a motherboard may not have.
    To follow on from this, I would highly recommend a SSD drive over an old school spinning rust one and these can come with SATA or M.2 connectors, which are not inter-compatible.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    The most computing-intensive stuff will be gaming. Part of this is just building a computer for the experience of having done it- I admit I don't know a lot about this sort of thing but I hope to learn. But that's a good point- I'd hate to shell out for high-end parts in one area only to have performance throttled by something else.


    I know you can buy an entire computer for less than that, so probably not that expensive, but what sorts of price-ranged am I looking at for a given level of performance, then? I was browsing motherboards earlier today and there seemed to be some labeled as for "gaming systems" in the $160-180 range, but I'm not sure where that falls in comparison to everything.
    Try https://www.logicalincrements.com/, I haven't checked it in a while but last time imo the distribution of costs among the parts was decent.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    Yes and no. You are not likely to get a significantly better machine by building it yourself, but the OP has stated that that is not their reason. The want to build it themselves to help understand it. It is not hard, but you don't know that until you have done it once.
    The OP stated two reasons:
    - The experience of building it yourself.
    - Buying last gen cutting edge that still cuts it but is comparatively cheap.

    That combination is a problem.

    The market I know, EU, is pretty evenly split: Individual parts are strictly high-tech only or totally over-priced replacement parts, the mass market covers what is basically the cutting edge from yesterday, so it is fairly cheap.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    The OP stated two reasons:
    - The experience of building it yourself.
    - Buying last gen cutting edge that still cuts it but is comparatively cheap.

    That combination is a problem.

    The market I know, EU, is pretty evenly split: Individual parts are strictly high-tech only or totally over-priced replacement parts, the mass market covers what is basically the cutting edge from yesterday, so it is fairly cheap.
    Can't say that has been my experience. I am in germany you can buy any price class individually and prebuilt computers are often slightly worse deals.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    The OP stated two reasons:
    - The experience of building it yourself.
    - Buying last gen cutting edge that still cuts it but is comparatively cheap.

    That combination is a problem.
    To be fair, we don't know the 'last gen cutting edge' bit yet as we're still waiting on the OP to get back to us on his needs.

    That said, I don't see how using last gen components is an issue; if anything it's better than wanting to use the latest gen and messing around with non-amateur tech like water cooling.


    Something's crossed my mind - PC Building Simulator has received quite a number of good reviews and would be a good way of potentially practising what you'd need to do before building it for real.

    In any case, if Henry Cavill can build a PC, I'm sure OP can. Then again, he's Superman.
    Last edited by Brother Oni; 2020-09-13 at 10:20 AM.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    That said, I don't see how using last gen components is an issue; if anything it's better than wanting to use the latest gen and messing around with non-amateur tech like water cooling.
    Read the given example. This year, the trend color for yoga mats is apparently marbled ocean blue. Next year, it will be something else and you will get leftover "marbled ocean blue" at a great discount, it still being a useable yoga mat, so the only loss is "not being trendy".

    That kind of thought doesn't work in IT or with PC components. Development in this field came to a crawl and it doesn't really have the artificial hype we know from sports or "fast fashion". Hence why we have bundles of mother boar or graphic cards with games and such.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    Ok, what sort of gaming are you planning to do? Being able to run the latest shiniest games at maximum graphical settings (eg. Cyberpunk 2077) is very different from wanting to play something less graphically demanding (e.g. Crusader Kings 3 or a 2D sprite game like Stardew Valley).
    More towards the latter, but like I said I want to the computer to remain capable of playing almost anything for several years. Currently I'm on a laptop that is a few years old (because I've had other concerns for my $$$, like going back to school) and most of stuff I play these days has the graphics turned down so low the characters look like LEGO-people. Then recently I bought another new game on my Steam wishlist when it came up for sale, and even on the lowest settings it doesn't run smoothly, so I figured it's time for an upgrade.

    Will you also need other peripherals, like a keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers/headset? Do you need to include an operating system?

    You can look at pre-built PCs on websites for an approximate idea of cost to performance.
    Most of the peripherals I already have, either bought new, salvaged, or attached to an existing computer that will probably be cycled out. If any of it needs to be improved after the computer is built, well, I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.

    For the OS I'm probably gonna go with Windows, not because I like it but just because EVERYTHING is made to work with Windows, and dealing Microsoft's customer-service department on occasion would be less frustrating to me than trying to learn Linux.

    I'll look at some pre-built PCs but with so many different parts I'm never sure where the total price is coming from. If the CPU is $100 and the motherboard $300, or vice-versa, it all adds up to $400 in the end and I'm not sure which is the better deal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Basically, I'd advice you against it.

    Building a PC from scratch only makes sense when you a) know the specifics that you need and b) know that you can't simply upgrade an existing system to meet those specifics.
    Thanks for the advice, but I'll never learn more about what I need to learn about if I don't start somewhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    First word of advice would be to not skimp on the power supply. Not entirely sure why, but seems to be the first piece of advice everyone gives.

    Graphics card is probably going to be the most substantial component if you mostly care about gaming, and depending on your budget it might be worth holding out month. The 3070 is out next month and looks great value. They might knock the price off the 20 line then, but there is speculation that they will not, so don't bet on getting a great deal by going with the previous generation.

    If you are determined to do something now, it may be worthwhile building something with onboard graphics and putting the graphics card in later. It is going to suck for gaming until then, but will work. There are some super cheap gaming rigs out there that use onboard graphics, and function ok.
    Noted about the Power Supply.
    I don't need or want to buy EVERYTHING right away. If some part is on sale now I could get it, then wait a few weeks or a month for the next bit. I'm not in a rush but I do want to get started eventually or I'll find excuses to procrastinate forever.

    Main considerations are:
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    Will it actually fit together. Case and motherboard need compatible form factors. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATX. You can generally put a smaller motherboard into a larger case, but not a lot of reason to.

    Memory needs to be the correct type. DDR 3 will not fit into a DDR 4 socket on the motherboard.

    CPU needs to fit in motherboard socket. For AMD that will probably be AM4. Intel are I think a little more complicated. Most CPUs come with cooling, but aftermarket systems are often used. Almost all modern Bios will be compatible if the chip fits, but it is worth double checking.

    Hard drive needs to fit. SATA connectors are everywhere, but there are a couple of modern specialized ones that a motherboard may not have.

    After that, it will probably work. Matching memory speeds is helpful to get the most out of your memory, but not required. Likewise with the connector for the graphics card. A PCI gen 4 graphics card will work fine on a PCI gen 3 slot, but would work better on a gen 4 slot. Good airflow will let your hardware boost more, but modern hardware is pretty good at protecting itself even if you screw up.
    I assume that you can mix-and-match parts from different brands, but are the notably more finicky to make work well together? Or is it more difficult to confirm that parts and software is compatible?

    Or is this like one of those situations where you CAN buy everything from the same company but it's better to get your CPU from one company, the graphics card from another, the motherboard from a third, etc? And if so, what do different companies have the best reputation for?
    Last edited by Deepbluediver; 2020-09-13 at 12:53 PM.
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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Replies, part 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Manga Shoggoth View Post
    One thing to watch with memory:

    The advice I have always run with is "as much as you can afford".
    Great, but I'm not sure what I SHOULD be paying for memory. All I know is that it mostly comes in multiples of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16? etc), and I've also seen the term "dual core" tossed around- not sure if that's related or irrelevant.

    Most higher-end PCs seem to be zeroing in on around 8GB these days- is that a fair assessment and if so about how much should it cost? How much would downgrading to 4 or 6 GB save me, and what would the comparable limitations be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    The PSU is connected to the motherboard and a crappy one can potentially fry the motherboard and everything connected to it, or reduce the longevity of these components.

    What rating PSU you require is dependent on the overall load of your system, so it's something to back-calculate once you've got everything else planned (there are a number of websites that will do this for you). A rule of thumb is that the maximum load should be around 40-60% of the PSU's maximum wattage; ideally get the highest quality energy efficiency rating you can afford (bronze, silver, gold, etc).
    Noted- I will push the power-supply towards the back of the list of parts to assemble.

    To follow on from this, I would highly recommend a SSD drive over an old school spinning rust one and these can come with SATA or M.2 connectors, which are not inter-compatible.
    Understood- SATA seems to be the more common connector so I'll try to make sure everything I buy has those sorts of connections, unless there's some big advantage to M.2 that you want to tell me about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibrinar View Post
    Try https://www.logicalincrements.com/, I haven't checked it in a while but last time imo the distribution of costs among the parts was decent.
    Awesome, thank you- that's sounds exactly like the sort of website I was looking for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    The market I know, EU, is pretty evenly split: Individual parts are strictly high-tech only or totally over-priced replacement parts, the mass market covers what is basically the cutting edge from yesterday, so it is fairly cheap.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ibrinar View Post
    Can't say that has been my experience. I am in germany you can buy any price class individually and prebuilt computers are often slightly worse deals.
    I'm in America, if that makes a difference. I assume that I can get anything shipped from anywhere, but it might be cost-prohibitive.

    And if the first time I boot up my machine the menu is in Swedish, I'm gonna be in trouble :P

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    To be fair, we don't know the 'last gen cutting edge' bit yet as we're still waiting on the OP to get back to us on his needs.
    Part of what I'm struggling with is that I don't know how to define that, because I'm so computer-illiterate. It's like if you've never ridden anything more complex than an electric-scooter before, and suddenly you end up in a garage with a bunch of guys who rebuild classic cars from scratch and they start talking about spark-plugs and carburetors and arguing over rear-vs-front-vs-all-wheel drive, you have to just stand there smiling and nodding while the sweat breaks out on your forehead and you quietly pray no one asks you anything about "torque".

    Plus my "requirements" are sort of nebulous since I don't know what kind of performance I should be expecting at various price-points. I'm reluctant to specify any sort of budget because I'm afraid someone will say, "oh, for X you can get this", and then later I find out that "this" wasn't what I wanted and my budget was really 2X.

    That said, I don't see how using last gen components is an issue; if anything it's better than wanting to use the latest gen and messing around with non-amateur tech like water cooling.
    Yeah in my mind water+electricity=verybad, so if we could keep the rig to something that only required air-cooling that would be ideal (as neat as those water-cooled, LED-illuminated systems look admittedly).

    Something's crossed my mind - PC Building Simulator has received quite a number of good reviews and would be a good way of potentially practising what you'd need to do before building it for real.
    Neat- I will definitely check it out, thanks.

    In any case, if Henry Cavill can build a PC, I'm sure OP can. Then again, he's Superman.
    Yeah, depending on what version we're talking about he's got super-intellect, and a whole pile of kryptonian crystal-tech to back him up, so maybe that's not the ideal standard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Read the given example. This year, the trend color for yoga mats is apparently marbled ocean blue. Next year, it will be something else and you will get leftover "marbled ocean blue" at a great discount, it still being a useable yoga mat, so the only loss is "not being trendy".

    That kind of thought doesn't work in IT or with PC components. Development in this field came to a crawl and it doesn't really have the artificial hype we know from sports or "fast fashion". Hence why we have bundles of mother boar or graphic cards with games and such.
    Yeah, I'm not worried about my computer being "out of fashion" because someone releases a new graphics card 3 weeks after I finish assembly, I am worried about stuff like getting a CPU and a motherboard from different companies that have a Montagues-and-Capulets type blood-fued going on, and none of their stuff will work together without learning binary to reprogram them. Or getting what looks like a good graphics card on sale and only after installing it finding out that it was on sale because it causes 80% of game to glitch horribly.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Compatibility between companies isn't really a problem it is pretty standardized. When you order a motherboard it will tell you what CPU it supports that is probably the biggest point you need to pay attention to. For graphic cards the only real problems is some of the high end ones are unnecessarily long so you need to be sure that your case is big enough, and high end one need extra electricity so they get a cable directly but I assume most modern decent power supplies should come with the right cables (but they do list what cables they have.) For ram company doesn't matter just type which again your mainboard description should mention. For a hard drive you just need a free sata slot (or nowayadys there are super fast SSDs you can put directly on the main board. Personally I would pick a mainboard that has such a slot.)

    Basically choose a cpu, then pick a mainboard that has the right slot and the rest is pretty easy.

    Edit: Don't know about dual core for ram you might have heard of dual channel, basically having two ram sticks of the same size is better than one of double the size, your mainboard should mark which slots belong together. (I wouldn't go below 8 btw.)
    Last edited by Ibrinar; 2020-09-13 at 01:29 PM.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibrinar View Post
    For a hard drive you just need a free sata slot (or nowayadys there are super fast SSDs you can put directly on the main board. Personally I would pick a mainboard that has such a slot.)
    Specifically, that's an M.2 slot, and technically it's not just for storage--it's just that's what it tends to get used for most often.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    Great, but I'm not sure what I SHOULD be paying for memory. All I know is that it mostly comes in multiples of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16? etc), and I've also seen the term "dual core" tossed around- not sure if that's related or irrelevant.

    Most higher-end PCs seem to be zeroing in on around 8GB these days- is that a fair assessment and if so about how much should it cost? How much would downgrading to 4 or 6 GB save me, and what would the comparable limitations be?
    There is no "correct" answer to that question - That's why you need to look at the games (and indeed other programs) that you want to run. They should state how much memory you need to play the game - usually they will quote a minimum and optimum amount.

    For example, According to the Steam site, Borderlands 3 requires 6GB minimum, 16G optimum (and also had seperate graphics card requirements)

    My old gaming box had 4G, 2G of which was robbed by onboard graphics - it ran most of the games I had, but was starting to creak when I got up to things like Fallout New Vegas. There was no way I was going to try something like Borderlands 3 on that kit.

    My current box runs with 8G and a seperate graphics card with its own memory - this runs Borderlands 3 quite happily (and indeed BL3 was the reason I finally upgraded).
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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    Great, but I'm not sure what I SHOULD be paying for memory. All I know is that it mostly comes in multiples of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16? etc), and I've also seen the term "dual core" tossed around- not sure if that's related or irrelevant.

    Most higher-end PCs seem to be zeroing in on around 8GB these days- is that a fair assessment and if so about how much should it cost? How much would downgrading to 4 or 6 GB save me, and what would the comparable limitations be?
    *Sigh*

    Your questions are entirely irrelevant.

    Do yourself a favor, hit Steam and take a look at recent/modern games you find interesting and check out the recommended hardware. Not the minimum, tho, that is BS.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Youtube tutorials. There's literally one for every situation.

    If you're afraid of doing something wrong, you can find a website that offers building it for you. Usually, if you order all parts from the same shop, they offer to assemble it, but call them to double check.

    I mean, you could do it as a pet project, but I don't know the budget you're willing to spend, and it would be a pitty if you broke something accidentally on a gaming PC for example.
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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    As for RAM: RAM is comparatively cheap nowadays. 64GB of 3200MHz RAM in 4 Sticks costs you about 260, so ~300$. Take no less than 16GB, I'd recommend 32GB in 2 sticks so you can upgrade to 64GB later with the remaining two slots. Most consumer Mainboards can't handle more than 64GB anyways, so you're halfway there and upgrade safe. And if you can fit it in the budget, go for the 64 and never waste a thought on RAM again.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    Noted- I will push the power-supply towards the back of the list of parts to assemble.
    One problem. When physically assembling a computer the PSU is basically the second or third thing you need to install because it comes with basically all the cables. If you add it in last all the other components are going to be in the way sort of.

    Also the people who say you don't string out assembling a computer are correct. You want it done all in one go (you do't have to but really it makes no sense) or it sits there filling with dust or something else random happens. Assembling is at most an hour or two of a job, and if it isn't you are making a total mess of it.

    Just to give a baseline last year I bought:

    Intel i5-9600K with compatible mothercard and 16gb RAM (that's the minimum I'd look at currently) offered as a bundle by a local online dealer. The upside of the bundle is bit of a saving and I know the components work together. This is a midranged performance rig gear towards gaming. I couldn't really justify to myself splashing out on a i7 or i9 as somewhat better but much more expensive "elite" options. As I aim towards gaming the GPU is more important for overall performance. I see there is now a i5-10xxx line new for this year so a anything on a 9 will be like looking at "last years fashions". Unfortunately the price drop is not as noticeable on tech as many other things. Probably shoot for i7-9xxxx CPU as they are cheaper now with next generation released and you get a bit more extra oomph.

    To that I had to get a case to hold it, then a M.2 SSD of 1TB size. And an aftermarket fan (just to get something bigger and quieter).

    I reused my old gtx970 graphics card (it's really too old for the rest of the rig at 5-6 years though manages new titles still) but that's on the chopping block as I was and am waiting for the new 3xxx series from nVidia. You probably might want to look at the 2xxx series then. Though again prices do not drop as dramatically as they used to.

    When the new nVidia 3xxx series is released am probably looking at getting more RAM as well just because.

    The easy thing with computers right now is that basically there are 2 choices. Intel or AMD for CPU which determines motherboards used. And nVidia or AMD for graphics cards. The good part is you can pair AMD cpu with a nVidia gfx card too. The way it has usually shaken out is that Intel and nVidia has been the more powerful and expensive to get where AMD's competing products have been somewhat less powerful but a fair bit cheaper.
    I've not checked how well that holds up currently. It can all change as new chipsets are released.

    Oh, and anything with a "gaming" tag on it is usually slightly better but more expensive. IMO you pay more than the gain in quality usually. But sometimes the "gaming" option is the only one that comes with some nifty extra features.
    Last edited by snowblizz; 2020-09-14 at 04:12 AM.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Whoracle View Post
    As for RAM: RAM is comparatively cheap nowadays. 64GB of 3200MHz RAM in 4 Sticks costs you about 260, so ~300$. Take no less than 16GB, I'd recommend 32GB in 2 sticks so you can upgrade to 64GB later with the remaining two slots. Most consumer Mainboards can't handle more than 64GB anyways, so you're halfway there and upgrade safe. And if you can fit it in the budget, go for the 64 and never waste a thought on RAM again.
    Frankly, even with 16Gb you're not likely to need to worry about RAM for *years*--so many games these days are designed to work on consoles, and even the next gen consoles don't have more than that (and that's shared between main memory and graphics architecture on those, whereas PCs usually have separate RAM in the graphics card). Unless you're planning to do serious workstation-type workloads I'd say 64Gb is *way* excessive.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Frankly, even with 16Gb you're not likely to need to worry about RAM for *years*--so many games these days are designed to work on consoles, and even the next gen consoles don't have more than that (and that's shared between main memory and graphics architecture on those, whereas PCs usually have separate RAM in the graphics card). Unless you're planning to do serious workstation-type workloads I'd say 64Gb is *way* excessive.
    Yeah, but most Mainboards have 4 slots. 16GB with one stick means no dual channel, and 16GB with 2 or more sticks means you'd have to throw out the 16GB once you need to upgrade. So, 32 with 2 Sticks would be my choice. Especially since the difference in price is relatively neglegible:

    1 stick 16GB 3200MHz - ~100
    2 sticks 32GB 3200 - ~130
    2 sticks 8GB 3200 - 65

    So, assuming one doesn't want to throw the 2 8GB sticks out, it's better to go after 32GB in 2 sticks now.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    Understood- SATA seems to be the more common connector so I'll try to make sure everything I buy has those sorts of connections, unless there's some big advantage to M.2 that you want to tell me about.
    M.2 drives are tiny, about the same size of a stick of RAM (smaller in some cases, as upper end RAM chips often come with heat sinks or even LEDs). I wouldn't worry about it too much and just go for a standard SATA SSD.

    I highly recommend the suggestion to pick a couple recent games you like on Steam and see what the recommend specs are. That should give you a guideline on what you need.


    If it helps, I built a new PC in June as my old one was getting out of date (it had an AMD Phenom II x4 955, which was retired back in 2012, so definitely got my money's worth out of it);

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    ASUS ROG STRIX B450-F GAMING Motherboard
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    Corsair Vengeance LPX Black 32GB DDR4 (2x16GB) 2133MHz Memory Kit
    Kingston 1TB A2000 M.2 NVMe SSD
    Aerocool Aero Bronze 750W PSU
    MSI Radeon RX 5700 MECH GP OC Graphics Card

    I recycled Windows, all the peripherals, the case and a 2TB hard drive from my old computer.

    The entire lot came to 775 plus 20% VAT (UK tax on goods and services) for a total of 930. I'm expecting this PC to manage Cyberpunk 2077 and last me several years, with only a graphics card update every now and again.

    There's also plenty of space for expansion (more drives, another graphics card, more RAM).

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    M.2 drives are fast, ridiculously fast, sata just isn't fast enough for all that fastness! But most people don't really have any need for the speed of a M.2 drive so the reason I would pick one is just because they don't seem that much more expensive and I like high numbers.

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibrinar View Post
    M.2 drives are fast, ridiculously fast, sata just isn't fast enough for all that fastness! But most people don't really have any need for the speed of a M.2 drive so the reason I would pick one is just because they don't seem that much more expensive and I like high numbers.
    Biggest benefit for me is probably just saving space; because the M.2 connector is direct on the motherboard and it lays pretty much flush on the board, you don't have to route another pair of cables, fill a bay slot in the case, or think about potential airflow issues from a drive casing and its connectors.

    (Also yes it can achieve higher transfer rates than the SATA standard, but I would think a very tiny fraction of personal computer users are doing anything where that would be an actual performance benefit and not just a benchmark achievement number.)

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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibrinar View Post
    Compatibility between companies isn't really a problem it is pretty standardized.
    Good to know- I thought it might be like the whole Microsoft/Apple rivalry.

    P.S. I also want to say that I REALLY like that website you linked me: https://www.logicalincrements.com/
    It seems to be just what I'm looking for, laying out what sort of components go together at what price-points so that I don't overspend on something I don't need, or underspend on something vital. It looks perfect for a neophyte like myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Specifically, that's an M.2 slot, and technically it's not just for storage--it's just that's what it tends to get used for most often.
    What other sorts of things can it be used for?

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    ...Not the minimum, tho, that is BS.
    That's practical, easy-to-follow advice that I can do.
    All my previous computers were pretty much "minimum-requirements" type of systems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Asmotherion View Post
    Youtube tutorials. There's literally one for every situation.
    And I've watched several, but most of them start out like "now you that you've assembled all your parts..." and I find myself saying things like, "hang on, back up a sec- was there a Part 1 that I missed?" etc.

    I mean, you could do it as a pet project, but I don't know the budget you're willing to spend, and it would be a pitty if you broke something accidentally on a gaming PC for example.
    Yeah, but it you want to learn a new skill there's always going to some element of risk. Like if you want to learn how to cook, you might burn something or mix up a tsp of salt with a cup of sugar, but that doesn't mean you should give up without trying.
    What I'm working on on here is minimizing the risk for stupid mistakes, like buying the wrong parts.

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    Also the people who say you don't string out assembling a computer are correct. You want it done all in one go (you do't have to but really it makes no sense) or it sits there filling with dust or something else random happens. Assembling is at most an hour or two of a job, and if it isn't you are making a total mess of it.
    OK, but I can string out the purchasing-of-parts for a while; I figure so long as I keep everything wrapped up it won't go stale.

    The easy thing with computers right now is that basically there are 2 choices. Intel or AMD for CPU which determines motherboards used.
    Do the CPU and motherboard have to match in terms of the brand, or is this just a compatability issue with the layout?

    Quote Originally Posted by Whoracle View Post
    16GB with one stick means no dual channel, and 16GB with 2 or more sticks means you'd have to throw out the 16GB once you need to upgrade.
    Hmm, I hadn't thought about it that way- makes sense. After I've taken a look at the "optimum" requirements for some recent games I'll make a decision.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
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    Default Re: I want to build a computer, but I have no idea what I'm doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    What other sorts of things can it be used for?
    Pretty much anything that a standard PCI-Express slot can be used for, since some of the same lines go the M.2 slot. As I said, though, 99% of the time they're used for storage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibrinar View Post
    M.2 drives are fast, ridiculously fast, sata just isn't fast enough for all that fastness! But most people don't really have any need for the speed of a M.2 drive so the reason I would pick one is just because they don't seem that much more expensive and I like high numbers.
    Depends on the M.2 drive in question, because (as with so many things) there are two standards--you can get M.2 SATA drives, and M.2 NVMe ones, the latter being the ones that are super fast because they aren't saddled with backward compatibility with the SATA interface specifications

    Quote Originally Posted by Whoracle View Post
    Yeah, but most Mainboards have 4 slots. 16GB with one stick means no dual channel, and 16GB with 2 or more sticks means you'd have to throw out the 16GB once you need to upgrade.
    Well, you can still upgrade to 32Gb, assuming you have 2x8Gb DIMMs with 2 spare slots. And, IMHO, the chances are extremely high that by the time you're in a position where you actually *need* to upgrade beyond 32Gb, you're also in a position where you have to upgrade your motherboard and CPU, probably to a new one that doesn't support your old memory so you need to throw it all out and replace with new stuff anyway. Believe me, this ain't my first rodeo, and the above has happened to me multiple times. Heck, once upon a time I even bought a motherboard with Socket 370 and one of the newly-released Celeron CPUs, confident in the knowledge I'd be able to upgrade to the full-on socketed Pentium 3 when it launched, only for Intel to change the pinout of the socket when the P3s were launched, making my motherboard no longer compatible!

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