Seeking Guidance on a PC Build for a 14 Yr Old

Hello Folks!

Looking for some guidance here. My son is keen to build a PC for himself - he’s about to go into Year 9 and I’d like him to give it a shot (as opposed to buying a prebuilt PC that might be a bit cheaper).

The budget is around $1200-$1500, hoping that’s sufficient for a good quality decently powered PC. I’m hoping he can maintain this PC until he finishes school (with a few minor upgrades). :)

He is expected to mainly use this for a bit of gaming, school work, hopefully programming and then he also enjoys video editing (amateur stage as of now).

Here’s one option that he’s put together: https://au.pcpartpicker.com/list/Zdbt3Z

Will be keen to get your expert opinions if we’re headed in the right direction. Pls do be open with your critique and if you also think the budget is too restricted for what we’re looking for. 

I’ve got a few things to clarify (purely my lack of info!):
1. For the CPU, I’ve seen that AMD have also accelerated a fair bit recently. Do you see much of a difference between Intel and AMD?
2. Within Intel, should we go for an i7 considering it’s got 8 cores Insead of 6 cores on an i5? I noticed that even for i7, there’s a number of processors even in 10th Gen. with a letter K, or F or KF etc. Some denote a speed difference while others have an onboard cooling system. Would you recommend one over the other?
3. I noticed that the GPU is also fairly expensive. Is that normally the case? And if we’re going for an i7, do we still require the GPU that’s been chosen?
4. Another question is around the networking cards. So far we hadn’t chosen any, is that something that should be added in case a LAN cable needs to be added or for wi-fi? If yes, could you recommend one please?
5. Anything else we are missing out on? (Like a sound card etc.)

I know there’s a million combinations possible, however I’d like to close on one soon enough and then make use of the Black Friday deals as they have started coming up already!

Thanks a lot in advance!

Comments

  • Does your son go to a public school? If so, he can get a free copy of Windows here

    https://education-vic.onthehub.com/WebStore/OfferingDetails....

    As for parts, I haven't built a PC in a while so I don't have extensive knowledge of current parts, but I would recommend checking https://www.logicalincrements.com/ (make sure it's set to Australia) as they provide suggested builds based on your budget.

    A good GPU is absolutely crucial for gaming and will cost a fair amount in your overall spend.

    Regarding network cards, all motherboards should have a port for an ethernet cable, and some will even have WiFi and Bluetooth build in but only on more expensive models.

    Personally, sound cards aren't necessary unless you have pretty specific needs or preferences with your sound. I last bought a sound card 15 years ago, so I could get my 5.1 speakers to work as my motherboard at the time didn't support them.

    • Thanks a lot! I’ll definitely look at the free Windows option (my son does go to a public school). I’ll keep your comments on the GPU and mother board also info consideration.

  • Great idea! My son is in yr 9 this year and put a pc together in a day. But he's way too busy with school, music and sports to monitor prices and find the best deals. I help him. He's always amazed at the deals I find.

    You can probably get a better build for less price. That's quite high excluding peripherals. He will want a high refresh rate IPS monitor, mechanical keyboard with rgb etc Good peripherals not cheap. For that price it's cheaper to get pre-built. Often have good deals here. Don't forget the ARGB fans and the overall look of pc. One fan will not be enough for that system.

    Amazon has cheap corsair ARGB ram in black or white for I think only $10 more. Looks great installed vertical but must have compatible aorus MB.

    Building pc is fun and there's no reason to stop. Can build for re-sale or build for friends. He has 2 x pcs lined up to build in the school holidays already.

    1. Ryzen is better for gaming and upgrading later hence there's very little stock in Australia and prices higher than when it was released. Not the best time to buy

    2. Haha yeah he chose a beast cpu for his first built. If money is no object then go for it. My son is complete opposite, he planned to use his own money so it was real budget built around $500. I felt sorry for him so I topped up to $900. The Ryzen with Nvidias seem to be the most popular

    3. Network card onboard is $20

    4. No soundcard. He mostly used his headset but I bought a usb RGB sound bar that sits perfectly under his monitor which is great if he's watching a movie etc completes the look.

    https://freeimage.host/i/ddb4287f-6389-40d0-a831-ab55f9c2997...

    Aesthetics. Surprised all of us. The best part is how they troubleshoot the problems themselves. Best way to learn.

    • Your son’s setup is super cool! My son is also using his pocket money although I’ll have to cough up more! I will certainly look for all your suggestions. Clearly more research to be done!

      And good point for the peripherals - for now I’ll try and manage with what he’s got (used along with his laptop), but will need upgrading eventually.

  • I agree with comments above - once you include other peripherals the computer becomes quite expensive, in my opinion, for a high school student.

    Within Intel, should we go for an i7 considering it’s got 8 cores Insead of 6 cores on an i5?

    In basic gaming terms, higher performance CPU will allow more scenery computational. Complex scene gets generated faster… This is different from rendering speed, which depends on GPU.

    I don't know the difference between the CPU models much, sorry.

    I noticed that the GPU is also fairly expensive. Is that normally the case? And if we’re going for an i7, do we still require the GPU that’s been chosen?

    The integrated graphics on to the CPU these days probably okay playing HD YouTube videos, but it will not produce smooth graphics with decent framerate for games.

    Another question is around the networking cards. So far we hadn’t chosen any, is that something that should be added in case a LAN cable needs to be added or for wi-fi? If yes, could you recommend one please?

    Your chosen mother board comes with a LAN port. For wifi, look at USB wifi at a later time. Need to consider if your child like online gaming and if lag is an issue.

    Anything else we are missing out on? (Like a sound card etc.)

    An external DVD drive lying around to install windows, unless you have a bootable USB stick

    • Thanks a lot. Reading your comment and others, I’m thinking of staying with i5 along with a good GPU.

      And thanks for confirming the LAN port for the chosen motherboard. I do have an optical drive from an old laptop, hopefully that can be attached?

      • +3 votes

        The old laptop optical drive won't be compatible and there is nowhere to put optical drives in the Corsair 275R and most modern cases.

        Purchase a 16GB or larger USB 3.2 drive and install Windows 10 October 2020 update off that. Run Windows Update after that. Windows installs the basic drivers but it's recommended to install the most up to date drivers for the AMD graphics card and Gigabyte motherboard. Install programs and games last.

        Gigabyte B460M DS3H Motherboard can't run the Kingston HyperX Fury 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory @ it's maximum rated 3200MHz. The RAM will run at a 2133MHz by default or 2400MHz, 2666MHz or 2933MHz if you change the XMP settings. To get 3200Mhz you need a different motherboard.

        I'm not a fan of non modular PSUs and the excess cables that can't be removed. I recommend purchasing a fully modular or semi modular PSU so you use only the cables you need.

        Get him familiar with the PC building process

        • Thanks a lot - very useful comments. Will look for a different motherboard as well as the PSU. Comments around the installation procedure are also very useful, thanks!

  • For some cost savings compared to that parts list you could look out for a deal on the i5-10400F that has been sold for only $199 in the past (it is identical to the i5-10400 6C/12T CPU but has the intel integrated graphics disabled).

    For AMD look out for a good deal on the Ryzen 5 3600 (has been sold for under $260 previously) otherwise wait and see what the Ryzen 5 5600 ends up costing. The R5-3600 is better in productivity applications (e.g. video editing) vs the i5-10400F but that Intel CPU typically has a slight edge in gaming performance over the AMD part.

    At this price range both Intel and AMD are good options are quite close in performance. Both should meet your son's needs for quite a few years being 6 core, 12 thread CPUs

    The R5-5600 will finally get ahead of Intel in gaming performance while increasing its lead in productivity apps but is expected to cost a good chunk more than the i5-10400F and Ryzen 3600.

    Also it may be wise to wait a bit for the release of the mid-range 'next gen' GPUs to be released around the $500-$600 mark e.g. RTX 3060 Ti and whatever AMD might have as they will offer significantly more performance compared to the 5700 XT and will cause prices of those older cards to hopefully drop.

    • Thanks a lot! I’ll look for the specific i5 model you’ve mentioned as well as the AMD options. I’m not sure when the new AMD models will get released and if I can wait that long. Thanks again!!

  • +2 votes
    1. 3600 should be good for the use case here (programming and video editing 15% faster, gaming will be 5% better compared to 10400).

    2. Within intel, definitely check out the i5-10600. For the variants, it depends whether overclocking is of interest. K = unlocked for overclocking (better CPU performance at the cost of temperature, power consumption and fan noise). F = no integrated graphics (you're buying 5700XT so at least go for the F if you can).
      Compared to 3600, 10600 is 5% better for gaming while similar for the other use cases.

    3. GPU have been price creeping and is going to stay that way. 3600/10600 with 5700XT (or 2070 SUPER) is a good combo for both 1080p and 1440p.

    -

    There might be suitable or comparable alternatives (RAM, PSU, GPU etc.) during Black Friday so it's best to be open to them and be ready to pull that trigger if it's close to or near all time low (or if it's just a good deal in general).

    • Thanks and yes, I may have to keep my options open for 2-3 different components and play it around. I can keep those in a spreadsheet maybe to start off with, thanks again for the tips!!

  • You could save a bit on the case and power supply by choosing cheaper options.

    1) The 4000 and 5000 series AMD CPUs are faster than the i9 and i10 CPU's in allot of tests and in most cases are cheaper, but at the moment there is a supply issue and like GPU's the prices are up.
    2) Head on over to toms hardware guide and read up and check out the reviews and comparison charts. If you go for an external GPU then get a CPU without a GPU. For what you are going to use it for an unlocked CPU may be an overkill. As you are getting an external GPU you could save money and get the i5-10400F for around $229. As for I7 8 core it will be an overkill until University days IMHO. I would stay with a 65W or lower as it makes the system quieter and should last longer as the overall system will run cooler, saying this the GPU may heat the system up in the case, so check out the GPU power consumption and what fans are in the case or can be added to the case to cool the system.
    3). GPU - Prices are high due to supply/demand issues. Work out what games he will play and therefore what is required as prices drop and they become obsolete in 3 to 4 years for games (if they last that long). It may be better buying a $300 to $400 GPU now and another one in say 2 or 3 years as you will have saved money now that you can put towards a GPU upgrade in a few years.
    4) Use the one on the motherboard as drivers will be available for Windows or Linux and it will not cost you anything. They work fine.
    5) Missing :
    a) monitor - size, resolution, frequency, type, and brand
    b) Keyboard - they vary allot and best trying it before you buy
    c) Mouse - gaming and they also vary allot and best trying it before you buy
    d) Webcam -
    e) Speakers
    f) Gaming headphones - wired or blue tooth with/without noise cancelling

    • There is so such thing as a an i10 chip and the 4000 series and chip are not available to purchase for consumers. Also old gen GPU prices are not inflated as resellers are trying to get rid of stock. A Rx 5700 xt for just over 500 is fantastic value even though it will drop slightly in price over time.

      Please do your research before trying to help others.

      • Thanks for some of the clarifications. Maybe he meant 9th and 10th gen for the i5? Your comments around GPU’s is good and I will also certainly research a bit more!

    • Thanks a lot. I’m also now leaning towards the 10th Gen i5’s. The comments around going for a slightly cheaper GPU also make sense, I’ll have to research that a bit more I guess ! Regarding the peripherals, he’s got some from what he uses with his laptop, I guess he’ll have to make do with those.

      He’s told me he’ll eventually pay these off, so it’s a loan of sorts. He’s willing to give a 10% simple interest. 😊😊😊

  • I think the the i5 10400F is a solid option for a good price.

    You might want to get a bit better motherboard that has better vrms so that if you every upgrade the CPU, the motherboard can keep up.

    I also wouldn't bother buying a CPU cooler as this chip is not overclockable and the stock cooler should be able to handle this fine.

    Also the asrock GPU is a no go as it is a very low quality unit (check out hardware unboxed comparison on yt). So I would recommend a sapphire unit or a tuf Evo 5700 xt.

    Never cheap out on the PSU. I would highly recommend the bitfenix whisper m.

    • Thanks a lot! Could you pls help with a couple of options for the better motherboard? I don’t personally understand the differences in the GPU’s you’ve suggested, however I will certainly research more (and maybe even ask my son to do so!). Thanks again!

  • As above mentioned, a desktop also require keyboard, mouse , speakers and they tend to be cost quite a bit now a day

    As for your build..Because u are going to buy a graphic card, 10400f ( CPU without internal graphic unit) is better than 10400 save 20 at least
    Only the newest amd 5000series has better gaming performance than Intel, intel still a solid choice specially 10gen has dropped quite a bit since launch, benchmark is everywhere, CPU without k at the end runs quite cool u don't actually need a aftermarket cooler (k means overclockable)

    I am not sure 1 tb is enough for gaming ,video editing and everything, one modern game is 200gb now a day one hour raw video is at least 50gb, a better option will be 500gb ssd for system with 2tb or more hard drive for storage, hard drive speed don't directly affect gaming performance

    Lastly, most gamer tends to upgrade graphic card every couples year to keep up the requirement of newest game, and because the latest gen graphic card require at least 750w , if your son plan to get a new card after couples year like the others, may be should get a 750w so in the future so u don't need to buy another PSU as well
    FYI I build pc everyday feel free to ask if u have any question about building a pc

    • Thanks a lot for your tips! I’m putting together another set of configuration and will share with the you and others to comment on. And I will surely take up your offer on helping answer additional questions! 😊

    • I've updated the part picker list (and will keep other options available on the motherboard in terms of brands, as well as the GPU) - could you please look at this and provide your comments? https://au.pcpartpicker.com/list/xXhtCz (the GPU should have been RX5600 XT instead!)

      I also noticed something on motheboards which are microATX (cheaper) vs miniATX / ATX - still trying to figure out which ones are better. Shopping Express seems to have a deal coming up on the microATX board - not sure if that will be okay?

      • Solid choice of components,
        The difference between matx vs standard atx is the size, some smaller case only able to fit matx motherboard, another main difference is matx usually has less pcie slots for expansion card (graphic card, wifi card, sound card etc etc) , generally matx is a good choice if only use graphic card in pcie slot and using wifi USB, most of matx has 3 or 4 slots only, and graphic card itself will take over 2 or 2.5 slots already

        • Thanks! I'll look at going for a standard ATX board itself considering I'm looking at adding a Wifi card too, hopefully a deal will pop up for the standard ones too. :)

    1. For the CPU, I’ve seen that AMD have also accelerated a fair bit recently. Do you see much of a difference between Intel and AMD?

    Either would be fine. Right now Intel stuff has been on sale while Ryzen hasn't been (big demand for Ryzen, not so much for intel), so I'd go Intel purely for that reason.The i5-10400F and i3-10100F seem like the best value processors on the market currently.

    1. Within Intel, should we go for an i7 considering it’s got 8 cores Insead of 6 cores on an i5? I noticed that even for i7, there’s a number of processors even in 10th Gen. with a letter K, or F or KF etc. Some denote a speed difference while others have an onboard cooling system. Would you recommend one over the other?

    The letter F means there's no integrated GPU, these are ideal for you because you're going to be buying a dedicated graphics card anyway which will do the job of the integrated GPU but much better. The F series parts are usually cheaper so I'd go with them. You don't really need an i7, an i5 would be fine. Yes the i7 might be slightly faster, but you'd be better off putting the money elsewhere rather than into the CPU. I'd also forgo buying a dedicated CPU cooler for now as well because the one that comes in the box would work fine and if you want to upgrade it in the future you can easily.

    The K series parts are a little faster but don't come with CPU coolers so you'd need to buy one seperately. They're aimed at enthusiasts but the value of these parts can be pretty poor.

    The letter KF means no integrated GPU and a little faster

    If you wanted to spend more money on a CPU I'd go for the Ryzen 5600X rather than any i7 anyway.

    1. I noticed that the GPU is also fairly expensive. Is that normally the case? And if we’re going for an i7, do we still require the GPU that’s been chosen?
      Yes, the GPU is usually the most expensive part of the system, if it's being used for gaming.
      I'd stay away from that particular GPU right now because it's a last generation part that hasn't had it's price updated to reflect the new prices. I'd go for a RX 5600XT which at $400 is ~$200 cheaper but not that much slower, or a RTX 3070 which is a lot faster for $300 more. Honestly, your kid would probably be fine with a 5600XT which could be upgraded down the track if he feels like it's not enough. If you want to spend the money you'd save from making that move i'd buy something like more storage instead because 1TB isn't a huge amount.

    Also something to keep in mind is that it's not really worth buying a very expensive GPU like the RTX 3070 if you also don't have a more expensive high-refresh rate/ high resolution monitor.

    1. Another question is around the networking cards. So far we hadn’t chosen any, is that something that should be added in case a LAN cable needs to be added or for wi-fi? If yes, could you recommend one please?

    If you can't run a LAN cable to the PC yes you need a network adaptor of some sort for WiFi. This can be either a card you buy seperately, or something that comes built into the motherboard. Most motherboards don't have WiFi built in, look for something that has AC, AX, or WiFi in the name of the motherboard. Examples would be the MSI B460M PRO-VDH WIFI, or the Gigabyte B460M DS3H AC

    It's usually cheaper to buy a motherboard that has WiFi built in, but if you can't find anything I'd buy the Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 Dual-Band M.2 2230 with Bluetooth Desktop Kit. If you can't find that in stock honestly anything else that has AC or AX in the name would be fine. I'd get a card that has bluetooth too so you can connect bluetooth peripheries like controllers or headphones to the PC wirelessly. Usually most adaptors come with bluetooth anyway, but a few of the very very cheap ones don't.

    1. Anything else we are missing out on? (Like a sound card etc.)

    Nope, all motherboards come with integrated sound cards, and the dedicated sound cards you can buy are really just for niche uses/ professionals etc.

    Some recommendations I'd make would be to get an NVME SSD like the Kington A2000, rather than a SATA SSD like the Samsung you picked. They're faster and will become useful in the future as next gen games will start utilising them. As a benefit, the A2000 is also cheaper than the drive you had in the build you picked out.

    • Thanks a lot for your detailed explanation! A couple of questions - would you recommend the Z490 motherboard over the B460? From whatever I have read up, I can see that the Z490 is far more future proof (whilst the issue is that the Z490 range itself goes all the way from $200 - $800+!! I was looking at the MSI or the Gigabyte ones to start off with.

      I'll also include the Wifi card - when I searched for the motherboards with built-in Wifi, there was at least a $100 difference (likely they offer more than just Wifi capability).

      I've modified the list now to: https://au.pcpartpicker.com/list/xXhtCz - would be great if you could look at this and comment on this please (the GPU should have been RX5600 XT instead!)? I couldn't find the Wifi card on Part Picker, so will add that separately.

      Another question - do I need a separate fan?

      • Thanks a lot for your detailed explanation! A couple of questions - would you recommend the Z490 motherboard over the B460? From whatever I have read up, I can see that the Z490 is far more future proof (whilst the issue is that the Z490 range itself goes all the way from $200 - $800+!! I was looking at the MSI or the Gigabyte ones to start off with.

        A Z490 will be a bit better because it allows for memory overclocking, and if you're upgrading to a different CPU in a year or two then you get the option of overclocking the CPU. I dont'really think it'd be worth spending the extra money, especially with a 10400F. Z490's really become useful with a K series CPU as you can actually overclock them whereas you can't with a non-K CPU.

        I'm not really sure futureproofing is something worthwhile, by the time the parts you have are getting long in the tooth, the whole system will probably be outdated, like you'd have to upgrade the Motherboard/RAM at the same time anyway. It's unlikely that Intels CPU's just 2 years from now would support your current motherboard, and they'd probably be using DDR5 RAM as well.

        I think I'd go with something like this: https://au.pcpartpicker.com/list/dP9Ly4

        Yeah it's not a great motherboard but it'll do, and comes with wifi

        Honestly, the alternative would be buying a prebuild like https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/582696 and then adding whatever extra you need on to it, like some more storage, WiFi, maybe some fans. If you ever needed more grunt on the CPU side the Ryzen 5000 processors would be able to be added in. The prebuilt deals you find here are usually really hard to beat in value vs getting the parts yourself. It is a bit less fun though lol.

        Another question - do I need a separate fan?

        You don't need to. The case will come with a few fans. You can upgrade them down the track if you like, but it's not nessecary.

        • Thanks heaps! I think I'm now ready to jump into the exciting world of never ending PC building and upgrading! ;-)

  • Hello Folks,

    I thought I'll share what I finally went ahead with. I'm grateful to everyone who took the time to review the original list and come back with your comments - I may not have been able to incorporate your comment, however, I assure you , I did look at those in earnest!

    Here's what we managed to buy today…hopefully a good overall build. And hereby starts my son's PC building journey! :)

    Thanks again!

    P.S. - I managed to get some discounted eBay vouchers, so the final cost is close to $1250.

    PCPartPicker Part List

    Type Item Price
    CPU Intel Core i5-10400F 2.9 GHz 6-Core Processor Purchased For $207.00
    Motherboard MSI MAG B460M MORTAR WIFI Micro ATX LGA1200 Motherboard Purchased For $184.00
    Memory Kingston HyperX Fury 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory Purchased For $100.00
    Storage Samsung 970 Evo 500 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive Purchased For $96.00
    Storage Western Digital Blue 2 TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive Purchased For $84.00
    Video Card Gigabyte Radeon RX 5600 XT 6 GB GAMING OC Video Card Purchased For $392.00
    Case Corsair 275R Airflow ATX Mid Tower Case Purchased For $103.00
    Power Supply Corsair CXM 750 W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply Purchased For $135.00
    Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
    Total $1301.00
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-11-27 23:09 AEDT+1100
  • Wow lucky boy! Awesome rig

    Did you see this deal?

    https://www.umart.com.au/WD-Blue-500GB-3D-NAND-2-5in-SATA-SS...

    Save another $27 good for local pick up. I grabbed one. Missed out on the 1TB SSD for $97 today. That sold out within 20mins.

    • Thanks! 😊

      I really hope the setup works out well for him. Thanks also for sharing the SSD - I think it came up only yesterday. I was mainly looking for the NVMe ones - from what I read, they are better than the SATA ones. Moreover, no local pickup option in Vic, so makes the difference lesser. Great deal though!!

      • Sweet rig for his first PC build. Start building as early as possible, don't rush and take his time. If it takes all day so be it.

        NVMe SSDs are faster than SATA SSDs. NVMe SSDs plug right into the motherboard and don't need cabling where as SATA SSDs are placed in the Corsair Carbide 275R drive cage or behind the motherboard tray and need power and SATA data cables.

        Get him to read this account security tips article and enable Steam Guard. Ask Santa for a Steam gift card :-)

        Once a month or two remove the dust from the Corsair Carbide 275R front, top and power supply dust filters and CPU fan and case fans.

        • Thanks a lot for the tips, will surely pass these on! :)

          I still have to look at the options for Windows 10. The one for public schools unfortunately didn’t work with his school email. :(

          • @emgee: Do you have an old Windows 7 or 8 key?

            If not the first option on here might be the way to go.

            Keep the motherboards plastic CPU socket cover. You need to put it back on if you ever have to use warranty.

            • @Twix: I have an old Dell laptop that crashed that had a Windows 7 on it I think. I’ll have to check if there’s a way to find the key on that. Maybe a sticker at the back or something?!

        • I bought windows 10 online for I think $30. But it's a bit tricky. Anyway, he saved to USB and worked out himself.

          • @sal78: Thanks! I’ll have a go with the key we found on the old Dell and if that doesn’t work, then try some of the other suggestions.

  • Edit: Delete.