[[custom_pc_build_suggestions_-_wip]]

PC Build suggestions [Outdated / Obsolete]

Outdated wiki pages may contain information that may be incorrect, obsolete or irrelevant.

The information below is to be treated as an archive and should not be relied on as purchasing advice. The Guide was last updated in 2013.

For PC building tips, tutorials and FAQ's, visit the following websites:

https://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/

http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/rmp_sg_whirlpoolpcs

http://www.pcgamer.com/pc-build-guide-high-end-gaming-pc/

Help keep our purchasing guides up to date! Simply click the Edit button to start editing.

Principles for Selecting PC Parts and Building a Computer

Selecting your own parts and building your own computer brings many benefits. By selecting parts which suit exactly what tasks you are going to be doing on your computer, you are able to get the most performance you can within a your desired budget. Building computers is also a hobby for many people and a good skill to have, as being able to build a computer will mean that you will be more knowledgeable about hardware and how to fix common problems.

There are many channels on Youtube which go through the process of building a computer. Paul from NewEgg TV goes through step-by-step in his video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_56kyib-Ls. Even though all of our different configs use different parts, all computer parts are pretty standardised, meaning that they are all assembled in more or less the same way.

Main Components in a PC

A computer has several core components, which are the Motherboard, CPU, RAM, GPU, Storage, PSU and Case. Without these components, the computer cannot function. Aside from these core components, there are additional components such as monitors, keyboard, mice and other add-ons which add more functions to your computer.

CPU

The CPU is the “brains” of the computer and its job is to perform calculations. CPUs range, in cost, from as low as $45 for an Intel Celeron, to as high as $379 for an Intel Core i7 4770K. There are even more expensive CPUs which are used in servers and supercomputers which are even more powerful than consumer CPUs.

What's the difference between an AMD and Intel CPU? Read http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/comments/1rhmxu/what_is_the_major_differance_between_intel_and_amd/cdnd7jn

For most basic tasks, such as word processing or browsing the internet, a low-end CPU should be enough. Intel's Celeron and Pentium CPUs are all below $100 and are perfectly suited to these tasks. Unlike what a lot of people might say, there are relatively few day-to-day tasks which benefit from a more powerful CPU. Tasks which do include:

  • Media encoding - e.g. rendering
  • Graphical tasks - e.g. image editing
  • Archiving and extracting ZIP, RAR, 7z files…etc.
  • Gaming
  • Programming - e.g. compiling source code
  • Mathematical calculation tasks - e.g. modelling

For Intel, there are four tiers of desktop CPUs:

  1. Celeron/Pentium - These are the lowest end CPUs, they are all dual cores. Below $100. Recommended for basic builds.
  2. Core i3 - These are dual cores with hyper-threading. From $120 - $160. Not recommended (see below).
  3. Core i5 - These are quad cores without hyper-threading. From $200 - $260. Recommended for most mid-range builds.
  4. Core i7 - These are quad cores with hyper-threading. From $320 - $380. Only recommended for high-end builds.

For AMD, there are also four tiers of desktop CPUs:

  1. AMD APU - These are the lowest end AMD CPUs. Generally not recommended (see below).
  2. FX x4 Series - These are quad cores. Also generally not recommended (see below).
  3. FX x6 Series - These are hexa (6) cores.
  4. FX x8 Series - These are octa (8) cores.

At the moment, Intel CPUs are better than AMD CPUs for most applications, however, AMD does have some very strong CPUs at very good prices. At each of the key pricepoints:

  • Budget - Intel Pentium vs. AMD APU - For about the same price, the Intel CPU will perform better. However, the AMD APU has great onboard graphics, meaning that you can play some light games without having to buy a discrete graphics card. For pretty much every other use case, however, the Intel CPU is stronger.
  • Lower-Mid Tier - Intel Core i3 vs. AMD FX x4/FX x6 Series - Since the price difference of the x4 and the x6 is only $20, it almost makes no sense to go with the x4. Thus, this is really a battle between the Intel Core i3 and the AMD FX x6. Both are about the same price. In this category, however, the AMD FX x6 will generally perform better than the i3, due to the fact that it has six cores, whilst the i3 only has 2.
  • Higher-Mid Tier - Intel Core i5 vs. AMD FX x8 series - This is the only category where it makes sense to go either way. Intel's i5 will be better for most usage cases, however, with video editing and other heavily computational tasks, AMD's FX x8 series, since it has 8 cores, can pull ahead of the Core i5.

Motherboard

RAM

The RAM is workbench of the computer. When you're working, you might like to have a table where you can store your things so you can grab them quickly and work more efficiently. RAM is like this, it's where the CPU stores things that it needs to grab quickly. Having more RAM is like having a larger table, the more space you have, the more things you can keep on it and access quickly.

The minimum amount of recommended RAM for modern systems is 4GB. Below 4GB and you might start to see performance issues such as lag when changing between applications. For most mainstream builds, 8GB of RAM is the recommended amount. Above 8GB, however, the performance benefits tend to decrease compared to the amount you're spending on RAM. Unless you are editing videos/images or you heavily multi-task, you'll always almost be better off getting 8GB of RAM and spending the amount you save on something else.

At the moment, most varieties of RAM come in 4GB and 8GB sticks. It is always recommended to get the 8GB sticks because it will give you an upgrade path. E.g. if you are using a motherboard with two RAM slots, using one 8GB module now means you can add another 8GB module down the track if you need.

RAM is one of the most upgradable components in a PC and unlike other components such as the CPU, it is accumulative, so you can add more RAM down the track without having to remove (and waste) your current RAM. There are many brands of RAM including Corsair, Kingston, Patriot, G Skill…etc. All brands of RAM are reliable enough to be used in modern systems. RAM also comes in many speeds (DDR3-1333, DDR3-1600, DDR3-1833…etc.) and timings (CL9…etc.). For enthusiasts, these matter, but for most users, as long as all of your sticks are the same, it should be okay, just go for the cheapest.

Graphics Card (GPU)

Storage

Traditionally, there was only one type of storage - hard drives. Hard drives are still the most common form of storage today, however, we are seeing the increased use of another type of storage called solid-state drives (SSDs).

SSDs, unlike hard drives, do not spin, thus they are extremely fast. Having your OS and applications installed on an SSD will dramatically improve your load times and give you a smoother overall experience whilst using your computer. There are many brands of SSDs including Intel, Samsung, Sandisk, Seagate, Kingston…etc. Since SSDs are now quite mature technology, they all should be reliable enough for home use.

When buying an SSD, 120GB is the minimum recommended so that you can store your OS and all of your applications. 240/256GB is the sweet-spot, meaning that if you want the best price per GB, this is the amount to get.

Hard drives range in capacity from 500GB to 4TB and what hard drive you get will depend on your storage needs. If you currently have a NAS at home or use some form of external/centralised storage, then you might be able to build a computer with just an SSD and no hard drive. My own personal computers at home don't have hard drives as I have centralised storage.

There are different types of hard drives and different manufacturers. There isn't a definitive study as to which of the four hard drive manufacturers is the most reliable (Hitachi, Toshiba, Western Digital, Seagate), however, they all generally perform very well these days. For these build threads, we have decided to go with Seagate Barracuda drives. At home, I use Western Digital Green drives and have been for many years, for my next upgrade, however, I will be going with the enterprise-class RE4 drives.

The minimum hard drive to get is 2TB. This is because 500GB drives are around $55, 1TB drives are around $70 and 2TB drives are around $95, meaning that it almost makes no sense to get 500GB or 1TB. The sweetspot is 3TB which you can get for around $135. The largest capacity is 4TB. If you're storing lots of media, remember to get a large hard drive, as an x264 encoded Full HD video can be up to 5GB (you can store only 200 per TB).

El-Cheapo PC

The El-Cheapo PC is made by choosing the lowest cost parts that would work together. Whilst this PC would not be suitable for anybody who will use their computers on a regular basis, it might be a good starting point if you've never built a PC before to start with low cost components.

Even for first-time PC users, e.g. getting a PC for your parents…etc., the Budget PC below should be considered, due to higher quality components and the ability to provide a better overall experience.

Note that this system is not designed to be upgradable and at this budget level would be replaced rather than maintained.

No Windows licence is included. If you are going to be this cheap, might as well try Linux. A popular, stable and fully-featured Linux OS is Ubuntu, which can be found at http://www.ubuntu.com/.

El-Cheapo
Option 1 2
Item Detail Cost Detail Cost
Motherboard
CPU
GPU
MSI H61M-P20
Intel Pentium G1610
Integrated Intel HD Graphics
$46
$45
$0
AsRock FM2A55M-VG3
AMD A4-4000
Integrated AMD HD 7480D
$53
$49
$0
RAM 2G Single 1333 Patriot-S $24
Storage Seagate SATA3 500GB $55
Case SHAW USB3.0 GT-DF1 $37
PSU Generic PSU included $0
Total $207-$218
Suggested Peripherals and Extras
Item Detail Cost
OS Ubuntu Linux $0
Monitor 18.5” 5ms AOC E950SWN $98
Keyboard Gigabyte Desktop KM- 5300 $9
Mouse Included with Keyboard $0

Budget PC

This is the type of PC that would be recommended for general internet use, watching movies, word processing, basic spreadsheets and that type of stuff. It would be the type of computer that would be good for most people who aren't really interested in gaming or any other heavy-duty intensive tasks.

The focus of a system such as this is getting good quality, low cost components with a focus on responsiveness. What's important in a system like this is not so much how fast you can render video, but how responsive it is in day-to-day use. This is why I've opted to go with an SSHD from Seagate. These drives have SSD-like responsiveness and boot-up times, but also have 1TB of storage for movies, music and other files.

Some other choices include going with a single stick of 4GB DDR3 RAM. 4GB is actually enough for most budget systems, all applications will run with this, and end user experience is minimally affected. A single stick offers an upgrade path to 8GB in the future, which is always good to have.

While this system does not have a Blu-Ray drive, it is quite capable of 'Full HD' video, either online, though saved files or an added Blu-Ray drive. We have included suggestions for a Blu-Ray drive in the Peripherals and Extras section.

Budget System
Option 1 2
Item Detail Cost Detail Cost
Motherboard
CPU
GPU
Asus H81M-E
Intel Pentium G3220
Integrated Intel HD Graphics
$65
$69
$0
Gigabyte F2A75M-HD2
AMD A4-5300
Integrated AMD HD 7480D
$85
$55
$0
RAM 4GB DDR3 Single - Kingston $41
Storage Seagate ST1000DX001 Desktop SSHD 1TB $119
Optical MSI DVD RW $16
Case Thermaltake USB3.0 V3 $75
PSU 500W Thermaltake PSU included $0
Total $385-$391
Suggested Peripherals and Extras
Item Detail Cost
OS Windows 8.1 OEM $115
Monitor 21.5” 5ms Philips 221S3LCB $129
Optical LG Blu-Ray Combo (replaces DVD) +$39
Keyboard Microsoft Desktop 600 $16
Mouse Included with Keyboard $0

All-Round Home PCs

Mid-Tier All-Round Home PC

This is a step up from the Budget PC. Whilst the Budget PC could be recommend ed to beginning PC users, an All-Round PC is more of the typical family computer which can do a bit of everything and is fast enough for pretty much all purposes such as video editing, image editing, a bit of gaming and other more demanding tasks. All of the benefits of the Budget PC stay, with a slightly larger budget to accommodate for a few improvements. By stepping up from a Budget PC, the benefits you will get are:

  • Faster Quad-Core CPU, which is good for things such as video editing and all round performance
  • Discrete Graphics card, which is essential for gaming
  • Upgraded motherboard, which will give us more expansion options
  • More RAM, 8GB allows two modern applications run use large amounts of memory without conflict, allowing for fast application swapping

Note: If gaming is not required, the GPU can be removed from this system with little loss of functionality.

All-Round Home System
Option 1 2
Item Detail Cost Detail Cost
Motherboard
CPU
MSI B85-G43
Intel Core i5-4440
$99
$204
AsRock 970 Extreme3
AMD FX-8320
$98
$179
GPU MSI Radeon 7770 $95 MSI GTX 650Ti 1GB $119
RAM 8GB DDR3 Kit - Kingston $86
Storage 1 120GB Samsung 840 Evo $104
Storage 2 Seagate Barracuda 2TB $96
Optical MSI DVD RW $16
Case Thermaltake USB3.0 V3 $75
PSU 500W Thermaltake PSU included $0
Total $749-$799
Suggested Peripherals and Extras
Item Detail Cost
OS Windows 8.1 OEM $115
Monitor 23” 5ms LG 23EN43V-B $159
Optical LG Blu-Ray Combo (replaces DVD) +$39
Keyboard Microsoft Wireless Desktop 2000 $32
Mouse Included with Keyboard $0

High Tier All-Round PC

This is the typical $1000 do everything PC. A lot of people are interested in this $1000 price point as it can provide a lot of value to most users. Typically builds over this price point provide little benefit outside of specific use cases. The aims of this system are the same as the all-round PC but everything has just been beefed up a notch. It really doesn't offer much over the previous build except that you get more powerful components and a nicer case…etc.

High Tier All-Round PC
Option 1 2
Item Detail Cost Detail Cost
Motherboard
CPU
ASROCK B85M-Pro4
Intel Core i5-4440
$87
204
AsRock 970 Extreme3
AMD FX-6300
$98
$129
GPU Gigabyte Radeon 7870 $199 Gigabyte GTX 660 $219
RAM 8GB DDR3 Kit - 1600mhz G.Skill NT $ 88 8GB DDR3 Kit G.Skill RipJaws-X 2133mhz $99
Storage 1 120GB Samsung 840 Evo $104
Storage 2 Seagate Barracuda 2TB $95
Optical MSI DVD RW $16
Case Fractal Design Core 3000 $89
PSU Antec Neo Eco 450c 80+ Bronze $69 Corsair CX430 $69
Total $851 - ?
Suggested Peripherals and Extras
Item Detail Cost
OS Windows 8.1 OEM $115
Monitor 24” 2ms Asus VS248H $184
Optical LG Blu-Ray Combo (replaces DVD) +$39
Keyboard Logitech MK330 $42
Mouse Included with Keyboard $0

Budget Gamer - Kill Your Console

With the upcoming plans for SteamBox…etc. The aim of this Budget Gamer is to build a better gaming system than a Xbox One or a PS4. The Xbox One will cost $598, so our aim with this system is to build a gaming PC that is $600. Keep in mind that unlike an Xbox, you can use your gaming PC for everyday tasks too.

With a gaming build that's budget oriented, the GPU is almost always the bottleneck of the system, so a large part of the budget is dedicated to a powerful GPU. The GPU in this build is limited to a 7850 as this can be run from the included PSU, to increase this any further means a PSU will need to also be purchased, which will blow out the budget.

For this category, no options have been given because of the very tight price/performance requirements. No OS is included (Steam for Linux is out right now!).

Budget Gamer
Item Detail Cost
Motherboard ASRock 960GM/U3S3 FX $55
CPU AMD x6 FX-6300 $129
GPU Sapphire OC 7850 $169 (PCCG)
RAM 2x 4GB DDR3 Kingston $82
Storage Seagate SATA3 1TB $67
Case Thermaltake USB3.0 V3 $75
PSU 500W Thermaltake PSU included $0
Total $577

Mid-Range Gamer

High-End Gamer

This PC aims to cater for the gamer who wants to play all modern titles on High. For this system, we decided to go with a $1200 budget. This is because a gaming PC needs a bit more grunt than an average computer. We picked out components that are important for gaming and made some decisions which will assist in the theme of a gaming oriented build.

For our discrete graphics, we decided to go with either the R9 280X from AMD or the GTX770 from nVidia. Both of these cards are able to run all modern titles on High and almost all on Very High or Ultra, giving great value for money which will last several years before needing an upgrade.

We also added a few features which are important in gaming systems including a high quality, reliable PSU and a large SSD to store games. We also decided to use a DVD RW instead of a Blu-Ray drive, as all games which run on optical media still use DVDs.

High-End Gamer
Option 1 2
Item Detail Cost Detail Cost
Motherboard
CPU
MSI B85-G43
Intel Core i5-4440
$99
$204
AsRock 970 Extreme3
AMD FX-8320
$98
$225
GPU Sapphire R9 280X $365 Gainward GTX770 $379
RAM 8GB DDR3 Kit - Kingston $86
Storage 1 256GB Plextor M5S $168
Storage 2 Seagate Barracuda 2TB $95
Optical MSI DVD RW $16
Case Coolermaster N300 $49
PSU Corsair GS600-V2 $105 Antec HCG 620 $105
OS Windows 8.1 OEM $115
Total $1276 - $1316

Extreme High-End Gamer

This is pretty much the “as good as it gets” system. Here, we didn't factor in budget much and just went for the best reasonable components to put together an extremely high-end gaming PC. We didn't pick the most expensive of everything and shove it all together, instead we picked what we considered were high-end components that weren't ridiculously priced.

This system should be able to play all games at Ultra settings at 1080p without any exceptions, at the moment.

Extreme High-End Gamer
Option 1 2
Item Detail Cost Detail Cost
Motherboard Gigabyte Z87-HD3 $145
CPU Intel Core i7-4770K $379
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-D14 $84
GPU Galaxy GeForce GTX 780 $579 Powercolor Radeon R9 290X $659
RAM 16GB DDR3 Kit - Kingston $158
Storage 1 256GB Plextor M5S $168
Storage 2 Seagate Barracuda 3TB $135
Optical MSI DVD RW $16
Case Coolermaster 922 HAF XM $127
PSU Corsair GS700-V2 $125
OS Windows 8.1 OEM $115
Total $2031 - $2111

Home Server

With the popularity of microservers such as the HP N40L and N54L, many people are now interested in building their own home storage servers. The aim of a home server is to provide centralised storage for a household which might have multiple devices. For example, in a family with 4 computers, a home theatre PC (HTPC) and several tablets, it might be important to have centralised storage for things such as media and documents.

Examples of where a home server would help:

  • I might be working on a Word document on my desktop and I want to move to my laptop so I can sit on the couch in the living room. Having the document on centralised storage will mean I can just save and move over without hassle.
  • Having a centralised place to store movies and music so that they can be accessed anywhere in the house.
  • Streaming media to TVs and audio receivers.
  • Having a centralised backup solution to protect data.

Compared to an all-in-one solution such as a NAS, building your own usually means that it performs faster and is more flexible. Compared to a pre-built microserver such as an N54L, building your own allows you to select a case which stores the number of drives you need.

Home Theatre PC

A home theatre PC (HTPC) is one that is designed to play back media files to your home entertainment system. Unlike many other PCs, it is important for a home theatre PC to be small, look good, be relatively silent and offer an appliance-like no-frills experience. It also has to be reasonably cost-effective.

This HTPC is designed to be versatile. With a Pentium processor, it is powerful enough to play HD video. It includes an SSD for speed and responsiveness, helping it act like an appliance. It also features a Blu-Ray drive, so you can watch all Blu-Ray films and it also includes a TV tuner card so you can watch and record live television. We have also included a 3TB hard drive to store all your media and all of this fits inside a small HTPC case which will fit in with your home theatre gear.

Two things to note about this build. Firstly, we went with the ASUS H81M-C, which is $6 more than the ASUS H81M-E from the budget build because we needed a PCI slot for the TV card. The Leadtek PCI TV Card was the cheapest we could find. PCI-E versions were significantly more expensive. The second thing is that you should NOT use VGA to plug this computer into your TV because Blu-Ray and other HDCP protected content will not work properly over an analogue signal such as VGA.

Home Theatre PC
Item Detail Cost
Motherboard ASUS H81M-C $71
CPU Intel Pentium G3220 $69
GPU Integrated Intel HD Graphics $0
RAM 4GB DDR3 Kingston $41
Storage Samsung 840 EVO 120G $104
Optical LG Blu-Ray Combo $55
TV Card Leadtek WinFast DTV2000DS $49
Case Silverstone ML03 $74
PSU Aerocool True Power 450 $49
Total $463