A history of PC gaming and PC building...Anyone who's known me for any amount of time knows that one of my main happy-makers in my non-work, non-child raising, non-husbanding time is gaming. I've been a PC gamer for a number of years, ever since I got my first PC back in 1995.
I've done 3 builds in my lifetime that I can think of, and a number of upgrades to those builds. Unfortunately, my strategy for part picking for the past few years has amounted to:
- What my friends have cast off that I can use
- What I can afford and get WOC (Wife Oversight Committee™) approval for that is better than what I have.
This comic from XKCD sums it up my usual gaming experience:
The Goal: A new gaming rigThis year, there was a bit more than expected in the tax return, so the wife gave me the go ahead to pick out and purchase a new computer. Of course, I got this notification a few weeks before the funds would be available, so I had time to plan. I sat down and talked with the wife about what the goals of a new build would be, and I came up with the following:
- It should play the games I am playing down at max detail level at a good frame rate.
- It should last at least 3-5 years before needing to be replace or expensive upgrades to be made.
- It should preferably not go over budget.
- Start looking at online communities such as Reddit's Build a PC, Tom's Hardware, Maximum PC, and the like. Check out the builds people are doing and posting to see what's working and what's in vogue.
- Take a look at retailer's websites, such as Newegg, Best Buy, MicroCenter, and such, to see what's on special and what's reviewing well there.
- Seek out your friends that are system builders (everyone knows at least one I think), and ask them about their experience.
- Check out PCPartPicker and setup your build there. The site's pretty good about telling you what will and won't work.
For motherboard, I wanted something that would be expansible, and support the latest technologies. I talked to friends about their motherboard experiences, and based on their feedback, chose one of ASRock's z77-based boards. Talk is that they are the best cost to performance out there. I wanted 8gb of RAM, but when I went to buy, I figured out that the price jump to double it wasn't huge, and decided to cross that bridge now. Storage was a similar situation... a Solid State Drive would greatly improve performance and increase machine longevity, so it seemed like a good idea.
Rounding out the build was the choice of a power supply and case. I wanted a case with much better air flow than my previous one, but let's be honest, you don't have to go nuts on a case. I chose the Thermaltake V3 for the combination of price and air flow. Since I had all of this hardware, and a CrossFire capable board, I decided to go over on the Power Supply, and went with a 700W Thermaltake supply.
With all that chosen, and the funds available Monday, I ordered my parts for in-store pickup at MicroCenter, and set off on the build.
Parts ListPCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/HhKt
- CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor
- Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Pro4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard
- Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory
- Storage: Sandisk Extreme 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk
- Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card
- Case: Thermaltake VL80001W2Z ATX Mid Tower Case
- Power Supply: Thermaltake TR2 700W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply
- Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer