Building first gaming computer

Jul 31, 2018
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Hi
Okay my son wants to build his own gaming computer. I thought it would be a good experience, but am a Mac girl and know nothing about pcs. I want to be able to find sources for best possible components but don't want to be taken to cleaners.
Can you guys give me advice as to what I should be looking for and where might be a good source. And what I should be expecting to pay.
Thanks k
 

Dunlop0078

Polypheme
Herald
Will you be needing things like a monitor, mouse and keyboard, and a windows 10 license? Do you know what types of games your son plays? Prices could range anywhere from $650-$1500 or more depending on what you need and how powerful of a pc you want to build.

PCPartpicker.com is a good and easy way to price out pc components, just click start a system build in the top left. It will give you prices of multiple different stores. Sort of like Expedia for pc parts.
 

tejayd

Prominent
Mar 11, 2018
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Agreed with Pcpartpicker. You can see builds using the same parts you are looking at. There are many parts/brands that are personal preference (At least too close to call for what's better). You can always ask here. Or if you come up with your own build, link it here and double check.
 
What sort of games does/will your son play? Fast paced racing/FPS games will need quick hardware and a high refresh display to give the best experience, while strategy games are very dependant on a fast CPU for example.
What are his performance expectations? The higher the game settings and desired frame rate the more it's going to cost.
What size, resolution and refresh rate will the display be? Driving a 4K display will be expensive, but at the other end a 144Hz HD display won't need a supercomputer.

Yep, PcPartpicker is a good place to start, but make a note of the suppliers they list, while it's generally pretty good, PcPartpicker usually misses plenty of special deals, deals you'll only spot on the supplier websites.

If your son wants to actually assemble the system, he probably already knows about the many, many, MANY YouTube videos out there on the subject, if not, I've just given away the secret. ;)

Do not be afraid of this next mass of text, it's a series of tips and tweaks most build videos miss out.

It's not particularly hard but there is some potential issues to bear in mind:

Static is an overrated risk, touching a water or gas pipe, a masonry wall, an AC or heating duct/grille is a good way to keep it at bay.

You'll need a few tools to make the build go smoothly: A good quality, magnetic Phillips screwdriver, either a pair of pliers or a suitable socket wrench to tighten the motherboard standoffs, possibly a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass to help with the front panel cables ( some cases use tiny single cables ).

Work on a flat, stable and well lit surface that is free of clutter and has enough room around it to store the parts and empty boxes.

ALL the power cables will only go in one way, if one seems too hard to insert, check you have it correctly aligned.

That big 24 pin motherboard connector is always tight, lubricate the plug with a little petroleum jelly before trying to push it home with one hand while supporting the underside of the motherboard with the fingertips of your other hand.

It's easier to install to motherboard with the CPU cooler attached, it gives far better control to have something chunky to hold on to. Also lower it in at an angle so you can slide it into the rear IO shield before lowering it fully down onto the standoffs. In most cases that IO shield has a number of springy fingers on it that will push the motherboard a little ' forwards ' and out of alignment with the standoffs, attach a mounting screw to the 'driver, gently push the motherboard into alignment and start, but don't tighten that screw, repeat until all the mounting screws are started THEN tighten them firmly down.

Check the case and case manual, there's a 4 or 8 pin connector block on the motherboard, usually top left, and it's not always possible to route that cable from the power supply, behind the motherboard tray and out the top of it with the motherboard installed as the motherboard can block the exit hole, if you're in any doubt about this, install the power supply first, then route the 4/8 pin EPS cable then install the motherboard.

Sellotape and/or elastic bands can be great friends, use then to keep stray cables out of the way, especially when installing the motherboard.


General tips:

Allow plenty of time, don't rush, turn off your mobile and don't get distracted, if you have to move away from the build, finish the task you're doing then move away, never leave a task halfway through, it's an open invitation to Murphys Law to step in.

DONT'T PANIC! If it doesn't start up first time you've probably made one of the embarrassing errors we have all made in the past so start with the basics: Is the power lead plugged in? Is the socket turned on? Is the PSU switched on? If yes, power down, disconnect the power cord wait a minuet to allow the motherboard to discharge then check the cables are fully home and in their correct locations.

Finally: READ THE MANUALS! It is essential for your first build to read and understand these documents.
 
Reactions: divadoll
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Yes he is going to need monitors, headset etc. but for now I'm just interested in getting the best possible basic components.
CPU
GPU
RAM
Motherboard
Hard drive
Power supply
Case
And anything else I may not have thought of.
 
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Plus, he plays graphic heavy games and he is 15 so I can only assume this will get more important. So I want something he can grow into. Or that I won't have to replace in 6 months
 
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Okay so pcppartpucker seems like a great source but now I can expose the extent of my ignorance.
So what is the best ?
B-what?
Z-what?
What should they cost?
Really, I need help. I'm in the Stone Age here:)
 
@ Langdonlodge:

It's going to a be a steep learning curve, one I think both you and your son should get involved with.

I know that at 15 he probably wants this to happen tomorrow, or even sooner, but if you rush it'll be easy to make a mistake, so take your time and be a little patient; This is a hugely complex field, you're designing an entire system, a task that once took dozens of highly trained engineers to achieve after all.

In the meantime here's a full system ( minus headset/KB and mouse ):

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel - Core i5-8600K 3.6GHz 6-Core Processor ($249.00 @ Walmart)
CPU Cooler: CRYORIG - H7 49.0 CFM CPU Cooler ($34.99 @ Newegg Marketplace)
Motherboard: MSI - Z370 GAMING PRO CARBON ATX LGA1151 Motherboard ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Team - T-Force Delta RGB 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 Memory ($159.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung - 960 EVO 250GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($99.89 @ OutletPC)
Storage: Seagate - BarraCuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($42.69 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: MSI - GeForce GTX 1080 8GB DUKE OC Video Card ($479.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design - Meshify C Dark TG ATX Mid Tower Case ($88.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Power Supply: EVGA - SuperNOVA G3 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($69.89 @ OutletPC)
Operating System: Microsoft - Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit ($94.89 @ OutletPC)
Case Fan: be quiet! - SilentWings 3 High-Speed 77.6 CFM 140mm Fan ($18.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Case Fan: be quiet! - SilentWings 3 High-Speed 77.6 CFM 140mm Fan ($18.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Monitor: Acer - XB271HU bmiprz 27.0" 2560x1440 165Hz Monitor ($599.89 @ OutletPC)
Total: $2088.18
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-07-31 14:05 EDT-0400

 
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Brilliant!!
Thanks for the list. Just the sort of thing I need. He is earning the money himself which automatically puts on the brakes. I want him to earn what he wants and buy the best but also get a good deal.
Thanks so much. This really helps
 
If it's likely to take a while ( several months or longer ) to save up for the system I'll suggest you do this:

Start saving. ;)
Continue learning.
Keep abreast of current developments, PC hardware moves at a frightening pace and what is good now can easily be superseded in mere weeks. For example, Nvidia are due to release new graphics cards fairly soon, probably making my GTX1080 suggestion obsolete by the time he's ready to start making purchases.
Black Friday or the post Christmas sales are good times to begin bargain hunting.
Refurbished systems are OK providing they come with a half decent warranty, but it's very unlikely you'll find a system that matches your requirements so most ( if not all ) will need a little tweaking later on and few will come with a strong graphics card, one of the most expensive core parts of a gaming system.

I've deselected me as best reply, more are likely to reply and make suggestions if it doesn't show as answered in the Forum listing, probably giving you more options..
 
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