Christmas Build for Son - $1,700

adawg88

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My son (12) has really gotten into computers over the last 2 years. He is now at the point that he wants to work with me to build a new system. I haven't built in several years, and have been out of paying attention to the new systems. MY budget here is $1,700 and that needs to include a monitor (preferably 1440).

He likes to game, primarily playing LoL and Fortnite, but would play other games if the old PC we have in the house could handle them.

I figure with Black Friday coming now is the time to start looking.

Thanks in advance for the help!!
 
Your budget is plenty.

I just completed a update for my grandkids(12/14) that want to play fortnite.
That is not such a demanding game.
I ended up using a G5600 and a EVGA GTX1060 6gb graphics card for use on a 1080P monitor.
EVGA because they have a 90 day step up program in case the gpu was not strong enough.
With your budget, I think perhaps a i5-8400 would be a better processor.

One place to think carefully about is the monitor.
It will be with you for a long time.
Go see one in a store yourself if you can.
I think larger/wider monitors are more immersive. Perhaps 30-34"
IPS panels are cheaper and faster, but I like ips type panels with 178/178 viewing angles better.

Use a ssd for windows.
There are two approaches.
1. Buy a sufficiently large ssd, 500gb-1tb and be done with it.
A sata based m.2 device will do fine. The performance improvement of a pcie based ssd like the Samsung 970 EVO is not large.
I would go this way if son will play a handful of games.
2. If there are likely to be a large number of games then a hard drive based system might be better.
Use a small 240gb ssd for windows and a larger 2-4tb sata hdd for games.
A neat option with z390 is optane support.
You add a small 30-60gb optane device which acts like a cache for the hdd.

Buy a case your son loves. I have two requirements.

1. At least two 120/140mm front intakes with an easily changed washable filter.
That will supply sufficient intake air for a hot processor and graphics card.
2. It must allow for at least 160mm for a good air cooler.
We will use a Silverstone ps-07 m-atx case.

Buy a top quality psu. I like the Seasonic focus line. 650w should be sufficient.

If you see a deal, buy now. Black Friday deals are not all that good and the really good deals will get sold out.


2.

I would opt for a Z390 based motherboard which would allow you all sorts of processor upgrades in the future.
 
This is close to budget but has the muscle for modern AAA titles. The monitor is 1440p, 144hz, and gsync (to match the gpu). Use the DisplayPort cable that comes with the monitor. The SSD is easy to install with plenty of room for games.

Edit: changed to less expensive psu.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel - Core i5-8400 2.8 GHz 6-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI - B360 GAMING PLUS ATX LGA1151 Motherboard ($94.89 @ OutletPC)
Memory: G.Skill - Ripjaws V Series 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Crucial - MX500 1 TB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($154.89 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: MSI - GeForce GTX 1070 Ti 8 GB DUKE Video Card ($354.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master - MasterBox Pro 5 RGB ATX Mid Tower Case ($79.99 @ B&H)
Power Supply: EVGA - SuperNOVA G3 750 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($75.88 @ OutletPC)
Operating System: Microsoft - Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit ($95.89 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: Dell - S2716DG 27.0" 2560x1440 144Hz Monitor ($476.00 @ Amazon)
Total: $1672.51
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-11-10 13:09 EST-0500
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Whatever parts list you end up with, let him do most of the assembly.
Nothing finer than watching a pre-teens eyes light up when he powers on a PC that he actually built.

I did that a couple of years ago with my grandson at age 11, and it was glorious.
 
if you have a local micro center look at there combo deals. i would go with the 8400 and a micro atx mb. use the savings for more ram or a higher end gpu. if he games with headsets then pick up a bluetooth head set and usb transmitter for the pc. I have a wired head set and over time it done the twist on the headphone cable and the right side of the cables are ready to snap off. i wish i went with bluetooth so i could cut the cord. on pc monitor you may want him with you. saying monitor a is better then b. on paper is one thing. but looking at them some time it better to sit in front of a unit if you can to see if you like it. when you build your pc if there are rebates where you have to cut the upc of parts ask if there from a local store on online if they take them back if there doa. a read hear a few times some stores would not do a return with the usp code cut out. as computer parts have warranty make a quick spread sheet with the name of the parts and there serial number and lenth. also try and keep a few copies of the sales slip in the motherboard box when done. most rma if a part fails will ask for a sales slip to prove the parts are under warranty. also keep all of the boxes and on new mb keep the cpu shield cover. on mb now if the cpu slot has bent pins most mb and stores wont take them back and will say you have user damage. when you build the pc have a good led flash light check the cpu slot on the mb for bent pins. as these mb are shipped in large stacks not all mb will make it to you fine. i gotten new mb with bent pins. so it better to find them before you build. have a (+) screw driver with a magnetic tip. putting in the mb screws are easy if they dont fall off the end of a screw driver. to keep the new pc neat inside pick up some tye wraps. online line or from local hardware or electrail store. most new cases now have spots in the cases to do cable wraps. one isse if your case is tall or cubes you may need a eps cable extension that add 6-12 inches in lenth to a power supply eps cable so it can go behind the mb tray and then plug in to the top of the mb. some mb will toss in a free sata cable. new builders snap sata drives if they try to make short sata cable reach. the sata ports on mb and drives are thin. you may have to buy a set of longer sata cables. 24/36 inches in lenth to have the lenth to go from the mb to the drive bay. if your home has thick carpet you may want to look into a cheap pc case holder to keep the bottom mounted power supply from sucking in carpet. also have one main rule with the new pc no eating or drinking near it. with most new gaming cases the top of the cases are open with grills. and it easy for a liquid spill to short out the pc. as mods will say they seen tonns of posting from people that have soda spills that have shorted out mb and video cards here on toms. on the case if you want it to pop or go one extra crazy step. get a glass or clear side case panel case. then have it lazer etched. if he into bat man have that logo etched into the glass then have it backlit with mb and case led. there are shops online that do this and should be some local shops too. pc noise....if you want to keep the pc from sounding like a jet airplane when gaming look to spend some only on gpod sealed water cpu coolers or good large air coolers. on the case pick up a set of good 4 pin pmw fans. most new mb will have two or three or more pwm can headers. with pwm fans you can spin the fan from off to full speed depending on the temps in the case. three wire fans you cant. three wire fans mostly used on cases with there own fan speed controllers. you get off..50 percent and full speed on those controllers. after the holidays if you can pick up a usb hard drive cheaply pick one up. use backup software like acroius. to back your sons new pc to the drive. with any hard drive ssd or mec they do fail. with backup drive and software if his main drive goes south he wont lose he games and personal files. as most games now are downloaded i dont think your son would like wating hours for his steam games to be downloaded again and all his games saves lost if the drive or windows had to be reloaded. with newer nackup software liek the one i listed. once you do a full back up if you set it up for weekly back ups these newer programs will only backup files that have ben added or changed. so the time it takes for the software after the first back up is less. it also saves space on the backup drive. if with two pc you start to a lot of printing...look at small hp/samsung laser printer. you can get black one some time for 40.00 on sale from staples. samsung printer the 2,000 page tonner is 15.00 on amazon. tonner does not clog as an ink jet does if not used. save the ink jet for color printing. most of these new printer are wifi printers.
 
If your son plays a lot of non demanding ESports titles like LOL, CSGO and Fortnite he'll likely have an extremely high FPS and would benefit from a high refresh rate monitor. I do not recommend going with a GSYNC monitor for your son's use case because once your framerate goes past your monitor's refresh rate GSYNC no longer works. Therefore you can save some money and allocate it towards increasing the overall performance of your son's build for future longevity:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Ryzen 7 2700X 3.7 GHz 8-Core Processor ($294.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI - B450 TOMAHAWK ATX AM4 Motherboard ($105.10 @ B&H)
Memory: G.Skill - Ripjaws V Series 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung - 970 Evo 500 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($117.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: MSI - GeForce GTX 1080 8 GB DUKE OC Video Card ($494.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair - Carbide 400C ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA - SuperNOVA G3 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($75.88 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: Acer - XG270HU 27.0" 2560x1440 144Hz Monitor ($378.77 @ OutletPC)
Total: $1697.69
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-11-10 15:19 EST-0500

This system will easily play ESports titles as well as more demanding Tripple A titles for at the VERY LEAST 5 years. You'll likely get a couple of graphics card upgrades out of this build before the whole system needs to be replaced.
 

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Ryzen 7 2700X 3.7 GHz 8-Core Processor ($294.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI - B450 TOMAHAWK ATX AM4 Motherboard ($105.10 @ B&H)
Memory: G.Skill - Ripjaws V Series 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung - 970 Evo 500 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($117.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: MSI - Radeon RX VEGA 64 8 GB Air Boost OC Video Card ($524.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair - Carbide 400C ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic - FOCUS Plus Gold 750 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($68.98 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Acer - XG270HU 27.0" 2560x1440 144Hz Monitor ($357.90 @ Walmart)
Total: $1699.93
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-11-10 16:07 EST-0500
 
I would go ahead and get the latest and fastest processor with the ability to overclock it in the future this can increase the life of the PC by a couple years before needing a complete rebuild.

The extra fans get mounted in the front and you will need one splitter cable .
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA9ZN5MP3160&Description=3%20pin%20fan%20splitter&cm_re=3_pin_fan_splitter-_-9SIA9ZN5MP3160-_-Product

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel - Core i5-9600K 3.7 GHz 6-Core Processor ($269.99 @ Walmart)
CPU Cooler: CRYORIG - H5 Universal 65 CFM CPU Cooler ($52.89 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: Asus - PRIME Z390-A ATX LGA1151 Motherboard ($172.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair - Vengeance LPX 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3000 Memory ($139.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung - 860 Evo 500 GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($79.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate - Barracuda 2 TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($58.89 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: EVGA - GeForce GTX 1070 Ti 8 GB FTW2 GAMING iCX Video Card ($399.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design - Meshify C TG ATX Mid Tower Case ($75.85 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: SeaSonic - FOCUS Plus Gold 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Case Fan: Fractal Design - X2 GP-12 (Black) 52.3 CFM 120mm Fan ($11.89 @ OutletPC)
Case Fan: Fractal Design - X2 GP-12 (Black) 52.3 CFM 120mm Fan ($11.89 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: Asus - PB277Q 27.0" 2560x1440 75Hz Monitor ($305.00 @ Amazon)
Total: $1669.35
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-11-10 16:16 EST-0500
 

adawg88

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Wow, a lot of great replies here. Thanks everyone. We have the peripherals and I get the OS discounted via work, so I’m not counting those against the total.

Is the difference between an I5 and I7 not that significant? I just always assumed to go with the best processor you can afford, but maybe not.

Thanks again everyone.
 

Twistfaria

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These days AMDs Ryzen processors are more economical. You don't have to get the most expensive thing out there to still get a really good CPU! I just went Ryzen in my first build a couple of weeks ago. Most of them also come with decent stock coolers so that's another thing you don't have to purchase separately. Here is another list for you. I have this monitor it is not one of the big brands but it is a really decent 1440p 144Htz 32 inch monitor that isn't ridiculously expensive! Also if you have a Micro Center anywhere within 100 miles of your location you should really consider trying to get one of their great component bundles. They tend to have better prices and they often have motherboard/CPU combos that take an additional $50+ extra off.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Ryzen 7 2700X 3.7 GHz 8-Core Processor ($294.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte - X470 AORUS ULTRA GAMING ATX AM4 Motherboard ($133.89 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung - 970 Evo 500 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($117.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Gigabyte - Radeon RX VEGA 56 8 GB Video Card ($419.92 @ Amazon)
Case: Cooler Master - MasterCase MC500P ATX Mid Tower Case ($115.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA - SuperNOVA G3 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($79.99 @ Amazon)
Monitor: VIOTEK - GN32LD 31.5" 2560x1440 144Hz Monitor ($469.99 @ Newegg Business)
Total: $1632.75
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-11-10 19:03 EST-0500
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator


In the realm of a game machine for a 12 year old, not so much.
Especially if you can redirect that cost difference to some other part.
 


The new i5 processors have 6 cores and are still on top for gaming.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator


You'll get a better parts list, and a better overall experience, if you build it yourself.
My personal build/buy price point is $500. Anything over that, build it.

Over the next 2-3 years, your son will almost undoubtedly want to do some upgrades on this. Often, a prebuilt like that one has serious limitations moving forward.
Locked BIOS, sub-par PSU, off-brand parts like the SSD.

Yes, they work OK out of the box. But when you want to upgrade it, you'll end up buying parts twice.

And of course you're missing the whole father-son thing of actually starting with a pile of boxes, and ending up with a working system. Valuable experience for later, when something does not work right.
 

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