Race your PC Thread - Benchmark and Overclock (With Guides) your new or old PC here
Mechanical Keyboard |OT| / Mech KB Talk - Talk about buying expensive and loud clacky things here
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New Thread >> 2013 Thread Part 1<< New Thread
2012 Thread Part 1 + Part 2
2011 Thread Part 1 + Part 2
This OP is a constant work in progress. If you have something to correct, add, or critique please PM me.
08/24/2012: Inside the Second (A look at CPU performance in gaming) - TechReport
08/04/2012: Two useful cooling articles: Case Fan Temps and Positioning - (Bit-Tech), 60 Fans Tested (Vortez)
09/09/2011: Inside the second: A new look at game benchmarking Why FPS isn't everything, and Multi-GPU still has issues.
If you want help with a build fill this out AND try making one of your own from the resources in the OP :)
Use PCPartPicker to find the best prices and have a nice list of parts. I highly recommend Amazon and Newegg in North America.
Basic Desktop Questions:
- Your Current Specs: CPU / RAM (DDR2/DDR3) / Motherboard / GPU / PSU
- Budget: Price Range + Country
- Main Use: Light Gaming, Gaming, Emulation (PS2/Wii), Video Editing, HD Streaming, 3D work, General Usage (Word, Web, 1080p playback). Rate importance on a 1-5 scale. (5 Being highest)
- Monitor Resolution: What resolution will you be playing your games at? Are you going to upgrade later? Are you buying a new monitor?
- List SPECIFIC games that you MUST be able to play: Self Explanatory. Also is 30FPS acceptable? 60? 120?
- Looking to reuse any parts?: List make and model (e.g. Corsair 520HX 520W, 640GB SATA HDD, CM Centurion 5)
- When will you build?: What time frames are doable? Are you building this weekend? Do you need it in a week or so? Can you wait a month or two?
- Will you be overclocking?: Yes, No, Maybe (This means yes)
FALCON GUIDE – This is a general ~monthly updated guide with lots of price segments and a ton of accessible information at the bottom.
Tech Report System Guide - Updated once a season, it proves I'm not crazy by picking things I usually agree with.
Picking your parts
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/GPU12/ - !!CPU and GPU Benchmarks!!
A great resource. Note the speed benchmarks are run at, and some games and tasks work better on one setup versus another. e.g. Video Editing (multi core), RTS (core speed), and Games (AMD/nVidia optimizations).
Video Card Cooler Guide by mkenyon(ZFZ) - Picking a GPU cooler right for you
Intro to dual cards: SLI & Crossfire - I'd only suggest dual cards if you are willing to plunk down $400+ for each GPU. Otherwise go single.
How much power do I need? - For low-mid end systems a good PSU that can deliver 380W on the 12V is enough so a 450-550W is often the good buy. Above that 650W-750W for systems looking for dual card capability or top end single cards plus overhead are common. A high end 850W-1200W unit for more graphics. Check the News + Review section below for more info on PSUs.
Hazaro's PC Builds: http://bit.ly/Q4_2012_Haz - http://bit.ly/GAFSFF
Choosing a case: Picking a case reflects what you are looking for and your personal tastes. Note that some cases might not be able to fit taller rifle coolers (Like the CM 212 Plus, or more commonly a ThermalRight Silver Arrow) or longer video cards (Like a custom 7950 or GTX 680). Some LED fans in cases can have off switches.
Thank your friendly neighborhood feist and TheExodu5. Last Updated 04/26/12.
$40-60 $70-$100 $120-$200
$40 - BitFenix Merc Alpha/Beta ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, $80 - Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced ,,,,,, $130 - Cooler Master HAF XM/Corsair 500R/SilverStone RV02 (RV03/FT02)
$40 - NZXT Source 210/210 Elite/220 ,,,,,,,, $100 - Fractal Design Arc/Lian Li PC-K63 ,,,,,,, $150 - BitFenix Shinobi XL/NZXT Switch 810/Corsair 600T
$45 - Diablotek Evo/Rosewill Challenger ,,,, $100 - Antec Eleven Hundred/Corsair 400R ,,,, $180 - Cooler Master HAF X/CM Storm Trooper/Xigmatek Elysium
$60 - Cooler Master HAF 912/922 ,,,,,,,,,,,,,, $100 - SilverStone KL04/TJ04-E ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, $ 200 - Lian Li PC-V700/PC-V750/Various Lian Li (~$100-200+)
[QUIET OPTIONS] $60 - BitFenix Shinobi ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, $100 - Fractal Design Define R3/Define XL ,,,, $120 - Anidées AI-6B/Antec P280Putting it all together
Thermal Paste: Apply as a ~4mm ball to the CPU. Press the heatsink down and tighten. Line method is ok. Application matters way less than you think. If you take the heatsink off, clean it with alcohol and reapply or you will trap air.
mkenyon(ZFZ) - Build Guide & Cable Management Guide
Video Build Guides: TechReport PC Building Guide 15 minute video how-to / 40 Minute how-to / Tested March 15th $1,500 build (100 minutes, but entertaining) / How to Build a Gaming Computer 2012 (Carey Holzman - 150 minutes) / Newegg - 40 minutes / TimeToLive Build (75 minutes)
Accessories (Rough, will be changing format and adding image thumbnails later). TY Mekenyon.
Headsets - If a good mic isn't as important, check out Headphone GAF. The headphones there will always be better quality than the ones listed here (for the price).
- Plantronics .Audio 655 - $35
- Fatal1ty - $40-50, CM STORM Sonuz - $70
- ROCCAT Kave - $110, ASUS Vulcan - $120
- Sennheiser PC-350/360 - $150/$225 - Best microphone, worth it for that alone.
Microphones - Standalone
- Zalman Clip on Mic - $9 - Works for a budget
- Logitech USB Mic - $15 (eBay) - Much clearer, but picks up a lot if you aren't talking
- ModMic - $35 Preorder - TBD
Keyboards - MX Brown = Quiet tactile, MX Blue = loud tactile, MX Black = stiff linear, MX Red = soft linear. Get Thermaltake/Razer if you need a numpad.
- Rosewill RIKB - $10, Logitech K200 - $25
- Razer Arctosa - $44, ROCCAT Arvo - $40-55, Logitech K750 - $60-70 - Membrane keyboards with decent build quality, K750 and Arctosa have scissor switches.
- CM Storm - Quickfire Rapid - $80, Thermaltake Meka/Razer Blackwidow - $80
- Filco Majestouch 2 Tenkeyless - $140, Noppoo Choc - $100, Happy Hacking Pro - $344
- Logitech SBF-96 - $15, CM Storm Xornet - $30 - Xornet is the best buy in mice below $60.
- CM Storm Spawn - $40, ROCCAT Kova - $50, SteelSeries Kana - $55 - Spawn for claw, Kova for palm, Kana for smallish hand palm.
- SteelSeries Sensei RAW - $60 - Best mouse.
- SteelSeries Sensei - $100 - Best mouse with a little more.
Help! PC won't Turn on/POST/Boot
Chief Value (Parts)
Micro Center (Parts)
Tiger Direct (Parts, Bing Cashback)
AVADirect (Custom Built)
Falcon Northwest (Custom Built)
MAINGEAR (Custom Built)
NCIX (Parts, Assembly, Price Match)
Canada Computers (Parts)
Memory Express (Parts, Assembly, Price Match)
Tiger Direct (Parts)
PriceBat (Price Comparison)
PriceCanada (Price Comparison)
Shopbot (Price Comparison)
Overclockers UK (Parts)
Aria PC (Parts)
Ebuyer (Parts, Custom Built)
Dino PC (Custom Built)
YoYoTech (Custom Built)
PC Case Gear (Parts)
Scorpion Technology (Parts)
staticICE (Product Finder)
The Tech Report
+Jonnyguru - LEGIT PSU reviews
+HardwareSecrets - LEGIT PSU reviews
+Silent PC Review - Silent Computing
Steam Mover / Steam Tool for SSDs
Ninite A batch downloader and installer for popular programs. A fantastic time saver for any new PC build.
CPU-Z gathers information on your Motherboard, BIOS, CPU, FSB, VCORE voltage and memory timings.
GPU-Z gathers information (Speed, architecture, temps) on your video card and GPU.
Real Temp / Core Temp allows you to monitor the temperature of your CPU core(s).
HWMonitor allows you to monitor fan speed, temperature, voltage, etc.
Piriform Speccy overall computer hardware monitoring
ATTO / CrystalDiskMark Tests read and write speed of your hard drives.
MSI Afterburner (aka RivaTuner) allows you to manage GPU overclocking, fan speed/profiles and chart many aspects of your GPU.
FURMark allows you to stress test your video card.
Fraps allows you to record real time video, take screen captures and display your FPS.
Memtest86+ allows you to run a full memory scan to deal with the blue screen of death and system errors.
MemtestG80 allows you to test for soft errors in GPU memory for NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPUs.
nHancer/Radeon Pro allows you to optimize the display, improve the performance and fully utilize your NVIDIA graphics card.
OCCT / Prime95 allows you to stress test your CPU and GPU. allows you to stress test the stability of your computer.
Dxtory/nVidia driver options allows you to limit the frame rate on most games. Excellent for older games or just getting a locked 45FPS
SSD Setup and Tweaking
Online Security Thread
2011 High-res PC screenshot thread + 2012
Triple buffering: "Why we love it"
PC games blog list