Being an avid PC gamer, I felt like contributing this to the site.
Below will be additions from the 2008 thread as well as new additions.
Major thanks to Kosma, Hazaro, Cheeto, godhandiscen, SRG01, Chespace, Davidion, Chiggs, Zzoram, JSnake and of course Borys who has to still be lurking on here for their PC gaming contributions to the previous years thread.
The 2008 "I need a new PC!" thread can be found here.
12.18.08 @1147 hours - First post with links to vendors for PC's, parts and discussions of upcoming CPU/GPU's to be released in CY09.
12.22.08 @ 0954 hours - Posted up Monitor specifications for PC gamers. Also added Tom's Hardware's guide for SSD on a PC build for reference. Also added reference for overclocking to thread in the [H] forums with detailed information on how to overclock the C2D/C2Q chipsets.
2.1.09 @ 0957 hours - Updated links for Core i7 overclocking, updated list for Canada PC parts, added NeoGAF Benchmarking thread added to Utilities section
2.27.09 @ 0911 hours - Updated first post with the Tech Report February Builders guide. *Thanks Hazaro!!*
3.30.09 @ 1141 hours - Reboot of the thread along with new title graphic, PC Gamer Avatars and more content coming in the next couple of weeks.
4.3.09 @ 1053 hours - Added and Updated Overclocking to include Core i7 overclocking PDF guide thanks to XtremeSystems.org. This is for the Intel Core i7 chips only.
PC Gamers GAF Avatars
You wanted them, you got'em. Right now I've done a Fallout 3 Avatar and a plain jane template for those wishing to make your own. If you want me to do you one up, shoot me a PM and time permitting I will get it done.
Where to buy a PC and/or Parts?: (Three Regions, NOW LIVE!!)
Newegg.com (Buy parts)
NCIXUS.com (Buy parts, will assemble for fee)
TigerDirect.com (Buy parts)
Performance PC's.com (Buy parts)
Zip-Zoom-Fly (Buy parts)
Chief Value (Buy parts)
MicroCenter.com (Buy parts)
Avadirect.com (Custom Built)
MainGear.com (Custom Built High End)
FalconNW (Custom Built High End)
Newegg.ca (Buy parts)
DirectCanada (Buy Parts)
NCIX.com (Buy parts will assemble for fee)
News sites for the latest in PC Computing and Gaming:
TechReport (Fantastic site, guy really knows his stuff)
HardOCP.com (Reviews by the max settings a game can be played at reasonably)
Utilities for any PC gamer:
Prime95 - Stress test the stability of your system on stock settings or your latest Overclock.
CPU-Z - Gathers system CPU, FSB, Vcore Voltage and memory timings presents it in a clean and tidy way.
Memtest - Having weird Blue screens or system errors? Download and run a full memory scan using Memtest.
GPU-Z - Gathers information on your Graphics card chipset, similar to that of CPU-Z but for your GPU.
HWmonitor - A must if you OC your equipment! Gives you a full range of temperatures, Voltage settings, fan speeds and more!
RealTemp - A utility to monitor the temperature of your CPU core(s).
RivaTuner - A Utility to manage GPU overclock, fan speed, and monitor about 25 other things all in 1 customizable screen.
NeoGAF's own PC Benchmarking thread - Have questions about your Futuremark score or want to show off your new overclock on your CPU/GPU? This thread is for you!
Getting started building your PC:
TR's February 2009 system guide
Recommendations for building the right enthusiast's PCs
- A guide that will help those who have a fist full of cash but may not know what will best suit their gaming needs. The Tech Report gives a great overview of systems for those looking to get the most bang for their buck. Check it out!
NeoGaf FAQ's on PC Gaming:
Build it yourself or buy a premade?
There are numerous advantages to building your own PC. For starters it's much cheaper then buying a premade, plus you can have exactly what you want/need (customizing the looks, the noise level etc.) Building isn't very hard, even I succeeded on my first try. This thread in general will focus on building your own PC, but you can always ask questions about which parts to use for your prefab.
Some suggested sites for premades are Dell and HP, be aware that with some searching on the internet you can find awesome rebate's for the PC's you can purchase here. Especially Dell is known for having these which could save you up to 10% of the original price. Coupons can be found on sites like here or here but if you don't find any I suggest using google.
What's your budget and what do you expect?
Really think about it, the sky is the limit with PC's and if you don't make a budget for yourself you will never be able to make a "definitive" build. If you want the PC to last for 5 years you will need to aim at the best of the best hardware now and accordingly spend a lot of money. If you aim to keep this rig for less time you can easily spend much less money while staying competitive with the top rigs now, and by the time you build a new one in a few years your PC will outshine those guys that build 5 year future proof monster rigs. If you have all the cash in the world this obviously doesn't apply and you should get the best of the best, but for average joe this is an important question.
Choosing a Case
Choose something you think looks decent, and has room for a fan or two. But unless you're planning on doing extreme overclocking or something don't be bothered or seduced by cases that have millions of fans. In most cases you really don't need that much airflow. If you choose a cheap thin aliminium casing chances are it will be vibrating and a bit noisy.
The more expensive casing are pretty heavy so if you're planning on going to many LAN parties they may not be the best choice
Board members personal pick's:
- CoolerMaster Centurion 5
- CoolerMaster 690
- Antec 300/900
- Antec Case+PSU combo (Saves money, good PSU)
- CoolMaster 690
- LIAN LI PC-A05B
- Antec 900
- LIAN LI PC-65
Choosing a Motherboard
Couple of things. Make sure the Mobo supports the CPU you choose, and at least DDR2 800 RAM. If you want a future proof Mobo, choose one which supports DDR3 memory which should come down in price this or next year. Be sure to check all features as they will vary from e-SATA, wifi, firewire, amount of USB ports, etc.
LGA1366: 45nm Core i7 Quad-Core chips
LGA775: 65nm Core 2's, 45nm Penryn chips
AM2: Anthlon X2's and FX's.
Quick recommendations on mother boards (Intel)
- Asus P5Q
- Gigabyte DS3
- Gigabyte EP45-UD3R
Choosing a CPU
As mentioned above, the CPU is the second greatest asset to a PC gamer. The eternal debate on whether or not to have a Dual-Core or a Quad-Core I think will rage on until the end of time. What is important to look at is what you're doing with the system you're building/buying. If you building a system purely for gaming/surfing the internet and email, you can't go wrong with a Dual-Core chip. However if you want to be doing more than just that... such as gaming, encoding/decoding multimedia, intensive Photoshop sessions and 30+ things open at once.... Probably should go the Quad-Core route.
Suggestions for which brand to buy.... It all depends. I personally have bought Intel since back in the late 90's simply because I prefer their chips but there people that prefer AMD to Intel. Either way, the prices on the LGA775 chipset for Intel and the AMD Phenom chipset are quite competitively priced.
The best valued CPU (IMO) right now is the E8400 Wolfdale Core 2 Duo chip which clocks in at 3.0GHz can easily be overclocked to 4.0GHz on Air without any problems on multiple manufactures motherboards. Also consider the E7200 as it is slightly cheaper and offers same performance in games.
To help break it down again, here's a CPU listing for what you'd be doing: (thanks to Hazaro)
Web Browser: E2200 (E2140/60/80)
Multi-media Machine: E7200 / Q6600
Gaming: E8400 / Q6600 / Newer Quads
Choosing a GPU (serious business!)
***New cards being introduced this year. (Minor tweaks and upgrades supposedly)***
The GPU is the most necessary item in a PC Gamers arsenal (second of course being a good CPU obviously). Anyways, we've hit a golden era of graphics cards where for around $200 bucks(+/- rebates) you can pick up a ATI 4870 or a Nvidia GTX260 that are among the fastest graphic cards to date.
Either of those paired with a Intel Core 2 Duo(or greater) or an AMD Phenom X3 or higher should put you into a sweet spot for gaming. At 3.0Ghz a Core 2 CPU gains promptly slide down, going over 3.0 doesn't offer much, if any fps gain.
Quick break down on video resolutions paired with the right graphics card for the job:
1280x1024 - HD3850/HD3870 /// 8800GT,9600GT,9800GT for 60+ fps on almost all games
1440x900 - HD4830/HD4850 /// 9800GT/GTX, GT250, GTX Core 216 260 will be 60 fps in most games unless CPU bound with a slower chip. For the lower end cards, stick with the 512MB versions, however if you plan on upgrading to a bigger monitor, get the 1GB versions if possible.
1680x1050 (1600x1200) - [Above choice still valid, but may need to tone down a few settings, still great] For more: HD4830/4850/4870 /// GTX 260
1920x1080 (1920x1200) - 48701GB/4870x2 /// GTX 260/GTX 280
2560x1600 - 4870x2/GTX280 / Cross-Fire and SLi are really the best options at this resolution.
Choosing the right memory:
Right now DDR2 is dirt cheap. You can pick up some DDR2 800 2x2GB for about $40 bucks. Most of the LGA775/AM2+ boards support DDR2 FSB up to 1333Mhz. Obviously those that are budget minded, you can pick up some cheaper DDR2 800 and overclock it over that fairly easily. Right now I've overclocked my FSB to 1500Mhz without even really trying. Now the next big thing is DDR3 memory which is finally starting to come down in price. Some of the system boards do support a couple of channels of DDR2 AND DDR3. Make sure you check that out before placing your order and get the correct memory. The new Core i7 processors ONLY use DDR3 memory which will in turn speed up the adoption rate of DDR3 of course.
Choosing a HDD
Right now the latest Sata Standard is 3.0Gpbs throughput to the motherboard which is pretty decent. Also as hard drive sizes go up, prices come down. At the time of this writing, you can get a 1TB Seagate hard drive for about $109 bucks shipped.
Make sure to look for speed (Shouldn't be less than 7200RPM) and size to fit your budget.
Choosing a PSU
Many people will say that you shouldn't cheap out on the PSU because if it fries you're whole PC could, plus it helps with the stability of your system. I have a cheap ass PSU but I still agree with those people, spending $30 more here for a decent one isn't a bad idea. But how much juice do you need? Don't go overboard! Some would suggest you need 750 Watt PSU's , don't be fooled, you don't. An overclocked quad core + GTX 260/HD4870 + the rest of a computer will only draw 400w max load. A stock dual core + GTX 260/HD4870 will only draw 280w. However, PSU's are more efficient when not loaded too high or too low. 500w is just right.
The efficiency rating of a power supply determines how much energy is waste or lost when it converts the wall outlet power to the internal power components. A 75% efficiency power supply that generates 300W of internal power draws roughly 400W of power from the wall and thus 15% of this power is lost as heat. A good number to shoot for is 80% efficiency. A power supply only draws as much power as the computer takes.
One more thing to look at when looking into buying a power supply is cable managements. Many new power supplies are modular and will allow you to yank out extra cables that are not plugged into any other components. This can free up clutter and allow for better air flow in your PC.
- Antec EarthWatts
- Rosewill (500w + units) (Cheaper)
Power supply calculator
Choosing a Monitor
TFT Technology Breakdown and Model/Panel Index
LCD Panel Technology Type and Characteristics
TN film (Twisted Nematic)
- low manufacturing/retail costs
- restrictive viewing angles
- fast pixel response times
- dead pixels display white. Stuck pixels display RGB colors
- lower contrast levels means blacks are not as dark as VA based panels
- lower color reproduction
IPS (In Plane Switching)
- improved viewing angles over TN
- very good color reproduction
- slower pixel response times than TN
- dead pixels display black
- lower contrast levels means blacks are not as dark as VA based panels
- same as IPS except ...
- likely best color reproduction of all TFT
- less expensive to produce than IPS
- improved pixel response
VA (Vertical Alignment) Technologies
MVA (Multidomain Vertical Alignment)
- compromise between TN and IPS technologies
- superior color reproduction over TN but not as good as IPS
- very good viewing angles but less than IPS
- higher contrast than TN or S-IPS means very good blacks
- dead pixels are black
- slower pixel response than TN or IPS
- details can be lost when directly viewing dark areas
- same as MVA except ...
- "overdrive" technology increases pixel response but still slower than TN
- may have slightly degraded color reproduction due to "overdrive" process
PVA (Patterned VA)
- same as MVA except ...
- larger viewing angles
- higher contrast levels means darkest blacks
- same as PVA except ...
- Magic Speed (the Samsung equivalent to Overdrive) improves pixel response
- slightly improved color reproduction
- slightly improved viewing angles
Purchasing Considerations ( really, which one is right for you?)
Considered a "gamers" panel due to it's fast pixel response times which reduces trailing images know as "ghosting". However, this advantage has been reduced by new technologies to accelerate pixel response times in other panel types. Colors and contrast tend to be weak and blacks are not truly dark. Viewing angles are significantly limited. However, monitors based on this technology tend to be inexpensive.
IPS / S-IPS Graphics Work or Web Browsing
Considered to have the best color reproduction of all panel types, these panels are well suited for graphics work or web browsing. Pixel response time is also good but slower than the TN "gamers" panel. Contast and blacks are also less dark than VA panels but viewing angles are excellent.
MVA / P-MVA / PVA / S-PVA Compromise for All-Around Use
These panels are a compromise between the fast pixel response times of the TN panel and the excellent color reproduction of the IPS panels. Contrast and blacks are best of all the panel types. Viewing angles are similar but slightly inferior to IPS.
For more information, check out : TFT Central.co.uk/ for more information.
Choosing a SSD for your Build
Tom's Hardware quick look at SSD for your PC
Choosing a 32-bit vs. 64-bit Operating System (Coming soon!!)
Choosing SLi/Cross-Fire vs. a single graphics card. (Coming soon!!)
Overclocking your Rig
PDF Guide thanks to XtremeSystems.org on overclocking your Intel Core i7. Download link here
Quick look courtesy of the [H] forums on how to overclock your Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad chipsets!
How to OC your new Core i7 CPU @ X-bit Labs
More updates as always coming!