Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Building a PC, Part 1

In addition to the same old boring New Year's resolutions (exercise more, eat healthier, don't be a terrible person, blah, blah, blah), I decided to pick something fun: I'm going to build a new PC!

I've been looking at parts for a while, but life has been busy recently so I haven't taken the plunge yet. My brother, realizing that I needed a little kickstart, bought me an awesome SSD for my birthday which provided just the right motivation to put this thing together. However, before I start going on a spending spree, I thought I might as well turn the whole expedition into a feature for the site.

Here's a list of my prospective build. I'm interested in comments and suggestions, so feel free to take a look. There are some more detailed comments after the list:

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/mh5m
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/mh5m/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/mh5m/benchmarks/
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($184.86 @ Microcenter) 
  • Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V LK ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($130.48 @ NCIX US) 
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($54.36 @ Newegg) 
  • Storage: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($96.41 @ Newegg) 
  • Storage: Samsung 830 Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk (ALREADY OBTAINED)
  • Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($228.36 @ Amazon) 
  • Case: Fractal Design Define R4 (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.28 @ NCIX US) 
  • Power Supply: SeaSonic 620W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($96.27 @ Amazon) 
  • Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($18.47 @ Newegg) 
  • Monitor: Asus VH236H 23.0" Monitor ($164.86 @ Newegg) 
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC) 
  • Total: $1291.86
  • (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
  • (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-01 13:54 EST-0500)
  • General use cases: As if you haven't guessed this already, I'll be using this for mostly games, but also some audio and video editing. I'm trying to strike a balance between high performance and affordability. I figure specs like these will be good for a while, even with the looming release of the new Intel chipset and the new graphics cards.
  • Video Card: They're hard to pick, but I feel like the 660 offers a good combination of power and price. The 660 ti seems to be $100 more and the 670 looks awesome, but it's quite a bit more expensive.
  • Case: I want three main things from a case. I want it to be quiet, easy to work with, and minimalistic. No offense to people who love LEDs and wild case mods, I just like an understated look when it comes to cases.
  • Power Supply: By my calculations, I probably won't ever reach 620W, but I want some breathing room for future upgrades. For some reason, I find power supplies really hard to shop for, so I'd welcome any advice or stories from your experience.
  • Monitor: I'm actually not sure how big I want the monitor to be. I see myself connecting the PC to my TV some of the time, and I actually don't have a huge amount of space on my desk, so I don't want to go too large. I might have to go to the store with a tape measure!
  • Operating System: Before anyone gives me any grief for Windows 8, let me tell you my reasons, since I understand Windows 7 is still the first choice for most folks. First: I want to familiarize myself with it for professional reasons (part of my job requires me to have a working knowledge of current operating systems). Second: I think it might be nice when the computer is connected to a large screen. Third: I'm legitimately interested in using one of the most drastic Windows redesigns in history. I figure if I don't like the tiles, all I have to do is press the Windows key and they disappear!
So there you have it: some parts and the rationale behind them! As I said, feel free to jump into the comments with your thoughts, as I'm interested in others' experiences as well.


  1. Building a computer is so much fun...
    Parts picking admittedly was never my strong point. However with the monitors, I think 23 inches will be more than fine. I find personally that when you go beyond that you start really needing to sit further back, or using your peripheral vision more when playing, which is not so fun.

    Although, you might want to look at these somewhat affordable 2560 monitors and then actively choose not to buy one, as opposed to simply not knowing http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/08/24/hard-choices-the-200300-2560x1440-27-monitor/

    Another question is have you consider dual monitoring? It's very easy with most graphics cards and a great use for an older monitor (although deskspace IS an issue with it). I have a dual monitor set up with a nice 16:9 BenQ and an old LCD 4:3 I picked up for 4 dollars. It's very very useful for taking notes while reading something or watching a movie, or any secondary information you might need (indispensable for games you need a wiki for pretty much). Personally, mine gets used primarily for making translation easier (original document on one, English trans on the other)

    If you do a lot of reading/typing of PDFs or general whole page documents, it might also be worth considering setting up a second 16:9/16:10 monitor in portrait position. You'd need to buy mount/stand of some kind but it's quite useful for getting a feel of the whole page, also likely to take up less desk space. But it's also very very nice but will take you a while to get used to using it like that. Also, if you ever plan to emulate vertical shooters it's lovely for that too.

    But those are probably all not practical for you, however, they may lurk in your mind... I can't really say I'm knowledgeable in this area but it looks mostly better than my machine, which I'm very happy with, and windows 8 is such a nice interface... To the point that I've actually installed a thing to emulate that interface on my win7 machine!

  2. Since you will be doing video editing and gaming, consider getting a few more hard drives. Having one to use as a scratch disk will speed things up considerably when rendering and working on your timeline. Faster the drive the better. For storage, keep in mind that video files (source footage and exports) take up lots of space. Thankfully storage space can utilize those slower and cheaper drives with high capacity.

    As far as gaming, im guessing you are using the 128 ssd for your OS and program install? This is wonderfully fast (I have the same setup on my laptop), though can lead to annoyances later on depending on what kind of games you will be playing. Most AAA games these days can be upwards of 15-30gb (especially MMOs of all types). Needless to say its going to fill up that SSD fast and the problem I currently have is deciding on which games to have installed at any given time. Thankfully Steam makes it easy to install/uninstall, though I have to always consider what I am going to spend my time with.

    I also agree with Rowan, think about a dual setup with smaller monitors. Again, this will come in handy with video editing part and multi-tasking. Ive been working on a dual monitor setup since 2003 and cant recommend it enough :)

    Would you be able to wall mount your monitors? This would solve the desk space problem if possible where your computer is. Alternatively you could go for one of those desk mounted swivel arms.



    I am not recommending those particular products, but its a good idea of mounts you can get.

  3. It's funny that you mention that Korean monitor thing; I was just reading about it here: http://www.tested.com/tech/pcs/449537-korean-monitor-guide/

    I really love two monitor setups. I use one at work, and all those use cases make complete and total sense. But I probably don't have the space to do it just yet...someday though!

    Glad to hear that you're enjoying Windows 8, by the way. The OS wars make the console wars seem tame. :)

  4. Good points re: disk space. There's never enough, is there? Well, I guess the same could be said for monitors as well. Just ask this guy: http://www.colossalprofits.com/images/multi-monitor-setup.png

    I've never used it, but I hear good things about Steam Mover, a program that tricks Steam into letting you divide your library across drives: http://www.traynier.com/software/steammover However, I think the latest Steam client (or maybe the latest beta) might actually have this functionality built in. I'll have to check!

  5. Yup, the newest client lets you pick where you install each game, when you are downloading it. I don't think it lets you move installed games though.

    And yes, there is no such thing as enough monitors. If I wasn't planning on moving a long way next year I would be taking great advantage of local video shops...

  6. I had no idea about the that feature in Steam. Solves that problem then. Has there been any noticeable performance decrease when running games from the other (slower) drives? Now I just have to swap out the DVD drive on my laptop for another SSD so I can take advantage of this!

  7. I only have the one HDD in my computer so I can't really say...

  8. Found this link while searching Google, thanks