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PC Builders Guide: Logical Price IncrementsEdit

Based on The Falcon's Guide (version 0.9). OCR, cleanup, edit and some minor modifications by ErisieEdit


IntroductionEdit

WARNING!Edit

This is just a guide. The components recommended are sweet, but if you do your own research, you can probably do even better. NEVER buy something because "someone says so".

This GuideEdit

  • Is good when it comes to recommending products that give you good "bang for your $$$." That means not including some excellent, but overpriced, alternatives.
  • Is good in trying to make sure the builds are balanced. This means that none of the builds is CPU heavy at the cost of a weak GPU, or has lots of RAM but a low capacity HDD, etc, etc.


  • Is NOT good in recommending "premium quality, premium prices" products. An example: EVGA makes top-tier mobos, but the heavy price premium makes them unacceptable for 99% of people.
  • Is NOT good for those who insist on being loyal to only one brand.
  • Is NOT good for those looking for: crossfire/SLI, water-cooling or hexacore recommendations. (Well, not yet. This might change as new products are introduced/prices lowered).

NamingEdit

Each build is given an appropriate name, so that it is easy to get a sense of what you are buying: The "good" build is good, the "great" build is great, etc etc.

OptionsEdit

Some builds have multiple hardware recommendations. These are "just-as-good-or-even-better" alternatives. The total price is for the recommended only.

PricesEdit

  • Values in USD, taken from Newegg. Total price can be reduced by 5%-15% with combos. Check Microcenter for very cheap Intel CPUs (if you are lucky).
  • Prices sometimes fluctuate. Newegg often gives major discounts on certain items for limited (24hr) periods: a 5770 for $130. Total price does not include shipping/taxes.
  • PROTIP: Each combo lowers total price by $10-$60, so try to get as many combos as possible. About 10% can be saved with comboing, but up to 20-30% can be saved from simply looking around at other sites.

The Chart ItselfEdit

HDD

RAM

Case

PSU

GPU

CPU

Motherboard

Total

Destitute

320GB

$48

2GB DDR3 1333

$47

NZXT Gamma

$30

hec HP485D

$25

none

$0

Athlon II X2 240

$60

ASUS M4A78LT-M LE

$65

$275

 

Crucial

Or any 300w+ PSU.

Minimum

320GB

$48

2GB DDR3 1333/1600

$52

NZXT Gamma

$30

Antec EarthWatts Green 380w 80+

$45

4650

$49

Athlon II X3 425

$71

ASUS M4A77TD

$85

$380

 

Kingston, G.Skill

Elite 360

$40

Or any 80+ 350w+ PSU

Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3

$90

Low

320GB

$48

4GB DDR3 1333/1600

$95

NZXT Gamma

$30

Antec EarthWatts Green 380w 80+

$45

4670

$60

Athlon II X3 440

$75

ASUS M4A77TD

$85

$438

 

Kingston, Corsair, G.Skill

Elite 360

$40

Or any 80+ 350w+ PSU

Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3

$90

Entry

320GB

$48

4GB DDR3 1333/1600

$95

Elite 360

$40

Antec EarthWatts Green 380w 80+

$45

4850

$100

Phenom II x 2 555 BE

$99

ASUS M4A77TD

$85

$512

 

500GB

$55

Kingston, Corsair, G.Skill

Centurion 5

$50

Or any 80+ 350w+ PSU

5750

$130

Athlon II X4 635

$99

Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3

$90

Modest

500GB

$55

4GB DDR3 1333/1600

$95

Centurion 5

$50

hec HEC500TEWX

$55

5770

$150

Phenom II x 2 555 BE

$99

Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3

$90

$594

 

Kingston, Corsair, G.Skill

CM690 II

$70

SeaSonic SS-500ET Bronze 500W

$60

460*

$200

Athlon II X4 635

$99

MSI 790X-G45

$99

 

Or any 80+ 400w+ PSU

Good

500GB

$55

4GB DDR3 1333/1600

$95

Centurion 5

$50

SeaSonic SS-500ET Bronze 500W

$60

5770

$150

Phenom II X4 955 BE

$160

ASUS M4A79XTD EVO

$99

$669

 

1TB

$75

Kingston, Corsair, G.Skill

CM690 II

$70

Antec NEO ECO 520C 520W

$65

460*

$200

Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3

$105

 

Or any 80+ 500w+ PSU

Very good

1TB

$75

4GB DDR3 1333/1600

$95

CM690 II

$70

Antec NEO ECO 520C 520W

$65

460*

$200

Phenom II X4 955 BE

$160

ASUS M4A79XTD EVO

$99

$764

 

Kingston, Corsair, G.Skill

Or any 80+ 500w+ PSU

460*

$230

Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3

$105

Great

1TB

$75

4GB DDR3 1333/1600

$95

CM690 II

$70

Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W

$80

5850

$290

Phenom II X4 955 BE

$160

Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3

$105

$875

 

Kingston, Corsair, G.Skill

Lian Li PC-K62

$90

Or any 80+ 600w+ PSU

460x2

$400

Gigabyte GA-790XT-USB3

$125

Excellent

1TB

$75

4GB DDR3 1333/1600

$95

CM690 II

$70

Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W

$80

5850

$290

i5 750

$195

Gigabyte GA-P55-USB3

$120

$925

 

1.5TB

$110

Kingston, Corsair, G.Skill

Lian Li PC-K62

$90

Or any 80+ 600w+ PSU

460x2

$400

Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD3

$140

 

ASUS P7P55D-E Pro

$160

Outstanding

1TB

$75

4GB DDR3 1333/1600

$95

CM690 II

$70

Antec TruePower New TP-750 750W

$100

5870

$390

i5 750

$195

Gigabyte GA-P55-USB3

$120

$1,045

 

1.5TB

$110

Kingston, Corsair, G.Skill

Lian Li PC-K62

$90

CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX

$110

460x2

$400

Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD3

$140

 

SSD**

$200

Or any 80+ 700w+ PSU

460x2

460

ASUS P7P55D-E Pro

$160

Exceptional

1TB

$75

6GB DDR3 1600

$150

HAF 932

140

Antec TruePower New TP-750 750W

$100

5870

$390

i7 930

$290

Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R

$210

$1,355

 

1.5TB

$110

Kingston, Corsair, G.Skill

CM ATCS 840

170

Corsair CMPSU-750TX

$110

460x2

$400

ASUS P6X58D-E

$240

 

SSD**

$200

Antec 1200

170

Or any 80+ 700w+ PSU

460x2

$460

Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7

$340

 

Rampage III Extreme

$380

Errata: The 955/5870 build is not included, since it will cost more than the "Excellent" build but will have a weaker CPU, and thus is not a "logical increment", CPU-wise.

Components in DepthEdit

Hard Disk Drive (HDD)Edit

  • Samsung F3 Spinpoint or Western Digital WD Black. Make sure it is at least 7200RPM and (if possible) 32MB or 64MB of cache. Get the highest platter density possible.
  • Hard drives typically come in 320GB or 500GB platters. The less platters you have, the smaller the chance of mechanical failure. 320GB is fine for a normal user.
  • 500GB is enough to store some 300+ quality DVD rips, while a person who enjoys collecting various series would find a 1TB more adequate.
  • It is cheaper to get 1TB x 2 than 2TB. The new 1.5TB drives offer better storage/$$$.

Power Supply Unit (PSU)Edit

  • For their price, Antec, Seasonic, Corsair are very good. OCZ and Silverstone are ok. HEC and CM are acceptable. Get something that is 80+ certified. In most of these builds, the PSU is more than you need. This is so that if you overclock, or go for crossfire/SLI in the future, you will be fine.
  • Do not skimp on PSUs: a generic power supply WILL fry your PC, so they should never used, except as a last resort/backup PSU. A good rule of thumb to buy a PSU in a store is weight: light PSUs with high wattages are usually generic, while high quality stuff is heavy.
  • All the PSUs recommended provide MORE than the recommended wattage. No other componant can damage the rest of your PC as much as a bad PSU, so it is always better to be safe than sorry.
  • A novice may ask: "Would having too much power damage my PC?" No, the PSU only provides as much power as is needed: A 700w PSU provides only 300w when the PC needs only 300w.
  • Other than "destitute", all the PSUs recommended are 80+ or higher. If you choose any PSU other than the recommended, PLEASE get something high quality, and of similar or higher wattage.

CaseEdit

  • Recommendations are subjective. If you have your heart set on a particular case: get it and be happy. Just make sure that all your hardware fits in it, and that it has good airflow.
  • Mid-tower cases are perfectly fine. The most important thing is that they fit your mobo and GPU, and pretty much any mid-tower case will do that. The bigger it is, however, the easier it is to work with. GPUs seem to be getting bigger/longer all the time. If you upgrade to water-cooling in the future, you will be glad to have a bigger case.
  • More fans brackets are a plus, bottom-mounted PSU is a plus, sturdy design is a plus.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)Edit

  • AMD 555 is better in single-threaded applications/games. AMD 635 is better in multi-threaded. Average: both perform similarly. AMD 955 is great, Intel 750 is better, Intel 930 is fantastic.
  • Do not get hexacores yet. The i5/i7 CPUs are better than the AMD hexacores for the same prices, and the Intel hexacores cost too much to be justified.
  • Games today are much more bottlenecked by GPUs than CPUs. If you have the 955/i5 750, then you can CF/SLI without getting a bottleneck.
  • The i5 750 is the sane limit of CPUs for gaming. Getting an i7 will not give you any extra performance in current games. It will, however, give you 8 threads, and amazing performance in applications.

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)Edit

  • ASUS and Gigabyte are very good. Sapphire, XFX and MSI are good. HIS is ok. Look for the better heatsink/fan and warranty.
  • Integrated is fine for browsing the web. The 4650/4670 will play all the old games (pre 2006) with ease. 4850 will play Crysis on low/medium.
  • The 5750 and 5770 are true "mid-tier" graphics cards: They will play all modern games on medium/low, and old games on high/max. The 5850 and 5870 are high-end cards: they will play pretty much anything on high, and will probably continue to do so for the next couple of years nVidia's current generation of cards, the 4XX series, is not priced competitively yet. The hightemps/power draw/noise is also discouraging. Thus none of them is recommended.
  • If you insist on nVidia, some of the acceptable cards from the previous generations are: 9800 GT ($90), 250 GTS ($150), 260 Core 216 ($210).
  • Innovation and development means that every 2-3 years (approx), one company will come up with a product range superior to its competitor. Two years later, the competitor does the same.
  • A year ago, nVidia was leading. Currently (July 2010) ATi is in the lead, and will probably remain in the lead for quite some time. This is why all the recommended GPUs are ATi.
  • For crossfire/SLI: One card is always better than two cards for the same price. The 5870 is more than enough to run all current games on high res/details.
  • Errata: The 4890 is a great GPU that fills the gap between the 5770 and 5850. Unfortunately, it is being EOLed and very few manufacturers still offer this card.

MotherboardEdit

  • It is highly likely that the recommended mobos are more than adequate for your needs. This is so that if in the future you wish to add HDDs or go for crossfire, you can do so easily.
  • Gigabyte, Asus and MSI make excellent mobos. As mentioned, EVGA's prices are too high for most users.
  • The plethora of mobos available, and the multitudinous chipsets available, make it impossible to give a meaningful discussion of the merits of each in a such a small space.
  • In short: get the mobo that is compatible with your CPU, has the latest possible chipsets, gives you enough room for future RAM/HDD/GPU upgrades, and if possible, USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0

Heat Sink Fan (HSF)Edit

  • If not overclocking, stock HSF is fine.
  • Air cooling: CM Hyper 212+ is very good ($40). Noctua NH-D14 is great ($95).
  • Water cooling: Too advanced for this guide.

DVD-RWEdit

  • The Samsung/LG/LITE-ON/Sony DVD-writers that you find for $20-$25 are fine. Really. Or you can skip DVD drives altogether. LITE-ON drives are known for their durability.
  • As of now, BD-RW units are too expensive and useless for the common user.

Miscelanea/CreditsEdit

  • This guide is a combination of two previous ones, and is loosely based on the principles employed by Lolicon and /g/uideX in making their guides.
  • Credits go mainly to The Falcon (Th !e.FalconO6) for compiling the original guides. Many anonymous, /g/uideX, Gentoon Link, Lolicon, loY.00.. ,2,, I am !Google, GodMode, Orange Jews, !nolCURR helped make 95% of this guide. IN Elite honestly wanted no part of it.

A Few Final WordsEdit

Once again, it must be stressed that this is only a guide. Neither this nor a thousand other guides can substitute you doing your own research, and getting what is best for you. If you like something recommended here, please take the time to read up on why it is good when compared to other alternatives, and purchase it only if you are satisfied with the comparison.

This guide was written with /g/'s help. If you find any mistakes, or have any suggestions/criticism than can help improve the guide, please let The Falcon know. Thank you.

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