I don't want to buy the net console release and thought i should try pc gaming (mods,last a long time, etc). So how do a buy a good gaming pc that will last a long time without spending over $800. Thank You for your help.
The first rule is to buy Intel.
Always skimp on RAM, slow RAM doesn't impact gaming (1-2% FPS difference) so just get 8GB of RAM at a slow speed, unless the cost of higher speed RAM is negligible, then you might as well pay a few dollar more.
Don't bother buying a DVD drive, unless you really want to watch movies, that'll save a little bit of money.
Do not, and I repeat, do not skimp on PSU. Buy a decent quality 450w+ (you do not need more unless you want dual video cards) from the likes of Corsair, OCZ, Thermaltake, Antec, etc. Never buy bargain bin PSUs.
Video card wise there's many high performing cards out there for cheap, GTX 460, 470 are fantastic cards still and shouldn't run you up a lot of money, my 470 happily runs Far Cry 3 on ultra /w DX11 @ 60 FPS even though it's 2 years old now, although I have a limited run 470 that has an insane cooler, so I've been able to overclock it like crazy.
Rule Number One of Computer Gaming: Always build a computer yourself, you will get far better parts, be able to custom tailor a computer based on your needs a budget, and it will be far cheaper. If you are really nervous about messing something up or don't want to build one yourself, find a friend that can assemble a computer for you and pay him $50 to do it, you will still save a great deal of money doing this. I recommend buying parts from Amazon and Neweggboth places have great prices, fast and inexpensive shipping, great customer support and a lot of reviews to help you find the best parts. A budget of $800 will afford you are great gaming machine. My advice if you want a computer to last you a long while, it is better to partition your budget more on the processor and random access memory than the video card. You might not be able to max certain games out with a $100 to $180 graphics card, but normally you need to upgrade a graphics card more often than a processor or memory so in my opinion spending a lot of money on a graphics card is a bit overkill in my opinion. I'm more in thought camp that a $200 graphics card today and a $200 graphics card two years from now is better a better use of money than a $400 graphics card today. Plus graphics cards tend to drop in price more frequently than do processors.
Basically you can build a $500 gaming PC that will work great to play current games on at a moderately high resolution on either medium or hi settings. This machine will as well let you play all those indie games and any older games from past years.
You can build something like a $700 pc, and that will have you more than set with a core i5 or an amd fx cpu, a 500 or 600 series GeForce, ect. That is what I would suggest. That you might just need or want to upgrade the GPU in 2-3 years, but otherwise you can easily eek 5-6 years out of it.
You can easily go for a $1000+ pc. That will get you a core i7, a GeForce 690, a Solid State HDD + 2TB standard HDD and like 16 gig of ram(which is overkill, 8GB is fine).
These prices are all for the box only. A monitor is an extra $200 or so, and then keyboard mouse and speakers will run you another 200, but I have been going with the same keyboard, 2.1 speakers and mouse for 2 builds now.
I went to tigerdirect.com in October and bought a decent bare bones kit for $300 and only needed to get Windows, a hard drive, and a few other minor things. All together it cost me about $450 and I am able to run anything with no real problems. Building a PC the first time is kind of scary and can get frustrating. I would recommend getting someone you know who has experience with PC building to help.
I really like some of the advice in that tested article, but their budget seems to be a bit higher than what I am looking to spend as I attempt to build my PC. It did provide me with a bunch of info that I didn't really understand at first though, so it's still helpful for anyone I guess. That NeoGAF site seems super helpful, but a ton of info to parse through. I'll work my way through that tonight. This is a good thread.
I also suggest picking up a copy of PC gamer. At the back of each issue they have a little chart that they update each issue with a great best bang for your buck build for $1000 or under. They also give suggestions for little upgrades if you want to spend a bit more. Keep in mind that assumes you have literally nothing and includes a monitor, mouse, keyboard and head set in the bundle price too. So if you just need the tower and already got that stuff it's easily a $500-$700 PC.
Thanks for all the help guys. I too am considering building my first PC, and it's pretty daunting . . . but I agree that the Tested article is quite helpful, if a bit beyond my budget at this time. Thanks again. For now I'll have to stick with what I've got, but I'll get around to buying the parts eventually.
This may seem obvious, but I think your labors can be for naught unless you hook yourself up with a nice monitor. I just bought myself an ASUS VS247H-P and it is awesome--greatly improved my experience until I can build my own. I used this review guide for monitors to buy it.
Are you all pretty much partial to the i7 processor? I've seen almost universal acclaim, so I think I'll buy it.