Barebone Gaming PC help?

#1 Posted by sleeping143 (66 posts) -

Hey Bombers,

Can you guys recommend me a gaming PC build that comes under 800USD that can be upgraded in the future? I know that getting a good motherboard and CPU is essential, but what parts can I spend less on now and maybe splurge on in the future and what parts are needed to future-proof my machine?

#2 Posted by A_Deep_Mushroom (89 posts) -

Generally follow this guide except for a few things.

  1. Buy this processor.
  2. Buy your gpu according to this guide.

The Gigabyte GA-H61MA-D3V is a great motherboard. You get two sata 3 ports, 2 usb3 ports on the back, and a PCI Express x16 3rd gen expansion slot for $70. If you "future proof" for anything, then make sure your motherboard has a PCI Express x16 3rd gen expansion slot.

#3 Edited by Shivoa (645 posts) -

@A_Deep_Mushroom said:

Generally follow this guide except for a few things.

  1. Buy this processor.
  2. Buy your gpu according to this guide.

The Gigabyte GA-H61MA-D3V is a great motherboard. You get two sata 3 ports, 2 usb3 ports on the back, and a PCI Express x16 3rd gen expansion slot for $70. If you "future proof" for anything, then make sure your motherboard has a PCI Express x16 3rd gen expansion slot.

I'd say that's certainly a fine plan. I'd go up to $100 for a Z68 motherboard because I want SoftRAID/Intel SRT in a cheaper build (I used RAID 1 for data redundancy to avoid a single HDD crash eating any data not backed up at that point and having to rebuild the system and push back the old data afterwards, even if you have perfect backups from only moments before a crash. A 60GB SSD is cheap and SRT gives your spinning drives the feel of buying a decently priced SSD. The combination of these two things gives you the feel of an SSD for loading your games and OS and if one HDD or the SSD dies then all you have to do is RMA it and you're back up and running with no data loss*).

You can also be careful when getting a Z68 and so get one that is certified for PCI-E 3.0 (older models are 2.0, which is all you really need but we're future-proofing a bit here) and in a few months you'll likely see the Z77 replace the Z68 as a $100 bargain (but the Z77 is too new for that right now, it doesn't have a lot of benefits over a Z68 - I explain why here) for anyone who reads this in a few months.

* You still need cloud/offsite/external back-up in case your PC burns down or your OS tells the HDDs to delete the data (in which case both HDD will comply and delete the data) so this isn't the ideal but it does give you a lot more protection than nothing at a low price (well, low when spinning HDDs weren't inflated in price by the shortage a year ago).

Edit: just to be clear, the second HDD and SSD for Intel SRT is a 'when you have money later' future-proofing thing. $800 (especially if you're planning to buy a screen/peripherals with that) is a tight budget for a gaming system and we're already having to go low with the CPU to try and get everything to fit (the 'right' answer to a gaming pc's CPU is an Intel i5-3570K but at $230 it is hard to justify in a budget build - if you already have the peripherals, maybe a case, a monitor or plan to use your HDTV they we can have some fun with $800).

#4 Posted by Jrad (624 posts) -

@Shivoa: Is data loss a significant issue for most people? I've honestly never had a hard drive fail on me, but I mean, all of my important pictures are uploaded to something like facebook, many games support Steam Cloud, and... that's basically it. Not being a programmer/designer/writer/musician, I can't imagine a scenario where losing data would affect me, besides giving an excuse to reinstall Windows and eke out a bit more performance for a few weeks.

#5 Posted by Shivoa (645 posts) -

@Jrad: If you keep running a spinning drive with a decent percentage up-time (all day use, double so for use including regular overnight downloads) and at a reasonable fill (causes more juggling of the writes when you have a drive quite full which increases wear) then I wouldn't expect the drive to necessarily be working in 3-5 years from purchase date but it could easily have a capacity that means it has lots of data storage potential that far into the lifetime. The randomness of a failure means you also can't assume it won't die 2 months into the life of the product. Things seem much, much less likely to fail today than a decade ago, but I was building rigs 10 years ago and so I had experiences that make you paranoid.

I prefer to run a drive and when it crashes (or I just replace it for age) I pop it out and replace it in the array. But I run my server 24/7 so that eats HDD at a steady rate (5 year warranties are great, as is knowing the rapid RMA process for all the HDD manufacturers) and the 300-400GB of data downloaded from Steam would be a pain to download again tomorrow if the gaming rig suddenly gave up so I'd rather not bother with having to rebuild and download all the games to that machine if it failed. So I have a higher than normal wear rate and bad previous experiences that make me paranoid.

When I've worked as a server admin then we're buying drives that are more reliable but far more critical than normal end user stuff. Server admins who don't RAID 1/5/10 are bad people who shouldn't be allowed near the procurement sheets. That is where hotswap tech first emerged (why turn off the server when a HDD fails, just run on the drives that still work and make sure the machine can deal with the broken unit being taken out and a new one slotted in so it an rebuild the redundancy onto that new drive - modern design is to have two spare drives either both with differing redundant data or one is spun down until the first drive fails and that automatically triggers the activation and mirroring of data; today I guess a lot is raided SSDs, which should last longer and give more predictable failure when they're running out of writes). I could tell you stories of suppliers and getting in bad batches of drives that all fail in 2-4 weeks of operation and cause emergency shipments of drives to prevent actually needing to use tape backups. Once you've worked somewhere where you've got to deal with hundreds of HDDs then drive failures start to look like regular things so you get paranoid.

The cost of an extra HDD to mirror your data seems like a cheap deal for some peace of mind and a much more enjoyable experience when the worst does happen. And with an SSD to cache read operations then it doesn't slow down games (which read GBs of immutable data and only write back MBs - your save files and config files are the only difference between a pristine install and your 200 hours in Fallout/Skyrim). The cloud is getting more widely implemented, I'm not convinced we're there yet.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.