Help me find the best gaming PC around.

#1 Edited by NTM (7409 posts) -

I don't know when I'd get one, but I'd like to start thinking about it now. I'm looking for a gaming PC to buy that's already set up. I don't want to have to buy spare parts and build one myself. So please, if you can spare some time out of your busy schedule and help me out, I'd be grateful. Also, the reason I don't want to build one, is because I don't want to, and as of right now, I'm not going to learn how to. I'd like to do so in the future, but I won't be doing that soon, so this is the only other option. Here's one I just found without doing much research, but it seems like it has gotten alright scores and reviews. What do you think?

One more thing. How often do you take apart your computers to clean them?

#2 Edited by haffy (673 posts) -

Could you not find someone you could pay to put together the PC? Because some set ups could be really cool compared to what you can normally buy pre made.

Also I never really clean my PC. It's around 4 years old and I think I've cleaned it twice when putting in new parts.

#3 Posted by NTM (7409 posts) -

@haffy: I... could, I guess. I had (maybe still have?) a friend that knows how to build computers, but to me it'd be weird to ask him to build me one as I pay him. I know I'm not getting the best out of my money, but I still think I could get a relatively great gaming PC with this option, and I just want the easiest way possible.

#4 Edited by TheJappernaut (124 posts) -

@NTM: You don't want to learn how to build computers? It's really not that hard, all you need is to google a decent guide. That's how I built the computer I'm currently using, and it was the first one I ever built by myself.

I just used the parts guide on something awful to see what kind of hardware I should put in my computer and simply following the guide I got. Honestly if you want a good gaming PC you have to build it yourself, it'll save you money and you get the satisfaction of building a PC by yourself.

My PC is about 3 years old and I've only cleaned it once, there was some dust in the fan of the video card that caused it to get too hot and after cleaning it my PC ran perfectly again.

I'm sorry I can't help you with a recommendation for a nice pre-built PC but I think you really need to consider just building it yourself. If I can do it, so can you.

#5 Posted by SockemJetpack (408 posts) -

Find a local computer store. I'm talking about a place that is in a strip mall sandwiched between a Subway and an Optometrist and is called "Ralph's PC Hut" or something. If you want quality and you don't want to build it yourself then that's the place you want. Talk to them about what you want, go in with a budget in mind and be patient.

#6 Edited by Orbitz89 (229 posts) -

That computer looks really awesome. I couldn't find a price anywhere on that webpage though. I have a pre-built computer that I got for about 880 dollars, Came with an Intel i7-2600 quad core clocked at 3.4ghz, 8gb of ddr3 ram, 1 tb hard drive and a Nvidia GT 420 graphics card (which is shit btw so I upgraded it to a GTX 560)

Edit: I clean my computer maybe once a month.. give or take a week or two.

#7 Posted by Stonyman65 (2725 posts) -
#8 Posted by NTM (7409 posts) -

@TheJappernaut: No, I said I do want to, I just don't want to right now. I'd rather just buy a pre-made one. Also, can I already have a case for it and take (at least most of) the stuff in it out? I already have a PC (though not quite a gaming one), but it's pretty much broken so I just would need to buy replacements, so could I just get anything to put in there so it runs better than ever? Taking apart a pre-made PC only to make it a personally built PC?

#9 Posted by NTM (7409 posts) -

@Orbitz89: But do you take it apart, or just vacuum the vents on the back and side?

#10 Posted by TheJappernaut (124 posts) -

@NTM said:

@TheJappernaut: No, I said I do want to, I just don't want to right now. I'd rather just buy a pre-made one. Also, can I already have a case for it and take (at least most of) the stuff in it out? I already have a PC (though not quite a gaming one), but it's pretty much broken so I just would need to buy replacements, so could I just get anything to put in there so it runs better than ever? Taking apart a pre-made PC only to make it a personally built PC?

You can use the case from your old computer, you just need to make sure that the parts you get (if you build it yourself) are going to fit. The motherboard and videocard can be pretty big and some cases are only built for certain types of motherboards.

@Stonyman65: I found another guide by GB's own Brad Shoemaker, the build master!

#11 Posted by Korwin (2870 posts) -

It's not uncommon for a lot of online retailers to offer system assembly services, if you're not looking to build this is by far the best option as you get the best of both worlds. This way you can fill the machine with all the best gear and then skip the whole putting it together yourself part of the process.

#12 Posted by ch3burashka (5087 posts) -

FYI, "best" basically correlates with "mad expensive". Find a happy medium - I personally think dropping a grand to 1500 on a brand new PC makes plenty sense, with minor improvements over the years to come.

#13 Posted by Orbitz89 (229 posts) -

@NTM: I don't go so far as taking the whole thing apart, I just open her up and give her a good dusting with cans of pressurized air.

#14 Posted by Jazzycola (662 posts) -

@NTM: You don't need to take a part a pc to clean it. All you do is take off the side panel of the case, get a can of compressed air, and go to town blowing the dust the fuck out of your case.

As for you're question on buying a pre-built pc, you can go through Origin, Alienware/Dell, or CyperpowerPC and get a pretty good gaming pc. Be ready to pay $2000-3000, though.

#15 Posted by Shivoa (626 posts) -

'best' = subjective; I can offer you a quad-7970 GHz Ed PC which has a lot of GPU power but you're often going to find quad-CrossFire doesn't really work so some of that $2000 GPU spend will be a waste and you'll need to buy earplugs or make sure you like constant loud background music or game audio to deal with the fan noise.

Specifying your parts = assurances of quality of component and exact management of your requirements (no one from a marketing department has decided to save $3 and make more attractive stickers by dumping 2GB of DDR3 in the mix when actually, for gaming, a 1GB DDR5 graphical RAM pool would be a far better option). You can get online retailers to do assembly but it isn't quite like buying a complete PC (I'm not sure how much warranty stuff they do for you - buying components means you need to be able to diagnose a fault so you can ship off the broken part for a replacement, while Dell will take your who PC and tell you what broke and got replaced - they used to ('90s) come to your house to do it but I have no idea is that is standard any more). iBuyPower seem to be the online retailer I hear about the most as a middle-ground between a Dell (who offer very few meaningful hardware options for your build and no brands so you can ensure you get a quality component and not YumCha) and a component store who don't do the 'PC warranty' thing. iBP offer 3 years warranty for labour but only 1 year for parts (despite the parts you specify for the build often having 3-5 year warranties) by the look of it. You pay to ship the case back to them and they fix it so you don't need to know which part is busted (but you have to ship an entire PC to them, doesn't sound cheap to me). They also seem to charge a very steep premium on their components when you select them (and even have YumCha options that make it look more affordable util you realise you actually need to spend $100 to upgrade to a guaranteed decent PSU).

I started building PCs as a kid so I never really got the 'daunting first build' thing. They really are easy, the right thing only ever fits into the right slot in the right orientation so unless you bring a hammer then you can't mess it up (CPUs are square or rectangular but they have a notch taken out of one corner and even some along the side so not only do you have to turn it the right way to get the corner notch to line up but you know you purchased the right CPU for the mobo because the notches along the side only line up when they're electrically compatible. RAM is the same.) But if you'd rather not then getting a friend to do it is the obvious choice. You can buy boxed but it will cost more and you won't be as free to match what you demand and your budget together (you'll either have to pay more or get less, the less will also be uneven so maybe you'll end up with even more RAM than you actually need buy doubly-less GPU grunt to actually game on for the same money as a custom build). If you're fine on limited warranty then look for online shops that assemble for a small fixed fee, otherwise it's usually a lot better to find a non-chain store (just make sure they're not about to go out of business) locally so your retail support if by someone you can drive to.

As for 'best' in a gaming sense (I don't offer things that cost more but aren't much faster or really expensive gear mainly aimed at non-gamign and so costs twice as much, is 10% faster because it's meant for server computational tasks that games don't require because who would make a game that only ran on $300 PCs?). You want a Z68 or Z77 mobo with an Intel i5-3570K CPU and at least 8GB RAM (two 4GB sticks, CL9 1600MHz or 1833MHz at 1.35V or 1.5V). And the big buy for a 'best' gaming rig is the GPU, this can take anything you can throw at it because you can always have more anti-aliasing or other premium effect (which fall to an almost 100% load on the GPU). A small increase in the precision of that shadow map (so Ezio's face looks good rather than having weird diagonal zigzag shadows over it) can easily double the number of pixels it takes so the last 10% of 'looking almost pre-rendered' is 50% of the extra GPU workload. But there is also basically no point buying the best when the almost best is almost best and significantly cheaper, the flip side of the rule is that you can ease off a bit and lose very little except for a healthy saving. I'm going to say an nVidia GTX670 is what you want to be 'best' for gaming, but it is still rather expensive and so isn't what someone who is concerned about price should buy. Someone who wants to go with AMD (nee ATi) would give the equivalent recommendation for a Radeon HD 7950 (which is actually now a bit cheaper than a 670). Both companies do GPUs a lot cheaper (like half that price) that are still solid gaming options but I thought I'd talk about stuff that approaches the 'best'.

Onto that core you want an SSD, something with a modern SandForce controller or one of the competitors that get different characteristics (SF uses on-the-fly compression to do some clever stuff that pairs well with SSD technology but it isn't the best at writing lots of incompressible data at high speed because of it - so a Samsung SSD will reach noticeably differently to anything using SF but they average out to both being rather fast), so a Samsung 830 256GB would be one option. You also want a big drive for archiving and media files so grab a 2TB 7200rpm drive (or even go for a 5900rpm 'green' model as that's fast enough for streaming and rotating platter HDDs are still too expensive for what you get). DVD of Blu ray writer is your choice, they're all cheap as components but I bet blu ray = significant price bump if you buy prebuilt as they're selling you a 'premium digital entertainment experience'. For a self-build you need a case and PSU, don't go cheap on the PSU and for this recommended build you probably want 750W (but 650W would actually be more than enough, it's just nice to give a healthy headroom to avoid trouble and account for a GPU upgrade in 3 years that need that extra 100W+ of power).

You can spend a lot more than buying those parts, but you can't get a lot more gaming unless you just double up the GPUs or buy a graphics card which has two GPUs next to each other (ding so will also increase the required PSU spec and possibly limit the case for adequate cooling) and that's going from fast into crazy & driver issues on launch day with plenty of games. You can SLI/CrossFire, and to get the absolute highest framerates (or to game with 3 monitors in surround vision) you must, but if you want 1080p or a bit more and every game to be great then buy a single GPU today and save the extra $400 and buy another one in a couple of years. Upgrade more often rather than buying it all at current price per processing power (it only gets cheaper over time, which is why selling off your old GPU and buying a new one works).

#16 Posted by NTM (7409 posts) -

@Jazzycola: @Orbitz89: Yeah, sorry, that's what I meant. Take the case off. I didn't actually mean take the whole thing apart. I probably sounded ignorant there, ha ha. Whoops.

#17 Posted by NekuCTR (1663 posts) -

Sorry, but It's really probably best to buy the components, and put one together. You will save probably around $600 if your going for the computer I think you are, and it's really not complicated at all, and unless you enjoy keeping your parts near a bathtub, or feeling up your motherboard it's really hard to screw anything up. It may sound cliched, but these kinds of skills are going to become more, and more important as time goes on. It will take you literally an afternoon to learn how to put everything together, and hook it up. If anything goes wrong all you have to do is call BestBuy and get someone to come do it for you for like $50. Trust me one day of not being lazy will save you so much, and teach you a lot too.

#18 Posted by Kidavenger (3569 posts) -

What is your budget?

#19 Edited by Shivoa (626 posts) -

@NekuCTR: I'd also add that you can take some precautions.

A $5 static strap will make sure you're grounded and so can't accidentally toast a component with a static discharge by touching an exposed electrical contact. Some experienced assemblers swear by them, I make sure to have my case earthed and ensure I keep regular contact with the metal to avoid static build-up and it is a really unlikely event you're protecting against but it's only a few bucks (or get some metal wire and make sure you're earthed on whatever way you desire).

Read up and even watch a video (man, wouldn't it have been great back in the 90s if we had easy access to video then, that was back when the CPU was an exposed core, silicon in plain view without a heat-spreader metal plate over the top - one uneven heatsink mounting and you'd crushed the corner of your CPU, enough of a risk that a secondary market in shims grew up) before you start putting anything together and you'll see how easy it is.

Edit: oh and in the above I mainly bolded the stuff that you can actually just go and look for on any computer spec sheet to see if it does the job (my bet is Dell and the like will force you to spend the extra $100+ on an i7 if you also want a nice GPU with it, something that a gaming rig doesn't need, but you get the idea from the bolded items). The one exception was the RAM, which I specified all the way down to the latency times (you can make RAM faster in MHz if you also make it more laggy, this is the CL, so you can see how unscrupulous dealers trying to maximise the MHz speed they write down will also buy crappy CL sticks because they don't tell you that figure) and voltages (Intel say you must use 1.35V or 1.5V RAM, and the RAM controller is on the CPU so it isn't a factor of which motherboard you buy and yet you still see 1.65V sticks all over the place; once again this is a cheaper way of getting to the specifications that most people see and so it's saving money to sell you something worse but which you may not be able to tell from partial specification). Building your own means you never have to deal with partial specifications, you can be as anal as you like and make sure no one crippled anything to save some money or surface visible specs that look better than competitors who don't cut corners.

#20 Posted by bemusedchunk (694 posts) -

@TheJappernaut said:

Yup. It really is that easy.

#21 Posted by PrivateIronTFU (3874 posts) -

I would tell you to build one, but I just built mine and I apparently don't know how to do it without splurging and going way past my budget. I was going to only spend around $900, but somehow altogether it cost me around $1400. On the downside, I'm now poor and turning tricks on the street. On the upside, it's gonna be one blazing fast rig!

#22 Posted by Jazzycola (662 posts) -

@PrivateIronTFU: Its pretty easy to overspend on a pre-built pc too especially going through places that "recommend" the higher tier.

#23 Posted by MonetaryDread (2040 posts) -
#24 Posted by dream431ca (171 posts) -

Just build your own. You can make it as powerful as you want.

#25 Edited by Devildoll (886 posts) -

how often you have to clean your computer depends on how dusty the enviroment is.

if you dont vaccum alot, your computer is going to do it for you, and that basicly means cleaning it more often.

you dont want to vaccum inside a computer however, that can create alot of static electricity which can do some real damage to the components.

what you do is bring the computer outside, and use compressed air ( you can buy spray cans of the stuff ) and blow out all the dust.

the computer you linked to in the original post was based on a platform from 2008, its still pretty good , but several generations old at this point, just so you know ;)

like everyone else I'm going to recommend researching and building your own rig, and since i do so much of that, i never look at prebuilt solutions, therefore, unfortunately i cant give any advice on where or which one to buy.

#26 Edited by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@NTM: It's in your imagination, man!

Seriously, if yo want teh absolute best, you can't really have that built for you. I don't really know any pre-builts that will give you four Hydrocopper 680s with 32GBs of 2300 DDR3 quad channel RAM and a hexacore CPU, not to mention anything resembling a great SSD.

Also, you don't really need to learn how to put a PC together, it's pretty straightforward. Watch one of the Tested videos of it being done, and you'll understand plenty. If it doesn't fit, it doesn't go there, simple! Ther hardest stuff is wiring the case controls and the like to the mobo. It really is dead simple. And you'll actually get the best performance on the market, as opposed to a pretty well gimped "enthusiast" rig that was pre-built. Plus many more options on things like cases, GPU, RAM, etc.

I'll say this: GO INTEL/NVIDIA. Seriously. Their latest generations have wiped the floor with the competition over at ATI/AMD, and the driver support for nvidia has been so very much better for quite some time.

Oh, and don't go for the dual GPU cards (590/690's, and whatever the ATI verisoni of that is) because you'll get noticably less performance than SLI with two of the cards that you're running in one piece with a dual GPU, and you'll have a massive, noisy mother fucker in your case. Not worth the price at all (Why pay $1000 on a 690 when you can get two 680's in SLI instead of the equivilant of two downcloacked 670's being cooled by a single card's cooling system?)

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