Help me build state of the art PC
September 4, 2011 10:15 PM   Subscribe

Help me build a computer that is able to effortlessly run the most advanced games of today and tomorrow.

I will be buying/building a PC in the next several weeks. My main goal is for the PC to be able to run Battlefield 3 and Skyrim at 60fps, and also have enough muscle to properly run whatever other games are coming down the pipeline in the next year. I went to my local PC shop and they suggested the following:

1.Intel Core i7-2000 Sandy Bridge 3.4 GHZ Quad Core CPU
2. ASUS P8z68-V-Pro LGA 1155 Intel Chipset ATX Mother Board
3. 8gb DDR 3 Pc3-12800 memory
4. Corsair 700W power supply
5. ASYS GeForce GTX570 1280MB GDDR5 Video card

This system, along with case, hard drive etc, was quoted at $1500.

Will this be enough to help me achieve my goals?

Thank you!
posted by AMWKE1984 to Technology (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I tried to get my head around this stuff for gaming earlier this year and it was totally overwhelming. I think these sites do a great job and offer some pretty damn good deals and a huge amount customization of the computer.

I particularly like how Ibuypower lets you see how your "spec' will run certain popular games.
posted by straight_razor at 10:22 PM on September 4, 2011

I would also like to keep the cost around $1500. The amount of data is staggering to sort through, especially considering the countless configurations of video cards/power supplies/processors/memory
posted by AMWKE1984 at 10:57 PM on September 4, 2011

I would up the memory and get an octo core.
Preferably a two socket system with each cpu having 8 cores.
posted by digividal at 10:57 PM on September 4, 2011

I suggest investing in a good SSD drive, preferably one that has the sandforce-2200 firmware and supports SATA-3.
posted by jchaw at 11:16 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

No solid state drive?
posted by the Real Dan at 11:23 PM on September 4, 2011

Here's a sample system I'd recommend based on what you've been quoted, adding in more RAM and a SSD drive (and an Antec case because they're neat)

Honestly with $1500 you've got a lot of cash to play with to make a really nice system. You can't really put a foot too far wrong that will make a nice system that will last for a good few years.

Your two biggest ticket items will be the processor and video card. Have a look at the Tom's Hardware updates for both an if you follow the recommendations you'll do pretty well.,3007.html,2997.html
posted by caliban at 11:35 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hmm.... What about getting an AMD chip? On newegg 3.4 GHz Intel chips run about $300. However, you can get a 3.7Ghz Quad Core AMD CPU for $169.99 or you could get a 3.3GHz 6-core (with 3.7Ghz 'turbo') for $189.99. That will give you $110-$130 extra for things like SSDs and whatnot. And you'll probably save money on the motherboard as well.

But processor aside, it's really all about the GPU these days. I built my last PC in 2008, and I can run Starcraft 2 with all the highest graphics settings turned on at 60FPS since I upgraded to a Radeon 6970.
posted by delmoi at 11:49 PM on September 4, 2011

To be honest, I bought a $500 refurbed HP from woot and put in a $300 video card and it runs everything I've thrown at it pretty flawlessly, including Crysis 2 and Deus Ex.
posted by empath at 12:03 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would up the memory and get an octo core.
Preferably a two socket system with each cpu having 8 cores.

I think that's going a little overboard especially given the price range. OP will be fine (= max settings or close to) going for the next 2-3 years with 8GB of RAM (extremely upgradeable at a later date anyway) and quad- or 6-core.

Also, don't just get "...a hard drive." At the very least you need to be sure you're getting a 7200 RPM drive if you're not going SSD. Bethesda have a history of bottlenecking on how fast your drive can throw up data, though I'm obviously not familiar with Skyrim's handling of this, but you want to at least be sure you're not getting the slower 5400 RPM drive speed.

Rest of the spec looks fine, though as others have noted you're obviously paying for the shop's labor because you can, at the same price, build your own a bit stronger (more memory, SSD, etc.). On the one hand, building a computer is really not difficult at all even if you aren't especially technical--it's mostly following instructions. On the other, you don't have anyone to turn to but the manufacturers and maybe the part retailer, e.g. Newegg, if the parts fail. I've never regretted building my own, but YMMV.
posted by asciident at 1:27 AM on September 5, 2011

If you're looking to build your own, check out the recommendations at $1500 would get you anything in the Mainstream Gaming PC category, and there's lots of flexibility to pick and choose components according to your needs.
posted by platinum at 1:31 AM on September 5, 2011

The Tom's Hardware article reference by caliban convinced me when I was assembling a new PC last week that there is very little performance gain from going with an i7 over a less expensive i5 2500K. Also, you might think about overclocking... to do this, you need, at a minimum, to replace the stock heat sink/fan on the CPU with one like this.

And yeah, I would budget $30 towards a book about building PCs yourself and buy all your components from Newegg. It's not hard, really like putting together Legos, and you'll save a ton of money, enough to get extra monitors and/or video cards at your budget.
posted by deadweightloss at 7:03 AM on September 5, 2011

Nthing picking up an SSD, they've dropped a bunch in price recently.

So much in fact, that if I were building a machine with a $1500 budget to really scream I'd consider getting two and setting up a simple SATA based RAID for some extra fast computer action.
posted by Sphinx at 8:34 AM on September 5, 2011

An anecdote about building your own:

While researching a system I wanted to build, I had read that the PSU and mobo I wanted had been showing some incompatibility. No worries, I thought, I can resolve that if it happens. So I got all the parts and built the system. Surprise - it didn't work perfectly. BSODs on boot, if it even booted properly. Since I assumed it was the mobo and PSU fighting, I went through the process of replacing those parts. Still no luck. So everything else got replaced, one by one, and each component required a trip to the computer store. The last component that I checked was the RAM, of which one stick was faulty. Replaced that and bam, i finally had a fast, stable system that lasted for years.


I mention this worst-case-scenario as a way of saying that if you have spare parts lying around, it'll make DIY a lot easier if something is wrong. The alternative is a LOT of wasted time. There are other good takeaways from the story, too.

Your mileage will most certainly vary. Personally, next time I'll be paying the extra $50 for assembly and testing.

posted by TangoCharlie at 10:20 AM on September 5, 2011

More toward your point:

The specs you have seem good. I would base my video card purchase on the games I want to play now or in the next few months - they're easy to swap out. I'd rather spend 200 now and 200 in another year and a half than hope that a 400$ card will last for three-four years.

You'll probably be able to plop 8 more GB into your motherboard down the road. 8 is great for now and 16 will serve you well in the future.

The CPU is the only thing I'd try to future-proof, since it's the hardest thing to upgrade. Nthing the Tom's Hardware guides. Very practical.
posted by TangoCharlie at 10:29 AM on September 5, 2011

To be honest, I bought a $500 refurbed HP from woot and put in a $300 video card and it runs everything I've thrown at it pretty flawlessly, including Crysis 2 and Deus Ex.
posted by empath at 12:03 AM on September 5 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]

This can't be stressed enough. Anything that can be run on an Xbox 360 (which is pretty much everything) can be run and pretty nice settings on a cheap dual core with a three year old video card and 2 gig of RAM. I know because I do it (the Witcher 2 is a little strained, but still eminently beautiful and playable).

The Hardware Wars are pretty much over.

Two points, though - don't forget noise and whether your video card will fit in the case. The more powerful ones are massive, and they need a lot of room.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:36 PM on September 5, 2011

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