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Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:10 pm
by Holman
Actually more than one!

My two boys have been playing on aging laptops for some time, and I've decided to make a project of learning to build desktop PCs with them. For one of the boys, this process (and its documentation) will be part of an application to a special-projects-based high school next year.

I've done a little research, and I have the basics of how it all works. I've found various guides online and I've been watching videos. Our goal is to produce a couple (heck, maybe three) gaming PCs that would have been pretty close to top-of-the-line a couple of years ago. In another words, we want good power but not necessarily the bleeding edge$$$.

I thought I'd ask here if there are any obvious pitfalls to avoid, by which I guess I mean toxic or unreliable brands of hardware. Also, if you know of any must-read/must-see guides to building a decent PC, please let me know.

Thanks for any advice!

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:27 pm
by Isgrimnur
Tom's Hardware

They keep a monthly tally on best deals at various performance points for components, especially processors and GPUs.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:37 pm
by JCC
It's really pretty easy to build PCs these days. Arguably the most "difficult" part is connecting the case wires to the motherboard, just because it's a little awkward to see/read the cables and connectors. Just be careful placing the CPU correctly, and it's hard to mess up anything else.

Other advice:
If you don't plan to overclock your CPU the stock fan is fine. If on a budget, splurge on the video card which has the biggest impact on performance. But plan your video card budget based on the resolution you plan to play at. (ie. 1080p vs 1440 vs 4k). Definitely get a SSD for at least the boot/OS drive. Also, spend a tiny bit more on the PSU and get 80+ Gold.

I second the suggestion of doing research on Tom's Hardware.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:37 pm
by Daehawk
Just ask away. Ill try to help. Im not myself and Ive not built a full PC in 7 years but I have built high end gaming PCs since 1995. My wife got me my first PC June 1994 and the next day I put a sound card in it. Then in 1995 I built a full PC...no guides back then. My friend did help though. From then on just me. Id build a full PC then over the next 3 or 4 years Id upgrade parts at a time then Id build a full PC and start over. Im still using the one I built in 2011 for the most part. Since then I replaced the video card thanks to an OOr because mine fried. Added 8 more gigs of ram. Installed 2 SSD drives at different times.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:54 pm
by Holman
I've swapped out a lot of video cards, added memory, and even changed a dead power supply, but I've never researched and built a full machine.

The weirdest part seems to be the application of thermal paste (which I haven't done yet).

I'm wondering if I'll manage to screw it all up by procuring the wrong case or something.

And then of course there's the installation of a fresh OS (which will be Win10). How automatic is that? Will I need to know a lot of stats and settings?

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:13 pm
by Daehawk
Normal PCs are ATX size so a case is all about style other than that.

I reinstalled Win 10 on my wife's laptop a year or bit more ago. I didn't need a cd even. It was all digital online. I may have used a flash drive to boot to do that .Cant recall. But was nice not having to fool wit ha cd .

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:35 pm
by Anonymous Bosch
Holman wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:54 pm
And then of course there's the installation of a fresh OS (which will be Win10). How automatic is that? Will I need to know a lot of stats and settings?
As long as you have a 4GB+ USB flash drive handy, installing Windows 10 should be fairly effortless and almost completely automatic. Here's an excellent step-by-step guide from tenforums.com you can follow on How to Clean Install Windows 10. You'll likely want to follow the 'Installing Windows 10 with UEFI' instructions, unless you know for certain that the motherboard you're working with specifically does not support UEFI 2.0+.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:49 pm
by Anonymous Bosch
BTW, in terms of essential reading, here's a very useful beginner's guide for building a PC courtesy of /r/buildapc.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:53 am
by hitbyambulance
after all your preparation, you're going to be disappointed when you see how easy it actually is

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 1:12 pm
by Blackhawk
The only tough part about building a PC is pushing the power button for the first time. Other than that, it's about as complicated a putting together a Lego set.

For price + future proofing, make sure you read up on the Nvidia 2060s that just came out. They're recent enough that they're not in a lot of the guides yet.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:59 am
by GreenGoo
hitbyambulance wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:53 am
after all your preparation, you're going to be disappointed when you see how easy it actually is
+1.

Seating the CPU and getting good contact between the CPU fan, thermal paste and CPU is probably the one thing that stands out for me as requiring attention. That said, most stock fans come with thermal paste pre-applied, so all you have to do is get a nice solid contact, which itself is aided by the mounting bracket. Just need to make sure you apply pressure evenly.

Cable management is not something I'm good at or spend any time on, but it's the one thing I would improve if I had to choose something to do better. The insides of my PC's are often a mess. That limits air flow and can exacerbate heat problems, not to mention make them a pain to work in.

All good advice. AB has never steered me wrong before. I always look forward to his responses re: consumer hardware. Lots of knowledgeable people here though.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2019 5:46 pm
by Holman
Thanks for the advice!

I'm certain I'll have more questions. Right now I'm still making a list of what to buy.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:34 am
by MonkeyFinger
Blackhawk wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 1:12 pm
The only tough part about building a PC is pushing the power button for the first time.
Been there and can agree with that, much like the time I totally rebuilt my 240Z's engine and went to start it again for the first time. :shock: :lol:
More fun is pushing the button and nothing happens. :think: And +1 on the cabling thoughts, that can be the biggest PITA.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 9:37 pm
by Jaymon
Any updates? I want to know how it went.


I like building computers, but right now i have no need for a new one, and no need to upgrade, so I must live vicariously.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:29 am
by Holman
Jaymon wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 9:37 pm
Any updates? I want to know how it went.


I like building computers, but right now i have no need for a new one, and no need to upgrade, so I must live vicariously.
I haven't started yet! :D

I've been reading up on it, but I've yet to order my first part.

I'll report in when I do.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:19 am
by Geezerone
A couple of bits of advice I have is:
  • install the CPU, heatsink, and the memory onto the motherboard BEFORE you install the motherboard into the case. This gives you lots of space to work rather than in the tight confines of the case.
  • pre-route the power supply cabling through out the case before you install the motherboard.
  • check and double check the location of the motherboard stand-offs to ensure that they are only positioned at the motherboard screw holes. This is especially important if you're installing a mATX motherboard into an ATX case.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:12 pm
by Jaymon
if your case is not a tower, then you will need to be careful about choosing the video card, because some of the big amazing awesome video cards don't fit into the smaller or compact cases.

a modular power supply is good if you only have a few things to put in, can save you from having extra power cables to tuck away

a pretty popular way to have your drives is a moderate sized SSD for the OS, and then a really big standard drive for the data

if possible buy 2 bigger sticks of ram instead of 4 smaller ones. that way, its easier to add more ram later

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:20 pm
by Jaymon
I have a Fractal Design R4 Silent Case.

out of all the cases I bought over the years, this is my favorite. its big, its modular and easy to get stuff in and out, and the acoustic padding is amazing, I have a big ass video card and a power supply that could make the lights dim, but I barely hear anything.

the only part I don't like is the door is not configurable, it only opens one way. but its rare that I put disks into the machine any more, so thats OK


here is the newer R5 version, with configurable door
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product. ... 6811352048

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:27 am
by Holman
Thanks for the advice!

This is going to turn into a major project. I'm going to build computers for my MIL, both kids, and eventually myself.

I'll be doing the MIL's first, since it will be pretty barebones and use the cheapest parts. (MIL is not a gamer.) Seems look a good way to get practice.

Doing the kids' machines will involve them closely, and will be documented as part of an application project to a special-admit high school next fall.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:13 pm
by infinitelurker
Another thumbs up for the Fractal Design cases. My previous build used the R4, and it was such a joy to work with when building and so silent over the past several years, that I went with the updated R6 USB-C version for my recent build I completed a couple of weeks ago.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Mon May 27, 2019 6:34 pm
by Holman
First build is a success!

This is my mother-in-law's machine, a replacement for the tired old Win XP Dell she's been using for more than a decade.

When I first hit the power switch, nothing happened. I then realized that I'd plugged the whole block of system panel connectors to the COM1 header by accident. Once I fixed that, everything was smooth. Windows 10 is now installed and updated with no errors.

MIL can't believe how fast and smooth it is.

(And, yes, this was all MUCH easier than I expected it to be.)

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:11 pm
by Holman
MIL is now happily surfing and Wording and spreadsheeting on her machine. No problems at all.

Here's what I've put together for the build I'll do with (and for) my boys:
AMD - Ryzen 5 2600 3.4 GHz 6-Core Processor

Cooler Master - Hyper T2 54.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler

MSI - B450 GAMING PRO CARBON AC ATX AM4 Motherboard

Team - Vulcan 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3000 Memory

ADATA - SU655 960 GB 2.5" Solid State Drive

MSI - Radeon RX 580 8 GB ARMOR OC Video Card

Thermaltake - Core G21 Tempered Glass Edition ATX Mid Tower Case

Corsair - CXM (2015) 450 W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply
(System power demand lists around 360 W)

Acer - G246HLAbd 24.0" 1920x1080 60 Hz Monitor
According to PCPartPicker these components are all compatible, and it should give them a gaming PC that will last for years. When the time comes, it will be easily upgradeable. When you add Windows, the total cost is still under $1,000.

I don't know if people have strong opinions about components, but please do let me know if any of these suck.

Questions:

1) I'm leaving out a disk drive entirely. DVD-ROM is on the way out, and if we really really need it I can buy an external one to share among all the machines in the house.

2) This motherboard appears to have onboard WiFi. Are reason that should be good enough for gaming? Do I need a separate WiFi adapter?

3) Most builds I see include two internal drives: usually an SSD and a separate traditional hard drive. Is the latter really necessary for a machine that will be used for Steam gaming and online schoolwork?

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested.

Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:05 pm
by Daehawk
I only have a couple old mechanical drives in mine for storage of videos and music and junk. I dont really ever use them. They were originally my gaming drives in the past.

Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:10 pm
by gilraen
Holman wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:11 pm
3) Most builds I see include two internal drives: usually an SSD and a separate traditional hard drive. Is the latter really necessary for a machine that will be used for Steam gaming and online schoolwork?
The price differential between SSDs and platter drives was too big up until about a year ago, where it wasn't worth spending money on a single large SSD. Things have changed, where you don't have to spend an arm and a leg on a 1TB SSD. So you might not need a second drive.

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:45 pm
by JCC
These days I wouldn't buy anything but SSD drive(s) for a gaming PC. I would only buy traditional drives for other PC functions (work/media/backup/etc). I unfortunately use my current PC for gaming and streaming. I look forward to retiring it to streaming only and having a gaming workhorse in the future. Though not sure when that will be as I already have too many PCs still in (limited) use in the house.

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:02 pm
by LordMortis
These days I wouldn't buy anything but SSD drive(s)
An SSD is the single biggest performance booster I see in the Windows 10 world. If a 500 Gig SSD were sill around $375, it'd still be money well spent for the performance boost over 7200 RPM 500 Gig drive, even if all you do is work on spread sheets.

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:10 am
by JCC
LordMortis wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:02 pm
An SSD is the single biggest performance booster I see in the Windows 10 world.
Truth. No matter what you buy/build a PC for - at minimum the OS/boot drive should always be SSD.

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:41 pm
by Holman
First hitch:

All of the parts for the system described above have arrived except for the SSD.

When I looked into it, I learned from the tracking that the the package had been delivered to an address in Wisconsin. (I live in PA and have never set foot in WI.)

I had ordered this SSD along with several other parts from Newegg, and this was the one item sourced not from them but from a subsidiary supplier. This supplier was Fastmedia, which had decent enough reviews that I didn't worry at the time of the order.

After calling them today, though, I'm not so sure. Their representatives on the phone didn't seem particularly interested in following through on a refund (as the original SSD is now out of stock), and I await confirmation of that activity. I've gone back to Newegg and put them on it as well, so I assume that I have at least a chance of getting my money back. I've already ordered an equivalent replacement SSD from elsewhere.

Par for the course, maybe?

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:57 am
by The Meal
I'm just reading through the recent posts of this thread this morning. (I echo all sentiments about SSD vs. HDD.) When I read through your parts list, I asked myself "Who's Adata?" Maybe fight for that refund and purchase from a more traditional SSD manufacturer.

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 5:11 pm
by Holman
The Meal wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:57 am
I'm just reading through the recent posts of this thread this morning. (I echo all sentiments about SSD vs. HDD.) When I read through your parts list, I asked myself "Who's Adata?" Maybe fight for that refund and purchase from a more traditional SSD manufacturer.
I went with Samsung as replacement. Still awaiting word on the refund.

On the up side, we assembled the machine this morning from 8:00 to noon, and everything seems to have worked right the first time! By 2:00 pm one kid was playing Dishonored 2 on it.

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 5:16 pm
by Holman
Cooling question:

The case for the machine I just built came with a single outlet fan in back. I'd already bought some serviceable fans in a four-pack, so I added one intake fan on the front and another outlet fan on the top. (This is of course in addition to the CPU heatsink/fan.)

It seems like enough--the CPU seems to be running about 55 degrees during heavy graphics gaming. I'm just wondering if there is such a thing as too many fans. How much power does each fan draw?

Also, I think I remember hearing that fine-mesh dust screens (and this case has several) actually hinder cooling, and that a gaming desktop might be better without them as long as you keep it clean. Any opinions here?

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:08 pm
by Biyobi
Gamer's Nexus did a review of your case and did heat testing with several different fan and filter combinations. It's here. Looks like they got a 10c improvement by removing the magnetic dust filter and adding two fans up front.

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:55 pm
by Holman
Biyobi wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:08 pm
Gamer's Nexus did a review of your case and did heat testing with several different fan and filter combinations. It's here. Looks like they got a 10c improvement by removing the magnetic dust filter and adding two fans up front.
Thanks!

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:28 am
by Holman
Another heat question:

I actually went with the stock heat sink for the CPU, which (being the kind with spring-screws rather than clips) was a real pain to install.

The sink came with thermal paste pre-applied, and during installation I wouldn't be surprised if some of it got smeared more thickly here than there as I tried and retried to get it correctly seated (and then turned it because the fan wire needed to be on the other side).

Is this a problem? The sink is now seated firmly and squarely, so I assume the stuff was pressed flat and even enough. None came out the sides, but I'm wondering how obsessively careful it's necessary to be with this stuff.

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:44 am
by Isgrimnur
Do you have data to suggest that it's heating too much? Unless you have data to suggest that it's an issue, don't start fiddling with it more.

Re: Building my first PC's! Advice requested. [Moving on to Gaming PC's.]

Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 12:06 pm
by Anonymous Bosch
What Isgrimnur said.

Granted, a manual application of quality thermal compound like Noctua NT-H1 will almost always be superior to any pre-applied OEM paste. But unless you have reason to believe there's an issue with it, you're only going to shave off a few additional degrees of temperature by removing and reapplying your own thermal compound. So in your situation it's likely more trouble than it's worth.