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Building My First PC!

HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
edited March 2014 in Off-Topic
Hey guys, following on from my questions regarding how to improve my laptop, I've looked into possibly just getting a new PC... And I've been researching the possibility of building my own (desktop) for the first time.

I am a total noob at this kind of stuff. Ideally I'd like to find a guide somewhere that demonstrates the step-by-step construction of a particular build that suits my needs, but although I've found a few tutorials on Youtube, none are ideal because:

1) Too expensive.
2) Too old.
3) Suggests components and/or builds I don't quite like.

So I've come up with a draft build based on my research thus far, and I'd appreciate your advice, feedback and answers as always. I've gone for safe and 'mainstream/popular' options by default, but if there are cheaper (but still reliable) alternatives, I'd love to hear it.


ASUS Z87M-PLUS Motherboard with 1150 Socket

I don't really know much about motherboards other than that they come in different sizes and Intel and AMD are not compatible. I think this is one of the bigger motherboards that you can get, which is good because I want as much space as possible, both to fit fans, and to give me options for upgrades in the future. Also I found a tutorial online which used this particular model, so it might be handy given so many things connect to the motherboard.


Intel CPU i5-4670K 3.4GHz Socket 1150 Quad Core Haswell Retail with Heat Sink Fan

My research indicates that modern computer performance bottleneck is GPU rather than CPU, and there is little practical difference between i7 and i5, so I decided to save on ~£70 here. It looks like all CPUs come with their built-in fans, but I've seen guides that strongly recommend me to buy an improved cooling fan. I currently have no idea what options I have and whether this really is so important. Advice would be appreciated!


EVGA Nvidia GeForce GTX780

This is one big item in terms of cost. According to, there is a bigger performance difference between GTX770 and GTX780 and those further down the heirachy, but there is also a big price difference 770 and 780 (about £150), and I am not sure that's a price worth paying, so I will probably downgrade to a GTX770.

If I do that then I am looking at EVGA Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 Superclocked 2GB GDDR5 or Asus GTX 770 Nvidia GeForce DirectCU II OC 2GB GDDR5. The difference between the two appears to be £30 and that the EVGA one is "superclocked"... what does that mean?

Also, GPUs seem to come with fans, but I've seen guides recommending against using standard fans, though I can't remember if they were referring to both GPU and CPU coolers, or just CPU.

Hard Drive

Samsung 840 EVO 500GB 2.5 inch Basic SATA Solid State Drive

I definitely want a SSD hard drive for my OS and games, and Samsung appear to be the big players here. I noticed that Crucial offer a cheaper 480 GB version, but I don't know if it is as reliable/compatible.

Seagate ST1000DM003 1TB SATA 3 Hard Drive 7200rpm 64MB Cache OEM

This 1 TB conventional hard drive will be used for actual data storage, be that music, videos or documents. I see no reason to buy anything but the cheapest available since I don't intend to do anything intensive with software installed on this drive.


Corsair CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9 Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600 Mhz

8GB seems to be more than enough for my needs, and this Corsair options seems to be popular and highly recommended in a number of guides that I've found.


Corsair Carbide Series 300R CC-9011017-WW Windowed Gaming Case

I've gone for a fairly cheap option here, mostly because it is very highly rated on Amazon and I wanted something that looks reasonable, has good air flow and plenty of space. If anyone has any great suggestions in the same price range (£40-£70) or has a good reason I should invest in something more expensive, please do let me know!

Power Supply

Corsair Builder Series CXM 750W Modular 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX/EPS PSU

Produced by the same company that made the case, so I expect no compatibility issues here, and this particular model seems to be very popular and highly rated.

Other than peripheries like monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers, I think that's it... Have I missed out anything obvious? How does this system look to you?



  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Most important questions:

    What is your budget?
    What is your intended use?

  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    If this is your first time building a PC I would suggest getting a custom-build company to do it for you. You pay a bit for their expertise, but are guaranteed a working PC with a warranty at the end of it. As you're UK-based IIRC then sites like, and all seem to offer decent products. used to have really good comparison reviews at various priceranges but I can't find any recent ones. is a great resource for finding the best value parts or systems as well.

    I'm no PC expert but have done a self-build project before. The process was an education, and got me a bit of wisdom and a lot of skinned knuckles. It worked well for a couple of years but completely died after 3 years with no warranty. The replacement was from Chillblast and is running like clockwork 3 years later.

    With regards to hardware, remember that modern games are limited by the hardware of consoles. If you buy a top-of-the-line PC then 90% of it will be wasted playing games that don't tax it. You can safely go for mid-range discounted hardware and still expect a result above and beyond the XBox One or PS4.

    Arguably the best purchases I made with my last couple of PCs have been the peripherals. I love Razer Mice and they have actually improved my experience playing games. I gave a friend my old Diamondback when his mouse broke, and he now uses them too.

  • Troodon80Troodon80 Member, Developer Posts: 4,110
    edited March 2014

    Most important questions:

    What is your budget?
    What is your intended use?

    Quoted, just to reiterate the importance of these questions.

    Also, @Heindrich‌, sign up here and you can put your hardware together, check for compatibility, and it also shows the price from multiple sellers such as Amazon, eBuyer,, etc., so if it is your first time it will make it that little bit easier. You can also get a link to your list and make the list editable if you wish.

    Post edited by Troodon80 on
  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 15,981
    I actually built my current desktop. There isn't anything like the accomplishment of putting the various parts together and having them work successfully.

    Of course they didn't in my case because the instructions for my motherboard weren't written in english (which was odd given the circumstance). I ended up forgetting to take off some safety feature. Still, 6 years later its still running. :)

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    @FinneousPJ and @Troodon80

    My budget is about £800-£1000. I already have most of the peripherals so that budget can be spent on everything inside the case.

    As for my intended use. I don't actually play many demanding games, but I do have Skyrim in the "to-play" list. Also, although Rome 2 TW has been underwhelming, I do like that genre of games and I have hope that CA will make something great in the future, or Rome 2 might eventually be patched to greatness.

    Also, I do a bit of Let's Play recording and video compression/editing, which is pretty resource intensive. I have only tried it with Baldur's Gate thus far, I can imagine it being even more demanding if I ever try it with something like Rome 2.

    And the reason I am considering a self-build is that Dell (who I normally buy from) offers insanely overkill CPUs, but terrible GPUs, and also no SSDs. I will look at the custom-build companies, but I think learning to build your own PC would be quite satisfying in itself, as @Elminister‌ points out.

  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 15,981
    If you plan on playing skyrim then if you are anything like me you should budget like a full day of just playing it. When I first played that game I was hooked.

    As for the topic at hand I'm not certain I can really recommend anything in particular. Getting a well built case is always a good idea. I bought a cheaper one and the things that keep the hard drives/dvd drive in place have largely broken (they were made of really cheap plastic).

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Okay then.

    1) You'd picked a Micro ATX mobo, which certainly isn't among the biggest around.

    2) You only need the expensive CPU and mobo if you want to overclock, otherwise get the cheaper i5-4440 CPU and you can pick a cheaper mobo as well.

    3) If you don't play lots of demanding games, a mega expensive GPU is a waste. You'll find a GTX 760 more than enough.

    I squeezed it down to £800 without compromising anything

    PCPartPicker part list:
    Price breakdown by merchant:

    CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor (£161.99 @ Aria PC)
    Motherboard: Asus Z87-K ATX LGA1150 Motherboard (£89.96 @ Ebuyer)
    Memory: GeIL Enhance CORSA 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory (£59.99 @ Amazon UK)
    Storage: Crucial M500 480GB 2.5" Solid State Disk (£170.00 @ Amazon UK)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£39.14 @ Aria PC)
    Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card (£176.98 @ Amazon UK)
    Case: Corsair Carbide Series 300R Windowed ATX Mid Tower Case (£63.97 @ Amazon UK)
    Power Supply: XFX 550W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply (£44.98 @ Amazon UK)
    Total: £807.01
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-03-18 19:25 GMT+0000)

    You could still make it cheaper by getting cheaper CPU & mobo if you're not planning overclocking. If you are planning an overclock, you need to add an aftermarket fan. If not, there's no need for that.

  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    I still use Skyrim as a bit of a benchmark, but my 3-year old PC plays it at max settings with a bunch of high-detail clutter, improved texture and HDR mods with no slowdown. My old Radeon HD 6900 does a great job. A high-end PC is often overkill these days.

    It's worth thinking about the screen you're outputting to - if you're using a single standard 1080p HD TV or a monitor with a resolution of less than 1920x1080 then quite a bit of that raw processing power will be going to waste. If your current monitor is less than an LED 1920x1080 24" then upgrading that may well be as big a jump in visual value as a high-end graphics card. You can get a decent one for about £100-120.

    I'm trying to talk a friend of mine out of a high-end gaming laptop for the same reasons. Plus with a laptop everything is lower spec for more money *sigh*.

  • FranzuuFranzuu Member Posts: 3
    Did the same thing recently. Watch some youtube videos on how to put everything together. it seemed daunting at first but it is actually easy. Its like an expensive lego only that everything has only one way to fit together (except ram). You are going to have to use retard strength to put it together wrong.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @Corvino has a great point about the screen. BTW, make your friend buy a gaming desktop and a normal laptop, it'll be better for the same money or even cheaper.

  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    I know @FinneousPJ - The man won't listen to reason. He honestly intends to travel around with a 5kg laptop. Packing up and moving his laptop, mouse and adapter will be a workout in itself.

  • TeflonTeflon Member, Translator (NDA) Posts: 517
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    edited March 2014
    How do you feel (about the build), @Heindrich?

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959

    About the one you posted?

    It's pretty good. I've taken your advice regarding the GPU, GTX780 is a bit overkill and way too expensive for my needs. However, I think (still the in process of finalising the build) I might go for slightly more recognised brands for some items. For example I've heard bad things about MSI, and pretty much every guide I've come across recommends Corsair Vengeance RAM, which is only £5 more.

    On the whole my build should be a good £200 cheaper than before thanks to your recommendations :).

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Yeah, it's your build, so definitely make your own changes. I'm just trying to offer a second opinion ;)

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959

    Hey I was wondering if you (or somebody else) can enlighten me on the difference (if there is any) between the following motherboards?

    After doing some more research, I've decided that I want a motherboard with the potential for SLI in the future, even though I will be sticking to just one GPU for now.

    Both of those are very highly rated (4.9/5) and appear to have the exact same technical details, yet there is a £35 price difference. Is there any significant difference? Reading the fluff it seems like MaximusVI Hero has a better integrated sound card, but I'm not sure if the difference is significant.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Asus Maximus is their higher end line up. It probably has more connectors and supposedly better components. Not worth the extra cash unless you actually need some of its features.

  • Troodon80Troodon80 Member, Developer Posts: 4,110
    @Heindrich, at a quick glance—the Z87-Plus has two PCI slots, whereas the ROG board only has PCIe. Not sure about the lack of Z87 support for Crossfire, but that's just about meaningless since you are going for nVidia anyway. There's some other fluff that you really needn't concern yourself about.

    Basically, even though the Republic of Gamers brand is owned by Asus, you're paying for a level of quality, an expectation; you're paying for a name. My last board was the Rampage IV Extreme, and I got that for the LGA2011 socket so I could use my Intel Core i7 Extreme 6-core CPU and 64GB of RAM, which is well used in my circumstance.

    If you don't plan on overclocking or using ATI Crossfire, you would be just as well off going for the Z87-Plus.

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    edited March 2014
    Alright, one more noobie question! I've decided on Windows 7, and I am happy enough with OEM certificate. But there's multiple versions of what looks like the same thing on Amazon, which is confusing. Can somebody check that this is correct, and I'm not about to spend £60 on a patch or something. lol

    Incidentally, this is my build thus far, more or less finalised. Just got to make a final decision on GPU. I won't bother with after market cpu cooler for now cos I won't overclock for now, and the case I selected comes with 4 built in fans.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Looks great. Some points

    If a cable connection is possible, I wouldn't recommend wifi.

    If you're not overclocking, you could as well get the i5-4440. It's the same unit but with locked multiplier.

    What is the problem with deciding a GPU?

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959

    I've decided to not bother with overclocking for now before A) I'm a noobie, I want more experience first. B) I don't think I need to with this PC to play all the games out there at max specs.

    However the beauty of learning how to build my PC is that I now know exactly what components make a PC, and have a reasonable understanding of performance constraints and room for improvement in the future. So say the Total War game after the next one (Total War Next Next! lol) proves too demanding for my system when I want to have 4 a side battles with 20,000 men aside at maxed settings, I'd want the option to overclock and install another GPU.

    As for GPU... it's the myriad of options that's making it hard to decide, plus the fact that it is the single most expensive piece of kit, so I don't want to get it wrong.

    I know that GTX760 or GTX770 is certainly enough to run any game I want to play for now and probably next year, but I wonder if I should try to "future-proof" with GTX780, which seems to be very powerful for its price, and on par with super-premium GPUs that cost astronomical prices. Even within the GTX770 range, I am rather confused about the range of options...

    EVGA GTX770 superclocked. £264

    Gigabyte GTX 770. £247 (If superclock is insignificant, then this is the cheapest option... but inferior brand?)

    EVGA GTX770 4GB RAM, £348 (So expensive it's almost a GTX780... it does have double the normal RAM, is this even important?)

    EVGA GTX770 4GB RAM and superclocked, £321. (This is double memory and superclocked... not sure why it's cheaper than the previous option... makes no sense at all!)

    EVGA GTX780 3GB RAM and superclocked. £400

    This is the monster, in terms of performance and cost. It does seem a good deal, even if I won't need its performance for now.

    Oh yeah I do Fraps recording and video compression, I don't know if that's got much to do with GPU.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    When the current gen tech finally becomes too slow to run newer games, an overclock isn't going to remedy it anymore. Buying a more expensive card than you need "to future proof" isn't a great idea. You'll get more out £400 by buying a £200 card now and £200 card when it becomes obsolete. Future proofing in general is a myth when it comes to customer electronics. The life of new products is about 1 year after which a new, better technology comes available.

    Of course, you're welcome to spend your money any way you wish ;)

  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    I always find the current generation of consoles are a good indicator of what sort of computing power you'll need in 3 years time. 90% of games are cross-platform these day, with rare exceptions like Total War games. Because of this there's no point in most developers improving graphics solely for high-end PC users. If your current PC can run a current generation game at high/ultra settings then you're usually good until the next console cycle emerges.

  • ChildofBhaal599ChildofBhaal599 Member Posts: 1,781
    good to see you getting an idea on what you will do. i talked a lot with the guys at the computer place I worked at for a little back when I was learning and they helped me put together my machine. as others have stated the current gen of consoles is a very good benchmark to make for GPU. the 780 is certainly powerful, and you will likely not need something that powerful given current console specs for most games. even then most PC only games won't go too much higher than the cross platform titles.

    my computer is running a radeon HD 7700 series, a very average GPU. i will tell you though that it runs all of my games on the highest possible settings except for metro last light, which is merely a standout title that many are incapable of playing on ultra. even then I played that on high with no problems. the guys also told me that I shouldn't be worried about "future proofing" when all that means is I am postponing turning down the settings. if you are ok with not having the best out of a very resource intensive game then you can turn down the settings a little and you will be ok again. it will still look great.

    of course though this is your pc build and you know yourself and the games you play best. it really depends on how far you will go to get the most out of every game or if you would rather have a running game than a game you can't play. and will you be playing games that are that resource intensive to need the 780? that is up for you to decide of course. the beauty of PC is the way that we can all get exactly what we need for ourselves because we are each different with different expectations.

    btw for Skyrim I know I am running graphic mods, full settings, full render distances, and it is fine on this as well. Skyrim actually isn't the most resource intensive game out there, though mods sure help bring it to that. I think the kind of games you want to play you will likely be ok.

    good luck with putting it together than. make sure to check out tutorials and maybe ask friends who know about computers for help/advice. it was a real great feeling when I started my build and by the end of the day it was a working machine. however I did spent a good number of hours training as a technician before I finally got around to my own build, and I needed those hours. I was still looking at tutorials during the build just to be safe. you can indeed mess things up and you should be careful since you are doing this yourself. but so long as you follow the proper procedures it will be fine, and many glorious hours of gaming will be awaiting you, friend :)

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