First-Time Build - $700-900 - 1 mo. Deadline

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First-Time Build - $700-900 - 1 mo. Deadline

Postby asymptotelyimpaired » Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:05 pm

Hello, all. My first time here; hoping you guys could help me out.

Never built a computer before, but I've recently taken a basic '07 Dell apart, identified everything, and put it all back in. I'm decent with tech, but not great. I'm going to college Aug 15th, and I've been musing over building or buying. Here we go...

My budget for the computer is $700-900, preferring low/mid 800s. Exclude all peripherals (other than required accessories such as wifi card or external card reader) from budget.

I want a high-performance machine that can run 1080x1920 HD on two screens (monitor and TV, but never dual gaming; only for movies/videos on TV while normal browsing on monitor, or game on TV/monitor while other is idle).

BluRay needs no lag.

Minimum of 4 total USB 3.0.

Would prefer wifi and ether, but if ether is not integrated into mobo, dependent on cost of component. Must have latest gen wifi.

I do have an old optical drive from that Dell I mentioned, but if BluRay isn't too much more and can do both, I'd just assume upgrade.

Want SSD + HDD. Minimum HDD of 500GB (I donn't need more than 1TB though, unless stellar deal). Prefer higher quality components that I can trust not to fail (e.g. Brand A 500GB vs Brand B 1TB for same cost but Brand B unreliable); goes for all components.

I want a good case that focuses primarily on wire management, airflow, and noise reduction, and has Audio port and USBs in upper front/top. NO lights or window nonsense. I do NOT want a 'gaming' case; I'd prefer rugged or sleek/brushed steel that is semi-plain but still looks nice (idk sorry guys). Prefer smaller size, but no smaller than mid-tower.

I must have an SD reader, so I was thinking a multi-disk/other stuff installment unless the case had one pre-built, or I could go for an external one but that sounds like a bit of a hassle.

I would prefer it to be relatively quiet at intensive moments, but I want it next to silent when idle or light browsing; I don't know what this entails.

I was planning on 8GB of RAM; what do you guys think? Also, I don't know which brands are good and which should be avoided; I heard Kingston was decent, but are brands that different.

I was thinking of going with latest i5 CPU. I don't know much at all about the different lines of CPU, though. I just know Intel as the more "quality" brand. I don't know anything of GPUs. I want it to be able to play all the latest games (obviously excluding some AAA titles like Crysis and BF4) on full-res high settings with absolutely no lag, but--like I said--reliability is priority number one. I don't want this thing overheating to potentially harmful levels.

Also, what the hell is "FireWire"?

I've been trying to set up an account of MS DreamSpark to get a free OS, but even if i do I'm not sure how to put on USB (or disk) and install on blank SSD (also how does one pick where the OS goes if multiple drives present?).

Is EVERYTHING insured??? Super worried about this.

Wasn't going to mess with CrossFire or anything like that.

Thank you guys so much for your help, in advance. If you made it far enough to read this, you already deserve an award. Really appreciate your time to a newbie.
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Re: First-Time Build - $700-900 - 1 mo. Deadline

Postby Karlsweldt » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:42 am

Welcome to
The best satisfaction of a personal computer is building it yourself, and it does what you want without problems.
First to consider is the case. Should be a mid-tower or full-tower type, has the best working space and will take almost any type of motherboard. Lots of bays for added features, has good air flow specs.
Some off-the-shelf systems are high quality, but most are intended for limited use.. with no upgrades.
You might want to check the "kits" available from suppliers, which may be nearly complete except for the OS and a hard drive.. at decent prices. is one great source. And don't overlook those "open box specials" either.
A PSU is critical to any system. It should have greater wattage reserves than needed, for better regulation and life. Go with a quality brand.
The latest versions of the CPU or main processor have up to 8 active cores, some more or less. Sharing the data crunching means overall better performance. As to memory amounts, a 32-bit OS cannot manage much more than 3.5 GB of total memory. A 64-bit OS can manage 32 GB or more. But unless doing video editing or server duty, stay below 8 GB.
"Firewire" is optical glass fiber links instead of metallic wire. A much wider bandwidth, faster speed. Less interference from nearby electrical noise and static sources.
If considering wireless connections, they are best if line-of-sight, and no reflective metallic surfaces within a certain range.
IR or infra-red is common for the keyboard and mouse, but again line-of-sight is preferred.
Any wireless connections or devices need to accept some interference from other devices, which share the same RF frequency.. remote controls, cell phones, security devices. Plan carefully.
For a video system, minimal 512 MB of dedicated memory on the card will produce acceptable results. Going with 1 GB of dedicated memory should provide the "wow" factor.
You definitely will need to consider a new SATA optical drive, DVD R/RW class. They can also burn a CD disk.
Get a list of your planned system together, post it here for others to peruse and suggest ideas on your build.
Good luck with your project!
F@H.. to solve mankind's maladies.. in our lifetimes!
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Re: First-Time Build - $700-900 - 1 mo. Deadline

Postby Toby B. » Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:24 am

My two cents.. Like Karlsweldt mentioned, 32-bit OS'es will not recognize a full 4GB of RAM. My honest opinion, if going with a 64-bit OS get at least 8GB cause multitasking will hog memory.

As far as brands go, there are a lot of name brand brands, BUT just because you choose a name brand like GSkill does not mean it will work with your board.

As far as your old dell for cannibalistic purposes, the monitor and peripherals yes, but most likely the internals will not be compatible with the new build.

As far as the i5 processor choice. It is said AMD is the best choice for one type of task whereas Intel is better for another (cannot recall which is best for which). But the i5 is on the lower end of the mid-range scale so you should get some good life of of the system, but realize with technology changing at it's current pace you might be stuck at a point where you won't be able to find an upgrade later on.

As far as insured/warrantied, the items are usually protected for damage in transit, but once you get the item and open it things change. Most warranties are limited to where you destroy the item from lack of knowledge, etc you will not be able to return it.
Toby B.
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