Hello everyone! Recently (like always apparently) there's been a lot of build guides showing how to NOT build a PC. While these are informative, they are always lacking something, or even having misinformation straight up. So I've decided to put together a partlist that pretty much explains about anything, or everything that I personally know that can be done wrong while putting together a partlist. While maybe not the most useful of things to the PC veterans, hopefully this will shine light, or even teach you something you never knew! With that out of the way, let's get onto some clarification bits
Clarification & Other Fine Print
This still isn't a pure guide, however pretty much everything you can do wrong in a build, and what you should (usually) end up doing for most cases. The current partlist I'll be using is a pretty bad example, and I'll be using to show what you can do wrong in a build. Again, not the WORST PC possible, but partlist limitations restrict me from doing so, and for good reason. This guide is pretty much as comprehensive as it gets, so it's going to be quite long.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-6700K 4.0GHz Quad-Core Processor||$348.98 @ NCIX US|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler||$24.44 @ OutletPC|
|Motherboard||Asus MAXIMUS VIII IMPACT Mini ITX LGA1151 Motherboard||$238.99 @ B&H|
|Memory||Team Xtreem 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3466 Memory||$369.99 @ Newegg|
|Memory||G.Skill TridentZ Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4-4266 Memory||$289.99 @ Newegg|
|Storage||Intel X25-E 32GB 2.5" Solid State Drive||$503.35 @ Amazon|
|Storage||Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive||$48.77 @ OutletPC|
|Video Card||PNY Quadro M6000 12GB Video Card||$4999.00 @ B&H|
|Case||Antec Nineteen Hundred Red ATX Full Tower Case||$189.99 @ NCIX US|
|Power Supply||Logisys 480W ATX Power Supply||$18.98 @ Newegg|
|Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts|
|Total (before mail-in rebates)||$7042.48|
|Generated by PCPartPicker 2016-04-19 22:20 EDT-0400|
Parts & Pro's / Con's
CPU: Intel i7 6700k
There are a few reasons for the 6700k being a bad value.
But then why is it used so often in builds / build guides?
Good question actually. The 6700k is used for being the "best of the best" that Intel sells for their Skylake chips currently. Being an i7, this has the advantage of...
- Hyperthreading (explaination of which here)
- 4 cores usually
- Being generally the best
Cons of which being
- Paying for the "premium" or best of the best
- Cores can vary depending on what CPU you use, adding confusion
Generally, i7's aren't the best way to go in a gaming rig. There is usually a i5 equivalent that is usually $100 cheaper in Intel's lineup that perform about the same in games and also use a little less wattage. They are usually based off of the same plans of the i7, just features that would be on the i7 cut off in order to sell it cheaper, in this case, hyperthreading. This doesn't mean that i5's are bad because there are some features removed, they just didn't pass the same standards that the i7 brothers did. And if you buy a K series chip (which means overclocking) can remove even more of the gap between an i7 & i5.
Well what about using a Xeon or other chip?
Xeons, simply, are workstation / server class chips that are used for EXTREMELY high demand situations, where a single shutdown can lead to millions, or even billions lost as the server goes down. They have "creature comfort" features removed (such as overclocking) to reduce prices, and are similarly priced to similarly cored i7 K skew chips. And while they may be a little more reliable, you pay for the reliability, which means you loose on overclocking & other similarly desktop features.
What about AMD?
Currently, the red team is somewhat lacking on the CPU front, only having CPU's that were made years ago avalible. This will be fixed when the new Zen architecture is released, however. For now, AMD CPU's are only really put in budget $300-$800 PC's. This doesn't mean that they are bad, it's just that Intel has better current offerings. Zen may fix this issue again, but we can only wait currently.
CPU Cooler: CoolerMaster Hyper212 EVO
You may be surprised to see this CPU cooler on this list. It's a great, common cooler, right?
Well you'd be right. Somewhat. The Hyper212 is a air styled cooler that does a pretty well job at ridding heat from a CPU, especially under load with an overclock, which in turn puts out more heat. This would be a great cooler if it wasn't for other, better options out there. The Cryorig H7 is a great CPU cooler, and has a few benefits.
- It's shorter, which means more compatibility with worse designed cases
- It (IMO) looks MUCH nicer
- It performs better than the Hyper212 at a CHEAPER price (if not mentioning rebates)
And pretty much everyone hates Mail-In-Rebates, so I'd say that the H7 wins over the Hyper212.
A better CPU cooler will ALWAYS result in a better overclock
To a point, yes. Usually if you are getting 90-100 C on your CPU stock, or a light overclock, you will experience a higher overclock because you have more temperature headroom. Really it's quite complicated and all depends on what your setup is.
Watercooling is MUCH better than air cooling
Again, kinda. Usually air cooling is the more economical, however some Noctua coolers or CoolerMaster coolers can cool better than water coolers. The most important thing about cooling is surface area, and how you can dissipate it. Water is much more efficient way to travel heat, but there is still much more surface area on the air coolers, which outweighs the performance of water.
Watercooling is EXTREMELY loud
Depends, again. If you let the included fans of CPU coolers ramp all the way up, it will be extremely loud because of the high performance standard of the fans. If you let the fans spin much slower, then air coolers can be near silent.
Motherboard: Asus MAXIMUS VIII Impact Mini ITX
A few things to quickly note, as motherboards tend to have similar features & performance to other similarly priced. In this case, there are three errors.
- Uneeded features (goes with overspending)
- Too small (ITX in a ATX case)
You do not need to overspend on a motherboard
Getting a super expensive motherboard will not offer you that much difference between a good, budget motherboard. Do your research, and you'll find something you NEED.
Consider the features
Some like USB hubs, others like WS-like stability. Others want overclocking, etc. etc. You can cheap out on your motherboard as long as there is good stability and the features you like.
Get the largest size motherboard you can get (up to ATX usually)
While not needed, and getting a smaller motherboard can remove some of the price from a motherboard, it is much tougher to work with a smaller motherboard. The placement of certain inputs (24 Pin, 8 Pin EPS, etc.) aren't really standard on a ITX board, and the build experience can be degraded as you may run into small, annoying issues. A larger motherboard also means more expansion in the future, such as more RAM or another GPU, etc. etc. Plus, it looks very weird in a large case.
RAM: Team Xtreem 16GB (2x8 DDR4 3466) & G.Skill TridentZ 8GB (2x4 DDR4 4266)
The most important thing to look for in RAM is reliability, price, and arguably looks. The specifications & numbers do matter, but not as much as you'd think. The issue with this RAM is that
- They are very different speeds, which can result in instability
- Different brands, which can result in instability
- Not enough slots from the motherboard, they need 4 currently, the motherboard supports 2
While higher clocked RAM may look better on paper, in games overpaying for high speed RAM is usually regarded as a bad choice. Games don't tend to leverage higher speed RAM, and the only difference you may see is RAM benchmarks. You're pretty much paying more for paying more
2. RAM GB Amount
While more "Dedodated Wam" may seem like a better idea to most, having more RAM will only increase performance if you are maxed out on RAM. You can check your RAM usage using the Task Manager, and switching to performance over to memory. The regarded minimum for gaming is 8GB, while 16GB is ideal.
3. RAM Latency (or CAS)
Inherently, lower latency is better. However, the difference is quite minimal, and you will only see differences between high differences of CAS (say 6 to 20). It may be only a few more FPS, or 10 or 20. Usually most RAM has good CAS, so don't worry too much about the latency. Worry about the amount more.
Storage: Intel X25-E 32GB & Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB
Storage is quite a flexible, and is usually the most customizable out of PC parts. The issues here are as listed
- SSD is MUCH too expensive for the price
- HDD is not good for the money
- Very limited storage for a average gamer
- Overspending in general
Price Per GB
Personally, price per GB is more important than pure price. The Price Per GB can be looked at somewhat like MPG. The higher the MPG, the more money you will be saving per gallon. Except the opposite. You want to strike a balance between storage capacity & Price Per GB. These both plague the ever-popular WD Blue Caviar, and especially the Intel SSD.
SSD vs. HDD Debate
In simple terms, you can ask yourself this. What's better. A motorcycle, or a 18 wheeler? The same thing can be said about SSD's vs HDD's. HDD's can store quite a lot for pretty cheap, but are relatively slow. SSD's are much faster, but cannot store as much as their HDD counterparts unless you want to be shelling out quite a lot of money.
Flexibility & Options
As the builder, you, you are in charge of what you put inside. Storage is usually the most flexible in a build, and can be set to what you need it. One of the best combinations is a SSD & HDD combo. SSD for important files & your OS, HDD for games and larger files.
Buying the Consumer vs. "Prosumer"
A highly controversial debate within the storage community. The pros of buying consumer storage is that it is cheaper, and tends to perform extremely well. While maybe not as reliable, is still pretty reliable (depending on brand & model). The cons are the warranty length. Say on a Samsung 850 EVO or a Samsung 850 PRO. Both are very similarly performing. Both look relatively the same. The only difference (other than the slight speed & reliability increase) is the warranty length. The EVO has a 5 year warranty under normal conditions, while the PRO has a 10 year warranty. The extra $100 is for the warranty. It is up to the consumer, however if they want to pay the premium for the longer warranty. Remember, it's your data.
Video Card: PNY Quadro M6000 12GB
Pretty much the extension of "paying for premium". There are many issues with this graphics card.
- Overpaying for a card that no one really needs
- Lots of VRAM, overpaying
- Availability of these cards are hard to come buy
Overpaying, Overpaying, Overpaying
This GPU is based off of the same GM200 core, which you can find the Titan X, and also the 980 Ti which perform the same (if not better in some cases). You can even get aftermarket cards that have much better coolers than the reference cards. Your GPU also should be around 1/3 of the whole budget of a PC in order to keep things in line with little to no bottlenecking.
Aftermarket coolers, in short, are better systems to cool the GPU core (similar to a CPU). They can have the stock PCB (or original manufacturers) or an aftermarket one built with the same core. This can lead to better power management & delivery, but better overclocks (again, similar to CPU's) and in general performance.
Bottlenecking This always occurs when one part of a computer is slowing down other parts. It's something that we can't avoid, and something we can pretty much not fix. Don't be worried however, as long as your CPU & GPU are within parameters of each other (so no low end CPU's with a high end GPU) then most of your performance should be fine. This also happens with RAM, storage, or about anything that performs any task.
Case: Antec Nineteen Hundred (Red) Ultra Tower
This case is riddled with design issues, and some other issues you may come across.
- Overpriced for a Ultra Tower ($350 at launch!)
- Bad build quality & bad design
- Little to no cooling potential
- Overall bad functionality
- Doesn't fit a real "aesthetic" (IMO)
Debate of Case Sizes
First and foremost. There is NO REAL BEST CASE SIZE! It is all dependent on the builder, and the hardware going inside. There is misinformation about Ultra / Full Towers being useless, but that is wrong. While they are larger, there are some reasons to buy a Ultra / Full tower. More room to put in other hardware usually, better general cooling, easier to work in, etc. It's like a Cadillac Escalade. You don't need one, but if you own one they are very comfortable.
One of the most arguably important specs of a case is general build quality. Not something you will find on a spec sheet, per say. But more of a test of the case itself. How strong is the base frame? Are the panels nice and don't flex? If it has a side panel, does it not scratch? Is the finish durable? Etc. etc. A better build quality means, in general, less worry about building in the chassis.
Functionality & Usability
Another important feature of a case is how easy it is to build in. A case with little to no cable management, cable management tie-down points, or anywhere to put the cables behind the motherboard tray is signs of bad case design. Luckily, case design is usually very good these days. Just do your research and you'll find good cases that are very easy to work in.
Power Supply: Logisys 480W ATX
Arguably, the most reliable part on a PC is the power supply. And this PSU is the exact opposite of "reliable"
- Questionable internals
- No 80+ rating to be spoken of (possibly no safety regulations either?)
- Questionable company w/ questionable reliability
- Prone to catch on fire
One of the most common mistakes (luckily not so much on the PCPP forums) is a stellar PC build with a questionable PSU. And as the PSU is essentially the heart for pumping all of the electricity to the needed parts, any under or over voltage can result to unstable, or even broken parts. If you are building ANY PC, please make sure the PSU is reliable, has a long warranty (5 years is pretty standard). I cannot stress this enough, you NEED a reliable PSU in order to have a good PC continue to run well.
Let me get this out of the way. THE 80+ RATING DOES NOT ENTAIL BETTER RELIABILITY OR PERFORMANCE. It only entails better efficiency. The more efficient a PSU, the more heat is exhausted, and the more wall wattage is used on the PC instead. 80+ ratings start at, well 80 (which is White) then goes up the ranks of purity. Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium, all with varying degrees of efficiency. The most common percentages tested at 20%, 50%, & 100%, with Platinum & Titanium having more percentages to be tested as well. Still, the most important thing about PSU's is reliability, not efficiency. However, most reliable PSU's will have a high 80+ rating.
"Continuous" vs. "Max"
Whenever you are reading reviews of a PSU, making sure that the wattage rating is in "Continuous" rather than "Max". If you also have both, that's great. But if the wattage is ONLY rated in "Max" then stay away with it. You have no idea if it's for 10 minutes, hours, years, or seconds before just dying, or even catching on fire, especially higher wattage.
Overpaying for a PSU
While most good PSU's on the market are great, and perform great, you can still overpay for a PSU. People tend to use much higher wattages than people need, or also efficiency ratings that won't make too much of a saving over the years. Most people will only need to use 550 W MAX, especially if only running a single GPU (core) and CPU. Even under unreasonable conditions (stress testing per se) a Titan X overclocked and a 5960X overclocked will be fine.
General Conclusion & Final Words
Wow... This took quite a long time. I started this all the way in 2 PM, and now it's almost 10:30 PM. This is pretty much most of the general information that any newbie will need to know when putting together a PC. I really hope whoever gets to the end of this guide has learned at least something, and that this information will be useful in some way. While I didn't cover more niche questions, you can feel free to ask those in the comments, or PM as well!
And please.. Don't follow the partlist as a real guide. It's a example of pretty much EVERYTHING you can do wrong. Please, don't
Please leave any suggestions or critique below! I've probably missed a few things, or some of the information opposes some ideas, but there is simply so much information that you CAN learn, that putting it down all in one guide, or even forum post is nearly impossible. Thanks for reading!