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Old 11-03-2012, 10:33 PM   #1
dhpeel
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Smile Not sure if I should build or buy a pre-built

Hey everyone. I'm just little for a little advice as to what I should do based on my needs. I was initially thinking about buying a new laptop but seeing as how it is difficult to find a decent gaming laptop for my budget, I figured I may just keep using my old laptop and have a better desktop for my gaming/entertainment/photoshop needs. But I don't know if I should just build one or buy a prebulit one.

As you will see, I'm not looking for a top of the line PC by any means. However, I would like it to run decently fast and capable of running games like Skyrim even if not on the highest settings.

If I do go the build a pc route, another issue is my father may be purchasing some of the items for Christmas gifts so they may be bought much sooner than I may buy the parts that i'll buy on my own. I do understand prices of items fluctuate.

1. What YOUR PC will be used for. That means what types of tasks you'll be performing.
For the most part I will be using it for gaming, entertainment, and perhaps even a little work in software like photoshop (I'm in school right now so it has been difficult for me to work much on this hobby of mine).

2. What YOUR budget is. A price range is acceptable as long as it's not more than a 20% spread
$500-600

3. What country YOU will be buying YOUR parts from.
United States

4. IF YOU have a brand preference. That means, are you an Intel-Fanboy, AMD-Fanboy, ATI-Fanboy, nVidia-Fanboy, Seagate-Fanboy, WD-Fanboy, etc.
Not really

5. If YOU intend on using any of YOUR current parts, and if so, what those parts are.

*Monitor, keyboard, etc

7. IF YOU plan on overclocking or run the system at default speeds.
Most likely default

8. What resolution will you be using?
Not sure if this is an issue for me...

9. WHEN do you plan to build it?
Note that it is usually not cost or time effective to choose your build more than a month before you actually plan to be using it.

*Decemberish

X. Do you need to purchase any software to go with the system, such as Windows or Blu Ray playback software?
I will need an OS which will likely be Windows
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Old 11-04-2012, 03:22 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhpeel View Post
*Monitor, keyboard, etc

7. IF YOU plan on overclocking or run the system at default speeds.
Most likely default

8. What resolution will you be using?
Not sure if this is an issue for me...
Of course it is, because that information will influence the direction for a video card.
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Old 11-04-2012, 05:20 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forums!

Thanks for filling out the sticky, but there are more questions we need answered before we can give you good advice.

1) You already have a monitor, which is great. So the question is what resolution is that monitor? 1680x1050? 1920x1080? Something less?

2) Also, you list the build time as December, but you say the parts your father buys may be bought significantly before the parts you buy. I'm not sure what you mean by that. Are you planning to buy your parts well after Christmas? If so, I wouldn't call it a December build.

3) Are the parts your dad is buying included in the $500-600, or separate? If they're separate, do you have a reasonable idea how much money you'll be getting from your father? $500-600 is a little bit slim for a gaming build that needs all the parts. It can be done, but you'll have to make some sacrifices. If we know that your dad is getting you parts worth roughly $X, it will help with the planning.
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Old 11-04-2012, 11:23 AM   #4
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$600 with OS is about the range where it starts to make sense to look at refurbs, at least for part of the build. In general, I'd suggest:

1. Find a nice, refurbished pre-built. Look for a $400-or-less pre-built with an Intel i3 2100 or higher processor, at least a 500GB 7200 RPM HDD, a normal mid-tower sized case, and preferably 4GB RAM or higher though that's easy to replace. In general you'll want it not to have a discrete graphics card. Here's a decent Dell i3. Occasionally you might find an i5 in this range, but that one's out of stock.
2. Get a decent PSU. This Corsair CX430 v2 is $35AR.
3. Get a 2GB Radeon 7850. $175AR.
4. Put them all together, replacing the old PSU with your new one.

What I've listed there adds up to $580, or $602 if you throw in the $22 shipping for the refurb.
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Old 11-04-2012, 11:42 AM   #5
dhpeel
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Maybe I should have given a bit more background info. I have been debating on getting a new laptop or desktop for a little while now but I do not want to spend much more than $600 on it. Therefore I decided against a new laptop because

1. It costs much more than $650 to get a decent laptop for what I want. and

2. I am trying to get into vet school and if I do, I am required to buy a new laptop for $2000 (I have no choice in the matter and its basically built into the tuition).

Now perhaps that is irrelevant background info but leads to why I am only going to spend roughly $600 on a computer (Since I'll be shelling out $2000 for a laptop soon whether I like it or not) which is why I settled with a desktop because I feel as though I can get more bang for my buck. I know I won't be able to build a top end gaming computer, but I can always upgrade in the future.

So basically I looked around and figured that a lower end gaming desktop seems to be around $650-700. So I thought that maybe building one would be cheaper.

So why shouldn't I just buy a computer like this versus building one if it really will be hard to build one for this price range?

As for screen resolution, that's a tricky question too. I currently have an older HP w2007 with a max res of 1680 x 1050. But I also have a cheap Emerson 40in tv I picked up that I may end up using instead which has a max res of 1920 x 1080.

I'm sorry If I'm being difficult. There are just so many choices out there its almost overwhelming as I do my research.

I guess I should say that the more costly items will most likely be paid for by my dad. I'll basically put together a list of what all I'll need and give it to him and see what all he picks up. Whatever he doesn't, I would get. I may even buy some parts during blackfriday sales. But I wouldn't know what he got me until Christmas.

Oh, and I will say that I don't care if I have a large Hdd or anything. Quite honestly I would be fine with even just 80-120gb as I have tons of externals and plan on getting a ssd eventually.

So I guess I'm looking mostly for a nice CPU, GPU, and power system? And go from there? I think...
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Old 11-04-2012, 11:58 AM   #6
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Do you have any info on the laptop you'll be "forced" to buy? $2000 buys a lot of laptop, and you could get a competent gaming laptop with that much money.

Maybe it makes sense to see what happens on the vet school front before you shell out money for a desktop that might end up being inferior to the laptop?
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Old 11-04-2012, 12:09 PM   #7
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It will most likely be a lenovo thinkpad tablet pc of some sort. I think they change from year to year so next fall would likely be something different. Here is a link to what the students this year had to buy:

http://www.vetmed.auburn.edu/tablet-program

They had to purchase a lenovo x220 tablet pc this year

As you can see, a lot of the software increases the cost. Plus, it appears I have to purchase it through them as it is sent to the school.

Its definitely not something I'm thrilled about putting money into as I would be just as happy buying a cheaper tablet pc (or not even having one at all) and putting the money into something with better specs. I don't know all that much about computers, but I would say those specs do not make it gaming quality...
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhpeel View Post
So why shouldn't I just buy a computer like this versus building one if it really will be hard to build one for this price range?
Because, like most pre-built gaming systems, that has too much CPU and too little GPU.

The best pre-built with the 7850 GPU I can find anywhere near your price range is this AMD-based system. At $700 it's not the worst deal I've seen, but it's Bulldozer and not Piledriver, so an i3 would clearly be superior.
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Old 11-04-2012, 05:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhpeel View Post
So why shouldn't I just buy a computer like this versus building one if it really will be hard to build one for this price range?
That configuration is something that only a marketing department could call a gaming PC. A GT 620 is so slow that Anandtech doesn't even bother to benchmark it. Here's a comparison between the GT 440 and the 7850 that Ken recommended. Keep in mind that a GT 440 is roughly twice as fast as a GT 620.

Since you need an OS license, I would very seriously consider the refurb + add a GPU route.
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:49 PM   #10
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http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16883229362

$200 cheaper than that Intel rig. Both rigs need a GPU upgrade for gaming, so that doesn't matter so much. Comes with Windows 8 - whether that is pro or con depends on you.
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Old 11-04-2012, 10:25 PM   #11
dhpeel
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Thank you all for your responses.

I think I may just build the computer and up the money that I spend. After doing some research, I feel this is probably the better direction to go as even buying a refurbished computer (while it would do the basics of what I said I needed) would in the long run mean I would replace many of the parts anyways...

So I'm going to talk with my dad and likely ask him for the CPU and graphics card.

What would be a good CPU? I was thinking something along the lines of a Intel i5?

What is a good graphics card? Assuming I do not want to go above $400 for these two components?

The other components I will buy at whatever cost necessary. So with these two basics, what would be a good build at something around 700 (maybe even 800)?

Oh and a random question. I think i'll end up having the desktop in the common living space and have it hooked to the main tv. Is it possible in any way to hook the desktop to my laptop to play a game really only using the laptop's screen and keyboard? This would only be in the rare case that I wanted to play a game and the other people in the room may want to watch tv... Then again, the more I think about it, the more I believe it'll be either really difficult or cause too much lag.
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Old 11-06-2012, 02:58 AM   #12
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check the build im putting togeather up in my thread......looking to build gaming pc 700.00 help......it small and 785 bucks...
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhpeel View Post
Thank you all for your responses.

I think I may just build the computer and up the money that I spend. After doing some research, I feel this is probably the better direction to go as even buying a refurbished computer (while it would do the basics of what I said I needed) would in the long run mean I would replace many of the parts anyways...
I don't really think that two parts (PSU, GPU) really counts as many, but its your call. Building will definitely get you a better overall value, but I don't want to you think that buying a refurb and upgrading would cause a lot of waste.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhpeel View Post
The other components I will buy at whatever cost necessary. So with these two basics, what would be a good build at something around 700 (maybe even 800)?
$800 total or $800 after those two parts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhpeel View Post
Oh and a random question. I think i'll end up having the desktop in the common living space and have it hooked to the main tv. Is it possible in any way to hook the desktop to my laptop to play a game really only using the laptop's screen and keyboard? This would only be in the rare case that I wanted to play a game and the other people in the room may want to watch tv... Then again, the more I think about it, the more I believe it'll be either really difficult or cause too much lag.
Most remote display technologies don't cope too well with 3D graphics, so I'd say that this is pretty much a pipe dream right now.
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