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Old 09-19-2011, 08:18 PM   #1
mfenn
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Default Attention Mid-Range System Builders - Updated 10/19/2014

Our very own Sleepingforest has written a nice guide that lays out what these parts do in simple terms.

Some terms for the uninitiated:
AP = After Promo (code)
AR = After (mail-in) Rebate


10/19/2014 update:
i5 4690K + ASRock Z97 Extreme4 combo $280 AR
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $69
XFX R9 290X 4GB $329 AR AP
Crucial MX100 256GB $113
WD Blue 1TB $55
ASUS DVD Burner $15 AP
Seasonic S12II 620W $65
Corsair 200R $40 AR AP
Total: $966 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $130.
- There is an R9 270X 2GB available for $142 AR AP and an R9 280 3GB for $180 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Zalman CNPS10X for $22 AR.

----------------

10/12/2014 update:
i5 4690K + Gigabyte GA-Z97X Gaming 5 combo $360
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $69
HIS R9 290 4GB $270 AR
PNY XLR8 240GB $95 AR
WD Blue 1TB $60
ASUS DVD Burner $15 AP
Antec Neo ECO 620C $40 AR AP
Corsair 200R $60 AR
Total: $969 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $133.
- There is an R7 265 2GB available for $110 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $156 AR AP if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212 EVO for $30 AR.

----------------


10/5/2014 update:
i5 4690K + ASUS Z97 Sabertooth Mark2 $306
Mushkin DDR3 1600 8GB $66
ASUS GTX 780 3GB $306 AR AP
Crucial MX100 256GB $113
WD Blue 1TB $60
LG DVD Burner $14 AP
Antec HCG-650M $65 AR
Corsair 200R $50 AR
Total: $980 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $128.
- There is an R9 270 2GB available for $140 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $180 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

9/28/2014 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97-G55 SLI $349
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $70
ASUS GTX 780 3GB $294 AR AP
Crucial MX100 256GB $112
WD Blue 1TB $60
Lite-ON DVD Burner $13 AP
Rosewill Hive 850W $70 AR AP
Corsair 200R $50 AR
Total: $1018 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $144.
- There is an R9 270 2GB available for $140 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $180 AR AP if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

9/21/2014 update:
i5 4690K + Gigabyte GA-Z97X-SLI $349
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $70
Zotac GTX 970 4GB $330
Crucial MX100 256GB $112
WD Blue 1TB $60
LG DVD Burner $14 AP
Rosewill Hive 650W $50 AR AP
NZXT H230 $50 AR
Total: $1035 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $143.
- There is an R9 270 2GB available for $145 AP and an R9 280 3GB for $181 AR AP if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

9/14/2014 update:
i5 4690K + Gigabyte GA-Z97X-SLI $349
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $70
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $270 AR
Crucial MX100 256GB $112
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
LG DVD Burner $14 AP
Antec Neo ECO 620C $40 AR AP
Cooler Master N300 $50
Total: $960 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $143.
- There is an R9 270 2GB available for $150 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $181 AR AP if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $360 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $30.

----------------

9/7/2014 update:
i5 4690K + Gigabyte GA-Z97X-SLI $334
G.Skill DDR3 1600 8GB $70 AP
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $260 AR
Crucial MX100 256GB $115
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
LG DVD Burner $14 AP
Rosewill Capstone 650W $60 AR
Cooler Master N300 $50
Total: $958 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $150.
- There is an R9 270X 2GB available for $160 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $190 AR AP if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $330 AR AP.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $30 AR.

----------------

8/31/2014 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97-G55 SLI combo $339
G.Skill DDR3 1600 8GB $72 AP
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $260 AR
Crucial MX100 $110
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
LG DVD Burner $14 AP
EVGA SuperNova 650W $50 AR
Cooler Master N300 $50
Total: $950 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $150.
- There is an R9 270X 2GB available for $160 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $190 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $365 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

8/24/2014 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97-G55 SLI combo $334
G.Skill DDR3 1866 8GB $69 AP
XFX R9 280X 3GB $260 AR
Crucial MX100 $122
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
LG DVD Burner $14 AP
Antec NEO Eco 620C $42 AR
Corsair 200R $50 AR
Total: $946 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $150.
- There is an R9 270 2GB available for $150 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $200 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $360 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $30.

----------------

8/17/2014 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97-G55 SLI combo $329
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $73
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $240 AR
PNY XLR8 240GB $100 AR
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $60
LG DVD Burner $14 AP
Antec NEO Eco 620C $40 AR AP
Cooler Master N300 $50
Total: $906 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $143.
- There is a GTX 750 Ti available for $120 AR and an R9 270X 2GB for $160 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $350 AP.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

8/10/2014 update:
i5 4690K $230 AP
ASRock Z97 Pro3 $100
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $72
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $265 AR
Crucial MX100 256GB $112 AP
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $60
LG DVD Burner $13 AP
Rosewill Hive 650W $50 AR AP
Cooler Master N300 $50
Total: $952 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $140.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $145 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $180 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $370.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $30.

----------------

8/3/2014 update:
i5 4690K + ASUS Z97M-Plus combo $300
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $70
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $275 AR
Crucial MX100 256GB $110 AP
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
ASUS DVD Burner $15 AP
Seasonic S12II 620W $65
Corsair 200R $40 AR AP
Total: $930 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $143.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $140 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $200 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $370.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212 EVO for $25 AR.

----------------

7/27/2014 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97-G55 $324 AR
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $75
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $260 AR
Crucial MX100 256GB $110
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
ASUS DVD Burner $15 AP
Seasonic S12II 620W $65
Corsair 200R $50 AR
Total: $954 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $148.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $140 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $200 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $345 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

7/20/2014 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97-G55 $339
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $72
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $280 AR AP
Crucial MX100 256GB $112
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
LG DVD Burner $14 AP
Rosewill Hive 650W $50 AR AP
NZXT H230 $40 AR AP
Total: $962 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $150.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $145 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $217 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $340 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $30.

----------------

7/13/2014 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97 Gaming 5 combo $360
ADATA DDR3 1600 8GB $73
HIS R9 280X 3GB $280 AR AP
Mushkin Chronos 240GB $100
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $60
ASUS DVD Burner $15 AP
Seasonic S12G-650 $62 AR
Corsair 200R $40 AR AP
Total: $990 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $135.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $140 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $190 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $350 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212 EVO for $25 AR.

Last edited by mfenn; Yesterday at 05:59 PM.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:26 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfenn View Post
i5 2500K $220
ASRock Z68 Pro3 $105
G.Skill DDR3 1333 8GB $41
6950 2GB $240 AR
Crucial M4 128GB $200
Samsung F3 1TB $60
Samsung DVD Burner $18
Antec HCG-520 $58 AP
Corsair 400R $80 AR
Total: $1022 AR AP

$1000 for the second best Intel CPU, the second best AMD GPU, and a damn good SSD.

That is all.
Oops, lol I did it too.
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:48 PM   #3
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That sums up my feelings.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:26 AM   #4
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ah, i remember when the reviewers put up buyer's guides every month

sticky this
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:27 PM   #5
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Stickystickysticky!
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spikesoldier View Post
ah, i remember when the reviewers put up buyer's guides every month

sticky this
Quote:
Originally Posted by T_Yamamoto View Post
Stickystickysticky!
/me takes a bow
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:24 AM   #7
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The build looks great. My only suggestion would be to get the GTX 570 instead of the 6950 2GB, since currently it is only $40 more.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerin7 View Post
The build looks great. My only suggestion would be to get the GTX 570 instead of the 6950 2GB, since currently it is only $40 more.
so like 15% more money for about 5% difference in performance? Why?
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:02 PM   #9
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Also worth a look if you want a future-proof system:

Core i5-2500K: $220
AsRock P67 Extreme4 Gen3: $155
G.Skill 8GB DDR3 1333: $41
Sapphire Radeon HD 6870: $170; $150AR
Crucial M4 128GB: $200
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB: $60
LG DVD Burner: $17
XFX Core Edition Pro 650W: $90; $60AR
Antec Three Hundred Illusion: $70 or Corsair Carbide 400R: $100; $80AR
Total: $1023; $983 AR

If you don't need an extremely fast SSD but would still like to get decent capacity for a much lower price, you can take a look at the Kingston SSDNow V+100 96GB for $130. Going that route will still let you put important programs and some games on it and you can keep the $70.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:04 PM   #10
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so like 15% more money for about 5% difference in performance? Why?
And that performance increase comes at the cost of 40% less VRAM. If they cost the same, I'd consider them equals.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:07 PM   #11
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so like 15% more money for about 5% difference in performance? Why?
Future proofing. In some of those benchmarks, the GTX570 is 40% faster, and games are only going to become more demanding with time. Well worth the extra $40 in my opinion, but YMMV.
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Last edited by Xerin7; 09-21-2011 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:07 PM   #12
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And that performance increase comes at the cost of 40% less VRAM. If they cost the same, I'd consider them equals.
With a 30% increase in power consumption
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:09 PM   #13
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Future proofing. In many of those benchmarks, the GTX570 is 40% faster, and games are only going to become more demanding with time. Well worth the extra $40 in my opinion, but YMMV.
most of those evened out with driver changes, and there are plenty of games that favour ATI GPU's as well that's why you dont include outliars.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerin7 View Post
Future proofing. In many of those benchmarks, the GTX570 is 40% faster, and games are only going to become more demanding with time. Well worth the extra $40 in my opinion, but YMMV.
The GTX 570 IS NOT 40% faster than a 6950 2GB. If you think it is, I have a tropical paradise I can sell you in Alaska.

It's 10% faster in most games, but looking at very recent ones it's around 15% faster.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:15 PM   #15
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to be honest 570 or 6950 it matters little, pick whichever performs best for the games you prefer.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:17 PM   #16
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The GTX 570 IS NOT 40% faster than a 6950 2GB. If you think it is, I have a tropical paradise I can sell you in Alaska.

It's 10% faster in most games, but looking at very recent ones it's around 15% faster.
15% faster for 15% higher cost, and potentially an even bigger difference depending on which games you play.

You do start to lose price/performance when you move to the GTX 580.

I'm not an Nvidia fanboi. I was seriously considering the 6950 2GB, but ultimately pulled the trigger on the GTX 570 yesterday for those reasons.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:22 PM   #17
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to be honest 570 or 6950 it matters little, pick whichever performs best for the games you prefer.
This
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:25 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerin7 View Post
15% faster for 15% higher cost, and potentially an even bigger difference depending on which games you play.

You do start to lose price/performance when you move to the GTX 580.

I'm not an Nvidia fanboi. I was seriously considering the 6950 2GB, but ultimately pulled the trigger on the GTX 570 yesterday for those reasons.
Or even smaller. We can all cherry pick NVIDIA or AMD biased benchmarks, but what it comes down to is 10-15% faster on average.

And then what about 2560x1440/3840x1080 or higher? The difference between them both pretty much vanishes at very high resolutions and a 6950 2GB CF is a more viable route because of it, making the 6950 the better bang-for-buck. The 6950 1GB performs the same as the 2GB at 1920x1080 and can be had for less, making it a better value proposition given the 10-15% difference in performance and 30% difference in cost.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:35 PM   #19
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Thumbs up Mid-Range revisions for photographers?

This configuration fits into my budget (up to $1200 or so), but I won't be gaming at all, but will be a heavy user of Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom. All of my other computing will be done with an existing laptop.

I would double RAM to 16GB and probably double-up on the Samsung HD, with one HD as my scratch drive.

I won't be editing video, so do I really need a $240 graphics card for still image editing? If not, what would you recommend?

Is that case appropriate for this kind of use or would a lower-cost case work just as well? Which?

Is the power supply adequate for the additional RAM and HD, especially if a less expensive graphics card is more appropriate/adequate?

Thanks in advance for your wisdom/advice.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:46 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Photomoe61 View Post
This configuration fits into my budget (up to $1200 or so), but I won't be gaming at all, but will be a heavy user of Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom. All of my other computing will be done with an existing laptop.

I would double RAM to 16GB and probably double-up on the Samsung HD, with one HD as my scratch drive.

I won't be editing video, so do I really need a $240 graphics card for still image editing? If not, what would you recommend?

Is that case appropriate for this kind of use or would a lower-cost case work just as well? Which?

Is the power supply adequate for the additional RAM and HD, especially if a less expensive graphics card is more appropriate/adequate?

Thanks in advance for your wisdom/advice.
If you aren't doing 3D work or anything like that then you could probably get away with integrated graphics as with photo work RAM and maybe some CPU power will be your biggest influence. And the PSU if going with integrated graphics is over kill by a LOT, you would only use maybe 200w if you really aren't going with a GPU then this would work fine.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:50 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by titan131 View Post
This
At least someone gets it.
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:01 PM   #22
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This configuration fits into my budget (up to $1200 or so), but I won't be gaming at all, but will be a heavy user of Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom. All of my other computing will be done with an existing laptop.

I would double RAM to 16GB and probably double-up on the Samsung HD, with one HD as my scratch drive.

I won't be editing video, so do I really need a $240 graphics card for still image editing? If not, what would you recommend?

Is that case appropriate for this kind of use or would a lower-cost case work just as well? Which?

Is the power supply adequate for the additional RAM and HD, especially if a less expensive graphics card is more appropriate/adequate?

Thanks in advance for your wisdom/advice.
I would recommend getting a 30-60GB SSD for cache drive use with the Z68 mainboard.

The second hard disk and 16GB RAM sounds good too.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:01 PM   #23
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OP, thanks for the list ! Looks good for anyone that is looking for a Z68/2500k build.

I only have a part or two to go to finish off my build, but blew my budget in a hurry with a $285 case. I could have bought a second 6950 Toxic for that same price, but my Antec P180b was just not getting the cooling job done any more.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:51 PM   #24
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So Mfenn, on a scale of 1-10 how hard do you think it is for a 1st time builder to assemble the PC from parts using online guides.
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:19 PM   #25
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Can I answer? 4. Or, relatively easy. It's not something you can do with your left hand while watching a movie. But anyone who has at least a mild capacity for learning will comprehend the guides, and anyone who can concentrate for a few hours to work in a careful, organized, step-by-step manner on a task will not find the assembly process difficult.

As always when doing some task for the first time, you don't need to expect yourself to be perfect when performing the task in order to arrive successfully at the desired end result. I assembled a computer when I was 15 and I didn't know crap about PC components. I just tried to do what the guides told me and it was fine.

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