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RetroGamer87
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10 Sep 2018, 9:10 pm

So I want to get a desktop computer to be used for gaming and non-gaming purposes. I'm looking at a budgjet of between $2,000 and $2,500 AUD.

I feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices available to me. The biggest choice is should I build a computer, get someone else to build a computer for me or just buy a computer? I suppose if I want to look like I'm skilled with computers I should build a computer. I wasn't sure which parts I should use (being out of the loop for a few years) so I looked at the desktops available from MSY and thought I could just build a computer which is a copy of one of their configurations. But why go to all that trouble (and risk of breaking something) just to end up with the same exact thing? The last time I built a computer was in 2010 (to replace my 2008 build that I had somehow shorted) and both of looked like a mess inside. I had trouble putting new compoments in because the spaghetti of cables kept getting in the way. Alternatively, I could just buy the MSY computer rather than attempting to copy it. The way they've arranged the radiators and watercooling tubes looks far more artful than anything I could create. Am I just being suckered in by the way it looks? Or could there be a practical benefit to their more skillful cable management?

Within each of those three choices, there are many other choices. One choice that is giving me grief is whether I should go for an Intel CPU or one from AMD. The AMD ones are a little cheaper and have better multicore performance. They're said to be better for non-gaming tasks. But the Intel has a higher clockspeed and thus higher single core performance. Some tasks may not easily be divided among multiple cores and so the Intel is better for gaming. I plan to use this computer for both gaming and non-gaming tasks so I'm not sure which will be the most important. Unless I'm planning to spend a 4 digit sum on the graphics card it might be that the graphics card is the real bottleneck for gaming (especially since I will run the games at a resolution of 5760*1080 (3 TV sets)). One thing that I'm concerned about is multitasking. When I'm not playing a game I may need to run many different programs at once. Perhaps the AMD Ryzen would be better suited to this. I don't know if the AMD is cheaply made with many cheaply made cores just so they can claim to have a higher core count than Intel or if the Intel is overpriced due to brand recognition (think Nike shoes).

I asked one of my friends to help me build the machine but it would take a while. Perhaps I should just buy a prebuilt machine now. Or maybe I should build the machine entirely by myself. This friend has better knowladge of PCs than I have but he's a raging AMD and Radean fanboy. Whenever someone mentions nVidia he goes on a long shouty rant about how nVidia is the worst thing since unsliced bread. I don't know if he's correct and it's really better to have an AMD CPU and a Radeon graphics card or if he's been biased and blinded by his hatred of nVidia and Intel. My knowladge of computers is too limited to work out wether or not his arguments are correct but my knowladge of human nature tells me people can become biased very easily and then they'll only see the good in one thing and only see the bad in another thing. Still, I'm worried if I build or buy a machine with an Intel CPU and/or a Geforce card it will upset him. I don't want to lose a friend.

One of the reasons I'm reluctant to use a Radeon card is because they don't have support for stereoscopic drivers while the Geforce cards can work with my existing 3D TVs. My friend says I should get a Radeon card because Radeon cards support freesync while Geforce cards only support G-sync, which is a closed standard. I can understand why he finds closed standards distastful but I want to make my choices for practical reasons rather than ideological reasons. He says that future TVs will support freesync but not G-sync. The TVs I own at present support neither. I don't want to replace those TV sets anytime soon since buying 3 large TVs was expensive.

If I buy a machine from MSY there are two machines that I'm considering. This Intel i7 8700 one or This AMD Ryzen 2700 one. To add to the dilemas I expressed above, there's also the problem that the AMD Ryzen is normally considered to be better value because it's cheaper but in this case both machines cost the exact same amount. I feel like I'm not getting the "better value" if I have to pay the same amount. Since both cost the same amount, perhaps I should buy the machine that has a more expensive CPU (and a higher clockspeed). But the AMD one has more cores and better performance for non-gaming tasks. Perhaps it will be better for multitasking. Perhaps the CPU won't be the bottleneck either way. Or maybe I should just be a cheapskate and buy this cheap one. Or build one. Or get the my friend to build one.

If I don’t build one myself I'll feel a little bit ashamed, like I wasn't smart enough. But maybe that kind of thinking is impractical and I should focus solely on the end result.

Trying to choose a computer is doing my head in!

Advice please?


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Mythos
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10 Sep 2018, 9:40 pm

Build. There's no reason to buy one unless you don't have a clue what you're doing, but I have a feeling you probably do.

2,000 AU dollars is an obscene amount to pay, though. I have heard that a lot of things in Australia are more expensive, like games and such, but you're wanting to look at no more than 1,200 in my opinion. Anything more is basically extreme future proofing, which is fine if it's expendable but be wary that it may not be necessary.

As for brands, AMD is the one I almost always settle for but it's not a very good choice if you're in the high end of budget. Intel will be a more reliable choice, with an Nvidia graphics card. AMD is fine but if I remember correctly, OpenGL has gathered what seems to be the software version of rust. For this reason, AMD isn't stable enough for me to recommend it.

Also, if you're gaming, the better choice is Nvidia since most games seem to be developed with them in mind.

My core advice here is that you really should just build one. There's not really much reason to buy one (they're at least several hundred more in price; especially avoid Alienware if you can) but if you have to, check the specifications match with the individual price of its components.

That's all the advice I can give right now.



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10 Sep 2018, 10:45 pm

The most important parts for a high-speed system are as follows:

High-End CPU/Processor (4.0GHz+)
The CPU also needs a good 120mm heat-sink (or at the least 80mm)

RAM (32GB worth of DDR3-SDRAM DIMMs from a company like Kingston; or at the least 8-16GB for lower-budget)

Hard-Drive should be at least 7200RPM unless you're opting for a Solid-State HDD

Decent Graphics-Card (more so for gaming systems; high-end ones often cost more than a whole entire computer)

You should also have the system equipped with a reliable power-supply (not a cheap one that burns out quickly).

Apologies for not using the metric-system (or did I mean imperial-system).
You'll just have to convert the milli-metres if necessary.

This should be sufficient information for what you need depending on your computer-experience.


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11 Sep 2018, 5:23 am

Building a PC to save money is a terrible idea over buying prebuilt, especially if you don't have any specific reasons to build it yourself, such as making some fancy custom cooling solution. That has been the case for most of this year and probably will be for a while, due to highly inflated RAM and GPU prices and the availability of wholesale prices for these by retailers. Anyone telling you to build a PC to save money is giving you outdated, bad advice. That said, if you're keen to build for the experience, go right ahead. Making your own also opens up your hardware choices, because many stores don't offer certain hardware combinations even if they will work together. You also have the option of reusing hardware if you build, cutting down on price. If you have an old system, this might just include the hard drive or power supply, but these alone will still cut down the price significantly.

As for price, pay whatever you want for the hardware you want. If you want something high end, you won't get anything below $AUD2000 unless you're buying second hand or building from parts from gumtree (don't do that). The idea of making a computer for $1200 for your setup is absurd, you can easily pay that amount for components.

I would not recommend buying from MSY though. There are a lot of bad vendors of computer parts in NSW and though MSY isn't the worst of them, they aren't great either. After years of buying computer parts from various vendors across NSW I have stuck now for a long time with PCCaseGear. They have a great reputation, good communication and timely delivery. Their prices are not necessarily the best but I personally prefer to pay a bit more for their good, reliable service.

If you want to find the absolute lowest prices for parts or named prebuilts you can use staticice to find the absolute lowest prices. However, be wary as some of the vendors selling for the lowest prices are awful, several of which I have had to escalate with the ACCC for goods not received, extreme issues with communication, or refusal to honor refunds or returns.

It's pretty hard to offer recommendations on specific parts given what information you've given. Things that would make this easier would be what tasks you intend on doing with it, such as what type of games, at what refresh rate, and what non gaming tasks you intend to do. You've already mentioned you intend to play over three 1080p screens, which means you'll probably be wanting a 1070/Vega 64 or higher.

You might as well burn your money spending money on liquid cooling solutions for anything other than the highest end hardware. You will always get more performance putting money into the next tier of hardware than putting the same amount of money into liquid cooling. A good air cooler like the Noctua NH-D15 or Cryorig R1 will outperform many water cooling solutions and be significantly cheaper, easier to install and less risky.

32Gb of RAM is an enormous waste of money unless you have some very specific use case for it. For the price of 32Gb of RAM you could buy another computer! Without knowing what non gaming tasks you intend on doing it's hard to say that getting that much would be anything other than throwing money into a fire. 16Gb is fine.

Getting a Z chipset for an non-K Intel CPU is also an enormous waste of money. These chipsets are designed for overclocking, priced at a premium, and are completely wasted on Intel's CPUs with locked multipliers.

Based purely on the builds you posted you were thinking of getting, I'd recommend this store with something like this setup. Choice of motherboard will end up being on how many ports you need such as SATA, USB, or aesthetic. The build is more powerful than the builds you linked (1070 Ti has approximately 17% more power over regular 1070) and should be considerably cheaper at $1973. You could even upgrade it to the 1080 which is about 27% more powerful than the 1070, and it'd still be less than the MSY one with its weird and wasted hodgepodge of liquid cooling, non K processor and Z chipset. Consider upgrading the cooler to something like the Dark Rock 4, as Intel's stock cooling solution for the 8700 tends to lead to some thermal throttling. It doesn't include the cost of an operating system, but I'm assuming you'd be wanting to migrate your Windows license to the new machine anyway.



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11 Sep 2018, 2:51 pm

^ Building is just generally cheaper. If you're going to buy a prebuilt, you're losing money simply for the luxury of having someone else build it. This is pointless, and a massive waste of money. Not to mention there will likely be costs associated with the brand (Alienware is stupidly expensive for the specs).

$1,200 is an exorbitant amount of money to spend on a PC. Somebody built a PC for the same price of a PS4, it had more powerful specs than that. So at the time, you were looking at £350 for a gaming system that could keep up with about 2013 standards @ high. It's doubtful that the price has increased since then, and it now being 2018 I can imagine you could build a PC with even higher specs for only £350. So $1,200 is a fairly ridiculous sum for today's standards. Unless you want maybe four or five years of future proofing, you could likely half that and still have a formidable amount of power.



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11 Sep 2018, 4:46 pm

Enigmatic_Oddity wrote:
Anyone telling you to build a PC to save money is giving you outdated, bad advice.

But if you build your own computer, you can do it a few parts at a time, and it's a lot easier to upgrade parts down the road.

A lot of pre-built computers don't offer a lot of slots, cables, or space for expansion.


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RetroGamer87
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11 Sep 2018, 9:34 pm

SabbraCadabra wrote:
Enigmatic_Oddity wrote:
Anyone telling you to build a PC to save money is giving you outdated, bad advice.

But if you build your own computer, you can do it a few parts at a time, and it's a lot easier to upgrade parts down the road.

A lot of pre-built computers don't offer a lot of slots, cables, or space for expansion.


Only if it's one of those miniature ones. A full sized tower should have space for nore components regardless of who made it.


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Enigmatic_Oddity
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11 Sep 2018, 10:19 pm

Mythos wrote:
^ Building is just generally cheaper. If you're going to buy a prebuilt, you're losing money simply for the luxury of having someone else build it. This is pointless, and a massive waste of money. Not to mention there will likely be costs associated with the brand (Alienware is stupidly expensive for the specs).

$1,200 is an exorbitant amount of money to spend on a PC. Somebody built a PC for the same price of a PS4, it had more powerful specs than that. So at the time, you were looking at £350 for a gaming system that could keep up with about 2013 standards @ high. It's doubtful that the price has increased since then, and it now being 2018 I can imagine you could build a PC with even higher specs for only £350. So $1,200 is a fairly ridiculous sum for today's standards. Unless you want maybe four or five years of future proofing, you could likely half that and still have a formidable amount of power.


Comparing a setup equivalent to a PS4 is completely pointless because a PS4 largely runs games at anywhere from a 1600x900 to 1920x1080 resolution at 30 to 60fps. The OP has stated his budget and that he wants to game at a resolution of 5760x1080, which is anywhere from 3 to 8 times more pixels in a given time than what a PS4 produces, depending on the framerate target. Trying to drive those displays with some low end potato is going to be a complete waste of time and money.

Spending $1200 on a PC for this setup is possible, but such a budget would at best get you in range of something like the RX 570 with a Ryzen 5. This will be OK at most for a 30fps target in most new games. However, you would have to turn down settings for most of those newer games to maintain a solid 30fps. For more demanding games like Metro Last Light, you would have to either downsample or turn down settings a lot, otherwise you could expect around 15fps. For me this would be a pretty suboptimal gaming experience.

Increasing the budget to $2000 opens up the setup for a target of 60fps gaming, largely without having to reduce settings.

One thing I didn't mention is the existence of PCPartPicker. Regardless of whether you're building or buying, it's a good tool to determine what's compatible with what and what you can afford in a certain budget. Here is a $1200 build and a $2000 build, minus about $200 in each to allow for storage options, assuming you'd like an SSD for booting/applications and a HDD for other files. You could of course mix and match these options to your content; getting the cheaper Ryzen 5 to get a more expensive GPU wouldn't be a bad idea.



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12 Sep 2018, 5:12 am

RetroGamer87 wrote:
A full sized tower should have space for nore components regardless of who made it.

Not if the motherboard and/or power supply don't support it. I've seen plenty of PSUs that have the bare-minimum of cables, and I have at least two motherboards that just have one PCIe slot and one regular PCI slot, and that's it. One of them doesn't even support IDE, and the SATA controller is starting to fail.

Not to mention, companies like Dell and HP like to try to make their stuff proprietary (do they still make desktops?)...so even if it looks like a full tower, you've got these huge space-wasting bits of plastic for the cooling system, and these weird daughter-board setups for the expansion slots. For a while, they had this tight setup (might not've been a full tower) where all the internal expansion cards were half-height, so you couldn't easily upgrade the video card. Or they just had integrated video and no AGP or PCIe slot at all.


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12 Sep 2018, 5:15 pm

SabbraCadabra wrote:
Not to mention, companies like Dell and HP like to try to make their stuff proprietary (do they still make desktops?)
I don't think HP and Dell still make desktops, except for all-in-one desktops. If I buy a computer I was going to buy it from a computer shop. It would be assessembled by their staff.
SabbraCadabra wrote:
Or they just had integrated video and no AGP or PCIe slot at all.
Considering the computers I was looking at had Geforce 1070s, it's safe to say they already have PCIe slots.

I'll probably build one if the sum of the cost of the parts turns out to be significantly less than the cost of the machine.


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13 Sep 2018, 9:41 am

I have been a participant in both camps as, I have owned 2 prebuilt systems and different points in time as well, built 2 kazanscube assembled systems. So, it comes down to whether your have the time,resources,skills to build your own, as not everyone is a genius at doing including myself as, I've only built 2. Also, some people may not feel comfortable with attempting to assemble their own systems and find it more relaxed to buy a pre-built system. I don't gravitate towards either field, rather it's a choice for the individual(s) to make..

Currently, I shall be attempting to build a 3rd system of my own assembly mind you since with the 2nd custombuilt system had a serious hardware upgrade flaw;therefore, I felt I'd want more control of such things making sure hardware components can easily be replaced/upgraded.


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Mythos
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13 Sep 2018, 3:13 pm

Enigmatic_Oddity wrote:
Mythos wrote:
^ Building is just generally cheaper. If you're going to buy a prebuilt, you're losing money simply for the luxury of having someone else build it. This is pointless, and a massive waste of money. Not to mention there will likely be costs associated with the brand (Alienware is stupidly expensive for the specs).

$1,200 is an exorbitant amount of money to spend on a PC. Somebody built a PC for the same price of a PS4, it had more powerful specs than that. So at the time, you were looking at £350 for a gaming system that could keep up with about 2013 standards @ high. It's doubtful that the price has increased since then, and it now being 2018 I can imagine you could build a PC with even higher specs for only £350. So $1,200 is a fairly ridiculous sum for today's standards. Unless you want maybe four or five years of future proofing, you could likely half that and still have a formidable amount of power.


Comparing a setup equivalent to a PS4 is completely pointless because a PS4 largely runs games at anywhere from a 1600x900 to 1920x1080 resolution at 30 to 60fps. The OP has stated his budget and that he wants to game at a resolution of 5760x1080, which is anywhere from 3 to 8 times more pixels in a given time than what a PS4 produces, depending on the framerate target. Trying to drive those displays with some low end potato is going to be a complete waste of time and money.

Spending $1200 on a PC for this setup is possible, but such a budget would at best get you in range of something like the RX 570 with a Ryzen 5. This will be OK at most for a 30fps target in most new games. However, you would have to turn down settings for most of those newer games to maintain a solid 30fps. For more demanding games like Metro Last Light, you would have to either downsample or turn down settings a lot, otherwise you could expect around 15fps. For me this would be a pretty suboptimal gaming experience.

Increasing the budget to $2000 opens up the setup for a target of 60fps gaming, largely without having to reduce settings.

One thing I didn't mention is the existence of PCPartPicker. Regardless of whether you're building or buying, it's a good tool to determine what's compatible with what and what you can afford in a certain budget. Here is a $1200 build and a $2000 build, minus about $200 in each to allow for storage options, assuming you'd like an SSD for booting/applications and a HDD for other files. You could of course mix and match these options to your content; getting the cheaper Ryzen 5 to get a more expensive GPU wouldn't be a bad idea.
Note this was several years ago now. As technology advances, it's likely a lot more powerful for the same price. I'm standing by the fact that more than a thousand dollars or pounds is mightily excessive, even for 4K / 60fps gaming.



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13 Sep 2018, 5:20 pm

So the friend has designed a fairly good system for me with a Geforce 1080, an AMD 2700X octo-core processor, an X470 motherboard, an M.2 SSD, two 4TB hard drives in a software RAID and 16GB of 3200 Mhz RAM (on a single stick so I still have 3 slots left to add more RAM).

The machine hasn't been built yet, it is still in the conceptual stage.

I've been thinking that it might be a good idea to change the design to a gaming / workstation setup with either an AMD threadripper or dual Xeons. The trouble is a computer with one of those setups would cost $3,200 to $3,600 AUD.

I don't want to pay that much but I hope I don't regret it later when I find out that a consumer class CPU isn't powerful enough.


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13 Sep 2018, 5:45 pm

I've bought a number of used computers over the years that have come off of a corporate lease. Usually they were either 2 or 3 years old, reasonably well taken care of, and at a nice price reduction.



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13 Sep 2018, 5:47 pm

One reason to build is that you will have a more or less standardized cabinet. When it comes time to upgrade, you only have to get new items that you need to upgrade. For example, you will be able to find a new motherboard that will fit the same cabinet. That doesn't work with commercial computers.