A Mac User's First PC Build - Looking for feedback

Been using Macs for 18+ years, but have been inspired by the PC builds here to stop drinking the Apple Kool-Aid. I've poured over the videos here and elsewhere trying to come up with a solid gaming/workstation of my own. Initially, this won't be my main machine, but I plan on migrating to it as I become more comfortable using it on a daily basis. I've never built a PC, but am comfortable getting my hands dirty inside of cases and basic electronics. My biggest concern is that I'm not familiar with all the terminology and some of the technology in how all these pieces work together.

Here are some specifics of what I'm trying to achieve:

  1. Run most modern games at 1920x1080 on high settings
  2. Solid web development and design machine, including Adobe Creative Cloud (mainly Photoshop, but would like to get into video editing)
  3. Dual-boot Ubuntu and Windows (at some point, would be Windows-only to start)
  4. Lots of upgrade potential; I'd like to eventually start upgrading components in this system, and use the 'old' parts to build a home server; Too me, it seems like each of these pieces and be upgraded individually.
  5. Lots of learning potential; I want to easily be able to move things around, upgrade components, etc. to learn more about how to build my own PCs (this is what lead me to the Fractal Design R5)

The Proposed Build:

Mobo: MSI ATX DDR3 2133 Motherboard 970 GAMING
CPU: AMD FD8320FRHKBOX FX-8320 FX-Series 8-Core Black Edition
GPU: Sapphire Radeon VAPOR-X R9 280X 3GB GDDR5 DVI-I/DVI-D/HDMI/DP TRI-X with Boost (UEFI) PCI-Express Graphics Card 11221-20-20G
RAM: Kingston HyperX FURY 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 CL10 DIMM - Black
HD: WD Blue 1TB SATA 6Gb/s 7200rpm Internal Hard Drive
PSU: EVGA SuperNOVA 750 80PLUS B2 Bronze Certified 750W ATX12V/EPS12V Power Supply 110-B2-0750-VR
Case: Fractal Mid Tower Case FD-CA-DEF-R5-BK Black

*not sure if the graphics card at pcpartpicker is the same as mine above

Lastly, here are a few questions for you guys from a complete beginner:

  1. Will these components even work together? Pretty sure everything will work with the motherboard and case, but not sure about power or any other compatibility issues.
  2. Are there any other parts I'll need? Things like cabling, thermal paste, etc. Stuff experienced builders may take for granted and have lying around.
  3. I don't plan on overclocking anything initially, so do I need to worry about additional cooling?
  4. Are there any components that seem out of place? Either something that's way overkill or something that could be a bottleneck?. Basically, is this combination of parts a good balance of price and performance?

Thanks for any advice or feedback. Really appreciate it.

Get more ram 16 GB at least. Use the video editing to justify it. I have 16 GB and I run out all the time, without video editing.

Also please use www.pcpartpicker.com

Hmmm...Not a bad build, but is there any reason you're going for AMD specifically? It's just (and I say this out of personal preference) that I've found that Adobe tends to really benefit from the intel chipset for...Whatever reason. Also, why are you dual booting?

I'd increase the ram to 16gb, as Adobe can be a hungry little puppy if you let it, and I would also consider an SSD for booting the OS off of, and the 1tb for storage.

Initially, I was thinking this machine's main purpose would be a gaming PC, but as I kept looking through specs, it seemed it could be a decent workstation, too. Based on videos and articles, it seemed Intel would cost quite a bit more. Other than Adobe, do a lot of tasks/software benefit from Intel? Sorry, I'm coming from Apple-land, where I don't get many choices in my hardware.

An SSD is probably one of the first upgrades I would do in a few months. The dual booting was just so I can learn more about Linux.

personally, I've found that my experiences with Photoshop and Dreamweaver just...Work faster in a way they don't with AMD - I have a set up where I have a dedicated 3rb drive for a scratch disk atm, and everything loaded onto an SSD - My previous build was AMD, and I have to say overall the experience, and the way my PC runs Adobe CC is night and day (I too subscribe).

As for dual booting, I might suggest that rather then letting grub potentially ruin your day (it's a different animal to boot camp) you might want to just install virtualbox and run a linux distro to learn from within a windows environment, if only to streamline and simplify your PC.

Intel beats out amd these days, they are cooler and faster the i5 beats out amds 8 cores and all amd cpus bottleneck high end gpus, amds shift to APUs has caused this to happen. apu is a gpu and cpu mixed together.

you can use the dropdown to pick different cpus to compare.

also i too recomend 16GB of ram.

Since this is my first build, I'm wondering if I should take Adobe out of the equation initially. I have a pretty powerful iMac that runs Adobe like a champ. If we look at this build from a purely gaming and Linux 'learning tool', does it seem like a good fit? Anything seem like overkill that I might be able to downgrade to save some cash?

I remember when I started putting this together a few weeks ago, I was shooting for a 'budget' build...

if you have an imac, I'd suggest keeping adobe on it. You have it set the way you want, all your presets and plugins...It makes perfect sense imho if you have the desk space. Can I ask what your budget actually is, and if it includes monitor, keyboard etc.?

If you're not planning on overclocking you should look at getting the FX-8350 instead, as the increased clock speed makes a difference. You will need some sort of aftermarket cooler because the one that come with the 8-core cpus is really loud. A coolermaster hyper 212 is an a good economical choice.

If you want newer features like thunderbolt or USB 3.1 you need to look to Intel; either Z97 or X99.

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just did a very quick build on intel that will beat even generals suggestion of the 8350 at just a bit above your price of the build you did.

now keep in mid you will also need to purchase an operating system possibly mouse and keyboard.

note* i use an i7 and a gold rated power supply and 16gb of ram and a 290x not a 280x

again this was a very quick build and would need more looking into should you actually want to go this route.


Should you want to go with the amd build since it WILL be cheaper then the intel. general is right the 8350 would beat the i5 and would need a aftermarket cpu cooler. bump up the ram to 16gb or a cheaper set of 8GB i have 8GB and never run out . but i don't do much like if im in say battlefield 4 i don't run extra stuff maybe a few chrome tabs.

I'm looking at it as if I have two budgets. Originally, I was shooting for a decent gaming machine for $400-500. As I started spec-ing out machines, an extra $50 here, an extra $75 here and I was sitting at $700-$800. I think I'm sitting in a grey area right now between budget PC and one that is fairly powerful.

I already have the monitor, mouse, keyboard and OS, so that would not be included in these figures. I really need to cap this at $700-800 or my wife will kill me.

I guess the question becomes, can I get a solid gaming machine and Linux 'testing' PC for $400-500, or will spending another $250-ish get me that much better performance that it's worth it.

I was pretty solid in the AMD camp before, but now it seems Intel could be a viable option. An i5 could help bring the price down, but would I be sacrificing a lot?

You can get a 700-800$ range pc no problem specially for an amd build. the build i built can drop a lot via down sizing several parts namely the video card and processor but then you need to consider amd again for the cpu since the 8350 beats the i5.

and depending on whether you want current generation parts or last gen or even 2 gens ago you can really drop the parts down in pricing especially if you look at used parts but that has risk.

if you want a quiet, power efficient and low heat output Intel and nvidia are the only way to go. But it will cost more for these benefits.

If you like i can take some time and build a decent Intel build as cheep as possible.

The build that you have is not bad, if you toss in the 8350 it would preform just fine but heat is a thing to keep in mind it will need and after market cooler for the cpu.

side note: as for having everything you need to build and run the pc. the cables and screws and thermal paste are all included with the parts, like a case will come with the screws and hardware to hold the power supply motherboard harddrives, cdrives ect, the motherboard will come with a few sata cables a driver disk, the cpu comes with a cooler with thermal paste except for amd if you don't get one prepackaged with a cooler or in my build the aftermarket cooler comes with thermal paste.

edit: here is a decent Intel build close to $700 should preform very well and be moderately power efficient the 280x will add a bit of heat and extra power but meh. also you will need a dvd drive to get stuff installed ether your typical type that goes inside or a cheapo usb one. this build has the option to toss in 2 more sticks of ram to bring it up to 16GB without having to buy a whole new set of memory. http://pcpartpicker.com/p/jnBLnQ

This build could go cheaper but i used good parts that are cheap, other brands im not familiar with were cheaper but you get to cheap and bad things can happen like fry the whole system.

should you want to take others advice and do the virtual machine thing you may want to change the motherboard to one that will do VT-D so that you can fully use the gpu in the virtual machine. It will work fine for a general Virtual machine but if you want full video support you need VT-D.

I would recommend using VMplayer (or virtualbox) for learning linux at first, then looking into dual-booting later on.

If you do use virtual machines, make sure you have virtualization turned on in the bios. Double check your cpu if it supports virtualization (mostly need to check intel).

if your dual booting i would recomend getting 2 hdd so you have a full 1TB for each os so you can mess around with anything you want in linux and it would make it simpler

Thanks so much, guys. Really appreciate the feedback. I'm going to go through this information tonight and probably post a few more questions. Great info from everyone. Thanks again.

As a rule of thumb I usually say go AMD until you reach around 900 USD. After that Intel makes more sense.
Keep in mind that this is my personal and very unspecific rule, not everybody will agree with me.

There have been a lot of replies here, so I won't bother putting together a parts listing.

To answer your questions:
1. Yes, they will work together. There are a couple of things to note, though.

  • The stock cooler on a FX-8320 will run quite loud and barely keep the FX-8320 in decent operating temperature. Consider picking up a cheap CPU cooler like the Hyper 212 Evo/Plus(doesn't matter which one, really).
  • AMD CPUs in general are getting old and their single core performance leaves a lot to be desired. If you're doing a lot of rendering and you're on a budget, it's a great option. Otherwise, a i5 or Xeon E3-1231 V3 would be a better choice.
  • Your Define R5 is taking up almost 1/5 of your budget. Consider a cheaper case, perhaps(e.g. Corsair 200R, NZXT S340)? I've worked in plenty of budget cases that are still quite nice.
  • Power supply is not that great of a performer. There are other things to look at besides efficiency, such as build quality, power ripple, voltage droop, etc. The EVGA NEX, specifically, has a fair amount of voltage droop. I'd recommend anything from Seasonic, XFX, or EVGA's G2 lineup.

  • A screwdriver, and a method of installing an operating system.

  • As stated before, the stock AMD cooler is quite bad. Pick up a Hyper 212.
  • You might want to consider 2x8GB of RAM if you do a lot of video editing. However, at this price, it's a pretty balanced budget build.

I took a step back and looked at what I'll really be doing with this machine. I'm ditching video editing since I have other machines that do it well already. So my main purposes are:

  1. gaming modern games at 1920x1080 on high settings
  2. machine to play around with Windows, Linux, etc.

I got inspired by your feedback to try an Intel build:

Motherboard MSI ATX DDR3 2400 LGA 1150 Motherboards Z97 PC MATE
CPU Intel Core i5-4460 LGA 1150 CPU - BX80646I54460
GPU Gigabyte R9 270X GDDR5-2GB 2xDVI/HDMI/DP OC Graphics Card (GV-R927XOC-2GD)
RAM Kingston HyperX FURY 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 CL10 DIMM - Black
Storage WD Blue 1TB SATA 6Gb/s 7200rpm Internal Hard Drive
PSU EVGA SuperNOVA 650G1 650W ATX12V Power Supply 120-G1-0650-XR
Case Corsair Carbide Series 200R

I know I might have skimped on the RAM, but that would be one of my first upgrades. Do you guys think this will perform well for the price, especially when compared to the AMD option(s) above?

maybe save yourself a few bucks on the MOBO and get H97 chipset. unless you plan to move to a K series CPU and do some OC. other wise Z97 not really gonna help you. case wise, i personally have a 300R and i like it. its only twenty bucks more but your call there.

At that price point you shouldn't be spending as much on your CPU as your GPU. when in that price range your primary concern should be, how big a GPU can I fit in here?
I'll search around and add a list in a minute.
Also, what is your stance on secondhand parts?
Here is the link. That still is a relatively expensive load out. If you wan't to go a bit cheaper, go m-atx and a fx 6 core. Or maybe fm2 quad and m-atx.
And overclock the heck out of that ram, 2133 cl9 should be possible.