Building my first PC. Just a bit overwhelmed

So to start off I'm looking to build a gaming/everything PC. I'm in the States. My budget is between $800 - $1,200. I will need an OS, and an IPS monitor. I've started a few parts lists, but don't quite understand all the specs of the different pieces of hardware. The forums input would be much appreciated!


CPU: Cores, the more the better. Intel has less cores then AMD, but uses hyperthreading (in windows this shows as twice the amount of cores then is actually there). CPU frequency, higher the better (but could mean more heat). Cache, something to look at, but scales with the cpu/tier. Really fast ram like memory just for the CPU to buffer RAM inputs.

GPU: Just get what you can afford, most of your budget will go to this. Nvidia is cuda. AMD is streaming processors. Like CPU they have a frequency.

Motherboard: Feature sets mostly, good ones let you overclock. Must match your CPU socket. AMD has AM3+, FM2+. Intel uses 1150, 2011, etc.

RAM: 2x4 (8gigs) @ 1600 ddr3 is the standard. (edit for mistakes)

PSU: 80+ bronze required. PCpartpicker will tell you how much your computer should use in WATTS.

CASE: Get what you like/afford. If you need usb3 then get a usb3 case.

A monitor and OS (windows) will subtract $200 or more. If you get windows 7 or 8 it does not matter what you get as when win10 comes out you should upgrade. It will turn into OEM from what I know though.

Are you after 1080p, 1440p, 4k for your monitor resolution? Does it need a high refresh rate?

Use pcpartpicker for you lists, and link them here. Then everyone can give inputs/refinement to your build.
i5, r9 290, 8gb ram, excellent psu, fractal case, decent mb, 250gb samsung 850 ssd, 1tb wd blue, 27"ips monitor, win 8.1

I like this build out of the ones above. Not too sure about the monitor though - you might wanna do a double take on that. 27" is also a bit big for 1920x1080. Consider a cheaper 22" or so imo.

Other than 2 points, yes I agree.

First point: you don't need 2x8 @1600 DDR3. 2x4 @ 1600 will serve just fine for most of us.

Second point: Windows doesn't need to cost $200. There are legitimate (not pirates or warez people) resellers selling Windows keys for <$20 all the time. Check Reddit. Look for multiple good reviews of a particular seller to avoid scams / pirates.

You don't need to pay attention to specs as much as benchmarks.

I'll try to break some things down.

9 out of 10 times an $800-$1200 build will have a core i5, you don't want to overspend on a cpu, because a graphics card is more important.

A typical $800 build would be something like a core i5 + GTX 970, and that would be more than enough for 1080p gaming. Going beyond maxing out most games.

A good website for windows is this one.

A good website for looking for sales is this one

So starting with cpu basics. Intel stuff has higher ipc over AMD which basically means that each core individually is faster then an AMD at the same clock speed. So a 4th generation I5 from intel might have 10-25% faster per core performance over the equivalent AMD clocked parts. So AMD makes up for this with having a higher clock speed on each core and having more cores. An AMD Fx 8350 is clocked at 4ghz stock to help make it more competitive with an Intel I5 4690k which is clocked at 3.5ghz. Because the AMD has a higher clock, it can somewhat compete core to core with the I5 core to core although the Intel does win out because it has that much better ipc.

Ram is an easier to figure out piece. The clock speed is how fast the ram refreshes. For example DDR3 has common clock speeds of about 1600mhz to 2400mhz. Higher is available but not really common. DDR4 ram has common clock speeds of 2133mhz to 3000mhz. Cas Latency is basically how many refreshes the ram has to go through before it can produce a piece of information from the ram. So basically, the higher the mhz and the lower the cas latency, the better. Although really ram is one of the pieces in the system that doesn't affect gaming performance at all, although for stuff like editing and rendering it has a tiny boost.

Cpu coolers are another kind of glossed over piece. The bigger fans and heat sink the better. For a low cost option, go for a Hyper 212 evo. For a medium priced option go for a noctua nd-h15. For a higher end system go for something like the Corsair h100i gtx. If you want a part in between the 212 evo and nd-h15, go for the biggest noctua cooler you can fit.

Motherboards are a complicated one. Sata ports are your hard drive plug ins'. M.2 ports are higher speed hard drive plug in ports. M.2 ports connect more directly to the system then sata ports do and have more available bandwidth. Pcie lanes are you plug-ins for expansion cards. The more lanes available to a card, the better after a certain point. Basically 8x lanes are your lowest recommended bandwidth to a graphics card. Whether its a 8x pcie lane in generation 2 or 3, its probably not going to have any affect on the performance of a graphics card. A generation 2 lane has half the bandwidth of a generation 3 lane. So your 16x pcie 2.0 slot has equivalent bandwidth available to the graphics card as a 8x pcie 3.0 slot. In general on motherboards a newer generation chipset is better then an old one although sometimes chipset generations don't make that much of a difference. Intel's 8 series chipset to 9 series was pretty mehh.

Hard drives are a simple one. Solid State Drives, or SSD's, are faster then traditional spinning platter Hard Drives, or HDD's. The more gigabytes of storage the better and higher max sequential Mbs read and write is better. IOPS are another measure of read and write performance under a variation of conditions. Same as Mbs, higher is better.

Graphics cards. This is the fun one. So basically cuda cores and stream processors are the name of the compute cores on Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. For the both the AMD and Nvidia lineup of cards, just get the most expensive one you can afford with your system. Graphics cards are the most important piece for a gaming computer. More stream and Cuda cores are better, although that is somewhat locked to an architecture of cards. So like a Gtx 780 has 600 some more cuda then the 980, but the 980 is a good 25% faster or more. The cuda cores on the 980 are just individually much faster. For AMD the story isn't really the same. AMD has just been adding more stream processing cores rather then making every stream processing core faster and having less of them. That coupled with there cores not being as efficient is why there cards need more power then the newest Nvidia. More memory is better although for the next couple years 4-6gbs is the max you'll realistically need. Although if its a 960, r9 270/x, or lower tier card, don't bother with more then 2gb's. Vendors try to make an extra dollar by charging extra for those lower end cards with more ram then they have the horse power to use. A gt 430 can't dream of using 4gb's of v-ram but a vendor will try to sell ya one that has that much ram.

Power supplies are something that I'll run over but I never recommend buying one without consulting at least a couple older forum members. Basically you want at least 80+ bronze with a little bit of headroom for your system. It needs to be a good brand like Corsair, Seasonic, Evga, XFX, Silverstone, and a couple more. But even among those brands there are some stinkers even with higher then 80+ gold certification so make sure you always double check a psu selection with some long time members of forums. Power Supplies are something that you have to be active in the various tech communities to really keep on top of. People recommend builds using power supplies that are as close to bomb status as possible without knowing it most of the time.

Woops, meant 2x4. Was thinking 8gigs total.

Not going to touch about the re-sellers. It is an option, but caution is advised. Also I meant windows and a monitor together might cost around 200 or more.

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just one thing about the ram. the mhz, latency doesn't really matter in it. just one thing that is very overlooked imo is that the difference in dual channel vs single channel for gaming doesn't really matter as well for gaming but for rendering and stuff i highly recommend going dual channel. seen a video about dual channel vs single channel awhile ago and kinda regretted going dual channel. so if you see a single channel 8gb stick that is cheaper than the 2x4gb then go for it. if looking to upgrade to 16gbs but only have one channel for the motheboard and cant really afford 16 gbs then grab the single stick of 8 for now then when you got some cash for another stick in the future then grab another stick.

Yes, caution is advised. Always always when buying anything, especially through a third party, online or not. ;) I figured that was implicit, probably shouldn't have.