New PC Purchase

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Garriath
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New PC Purchase

Postby Garriath » Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:32 pm

Howdy, all,

I recently received a $1000 inheritance-of-sorts and have been thinking about investing in a new PC. Up till now I've been using a stalwart 2.5 year old laptop whose game behavior is temperamental (can run ME2 flawlessly, but can't run other games on minimum settings. I'm figuring I'd really enjoy buying a desktop computer capable of running modern games (primarily the Witcher 2, which my current computer can't playably run at all), and I was curious if the good folks here had any advice about companies to favor, companies to avoid, and how to go about this sort of purchase. I'd rather not spend more than $1,200.

I've always heard Alienware advertised as the top-of-the-line gaming computers, but they seem awfully pricey. Is there a way to get the same quality for less?

Thanks in advance!
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dragon wench
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Postby dragon wench » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:35 pm

Instead of going for a specific brand I'd suggest looking to see if you can have a PC custom built. A lot of shops will do builds, so it is worth checking into. Though, obviously, you'll also want to take a look at the reputation of said shops.

The reason I recommend this is that you can usually get a much better computer for the price. Also, you have a lot of choice over the components, and if you have it built locally it is much easier to deal with should something go wrong.

I had mine built about three years ago and I have not regretted it for an instant. I was able acquire an upper mid-range (at that time) gaming computer for at least a third less than what the equivalent brand name machine would have cost.

All of that being said, if you do decide to opt for a brand name, I would encourage you to avoid Toshiba like the plague, I know a lot of people who have had disastrous experiences with them.
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Nymie_the_Pooh
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Postby Nymie_the_Pooh » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:28 pm

I'll echo looking into a local shop. With Dell computers (they own Alienware now if I am remembering correctly) you are paying for a name. Shop around at places like [url="http://www.tigerdirect.com/"]Tiger Direct[/url] and [url="http://www.newegg.com/"]Newegg[/url] online before checking the local shops.

Another great place to check out if you don't mind some technical talk is [url="http://www.tomshardware.com/"]Tom's Hardware[/url]. I would only go there if you aren't overwhelmed by computer talk. I check there before I buy any new computer parts myself as they regularly do articles on building cheap systems and a monthly piece on what video card at the time offers the best performance within a given price bracket.

Local is probably your best bet overall if you want a complete system built for you and have a chance of it being viable for new games three or four years from now. The Tiger Direct and Newegg suggestions are more for a bit of research so you know what you should be expecting before going in. The good stores will not try to sell you all the bells and whistles such as light up cases and fans, but sometimes those are the cheap option they have. Should a local store seem to be pushing such options on you even though they carry cheaper cases and fans of the same size then go to the next local store. My experience has been that local stores that deal in both windows and linux based systems tend to be a good place to go as they are used to building systems that aren't striving to be pretty over being a workhorse.

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zemstvos
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Postby zemstvos » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:53 am

I'll have to agree with the others that a custom built PC is the way to go. We're probably in different countries so I can't say anything that hasn't been said regarding shops/suppliers, but, since you haven't specified what type of companies you refer to, I'll ramble about computer parts instead (I've no idea how knowledgable you are on the subject - I apologize if I end up sounding patronizing):

The best value-for-money CPU you can buy at the moment is Intel's Core i5 2500K. Other Intel processors are either worse or overpriced without a performance increase that could in any way justify said price. AMD processors simply can't compare. (And for the love of anything you hold dear DO NOT get yourself an AMD FX processor, they absolutely suck at gaming.)

If you do go with the i5 2500K your best bet would be a motherboard with the Z68 chipset. I usually stick with ASUS or MSI.

As far as graphic cards go I can vouch for Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 2GB. Haven't any experience with NVIDIA so I can't recommend anything on that front. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that buying two cards for SLI/Crossfire is a waste of money.

Hard drives are currently supposed to be overpriced due to some accident (what was it again.. flood? earthquake?) in a factory in some eastern country I don't remember. It's been months since said accident though, so prices should be progressively lowering. Anyway, Western Digital is the way to go. Seagate get their products returned a bit too often lately. Don't go for SSD drives unless the regular ones are still ridiculously overpriced.

USB 3.0 is a must for motherboards and SATA 6 Gb/s for hard drives.

Generally speaking, I don't recommend buying anything that uses new/unproven technology, as you'll be pretty much beta-testing the product. My self imposed rule on the subject is "If it hasn't been around for a year don't buy it."

If you can find/afford it Coolermaster HAFF 922 is a box with superb airflow.
Coolermaster also makes good PSUs.

Once again I apologize if this post comes of as pushy, patronizing and whatnot.

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LastDanceSaloon
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Postby LastDanceSaloon » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:26 am

I think it's a mistake to think in terms of money.

With most goods it is true that you get what you pay for, but with computers this is not always the case, particularly with Windows systems.

For my old PC (XP) I did as Dragon Wench suggests and I had a bespoke machine made from an independent retailer, specifically tailored towards gaming. This did cost the equivalent of $1250 dollars but this was way back in 2002 when the average half decent PC in any shop cost approximately $1500.

This was a superb machine which played most games fro 1998 to 2005 without any major problems.

When I went to renew my system in early 2010 (as the XP one had literally died) I found an ex-display model in a shop which was retailing for $500 with Windows 7, dual core processors etc.

This system has played the entire Dragon Age series without glitch but I've yet to play Divinity 2 on it.

Likewise, when I recently bought a laptop, I purchased a very tidy system for, again, about $500. It was a high spec model but had been refurbished. I have had no problems running games on this system, but then I don't run new games on it.

I'm not sure why your 2 and half year old system is having so many problems. I suspect it might be general minor problems rather than the system itself.

Even with my specifically tailored bespoke XP system I would often have problems installing and running games from independent labels and it was a matter of phoning up said company and have them suggest remedies (which they usually could solve) rather than a fault of the system. It was often just a matter of turning off or on some random setting from the default folders or typing in complicated run commands rather than relying on the auto-run.