Advice needed please for a hi-spec gaming computer

Promised my daughter a hi-spec gaming desktop and I want to get it made to order, not a preset one. I've found 3 places online - Playtech, PB Tech & Spannerbox.any comments on these re. service, etc.; which has the best reputation! Or is there an even better place I haven't found yet!

I'd also like an idea of what are the 'must have' components. I did go through a customise list but there are things mentioned I've never heard of before.like what the hell is an unlocked sandy bridge!!! I know the easiest way would be to contact one of them and let them tell me what I need but I'd like to know myself first so I can tell if they're being realistic (if that makes sense lol!)
I know (or think) the best graphics cards are ATI Radeon & Nvidia but again, there are so many different ones I wouldn't know where to start. I'm guessing it will also want to be quad-core for future games so that would mean i7 only!
It will be used mainly (at the moment anyway) for playing WOW and she'll be running 2 monitors on it. So, any advice you guys can give me would be hugely appreciated.I don't want to get it wrong cos she certainly won't be getting another one from us aye!
Many thanks :)

geek_debbie7, Dec 8, 3:13 pm

Good MOBO to start, CPU and GPU are the main components you have to concentrate on, ram, hdd, psu can be upgraded later and its cheap. Im not gonna state what brands i like or this will turn in to a war, but if it was me
MSI 4 mobo Intel or AMD for cpu Nvidia or ATI for gpu, look at what cpu and gpu you are getting then look for a mobo to suite.

geek_boybad, Dec 8, 4:14 pm

Sandy Bridge is a CPU, unlocked means you can overclock it, boost it, i dont recommend doing so if you have little experience with pc's.

geek_boybad, Dec 8, 4:30 pm

What's your budget!

geek_lostdude, Dec 8, 4:34 pm

Yeah budget is import

As for CPU all the current full power desktop i5s are quad core and there isn't any point going up to an i7

geek_vtecintegra, Dec 8, 4:38 pm

Both Playtech and PB tech are popular choices, I would go with Playtech for building a gaming machine, it's their specialisation. I've not heard of Spannerbox so cant comment.

geek_ropes2, Dec 8, 4:46 pm

I thought the hyper-threading ability was for overclocking. my daughter didn't know what it meant either so yeah, probably best to leave that alone.
Budget-wise I'm happy to go up to $4k.like I said, it's a one-time deal so she needs to get the best she can while she can, lol!
If i5 is quad-core what's the difference between i5 & i7! Wouldn't I be better getting an i7! Or is just because it's a higher number I expect it to be a better computer!
It's very confusing looking at computer parts.

geek_debbie7, Dec 8, 6:33 pm

i7s are a newer chip, which has higher limits and generally performs a little better. i5s are cheaper. Modern overclocking is fairly straight forward and automatic, but I would recommend getting your CPU water cooled at least in that case. I personally use the i7-2600K oc-ed to 4.8Ghz in a two month old comp (which cost me about 4k in-fact haha). Runs like a dream.

Oh, and be ready for people to tell you that you are "dumb" for wanting to get a top end system and spending 4k on such, because "you can get one which only performs 'slightly' worse for half the price". Use your own judgement for the posts which tell you that "you don't need X anyway, so get a cheaper slower one".

geek_volkier, Dec 8, 7:21 pm

Thanks volkier :) I know people say it's daft spending so much as technology improves so quickly that hi-spec is quickly superceded. But.it's a special birthday and this is what she wants.it was a toss up between the comp and a car! She can't afford to run a car so the comp won :)
So, the list so far is water-cooled CPU, quad core (preferably i7). Any suggestions for the graphics card! Which is best or which model to go for! And I'm guessing dedicated graphics, at least 1gig! Would that be okay! The reason we're going for the desktop is so that at least it will be upgradeable.
One other thought.what about Alienware! I did have a look at that but wondered if it was as good as people say or whether I was buying the brand!

geek_debbie7, Dec 8, 8:18 pm

$2000-$2500 will get you a very high spec system. spending another $2000 won't make it any faster, it'll just allow you to play games at a higher frame rate which you can't possibly notice anyway.

geek_suicidemonkey, Dec 8, 9:37 pm

Spend $2,500 now on a good cpu/mobo/ram combo with a semi-dec video card, every once in awhile upgrade that. sussed

geek_ruby2shoes, Dec 8, 9:39 pm

That sounds pretty much what I want suicidemonkey. Would you mind telling me where you got your comp made up or did you do it yourself! Or maybe go into more detail of what exactly you have! Bearing in mind that this comp will be used mainly for MMORPG.which I suppose will only play as good as the internet connection they have, regardless of how good the computer is.
Thanks people for all the info :)

geek_debbie7, Dec 8, 10:12 pm

I have a 3.2GHz i7 (can't remember the model number), GTX480 video card, 6GB RAM, and an OCZ Vertex SSD. I do HD video editing, photoshopping and a lot of gaming and i've never once felt the need to get anything faster :) The SSD REALLY helps and i'd recommend spending a few hundred on a decent one.

If I were you i'd go for a sandybridge i5 or i7 (don't spend more than 400-500), a GTX580 (if you want the best) and 4-6GB of RAM. Anything more than that really is overkill.

geek_suicidemonkey, Dec 8, 10:53 pm

Nope, the current i3, i5 and i7 were all released at the same time. The i7s are a little faster than the i5s but there isn't much in it for gaming

geek_vtecintegra, Dec 8, 11:05 pm

A high end system will be wasted on MMOs - they by their very nature need to cater to a wide range of systems.

geek_vtecintegra, Dec 8, 11:06 pm

Something similar to http://www.trademe.co.nz/computers/desktops/no-monitor/auction-428368929.htm monkey ! ::D

I would recommend getting the i7 2600k rather than i7 2600 - since that handles a lot better for overclocking.

And agreed with Alienware. If anything, you are buying a very very unreliable brand since they have very poor support in New Zealand.

geek_volkier, Dec 9, 12:16 am


Computer Lounge, Playtech see here, Computer Lounge won best store just recently. http://www.gpforums.co.nz/thread/297771/!s=f3b3b0f6399990b33dd71e1f052b245bIts not the sale, its the fater sales service you need to pay attention to. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-card-radeon-hd-6870-geforce-gtx-570,2834-7.html
Except to pay a small fortune for decent parts, not your budget $1000-$2000 PC> More like $3000 at least.

Graphics cardsare only ATO or Nvidia as the GPU manufacturer, but there are brands. ASUS or Gigabyte, and if you don't know the rankings, ask Computer Lounge, not some bunch of cowboys. Too many PCs have a low or mid range card and it bottlenecks it. GPU is the single most important component in a gaming PC. Even so, expect it to need upgrading every 2 -3 years. It's not a static thing. Toms hardw are has GPU rankings. Forget the CPU comment - unless she intends to overclock.

geek_lythande1, Dec 9, 7:26 am

Here: http://pricespy.co.nz/list.php!l=50894

GPU: 560Ti x2 because they are the best value for money atm. Actually, the HD6950 is the best value for money but they are far more prone to micro stuttering than nvidia & it's a gamble to get it right.

No speakers because gamers prefer headphones, plus you can add some later if you want.

If you click on "Calculate lowest price" then Alphacity has all parts in stock and will build it for you if you ask. They are online only though but I've spent well over $3k with them and never had any problems.

geek_lostdude, Dec 9, 8:26 am

Yeah although 16GB of RAM is so overkill.

geek_suicidemonkey, Dec 9, 8:38 am

Well they did say they wanted top end. I would personally say 32Gb is overkill, simply because the chipset on the motherboards supporting 32Gb is discontinued at this time. And 24Gb is not a 'correct' multiplier (you will need either 4x6Gb sticks or 2x12Gb sticks - both of which don't exist - to keep them in pairs - unless the MB has 6 ram slots - one which I haven't seen either).

geek_volkier, Dec 9, 9:34 am

Wow what the fuck I wish I had a mum like you when I was a kid

geek_shinra, Dec 9, 9:40 am

x58 chipset motherboards have 6 slots for ram. Although I doubt the OP will be building a rig based on that.

geek_cube_guy, Dec 9, 9:43 am

Yeah but in reality i've never seen my PC use more than about 4-5GB, even running Avid and Photoshop and After Effects at the same time, haha.

geek_suicidemonkey, Dec 9, 9:50 am

Me too shinra!
Aah, I'm probably only happy to do it because I love games myself. I played WOW for the free period and would still be playing but for some reason every time I went into Stormwind the game froze.didn't matter what I tried I couldn't fix it so I stick to my consoles now, much easier lol (am SO enjoying Skyrim at the moment)
My daughter used to used Phototshop and Corel (I think!) all the time but since she discovered WOW last year it's sort of take over everything else.
Thanks for all the info and the links, I'll make notes and check them all out.it's all much appreciated :D

geek_debbie7, Dec 9, 10:45 am

I think your budget of 4k is far too high considering primary use is something like WoW. I recently built the following system for sub 3k:

i7-2600k
16GB Ram
nVidia GTX590
4x 160GB SSD
2x 2TB SATA HDD

Primarily used for gaming, runs BF3, Skyrim, MW etc at max spec on 2560x1600 res on my 55" LED. Works a charm. My recommendation would be to shop around, possibly even doing a custom config with some reputable overseas vendors, as their warranties are still supported locally. PBtech along with Playtech are good but still not the best for post warranty support etc.

geek_roseib, Dec 9, 1:43 pm

Modern i7 systems can run triple channel memory - you don't match in pairs but rather threes. Bugger all performance advantage over dual channel though.

geek_vtecintegra, Dec 9, 1:47 pm

roseib did you build it yourself or pick the parts and get it made up! If you got it made up can I ask where!I wouldn't even want to try building one myself, I'd totally cock it up but those specs sound good to me.
She won't be playing on anything that big, she's after 2 x 24 or 27 inch monitors (although I play Skyrim on a 50" and it's beautiful!). It'll definitely be used mostly for WOW although I know they have Oblivion and a couple of the Assassins Creed games for PC, also Sims (3 is it now!). Oh, and maybe, every now and then, a bit of uni work ;)

geek_debbie7, Dec 9, 2:24 pm

I sense a 21st birthday gift

geek_atersatan, Dec 9, 2:34 pm

Well spotted :) It was actually an 18th present but we had no money when she turned 18 so she got an IOU. She turned 21 last week so now's the time aye!

geek_debbie7, Dec 9, 2:38 pm

Honestly you'd be better off dialing it back a bit. Something like a GTX 590 is massive overkill - not only is it three time the price of something like a 560TI its a huge waste of power.

In the world of PCs future proofing isn't really possible - you're much better off finding the price/performance sweet spot and just upgrading more often.

geek_vtecintegra, Dec 9, 2:41 pm

"special birthday" and "uni work" gives it away.

geek_atersatan, Dec 9, 2:43 pm

I ended up purchasing the components and getting one of my engineers from work to do it. Bear in mind that those specs are far too high for what you are after in reality. Like the post above the gtx590 is fairly ridiculous, nothing even tests it so maybe spend a little less and get something practical. For your requirements i would say 2k is where to look, bearing in mind my machine runs 2x 1200w psu

geek_roseib, Dec 9, 4:46 pm

Ahhh, why!

geek_cube_guy, Dec 9, 4:56 pm

Redundant power supplies are never a bad idea.

1200W is pretty insane though, although you'd probably need it runningmultiple 590s

geek_vtecintegra, Dec 9, 4:58 pm

Yeah but 2 1200w PSUs for 1 GTX590 and a bunch of harddrives! That's ludicrous.

geek_cube_guy, Dec 9, 5:04 pm

A water cooled PC will require maintenance unless you are talking about a closed loop system. This might be too complicated for some who can not build the system, not to mention the possibility of leaks.

2x $2000 PC's built maybe 3-4 years apart will last longer than a $4000 PC built right now.

A $2000 PC really more than enough for MMORPGsunless you are including the 2x 24inch monitors in that budget. I would recommend not getting liquid cooling and instead get something like the cooler master Hyper 212 plus and spending your money on a SSD which would make a difference in loading maps/zones.

Playtech has a PC assembly serivce here: http://bit.ly/unaEBi

geek_silver-trader, Dec 9, 5:43 pm


Speak for yourself, personally I like my gaming with the speakers cranked up.

geek_lythande1, Dec 9, 7:19 pm

She'd definitely want speakers.altho she plays using a headset she watches most of her TV on her comp.

Well I've given myself a headache now.spent the last 6 hours (feels like more) on various PC sites, looking up details of stuff that I don't really understand.got to the stage where I had to google PSU cos my brain just blanked.good fun aye ;) Anyways, I ended up trying custom builds on 4 sites - Playtech, PBtech, Paradigm & iFocus. Also tried Ascent but nearly everything was out of stock; and Computer Lounge was too expensive.
I tried to do the builds with the same things but man, the choices! I had no idea which were the better brands and which to avoid and there were so bloody many! Cheapest was PBTech at $2350, dearest iFocus at $2697.all without monitors, keyboard or mouse.

All were i7 2600 3.4ghz 8mb cache; all were GTX570 video cards; all were 2 x 4gb memory but from there most of the brands are different and that's where I lose it. i think I'll have to call it quits for the night and look at them again tomorrow.might make more sense then!

geek_debbie7, Dec 9, 10:44 pm

I bought a few items from Computer Lounge recently, great service. They have a few combo deals, MB + RAM + CPU, not sure if they are good deals or not, the full systems look good, http://www.computerlounge.co.nz/systems/systemdetail.asp!sysid=48&systypeid=4 $1799, add 2 monitors, well under budget, and they do free shipping too, that would easily play WOW and Skyrim

geek_ruderger, Dec 10, 1:22 am

I've adjusted the list I made previously to accommodate your new requirements.

Everything I chose is based on my understanding of the current market and what I feel are the best for your dollar based on that understanding. Finally they are all moulded within your chosen budget so here's a breakdown of this list and why I chose these parts:

CPU:
because you requested it, unlocked and has integrated GPU so coupled with the z68 motherboard, it will take your video rendering load when NOT gaming to cut the powerbill down.

Motherboad:
has nearly every type of connector you could want on a PC. without the huge price tag + Asus have a good reputation for reliability.

RAM:
I doubt she'll use more than 8GB now and in the near future; best bang-4-buck RAM atm & Kingston are renowned for reliability.

HDD1:
Although not the quickest, it's the most reliable and you need that for the drive that is going to host your OS.

HDD2:
Cheapest 64MB Cache, 7200RPM 2TB SATAIII drive atm.

GPU:
As I stated before + cheaper than a single GTX580 and outperforms one in all but a few games. The difference only really becomes apparent once you crank the resolutions up.

PSU:
Cheapest gold standard (80+) 850W PSU on the market atm + a solid performer.

Case:
2nd to none airflow design. This version (v3) also sports 2 front mounted USB3 ports including a huge array of other essential ports for connectivity. Huge room inside for your components and a window to show them all off.

KB:
Backlit, programmable macro keys (provides a huge edge in WoW)

Mouse:
Very accurate and consistent. Laser tracking, 3 dpi modes & solid construction

OS:
The most full featured version (also includes WMC for TV)

TV Card (New):
You stated she watches TV on her PC. Don't know if she has a TV card/adapter already but this one is Terrestrial HD (freeviewHD) & comes with WMC compatible remote.

Speakers (New):
Just the cheapest 5.1 channel from a reliable company IMO.

Monitors (New):
Just the cheapest, quickest response time 24" monitors. LED so very thin design & most gamers don't care about colour accuracy so it being a TN panel shouldn't matter as much.

geek_lostdude, Dec 10, 1:26 am

Every FPS'er I know prefer headphones & every MMOwner I know prefer speakers. I guess I know which category you fall into then :p

geek_lostdude, Dec 10, 1:33 am

Thanks lostdude.that's a fantastic list, I really do appreciate you taking the time to do that for me :)
I'll need to check on some of the things with my daughter such as.I hadn't included monitors, keyboard or mouse as I'm not sure what she's going to use. She has a flat screen TV so she may want to use that as one of her monitors and I know a backlit keyboard was on her list of wants but she may have already picked one. I'll ask her about the TV card as well. Most of the TV they watch is off their external HD's (you know how students share everything aye!) But everything else seems to be covered by your list.
Can I just ask about the HDDs! You've picked 1 x 128gb SSD and 1 x 2TB SATA. On my list (in my head) I had 2 x 1TB SATA. I've never heard of SSD although someone mentioned it earlier as being more reliable. What's the benefit in that! Do you set up your OS on the SSD and put everything else on the other! Sorry if that's a daft question but I've never had a computer with 2 HDD's so I'm not sure how that works.
And again.huge thanks for that list, you've saved me a ton of headaches trying to sort out what's what :D

geek_debbie7, Dec 11, 5:10 pm

SSD is a huge waste of money. You reduce loading times by ~20% when loading Windows and games, thats roughly 7 seconds! I wouldn't pay $200-300 for 7 second difference.

geek_ruby2shoes, Dec 11, 5:25 pm

I wouldn't say it's a "huge" waste of money. You benefit immensely when multitasking with an SSD as well. I learnt this from LAN parties when everyone tries to rip you for all your worth once you connect to the network. I didn't notice a difference but those with just single drives were getting annoyed at their games lagging & couldn't understand why since their systems were more than capable of handling them. until one of them jumped off and noticed his network connection blinking continuously. Traced down the culprit & it was a mate of a mate ripping everything he could from EVERYONE lol. BTW, I didn't have an SSD back then. I had a striped 0 setup of 4 HDDs & only 2 others had an SSD. They along with me never noticed any lag.

geek_lostdude, Dec 11, 6:16 pm

I learnt this from LAN parties when everyone tries to rip you for all your worth once you connect to the network.

. Why go to LAN parties if they have that sort of attuide!

Traced down the culprit & it was a mate of a mate ripping everything he could from EVERYONE lol

How often does that happen! Seriously, I wouldn't pay $200 to fix that issue (i'm not sure if i understand the question properly.).

geek_ruby2shoes, Dec 12, 1:50 am

I gave ONE example of multitasking. Think out of the square and you'll soon realise there are literally hundreds of ways to multitask. The point is multitasking is NOT bottlenecked by the HDD when you have an SSD supplying your data. Whether or not YOU'D pay for that privilege is irrelevant. It still fits within the OP's budget and still faster/safer than raid 0 with 2 mechanical drives.

geek_lostdude, Dec 12, 5:59 pm

Hang on, its a GAMING computer. What are the programs going to running the majority of the time: The game; Team Speak/Skype etc and maybe Facebook. This is NOT a server nor is it a muiltimedia station, a gaming computer. Do you know what a Gaming Computer is!

geek_ruby2shoes, Dec 12, 6:03 pm

LOL, yup it's a gaming computer so that means that the only thing that's going to be run on it is games 24/7. come on, think out of the box for a second. You can't be that daft.

geek_lostdude, Dec 12, 6:11 pm

Some changes:

- Added Bluray combo DVD/RW
- Changed case. Basically the same as original except 12 or so centimetres shorter & $100 cheaper. Moved those savings to BR/DVD drive.

geek_lostdude, Dec 12, 7:33 pm

Thanks for the update lostdude :)
I'll ask my daughter to have a look thru and let me know what she wants to go with. I have no idea if she's into lan parties or raids.way out of my experience zone.also the freeview/TV, bluray, etc. At least when she decides what she does and doesn't want I'll have brands/model numbers to go with.
I've also seen there are a couple of sellers on here that have computers with very similar set-ups so may go with one of them (eg. jerrylee1, chilli) unless anyone knows a reason not to!
Thanks again for all the help and advice.it really is appreciated :)

geek_debbie7, Dec 13, 8:54 pm