Gaming Computer Build advice?

My 13-year old son would like a gaming computer. I agreed he could have one on the condition that we built it ourselves as a learning and father/son project. I’m a DIY computer guy and have been building, maintaining, and upgrading older systems since the early 90s but “cutting edge” is not my specialty.

I have a good idea on what components I’m interested i but would appreciate any advice or input out there.
The idea is to get him up and running but leave room for upgrades later.

PS - EVGA 750W G3 - this should handle anything I put together.

Case - nothing yet. Looking for something with a side (glass) window and 2 external drive bays (for DVD drive and LED fan speed controller) LED fans (can be added later, I suppose) and 2 x USB 3.0. I’m surprised at the limited selections out there. Can anyone point me at one? My eyes are sore from looking at pictured on-line.

CPU - AMD Ryzen 7 2700 or possibly 2700X. Is it worth the extra money?

MB - This is where I get overwhelmed with the variety out there. I’m thinking the GIGABYTE B450 AORUS PRO WIFI Socket AM4 Dual Channel DDR4 3200(OC), 2x M.2 USB 3.1, DVI-D, HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RGB LED ATX Motherboard

Any feedback or other recommendations?

GPU - not an immediate concern AFAIK, I will either use the onboard GPU and/or the 2 Gb PCI-e one I have in his current computer and upgrade later.

HD - looking at M.2 512 GB for OS, etc. and either recycling a HDD or adding another SSD later for media storage.

RAM - considering starting with 16 Gb and adding later.

OS - Windows 10 - I will transfer from current computer.
We plan on adding some bells and whistles later. i.e. bigger GPU, RAM, fan controller, water cooling, LEDs, etc…

Anything I’m missing?

Why is GPU not a concern if you are building a “gaming” computer?

It doesn’t need to be a gaming computer immediately. As I said, we can work with what we have and add a serious GPU later when cryptocurrency mining and prices settle down.
He has an Xbox One so he can wait.

What enalzi said. Unless your son’s current rig isn’t running off a an SSD, this build is going to either run everything roughly the same as his current build, or go even slower if you don’t bring over the GPU you have. An upgrade to the CPU doesn’t mean much any more unless it’s for an entire generation’s worth of architecture. I can understand wanting to build a computer with room to improve as an ongoing project, but upgrading the GPU is going to be about 90% of the improvement you’re going to make in terms of his experience of using the thing.

As far as cases go, I’d vote for a Corsair Carbide. They’re not too weird looking, they are roomy enough to work on without having elf hands, and they have about a million fan mounts and space for airflow to really help in cooling. It also has your side window and the other specs you’re looking for.

The graphics card is arguably the most important component of a gaming PC and I’d build around it rather than build a PC and add a card later. It’s unlikely but possible the card you want to get might not be compatible with what you built. About half of the money I spent on my current gaming PC went into the graphics card.

OK, good to know. I’m used to looking from the CPU out.

So… if I’m considering a GPU, what minimum specs should I consider? He plays a lot of Fortnite, LoL, Overwatch, CoD, etc… so I’m assuming he’s wanting to run these on PC.

If it’s a father/son project, perhaps you could expand it to fine-tuning the computer by overclocking it? “Let’s assemble a machine and see how fast we can push it” seems like it could trigger some testosterone bonding.
I was very well served by an AMD CPU and GPU when I bought my computer in 2011. However, for at least the last half decade, if someone wants high performance and overclocking, Intel CPUs and Nvidia GPUs have been the obvious choices once you research them. Perhaps that’s changed since I last took time to learn about it. AMD products often look good on paper because they tend to rely on brute force like having many cores, high frequencies, lots of memory. Yet the actual performance tends to fall short of what the component stats suggest.

An RTX 2060 or 2070 should be sufficient for several years. The Nvidia 60s and 70s are usually the best value for money before you start getting severely diminishing returns. For the CPU, an unlocked i5 with six cores should be good for a decade.

If you’re going to overclock, a good air cooler may be a good idea. Even if you don’t overclock, good air coolers can make the computer more silent.
All your son’s games are going to run well on any 200$+ GPU you buy today. You really don’t need to worry about that unless you want 4K 120fps.

GPU prices settled a while back. Right now, the GTX 1060 (6gb) or RX 580 (8gb) is probably your best bang per buck. Both benchmark close to the same and the 580 is cheaper so I’d go with that. Plus the 580 is coming with a pretty nice free game bundle these days (pick 2: Resident Evil 2, DMC 5 and/or Division 2)

I wouldn’t bother with a 2000 series. Too expensive for the bump in power.

A few other notes that pop to mind:
The 2700X is a good CPU; the 2700 being a little slower but also no problems. Note that AMD processors don’t really overclock like Intel ones. The stock Wraith cooler with the AMD processors is well regarded and likely all you need. I say this as someone with an i5 8600K that can OC stable at 5.0Ghz and an AIO water cooler.

With the AMD processors, fast memory speed is essential. You may need to unlock the memory speed overclocking in your BIOS but these days that’s a single toggle (turn on XMP)

I wouldn’t bother with the extra cost of an M.2 and, again, that’s coming from someone who owns one. If you DO decide to get one, make sure it’s NVMe and not just a SATA drive in the “stick of gum” form factor. But I’d really just stick with a standard SSD and save the money for elsewhere. The Crucial MX500 benchmarks extremely well, was very well reviewed and you can get a 1TB drive for around $125. I say this as someone with Samsung Evo SSDs (my point, in case it’s not obvious, is that I’m not trying to upsell you on “what you need” from any elitist point of view)

Why is that?

Unless you’re doing things that require moving large files back and forth off the drive (like video editing), you won’t really notice the difference in speed over a good quality traditional SSD. I mean, it is faster but it’s likely money that you’d rather spend somewhere else in your build. You can get 1TB of fast SATA storage for less than 500GB of NVMe M.2 storage and you’re not going to notice the difference on a gaming PC. You could probably get a 1TB M.2 stick that’s actually a non-NVMe SATA drive for the same cost but that defeats the point of the M.2 – and fills up the slot in case you ever decide to use it in the future.

OK, understood. My line of thinking was that using the M.2 slots on the motherboard was simple and logical.

I’m just in the research phase right now but appreciate the advice.

Sure thing. I assume you’re at least somewhat budget-minded (if you were originally skipping the GPU, etc) so spending double the cost on an NVMe M.2 doesn’t jive well with that goal.

I’d go with an AMD build like you were planning, RX 580 8GB, some fast memory (16GB is fine) and the Crucial MX500 1TB SSD to start. Unless you have a use case that’s going to regularly use optical media, I wouldn’t worry about having an extra 5.25" bay for a DVD drive and just buy an external one for $20 to plug into the USB when you need it. Heck, I haven’t used one at all on my PC built a year ago (installed Windows off a USB) and haven’t missed it.

AMD is cheaper for the performance and, if the kid decides he wants to stream or record his games, the multicore performance of AMD will beat out the same tier Intel chip.

It sounds as though you’re comfortable inside a case but BitWit has an excellent build tutorial video if your son wants to watch something and have some idea how it’s done before getting his hands dirty.

Good luck!

I wouldn’t worry about the 5.25" bays. There’s a reason most new cases don’t include them. I recently built a new PC inside a Fractal Meshify case. I wanted the extra airflow an all-mesh front provides. The NZXT H500 (or H500i if you want to spend an extra $30 for fan and light controller and some extra lighting in the case) are also good price/performance cases.

Also, stock cooling for the processor is adequate. But if you choose a PC case with a solid front, or if you want to play with overclocking at all, you’ll need a better cooler. All-In-One (AIO) water coolers are as easy to install as traditional fan coolers, but for mild overclocks and otherwise good airflow, a good fan cooler will be cheaper.

Agree with most of the other advice. If money is an issue, SSD > M2. GPU is just as important as CPU. MBs are fairly generic among the name manufacturers. Unless you are building in a micro-ATX or mini-ATX case, I’d stick with a (full) ATX board, mostly because an ATX board will have room for more things like fan headers, external USB, RGB controls, and maybe more room for oversized CPU coolers (also consider case size if thinking about some of the really big CPU coolers).

Monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Do you already have a monitor? If so, do you know if it supports Freesync or GSync? What resolution is it?

BTW your idea of make it a joint project is just what I did when I bought my nephew a PC and it worked very well.

He has an ergonomic Microsoft keyboard and mouse. He uses a a 20" HDTV with another 19" on the side.

They will work fine until he can upgrade himself or with Christmas, BDay, etc. gifts.
He’s also interested in a good cam and microphone, if anyone has suggestions?

Not at 13. He’s almost certainly too immature.

The Blue Yeti line of mics seems to be the standard. Note that a good quality streaming mic will run you over a hundred dollars, plus the camera (I don’t have any recommendations there).

I assume he wants the camera and mic for streaming on Twitch in which case the AMD build is really the way to go.

My new build has a 2700x with my old 1060 3gb (I didn’t feel like buying a new one just yet.) Do you want to output 1080p? 4k? In between?

BFV looks beautiful at 1080p. Fallout 76 struggles. That may be a game-to-game optimization issue.

I do have an M2 for non-game reasons (although when I do put a game on there the load times are very nice) but even my faster HDD works just fine for games. And it was cheap.

Yep, Twitch and Discord with his buddies.