Having a custom PC built - advice please

I started another thread about buying a PC and was quickly brought around to having one custom made rather than forking out for a brand model. Given the price difference for effectively the same end product I’m glad you all talked me out of it!

So, I’ve found a company called Specialistwho seem quite good, and they have some pre-made configurations by type and price range which is helpful. The £600 gaming computer doesn’t look too bad to me, although I’m happy to pay more for something that will work longer. Or I could just construct a custom configuration which might be better.

My computer needs are as follows:

Mainly basic stuff like using the web,
Watching streaming media (okay okay, porn)
Watching the odd DVD
Basic office stuff - the odd word document/spreadsheet
Computer games - all the way from downloadable casual up to high level games

The final category is obviously what is going to determine what I need and how much I spend. Due to the limits of my current system I’ve sort of opted out of playing most current games, but even if money was no object my tastes don’t often run to games like Crysis. I would like the option of being able to run what I want, and I do have some graphically demanding games like Oblivion, the Settlers IV and Overlord (okay, none of them are THAT demanding compared to some games out there, but they’re not exactly solitaire either).

I’ve fallen behind the times when it comes to understanding why I want a core duo/quad CPU (AMD/Intel?) or a particular kind of graphics card (GT? GTX? What bytage?), or what set up of hard drive/RAM would be ideal, so I’m open to suggestions on that. Might as well get some frills like better cooling/noise reduction/sound options etc. I have a decent monitor/speakers/keyboard and other acoutrements already.

Finally, which kind of OS to get? I’ve not met many Shitsta… I mean Vista evangelists, but then Windows 7 is a-commin and Vista upgrades to 7 whereas XP doesn’t. If I do get Vista do I get 32 or 64 bit? The 64 seems to bring with it complications of compatibility that I’m not that keen on given I don’t know why I need it in the first place. Again, happy to pay more to get a good result but I don’t particularly want to spend more than £1000.

Help me Obi-wan KeDopey, you’re my only hope! :smiley:

Vista 64 is the way to go. You should see how much they will charge you for it, if it’s more than $100 see if you can pick up an OEM version on your own for less. You want 64 bit if you are going to have 4 gigs or more of RAM. And you should have 4 gigs or more. It’s cheap and it comes in handy.

I wouldn’t recommend XP simply because some people are actually charging more for it than for Vista. And despite what some people will tell you there’s nothing wrong with Vista. Windows 7 is still probably over a year away anyway, and if you want to upgrade there will likely be a cheaper path through Microsoft online.

The 600 pound setup you mentioned looks good. That 9800 GTX is a generation old, but it’s still a rocking card. It should run most games at a high resolution for a while yet.

I would see about going with an Intel processor however. They pack a lot more punch for the money. Dual core is fine, specially if your main concern is gaming and you’re not doing much video encoding, but a Q9550 Quad core will serve you well into the future.

another possible card for you would be the GTX 260. It’s a current gen card and will outperform the 9800 GTX in most games. You can then go SLI in 3 years if you want to as a possibility.

Okay - I’ve looked at some configurations with an Intel duo set up (Intel® Pentium® DualCore E5200 (2 X 2.50GHz) 800MHz FSB/2MB Cache) and have a very nice model that comes to just under £800 which I think might be a goer. Changing to a quad processor (ntel® Core™2 Quad Q8300 (4 X 2.50GHz) 1333MHz FSB/4MB Cache) makes it just under £900, but given that the CPU is the biggest bitch to upgrade I’m thinking that that might be the worth shelling out for to future proof it.

I think the GTX260 is a good suggestion, and unless my gaming needs change drastically can’t see myself needing anything more powerful at this stage (and if I do it’s a PCI express motherboard so could just buy a new card).

Keep the advice coming guys!

Just wanted to put in that the dual core CPUs are still perfectly fine for gaming purposes. Unless you’re multitaskig, quad-cores really won’t give you a boost proportional to the extra price tag.

I’d say to keep your eyes on Windows 7RCs as they come out and perhaps buy a cheap XP version. Windows 7 isn’t in the tube quite yet, but it’s given every impression of being good for gaming ressources so far.

If you want to go the build yourself route, check out Arst Technica.
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Can you clarify why 64 bit is the way to go? It seems all the OS prices are pretty much the same so it doesn’t really matter which one I get price wise. But having read through one of the the recent Vista (non) appreciation threads recently people seemed to be having significant issues with it, particularly the 64 bit. If these are now ironed out then fine, but again just would like to be clear why I’m getting it if there might be problems.

That said having Vista so I can go 7 when the time comes definitely makes sense.

There are no issues with either version of Vista now a days. It’s hard to even FIND a peripheral without drivers for both versions. Printers cameras, and certainly video/sound cards, etc just work with Vista.

You want 64 bit so that you can address all 4 gigabytes of RAM. 32 bit will only address 3.25 or so, IIRC.

I’ve opted to get 8GB of RAM simply because the price difference isn’t that big. Hopefully the OS will catch up eventually. :slight_smile:

Okay, I think I’ve decided what to get - thanks for your advice everyone.

Vista 64 should have no problems with that amount of RAM. Vista 32 will never, be able to address that amount of RAM – that’s a fundamental limitation of being 32-bit(2 to the power of 32 is 4 Gigabytes).

Sorry - should have been clearer. As I’m getting 8GB I will also get the 64 bit version of Vista.

Okay - PC ordered. I’ll let you know in 10 to 12 working days just how awesome it is.

Don’t forget to join the SDMB steam community!

I’m already on Steam - just joined up. With a better PC maybe I can get to play some of the fun games on there now. :slight_smile: