Thinking about building my own gaming computer. So many questions

While I wouldn’t necessarily want it to be always on my keyboard, I’m jealous of your temp display that doesn’t interfere with your screen(s) at all. I’m also jealous of your temps, but I expected to run hot.

Is there a good free program to show temps and fan speeds as an overlay I could just leave on the screen while testing stuff? I downloaded hwinfo64, and it’s great in terms of data, but presentation is a giant old-school dialog box that takes up much of the screen. I like that it lets me temporarily hide everything else and just keep the stats I’m measuring, but it’s not something I can keep on the screen while playing Starcraft 2 or Zone Defense 3.

As an aside, while playing with hwinfo64, IIRC, opening a program like IE on the new computer jumps the temps about +10c for a second, and then they drop right back down. I’m imagining all sorts of things I could check out for fine-tuning my fan curve, but the giant retro interface of hwinfo64 is suboptimal, and I’m trying to avoid a bunch of random freeware I googled myself. Recommendations welcome.

Not too late at all, as I’m running without a videocard for the foreseeable future. I’m open to a 1000 series card as a concept. My gaming requirements are even more modest than yours, so I may end up doing the same as you depending on shortages and my patience. Regardless if I go for a “cheaper” card or hold out for a 3060 ti, it’ll be months before I get any video card at all.

I write “cheaper” in quotes because searching “Nvidia GTX 1660 Super” on amazon shows this as a first match for $650. Yeeouch. It’s $680 on Newegg, in stock.

I currently covet either of two different 3060 ti’s: the msi gaming x trio, and the asus rog strix. Both out of stock, of course, but both listed on Newegg as cheaper (only by like $30) than the in-stock 1660 Super. The msi gaming x trio is what I get when I google “quietest 3060 ti.” That same source cites the asus rog strix as also very quiet, plus the asus runs 10c cooler than the msi. But the msi would match my motherboard so it gets bonus points, plus it’s quieter. Either would be amazing. Eventually one of them will go under $500 (right?) and I’ll grab one.

Upping to 32gb ram is always on the table and will happen the first time I find myself wishing I had more memory.

Wow, is this the import ban from China having a serious effect? In the UK the horrible price of the pound in the long term has ruined our pricing, but I did get my 1660 Super for £215, which would price out at $268, but at your pricing it makes little sense to buy a gfx card if you can reuse another one in the short term for lower end games. Looking at the same site, I can still get a similar spec card for £227 so not having massive effect on pricing here, though a bit more expensive.

The 3060 TX Trios are £490 here, $615 in your money. It seems that there’s a shortage in older decent cards over your way.

This performance to price rating site seems about right for the 1060 my side, but it seems as if there’s lots of supply issues in the US at the moment, and good reason to hold off. I’d even consider AMD but it doesn’t look quite the old consistently cheaper price that ATI had (I also remember my drivers going out of date permanently when I had an ATI card and not going to let that happen again).

Thanks. I appreciate your perspective, and I’ll continue to think on it. That volume slider looks annoying. I wonder if it can be disabled.

Since the 1660 series card has been mentioned, I’ll throw in that I bought a 1660TI last year for about $225 (before gfx card prices went crazy again). I’m really happy with it for 1080p gaming. I get great framerates, usually over 60fps, sometimes over 100fps, with settings maxed. It doesn’t fare quite as well in No Man’s Sky with some settings at max, but it’s poorly optimized.

I don’t use mine. It came slid to 100% and that was apparently the base volume level already set in Windows. I suspect I could calibrate it so 1-100 matched 1-100 in the Windows Mixer volume but I already have five other volume controls between Windows, my USB sound card, my headset/speakers, the application volume control, etc. Last thing I need is another one on my keyboard so I ignore it.

Video card pricing is currently fucked. Violently so. The RTX 3000 series was announced and it was a solid generational leap forward (esp. vs 1000 to 2000 series) so everyone was ready to pounce and buy. People sold off their 2000 series cards at firesale prices in anticipation. Then…

  • Not a ton of 3000 series cards have been produced due to shortages in chip manufacturing capacity and availability of DDR6 memory
  • Anticipation for Cyberpunk 2077 drove demand even higher than “normal”
  • Scalpers have gotten increasing capable at using bots to buy up stock the moment it hits Newegg, Best Buy, manufacturer websites, etc.
  • AMD spectacularly failed to meet demand as well, after ensuring that they would have tons of cards and there would be no “paper launch”
  • Crypto currencies are surging again so GPU mining is back in fashion and the new cards are very good at it
  • Trump era tariffs went into effect, further adding to manufacturing and shipping costs
  • Various Covid-19 issues including shortages of shipping capacity (and greater associated costs)
  • Initially the cards were priced very competitively compared to the previous generation so, again, you had a lot of people read to buy
  • I’m sure manufacturers are using the above to further tack onto MSRP in a “Hey, if people are buying this $500 card on eBay for $800, why ain’t WE selling it for $800? Call it… uh… increased costs!” sort of way. You saw the same a few years ago when crypto was constricting the GPU market and manufacturers & retailers went from trying to be the good guy to saying “We’re just leaving money on the table here”

All of this has led to a massive shortage of video cards which has had the cascading effect of older generations skyrocketing in price as people are either trying to make a new build and find any half-decent card or people who sold off their cards expecting to waltz into Micro Center and grab a 3000 series off the shelf and are now combing Craigslist for a used GTX 1080 just to be able to play their library. Card pricing is ridiculous and is expected to be so at least through the first half of 2021 if not longer. I lucked into falling ass-first into an RTX 3080 when they first came out and before things got really bad but I’m afraid to sell my old GPUs laying around (RX 480 8GB, R9 290X and my old GTX 1080 in my son’s system) just in case something breaks and I can’t find a serviceable stopgap replacement.

I paid the main local Bay Area computer store $75 or $100 to build mine. I got to choose exactly the parts I wanted and then they wired it up and did the overnight stress testing.

I ended up buying all the parts through them because they would have charged me $225 for the build otherwise. And this made sure there were no loose ends with potential issues with parts that weren’t guaranteed by the builder shop.

I checked all the prices carefully and they were within $5 on almost every part so it was fine

Ryzen 7 3700x CPU
EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 Super GPU
Asus TUF x570 motherboard
32 GB G.Skill 3600 (Neo?)
Seasonic Titanium 750 watt (can’t remember the model but it has a 12 year warranty)
Samsung 1 TB NVMe SSD (don’t remember which, it was the second best EVO or EVO Plus or something)
Some middle-of-the-road WD 4 TB HDD
NZXT H510 TG case
Windows 10 Professional

I got this March 7, 2020. Right as the pandemic started here but had already been in China for weeks/months. I hurried to buy it because I was scared they would be shutting down production in China and/or prices would shoot up but I did OK. All of the above for about $1800.

Best of all, and perhaps most pertinent to your situation is that I ended up paying to have someone build it. That locked the whole thing up in a 1 year parts and labor warranty offered by the builder store which was important to me. Also, I thought it’s be fun to build but in the end I’m glad I didn’t.

To late to add on edit:

I think someone mentioned this above: you may not need that fast of storage devices if you’re mostly going to be gaming. I’m a video editor so it was important to me to have storage that could move huge amounts of data around really quickly but you maybe don’t even need NVMe. SSD is certainly cool, though.

Oh. also, like you EllisDee, I was a confirmed Intel guy before I got this. I was pretty reluctant at first to even look at AMD processors but I think in this last go around in early 2020 AMD had drawn very close to Intel and even surpassed them with some chips targeted toward gamers.

I really would benefit from workstation class CPU’s like Intel i9 XE or AMD Threadripper and GPUs like NVIDEA Quadro but I can’t afford that so I had to do a lot of research and try to get the most appropriate gaming rig. It does pretty well but 4k video is still a bit much to do any serious work on.

Exactly right. For the this year and possibly next I’m just using the integrated chipset graphics on the cpu as my gpu. It’s rated higher than the actual video card from my old computer, so I can still play all the old games I played on my old computer. I just won’t bother with new games until next year. In the meantime, for everything else I do on the computer, this new build is already a major upgrade, no waiting. Woohoo!

The stupid amazon reviewer guy got in my head. I can hear a low vibration, and it’s annoying. Because of that guy’s review, the hypochondriac in me is convinced that the low vibration I’m hearing is low frequency sound, and that it’s driving me insane or stopping my heart or interfering with my brain signals or whatever it supposedly does.

Except that the low vibration I’m hearing is NOT coming from the computer, which is utterly silent. It’s coming from the house’s central air and filtration system. I just never heard this sound in this room before because the computer fans were so loud they drowned it out. Now with a quiet computer I can hear it clear as day, but only because I was so focused on trying to hear the computer, which I can’t.

No doubt I’ll eventually get used to this low vibration, but I’m super annoyed that that guy put that thought into my head. As I type this I can feel it fucking with me…driving me insane…I’m losing me! Fucking amazon reviews.

This is exactly what I wanted to do, and would have in a heartbeat, but I never did pull the trigger on calling around to local shops to see if they were interested. 3 weeks ago this was my strong preference.

The more I researched and the more videos I watched the more I started to think that this would be something I could do and might be worth learning. In the end I’m very glad I did. At the same time, had I gone the other way and had a professional do the building, I would also have been very glad I made that choice. Specifically for the support, but having done the build myself I no longer worry about having to support it myself. It ended up being a winning choice no matter which way I went, which is my favorite kind of decision to make.

I like your system a lot by the way. I agree with you about AMD but I just couldn’t pull the trigger.

I think you’re right that the m.2 advantage over 2.5" ssd probably isn’t strictly worth the cost. That choice was made solely in service to being modern.

I was on a waiting list at my local computer store for a Ryzen 9 5900x or a Ryzen 7 5800x. I do both gaming and cad/rendering stuff, so the new Ryzen chips are ideal.

I got a call last week that a 5800x had come in, and the 5900’s are nowhere to be found and likely won’t be for a while, so I built up a new system with the 5800x, an ASUS Rog Strix X-570e mb, 32 gb of PC3600 RAM, and a new dual water cooler unit. I kept my GTX980 graphics ard, my Samsung EVO 850 SSD and my hard drives. I already had an excellent modular power supply.

I was amazed at how easy the build went. I didn’t even re-install Windows. Just put the new Mb/cpu in the case and fired it up. Windows started fine, and activated with no problem. I installed the chipset drivers for the new MB, and everything is running cleanly with no driver issues at all.

One thing about the ASUS motherboard - it has a small chipset fan, and because it is small it whines. My dual watercooler is almost silent, so now I can hear this faint incessant whining all the time. It’s not a dealbreaker, but something to be aware of if you are looking for a silent build.

The other thing is that my old CPU/MB were still just fine. Intel Core I7 2600K, which must be a 10 year old chip by now, but still perfectly usable. Those things were amazing processors, and many are still in use. I didn’t even overclock it. I wouldn’t have even upgraded were it not for the insane CPU requirements of Flight Sim 2020. I’ll probably keep it and put it in a new case for use as a server of some sort.

I’ve been on the list for a 3080 or one of the new high end AMD graphics cards for months now. When I last asked them for a status update, they laughed at me. I’m not expecting to be able to upgrade the graphics for months. Luckily, the GTX980 is a decent card.

I’m very excited about hearing the news that NVidia has one final 3000 card to unveil, their ground floor budget model 3060. That is absolutely the card I should buy to perfectly match my system. I still see no chance to get one before Black Friday at the earliest, at least for a price I’m willing to pay, but still, I’m excited. The onboard chipset graphics is fine for me until then.

New computer is for the most part all set up. I still have to set up the RAM, which is defaulting to a pathetic 2133. (I’ll kick that up to 3200 once I figure out how.) It’ll be weeks or months or forever until I feel like I’ve fully finished setting everything up software-wise, but largely it’s good to go. The overall build does have a few quirks I don’t love, but on the whole I’m absolutely thrilled.

My minor complaints:

  1. The fractal case made it difficult to connect its own USB 3.0 front port connector into the motherboard due to the case cut-out being almost in the way of it. I did manage to get it connected, but it’s putting pressure on the motherboard. Seems to be working fine but will it hold up for 8 years? Who knows. I was unaware of this issue until I actually plugged in the usb 3.0 ports.

  2. Also with the fractal case, there is no HD LED indicator. I find that super annoying, so I plugged the Power LED into the HD LED jumpers on the motherboard. Not having a Power LED is mildly annoying, but much less annoying than not having an HD LED would be. I learned about this one beforehand, so was ready for it.

  3. An apparent quirk of MSI motherboards is with wireless keyboard/mouse waking up the computer. If you don’t set “Wake on USB” in the bios, neither device can wake the computer. But when I do set it in bios, both the keyboard and mouse not only wake the computer from sleep, but they also turn the computer on even if it’s fully powered off. That’s super annoying, but I’ll learn to deal. It had never even occurred to me that such a thing were possible, so this was a surprise. Oh well, live and learn.

Here’s pictures of my first-ever cable management effort. In fairness, I have no video card and a single 2.5" SSD so cable management was super easy, but again, my first ever effort:

Obviously that CPU power cable isn’t exactly “managed” but I didn’t feel comfortable folding it to run it to the side of the motherboard cutout, so I just ran it straight through, old-school style. Otherwise I tried to keep everything as neat as possible.

Because running silently was such a priority for me, I also have sound recordings. I recorded with my phone laying on top of both computer cases.

Links to SndUp: (“Sound Upload”, an audio sharing site.) Unintuitively, you have to click “Download File!” link to make it play in your browser. Kick the volume all the way up to max (in the browser) for all three.

No Computer
As a baseline, here’s the sound of the empty room with no computer running. You can hear the pipes clicking (4 times) from the baseboard heating when you crank it all the way up.

New Computer
Here’s the sound of the new computer, which I turn on with the keyboard 4 seconds in. You can hear the keyboard click clear as day. The only other thing that can be heard is those same pipes clicking as heard on the “No Computer” sample.

Old Computer
When I put on my crappy $6 Panasonic headphones that I love, and crank this volume all the way up to max, the sound I hear is pretty much the actual volume of what the old computer sounded like to me in the room. (For context, I keep my Windows volume control at 50%, and Firefox is set to max, which means Firefox is also at 50%.)

As you might imagine, I am thrilled with how much quieter this new computer is compared to the old one. Still getting used to the sound of the central air filter noise in this room – which I never heard before over the loud computer – but as of yet my heart hasn’t exploded and I haven’t gone insane, so I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

Here’s some actual quality-of-life benchmarks comparing my old system and new:

Old System New System
CPU i3 3220 i5 10400
Video GeForce GT 630 Intel UHD 630
Memory 8GB 16GB
C: Drive 500GB HDD 1TB M.2 NVME
D: Drive 1TB HDD 2TB 2.5" SSD"
Boot Windows 4:01 0:26
Open Audio* 2:46 1:25
Save Audio* 9:25 4:51

*Audio file was 600MB, which is consistent with the occasional audio editing I’ve been doing lately, and one of the reasons I started thinking to myself “I need a new computer.”

I have never been a fan of fast boot, which is why I never turned my old computer off, I just put it to sleep. The new computer boots in 12 seconds with fast boot, but I very much prefer to go through the full “clean” boot process each time. From 4 minutes down to 26 seconds is the kind of massive improvement I was hoping to see, and I am not disappointed.

The audio file editing was a little disappointing. Not quite twice as fast isn’t exactly the improvement I was hoping for, but it is still faster. Audacity only uses a single core, so only 1/6th of the 10400’s power is being used. (7-zip will be a better comparison since it uses all 6 cores, confirmed with testing.)

Speaking of testing all 6 cores, setting 7-Zip to 6 cores and then zipping up a gigabyte’s worth of firefox profile (6000+ folders, 12000+ files, 400MB final zip size; seriously, wtf?!) showed pretty even temperatures on all 6 cores, all around 9-10 degrees warmer than idle while zipping. I’m taking that as evidence that I did well enough on the thermal paste. One core is consistently maybe 2 degrees warmer than the rest, so not perfect but good enough.

I really can’t express how overjoyed I am with this system. I haven’t bought a “real” computer since the late 90s; both my last two computers were crappy budget boxes. This feels like a real computer, albeit a bit on the slow side. Stll, c’est magnifique!

Looks nice! And always an experience to go from old platter hard drives to solid state.

Supposedly, the RTX 3060 will be intentionally crippled in a way to make it unsuitable for crypto mining. If the firmware detects the sort of processes used to mine, it will severely limit the hashing process and make mining untenable but, otherwise, will function normally so it should give maximum performance for gaming or rendering or other applications. How well this work or what impact it has on the card’s retail availability is yet to be seen. Even if it works perfectly, I still predict not enough cards in the short term since a lot of people are still desperate for any new GPU.

Anyone know anything about IMAP email? I’m having trouble setting up my email in a way I can actually back up my contacts list, so I created GQ thread asking for help:

How do you back up your Contact Lists for IMAP email?

Any help is much appreciated.

Once again this is true. After two days of struggling to set up email, I finally figured it out. I was fortunate to hold onto my “This can’t possibly be right” assessment before committing to the google results I kept finding.

I posted my solution in my GQ thread for posterity in case anyone else runs into the same issue as me.

Quick followup, the free on-screen display (OSD) for hardware monitoring while gaming turns out to be RivaTuner Statistics Server (RTSS). It only provides the overlay, not the data, but HWInfo64 provides the data just fine. HWInfo’s settings screen even has a dedicated “OSD (RTSS)” tab to let you configure this specific handshake to your heart’s content. Perfect solution, at least for me.


The old joke in building your own computer goes like this:

Q: What’s the best time to buy the parts for your computer?
A: The week after you bought them.

True to that maxim, within days of purchasing, the CPU price dropped $20 in both Newegg and Amazon. Oh well. So now a month later (purchased Jan 25th and 26th) I thought it might be fun to see how the prices have changed:

Change Component Model Vendor
+$10.00 Motherboard MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk Newegg
-$17.90 CPU Intel i5 10400 Amazon
CPU Cooler Dark Rock Slim Amazon
+$10.00 Power Supply Seasonic Focus 750W Platinum Newegg
+$4.00 Memory 16GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR4 3200 Newegg
+$9.31 C: Drive 1 TB Samsung 970 Evo Plus M.2 NVMe Amazon
D: Drive 2 TB Samsung 860 Evo 2.5" SDD Amazon
Case Fractal Define 7 Compact Newegg
Case Fans Silent Wings 3 (Two 140s, one 120) Newegg
Misc Arctic Silver 5 + kit, wrist strap Amazon
+$15.41 total (+$16.39 after tax)

Turns out to have been largely moot, though the fact that everything except the CPU either stayed the same or gotten more expensive makes me feel better about my overly-impulsive decision to buy within a week of first having the idea to build a computer.

EDIT: Also, I did turn on XMP to get the full 3200MHz out of my ram, as confirmed by both the bios and HWInfo. I assume that’s better than the 2133MHz it defaulted to but honestly I haven’t really noticed any difference.

Depends on the application. In games, you could be looking at a 20-30fps boost. A few of the games in that video were as low as 6-10fps but most fell in that 20-30 range. Likewise, if you’re video rendering or doing other system heavy applications, the memory speed can make a notable difference. Less so if you’re just toodling around the internet or watching Netflix.

Yeah that makes sense. Surfing the web and setting up small spreadsheets (which is all I’ve really been doing so far) isn’t exactly pushing the limits. I did notice that my computer seems to be booting faster than the 26 seconds I mentioned upthread. It’s more like 20 seconds I think, or at most low-20s, so that could be a tangible improvement from enabling XMP.

In my bios, turning on XMP is literally pushing a toggle button on or off. For weeks I thought to myself “That can’t be all there is to it” so I kept putting it off while I configured other things. Turns out that yep, it’s literally just a (graphical) checkbox. Once I gathered up the courage to actually check the box and boot up, full speed achieved.