Desktop PC build help for a beginner?

polycounter lvl 3
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BagelHero polycounter lvl 3
...At building PCs, but not quite so much at art. :poly142:

I've been stuck with an [ame=""]old Asus laptop[/ame] (maybe not that exact model, but the same specs) + this silly pink TV monitor with one pixel out for the past few years. The laptop is dying, and it definitely doesn't have the power I need to run my daily projects, neither personal nor professional. Even working on my 2D projects blows on this set up, since running large documents gives me lag out the wazoo and both monitors have inaccurate color.

So, of course I've been thinking about this for a while, and I'm finally in a position where I have a decent budget for a new PC. I'm about to graduate and my current job finishes two weeks after that, so I'll lose access to the decent rigs at school and work. What better time to buy could there be?

That said, I have no idea where to start. I know the basic minimum components to get the PC to... exist, but I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what I should be spending on each part to get the best result for my specific case, since most of what I can find (aside from previous threads made here) has been gaming rig specific, and I could care less about PC gaming right now.

I've been looking around on general "how to build a computer" articles, sites, etc, but I just can't seem to understand the terms being thrown around and how they relate to what I need to do daily, so I figured it couldn't hurt to ask for help. :poly136:

So some clearer questions!
1. For someone who uses a lot of large Photoshop documents, Zbrush, Toolbag 2, Quixel, Substance, Maya, UE4/Unity/CryEngine, etc frequently, doesn't do a whole lot of offline rendering, what kind of CPU/GPU combination am I probably looking at? Price-wise, and if there's a clear winner in brand in these areas. Keeping in mind I do generally do this all day, near every day, frequently having a number of them open at once.
2. Is there any way I could have someone else put it together for me, or is it just an all-round better idea to do it myself? I might be able to, but I'm nervous about fucking around with expensive things I can't quite understand.
3. How do you pick a case? Are there good qualities and bad qualities? Should I just go for something cheap and simple or is it worth shelling out more?
4. Do I have to do/buy anything in particular to make sure I have an adequate amount of HDMI and USB ports, and compatibility with a dual monitor set up?
My budget's around $2400, including monitors. I can probably afford to blow it a little if I hold off a little longer to buy everything, or buy a couple of components at a time.
I plan on getting a single SSD and a 2TB HD, and is there anything else I need to be careful of? I think I've got a decent idea for what to do with the other components, but if there's anything to be wary of I'd like to know!

Some recommendations on decent budget monitors would also be super helpful! I'm going for dual monitors, so emphasis on the "budget". This bit I do actually know what to look for a bit so I can probably dig up something myself, but it's worth checking to see if there's something reliable at least.

Thanks in advance!
( Sorry for the barrage of overly cautious and probably somewhat misinformed questions. I've been trying my best to just learn this stuff myself and suss out what I need but I'm pretty sure I just got more lost. :poly122: )


  • Rwolf
    check this guy out, he pretty good at explaining things.
    [ame=" Build a Better $1500 Gaming PC Computer "How To" Guide - YouTube[/ame]

    1. at least a intel i5 processor / quad core processor, and 8gigs of ram minimum on the low end, intel i7 processor and 32gigs or more on the high end.
    -depending for gpu accelerated programs like maya, a gaming graphics card is fine, but if you intend on really heavy scenes you might look into workstation graphics cards but can cost substantially more.
    2. case dosn't matter as much, it's more of a personal preference. although the smaller you go, the hotter your pc will run. Also be aware some cheap cases are bundled with a cheap power supply, Just do some quick research if that included power supply is reliable.
    3. Nope. current motherboards should have enough ports, and even basic video cards will have hdmi out.

    also, pc building maybe addictive.
  • l.croxton
    First thing I would say is that it is not difficult to build your own PC so don't be nervous etc.
    Secondly I have just ordered a whole new setup for myself pretty much for the exact same reason as you, when pricing my parts up compared to a pre-built the difference was about £400ish which depending on your own financial situation may be nothing to really worry about or means a BIG difference.

    However with pre-built you will get (atleast from any decent place) a good warranty cover and support if needed. Also with a prebuilt you are almost guaranteed a good stable running setup.

    For monitors I saw people suggesting only IPS (or IPS-e) sure someone will correct me if wrong as they have the best colour display. Atleast that's what I read.
  • Richapocalypse
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    Richapocalypse polycounter lvl 4
    1. I prefer my intel chip since I have had no problems and my friends AMD build has nothing but problems. Though AMD is cheaper if you need to focus on price. You also want to make sure you have good speeds and enough VRAM on the GPU. I would personally SLI two video cards, but not necessary.

    2. I can skype you and tell you where to put everything and what to do. I built and fixed pc's for a living during college.

    3. You want a case that has space for proper cable management and maximum airflow.

    4. Your monitor should come with everything you need. I prefer asus monitors because they have various settings for color display depending what you are doing. I would also get a matte monitor because nothing sucks more than light glare. My roommate got a glossy one because its "cool looking" and now hes paying for it now with all dat glare.

    If you want I can put a list together for your budget.
    Oh and you want to buy thermal paste.
  • Fuiosg
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    Fuiosg polycounter lvl 5
    Check out Carey Holzman on youtube. He really helped me with my build, goes through things nice and slow but thoroughly. He builds PCs for a living, so he knows a thing or two.
  • BagelHero
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    BagelHero polycounter lvl 3
    Whoops! Thanks for all the replies guys, the Christmas season ate me.
    This is a bunch of good info, I've got a bit of a better idea of what I'm going for.
    I'll make sure to do proper research on the components I end up getting, but I'm feeling a little more confident about putting it together myself after watching a bunch of videos and reading up about what I should/shouldn't do. :)
  • Dataday
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    Dataday polycounter lvl 5
    Just a heads up, you really cant go wrong with CoolerMaster cases, Asus motherboards and various Corsair parts.
  • beefaroni
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    beefaroni greentooth
    Bored and decided to put together two builds.

    4 core (8HT), 16GB ram.

    6 core (12HT), 32GB DDR4 ram.

    If you live near a microcenter, you can get the 5820K for $300 and the MSI X99 SLI for $175.

    With the second build you shouldn't have to close out anything.

    I also went with a good main screen and a smaller side screen for ref and whatever.
  • ZacD
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    ZacD greentooth
    For the 6 core build I would recommend a better CPU cooler, they put out a lot of heat.
  • ComatoriuM
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    ComatoriuM polycounter lvl 3
    The new razer blade 14"? It seems very good, just a 'little' overpriced. But you got the money...It's a good option on-the-go for gaming and workstation.
  • BagelHero
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    BagelHero polycounter lvl 3
    Thanks again, to everyone, factored in everything.
    So, keeping in mind that this is AUD, so everything costs ridiculous-sounding amounts more, is there anything here that is a stupid decision that'll bite me in the arse?

    I'm kind of hovering over the checkout button. I've been looking at doing this and researching for months and I'm not seeing any major problems myself other than perhaps slight overkill in some departments... I could just be tired though, and this is a lot of money, so a second set of eyes would be golden. I'll be going slightly over budget and waiting a little bit to get a good pair of monitors later-- I want a good home set up and right now is a safe time to pay for that.

    Thanks again.
  • Nosslak
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    Nosslak polycounter lvl 10
    Looks like a pretty solid choice of components. I bought a few of the same components (GPU and CPU) during the black friday sale and have been very happy with them so far.

    I chose the Fractal Design Define R5 for my case as I thought it looked pretty clean and simple, had a lot of space, a lot of expansion possibilites for both cooling and HDDs, and it was said to be a very silent case. I've had it for a few weeks now and have so far not been disappointed with it. I did have a small problem with powering the SSD, HDD and DVD drives, but that was probably just down to the power cable from the PSU being a bit too short and in the end I fixed it by just re-arranging the drives. You should take a look at it if you haven't already.
  • OutOfMyMind
    I would go with the cheapest ram, 1tb hdd and a better PSU(just in case). I dont know the details of this CPU cooler but make sure that it doesnt have any plastic parts(aside to a fan) - these tend to broke easily
  • BagelHero
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    BagelHero polycounter lvl 3
    Thanks for the suggestion, will do! :)

    You reckon? I feel like I need the extra space, I'm a little lax with organization sometimes. Also, that is actually the cheapest 16GB ram combo. What constitutes a better PSU in this case? I'm not savvy so I just picked one with good reviews that could power the build. Thanks for the tips, though, went and had a check of the cooler, seems like it checks out!
  • OutOfMyMind
    Brand + more max watt then you need(PSU real watt output decreases over time) as a reserve. I had german Chieftec with enought power but it went down after 2 years, so my next purchase was the best one on the market back then - OCZ 650watt(altought I usually use X50 graphic cards :] ) its extremly quiet and works for 5 years now.
  • BagelHero
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    BagelHero polycounter lvl 3
    Hm, alright. I went and chose a more powerful one with a good reputation. :) I think I'll bite the bullet and check out now, after deciding whether having a bright green case is more important to me than more space/easier setup. Thanks a whole bunch!

    EDIT: I purchased everything and I am now a teensy weensy bit frightened and nervous. :poly122: But... New computer is on the way, finally.
  • katana
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    katana polycounter lvl 10
    Don't be nervous, just do your research.

    Also be sure to use a quality cpu paste like Arctic. The stuff that comes with the cpu is garbage.

    Also an extra fan or two (with one reversed to blow the hot air out) will help keep things cool. Fans are cheap.

    There's nothing more satisfying than booting up your first computer build.
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Brian "Panda" Choi polycounter lvl 5
    I think the only thing that's annoyed me is the cross checking between actual wattage capacities, or why all MOBOs don't play nice with all CPUs.

    Can someone correct me if I am wrong that this is really the only "esoteric" wall that people need to get over once they think it's vaguely like LEGOs?
  • ZacD
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    ZacD greentooth
    Even though I've helped build at least 3 or 4 computers, I always get nervous excited for the parts to come. It's a lot of fun, but sometimes can be a bit annoying.
  • Tenchi
    I built my own rig just a few weeks ago. It was a lot of fun and a lot easier than I thought. My advice would be to get an anti static wrist strap, use a good thermal paste (artic diamond); figure out the best fan cooling setup and check your temperatures.
  • beefaroni
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    beefaroni greentooth
    katana wrote: »
    Also be sure to use a quality cpu paste like Arctic. The stuff that comes with the cpu is garbage.

    The 212 comes with good paste.

    Also make sure to just use a pea dot on the center! I made the mistake of using too much paste on my build a few years back and it was a long cleanup :(
  • BagelHero
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    BagelHero polycounter lvl 3
    After having the parts arrive quickly, I was a bit scared to touch them so they just sat around for a week or so... But yesterday I was looking for something to do during the day and it seemed like a good idea to just go ahead and build it...

    So, I'm posting from my new computer.
    Slowly, I might add, I bought a really shit Wireless dongle today just to get set up properly, but I'm gonna have to return that. But it felt great to have it boot up (I was really scared I'd fucked over the motherboard) and it runs like a fucking dream now that I've got the OS/Drivers installed. I just opened up a Zbrush project I haven't been able to run in months and it was buttery smooth. The size of the canvas I can use in 2D programs without encountering lag immediately has almost tripled, and Quixel actually functions without crashing while setting things up. My Crab project opens again now, too, and without any lag issues!

    Thanks for the help, everyone. :) I'm super happy right now... Hoping for no issues for a while yet!
  • OutOfMyMind
    Setting up a PC for the first time might be stressing but its difficult to break something, Congratz :]
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