Topic Comprehensive Gaming PC/Laptop Buying Guide
Edited by Kalganized on 5/6/13 6:00 AM (PDT)
* Yay, capped again! Table of contents, as well as the update information and current discussion can be found here:
There's a bunch of "Need new PC" "what should I upgrade" and other similar topics here again and again, so why not create a single go-to guide for it? So I finally got to what I should have long time ago.
The guide will keep it simple and to the point. I will give you the list of the best parts for the level of performance you need, then you choose which one will suit you the best for your budget.
I recommend NewEgg for buying parts, but pcpartpicker.com website may help you find deals from other sites, such as TigerDirect, MicroCenter, us.ncix.com, Amazon, and few others. Also note that all prices are from NewEgg, and may fluctuate but not deviate too far from the price listed here. The prices here do NOT include rebates.
Once again, I strongly recommend you use price-comparison sites like pcpartpicker.com to find deals easier!
All the prices are based on the US dollars.
For actual instructions on building computers, check out YouTube / NewEgg for DIY guides. NewEgg in particular has really in-depth video guide on YouTube. You may still ask if you have a question stumping you though.
* CPU *
The brains of your computer. Many uninformed people will tell you "CPU doesn't matter, GPU owns!", or "You can totally game with Athlon 64s and Pentium 4s", or "MOAR COARS!", or "GIGAHERTZ!". The fact of the matter is, the CPU architecture is the primary drive behind how well the CPU will perform.
So you try to shop for a right CPU, and the first question you ask will be "Which is better, Intel or AMD for gaming?"
"Intel vs. AMD", a perennial question that new builders always ask others in their quest to find most optimal CPU. Answer to that has changed over time -- with domination of AMD during Pentium 4 era, and Intel dominating since Core 2 era to today.
Up until today, if you told me that "I want to buy an AMD FX system!", I would have told you to "No, Intel FTW." AMD is striking back at the Evil Empire with their new, AMD FX Vishera (Piledriver based) CPUs, and it is actually a viable alternative now.
This will bring noticeable change in recommended CPUs for gaming.
More and more recent games are being programmed with more than 4 cores in mind. For example, with upcoming Crysis 3's multiplayer portion, i7-2600k has about ~10 FPS advantage over i5-2500k -- and if you spend $$$$ for the top-end Sandy Bridge-E i7-3930k, whopping ~23 FPS advantage over i5. These are all on stock clock, and all these CPUs could be overclocked, so i5 couldn't ever overcome the FPS deficiency.
So, I will start recommend i7 for a certain crowd of people -- definitely not to those that only play simple games like WoW, but for those gamers also looking to play the latest and the greatest in multiplayer mode.
** The current consensus is as follows:
** Ultra-budget Gaming CPU/APU - These CPUs will give you acceptable performance, but definitely nothing shockingly good. They will struggle with latest games due to the fact these are all dual-core parts, but they will be sufficient for WoW and older / or not demanding games.
** Budget Gaming CPU/APU - They may be named "Budget", but for gamers that aren't looking to run games maxed out, these will fulfill their needs more than enough.
** Mainstream CPU - CPUs here will give you a great baseline gaming performance in most cases, without breaking your budget.
** Best Gaming CPU - These are considered the top of the line when it comes to gaming CPU without having to sell your kidney.
Edited by Kalganized on 3/3/13 6:50 PM (PST)
* CPU Cooler *
Needed if you will overclock your CPU. Stock fans are bad at dealing with heat when overclocking. If you will not overclock, skip this part -- stock fans are good enough in that case.
I recommend CoolerMaster Hyper 212+, or its EVO variant. It should cost somewhere around $30 at most. They are considered best bang for the buck -- not too expensive, but doesn't perform bad either.
If you want to go overkill, there is Noctua NH-D14, but it's a HUGE cooler, and definitely needs a lot of work / pre-planning. Oh, and it's very expensive. I wouldn't recommend this unless you absolutely must have the best air-cooling solution available at all costs. Due to the success of NH-D14, there are other similar products made by different companies; they should work generally as well as an NH-D14, but look for the reviews before you buy one.
There is also a closed-loop liquid cooling set for users that want to try out water cooling for their computer without going full water cooling setup. Examples include Antec Kuhler and Corsair Hydro series of coolers. Note that cheap Kuhler / Hydro coolers don't cool all that much better, if anything, worse than Hyper 212+ / EVO.
Therefore, if you were to get a closed-loop liquid cooling setup, I would recommend Corsair H80i (or its equivalent, price-wise) at least.
You must be very careful if you choose to buy a radiator larger than 140mm -- coolers like Corsair H100i won't fit in most typical cases, so do your research before you buy the case.
Interestingly enough, most of these will use either CoolIt or Asetek OEM designs -- you probably have figured out something is amiss when most of these closed-loop liquid coolers have a same design.
Some of the brands that produce closed-loop setup includes:
Corsair (Hydro series)
Antec (Kuhler series)
Thermaltake (Water series)
Zalman (LQ series)
NZXT (Kracken series)
Out of those, these products are generally recommended by many:
Corsair's H110, H90
Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer
NZXT's Kraken X60
Note Corsair H110 requires a compatible case, as does Kraken X60.
* Motherboard *
Another crucial part for the PC, but at the same time, can vary greatly based on the features you need.
You can go more expensive if you want. What you pay is what you get, but I don't really recommend it unless you NEED something specific these expensive motherboards offer you.
Note: All motherboards are ATX form factor, unless otherwise noted.
=== AMD Motherboards ===
=== Intel Motherboards ===
* RAM *
There is no specific RAM product recommendation to make, except:
- RAM's price is primarily decided by the RAM's rated speed (DDR3-1600, 1866, etc), RAM kit amount (2x 4GB, 2x 8GB, etc), and finally, RAM's timing (9-9-9-21, 8-8-8-20, etc). Faster the RAM is, higher the RAM amount is, and smaller (or tighter) the RAM timing is, the more expensive they will be.
- For gaming, going beyond 8GB of RAM has zero benefits for you. For those on extreme budget, 4GB will also serve just fine. 8GB is just an icing on the cake.
- When buying, ensure that RAM operates at 1.5v for maximum stability. You can however, go for lower voltage ones, but they usually cost more.
- Some RAM sticks have tall heatsinks. These may interfere when you install a custom CPU cooler with a fan. Only one that comes to mind of this is the Corsair Vengeance RAM sticks.
- RAM without heat spreader/heatsinks work just fine. So don't shy from a naked one when you are putting together a budget build.
- Check your motherboard for their RAM support. Generally, there's not much gain to be had in performance with RAM speed faster than DDR3-1600.
- For FM2-based APUs, faster RAM means faster integrated APU's GPU speed. You should always buy the fastest RAM available for your motherboard if you are buying an AMD APU.
- What does 'dual', 'triple', and 'quad'-channels mean? That means you should buy RAM in sets of two, three, and four respectively to maximize your RAM performance. Sandy Bridge systems covered in this guide, all AMD systems support ONLY dual-channel, which means you want to buy in pairs, not single sticks -- IE) Do not buy 1 x 8GB stick. Buy 2 x 4GB sticks.
Edited by Kalganized on 5/31/13 6:45 AM (PDT)
* Graphics Card & Power Supply *
=== Important note before we begin ===
I automatically assume you are playing at 1920x1080 monitor resolution, and WoW with maxed out settings (except shadows set to high, and no anti-aliasing).
If you are looking to overclock your graphics card, look for specific brand sub-types -- as you need a good cooling for them.
Some of these "overclock friendly" graphics card brands include:
Graphics cards require a certain level of power supply wattage, so I recommended them here alongside the graphics card. The recommendation is actually more than what the card + system actually needs, but it gives you some headroom with overclocks or other components. You can probably get a ~50W lower power supplies and still be fine.
While I leave it up to you to buy the actual power supply, any power supplies you choose to buy must have 80 Plus Bronze certification. If the power supply you are looking at has no 80 Plus certification whatsoever, do not buy them. Even if your budget is small, never skimp out on a power supply quality. Bad ones will die faster, cause system issues, and ultimately, can destroy rest of your computer if it chooses to die.
The wattage I recommend you here automatically assume that you have a high-quality power supply, not crappy $30 500W DiabloTek piece of !@#$.
There are power supplies with higher level of 80 Plus certification, IE) Silver, Gold, Platinum. They are not necessary, and does add noticeable amount $ required to buy them. If power saving is absolutely paramount to you with regardless of up-front cost, by all means, go for them. Otherwise, don't.
When you choose a power supply, get one that will power the graphics card you plan to stay with, not for you are buying for now.
Recommended power supply brands include:
That said, here is the guide!
** Cheapest Possible Without Killing Performance - The Radeon HD 7750s have become lot more cheaper than it used to be, while the HD 6670 has barely changed at all.
** Budget - GeForce GTX 650 Tis have finally received price reduction. This means that now, instead of the Radeon HD 7770, you should get the GTX 650 Ti as they now cost about the same as an HD 7770.
** Best Perf/Price Card For Most Gamers - The new Radeon HD 7790 is already beaten by the cheaper GeForce GTX 650 Ti.
** Entry Mid-Range Graphics Cards - I'm sure some users have some more $ to spend than $180 for a graphics card, but not $240 for one.
** Best Bang for the Buck @ Mid-Range Arena -
** Between Mid-Range and Top-End - I realize some people want something more than what the HD 7870 XT offers, but don't want to shell out $400 for a top graphics card.
** High-End Best Bang for the Buck Single-GPU Graphics Card - nVidia is trying to make up for the loss of GTX 680 sales with the "new" GTX 770.
** What about the GTX 780 / GeForce Titan?! - The GeForce GTX 780 certainly performs very well for how much it costs -- it can come pretty close to Titan performance for much less too, with good OC thrown in.
** But I want to know what to buy, GTX 690 or HD 7990! - Fine, fine...
Note on SLi/CrossFireX: For most gamers, this is not a necessary feature, and it's much better to get a better-performing single card rather than trying to set up two mid-range cards. While performance improvement is there, SLi/CrossFireX has lot of extra headaches that do not come with a single GPU setup.
Edited by Kalganized on 1/3/13 5:23 PM (PST)
* Hard Disks, SSD, and DVD drive *
Many users will be just fine with a single 500GB or 1TB mechanical hard disk, but more and more users are putting in extra dough for the SSD today. SSD (Solid State Disk/Drive) is worth the money if you can spare it; it does significantly reduce time you spend waiting for things to load (especially when you boot the system!).
SSDs are however, still too small for many users to be used alone, so it is recommended that you pair it up with a 500GB (or higher) mechanical hard disk as a data drive. However, if you're a thrift user and don't use more than 100GB, for example, you could potentially use SSD as the sole drive in your system.
DVD burners should never cost more than $19. Any higher, you are getting ripped off.
It is notable that hard disks and DVD drives are often scrounged up from your old computer. It is recommended that you do so (unless if they are showing signs of dying), as it'll shave a good amount of $ total off your build -- leaving more money for you to either save, or to invest in a better part elsewhere.
To reuse them, they must be in a standard form factor, AND use SATA interface. If they use old IDE interface, they can't be reused.
** Here are the general tips on the hard disk:
- Ensure that it runs at 7200 RPM, unless if it is being accompanied with a SSD as a data drive, then in which slower drives are OK (such as 5400 / 5900 RPM).
- SATA II / III distinction is worthless on a mechanical hard disk as they can't even come close to fully saturating SATA II interface anyway.
- Both Seagate and Western Digital drives have more expensive models. They aren't really designed for consumer consumption, so I wouldn't really bother with them. I specifically am referring to Seagate Constellation / WD RE models.
- Some hard drives (like Seagate Momentus) come in 2.5" shape. You don't want these.
** Here are the general tips for the SSD:
- 120/128GB is the sweet spot of SSD you should buy. Smaller SSDs have performance penalty, and thus, not recommended. Up until 240/256GB, SSDs retain decent price per GB ratio, but beyond that, the price tends to rapidly inflate.
- If an SSD seems too cheap to be true, it's usually because they use old tech. You do not want these.
- Here are the recommended SSD brands:
- OCZ Vertex 4 (Marvell-based, Indilinx firmware)
- SSDs usually come with a Marvell or a SandForce controller. SandForce is known for their speed, but their second generation controllers had caught a lot of flack for being unstable / not working right. Marvell drives are known for being generally, reliable and still performing well enough. Some SSDs come with their own firmware/controller setup, IE) Samsung SSDs.
- Some of the SSD packages come with screws, a bracket, and a SATA cable (Intel 520). Some come with less accessories (Corsair Performance Pro), and some come with just the SSD (Crucial m4). Be mindful of this when you buy an SSD.
- Many cases have SSD brackets or places where SSD can be installed to. Some do not. If it does not, do not panic. Since SSD contains no moving parts, you can just lay it flat somewhere in the case and it will be OK. Just remember about the SSD when you move your PC. You could hold it in place using the duct tape or something.
** SSD optimization tips:
There are some extra work you have to do to ensure full performance on your SSD.
- Plug SSD SATA cable to a SATA III port on the motherboard. Plugging it to a SATA II port will gimp its performance (unless it's older generation SSDs).
- Enter the motherboard BIOS during boot, and ensure that SATA mode is set to AHCI (or RAID if you do RAID). Leaving it to IDE compatible will cause big performance penalty to SSD speed. Most modern motherboards today will have it at AHCI by default, but it doesn't hurt to double check.
- SSD firmware makes a rather big difference in maintaining speed and reliability of the drive. Because of this, before you proceed with installing Windows on the SSD, update the firmware on the SSD if there is one for yours. You should continue to update it whenever possible, especially if you use a SandForce-based SSD.
- Always do a fresh install of Windows 7 / 8 on the SSD. This is because Windows 7 / 8 does bunch of extra tasks specifically designed for the SSD during the installation only. Do not copy over your OS as it is to the SSD.
- Once installed, disable Windows Search, and drive indexing on the SSD. Also, you can elect to fix Windows swap file (virtual memory) to fixed size (1GB~2GB) to the mechanical hard drive, but this isn't required.
- To further save on writing cycles, assign Windows temporary folders to a hard drive, change where your web browser stores cache / cookies. Doing those two alone will significantly save on the writing cycles of your SSD.
- Never run any "SSD optimizers" nor "SSD defragmentation software" of any kind except ones supplied by the vendor of the SSD. These are not necessary and in fact, will hurt your SSD. However, Windows 8's default defragmentation program is now called "Disk Optimizer", and it is OK to leave it to "optimize" the SSD. It knows what it's doing, so do not worry.
- Leave Windows 7 / 8 and programs + specific games you want to see speed boost on the SSD. All "data" such as music, movie, pictures, and all other games, should be on the mechanical hard disk.
- Avoid using any disk eraser tools on the SSD, except when selling the SSD to someone else in some way.
* Case *
Before we begin: NEVER buy a case that comes with a power supply. These power supplies are absolutely atrocious and you WILL regret it if you do buy them.
** Best recommended: It's been a while since I updated this section. With advent of many motherboards coming with onboard USB 3.0 connector, HAF 912 is definitely showing its age.
Now, I would only recommend cases that has at least 2 USB 3.0 connectors at front, and the honor to best recommended this time, goes to CoolerMaster Storm Enforcer.
- CoolerMaster Storm Enforcer @ $80
It is bit on a garish side, I suppose.
If you want any other cases instead, that is your choice, as usual, but ensure: Air flow, ease of use, SSD bracket, front panel USB 3.0 availability, and ability to hold long graphics cards.
Here are some of other well-known case manufacturers:
* OS *
If you do not own a copy of Windows 7 or Vista 64-bit, it's time to move to a modern age. Windows 8 Professional can be bought right now for $15 / $45 until January 2013.
If you hate Windows 8's default UI, install Start8 or Classic Start to revert the UI to Windows 7 style.
There's absolutely zero reason to buy Windows 7 as Windows 8 also performs better a little.
If you do own it, feel free to re-use it. You may be asked to get a new key from Microsoft. Do not panic if that happens. Call Microsoft, explain that you just built a new computer, and get a key.
If you own a 32-bit version of 7 / 8 or Vista, don't worry. 32-bit key can be used for 64-bit version. You just have to... acquire the 64-bit version of OS somewhere. If you can't / won't, bite the bullet and buy the 64-bit version.
HP/Dell/etc. never gives you an actual OS disc; they simply "bundle" it onto the hard disk as a recovery partition. So you still have to buy a new copy -- not to mention the keys used by HP/Dell/etc. are specific to an OEM -- they will only activate on HP/Dell/etc. computers.
If you own a copy of XP, I strongly recommend you to upgrade to Windows 8. Many games today take advantage of DirectX 11 effects, and WoW is one of them. For most users, using DirectX 11 in WoW will improve performance as well as including some new fancy graphics effects.
Edited by Kalganized on 11/17/12 1:54 PM (PST)
* Monitors *
Size is up to you. However, you should buy a monitor whose native resolution is at least 1920x1080. Also try to ensure response rate of below 5ms.
LED backlighting is optional. Some monitors will have backlighting leak out, but how bad that can be is totally RNG as each monitor is differently built.
ASUS monitors seem to be very popular for monitors. 24" ASUS monitors top out around ~$200, with smaller monitors costing less. If you want to go as cheap as possible for a monitor for whatever reason, you can find a full HD monitor with <5ms response rate for about $120.
IPS panels (such as Dell U2412M) are becoming more popular, but they are pricey. The advantage of an IPS monitor over typical LCD monitor (based on TN) is that color accuracy is much better on an IPS monitor than a TN monitor. The commonly stated disadvantage is that IPS monitors don't have response rate as good as that of a TN monitor -- especially if the IPS monitor is a true 8-bit color depth panel (professional models costing $500+).
Recently, Korean monitors have been making a splash with foreign users with their 27" 1440p IPS monitors that cost fraction of what other major players in US wants them at. Although buying them means you won't really have warranty support, but considering their price (~$300) vs. the cost Dell, HP, Apple etc. wants for 27" 1440p monitors ($1000), it's a gamble worth considering.
The best part about it is, they aren't using some cheap IPS panels -- they are using exact same LG IPS panels in use by $1000 monitors that Dell, HP, Apple etc. is also using.
If you are interested in that, look into Yamakasi Catleap.
If color reproduction is somehow important to you, look into an IPS monitor. If not, stick to a $200 or less monitors.
* Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers *
Casual gamers should be fine with a $20 mouse and keyboard. Hardcore gamers that make use of extra macro keys and such should invest more money.
Mouse? Up to you. Fancier ones have more macro keys you can make use of.
Speakers generally aren't bought since many users re-use their existing sets, or have a dedicated headset already, so it's not really worth mentioning.
However, it is important to note that these things don't improve your FPS nor make your system run faster. Never sacrifice main computer parts for a fancy keyboard, mouse, or speakers.
If you have some $ to spare, mechanical keyboards are considered the "ultimate" in gaming keyboard. Mechanical keyboards use mechanical switches that will give you much better experience with your keyboard over typical $10 keyboards using membrane switches.
The most popular mechanical switch type is the Cherry MX switches. Most mechanical keyboards you can buy (made for gamers) will feature one of those Cherry MX switches. Cherry MX switches come in 5 flavors, each with different actuation point, force required, and noise made:
* Black: Made for "gaming", requires most force to press down to register. Linear, does not make audible click when it is registered. Some people complain about fatigue after a while due to requiring more force to register the key, but some people love it because it's the closest to what they are used to with cheapo membrane keyboards.
* Red: Made for "gaming", is basically Black, but requires lot less force to register the keys. This is one of the more popular switch type for gamer keyboards.
* Brown: Made to be usable for both "gaming" and "typing". These keyboards make audible click when key is registered, so you know exactly how much force you needed to register the key. They are usually considered best type of switch for gamers that don't game a lot and wants to have feedback when they type.
* Blue: Made to be a typist's switch. They make the loudest noise when the key is registered. They also require a little more force than the Brown switches in order to register. It depends wholly on a person as to whether they like Blues or not. Some "gamer" keyboards have Blue switches, like BlackWidow series.
* Clear: It's in-between Blue and Brown switch, but this switch is very rare.
Of course, Cherry MX isn't the only type of mechanical switches available. There are others, such as Alps and such. There's even old IBM Model M-style buckeye spring-type keyboards. But suffice to say, Cherry MX is more or less "the switch" to go for the most.
Other companies are also making mechanical keyboards nowadays. Some of these include: CoolerMaster, Rosewill, and few others. Lesser known, but held in high regards include Ducky, Filco, Das Keyboards, and more.
Edited by Kalganized on 11/2/12 1:17 PM (PDT)
* Addendum 1: When do I upgrade CPU / GPU? *
I realized I never really got into details on when you should upgrade. Here is a general guide when you should upgrade.
For CPU, if you have these CPUs, you do not have to upgrade yet. Otherwise, it's time for an upgrade -- you would replace CPU, RAM (if RAM is not DDR3. If DDR3, reuse), and motherboard:
- Second-and-half generation Intel Ivy Bridge i-series CPU, such as i5-3570k, i7-3770k
- Second-and-half generation Intel Ivy Bridge-based Pentiums
- Second-generation Intel Sandy Bridge i-series CPU, such as i3-2120, i5-2500k, i7-2600k
- Second-generation Intel Sandy Bridge-based Pentiums
- First-and-half generation Intel Westmere i-series CPU, such as i3-560, i5-680, i7-970
- First-generation Intel Nehalem i-series CPU, such as i5-760, i7-960
For the listed Pentiums and Celerons, if you feel that you want more CPU performance, upgrade to the same family i3 or i5 CPUs (no need to get a new motherboard/RAM). IE) Sandy Bridge Pentium G630 -> Sandy Bridge i3-2120. You can choose to go Ivy Bridge only if the motherboard supports it.
- Second Generation AMD FX "Piledriver" (Vishera) CPU, such as FX-8350
- First generation AMD FX "Bulldozer" (Zambezi) CPU, such as FX-8150
- Phenom II CPU, such as Phenom II X4 955 BE, Phenom II X6 960T
For GPU (graphics), if your graphics cards is equal or better than following, you're still good. Otherwise, it's time to upgrade your graphics (IF you want to), and also may require power supply upgrade:
GeForce 600 models, of sub-model 650 or above.
GeForce 500 models, of sub-model 550 Ti or above.
GeForce 400 models, of sub-model 450 or above.
GeForce 200 models, of GTX 280 or above.
Radeon 7000 models, of sub-model 7750 or above.
Radeon 6000 models, of sub-model 6770 or above.
Radeon 5000 models, of sub-model 5770 or above.
Radeon 4000 models, of sub-model 4870 or above.
=== Upgrade Checklist! ===
So your system doesn't meet the requirements above, and you want to upgrade (not get a whole new PC). So what do you need?
- Minimum required parts:
- Required for the most part:
- Required sometimes:
- Generally not required:
- What about Windows? Wouldn't upgrading CPU+Motherboard screw it over?
Edited by Kalganized on 5/31/13 6:45 AM (PDT)
* Addendum 2: TL;DR, Just Gimme a Good Build! *
Fine. But I put so much effort to the guide as whole! For you! You have to read it!... I'll make you read it... [Yandere eyes]
Oops! Ignore that! :) Anyway...
From any of these builds, customize or change things as you see fit, but do note that you need to add in price of OS / Monitor / Keyboard / Mouse / Speakers, if you need them.
You can take these as a guideline too (as well as the price), if you HAVE to get a pre-built system.
Note that while I use a specific CPU cooler / motherboard / power supply / case, you do not have to get the exact same product if you have something else on your mind. Just ensure that you get what fits your budget, and the required features (such as that power supply MUST be 80 Plus Bronze certified).
The estimated FPS for WoW listed here assume we are playing with following settings:
All ultra, except shadows set to high
DirectX 11 mode, WoW 64-bit client
Multisampling 1x, Anisotropic Filtering Trilinear
Playing in a 25-man raid / crowded cities. Anywhere else? Let's just say high enough FPS
These are all minimum expected FPS, but may fluctuate on various factors
Remember: These prices do not factor in - rebates, OS, or accessories like monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.
Here you go:
** Special Build: Set it and Forget it! AMD Trinity Build
** Build 0: Absolute MAXIMUM CHEAPEST Build
** Build 1: Tight Budget Build
** Build 2: Best build for good gaming without spending big $
** Build 3: Give me a pretty good system just under 1k
** Build 4: Yay overkill!
Edited by Kalganized on 12/17/12 3:48 PM (PST)
* Addendum 3: Finding Gaming Laptops That Can Handle KEKEKE ZERG RUSH ^_^ *
I see "get me a gaming laptop plz" topic frequently enough, but since you can't really "custom build" a laptop from ground up, it only gets a small addendum section to itself. Sad, I know.
A lot of people either buy laptops that can barely handle the intense gaming sessions, or buy ones that can't do it at all. My goal here is to ensure that whatever laptop you choose to buy, is going to be a good performer for the price you pay.
=== Caution! i5 and i7 on laptops are not the same as desktop counterpart!!! ===
** Users on budget less than $400 - You can find some AMD A-Series based laptops at this level. They are not going to come with mind-blowing graphics or fast RAM, but they will be the best performer in games in this budget bracket.
** Budget range up to $500 ~ $650 - Here, you will see high-end AMD A-Series Trinity APUs alongside Intel i5s with GT 630M graphics.
** Budget range up to $650 ~ $1000 - There's a relatively large gap in price here because laptop prices are fairly close despite having pretty big GPU differences.
** Budget range up to $1100 ~ $1800 - Now, this is the upper-range of laptop gaming area; GPUs here will perform as well as mid-range gaming PCs, and can truly be a replacement for a desktop in gaming.
** Any higher? Overkill.
Edited by Kalganized on 10/24/12 9:13 PM (PDT)
Hope this guide is helpful in deciding what you want for your new gaming PC/laptop.
If you have questions or asking if build is good or bad, take it to this topic:
Hey Kal, I have been doing some research looking through the past 2 sections of this thread and looking at other websites and I think I have a build.
This is a gaming build that I will be using for WoW, BF3, Diablo 3 and many others. I was trying to stay under $1500 and I just want you to look it over before I purchase anything. This is my first build so hopefully everything is compatible and what not.
CPU: Intel Core i5-3570k
Mobo: ASRock Z77 Extreme4
GPU: EVGA GTX 670 FTW
RAM: Corsair Vengeance 8 GB DDR3 1600
PSU: PC Power and Cooling MKIII 600W
Case: Antec Three Hundred
SSD: Intel 520 120 GB
HD: Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB
CD Drive: Asus DVD Burner
CPU Cooler: Hyper 212 Evo
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
Edited by Kalganized on 6/5/12 10:43 AM (PDT)
The tall heatsinks on the Vengeance RAM may interfere with fan installation on the Hyper 212.
If you are getting an SSD, you can save some $ going with a different / slower hard drive. For example, Seagate sells a 1.5 TB for bit less than that WD hard drive.
Otherwise, looks good.
Ok I switched out the RAM for something more low profile without the tall heatsinks. One last question though. Is there a big difference between the ASUS GTX 670 DC2 Top and the EVGA GTX 670 FTW? To me it just seems like the cooling would be different, but other than that seem not all that different.
Edited by Kalganized on 6/5/12 6:12 PM (PDT)
ASUS DC2 Top is known to use custom voltage regulators for more stability / overhead for overclocking. Their fans are proven too (cool and quiet).
FTW does not seem to do anything special other than to take stock 670 then OC it a bit, but I could be wrong.