First time computer builder

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Superstriker#8, Jun 16, 2014.

  1. Superstriker#8

    Superstriker#8 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 24, 2013
    I'm looking to build a computer for pretty much just photoshop, and some light gaming. I want it to be around $600-650, with a hard ceiling of $750. I started researching motherboards and C/GPUs and could use some reccomendations.
  2. orfeo

    orfeo Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 27, 2013
    Is this the wrong forum??
  3. darosk

    darosk Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 17, 2013
    Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
    Real Name:
    When I started out, Logical Increments was my biggest help, especially for part recommendations whilst staying within a budget. I love how everything is listed out and hyperlinked and they have the totals right there on the far right side.

    I haven't built a rig in a couple years, so I don't know much about the latest deals on particular components - can't really help you there. is another great 'overview' site.
  4. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 2, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
  5. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Real Name:
    Ray, not Oz
    Depending where you're from, you might just want to look at a Dell, Office Depot (US) or such brand, rather than going through the hassle of DIY; they often have deals which include a pretty good PC, monitor etc for around that price, especially for what you want to do. I was once into the beige box PC set (we didn't have the choices available nowadays), but unless you're into really serious stuff, you can get some pretty good deals on ready-build. systems.
  6. fike

    fike Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 11, 2013
    At that price-range, I think you are better off with a standard machine from dell or someone. Change the boot drive to a SSD and load it with at least 16GB of RAM. At that price, I don't think you can do better with a homebuilt.
  7. nuclearboy

    nuclearboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 28, 2011
    Ellicott City, MD
    Real Name:
    If you do go through dell, consider the dell outlet and the sales they have. Also, buy what you need if you go that route. You sometimes cannot upgrade very much once you get it.

    Adding memory is ok if the board will take it. Adding a second drive or a better graphics card is touchy. The power supplies in some cases have no extra juice.

    A little memory and an ssd drive are good safe upgrades.

    If you build your own, you can find good sales to make a pretty decent machine.
  8. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Real Name:
    Sean Rastsmith
    The hardest part about going pre-built is the power supplies/graphics options. Assuming you have general assembly skills (aka. can assemble IKEA furniture) you can do the physical building. The tricky part is the lack of tech support for some people. When I built mine, I kept an eye out for a case/PSU combo, which was significantly cheaper than buying them separately. Is $750 the hard ceiling total, or hard ceiling now? I got what I needed, then had a list of upgrades as I could afford them/the next holiday to come around. Things like a Zalman cooler vs stock, an internal card reader (this is before I started doing photography as much), etc.
  9. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    Before saying what you can and cannot get for the 600-700 the first question is what do you need? Do you need Windows, monitor, keyboard, mouse all in that budget or is that just for the tower unit?
  10. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Real Name:
    Promit Roy
    I'm also going to vote in favor of an off the shelf machine. I've built and continue to build a lot of machines, but that makes sense because of custom specs that are difficult to find without doing custom build orders, which take forever. I'd start with Lenovo, personally. And I have a very, very, very poor opinion of Dell, Asus, or Acer machines. If you are a bit patient, you can also put in an order for a semi-custom machine with iBuyPower or Cyberpower.
  11. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Real Name:
    Sean Rastsmith
    After dealing with Lenovo a few times, they are now on my do-not-buy list. They lock the Windows key to their recovery disc only, so if you have a HD failure, and didn't make their specific disk (or pay $30 for them to send it to you), you can't use the Windows key you paid for. Bit annoying...
  12. mario23

    mario23 Mu-43 Regular

    May 9, 2014
    I've built many computers in all sorts of different configurations. Desktops are rally cheap these days. Last bu I lo I did ended up costing more than what I could have gotten off the shelf.

    Sent from my SM-T520 using Tapatalk
  13. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Hard to beat Dell warranty ... I've blown up a few computers. Last one I got (tower only - few months ago) spent $700 with memory and video card upgrades (no SSD). There is extra room for a couple internal drives but mostly all my drives are external anyway.

    First time builder should start on the low end and take ones time sourcing local parts otherwise the shipping is going to kill your budget.
  14. jziegler

    jziegler Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 15, 2012
    Salem County, New Jersey
    Real Name:
    In that price range, assuming you need Windows, it will be cheaper to buy a prebuilt machine. The big companies get a big volume discount on the Windows license that you won't be able to get yourself.

    I used to build all of my own systems, but now I'm more like 50/50. You can't really save money like 10-15 years ago, and Dell and others really do offer decent customization options now.
  15. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Real Name:
    Intel i3 or AMD A8 CPU $150 or less
    budget ASUS, Gigabyte, or MSI motherboard $80-150
    integrated graphics $0
    4-8gb ram $40-100
    HD and/or SSD $50-200+ dep on capacity $ # of drives
    Quiet case $35-50
    Quality 350-450w PSU $30-70
    KB, Mouse $15-50
    OS license $100-120 if purchased w hardware

    Under $750 including tax is definitely doable, even less with a slower CPU ($150 is top i3)

    Edit: I forgot the monitor - $50-200... See post today about dell 24" for $200


    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
  16. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Real Name:
    If you have a micro center in your area I would highly recommend checking them out for a build. Great prices in line with newegg. Assuming you have a keyboard and mouse, 750 fit a solid build is definitely doable. I built my i5 16Gb ram gtx 660 and 250Gb ssd with os right around that price.

    Otherwise, a stock pc from the Dell outlet, upgrade to ssd, New psu and graphics card. Maybe I'll see you on the battlefield?!
  17. Timmy

    Timmy Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 3, 2013
    Wiltshire - UK
    If you really want to build, I suggest you read the Tom's Hardware system builder marathon articles - they put a lot of work into determining the best PC you can build for your budget category:

    E.g. best $750 PC:,3780.html

    And as per other comments here, you don't save a huge amount of cash by self building - it's more about the enjoyment of the process. Buying used stuff will save you a lot more money (components don't really wear out like they used to), but you'll need to knowledge/research/patience to match the bits correctly.
  18. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    That's in the range. But you don't need to spend $320 on a GPU for Photoshop. But since you'll need that cash for Windows and it's not bad. But until SuperStricker comes back with any information there is little point.
  19. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    I use to build my own computers but stopped doing that many years ago , as nowadays you can get an off-the-shelf computer and upgrade a few components for less money than building one from scratch.

    I TOO suggest and off-the-shelf computer, but nothing standard. What you want to look , and ask for is , "a gaming system" It doesn't matter if you are into games or not because those types of computers are exactly what someone ending a top end Photo/video editing system would need. The hardware requirements for Gamers and Photo/video editors are very much the same; except for the keyboards.

    Try looking at some Alienware Computers. New They are expensive, but there is a deal running on this machine which might fit your needs and budget. I know someone who purchased a Year and a half old alienware computer from a gamer that HAD to upgrade to the latest, and even that slightly older system , with a Ram upgrade, was more than enough computer for his needs as a Graphics arts major using the CS cloud bundle.
  20. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Real Name:
    I will never buy Dell. Too many past problems. I used to buy compaq/HP with few issues, but have since moved on to building my own.

    Really, building a PC is easy. I only have done it once, but have changed out parts and upgraded too. First time was easier than I thought, and you don't have all the bloatware. If you shop Newegg and/or Tiger direct they have super deals on components. I built a PC for gaming for under $500, and the graphics card was more than 20% of the cost. You can get barebones systems too and add parts as needed too.

    You save cash using AMD systems too.