I'm thinking of upgrading my PC now that I can afford to. Well, I shouldn't say "upgrade," I'm thinking of building or buying and I want your opinion. This post isn't exactly about gaming, since I don't do very much gaming on my PC, but if I had a better system, I might. Some of the games I'm thinking about getting are The Sims 3 and Starcraft 2. I went to Newegg.com (my favorite PC site) and looked up some components and then got frustrated. I also found some things on TomsHardware.com. Here's kind of where my predicament comes in....the very high-end graphics cards are apparently really great (like the Geforce GTX 600 or 700 series), but they are expensive! Apparently Intel has the best processors, too, but I'm an AMD guy. While Intel's CPUs are apparently better, they are also very expensive. I'm tempted to go all out on a PC upgrade (build or purchase) since money really isn't an issue (I'm not as poor as I used to be). But, I wonder if it would be better and cheaper for me to just get a high-end PC from HP or to build one on my own. Thinking about the cost of a high-end GPU, and the cost of Windows alone (I plan to stick with Windows 7, if I can), then it probably would be cheaper to get all of that from HP or someone.

My PC is ok for what I've been doing with it since I built it, but it's been 7 years or so. It can't handle today's best video games and I would like to see it start up faster (it takes about 5 to less than 10 minutes to be ready for me to start doing things with it). I've also noticed a tiny bit of lag every now and then with Terraria, probably because I put it on high quality settings. Right now I have an AMD 5200+ dual core processor. I have 4 gigs of RAM, but it's definitely not DDR3 (the latest standard) nor is my motherboard capable of that. I also have a Geforce 8800GTS (with less than a gig of RAM on it). I had thought to just upgrade my processor, GPU, and get some faster RAM, but again, I feel like that probably won't be enough and I should just go all out on building or buying a new one. That would be cool, too, because I'd be able to give my son this PC and wouldn't have to continue to share my PC with him.

So, what are your thoughts on this? What kind of specs does your computer have? What components would you recommend? What manufacturer would you recommend if I were to buy a new PC instead of build one? If you own a Mac, you can tell me all about it, but you won't convince me to buy one. I'm not a hater, I just don't have any interest in Apple. I know they're good quality computers, but they are expensive and (from what I understand) there is less out there for them (in regards to software) than for a Windows PC. At least, I think that's still true of them, but I could be wrong.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/16/2014 at 08:12am

Just looking at HP's gaming PCs gets me excited! It would probably be more expensive for me to buy the components they have than to buy one. I can definitely afford them! 24Gigs of DDR3 RAM? That's like wow, insane! I currently think 4 is plenty and 8 would be plenty more. http://www.shopping.hp.com/en_US/home-office/-/products/Desktops/Desktops?PageNumber=0&PageSize=15&SearchParameter=%26%40QueryTerm%3D*%26categoryusagedesktops_dte2%3DGaming%26ContextCategoryUUID%3DOp0QxXjbaUcAAAE0eehcZzOt&SortingAttribute=TieredPricing-desc

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/16/2014 at 08:37am

I just searched Newegg for the components that are in the most expensive HP gaming PC (CPU, GPU, RAM, Hard Drive, Windows 8.1) and my total is now more expensive than that HP.

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/16/2014 at 03:53pm

Yeah I don't bother building anymore. The new HP gaming rigs are nice. I got a non-gaming PC and just upgraded the video card and power supply a couple of years ago. By no means the best but I can still max out Skyrim.

And don't fear windows 8. You barely use the metro crap and the backend improvements are worth it.

AdamPFarnsworth wrote on 02/16/2014 at 06:23pm

They're a bit on the expensive side, but I definitely recommend checking out MSI. I bought my laptop a year ago and still absolutely love it! (Previously a motherboard and graphics card manufacturer, they've moved into full computer builds that are amazing) http://us.msi.com/

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/16/2014 at 10:30pm

Thanks, guys! Travis, the HP gaming rigs are nice, but this chart (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-card-review,3107-8.html) makes me want a GTX 690, although it sells for about $1,000. Adym, I found out that the MSI Power motherboard is the best. These two things alone make me want to build and if I do buy or build, I think I'm going with Intel. This chart (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-cpu-review-overclock,3106-6.html) makes me want the I7-4770.

AdamPFarnsworth wrote on 02/16/2014 at 11:14pm


Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/17/2014 at 12:16am

Adym, I'm looking at the MSI site. Do they only have laptops? I'm not even sure which of the series is the best. I don't want a laptop, I want a PC.

So far, the components I've selected (contained in a NewEgg wishlist) comes to a total of $2,000 and that's without the GPU (it's sold out at the moment) nor the case nor the RAM. What do you guys think about the amount of RAM I should have? As I said, I think 4 gigs has suited me just fine and I'm thinking of doubling it (if I build a new PC), but one of the HPs I saw has 24 gigs. Wow!

Travis, I'm not afraid of Windows 8.1, I've just heard nothing but complaints about it (aside from what you said). I'm not sure how much I can give to those complaints though as people hated Vista, whereas I was absolutely in love with it.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/17/2014 at 12:20am

Nevermind, Adym, I found the PCs. They don't have the Geforce that I want, but they do show benchmarks for that Radeon, which (according to what they show) blows the Geforce away.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/17/2014 at 12:59am

Ok, so MSI PCs are All-in-One, which I'm not fond of. I like a PC that has a case so that I can easily upgrade it if/when ever I want to. However, Alienware has some gaming PCs which are seriously getting my consideration. The one I was looking at comes to about less than $2,800. I was able to pick the Geforce GTX 690, which I couldn't seem to find with the other PCs. From the components I've chosen for a build, this Alienware is definitely cheaper (since it's already at $2,000 without the GPU, case, RAM, monitor, keyboard, mouse, hard drive, and some other components that the Alienware one has). Cost isn't really an issue, but I think it would be cheaper to purchase instead of build.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/17/2014 at 01:30am

I agree with Travis too, buy a pre-built PC and upgrade components. I purchased an $800 Gateway and haven't updated it at all and it runs everything I can toss at it with no problems. That said, Gateway is no more but the idea is solid. HP or Alienware is what I would recommend. I really like Alienware but they are fairly expensive.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/17/2014 at 01:32am

Oh and 24 gigs of RAM? Holy shit.

I thought 8G of RAM in my Desktop was a __TON__ then my Macbook came with 8G and apparently thats the new standard. So much RAM.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/17/2014 at 01:37am

The Alienware Aurora starts at $1499 and seems pretty good. The HP gets you more bang for the buck and the case seems WAY smaller. Still, Alienware is pretty neat brand. My fear is that i'll get the Alienware Steam Machine love the shit out of it and then get a Desktop.... I wonder if that's their strategy, if so its not a bad one.

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/17/2014 at 03:18am

Alienware is quality stuff. Really quality stuff. It's overpriced for what you pay for it, to be sure, but you know you're getting quality stuff. One of the things with a lot of PC manufacturers is they sell cheap-ass stuff and you aren't sure what you're getting, so you have to research it. Alienware doesn't have that problem.

It's a tradeoff. If you're willing to put in the research you can get bang-for-buck benefits elsewhere, but Alienware has made a name for itself for good reason.

Greg, for you, I wouldn't suggest it. I've built PC's with you so I know you know your shit :)

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/17/2014 at 03:20am

And J, good point. (Yes, your one-syllable name is too long, so I've shortened it to J)

Alienware getting into the Steam Machine arena is a no-brainer since they're a gaming PC company, but it's a brilliant business move. I have no doubt their Steam Machine will be the bee's knees so they'll tap part of the market they haven't hit before and get some more dedicated fans.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/17/2014 at 04:20am

Thank you for the compliment, Travis! Thank you both for chiming in! I really like this Alienware one I found (middle on this page http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-aurora-r4/pd.aspx?~ck=mn#overrides=dpcwny1:6~W8GT690|dpcwny2:6~W8GT690;11~W8HMAE;5985~U2412MCC;4~W8AWMM;12~AWLMMG1). It lets me get the near $1,000 video card I want and the Intel CPU I want. It also comes with plenty of RAM (8G) and hard drive space (3T). I think I may just go order it. Sure the HPs wowed me, but they didn't have the video card I want (the one that got the highest rating on TomsHardware.com). That doubles my current RAM and comes with faster RAM, too. Comparing its total price versus the total price of the components seems to make it cheaper. It also uses water cooling, which is not something I've really considered, but think it would be nice if set up by a manufacturer.

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/17/2014 at 04:29am

That thing is slick.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/17/2014 at 04:32am

I thought it was sweet!

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/17/2014 at 04:47am

Ordered! I was wrong about the RAM, it has 16G.

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/17/2014 at 04:53am

You'll run out any day now.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/17/2014 at 04:56am

It's hard to believe, but you know how technology progresses. I'm getting Windows 8.1 64-bit on that PC. It won't be here soon enough, I'll have to wait about a week or so for the main component (the PC) to get here, but some of the other items will be here sooner (the monitor, speakers, surge protector).

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/17/2014 at 09:17am

Travis, I watched a video on YouTube from NewEgg about Windows 8.1. The thing that really sells me is that it utilizes memory better and even protects it from hackers. I can't wait to get my new PC!

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/18/2014 at 07:21pm

Here's what I've ordered along with a 24-inch monitor and Bose speakers. Prepare to drool with me!

Alienware Aurora-R4
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4820K Proc (4-cores, 10MB Cache, Overclocked up to 4.2 GHz w/ Turbo Boost)
16GB Quad Channel DDR3 at 1600MHz
Alienware Multi-Media Keyboard
If accessories are purchased, they may ship separately
Standard Chassis in Matte Stealth Black with an 875W Power Supply (for Ivy bridge processor)
Windows 8, 64-bit, English
Alienware Documentation - English
Resource DVD
Alienware Product Survey Application
Alienware Optical Mouse
AlienFX Color, Quasar Blue
Document Reader Included
Single Drive: 24X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability
Cyberlink Media Suite Essentials DVD
Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
Alienware Aurora with Standard Liquid Cooling
Alienhead 3D
Software: Microsoft Office 2013 Trial (which will be promptly uninstalled and replaced with OpenOffice)
Dell Hardware Warranty Plus On-Site Service, Initial Year
Next Business Day Parts and Labor On-Site Response, Initial Year
1 Year Limited Warranty
Warranty Support, Initial Year

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/18/2014 at 07:22pm

Wow, awesome. We decided to do this next Roundtable(films tomorrow) about PC building that was heavily influenced by this post. Do you mind if we talk about your new machine in the show?

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/18/2014 at 10:07pm

Whoa. That's some awesome kit right there.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/19/2014 at 12:08am

I don't mind, Jon. I know I've been mentioned by name once and I'm believed Travis was talking about me at one point when referring to reliving Terraria through a friend. I could be wrong. I don't have a webcam, so I don't think I'll be joining the Roundtable, unless I got one. I definitely look forward to your discussion!

Speaking of which, I've found some interesting articles. I thought you'd like to see this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/graphics-card-myths,3694.html

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/19/2014 at 02:15am

I was indeed talking about you Gregor.

Going off-topic here a bit but I loved that. It was like introducing you and Ed to Final Fantasy VIII. After using a weird argument to convince Ed that Final Fantasy VIII wasn't Satanic, of course.

For those reading this who don't know him (meaning everyone but Greg), my first college roommate was an Apostolic minister. A little sheltered in some ways, but the nicest man I've ever met. He was entranced watching me play FFVIII until Ifrit showed up, and then he thought I was playing devil games. After I explained that I was fighting the "demon" and getting him to fight for the forces of good, he started playing it. And then VII, Chrono Cross, and IX when it came out.

I remember our RA popped in once and Greg and I were playing FFVIII on our PCs and Ed was playing it on my PSX. We were OBSESSED with that game.

There was a certain magic in that game that I never got from the other ones. I know it's off-maligned for a lot of what it did, the draw system, etc, but damn. I wish I could play it again for the first time.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/19/2014 at 02:18am

That's a great story. Those kinds of experiences are magical. Did you see VIII, I think it came out on Steam recently.

Ah yeah, totally.


Travis   Admin wrote on 02/19/2014 at 02:44am

Yep, I bought it. Now to actually play it! :)

CapnCurry   Supporter wrote on 02/19/2014 at 03:17am

I picked up Final Fantasy VIII a couple weeks ago, and played through it. I'd *highly* recommend the Roses and Wine mod: http://steamcommunity.com/app/39150/discussions/0/666828126495993258/
The Steam version comes with some pretty rancid MIDI files for music. Roses and Wine doesn't restore the original game soundtrack, but replaces it with an orchestral version - superior in all ways except nostalgia value. :)

Incidentally, I'd be very curious to hear your experiences going back to it, Travis. I found myself... surprised... at some of my reactions, and I'm curious if it's just me. :)

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/19/2014 at 04:07am

What were your reactions? It may be quite some time before I dive back in, honestly.

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/19/2014 at 04:08am

Also that's an awesome mod. I love the orchestral versions of those songs-- assuming it's the official orchestral arrangements. Otherwise I have no idea.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/19/2014 at 09:31pm

Considering upgrading my PC with this. I am on a 420 watt power supply so this will be a pretty hefty upgrade from my GTX 440 for fairly cheap.


jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/19/2014 at 11:36pm

Looks like that Nvidia I linked might be heading to Steam Machines.


Travis   Admin wrote on 02/20/2014 at 03:16am

It's a perfect card for a Steam Machine. And I'm actually surprised it's that cheap. Hardware falls in price fast when new stuff comes out to replace it.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/20/2014 at 03:47am

Absolutely. Which is part of the reason I want to get it. Same card on my PC and Steam Machine.

"Oh, look, matching video cards how cute!"

Or something.

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/20/2014 at 04:28am

Such a cute family of electronics. They'll give birth to one of these: http://img514.imageshack.us/img514/9964/200803291762affd02af277ab0.jpg

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/21/2014 at 10:13pm

My world just got bigger and brighter! My new 24-inch Dell monitor arrived and replaced the 20-inch Dell monitor I was using. Wow! My Bose speakers also arrived and replaced my cheap $20 speakers from KMart. I never gave too much thought into sound quality and they are awesome!

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/21/2014 at 10:18pm

Oh and you should take a picture of your final setup and share it in the comments here.

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/21/2014 at 10:32pm

Yeah, I second what jdodson says. I want to see it all put together.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/22/2014 at 12:03am

I'll try to take some pics with my Kindle Fire HDX.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 03/05/2014 at 10:35pm

The Aurora has arrived! What a huge box it came in! I put the box on a side and it came up to my waist. I'm of average height (about 5'9"). Now I'm going to have to get used to this keyboard and OS. I took some pictures, but I don't like how they came out. I may have to try again. This thing is a beast! I'm pretty sure I can change the color of the PC lights, I've set everything that I can to blue. Now that I have Chrome installed, it's about time to get some things installed. I didn't install Steam and have no idea how it appeared on my desktop, maybe it came with the PC, but at least that's one less thing for me to install. The old PC has a 320 gig and a 1 Tb drive with data that I'm going to try to move over to the new PC over the network. I'm sure that will take a long time. I don't know what game to play first!

jdodson   Admin wrote on 03/06/2014 at 06:53pm

I bet Alienware has a deal with Valve where they can install Steam by default. I bet most people that buy Alienware PC's want it anyway :D

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 03/06/2014 at 07:55pm

I figured it made sense that Steam comes with a gaming PC. Haha

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 03/06/2014 at 09:57pm

Ha! I went to open Steam (the pre-installed one) and it gave me an error, something about not being able to contact a server. Nothing's wrong with my network, so I'm just going to install Steam myself. My son wants to play some Steam games, too. I'm thinking I might just leave Steam as it is on the old computer for him and let him use it when I'm not. Although, I might want to create an account for him with limited privileges so he can't buy stuff. Travis mentioned that I could do this. That may be something I'll look into. I'm not quite sure how to do so, although I'll probably figure it out if I try to do it.

Also, I wasn't able to update from Windows 8 to 8.1. The Store said I needed an account with admin privileges, which I was using. I found out (via Google) that I had to uninstall a Windows Update (KBsomething) to get it to work. Sure enough! Now I'm running 8.1.

Travis   Admin wrote on 03/07/2014 at 02:22am

What I was talking about was Family Options.


You can both sign in with the same account but he'd have access to limited stuff until you put in your PIN. In order to do that you need to be using the Steam beta client which you can get to from preferences. The beta participation section.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 03/07/2014 at 02:36am

Thanks, Travis! =)

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 03/07/2014 at 03:01am

Travis, I think it might be best if I created an account for him if he wanted to play something (like Terraria) when I do or with me. I could put that account on Family Mode. Otherwise, I could let him use my account and enable Family Mode on it when he's using it. I don't think Steam likes me logged in on two different computers. There's a cool Family Library Sharing feature, too, where I can authorize computers and/or accounts that can use what's in my game library. I haven't fully explored that yet since I haven't created another account for him. I'm not sure if Steam will like me trying to make another account with the same email address. I don't know, I did some "Googling," but haven't given it a try yet. I guess I'm just thinking about all of these options.

Anyway, thanks again, that link was more helpful than anything else I've found.

Travis   Admin wrote on 03/07/2014 at 03:14am

That's what I was talking about with the Steam beta. You can sign in on multiple computers if you have that beta. They had to do that because they had to let you be logged in on two computers for the new Streaming feature.

Travis   Admin wrote on 03/07/2014 at 03:15am

That said, come to think of it, I'm not sure if you can play games on both at the same time. The clean way, most likely, would be to set him up a new account and use family options to lock it down if you're OK with rebuying games.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 03/07/2014 at 03:26am

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. I haven't bought a game on Steam yet and now I have 4 (and I'm still thinking about Starbound, maybe waiting for the right moment). I wouldn't mind paying for Terraria if he wants to play that. He was recently watching one of his favorite YouTube people play it (someone's "Let's Play" or similar). He did create a character and I made him create his own world, too, but he's barely played it.

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