Gaming PC for my son

Posted 2 months ago2019-06-02 23:00:00 UTC
satchmo satchmoWhat you can do today should have been done yesterday.
This is the first time we are building a gaming PC from scratch for him. He's always gotten my legacy PC by default, but he is turning 12 next month. I think it's time for him to build his own PC. It's a rite of passage for any geek.

I would like some suggestions on our proposed build, since we have no shortage of geeks here. Let me know what you think.
User posted image

48 Comments

Commented 2 months ago2019-06-03 00:00:51 UTC Comment #102045
Looking pretty good! The only thing I'd suggest is to consider the GTX 1660 instead of the GTX 1060. For an extra $20 you get a decent boost in performance and double the memory as well.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-03 01:56:02 UTC Comment #102047
Thanks for the suggestion! :)

One specific question is whether this rig is powerful enough to support most VR hardware.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-03 05:54:06 UTC Comment #102048
Why not wait a bit for Ryzen Gen 3 hardware?
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-03 07:43:22 UTC Comment #102049
I think VR needs premium hardware, I wouldn't build a mid-range PC and expect VR to work well on it. But I could be wrong, I don't know much about it.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-03 09:53:27 UTC Comment #102050
Looks pretty solid. What about hard drives/SSDs, monitor, keyboard and mouse? A good monitor and a fast storage are important nowadays.
Consider Intel Optane and M.2 SSDs since that mobo has two M.2 slots.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-03 12:58:43 UTC Comment #102051
Thanks for the great advice.

I am unfortunately prejudiced against AMD. I did have an AMD CPU in the past, but I am afflicted with blind brand loyalty. Intel has treated me so well for decades, and I own Intel stocks too.

I'll let you know about its capacity to run VR. I don't want to spend an arm and a leg on his first PC.

As for the SSD, we're thinking about getting the Samsung 860 EVO 500 GB. It's only $83 now, which is an incredible deal compared to how much it cost a few years ago.

He already has a gaming keyboard and mouse, and we're going to use his existing 23" LCD.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-03 13:17:07 UTC Comment #102052
Fair enough.

I have this kind of rule though: The more you spend, the less you spend.
Which means that if you spend more now, you'll have to spend less in the future to keep up with the requirements each game and program has (it lasts more basically).
But as of now, wether this will be his first PC or not, it's still a really good piece of equipment and if I was him I would be undoubtedly happy to have it as my first PC.

Oh and, I do agree with Pengiunboy about replacing the GTX 1060 with a GTX 1660 which is almost as good as a GTX 1070 and it has 6GB of VRAM.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-03 13:30:35 UTC Comment #102053
Rightfully so, AMD lags about as far behind in gaming as they always have.

I made the mistake of believing the bullshit that Ryzen is only barely worse off than the at the time "equivalent" 7700-8700k, and bought a $500 Ryzen 2700x.
It performed about as badly as my now 10 year old Phenom II 1090t I upgraded from.
Don't get me wrong, it's amazing for high-throughput productivity purposes, but the latency and stuttering and framerate drops just make it unacceptable for gaming.
Bought an 8700k and will never go AMD for gaming ever again.

EDIT: And Ryzen 3 is about as terrible of a purchase as you can make. Even a modern Pentium would absolutely destroy a Ryzen 3 in gaming.
(My Ryzen 3 1200 actually performed worse than my phenom II 1090t.)

Only thing I would point out for this build is that a 3200mhz kit would only be marginally more expensive than the 2400mhz kit you've selected. It barely makes a difference on intel but why not shell out a little bit more anyways?
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-03 13:37:47 UTC Comment #102054
+1 for the Samsung EVO drives. I have 3 in my PC at the moment - 2 of them bought earlier this year (EVO 860) to replace some dying spindle drives, and one I've had Windows installed on for a few years (EVO 850). Loving the price drops of SSDs in the last few years! My Steam/games drive is a 1TB SSD now, if you hate the excessive loading times on modern games, it's a must!
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-03 16:42:50 UTC Comment #102055
Can definitely recommend an SSD as well - I don't have one for my games library (though I am eyeing an upgrade) but I have an SSD for my OS drive and it boots lightning fast. If you can afford it I'd recommend getting an additional terabyte one for storage, but at the very least the having a 500GB SSD as your C:/ drive is a must IMO if you're planning on doing just a single drive to start.
Everything else looks like it should be VR ready for the current generation at least, and probably for the next as well.

Also, he's 12 already?! It's only now setting in how long I've been on this site, I remember you posting stories when he was a toddler!
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-03 23:24:56 UTC Comment #102056
Yep, he's turning 12 next month, and this is for his birthday.

He's going to build it himself (with my supervision, of course).

I've swapped out the graphics card as many of you recommended, and I also swapped out the mobo to this Gigabyte one. I think this motherboard does not support 3200 MHz RAM modules.

The long-term plan is to add another EVO 500 GB when it's even cheaper, perhaps in two years (it might be around $25 by then).

He picked out this case himself. His favorite color is green.

The only downside is that this case does not allow a DVD-ROM drive, but that is fast becoming unnecessary in today's computing world.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-04 00:05:02 UTC Comment #102057
What's the best way to get Windows 10? His new computer does not have a DVD-ROM drive.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-04 00:29:12 UTC Comment #102058
Ohhhhhhhh that's right! Yeah 2400mhz will be fine.
You can buy digital licenses and write your own USB stick using Media Creation Tool, or you can just buy a USB stick from microsoft.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-04 03:56:21 UTC Comment #102059
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-04 08:55:31 UTC Comment #102060
made the mistake of believing the bullshit that Ryzen is only barely worse off than the at the time "equivalent" 7700-8700k, and bought a $500 Ryzen 2700x.
It performed about as badly as my now 10 year old Phenom II 1090t I upgraded from.
Huh, thats interesting. What motherboard did you get at the time of running those tests?
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-04 11:05:32 UTC Comment #102061
Prime A320M-K.

I thought maybe it was the low end mobo holding the cpu back (spent a lot of time trying to figure out how my cpu was performing so badly), but I haven't found anything at all to suggest that performace is in any way linked to the chipset used.
Only thing I did find was identical performance across the chipsets.
My R7 2700x boosted to 4.2ghz across all cores and never thermal throttled with the stock cooler, with ram running at 3200mhz (which is a requirement on Ryzen due to IF being tied to memory speed).

It's not defective, it's just the truth. Ryzen does not compare with intel for gaming.
Satchmo's link above even further solidifies the fact that average framerates mean absolutely nothing when overall latency, stuttering and framerate drops are as bad as they've always been.
Yes, at certain times you will see moderate to significant fps improvements over older gen hardware, but unlike intel your framerates will also plummet unreasonably at times. This is what is actually important, and this is how AMD suckered in probably 90% of the people who jumped ship from intel... Average framerates.

Ryzen is a good deal at the higher end for productivity purposes, but that's about it.

EDIT: I see what you're asking now.
To say it performed the same as my Phenom II is hyperbolic.
I'm saying it got higher fps at times but the minimums were the same as the Phenom II, which is essentially performing as badly as it.

I also see you were talking about gen 3 Ryzen, not R3. Whoops!
We'll just have to see what AMD has to offer there, I want to be optimistic but AMD still seems to be driving the Ryzen staple of workstation/productivity (more cores and threads) so I don't have high hopes for gaming improvement.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-04 14:35:43 UTC Comment #102062
The death of AMD can be traced back to the birth of Intel's Core 2 Duo back in 2006. AMD never caught up, and acquiring ATI didn't revive the brand either.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-04 16:31:41 UTC Comment #102063
About the optical drive, you could get an USB external one since it's versatile. Plug it in when you need it, plug it off when you don't need it.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-04 20:56:35 UTC Comment #102065
@Brollo - Intel is known for fake benchmarks, programs solely optimized for it and reselling/recycling the same old for decades. I know intel will go rev up the world cpu cylinders once it catches up properly onto the new modern technology, but until then I am glad AMD is finally kicking its ass. Soon it will all be much more balanced for AMD.

Also, dont expect proper performance with the lower end chipsets, especially if you do not have a reliable, accurate power supply. The most important thing to properly function in anything is energy. If your computer eats badly it will perform badly. Electricity is its food, if you ate crap too you wouldnt do so well your self either :)

What I like from all the modern hardware so far is the display of new faster data buses, laptops will become much more faster.
  • Edit -
For some interesting reference to proper power supply and top Chipset importance I can present my personal computer I am still using to this day (aside from this laptop). It is an Dell Vostro 220 Intel G45 chipset with Intel Quad Core Q6600 (with tape mod - To fool the motherboard into overcloking it) and an Enermax Liberty power supply (Absolutely stable at 12.032V at all loads , multimeter tests done as well). With out that power supply performance drastically deteriorates. I could not believe how important proper grounding and power supply was before. Ive been running this setup for five years now. I also see the same thing in customer computers with crappy vs performer power supplies .
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-05 22:42:20 UTC Comment #102066
The build you made looks good to me for a "first gaming PC", I don't know if it will handle VR tho since I don't interest myself a lot on this subject.

For the GTX 1060 GTX to GTX 1660, I trust my fellow TWHLers.

If you are going with the Gigabyte motherboard you posted, 2600 MHz is the max. frequency supported for the RAM so the 3200 MHz in your original build won't work.

I highly recommend a SSD as well, Windows 10 seems to be known to give HDD a hard time if the OS is installed in there. Trust me, it's always painful to see "Disk usage" at "100%" in the task manager when your laptop has a 5400 tr/m HDD because of Windows's core processes.

As Crollo mentioned for Windows 10: grab an USB stick or HDD with at least 8 Gb of space, download the Media Creation Tool from Microsoft's website, pickup your poison (edition, language...), let the tool do the job, boot on it, install and profit. If you are in dire need of a DVD-ROM burner/reader, a cheap one (and external one mentioned by Alberto) will do the trick. Or if you have another PC/laptop that could read/burn them, keep your precious money.

As for the license (product key), you have 2 choices: the first one is to use Windows 10 without a license. In this case, you won't have Microsoft's support, the "Activate Windows" watermark will always be there and your son will be limited in terms of customization (wallpaper, colors, sleep screen...). The second choice is to buy/grab/use a license which seems to be cheap nowadays.

I'm joining Crollo's opinion about AMD: unless you have a "strict budget" or "non-gaming" policy, stay away from it.

The old AMD Duron I had died, the old AMD Sempron I had died as well, the ATI Radeon 9550SE had tons of problems with it's drivers towards legacy OpenGL. Old drivers would let me create GoldSrc maps but wouldn't allow me to change brightness/contrast in some games, new drivers is the entire opposite (even the "atioglx.dll" hack wouldn't work).

My dad's laptop has an AMD GPU and last time I tried to upgrade the drivers it would BSOD Windows 7. I know some friends and colleagues who also had problems with AMD but I'm surprised that it just works for one of my brothers as well as some people in the HL1 modding community.

I don't know if it's bad luck for those who had issues with AMD and/or good luck for those who it works. But I'm personally sticking to the Intel/NVIDIA sides since I never had any problem even if it means more money to spend.

When your son will get his shiny new computer for his birthday, would it possible to share some "benchmarks" on how it's performing in games? Because I have some people seeking gaming builds as well and I could reference the build you made for your son if it works well.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-06 03:13:06 UTC Comment #102067
Thanks for the comments. I will certainly post benchmarks and frame rates once we get the computer running.

Let the build begin!
User posted image
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-08 12:56:35 UTC Comment #102068
Monster of a CPU coolerMonster of a CPU cooler
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-08 20:21:14 UTC Comment #102069
Quiet as a mouse
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-09 02:36:30 UTC Comment #102070
Well, it boots to a blank screen. All the fans are running, including the CPU, but nothing is on the display. No beeping, and no error message.

ADDENDUM: Okay, update. The graphics card fan is not turning, so it seems that there's no power going to the graphics card. I double-checked the PCI-e power connector, and even unplugged it and re-plugged it back, but still no go.

Any ideas?
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-09 09:29:48 UTC Comment #102071
Besides the regular - like checking which RAM slot really goes first (mislabeling regularly on these newer machines) - make sure your motherboad BIOS is at least 1405 for it to support that CPU.
Also some graphics cards have a switch on them to switch between UEFI and Legacy BIOS. If your card is set to legacy bios it will not boot on this machine,
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-09 11:42:50 UTC Comment #102072
I narrowed it down to a memory issue (at least that's what I think based on the four short beeps during the POST attempts).

I didn't install the speaker before, but it's very helpful from a diagnostic perspective.

I will re-seat the memory modules (2 x 8 GB).

ADDENDUM: Okay, after re-seating the RAMS, it still doesn't POST, but now it has five short beeps. It's an AMI BIOS, by the way. This usually means a CPU error, which gives me a sinking feeling in my heart.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-09 16:11:52 UTC Comment #102073
did you connect the cpu power cable? or something like that. I forgot that when i built my first pc
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-09 17:39:16 UTC Comment #102074
Not just once, but I unplugged the ATX 12V and re-plugged it again, just to make sure it's secure.

This is his first build, but my fourth.

I am going to reseat the graphics card next.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-09 18:46:56 UTC Comment #102075
try swapping parts from another PC, one by one, for example take ram from another PC. Or take out the GPU completely and try to boot on integrated graphics
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-09 19:39:57 UTC Comment #102076
Easier said than done. I don't have any other DDR4 memory modules, and this CPU does not have any integrated graphics.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-10 00:11:49 UTC Comment #102077
Thanks for all the help.

I solved the problem by re-seating the graphics card. It bothered me that the first time I installed the card, I never felt that satisfying confirmatory click. Now that I have, everything is running finally.

My son is so happy!
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-10 01:35:36 UTC Comment #102078
Gives me bad memories of my first GPU upgrade. The case was blocking the card from being seated properly but I had no idea it wasn't right. As soon as I turned the power on for the first time, two transistors blew on the motherboard. It was in my first hour of a 30 hour LAN party and my computer was fried, very upsetting. Took 6 months for Intel to make good on the warranty return, I had no money to simply buy a new one when I was a kid.

Since then I've heard a few reports on unseated GPUs and nobody else has had any issues with fried motherboards, so either I was incredibly unlucky or the transition from AGP to PCIe made improvements in that area. Glad nothing went wrong for you!
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-10 02:25:22 UTC Comment #102079
Now the Nvidia driver refuses to install on Windows, insisting that it can't work with this Windows version.

How can a driver installation be so difficult? I tried for two hours!
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-10 04:18:51 UTC Comment #102080
Problem solved!

Be sure to download the DCH version (driver signed by Microsoft) of the Nvidia driver to avoid the obstacle.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-10 12:16:04 UTC Comment #102081
Half-Life 2: Lost Coast video stress test: average frame rate: 284 on maximum graphics settings at 1920x1080
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-10 15:58:38 UTC Comment #102082
wouldnt be a bad idea to equip him with a >=120hz monitor
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-10 18:03:40 UTC Comment #102083
I cannot tell the difference between a 60 Hz and 120 Hz monitor.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-10 18:10:03 UTC Comment #102084
Maybe he can, he is still young.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-10 21:50:05 UTC Comment #102085
You'd have to be clinically blind to not notice the difference between 60hz and +100hz. Most people 'don't notice the difference' because windows sets every monitor to 60hz by default and nobody bothers to change it to 120/144hz.
You need to uncap fps when benchmarking, you should be getting around 1000fps with dips to maybe 500fps. (785fps average on 8700k w/ rx560)
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-11 07:11:07 UTC Comment #102086
Yup. Same here. "fps_max 0" (or 9999) in the console.

Also don't get a 120Hz, get a 144Hz instead since the price tag is literally the same if not lower (and the choice is better).
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-11 08:46:51 UTC Comment #102087
Furthermore, a monitor that runs at 120hz max will be a very old (first gen high refresh rate) panel and would likely be worse than a good 60hz panel.

I had an acer GN246HL (first generation 144hz panel) which was worse than my BenQ RL2755HM in every aspect possible including response time/input lag. I couldn't imagine how bad a 120hz monitor would've been.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-11 13:36:33 UTC Comment #102089
Good to know. I learn something every day.

By the way, I am legally blind without my prescription glasses. ;P
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-11 13:38:04 UTC Comment #102090
The massive CPU cooler is doing a heck of a job. The idle CPU temperature for the i5 9400F is 29 Celsius, which is colder than the SSD!
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-12 19:37:04 UTC Comment #102091
284 FPS on HL2:LC at max settings on 1920x1080 seems good. Any result with "modern" games?
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-13 10:15:47 UTC Comment #102092
We don't have any "modern" game at the moment, but with E3 announcements out, we have a few ideas.
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-13 17:21:04 UTC Comment #102093
when I was being hardcore on hldm, 75hz over 60hz was like day and night to me
Commented 2 months ago2019-06-15 03:35:34 UTC Comment #102094
Am I the only one getting feels?
Takes me right back to my first PC build with my dad.

Also on the subject of monitors, I'll always go for colour, contrast ratio and resolution over refresh rate. You only really need >60Hz if you're competing in e-sports. Maybe I was just seeing early-generation tech, but every high refresh-rate monitor I've used compromises pretty significantly on image quality.
Commented 1 month ago2019-07-16 14:13:53 UTC Comment #102168
Try Wolfenstein: The new order. There´s a part in the first level where you should shoot enemies with a mounted machinegun into what seems a pit, there´s where you can see if the rig works as it should. ;) Or I can give you my mod because it eats CPU as a zombie eats brains!!!...(sadly :( )

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