2014: A PC Odyssey – Part 1
My god! It's full of specs!on January 30, 2014 at 8:00 am
I will freely admit that the majority of my experience playing video games has been parked in front of the TV, controller in hand. Consoles have been my primary window into the world of interactive entertainment for nearly two decades.
That’s not to say that I’ve never had any interest in PC gaming. I was just perfectly served by what console gaming had to offer. I just wanted to put in a game, pick up a controller, and relax on the couch. And now, that’s starting to change with the current “generation” of game consoles. The lines continue to blur with the all of the mandatory installs, constant updates, DRM, and EULAs. The new consoles are just not doing it for me anymore.
Console exclusives? None of them really interest me. A lot of my all-time favorite games of the last generation were multi-platform and had superior PC versions (“Fallout 3”, “Skyrim”).
Besides, now is the perfect time for me to try out PC gaming. I have a steady job and income, I’m debt-free, and don’t have a family of my own to support (sorry, mom).
I’m going to cover all of the major components of the build, briefly explaining the decisions behind each part. For those more experienced readers, you may be nodding your head in approval or gasping in horror at my selections. Feel free to discuss them in the comments, along with any questions that you may have.
For a less commentary-laden overview of the build, refer to the complete part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/user/wrecklaimer/saved/3gGq
One thing that has always bothered me about PC gaming machines is the form-factor. Granted, a lot of enthusiasts opt for huge cases to accommodate their multiple graphics cards and fancy water-cooling systems. But even the some modest mid-tower cases dwarf the largest consoles.
I was prepared to accept having a softly humming monolith next to my TV… until my brother expressed an interest in some of the mini-ITX cases. The Bitfenix Prodigy, in particular. I wasn’t completely sold on it at first, but the more I investigated, the more interesting the concept became. It may not be that much smaller, but it trades height and depth for added width. I think this makes it much more at home in the living room.
After going with an ITX case, that pretty much guaranteed going with an Intel CPU. There aren’t any ITX motherboards that are compatible with newer AMD processors. An i5 seems to be the sweet spot for gaming performance (an i7 would be overkill).
Not much to say on this. The choice of case and CPU pretty much narrowed this down for me. I decided to not go for anything that I didn’t need (like built-in WiFi) to keep the cost down.
I don’t know enough about PC hardware to be one of those “AMD vs Nvidia” people. It came down to the R9 270x and the GTX 760. While neither of them are particularly top-of-the-line, they both have some of the best price-to-performance ratios. I decided to go with the more powerful 760, considering the added price/performance an investment.
This particular choice may invite the most tenuous objections. I assure you, I’ve done a fair bit of research and have the approval of several friends, coworkers, and forum goons. Most people greatly overestimate their power needs, anyway. I went with non-modular primarily because of the space restrictions of the case’s PSU cage. Aside from that, it has almost the perfect amount of cables, and any extras are easy enough to tuck away.
This choice came down to mostly price and compatibility with the motherboard. A reputable brand, good clock speed and latency, and a decent price made this one of the less agonizing decisions. Having 8GB is more than enough for any gaming.
The SSD + HDD combo is pretty popular among PC builders. This setup provides speed for the OS (on the SSD), while still having plenty of data storage (on the HDD). The Samsung EVO came highly recommended, and the WD Blue is very popular as well.
Yeah, I know! Who needs to read physical media in this day and age? It’s one of those “better to have it and not need it” situations. I couldn’t justify the price of a Blu-ray drive at this point, though.
I like Windows 7 as much as the next person, but I’ve been using Windows 8 (and more recently, 8.1) at work for about a year. And you know what? It’s not “terrible” like everyone claims. Given the choice, I don’t need or want to go back to 7.
Everyone and their YouTube account is going to have an opinion on the best parts for a gaming PC. They may even bear some resemblance to my decisions here. I like to think I’ve done a pretty good job for a first-time build. But we won’t know that for sure until I get around to assembling and testing the darn thing! Be sure to look for the aftermath in the next installment.