Computers & Electronics

Looking to build a PC for the first time

  • Last Updated:
  • Mar 14th, 2018 1:46 pm
[OP]
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Aug 23, 2010
344 posts
267 upvotes
GTA

Looking to build a PC for the first time

Hi everyone, I am looking to build a PC for the first time and would like some input. From what I hear, there is no point of "future proofing" so I will buy what is sufficient for my needs right now, but also keeping in mind the upgrading path for future.

Personally, I do not game at all, the PC will mostly be used to watch YouTube or movies, and for Microsoft Office. There might be times where I would do some coding for front-end web development and some light Illustrator/Photoshop work for some simple graphics.

https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/list/BRMFdX


CPU - I am thinking for my needs, an i3-8100 will be enough, I don't think i really need 6 cores and don't really want to spend the extra $80-100 for the i3-8400

Motherboard - H series and B series chipsets are coming out soon. I think at this point it would be beneficial to wait? I doubt I will be overclocking, even in the future, so I don't really need a Z370 board?

PSU - From my research, it is probably best not to cheap out on this. I am hoping to buy a PSU that will last me some time. How many watts will be sufficient and what are some brands to consider?

RAM - i3-8100 supports up to 2400mhz RAM. I am assuming there is no point of me buying anything over 2400mhz? My question is, if I buy, say 3200mhz RAM would there be any chance I could use it say, 5 years down the road without buying new RAM

GPU - is this necessary for my needs, or is integrated graphics enough? Because GPUs are mad expensive right now.

SSD - I have an old 60GB SSD lying around. Is this enough to boot windows? Or should I just buy the 256GB now to avoid the hassle of upgrading later?


Any input would be appreciated :)
16 replies
Deal Addict
Jul 26, 2004
2361 posts
343 upvotes
I think you're on the right track, mostly for office work, no need to break the bank on a machine. 60gb SSD should be able to handle windows 10 and a program or two , but you'll need a extra storage drive for your other programs. GPU you can always get a cheap one GTX 1050 or below, those aren't as affected by mining craze and should suffice in case your integrated GPU ain't strong enough. Power supply ... if your hardware is not that demanding, no need to go for a gold one or whatever, 450W-500W name brand one will probably work just fine.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
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j831 wrote:
Mar 12th, 2018 1:56 pm
Hi everyone, I am looking to build a PC for the first time and would like some input. From what I hear, there is no point of "future proofing" so I will buy what is sufficient for my needs right now, but also keeping in mind the upgrading path for future.

Personally, I do not game at all, the PC will mostly be used to watch YouTube or movies, and for Microsoft Office. There might be times where I would do some coding for front-end web development and some light Illustrator/Photoshop work for some simple graphics.

https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/list/BRMFdX


CPU - I am thinking for my needs, an i3-8100 will be enough, I don't think i really need 6 cores and don't really want to spend the extra $80-100 for the i3-8400

Motherboard - H series and B series chipsets are coming out soon. I think at this point it would be beneficial to wait? I doubt I will be overclocking, even in the future, so I don't really need a Z370 board?

PSU - From my research, it is probably best not to cheap out on this. I am hoping to buy a PSU that will last me some time. How many watts will be sufficient and what are some brands to consider?

RAM - i3-8100 supports up to 2400mhz RAM. I am assuming there is no point of me buying anything over 2400mhz? My question is, if I buy, say 3200mhz RAM would there be any chance I could use it say, 5 years down the road without buying new RAM

GPU - is this necessary for my needs, or is integrated graphics enough? Because GPUs are mad expensive right now.

SSD - I have an old 60GB SSD lying around. Is this enough to boot windows? Or should I just buy the 256GB now to avoid the hassle of upgrading later?
GPU is not necessary at all and I recommend you do NOT buy one given the outrageous prices as well. The only small thing you'd need to be careful of with the iGPU is if you need HDMI 2.0 output which only comes on a very low number of motherboards which have the LSPCon for it. Otherwise, you don't need to worry about that at all and the iGPU on an 8100 will be perfectly fine for you, on any motherboard.

And yes indeed wait the week or two for H/B 300-series boards.

60GB SSD is plenty unless you are someone that uses a ton of local storage and doesn't plan on getting an HDD as well. If you have network storage (NAS/server) or if you plan on getting a regular HDD for storage in the same machine, just stick with the SSD you have if you want to save money. Otherwise you can look into getting a larger, faster, NVMe SSD. With prices these days, there's no point in buying new SATA SSDs anymore.

PSU, I'd recommend you get a Gold-rated PSU since they are typically better made and have higher-quality components, along with better efficiency (all Gold-rated PSUs have DC-DC converters for the minor rails). There's no point in getting some nonsensical 750W Bronze unit when a 400-550W Gold unit will cost around the same and be a better actual PSU and much more suited to a low power PC

RAM, you can use higher than DDR4-2400 but only if you buy a Z-board*. Otherwise stick with 2400/whatever is cheapest--if you're seeing DDR4-3000 or something for basically the same price, for example, just get that.
*B/H/Q -boards won't stop you from using something like DDR4-3200 but it will only run at the "max" speed of 2400.
Newbie
Oct 15, 2014
6 posts
5 upvotes
Canada
TL;DR - CPU: 8100 is a good choice, MOBO: H or B is best for your needs, PSU: major brand, 80+, but not bronze or above, approximately 500w, RAM: ~2400 MHz is sufficient, only buy what you need, GPU: (See coilz' response), SSD: good choice for a boot drive, choose a 7200 rpm HDD with a high cache for secondary programs and storage


I agree with coilz, that you are on the right track. The 8100 is great value, and even the Ryzen 1200 and 1400 can't quite match it in terms of price-to-performance. It is not likely that you will be able to upgrade to the current gen processors in a few years since they will most likely be using a new socket and/or chipset that is not backwards-compatible(see the controversy of the 300 series chipset and Skylake and Kaby Lake processors) . That is one advantage of an AMD Ryzen based system: AMD has promised to use the AM4 socket until 2020, allowing CPU upgrades. However, you will be able to upgrade to a more powerful 8th gen Intel processor in the future.

In terms of the motherboard, I would recommend waiting for the H or B series boards. Since this is your first build, and I assume that you have not overclocked before, I doubt the you will feel the need to overclock your processor for quite a while. A quad core is a solid choice right now, and the 8100 has decent base and boost clock speeds. There is talk of programs and games taking advantage of more threads in the future, but this is mostly speculation and will not likely come to fruition until much later. When you feel that the processor is not as fast as you would like it to be (most likely in a few years when technology has progressed and minimum specs have been bumped up), then the best course of action would (most likely) be a new processor altogether (if you can afford it, and really want the power). Since you chose the 8100, that also gives you an upgrade path in the future to a more powerful 8th gen Intel processor.

In terms of the power supply, I would recommend at least an 80+ rated power supply from a major brand, since the efficiency savings of Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum rated PSUs will most likely not be enough to recover the additional expense of purchasing a PSU with one of those ratings, but the 80+ rating means that you will have a reasonably efficient PSU. I agree with coilz on the wattage of the power supply, as this will also give you room to add components such as a more powerful CPU or GPU while still hovering around the ~60% load level (where a PSU reaches it's maximum efficiency).

If you are using the system mostly for 'office work' then it is unlikely that you will always need the faster speeds from an SSD, aside from the occasional boot-up and opening of a program. The SSD will make boot-ups much faster, while a 7200 RPM Western Digital (or other major brand) will be sufficient for the rest of your programs and files. If possible, get a HDD with a higher cache as this can improve performance noticeably. If you are concerned about an HDD not being fast enough you can check out us.hardware.info for comparisons of drive speeds, or find Atto benchmarks online.

I would not recommend buying any more RAM (or higher clocked RAM) than you need to at the moment since prices are quite inflated (approximately $150 USD for 4x4GB DDR4-2400 as of February 2017, trending at around $200 USD now according to pcpartpicker). Also, several prominent tech channels on YouTube compare the RAM speeds using 8th gen Intel processors (try and find information specifically for the 8100 since the more powerful processors amplify the benefits). IIRC, RAM speed does not significantly affect performance, particularly with Intel CPUs, so a slower RAM speed will not significantly impact your performance. I would stick to a major brand (such as Corsair, G. Skil, Kingston, and Crucial) for RAM though, especially since some (if not all major brands) offer lifetime warranties. The highest officially supported RAM speed is not the maximum clock speed that the processor can actually handle. In order to take advantage of faster RAM, you would need to manually overclock or use XMP (Extreme Memory Profile IIRC) to enable the faster RAM to perform at it's maximum speed. If you are using XMP, check your motherboard's specs to see what the maximum frequency is for XMP support. Manual overclocking can achieve frequencies faster than this, but I would not recommend it for beginners.

Sorry for such a long-winded response, but I feel that it is better if you are informed as to why I recommended what I did. I tried to be impartial in my recommendations. Best of luck in your build!
Deal Fanatic
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Aug 23, 2004
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If you are going to get i3-8100 DDR4 2400 is fine but bear in mind according to Intel website i5 and i7 support DDR4 2666. I have a i3-8100 with an ASrock Z370 board. The onboard graphics is fine if you do not play games seriously, I have no problem playing fifa 18 with it, low settings of course.
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Mar 31, 2017
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Might be cheaper to buy a refurbished laptop for your needs. The major reason to go with desktop is to customize your components but since your needs are so minimal why do this?
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
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badOne wrote:
Mar 12th, 2018 9:00 pm
Might be cheaper to buy a refurbished laptop for your needs. The major reason to go with desktop is to customize your components but since your needs are so minimal why do this?
Multiple desktop monitors. That is why I have a desktop

I suggest you get a newer SSD. It is not the size, but all the new boards use m.2 and support NVMe
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Jun 16, 2003
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I would look at Dell Optiplex with i5 4570 on the used/refurbished market. Depending on config (i.e. 8GB vs 4GB) all that is required is an SSD. They are easy to repair with eBay being a great source for spare parts.

Please note the link is just an example I found on Kijiji: https://www.kijiji.ca/v-desktop-compute ... nFlag=true
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Mar 23, 2004
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apvm wrote:
Mar 12th, 2018 8:01 pm
If you are going to get i3-8100 DDR4 2400 is fine but bear in mind according to Intel website i5 and i7 support DDR4 2666. I have a i3-8100 with an ASrock Z370 board. The onboard graphics is fine if you do not play games seriously, I have no problem playing fifa 18 with it, low settings of course.
Yeah I was thinking that too but was wondering if my memory wasn't off (pardon the pun!).

Skylake = DDR4-2133
Kaby Lake = DDR4-2400
and
Coffee Lake = DDR4-2666 (except i3 which is 2400--total giveaway that these are just KL i5s, lol)

They basically just go up one step each time. I have no idea why they bother with this foolishness though. RAM should be unlocked on all boards, but silly Intel and their requirement for a Z-board for that :rolleyes: I can understand why they do it for processors but RAM it's not like they're making money on it, so I don't get why they started locking RAM OC on non-Z as well.
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OP, I agree with him on Dell refurbished Optoplex for your usage. Save your money on SSD, HDD, monitor, may be extra RAM. Haswell is more than excellent for this.
nerdonsite wrote:
Mar 12th, 2018 9:44 pm
I would look at Dell Optiplex with i5 4570 on the used/refurbished market. Depending on config (i.e. 8GB vs 4GB) all that is required is an SSD. They are easy to repair with eBay being a great source for spare parts.

Please note the link is just an example I found on Kijiji: https://www.kijiji.ca/v-desktop-compute ... nFlag=true
Deal Guru
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j831 wrote:
Mar 12th, 2018 1:56 pm
Hi everyone, I am looking to build a PC for the first time and would like some input. From what I hear, there is no point of "future proofing" so I will buy what is sufficient for my needs right now, but also keeping in mind the upgrading path for future.
To give yourself an upgrade path just some tips:

The case you picked in pcpartpicker... it has more plastic than I would ever want, it is decent and will get the job done. While it only has 1 USB 3.0 front I/O, it also has a 5.25 bay. You can always buy one of those kits where you can add more USB 3.0 and possibly even Type C. It also has lots of room for a GPU. So whether you go from no GPU to having a GPU or low end GPU to higher end GPU, you got the space... even if those GPUs that take up 3 slots and are extra wide (looking at you Zotac). The case can only hold 2 3.5 HDD drives, so you can get an additional one in the future, but no more than that.

If the price is right, get 1 stick of memory instead of a 2 pack. So 1 x 8GB instead of 2x4GB. 2 reasons for this. RAM is 2 to 2.5 times more expensive than it was 2 years ago and it's expected to go up even further. By what you need now, and upgrade in the future with the same memory stick. The other reason is some H and B board only have 2 DIMM slots (especially since your need a Micro ATX).

Not really future upgrading tip, but both Win10 and Office can be bought for a fraction of the cost on eBay.
[OP]
Member
Aug 23, 2010
344 posts
267 upvotes
GTA
Hm, thanks for the input everyone! Just one more question, regarding mobo. Is there a big difference between H and B series 300 boards? Or what features should I be looking for when choosing between the two?
joeyjoejoe wrote:
Mar 13th, 2018 12:06 pm
The case you picked in pcpartpicker... it has more plastic than I would ever want, it is decent and will get the job done. While it only has 1 USB 3.0 front I/O, it also has a 5.25 bay. You can always buy one of those kits where you can add more USB 3.0 and possibly even Type C. It also has lots of room for a GPU. So whether you go from no GPU to having a GPU or low end GPU to higher end GPU, you got the space... even if those GPUs that take up 3 slots and are extra wide (looking at you Zotac). The case can only hold 2 3.5 HDD drives, so you can get an additional one in the future, but no more than that.
Are there any other cases you might recommend, within the same price range? I don't have to get the one I chose on pcpartpicker, however I don't really want a full size tower. I like to keep it minimal. I was also looking at Mini ITX cases, but I need to consider the mobo as well, and the H/B 300 series haven't been released yet.
ES_Revenge wrote:
Mar 12th, 2018 5:43 pm
60GB SSD is plenty unless you are someone that uses a ton of local storage and doesn't plan on getting an HDD as well. If you have network storage (NAS/server) or if you plan on getting a regular HDD for storage in the same machine, just stick with the SSD you have if you want to save money. Otherwise you can look into getting a larger, faster, NVMe SSD. With prices these days, there's no point in buying new SATA SSDs anymore.
If I stick with the 60GB SSD I have right now, how easy is it to change the boot drive if I decide to upgrade to a larger & faster SSD in the future?
Deal Expert
Feb 29, 2008
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I just saw the 860 evos on sale, maybe a 256gb model? The extra space can't hurt.

Also the WD black NVMe drives go on sale periodically, if you want to put the m.2 slot to good use. Once again 256gb is the sweet spot between price and capacity.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
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j831 wrote:
Mar 13th, 2018 4:57 pm
Hm, thanks for the input everyone! Just one more question, regarding mobo. Is there a big difference between H and B series 300 boards? Or what features should I be looking for when choosing between the two?
There's not a big difference. Neither of these is out yet but they are coming very soon. Should be named H370 and B360. The B and Q chipsets were traditionally "business" oriented with the Q having additional stuff like vPro and TPM support and the B being the general office use chipset. Prior to Sunrise Point (100-series, for Skylake) B chipsets weren't very popular and were widely overlooked. This is because B was really a no-frills "stripper" chipset which didn't have quite enough functionality for most mainstream users. However since Sunrise Point, functionality has increased to the point where even the B150 chipset had quite enough for a lot of users. And each generation increases capabilities--B250 is nearly the same as H170 was. So manufacturers started producing a lot of budget boards with B150 and later B250 chipset because it could be used to make "cheap" boards and garner a lot of sales from the mainstream.

B250, for example, has DMI 3.0 and is up to 12 [chipset] PCIe 3.0 lanes, one PCIe m.2 slot (though some board makers still had two on B250 by way of where the lanes were dedicated or by using CPU lanes), 6 USB 3.0 ports, and a standard 6 SATA ports. H270 offered 20 PCIe lanes, two m.2 slots, and 8 USB 3.0, which is of course superior but not really necessary for many people. For many, saving money on the board to drop features they really won't need/use, is more important.

I'm not sure that we have the concrete numbers for the difference between H370 and B360 yet but given they keep bumping it up as mentioned, it's likely B360 will come with even more, likely close to H270 so you'll probably be covered for more than everything you need.
j831 wrote:
Mar 13th, 2018 4:57 pm
Are there any other cases you might recommend, within the same price range? I don't have to get the one I chose on pcpartpicker, however I don't really want a full size tower. I like to keep it minimal. I was also looking at Mini ITX cases, but I need to consider the mobo as well, and the H/B 300 series haven't been released yet.
There's lots of great ITX cases out there, more so than mATX cases actually. For really small but still able to fit stuff like a standard ATX supply and a GPU, take a look at Silverstone's SG13. There's also some cases which only fit SFX PSUs, and there's some really small cases which don't fit any standard PSU at all and have no space for a GPU...like Antec's ISK cases. Other cool ones include Cougar's QBX, along with many more.

One caveat is mini ITX boards are typically more expensive than ATX or mATX (mATX tend to have the cheapest choices). Most ITX boards have wifi on them, whether you want it or not, which unfortunately increases the price. Personally I do highly recommend the ITX form factor though, as the honest truth is most people do NOT need a gi-normous board and case with like 7 slots (ATX) and nothing going in them and just having a huge heavy case for no reason.
j831 wrote:
Mar 13th, 2018 4:57 pm
If I stick with the 60GB SSD I have right now, how easy is it to change the boot drive if I decide to upgrade to a larger & faster SSD in the future?
Not hard at all.
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