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Building a good computer, able to play games? Answered

So, I want to build a computer, and this would be my first computer. I don't know how to tell how parts are compatible with other parts, and which parts are good. I just want a computer that can surf the web, and support gaming with little to no lag, or freezing. To keep cost down, I don't exactly need to be able to play newer games that can over heat a six month old gaming computer in seconds. I want to keep this project under $400, or at $450 at most. Some games I would like to run is Halo 1 and 2, counter strike, and perhaps WoW. Any, and all help will be appreciated, Thank you.


As an example, (online browsing) I decide I want a Gigabyte board: £45.07 GA M52L-S3P. It supports socket 2 AMD Athlon X2, so I find one of them £54.40.
It supports Dual Channel DDR2 800, so I don't know 2GB of Crucial £24.27?
PCI-E x16 interface, but with so much choice I should read a review, mmm something for £50?
Power, 380W, ~£38?
HDD 320Gb Seagate ~£35.
Case ~£25
What does that add up to - about your $450. No monitor, keyboard, mouse.
So I'd have a look at LCD monitors ~£100.
I could cut £10 by buying a different board, maybe £10 on the processor, spend £25 less on graphics, but I can only knock ~ £10 off the HDD. Another £10 by buying less and cheaper memory. But you might not need a monitor.
Now then, with those bits - do I meet the specifications required for playing those games (they should say on the box, but I don't have either...)
What I can get and what you can get won't be the same, but you can go about it in a similar way.


Thanks for the example. Can you (if you can) please explain to me what have that stuff means?
Dual Channel DDR2 800
2 AMD Athlon X2
GA M52L-S3PI think that's the motherboard. Right?
PCI-E x16 interface
HDD 320Gb SeagateIs that the RAM?

OK, "Dual Channel DDR2" (RAM) is one of those computer phrases to look out for, 800 being Mhz. Rather than trying to understand it in depth just look for the same specification (try wikipedia if you do want to know more). Socket 2 is the type of socket the CPU plugs into on the mainboard (cruicial compatibility area), AMD Athon X2 is the processor family, like RAM look for the same phrase / spec'. GA M52L-S3P is the mainboard model number, you can Google that. PCI-E(xpress) is the socket the graphics card plugs into (again look for the same phrase) x16 is one of those computer speed-indicators HDD is an abbreviation of Hard Disc Drive, Seagate is a manufacturer, 320Gb is the capacity in Gigabytes. You can get 80Gb drives cheaper, but look for SATA as a keyword. You'll need to match parts and prices, and I'd say this is actually the hard part, putting them together is pretty easy. L

You may well be best seeing what you can buy as a complete unit, and buying that, or see what you can pick up second hand. At today's rates $450 is 275 pounds, which would not get you much. For what you've got to spend, a formally high-end machine that someone is selling because they're replacing it may be best value for money. L

The main reason I want to build a computer is to build it, not to have a better computer. If I wanted one, I could ask my dad for one, and he can get one easy. If the whole being able to play games on the computer makes this project out of my budget, I could live without playing them. I hope that clears thing up a bit. Thanks for the information though. I keep that into consideration.

I'd start with a Gigabyte board, then a processor, then all your other bits. But I'd be looking at built machines for an idea of what goes together for that kind of money. Have you got a case, keyboard, monitor to use? L

No case, have a keyboard and a mouse, no monitor, but I'm sure my dad can easily supply me one, and if not, I can buy one.

I'd start with a Gigabyte board, then a processor, then all your other bits
Problem is, I don't know what parts go with which. For example, I don't know what processor can work with a gigabyte board. I also want a board can has two or three places for more than one RAM thingy...

You pick the board for the processor, and generally speaking (it varies) there's not a lot of difference between AMD & Intel in terms of performance per buck. Any board will be AMD or Intel, and they'll tell you so - what processor family / socket. Any decent board will support an appropriate RAM, you might want to browse computer magazines, maybe buy a good one that has product reviews and stuff? Look at prices and reviews, weigh up your budget with what you can get, Intel Core 2's aren't that cheap but you're getting performance there. Video cards, big area.... read reviews. L

Do you think people at best buy(if they sell the stuff) or at micro center would be able to help me tell what parts would work well with each other?

Probably not, but they should know what fits and what doesn't. Remember that it's in the interest of retailers to sell you things.

I'd suggest buying a computer magazine with hardware reviews. If you're looking a selection of parts you'll get an idea of what you can afford.
The boards will be listed clearly with what CPU they're designed for, and what RAM. They'll support most graphics cards, and if they are a bit cramped a good review will tell you there's no room for a big cooler etc. HDDs will fit most boards no problem, and you'll have onboard sound USB etc.


A lot of people have done "how to build a computer" which wasn't really. You've got the opportunity to do a really good one here, especially on a budget - I hope you show us? L

You've got the opportunity to do a really good one here, especially on a budget - I hope you show us?
I can try, although, It will take me awhile to get all the parts needed. Also, when you say, "how to build a computer" do you mean like how to put them together, or actually figuring out which parts work with each other, how to choose parts on a budget and stuff like that?"

The whole thing, but unlike other (good) "put the machine-together" instructables, you'll be answering your own question in choosing the right bits on a budget. It's the sort of thing people keep asking, looking at something cool by someone who could afford to go shopping isn't the same as an Instructable that has "for under $450!" in the title? L

Very good point. Thanks. When I can I'll work on it, but that may not be for a year or two.