Do It Yourself Computer Kits - How to Build a High-Performance PC

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Installing Your CPU

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Install Motherboard

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Install Hard Drive & CD/DVD

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Install Video Card

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Install Accessories

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Install Operating System



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Building a High-Performance Gaming/Graphic Design PC

In my previous two configurations, the Bargain PC and $1000 Gaming PC, I designed a computer to fit certain needs with cost in mind. However, if you have the budget and desire to build a computer that can really kick some serious you-know-what, I have a configuration you'll probably fall in love with.

I've designed this "Power PC" to include a case that offers plenty of expansion capability and provides ample cooling capacity for high-performace components. The power supply is a high-capacity 850 watts, and will allow you to power a higher than average number of internal components.

The motherboard is equally as expandable and has the latest technology integrated to give you options for high-performance and future expansion capability.

Configuration 1: Build Your Own $500 Bargain PC(Great DIY PC for web browsing and routine home-office work)

Configuration 2: Build Your Own $1000 Premium/Gaming PC (Good for many gaming and multimedia applications)

Parts List Updated on: [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Build Your Own Computer - Hardware List

Component Where to Buy Description Comments
Motherboard
ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE/GEN3 Intel Z68 MotherBoard

ATX, Intel Z68 Express, Socket H2 (LGA1155), 2200MHz DDR3 (Overclocked)
SATA 6.0 Gb/s, RAID, 8-CH Audio, 2x Gigabit LAN, USB 3.0, PCIe 3.0, CrossFireX/SLI, Bluetooth
This is a feature-packed motherboard that supports all of the newest technologies. SATA II for fast storage access. USB 3.0 for fast external data transfers. PCI 3.0 for the latest in graphics card designs. And more!
CPU
Intel Core i7-3770K Quad-Core Processor 3.5 GHz 6 MB Cache

  • 3.50Ghz Intel Core i7-3770K Processor (4 cores / 8 threads)
  • 8 MB L3 shared cache
  • LGA1155 socket
  • Two memory channels supporting up to 32GB of memory
This is one of the top-tier "premuim" Intel CPUs at the time. It replaces the i7-2700K series processors and is about 5-10% faster! The only Intel chips that are faster are the "Extreme" series, six core i7-3960x chips.
Computer Case icon icon
TigerDirect
$102.88
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ThermalTake VN700M1W2N Overseer RX-I Full Tower Gaming Case

ATX, Micro-ATX, Extend ATX, 3 Ext 5.25", 1 Ext 3.5", 5 Int 3.5"
2x 200mm LED Fans, 1x 120mm Fan, 2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, 1 eSATA, Window
This is a great case for gamers and power users alike. It has a ton of internal and externally-accessible expansion slots and includes multiple fans to keep your high performance components cool.
Computer Power Supply Thermaltake SMART Series 850W Power Supply

  • 850 Watts of continuous power output.
  • Ample SATA and PCI Express power connections
  • Flat cables for better airflow through your computer case
This 850-watt power supply has plenty of juice for a high-performance system. It's also well reviewed for its reliability and quiet operation.
Video/Graphics Adapter ASUS HD7770-DC-1GD5-V2 Video Card

  • New PCIe 3.0 delivers double the bandwidth per lane of PCIe 2.0 for faster GPU/CPU communication.

  • PCI Express 3.0
  • GDDR5 1GB RAM
  • CrossFireX Ready (comes w/ cable)
This is a relatively inexpensive card, and you get a lot for the money. I would highly recommend buying TWO of these cards and linking them using their inherent CrossFire capability. By doing so, you will nearly double your graphics performance compared to just a single adapter.
Memory (RAM) icon icon
TigerDirect
$269.99
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Patriot Viper 3 Black Mamba PV332G186C0QK 32GB Memory Kit

  • 4x8GB DDR3 1866Mhz
  • XMP 1.3
  • RoHS Compliant
The memory I recommend here is in-line with the high-performance nature of this computer. You can buy a cheaper 32GB kit, but you'll have to settle for a slower bus speed. At 1866Mhz, you'll see a huge difference over the slower, less expensive memory. If you are running high-intensity games or graphic/video editing software, you will definitely benefit by purchasing the higher-end memory.
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 1.0 TB 7200RPM SATA 3.0 HDD

  • 3.5" Internal HDD
  • SATA III (6.0Gb/sec)
  • 64MB Cache
This is a great little drive and quite affordable. If you're looking for high performance, seriously consider buying TWO of these and configuring them as a RAID-0 volume using the RAID capabilities of your new motherboard!

Note: Don't forget to buy the proper SATA 3.0 cables to go with this drive! If you've just bought a motherboard, it may ship with cables--but check to be sure!

Internal Media-Card Reader
icon icon
TigerDirect
$39.99
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Ultra U12-40529 Aluminus 3.5" Internal Card Reader with USB and eSATA

  • 3 USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 USB 3.0 port
  • 1 eSATA port
  • 6-slot card reader

Multi-format media card reader. Accepts almost ALL types of media cards and provides extra USB and eSATA connectivity to your front panel. Reads all major formats: SD, MiniSD, MMC, MicroSD, XD, and 19 others! Comes with all internal cables needed to connect to your motherboard.
Sony CD/DVD Internal Drive

Sony Internal DVD+/-RW Drive (Black)

  • SATA 2.0
  • 24x DVD+/-RW Reader/Burner

Multi-format CD/DVD Burner. Extremely cheap component--SONY quality. A well reviewed product.
Gaming Keyboard Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Mechanical Key Architecture - For superior tactility and faster response. Fully Programmable Keys + 5 Additional Gaming Keys - With On-The-Fly macro recording. Individually Backlit Keys - With 5 additional gaming keys
Gaming Mouse Razer Naga 2012 Expert MMO Gaming Mouse 17 MMO-optimized buttons. 3 Interchangeble Side Grips for Ergonomic Fit.
TigerDirect

Build Your Own Computer - Software List

Component Where to Buy Description Comments
Operating System Amazon.com
$161.66
Microsoft Windows 7 Choose the version of Windows best suited for your needs. For most, Windows 7 Home Premium is a good choice. When you shop for your copy of Windows, you may be confused by the options. If you have an existing copy of Windows (say Windows XP or Vista) and you have the original media (CD/DVD), you can purchase an Upgrade version of Windows 7 for significantly less. But remember, if you don't have the old discs, or if you're not installing over an old version, it wont work! You can also buy the cheaper OEM (System Builder) version of Windows, but the license will not allow you to move it to new hardware if you upgrade at any time in the future! So, buying the full retail version may work out better for you in the long run.
Online Backup Software Click here to try Mozy for FREE! Mozy Online Backup
Up to 2GB FREE!
Don't skimp on backing up your new PC. You can lose everything in a flash--through no fault of your own. Protect yourself--it is well worth the money. It can cost THOUSANDS of dollars to recover data from a damaged hard drive if you don't have a good backup!
Anti-Virus Software Kaspersky Labs
FREE 30 day trial!
Kaspersky Labs
If you're going to build your own computer, you'll need to protect it. You've heard about what kind of damage that viruses, malware, and trojans can do to your computer. Be sure to protect yourself. Kaspersky Labs has been in the business for quite a while, and in my experience as an enterprise-level systems administrator, I've come to depend on Kaspersky's services--They're usually the first ones on the block to update their virus definitions in response to a newly discovered threats!
Full Internet Security Amazon.com
$25.90
Norton Internet Security 2012 Internet Security Suites combine Antivirus, Malware, and other protective services in one package. Norton Internet Security 2012 also includes a Firewall for additional protection.


Now, let's examine the steps I followed to choose my parts:

Step one: Choosing my processor. For this gaming PC, I've chosen to purchase an Intel Core 2 Duo E7300 Processor. It's a dual-core processor running at 2.66Ghz with 3MB of SRAM cache. It has an 1800Mhz Front-Side Bus (FSB) and includes a fan and heatsink. Be sure to purchase the Retail version, otherwise you'll have to purchase your own fan and heatsink. Now that I've chosen my processor, this clears the way to decide on a motherboard that will support it.

Step two: Choosing my motherboard. I've chosen a quality, name-brand board that supports my processor type and also allows me to install up to 16GB of RAM (although I'm only installing 4GB since I'm installing the 32-bit version of Vista). My board of choice for this project: the Asus P5Q Deluxe Motherboard - Intel P45, Socket 775, ATX. This board has plenty of USB and SATA connections to support additional peripherals, and 2 PCI Express 2.0 slots allowing for expansion of video functionality. The board also has integrated high definition audio on board providing true surround-sound capabilities. Knowing what type of motherboard I'm purchasing now allows me to choose the appropriate memory.

Step three: Choosing memory. Memory prices have dropped dramatically over the past year, so this will be extremely helpful in keeping our costs down. My choice: Kingston HyperX Dual Channel 4096MB PC8500 DDR2 1066MHz Memory (2x2048MB). The memory configuration is 2x2048, meaning you get two 2GB DIMMs per package, for a total of 4GB of RAM.

Step four: Choosing my gaming pc case. I wanted a gaming case that is easy to work with and provides adequate ventilation to keep my gaming pc running cool. I also wanted a case that will show off my handywork, so I chose one with a clear side panel. The choice: the Aspire X-Plorer ATX Mid-Tower w/ 600w Gaming Power Supply. It includes an ample 600 watt power supply, two chassis fans (with space for two more if needed), plenty of drive bays, convenient front-panel USB/Firewire ports and audio connectors, and a really cool LCD displaying the internal temperature of your computer.

Step five: Choosing my Hard Disk (HDD). I've chosen the Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB Hard Drive - 7200, 16MB, SATA-300, OEM . I ordered the OEM version since my motherboard already includes one SATA cable for connecting my new drive.

Step six: Choosing my CD/DVD Burner. I went with a SATA DVD Burner, the PSony DRU-V200S/BR DVD Rewritable Drive SATA . Again, I made sure to purchase the Retail version. This drive is capable of reading and writing just about any CD or DVD format out there. The price for this drive is extremely reasonable, and I'm considering installing two of them to make copyng from disk-to-disk more convenient.

Step seven: Choosing my Video Card. I wanted a video card that performs well with most games out there on the market, so I've decided on the Diamond Radeon HD 3870 Video Card - 1GB GDDR3. It's a PCI-Express 2.0 card and is compatible with my chosen motherboard. This card is recommended for use on monitors up to 30" for a great gaming experience and sharp HD video playback.

Step eight: Choosing a card reader. I wanted the convenience of being able to plug memory cards from my digital camera directly into my gaming pc without the hassle of breaking out a cable to download photos. This is a very cheap add-on to your computer and is well worth the small cost. I chose the Ultra Internal 3.5" Floppy Drive w/Multi Card Reader - Black . It will install nicely into one of my case's 3.5" floppy bays. The brand I chose is a little more expensive that your run-of-the-mill $15 model, but it's worth paying a little extra. Quite often, the $15 models give computer users a lot of unecessary headaches.

PCSecurityShield

Step nine: Choosing a keyboard and mouse: For my keyboard, I chose the Logitech G11 Gaming Keyboard. It's subtle backlight makes it easy to see in low-lighting conditions. For my mouse, my needs are simple, so I chose the Microsoft Basic Optical USB Mouse. However, if you need a serious gamer's mouse, check out the Logitech G5 Gaming Mouse.