Building a new mid-level gaming PC

cgori

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Oct 2, 2004
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So, my ~4 year old PC's power supply just died last night. (Well, it's at least that, maybe more, TBD - it's never good when you smell burning right?!?!). I'm going to try replacing the PSU as a hail mary but it's probably time for a new box, since I won't have a ton of confidence in it going forward.

The recently deceased was a Shuttle SFF w/ Z87 motherboard, 16GB, I7 4770K, EVGA GTX 960SC graphics. I'm hoping I can transplant the 2.5" 500GB SSD (~1.5yr old) and the 250GB M.2 SSD (~4yr old) into the new one, but I'm thinking about just getting a 1TB SSD instead. I have a 2TB HDD (or maybe 4TB, I forget) drive that I can probably retire at this point, it has very little on it except backups of the SSDs...

I usually go for good bang-for-the-buck video cards (not premium), pretty high-end CPU, and extra memory. I have 2 1920x1200 (note - weird aspect ratio!) monitors that I like a lot and will keep. I play relatively non-demanding games (EVE, WoW) but want it to look nice with settings on "Very High" - I haven't pushed "Ultra" in a low time. I also use this PC for consulting/productivity work, the games are just the most demanding thing it will have to do.

If I do a shuttle again, something like this (? - it's an H370 motherboard, not a Z370 though, which surprises me a bit). I think(?) I can finally stop having an optical drive - the last PC had one and I used it almost never, but they are cheap so if I can fit it, fine.

I'm thinking about maybe a micro ATX or similar for the first time in a while, I just want a small-ish enclosure that can handle a good video card cooling-wise, and 4 DIMM slots (maybe 16GBx2 is enough for me though, convince me that will be ok?). I really don't want any RGB / plexi panels, if I can avoid them.

So, questions I have:
1) Intel processors, looks like Coffee Lake is still the micro-arch for a desktop gaming machine? I see i5-9600/9600K, maybe i7-9700/9700k or i3-9350kf as options. I don't know a thing about AMD currently, as I have used Intel for a decade or longer now, what's a good comparable as a Ryzen? (7-2700X?)
2) Z390 vs Z370 for intel - any strong feelings here? 390 has integrated wifi (don't-care), and some usb 3.1 goodies (maybe this matters?) I have read that for an i5-9600 it will be supported on a z390 without any bios upgrades, which is a pretty big advantage. I need to go look into micro ATX Z390s unless someone knows a good one.
3) for a new video card, something like an RTX2060 vs GTX1660Ti? This ~$300 range is where I usually try to be for a video card. I am a little lost on the architectural differences though.
4) what's a non-blingy micro ATX case, with good airflow?

I started messing around with all of this on PC parts picker but nothing really has jumped out at me yet.
 

Soxy Brown

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3) for a new video card, something like an RTX2060 vs GTX1660Ti? This ~$300 range is where I usually try to be for a video card. I am a little lost on the architectural differences though.
Ray tracing. That's the main difference. RTX cards have dedicated hardware for ray tracing. GTX cards had a driver update which technically allows ray tracing but they don't perform it as well as the RTX cards. I have a GTX 1080 and turning on ray tracing in any game at 1440p is basically a non-starter. I would have to dial waaaaaay down pretty much every other setting. Which I don't really want to do. But ray tracing looks pretty cool. It's basically real-time light and shadows in a better way than done before.
 

LogansDad

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I don't have a ton to add, but I just built a new rig a few months ago and I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Ryzen 2700X. I went with a GTX 1070, because I was trying to keep it under $1200 (successfully), and can upgrade the video card eventually.... I have no issues running anything so far. Probably the most demanding game I play is FFXIV, and I easily and silently (even with an aircooled system) play it on the highest settings. Highly, highly recommend the Ryzen.
 

Couperin47

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Issues to add:

Considering your monitors (and btw I run nothing but dual 16:10 24" monitors here too so it's not so unusual) the other big issue for gamers now is freesync which remains irrelevant to you unless you start replacing those monitors.

4 years ago means better than even chance your M.2 was a Sata not NVME let alone PCIe x4 which is the fastest current standard. The differences, aside from benchmarks, are not huge. In any case an M.2 more than twice the size of your current drive will cost much less than you paid for that 250 Gb model, so just match whatever your new mb requires (almost certainly PCIe x4).

On optical, virtually all SFF cases use the laptop standard for an optical drive which means you get a slow fragile stupid drive mounted vertically which will be even more encouragement to ignore it, meanwhile a mini or micro case that allows a standard size drive which costs all of $20, is much much faster and won't break...
 

Nick Kaufman

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This is the perfect time to build a new pc in quite some time as memory, ssd and video card prices have dropped from historical highs over the past couple of years.

I would say that besides ray tracing RTX 2060 and RTX 2070 are aimed more towards 1440p gaming whereas 1660 and 1660TI aim more for upscale 1080p gaming. Do keep in mind that Nvidia is on the verge of releasing updated versions of the RTX 2060 and RTX 2070 in the near future, so their prices will be falling.

AMD should get on your radar, as for the first time ever his month, they released cpus that can go head to head with Intel offerings on the high end, while offering more cores. In other words, their CPUs can deliver similar framerates on games while beating intel on multithreaded productivity applications.Moreover, microsoft just announced windows 10 optimizations which take advantage of AMD features effectively increasing the speed of the processors.

Start your search with the 3700x, but also look for the $500 3900x which directly competes with Intel's best consumer cpu the i9 9900k.

Memory is getting radically cheaper, so you could even go for 32GB for future proofing. Just remember that if you go with AMD especially, go for the faster memory you can afford. 3200mhz 14 cas seems the sweet spot right now.

As far as hard drives, I would keep the 256GB m.2 as a system drive, while using a larger sized SSD for my steam library and documents.

As far as cases are concerned, I like the NZXT lineup, the H400 is a micro atx case you look for, and the h500 can support ATX as well. Other than that, I like the Fractal Design cases like the Refine R6 and the Meshify C.

Good luck.
 

Red Sox Physicist

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Jul 15, 2005
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This is the perfect time to build a new pc in quite some time as memory, ssd and video card prices have dropped from historical highs over the past couple of years.

AMD should get on your radar, as for the first time ever his month, they released cpus that can go head to head with Intel offerings on the high end, while offering more cores. In other words, their CPUs can deliver similar framerates on games while beating intel on multithreaded productivity applications.Moreover, microsoft just announced windows 10 optimizations which take advantage of AMD features effectively increasing the speed of the processors.

Start your search with the 3700x, but also look for the $500 3900x which directly competes with Intel's best consumer cpu the i9 9900k.
The flip side of that from an Intel CPU perspective is that Intel just announced their Ice Lake 10 nm CPUs. These will be a huge performance improvement. However, they won't be out until the end of the year.

Intel's 10 nm process is similar to AMD's 7 nm process in transistor density. The transistor sizes are just marketing terms now. Intel CPUs have only made marginal improvements over the last several years since it's taken them so long to bring their 10 nm process to market to the point where AMD caught up and passed them. Buying now, definitely look at AMD. If you're going for Intel and you can put it off, wait for Ice Lake.
 

cgori

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Thanks, all - some things in here I wouldn't have considered/known.

I'm still digesting / working through PC Parts Picker, might come back with a proposed build to critique. (But, waiting for Ice Lake would be ideal, if I can limp along with a new PSU in the old box I'd be happy for sure.)
 

cgori

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Oct 2, 2004
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It turns out that the power supply is OK. The video card sparked to the CPU fan surround. Computer is alive and running off the built-in video. But EVGA is going to replace my video card under warranty (!?!) I think, which sorta blows my mind.

But I'm thinking about building a new PC using NCASE M1 when it comes around again and the new intel CPUs come out in the fall.