New Computer advice bleg.

Embarrassing, this: I used to have the skills to figure out what computer I’d need to buy – and that’s buy. I’m not building one. I’m not going to spend a month setting it up to get somebody else to build me one, either. I just want to order it and have it sent to me – that met these standards.  Or even approximate them:

Recommended System Requirements
Intel CPU Core i7 3770 3,4 GHz
Nvidia GPU GeForce GTX 770
AMD GPU Radeon R9 290
OS 64-bit Windows 7 or 64-bit Windows 8 (8.1)
DirectX 11
HDD Space 40 GB

Twenty years ago I could have figured it out without too much trouble; and if I had the time to spend two weeks steeping myself in the current state of the art I’d probably be able to figure it out now. But I’m not, and I don’t, and this is actually starting to cause me some distress from the frustration. So if somebody can just point me to a desktop that does this, that’d be great. The cheaper, the better: there’s a pledge drive waiting on this information*, not to be not-really-crass about it.

Moe Lane

PS: I’m not getting an Apple. The games I typically play do not have Apple versions.

PPS: I’m not getting a Xbox One, either (although that’s a nice sales price for the bundle). I actually do do other stuff besides game on this machine, and I’d like more processing power to do it.

*It’s not that we can’t afford a new computer on our household budget. It’s that my wife’s desktop was about six years old, and it was taking ten minutes to boot up in the morning, and, well, it was her turn for an upgrade. Besides, I figure that with enough budgeting, scrounging up spare change, and maybe finally getting paid for some of that freelance work I did (and may keep doing, if I actually do get paid for it), I can put together most of the cost of a new machine on my own.

28 thoughts on “New Computer advice bleg.”

  1. I like Alienware stuff, and a few years ago got a monster desktop from them that still hangs with current games (though I did replace the old GPU when it went funky). However, I have always gotten them refurbished from the Dell Outlet and use a discount code (sooner or later there is a good one) so I get it for about 2/3 retail (or a bit less).

    1. Dell Outlet is a good starting point, but the cost benefit is inverse to the popularity of the system, i.e. Moe may not save much because he wants a high-end gamer-station, and so do a lot of other people.
      It’s also possible, for someone who’s good with words, to call up Dell, read off the spec, and ask if they have anything in the outlet that’d match the requirements.

  2. I went the route a couple of years ago – been happy, as good as I could have built. For the same price as putting it together myself. The GPU (aka video card) is the most important part, but you knew that 🙂
    I got an iBuyPower, but it looks like Costco doesn’t carry them anymore.

      1. So FWIW I’ve found to be 10-15% over what I could part it together for myself, which I consider well worth the cost to save myself the hassle.

        What is your budget? I don’t think you’ll hit those specs for much under that for six months to a year.

      2. Those specs though – that’s what’s driving the price up. Both of those rigs are on special and their default loadouts aren’t bad though they are about 1 level back from your requested specs. They are priced around the $800 range.

  3. One thing to remember is that those CPUs are over 2 years old now. You could probably get away with an i3 or i5 in the current Intel line.

    Video card is still going to hurt, because you’re probably going to need to drop $150+ on it.

    Not sure what to tell you. I was able to spec out a cyberpower with an i3 and the most recent $200 nvidia card right under $900.

  4. As an Apple fan, I’d like to ask a question: If you were able to get a decent discount on a mac, would you change your mind?

    1. Nope. The games situation is just too much of a bottleneck for Apple. Don’t get me wrong: I have an iPod and an iPad that I use all the time, but if you’re a gamer then it’s gotta be either PC or console.

          1. I suspect the major hurdle here is that Moe does not wish to allocate time to tinkering.
            I am extrapolating this from his statement that he does not wish to build his own system.

  5. It’ll be hard finding a pre-built system with those video cards and processors for under $1000. I’d stick with Intel processors. I prefer Radeon but I think you’ll find more availability with Nvidia. You’ll probably need to set your sites on an Intel core i5 and look for something with a GTX 750/760 or Radeon HD 7770. If you could stretch for a Nvidia GTX 970 that would be better than a GTX 770. I’ve always been a NewEgg shopper when it comes to computer stuff. They always seem to be price competitive and their site makes it easy to find stuff. Something like these would be pretty solid. Item=N82E16883220798R

    1. Hah, one last thing. I should mention that my current rig is a Dell Optiplex 7010 with a Radeon HD 7750. What is interesting about the 7750 is that it only uses 55w which means it works fine with the cheesy 250w power supply that the 7010 came with. I’m playing Battlefield 4 right now and running decent framerates at 1080p HD resolution with all the graphics set to medium. You could find a good deal on a decent desktop with the onboard Intel graphics card and then just install the Radeon HD 7750 yourself. Mine with $100 with $20 rebate (119.99). Since there is a no external power connector you just have to snap it into the PCI express slot and your done.

  6. Moe,

    I have taken to building a few different systems myself. I wanted to give you the benefit of my trials and errors.

    First off both those processors are likely overkill. Unless you are doing 3d modeling the extra cores in the AMD and the hyper-threading feature most likely wont be used on the I7

    Money (and power usage) is much better getting an Fx 6core or an I5 quad core (there are some i5 dual cores). In the case of the AMD it likely uses about 1/2 the power of the 8 core.

    8 Gigs of memory is good for most things these days.

    I feel that the AMD video cards are better deals for the money. They also tend to draw far less power at idle than the Nvidea cards. A lower end R9 or upper end R7 are pretty good at price points. I just purchases the R7 260 for 100 bucks with 40 bucks in rebates.

    Windows 8 is a bit faster but for a desk top has lots of unused features and a bigger learning curve. Windows 7 64bit Home is preferred by most people.

    And your HDD is way two small. Go with a master drive of 100gb SSD and a slave of 500gb HDD or larger. You end up with the best of both worlds. SSD’s are extremely fast and great to have the OS on with a few extras. A standard HDD is far cheaper and is worth it for storage.

    I know you said you are not building one.But it has become far easier to build systems these days than it used to be. The Bios and OS do most of the work for you now. As they tend it self identify your components and install them right away. Just choose which drive is the boot drive in the BIOS and its pretty easy afterwards.

    If you decide to go this route send me an e-mail. I would be happy to help you out and it would probably save you a few buck too.

    1. Thank you for the offer; my hesitancy in taking it is the same as why I’m hesitant to put one together myself. Which is to say, I have two kids who must never, ever get it into their heads that computers can be taken apart. 🙂

      Well, at least not until they’re a little older.

  7. Does ‘buy, then add aftermarket video card’ work for you?

    As noted by others, boutique vendors that will build systems with good gaming video cards charge a significant price premium for it (which is why relatively inexpensive gaming machines are one of the last bastions of build-it-yourself types).

  8. Anytime! If you have any questions feel free to ask. I am not always right but I will try to send you to the proper direction.

    Otherwise I agree with other posters. Getting a non-gaming computer and adding a video card is probably the most cost effective. The new rig wont have all the bells and whistles but will still do the job.

    just be careful of one thing going that route. Make sure the new computer has the infrastructure to accept the card. It has an open slot and power supply big enough to handle it. The previously recommended ATI 7750 is excellent as it can use the power just from the slot without a dedicated separate power cable

  9. I bought a CyberpowerPC from It’s more than you want ( 4GHz CPU, Nvidia 970 ), but I saw many Gaming PCs there that were below $1k. Newegg has many filters for selecting what you want and has a large selection of gaming PCs. I quit buying big-ticket stuff from Amazon after they started charging sales tax.
    My CyberpowerPC started right up and has yet to hiccup or Blue Screen, even after I tweaked it by adding an SSD and 8GB memory. While I hate Win 8.1, I’ve gotten used to it. I mostly miss the Start button.
    I would beware of PCs like Asus, which “lock” the box and void the warranty if you open it. Sometimes things get loose in shipping and gaming PCs often need enhancements over time. I like Asus as a brand, just hate their policy.

    1. Here’s something that’s close to what you want:

      One issue I recall when doing my own research is the power-hungry nature of earlier GPUs and their tendency to kill your Power Supply. I would make sure the Nvidia GPU has Maxwell architecture as they are much less demanding Watt-wise. Many users seem to regard 600W as necessary but a lot depends on the GPU.

      I used to build my own boxes but got lazy and just bought the CyberPowerPC, which had all the internal parts I wanted though light on RAM. For gaming use I’d avoid bigger vendors such as Asus or Acer, though I do like their laptops.

      I read somewhere that M$ may drop support for Win 7 sooner than they did for XP, though overall I much prefer Win 7 to 8.1.

  10. Have a look at the Alienware X51.

    If you can live with a NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 760Ti with 2GB GDDR5.

    For approx $769 you get Win7 64 bit Home, 1TB SATA 6Gb/s (7,200RPM) 64MB Cache, 4th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-4460 Processor (Quad Core, 6MB Cache, up to 3.4GHz w/ Turbo Boost).*

    There’s a $75 coupon at the moment which brings it down under $700

    [*I don’t buy a keyboard, mouse, or monitor as a package deal.]

    I recently upgraded from a 2-yr old X51 to an Aurora, but truthfully it was overkill.

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