Misadventures in PC building

Fortune has smiled on me and I’ve been presented with an opportunity to travel to the USA in a few weeks! My stay will be of only a week but I’m looking forward to returning to a city I haven’t been to in over a decade. It is also a wonderful opportunity to buy a few things that due to taxes or other reasons are just too difficult or expensive to get here – with a limited budget, of course.

It all started with the idea of upgrading my video card. There is only one place in the city that deals with good video cards; the prices are steep, sometimes double the price you find on the internet. Buying online is always an option, but stupid taxes make things unnecessarily more expensive than they need to be. Therefore, the idea of being able to actually go there and buy a GPU for its actual retail price (plus tax, minus discounts) is too enticing to let pass. I have decided to go for a Geforce GTX 970, which seems to be a pretty good card for a 1080p player like me. It’s a tad expensive for my tastes/budget, but as stated, the opportunity may not present itself in quite some time to have access to real retail prices.

Then hell starts… for a PC user that isn’t savvy about parts.

pc1
My PC. Case isn’t that big (PS4 game case for reference). Power supply reduces available space for GPU. Motherboard only has one PCI slot and a… very small whatchamacallit port.

My current PC case (a medium-small case) cannot fit such a huge video card. The power supply sits in the way (as seen in the picture). Therefore, it seems I’d need to get a new PC case. I’ve gotten quite a few good tips on them from Twitter friends like Interneth3roFayorei and Sramdi, fortunately! That’s when terms like “ATX” start popping up. Will a new and good case be able to house my relatively out-of-date mainboard? Eek. I figure I can take the cover off of a new case and stuff it in a travel bag, filled with clothes, for the trip back… right? *hopes*

Let us not forget these kind of powerful cards have this little power sockets on them – they need special power supplied through cables coming from the power supply. My current unit, the capacity of which I do not know, may be enough but it lacks the number of cables required for all the pieces; sporting enough cables for the mother board and the basic things, there’s no spot left for video card connections. So I need a new power supply. I’d been recommended a 750 [insert power unit here].

pc2
Oh God, why?

Speaking of video cards, if you follow the link to the video card I’ve chosen you’ll see there’s quite a few variants with different prices. While computer enthusiasts may recognize terms like SC et al, regular users like me only see confusion. Sure, I could go for the cheapest one… but will it be good enough? Twitter friends helped me with this, shedding some light, but it’s an incredibly convoluted system. Reminds me of video card naming conventions. There is certainly a very good reason why I saw a 770 being more expensive than a 970… but for us common folk it makes zero sense.

pc3

From there it goes into territory I’d much rather not go: video card supports a level of PCI above my motherboard, which means I’d hit a limit, but I can’t start looking into motherboards because that’d mean looking into processors. And why not upgrade from 8Gb to 16Gb of RAM? Or one of those fancy mechanical keyboards! Or them cool-colored mouses! And… STOP!!! (hammertime). Did I mention I’m doing all this with a tight budget? No? Well, that’s true as well. Around $500, if you are curious.

In the end, I am adding a lot of drama for fun and giggles. This research period has been confusing but not that bad at all. I have learned a few things about PC building! It’ll be fun trying to find pieces that are both appropriate and good priced. Honestly, most of my frustrations and confusions stem from ignorance. Last night I was given advices about how to monitor my PC’s temperature, and websites that not only give advice about your current hardware but also compatible pieces that go well with it, as well as specific types of upgrades one needs – you probably knew there’s different types of RAM, but I didn’t know they varied beyond the amount in the little plaque! Speaking of getting information of pieces online, this gem is from the description of my motherboard:

Untitled-2

GO, ME.

Despite all this: in the end, while I am buying the video card online, I’ll look for the other pieces in person. I’ll hope to go to a place like Best Buy or any store I can find close to where I am staying. I hope I can find good pieces that’ll allow me to piece everything together neatly. I’m not a cutting-edge PC gamer, and won’t definitely aim for any 4K or SLI or any other fancy state-of-the-art technology – I just want to play in 1080p with stable framerate, so it can’t be that hard. Right?

(Also, I hope I can buy a cheap used copy of Lightning Returns. I’m missing it for my pseudo-FF collection :P)

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