I have been an avid PC gamer since early high school (10 years now), and built my first desktop as a junior in high school. I used it through college, but am now upgrading a NEW system but would like some help with a new build:
Initially I was waiting for Half Life 3 to come out, but since it will be a LONG TIME to come out I want to build something that will be good for gaming as well as the less complex duties of using MS Office. What are some specs you recommend for a CPU, etc? The new i7 processor looks good, but I've always been happy with AMD. Thanks much!
You can build a very good PC now for quite a decent price. I can't go through an entire spec but can make recommendations for when you are looking for your components. I can make recommendations based on your needs (gaming and less demanding tasks). Hopefully it helps you moving forward.
CPU - an i7 processor for a system where gaming is the most demanding task is overkill. The i7 series is for heavy media encoding, multi tasking heavy applications like 3D design software while editing video etc etc. An i7 will not really benefit you in this system and would be a bit of a waste of your money. Go for the i5 which is excellent for gaming and will give you a significant boost over the i3. Intel Core i5-3570K @ 3.40GHz is highly recommended from me.
RAM - You will need no more than 8GB of RAM. Pretty much any 2x4GB 1600MHz sticks at 9-9-9-24 and 1.5V. Make etc doesn't really matter too much, many swear by Kingston which is cheaper than Corsair but that's down to you. There won't be any major differences so look for 2 x 4GB sticks at 1600MHz and you will be set.
GFX - Depending on your budget I can recommend anything from the GeForce GTX 650 Ti to the GeForce GTX 780. Check out this chart for comparison - http://www.nvidia.co.uk/object/graphics_cards_buy_now_uk.html
. Obviously you will be able to find an AMD equivalent if you want to go with them. Any of these cards will do very well and will run all but the most demanding games on max settings. If you feel that you need to run everything on max for the next 5 years then you are talking about the high end GPUs such as the 780 and Titan...which are very expensive.
HDD - I would recommend any hard drive that is 2TB. Caviar green or black from Western Digital can be very good and I use them a lot. I tend to use my HDD for mass storage (games, music, videos, pictures etc). I then install my Operating System and important demanding applications on a SSD. I highly recommend getting both as the system performance leap is impressive to say the least. Before installing my SSD, my Windows was taking 4 minutes to allow me to open applications from boot. With the SSD this decreased to 20 seconds. I highly recommend the Samsung 840 250GB EVO as your SSD. Just do a little reading on SSDs and if you decide to go with it, do NOT use it as mass storage! They aren't designed for that and should be used for Windows, demanding applications and a specific set of games with long loading times (Skyrim, Civilization 5 etc).
Power Supply - Any power supply of at least 500W. The Coolermaster 750W is a great PSU that I have been using and with the specs I have outlined you will have plenty of power to spare for upgrades and other additions.
Sound Card - Any decent sound card that allows surround sound capabilities, search the market for a PCI E sound card and read the reviews.
Optical Drive - Depending on your needs you could go for a Blu Ray drive if you are going to watch high definition films on your PC. If not, then go for a high speed DVD RW drive.
MOBO - Any motherboard that will allow SATA 3 connections for your SSD and one that can handle everything else. This may sound daunting but with the spec I have outlined, most modern motherboards will have no problems. For example, the Asus Z87-Pro Socket 1150 DVI HDMI DisplayPort 8-channel Audio ATX Motherboard would be fantastic though you could probably get one cheaper than that.
Other considerations would be if you decide you want to do 3D gaming, if you want multiple monitors etc. These must be considered when deciding on your RAM and GFX card since the demands instantly increase when deciding on these. Though that will be down to personal choice and investigation.
Hopefully I have helped and I will be happy to give you further help if you are confused or curious about any of my recommendations.