Building the beast: the Game Junkie PC build

04:31, Jan 23 2013

The Game Junkie PC build has started. Well, let me rephrase that: the purchasing has started for the Game Junkie PC build project.

I mentioned late last year of my intentions to build a decent gaming PC ,and now, with me back at work and more time to investigate things, I'm starting to pick up the parts (when the budget allows: I'm also planning on buying new wheels for my bike so I have to spread the cash around!). I'll need to build a PC that should be able to handle anything I can throw at it for a while.

Modern PC gaming has been neglected by me for too long, and I apologise for that. This build is an attempt to rectify that neglect. But don't see this project as a suggestion that I'm giving up on console gaming because I'm not. I'll continue to play games from the comfort of my couch for as long as I can. But, frankly, a lot of games just look better on PC thanks to a computer's greater processing power and graphical grunt and I want to be able to play those games that are optimised for PC.

I've already got a motherboard (an Intel DZ77GA-70K) and an Intel i7 CPU and now I have a case to house the bits in: a Fractal Define R4, which I picked up from Christchurch computer dealer Dragon PC for $213.

I looked at a lot of cases before I decided on the Define R4. I looked at full tower cases, toyed briefly with building a multimedia PC, and for a split second - at the insistence of my 13-year-old son - on getting a case that had a clear side window and coloured lights. I discounted that suggestion rather quickly: I'm not interested in a case that will light up my lounge room with fluorescent tubes and LEDs on the tips of fan blades (can you even get those?). He asked me if I'd put stickers on the case: I said no.

I looked online at several suppliers but when my wife gave me $200 worth of gift vouchers for Christmas from Dragon PC, it made sense to source a key item from that store. I looked at several different cases, from a variety of manufacturers including Coolermaster, Antec and Raidmax, but I kept going back to the Fractal cases. They just appealed to me (and were recommended by Craig Nimmo, of ON3 network).


My criteria for a case were simple: it had to be affordable (I wasn't prepared to spend $500 on a case), it had to have plenty of expansion ports for future-proofing, it had to look good (hence no bright blue lights) and, probably most important, it had to run relatively quietly (though I realise that with more power comes the need for more cooling fans). The Define R4 ticked most of those boxes. It might have been considerably pricier than many of the other cases that I could have got (cases around the $100 mark) but I liked the look of it and the fact that it's well built and I wanted a case that would last a good while.

Here's what the Define R4 offers in terms of features: two 5.25-inch bays, eight 3.5-inch HDD trays and two dedicated SSD (solid state drive) positions; two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports on the front control panel; a front door panel and side panels with soundproofing material; two 140mm hydraulic bearing fans (one at the front, one at the back); removable dust filters and a three-speed fan control behind the front door panel.

I picked the case up last week and I'm pleased with it. It's sitting in the family room, though, looking all lonely. Sadly, it'll sit there until I have enough components to start building.

Next on the list of components is likely to be the graphics card and after a lot of research and talking to a lot of people, I'm edging towards a Radeon HD 7850 GPU. From what I've read and heard it seems to be an incredibly reliable card that performs well under Direct X 11 and I can get one for under $300.

Anyone with a Radeon 7850 like to tell me how they've found it? Has it lived up to your expectations?

Exciting times ahead.

Other stuff you might be interested in: Game Junkie is on Twitter and you can email him here. He'll even answer your emails, not get some smart robot to do it. He also has another gaming blog here, which was actually updated recently. You should check it out.