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I want to build a PC - where do I start?

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by Specks, Oct 1, 2004.


  1. Specks

    Specks
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    I would like to build my own computer from scratch. Since I've never done this before, I'm looking for a little help.

    I like to play games, but I'm not fanatic about it and I don't go out and buy games the day they come out, so I don't really need the fastest processor or video card. I plan on dual booting winXP and linux. I'm a software developer so I do plan on doing some of that on this computer as well.

    I want to know what brands to look for, which ones to stay away from, where to shop (I'm guessing mostly online). What will I definately need, what I can do without? Any tips you've learned and are willing to give to a beginner.

    Things I know I'll need: monitor, case, motherboard, power supply, memory, hard drive{s}, dvd burner, video card, sound card, usb connections, network card. What am I missing?

    Thanks in advance. I'm a bit embarrased, being in computer software and not knowing much about hardware.
     

    Wanna kill these ads? We can help!
  2. Weaps

    Weaps
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    Drives A Jeep

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    You start with a good motherboard. I was building my wife her new computer (about the fifth one I've built completely from components) and made the mistake of buying a no-name motherboard on sale from Tigerdirect. None of the memory sticks I put in the thing would allow it to POST. Gave the signal as if there was no RAM installed. After swapping out RAM sticks to no avail, I finally drove down to a local place and bought an <b>ASUS</b> motherboard, and all was well. Abit is good, I've heard Tyan as well is fine, but ASUS seems to have the edge.

    Then there are CPU coolers, bus speeds, video cards, ability to 'overclock' and all kinds of other things which I don't concern myself with because my wife and I aren't gamers. I'll leave those to others. But if you start with a quality motherboard you will be well on your way. Video cards are an entirely different topic. AMD vs. Intel as well. I have an Intel CPU because I need it for stability with my (borderline game-capable) video card, by I got my wife AMD for cost since she runs WinXP (I run Linux.)
     

  3. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak
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    KO Windows

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    I would strongly recommend a couple issues of PCUpgrade. They usually build a PC from the ground up every issue, and do a good job of explaining how to do it.

    I'd also strongly recommend picking up the "PC Builder" issue of Smart computing at the link below. They build 50+ computers in one magazine, with detailed steps on all of them. Most of them are "niche" PC's(Best gaming PC under $2000, Best PC for under $750, etc..). They use a wide variety of hardware, processors, etc.. I've only read abou 10-12 of the builds in this, but it's very similar to PC Upgrade, and in my opinion, pretty well written. I followed a PC Upgrade Article to the letter when I built my first PC(A screaming fast 200mhz AMD K6 processor :))and had no problems at all. I've probably built around 20-30 in the 8 or 9yrs since. You can't save as much money as you used to(with store boughts being so cheap now), but I do like knowing everything thats in a computer, etc.., not to mention, I don't get a PC with 8gigs worth of programs that I never use.

    Smart Computing

    Forgot to add some more opinion on hardware to the mix...

    Motherbards- Asus or Abit
    Processor- I generally find, since my first build, I prefer the AMD line of processors. This is nothing against Intel, its simple preference.
    Case- No real competitor to Antec if you ask me, but a lot of folks like Alienware
    Hard drive- Western Digital
    Floppy- Generic
    CD/CDR/CDRW/DVD- Lite On


    Have fun
    IGF
     
  4. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak
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    One more thing...

    I assume you'll be building a Windows machine, look online for the Full Version of XP(or whatever your choosing), as you can usually find the OEM version for much cheaper than Best Buy sells it(Some may require you to buy your motherboard or hard drive from them to get the OEM version, Monarch did not do this last Nov to me)..... For instance, Monarch Computers(linked below) has it for $89.

    I'd never recommend a vendor I haven't used. I've used all these, and have had pretty favorable service.

    http://www.monarchcomputer.com
    http://www.tigerdirect.com
    http://www.aberdeeninc.com
    http://www.newegg.com

    Best wishes
    IGF
     
  5. Specks

    Specks
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    Thanks for the great replies.

    I'll definately give PCUpgrade and the PCBuilder a thorough look. And thanks for the links to the vendors.
     
  6. jack19512

    jack19512
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    Start with a good power supply. Big mistake to get too small power supply or cheap power supply.
     
  7. gsbell

    gsbell
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    Consumed

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    Spend some time on http://www.tomshardware.com/
    Then go to http://www.pricewatch.com/ to get an idea what this stuff is going to cost. I agree with what others have said, buy a good case and power supply. just don't order from half a dozen different places trying to save a couple of bucks as the shipping will eat you up.
     
  8. Tennessee Slim

    Tennessee Slim
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    Specks, when you tally the prices for your components, you might well find that you can buy a PC with the same “numbers” as what you’re building from Dell or whomever for less money. Don’t let that discourage you. The manufacturers cut corners to build what they sell, most notably building video and audio and the NIC into the MoBo. When you compare your new PC to one from one of the companies that aren’t so willing to use cut-rate components (such as Alienware), I’m sure it’ll stand up quite nicely. And you’ll have a much higher quality PC than what the big manufacturers sell.

    This might draw flames but I find the ‘reputable’ overclocking web sites have some of the very best information about the quality of individual components. With the stresses the overclockers put on their components, if they declare it fit for duty, you can probably bank on it. And they won’t hesitate to call a spade a spade. Motherboards.org is a good place for MoBo poop.
     
  9. Gino

    Gino
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    www.tomshardware.com has quite a bit of online help for anyone building their own computer. Everything from a pretty good builders guide to reviews of components and pretty good forums.

    www.newegg.com is arguably the best place to order from. Great prices, fast shipping and service. Newegg also has reviews from people on most of what they sell.

    My suggestion is to stick with quality components. Buy quality and only cry once. I built my system using most of the components that IndyGunFreak mentioned and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

    Good luck!
     
  10. ls

    ls
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    You might also look at www.pricegrabber.com for price checks. They usually search the bigger name stores and I have noticed lately that on some things you can find better deals than what I see at pricewatch. Pricegrabber has a feature that will let you but in your zip code and it will calculate the total with shipping.

    I have used Seagate, Maxtor and Western Digital HDDs in the past and have had good luck.

    I have noticed some new Mobo manufactures lately, but would second the Asus and Abit recommendations.

    If you want to run Win and Linux, make sure the components you chose have Linux drivers. Go to a Linux site (I do not know of any to recommend) and see what they say works.

    Think twice about going with generic RAM. I have not built anything lately, but in the past it was hit and miss with the generic RAM. You might get a couple of sticks that worked well together but a later upgrade would have compatability problems. On some occasions the new RAM would work well by itself, but not in conjuction with the old RAM. But those problems might have been ironed out by now.

    A lot of cases come with ways to attach front USB, Sound, Firewire ports, etc. If this is important to you make sure the case you want and Mobo will work together.
     
  11. David_G17

    David_G17
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    /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

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    ^6

    built mine (first and only computer i ever built) from newegg parts.
     
  12. Specks

    Specks
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    Yesterday I went to the bookstore and found the issue of PC Builder recomended by IndyGunFreak and a copy of PC Upgrade. After reading through these, I feel I have a much better idea of how to go about building my system.

    I still have a lot of decisions to make, starting out with which processor to get. I know some people can be religious about this sort of thing, so I won't ask for opinions here.

    I appreciate all the great info.
     
  13. Weaps

    Weaps
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    Processor choice is usually controversial either because zealous overclockers are always in competition with each other to produce the fastest "FPS" gaming machine, thus giving them silly bragging rights; or because zealous...whatevers think Intel is evil for some reason. AMD is 'not evil' and thus better in their thinking. In reality they are just two businesses trying to survive whose products will be faster/cheaper than the other at any given time you compare them.

    Having said that, I don't have any problem with either one, and usually just go with what is cheaper except in my case I have a video card whose drivers make the system unstable if I use a motherboard which uses a Via chipset, which most AMD MB's use. To overcome that I needed a MB with Intel chipset, and Intel processor. My situation is unique. For my wife, she runs Windows XP, so I built her original computer using an AMD processor, and to upgrade I got her an AMD/MB combo because it was cheaper. Other than that there is no difference between the processors to the end user.
     
  14. SanduneCC

    SanduneCC
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  15. Bronson7

    Bronson7
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    Hey Specks, post a list of what you decide to build. Give us a look, may save you some headaches.
    Bronson7
     
  16. Specks

    Specks
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    Sure thing, I am just about finished with my parts list. I'll post it in a day or so. I still have some more research to do before it gets finalized.
     
  17. EXECUTION STYLE

    EXECUTION STYLE
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    Heckuva guy!

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    WWW.SHARKYFORUMS.COM
    WWW.PCMECH.COM

    I got all of my parts from here:
    WWW.NEWEGG.COM

    Here are my components:

    ASUS P4C800E-DELUXE | P4 3.2C | XP PRO SP1A | 2 X Maxtor 6Y120M0 120GB S-ATA HDD RAID 0 | 2 x OCZ 512MB DDR400 Gold Edition Rev.2 Enhanced Latency PC3700 | Plextor PX-708A/SW-BL | Plextor PX-Premium/SW-BL | Enermax EG475P-VE-SFMA | ATI RADEON 9800XT | Lian-Li PC-65B | Logitech Elite | MX510 | Linksys BEFSX41 | APC UPS BE725BB | VS G90FB | Klipsch ProMedia Ultra 5.
     
  18. Specks

    Specks
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    Ok, here is my parts list. I plan on getting everything from newegg.com.


    Case: Antec Sonata with 380W psu: $98
    CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Socket 754 - OEM: $160
    HeatSink: Thermal Take Silent Boost: $30
    MOBO: ASUS K8N-E Delux for Socket 754: $130
    RAM: Corsair Value Select (Dual Pack 184 Pin 1G(512MBx2) DDR PC3200 - OEM: $158
    HD: Western Digital 120GB 7200RPM SATA x2 - OEM: $181
    VIDEO: XFX nVidia GeForce FX5900XT 128M: $192
    CD/DVD: Lite-On 52x32x52x16 combo drive - OEM: $45
    Floppy: NEC 1.44MB internal floppy - OEM: $9
    Monitor: Samsung 910T 19" LCD: $535
    OS: WinXP Pro SP2 - OEM: $142
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    $1680

    (sorry the layout of this kind of sucks. I wanted the amounts to all line up)


    I originally wanted to get the AMD Athlon 64 3000+ with socket 939 as that seems the direction that AMD is going with the 64 bit processors. The problem is, it dissappeared from everywhere I was looking and the cheapest cpu with the 939 socket is the 3500+ which is about $320. I would have paired it up with a ASUS A8V Delux motherboard. I wanted a Socket 939 so that future upgrades to a faster/better Athlon 64 could be made without replacing the motherboard.

    I'm still unsure of my video card choice. I originally wanted the ATI Radeon 9600Pro but I found out it has poor linux driver support and I want to be able to play America's Army and Enemy Territory in linux. Nvidia, OTOH, does have good linux drivers.

    I'm also not sure of the LCD monitor. I really have my hear set on a 19" LCD, but I'm not sure if I can justify the cost. Is the Samsung I picked out a good one?

    What are your comments or suggestions? Thanks.
     
  19. Bronson7

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    Wow, looks like a pretty high end set-up. Unfortunatly, I know nothing about the newer 64 bit rigs. I'm sure some of our fellow GT 64 bit geeks will be along shortly to offer you some input.
    Bronson7
     
  20. grenadier

    grenadier
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    The others have already stated some pretty good rigs, so I'm just going to give a couple of warnings:

    1) Always check the company that you are buying from, with their listing on:

    http://www.resellerratings.com

    The ratings on the Pricewatch.com board are tainted by many of the bottom feeder companies, who post fake invoices / reviews of their awful companies, such as BZBOYZ.com, PartsPC, Tufshop, etc.

    2) Always check the company with their listing on:

    http://bbb.org