Building your own computer

  • SB
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I've always wanted to build my own desktop computer but never really knew how i would go about doing this. As i've grown older i've grown in confidence and my determination to build a machine is greater than ever now.

I received an email from a reputable computer hardware website which i had used before to buy my external hard drive several years ago and they had on sale a case complete with washable front air filter. After seeing this i decided that i'd love to go an invest in this (or something similar) and go ahead and build my first desktop computer.

As i am new to this i am a bit uncertain as to what i would really need to look for when building a machine. I don't know how important the actual case is to the overall design and whether buying a case will ultimately determine how far the computer goes in terms of power or practicality.

For those of you experienced in this, could anyone give me an idea of what i should be focusing on, whether it is the motherboard, RAM, graphics or whatever. What do you think i should know about this before i start? Any advice on motherboards/RAM/graphics cards i should get? what about OS? I quite like the idea of having Windows 7, however i may just hold out for Windows 8 when it has been released, so what hardware requirements would be ideal for the proposed features of Windows 8?

Any tips and advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • Bigwebmaster
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Post 3+ Months Ago

For the case the the two most important things are that they will fit everything you intend to buy, and that they are using a standard such as ATX. I usually go for ATX sized cases which tend to be a bit bigger than my needs are. I also find cases that have lots of good airflow and usually look at reviews to see the pros and cons with each case. When I build a new computer I usually do another of research on each and every part to make sure I am getting the right one. Overall you will most likely need:

Case
Power Unit
Motherboard
Ram
Graphics Video Card
Hard Drives

Keep in mind some of the parts above will also be dependent on other parts which is why you should research everything. For example once you figure out what CPU you want, then you will need to make sure that your motherboard supports that type of CPU. Same with the Graphics Video Card, you will need to make sure you have the right slot on the motherboard for it. Many of the pieces you buy are dependent on the other parts you buy so you will just need to make sure everything is compatible with each other. Depending on the Motherboard and CPU that you get, only certain types of RAM would be compatible.

So what I usually do when building a computer is put on paper everything I would want and then see where it adds up in price. If it exceed my budget then I will start making sacrifices in areas until I finally get it down to the budget I had in mind.
  • SB
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Post 3+ Months Ago

As silly as this may sound, but i have no budget as such. I am looking at building this over the period of several months. The plan is to build something powerful which would last me many many years yet.

Thanks for the advice Brian. If anyone has anything else to add i'd love to hear.
  • SpooF
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Your best bet is to save up and buy everything when your ready, as prices are always dropping and buying something today and not using it is a waste of money in the long run. You'll probably find that over a 6 month period the price of a computer today will drop ~10% or more depending on what new releases are coming out. When i build my first computer my CPU dropped 50% 3 months after I bout it.

For example, around March the new Ivey bridge CPU from Intel will be released and the price of a Sandy bridge will probably drop quite a bit.

This is normally the order I select components

CPU
Motherboard
RAM
GPU
HDD
Case
PSU

Your CPU will determine your motherboard and your motherboard will determine your ram.

Almost all mainstream motherboards come with PCI 16 2.0, a few are now 3.0 so any graphics card is mostly going to work. I throw in the HDD next because if you end up being a RAID person you'll need to take them into consideration when buying a PSU, if your not going do any RAID then you can leave the HDD off to the end. The case comes before the PSU because you'll need to make sure your PSU has long enough cables (If you get a highend PSU you won't have to worry about this as they are design for large cases). After I have all those components I look at CD-ROM, Sound card and everything else (HDD if you left them till the end).

I'd go read Toms hardware reviews to pick your CPU. I personally like Intel's Sandy Bridge i7, but the new AMD Bulldoser is suppose to handle better at higher parallel work flow. Overall AMD is the "budget" chip, but they are still really fast.

If your spending over $1500 I'd look at what your buying again. As for $1500 you can buy a crazy powerfull PC (like overclocker enthusiast / hardcore gaming).

You'll want to pay attention to the chipset your motherboard comes with. They are really starting to matter now as CPU are coming with some pretty awesome technology built into them. For example the H chip set from Intel gives you the video processing technology in the Sandy bridge chips, while the P gets you overclocking abilities. If you get the X you get both of those plus SSD caching.
  • Bigwebmaster
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I agree with SpooF. While you can build your computer over many months, only do it on paper. You would be wasting alot of money buying parts you won't use as they do continue to come down in price as new products come out.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Excellent advice. I am going to do just that.

I had a look at cases and found it interesting how the cost of cases varied in price as much as it did, yet other than the physical exterior design i didn't see a whole lot of difference in it.

Take for example an ATX tower case as suggested by Brian, i saw this one range between £10 to £50. So, without knowing a whole lot about them and only really seeing the physical difference if i was to buy one today i was probably going to opt for this... http://www.dixons.co.uk/gbuk/antec-one- ... 3-pdt.html

With that said, i don't really know what it means by mini ITX. There is another tower priced exactly the same and it doesn't have "mini ITX".

The best step would be to obviously learn what these features are before i was to invest so i know exactly what i need for what i hope to build. If i am having difficulty understanding what certain terms are for a Case then it's inevitable i will have issues with the RAM, CPU, Motherboard or even the Graphix/Sound Cards.

Thanks again.
  • SpooF
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Post 3+ Months Ago

So cases prices vary depending on material they are made out of, features they have in side them, and how well they are engineered for air flow. Some features are tool-less installation (for hard drives and cd-rom drives) back plate for cable management and water outlets for water cooling.

What your seeing with the mini ITX is that the case has mounting spots for that kind of board.

There are alot of different board sizes: ATX, Extended ATX (12), HPTX, Micro ATX, XL ATX, Mini ITX , PicoBTX and SSI CEB (In no particular order).

The most common boards are ATX.
  • grinch2171
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Be careful with hard drive prices, I keep hearing there is a shortage because of the flooding in Taiwan.
  • Evulperson
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I built my own system, I actually started with a really old out-dated computer, just one that worked. and from there, i just replaced components 1-by-1. In the case of the Motherboard, I had to get Ram and a CPU to go with it, as the ones i was using, were just that outdated.

But yeah, Bump SpooF and Bigweb. Building a computer is far more rewarding that just popping down to Aarons, or Best Buy and pullin one down off the shelf, pluggin it in, and throwin it against the wall.
  • SpooF
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Post 3+ Months Ago

WOW! I didnt think this was really going to happen.

http://blog.zorinaq.com/?e=62

a 1TB HDD from newegg is over $200. They use to be ~$90
  • demonmaestro
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Post 3+ Months Ago

the biggest issue with building a computer over a period of say 6 months is that within 6 months the technology will be outdated.. Although i agree with spoof save up and buy all at once.!
  • xyciana
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hi,

I know how you feel about building a machine and if you are using it for general purpose applications including movie making but excluding heavy, heavy gaming then this would be my suggestion.

Attend a computer market/fair (in Midlands, usually held at Wolverhampton Race Course). Walk around and have a chat with the vendors. You will pick up lots of hints and tips and it will give you a very good idea and prices. i.e. Picking up a barebones system (case & decent power supply) will be fairly cheap. You then discuss the combination of appropriate motherboard (make sure its SATA connections), processor & memory. The processor is going to be the most expensive item. An Pentium i5 should do the trick and try and go for 8GB RAM. Haggle with the retailers!

Next harddrive. Get two, 250Gig (for your OS) and one 500GB - 2TB for your data, i.e. pictures, movie making, etc. I would not worry about RAID. Other people differ in this opinion but I've never used RAID and have built and heavily used several PCs over 15 years+

Your motherboard will probably have in-built graphics so you don't need this straight away but the vendors will advise you and you can pick up a decent graphics card relatively cheaply. Go for min 1Gig memory.

An internal memory card reader is nice. Very cheap to pick up.

Buy yourself a BD (Blu Ray Disk) Read Writer. Pay a bit extra instead of a plain DVD rewriter. Good BD RW cost £60 - £80 from good on-line retailers and they will also read/write CDs/DVDs.

You will pick up any wireless keyboard/mouse fairly cheaply from the market/fair.

Lastly is the OS (Operating System). Do you want Windows or FREE Linux. Windows 7 will set you back around £80 - £150 mark for a legal copy.

Some important things to note. Once built, download FREE virus protection/firewall software from internet from another computer. Install onto your new computer BEFORE you connect to internet.

Hope this helps.

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