hardware tutorial?

  • ultimate11
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Post 3+ Months Ago

How can I find a perfect tutorial to set up a computer component? I want to assemble a computer with different brand, is it possible?
Moderator Remark: Re-worded original post
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • GT500Shlby
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Post 3+ Months Ago

A tutorial would be the wrong way to go. There is a lot more than just plugging component A into slot B.

When building a homemade computer system, there are a lot of variables and factors to consider. Just going out and purchasing a bunch of parts from everyone's favorite orange and white online retailer and throwing them together will just get you an overpriced system wrought with instabilities, if it works at all.

Designing the system for your needs.
Put simply: what will you use the computer for?

Some graphics design, video editing and CAD programs have only a small list of “supported” hardware. For example, Autodesk’s Maya application has specific graphics card model numbers and driver versions that are certified, and you need that exact card and driver for the application to function properly.

There are also other less exact requirements. Some programs may want a minimum amount of RAM installed in the system for to even start up. Some programs even have strict screen resolution requirements. These are all in conjunction with the general processor speed, memory and hard drive requirements which most of the time need interpreting.

You may see a requirement like “Intel Pentium 4 3.04 GHz or higher” in a requirement list. However, most of the time a suitable AMD processor will work the same or even better. Then of course you will still even see “Pentium 4” in current lists, even though the P4 is long dead and buried. That and the 3.04 GHz requirement is most of the time relevant to the generation. Take note, I said most of the time and not all the time. So if it says a P4 running at least at 3.0 GHz a comparable Core i7 running at 2.4 GHz could actually work 100x better. However, about 0.5% of the time, that clock speed is important. A lot of programs, still to this day, do not support Asymmetrical Multiprocessing which is a fancy term for multiple cores. Even though they will operate on the multi-core machine, when it processes it will only utilize a single core and may not operate as quickly or it could crash.

Anyway, point specific requirements aside. Take a look at what you want the system to do. For basic word processing, web browsing and the like you want at least 2 GiB of memory. For gaming and watching video, you want at least 4 GiB of memory. For graphic design, video processing, high end Gaming and CAD you may want at least 8 GiB if not 12 GiB of memory.

Hard drive space: If you do a lot of P2P, have a lot of music or videos you may want large hard drives or a RAID of multiple hard drives. If speed is your game, you may want smaller solid-state drives or high-rpm drives like the WD VelociRaptor or 15k rpm SAS drives. For general everyday use, a 500 GiB 7200 rpm SATA drive will work fine, with maybe a 1 TiB USB external backup drive. (You WILL have a backup drive, right?!?!)

Choosing components that work well together.
Put Simply: Matching the NB Chipset to the processor and video card, matching RAM to the motherboard, etc…

A lot of different brands and generations work with different hardware. You need to take into account compatibility and Common Good Practices. When it comes to building computers, I take the Mike Holmes approach: “Do it right, the first time.” And I go the extra mile.

Future Proofing.
How long do you want this system to last? The Product Life Cycle for you business people out there.

Generally speaking, this day in age: I would say you have to draw the line at 4 years. However if you are a super user and like speed, I would update every 2 years.

Don’t be fooled by “I can update x component down the road” or “I can add in extra RAM, video cards, processors down the road.” 90% of the time you never actually get to it. That and if you do want to upgrade, you probably won’t be able to find the part that matches. Retail production cycles move too fast. Build it for it’s lifecycle, then when that lifecycle is up, repurpose it to some semi-retirement duties, donate it or give it to your Auntie May.

Pet Peeves
I hate when people underpower or overpower the PC. There is probably a 99.999% chance that unless you have 4 OC’d video cards, 12 hard-drives and two processors that you will ever need a 1200w PSU. One the flip side, there is an equal chance that a 180w PSU won’t work for you either.

Overclocking. I don’t believe in it. This is sensitive equipment, and there is no conspiracy to limit the masses. All it will do is make your system unstable and put a serious limit on it’s lifespan. You may argue or yell, “but I’m too poor to afford the faster PC.” It’s like modifying a car, it will only cost you more money.

Save your money, spend it in the right places.

RAM latency…. This is a BIG pet peeve. Get the rated RAM for the motherboard & processor to match the stock clock speed at the LOWEST possible latency you can find.

64-bit or not to 64-bit. 99.99% of all hardware today is 64-bit compatible. Unless you are just doing the most basic of typing and web browsing, I would suggest to go for it.

Legacy hardware. You don’t need a floppy and 75% of the time you don’t need a DVD drive. Blu-Ray is a waste of time. PATA devices ARE DEAD! DO NOT USE THEM! So are PCI, Parallel and COM ports. If you are still using a program or hardware that uses any of these products, I would throw it away. Again, arguable, but I believe you must take the band-aid approach. It’s painful, but sometimes a necessary evil.


WWGTD: What Would GT Do?

Me? This is how I spec a PC. I spend the good money on the better motherboard and save money on the lowest processor in the highest tier (No extremes, just a waste). I get a single good video card with the newest chipset, but maybe a lower model with less speed and memory. Also, some good things to remember, get a NIC with TOE. That will save processor cycles if you use a lot of bandwidth.

To be honest, the better processor cache, memory latency and a good fast hard-drive with a good amount of ram will make a great PC for little money. Properly match the chipsets, and use parts that are listed on the QVL for each other component. Also use a separate drive for the OS and the data storage.

Hope that helps.


Cheers,
GT
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Excellent response, GT. I am also the type that never overclocks. I would rather have a stable system and not risk causing failure with any of my components. In my opinion my system still performs awesome though, for the little bit you probably get out of overclocking, it has always been my opinion its not worth it.

Quote:
64-bit or not to 64-bit. 99.99% of all hardware today is 64-bit compatible. Unless you are just doing the most basic of typing and web browsing, I would suggest to go for it.


I always choose 64 bit these days, my primary reason is due to the fact I install a descent amount of ram. On my computer and laptop I have 12GB installed, and to get the most out of the RAM you need to be using 64 bit.

I always build my computer from scratch, and my only mistake for the computer I build before the one I am using now is I went with a higher power single core processor, which at the time dual core processors were common enough. The computer I am on now is a quad core processor, but for multitasking you sure can notice the difference.

I am curious what your thoughts are on SSDs. I think the worst bottleneck in my computer is probably my hard drive, and probably on my next computer I build I will use an SSD to install the OS on, and then a regular larger hard drive to store data.

Too bad we don't see you around here more often, have always loved the knowledge you possess :)
  • GT500Shlby
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks for the compliment. I am slowly coming back into the swing of things, and trying to get on here more. Economy, marriage, etc... You get overwhelmed.

As for SSD, it's a love/hate relationship. They are fast, but absurdly overpriced. As far as speed, a decent RAID card with good 15k rpm drives will probably be just as good. A 250 GiB SSD is $570+. Yet a 15k rpm SAS 6 GiB/s drive is only $250 for 300 GiB. As far as reliability - stick with the 15k rpm. Sure the SSD beats it out of the gate, but it runs out of steam quickly. Where the 10k and 15k rpm drives deliver enough performance from start to finish with reliability measured in years, not months.

That and I have yet to see a RAID card or a bus that can handle SSD RAIDS. Even with SATA/SAS 6. It's like throwing a turbocharger and nitrous on a Geo Metro.

A simple RAID 0 on a decent SAS/6 PCI-E 2.0 x8 card, with 2 300GB 15k rpm SAS drives and a 3 TiB 7.2k rpm external hard-drive. Just have the RAID 0 image to the external drive in case the RAID fails. For non-mission critical applications, you don't need RAID 10. And you are talking about under $1,000.

Where as with SSD. Two drives is going to be $1,200.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

That is one thing I had heard, was that SSDs lifespan is much shorter. That coupled with the high prices does sound like a terrible investment, at least right now. I wonder what things will look like in five years, if this sort of technology can become more mainstream at affordable prices.
  • GT500Shlby
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Ya know... to me at least - it's all too redundant.

You have registers, you have L1, L2 and now L3 cache, then RAM, swap/paging/virtual mem, then either a drive cache or buffer and then the hard-drive.

And it's all going to be, the same exact thing, just with different transport methods.

Just give us 512 registers - 8 GiB of cache and then 64 GiB of storage. RAM is dead, it just doesn't know it yet. The old "PC" platform is too old and has been too hacked up and bandaged. The common PC's infrastructure is in dire need of a complete overhaul. Just rip it down and do it again.

Sometimes, you need to reinvent the wheel.

Take a look at these System on a Chip devices. Why can't we just apply that to current PC architecture. You can make an 8-core PC with more power than a $7000 Mac Pro in the size of a 3.5" hard-drive.

SSD will take off, but it sure won't be in hard-drive form.

At least, that's my $0.02
  • AdamC
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I don't think System-on-a-Chip for a full blown desktop will happen until it becomes cheap enough to make it.
  • GT500Shlby
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Post 3+ Months Ago

It is cheap to make it. That's the entire point. The PS3's Cell is the only thing that comes close - but not close enough.

But what I was getting more at is the less redundancy - instead of registers, cache, memory, flash and HDD. You cut out a few of them.

Registers then flash storage and that's it. It sounds crazy, but I know its possible. Take a look at any finite state machine that uses memory operations correctly. A literally more datapath and control approach.

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