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need advice on building a pc

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by keyz, Sep 10, 2003.

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  1. keyz

    keyz Thread Starter

    Jun 9, 2003
    I am contemplating "building" a PC, primarily for the hands-on experience of learning how to work on a PC, but also to upgrade to a better, faster PC. I would like to end of with a current "state of the art" machine, something that I can upgrade and maintain for a few years without getting a new PC. I am not actually looking to purposely end up with a top end multimedia machine or any "gaming" capabilities, but that would be OK, mostly looking for a good problem free optimal performing internet and app machine…

    One of my concerns is the old axiom that if you build a $20k auto from purchased parts, it will cost $60k. So, I am wondering if this is also true with PCs, and how I might go about procuring the best components for the new PC at the lowest cost. Shop around online? At a "computer show", like Marketpro? From a Mom and Pop PC shop? Some other way?

    Also, although I plan to eventually procure a new hard drive and install Win XP pro on the new PC, I have an "old" master hard drive, circa Win 98SE, that I would initially like to use to boot up the new machine and am thinking that just hooking it up as is, it should work without too many problems, except maybe for drivers, right? And, if the drivers are a problem, just how would I expect that to work, or not work? If it's going to be a lot of trouble, I could skip that step…

    Any other considerations? Any "gotchas"? Like, Intel or AMD or? What to look for to avoid problems like overheating, to establish a problem free system? Are there any good all in one internet sites that deal with these kinds of issues for building your own?
  2. byon


    Sep 9, 2003
    Building a computer is actually much easier than most people would first assume. In fact, in most cases (no pun intended), you need very little computer experience to do it yourself. You will, however, need to be somewhat technically inclined as far as using your hands is concerned. I got a couple of sites you might want to take a look at before installing a PC.

    http://www4.tomshardware.com/howto/20020904/ <-- this one is good. look at this first.
  3. Training


    Jul 16, 2003
    Yea, I've built four computers, not hard at all. Sometimes you may need patience to troubleshoot but its pretty easy.

    I use intel motherboards and processors together. Some people buy the cheaper generic motherboards, but it seems that intel board + processor is the best way to go, less compatibility issues.

    The best thing to do is start with what processor you want and then find a board compatible with it, then add proper power supply for the processor and accessories, case to fit the board, memory compatible with the board, hard drive, disk drives, fans, operating system, and other software and acessories.

    If you go to www.intel.com and go to the processors and motherboards section you can read up on them to figure out which ones are compatible with each other and what kind of power you need, etc. They all have these big PDF files with them, its a good idea to read them over. Also, they have compatibility charts and stuff like that.

    I order all my parts from www.googlegear.com, they are good about shipping stuff fast and prices arent too bad, good selection too. This might be a good starting place to figure out what kind of processor you want.

    Good luck and have fun!
  4. Wet Chicken

    Wet Chicken

    Sep 11, 2000
    Click HERE for googlegear ;)
  5. StillLearnin'


    Oct 25, 2001
    First you need to decide how much you are going to invest into the system. Just a tower setup or will you want mouse, keyboard, monitor, speakers, printer scanner, etc. Do you have another pc to take the modem, floppy and cdrom(if it's a newer faster one) out of to use in the new one? Will you be satisfied over the next 1-3 years with calling the individual component manufacturers for tech support(including Microsoft)?

    You might take the system you have and tear it clear down, then start from SCRATCH(including re-formatting and installing Windows), rebuild it with the same components and see if it works okay. Not only will you gain some insight into the assembling aspect but you may also have the joyful introduction into troubleshooting! If this doesn't seem to be for you, try to find a local shop with an excellent reputation and approach them about building you a new system.

    An example of a decent system for your needs would be:

    Asus A7N8X Deluxe or A7V8X-X mobo
    AMD 2500+ Barton cpu
    512MB Corsair/OCZ PC3200 Dual Channel memory
    80G Maxtor/WD 8MB cache hard drive (larger if you want)
    60G Maxtor/WD 8MB cache hard drive (for backup/etc-optional)
    48x or 52x LiteOn CDRW
    Either CDrom or DVD too soon for dvdrw, etc.
    Mitsumi Floppy
    Ati 9500Pro/9600Pro or GF 5600 Ultra
    Antec Mid-tower case with 430w power supply

    When building new, always purchase RETAIL components so you get ALL screws, brackets, cables, cds, etc.

    As a last thought; IF you don't want to tear apart the pc you have now(and be computerless until you're finished), you might go to a garage sale,etc. and purchase a CHEAP, working system and practice on it. There is much more to putting a stable, working system together than just plugging in some hardware and cables. You will NEED all the latest mobo drivers, component drivers, latest DirectX, current Windows updates/patches, software updates, etc. available BEFORE you start building. Not trying to scare you off, but if it was so "easy" this and many other forums on the web wouldn't exist.
  6. GwizJoe


    Aug 19, 2003
    OK,I'll stick in my 2 cents...

    First off,I agree with most everyone here.For the experience,rebuild an older less valuable system.You'd be surprised at how much you can and will learn from rebuilding a $20 garage-sale unit.And when it comes to building your "Dream Machine",that experience will seem well worth it.

    I do have a few (a lot actually) opinions on "State Of The Art" machines,but I will try to keep this to a minimal rambling.

    "State Of The Art" at what time? You have to remember that in this industry there is a very fast time-line.
    Your machine is only SOTA for a few months(sometimes weeks).
    After 6 months,it is a higher end "Off the Shelf" build.
    After 1 year,it is a "tried and true" build,of common parts.
    After 2 years,it is a common "run of the mill" build,with compatability issues with the newest technology.
    After 3 years,it becomes a past memory that people just smile about when mentioned.And you'll be looking at building another SOTA machine to handle that zinc-noid plasma-impregnated holographic drive.

    The first CPU I actually worked on was bigger and weighed more than my desk.I've seen more changes in "Industry Standard Architecture" than I care to think about.Hell,most people don't even remember that concept!
    But all through these developements,I have seen a few things that may help you determine the life-expectancy of your SOTA machine.
    1.Bigger,faster,hotter does not equal better,stable,or practical.
    If you compare some of the bench tests for the later PIIIs to the early P4s,you'll see what I mean.Or even if you look at the testing results between the PIII 866,933,and the 1gig.

    2.Much heralded SOTA developements often come back to bite you in the A$$,and fast!!!
    Find a PC history book and look up "EISA" and "MCA" structures.If you have an IBM machine with MCA structure,you might get your money back out of it if you shut it off,preserve it under glass,and sell it to a museum in 10 years.
    Oddly enough,that MCA structure became the common PCI that almost all PCs use today.Had you waited 1 year,you'd have a machine that could be upgraded instead of a museum piece.

    3."Backwards Compatability" can be a God-Send to futher upgrading or partitial replacements in any machine.
    If you purchase items that are new developements and have a good "Backwards Compatability",chances are good that it will work on future developements.An example is the (soon to be dinasaur) SDRAM stick.A well made high-end stick would work in just about any configuration that was made for a number of years,because it was very backwards compatable(a 133 would work in a 100,or 66),whereas DDR memory has much more specific parameters,reducing it's flexability of use.There are even current motherboards that can use the newest CPUs and can still utilize SDRAM sticks.

    4.When it comes to "PC Compatability",yes...,Windows likes Intel,and Intel CPUs like Intel boards.
    People that don't like Windows,or Intel (for socio/political/economic reasons more than usability) will often point to anything except Windows and Intel.But,if you are looking for the best "compatability",keep that combination in mind.Personally,I had more hopes for Cyrix/Via,but....

    5.When it comes to applications for a particular build,please try to keep your wits about you.
    There are a lot of people I see that try diligently to run Windows XP on a machine built for w98(in some cases,w95).Sure...,it will often work just fine,but I question why they were so inclined to do that in the first place.If you have a machine that worked just fine for a couple years under that application,why change it? Especially when the application is directed at newer,faster,more powerful equipment than you are trying to use? Operating Systems (as with most software applications) are generally not developed with "Backwards Compatability" in mind...

    Ok...,I've said enough...

    Best of luck on your decisions!
  7. zeddy


    May 3, 2003
    If you are looking for a netsurfer and are not too fussed about high level gaming you will certainly cut down your budget. Stillearnin' has given a good balanced system. The other thing you need to consider is the quality of the cable/modem setup and cost outlay you want to make to get a high bandwidth surfing experience.
  8. compilerxp


    Feb 24, 2002
    ?? "Cheaper generic" boards? Funny, you don't find a single "intel brand" board in ANY high performance computer. Do let me know what Alien Ware, HP, Sony and most of computer manufactures are doing without "intel" boards. In top 4 - 8 - 16 -32 way CPU computers, they DON'T use Intel boards. Tyan and SuperMicro 4-way server boards are not "cheap generic" - costing $1700~2000 each... but they also make cheaper boards with Intel chipsets for $650~800 for 2-way usage.

    Yes, you can buy CHEAP $30~40 boards on the market which are nothing more than a nightmare waiting to happen. But Intel boards are rarely considered the best as most as they sell are for OEM. I used to manage a PC shop and have built around 600 computers - Intel brand boards FAILED too... and they so featureless, I don't care to bother with them again. But they do make some "high" end models, but we're talking 1-2 boards models out of 15. I recommend people go to www.tomshardware.com and www.anandtech.com and read up on their product reviews on boards, they do "round ups" every other month. Here's Tom's latest P4 roundup: http://www20.tomshardware.com/motherboard/20030825/index.html

    Read the reviews, go by performance / price & Features.

    Or get the board that does all CPUs and get the CPU you can afford and upgrade as the prices go down. Nforce2 boards are easy as they support ANY AMD CPU.

    Still Learning postest good ideas... play with an older computer before risking blowing a new one. Replacing $300 in hardware is not fun.

    But I don't think everything needs to be RETAIL.

    True, HDs and CD-ROM from OEM are cabless - but I sometimes BUY these from CostCo/Sams as they are cheaper than my DISTRUBUTOR! But motherboard kits include cables for HDs & floppy anyway. Cases provide screws for pretty much everything (I have hundreds of extra screws).

    Buying Retail or OEM, you get the same level of LAME tech support from the manufactures.

    But as StillLearning has said, start off with a budget first.

    You can build something for $300, 500 for a good basic machine, $700~900 for a upper end machine... which I consider the sweet spot.
  9. StillLearnin'


    Oct 25, 2001
    "True, HDs and CD-ROM from OEM are cabless - but I sometimes BUY these from CostCo/Sams as they are cheaper than my DISTRUBUTOR! But motherboard kits include cables for HDs & floppy anyway. Cases provide screws for pretty much everything (I have hundreds of extra screws)."

    I just think it's LESS confusing for a beginner to have instructions with all the parts needed for each component without throwing speedbump in the middle of the dragstrip.
  10. compilerxp


    Feb 24, 2002
    hmmmm.... but what is there to installing a HD?

    4 screws (many new cases don't require screws for drives) and a data cable and your done... but some people install the Drive overlay software because they "followed" the manual when it wasn't needed - causing.

    Besides, with the links provided - those are better than what is usually printed in manals.
  11. StillLearnin'


    Oct 25, 2001
    40 pin, 80 pin, rounded, serial, glow-in-the-dark, blue stripe, red stripe, no stripe.. Yes, NO problem at all for a beginner(of course there's no threads in the forum related to hard drive installations either!).
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