View Full Version : Now to construct your computer padawan.

2011-02-22, 04:00 PM
So, I have been taken with the urge to as opposed to simply buying it, construct my own computer.

Partly because it seems cheaper, and partly because of jedi influence.

And partly because I want to work with computers and I might as well get started now.:smallbiggrin:

So do any playgrounders out there know of the various things I should look into?

2011-02-22, 04:30 PM
Your first time out you should buy a bare-bones system and add the extras like better graphics card, more RAM, etc. It'll allow you to get your hands dirty without running into problems like total incompatibility of certain components.

Also Tom's Hardware (google it) is a really great source for learning about the various and myriad things you need to know to build/work on your own computer.

2011-02-22, 04:41 PM
So if say I had an old windows 98 computer. Could I use that for pieces?

Not the whole thing mind you but just parts, maybe the outer shell.

2011-02-22, 07:54 PM
You might be able to use the old case. Some manufacturers like Dell like to be screwy though and not conform to certain standards.

You could either buy a cheaper barebones system and upgrade or just post a list of parts you are interested in here and let the community give you advice.

First thing you need to decide on is your budget, which will heavily depend on what you plan on doing with the system. I've got expensive tastes and demand performance so I tend to build systems in the 2000$ range every 5 years. I like to play demanding games at maximum possible graphics settings, watch movies, and surf the net. I do a lot of video encoding so I can watch things on my iPod while at work, so I demand a system that can do the encoding in the background while I play a game at the same time with little to no performance impact. I also require a RAID setup because I am NEVER going to lose all of my information ever again (in addition to regular backups to an external drive).

It's not too hard to research stuff. Just decide on your budget and look for guides on building PCs. I'm not a newbie when it comes to building PCs and I still always post my intentions on some various websites for advice before I start buying parts.

2011-02-23, 02:35 AM
I would ask: is this genuinely just a "getting to know this" project, or are you intending to use this as your main computer once you're done? If it's just about figuring out the build then I would recommend buying the cheapest set of compatible components you can (I think the AMD Sempron is about the cheapest CPU out there right now, and socket AM3 motherboards are also quite reasonable), building the machine, putting Ubuntu (or other preferred Linux flavour on it), and go to town. (I would go for all-new components, by the way--reusing bits from your old Win98 machine saves money, but it doesn't necessarily teach you how a modern machine goes together).

If you want this to be your main machine then it'll need to be higher spec than that, and you'll probably also need to factor in the cost of a copy of Windows--people always seem to forget that part! You can pick up OEM copies of Windows much cheaper than retail, the only disadvantages being that you won't get any support from Microsoft if things go wrong (the OEM supports an OEM copy of Windows, and since you're the OEM in this case...you see the problem :smallwink:), plus you won't be able to transfer that copy of Windows onto another machine at some later date (OEM copies are locked down to the machine they're first installed on).

2011-02-23, 03:02 AM
The case and the PSU would be the two components you'd have the best chance of salvaging.

Also, if you just want to get the basics of how things connect to other things, you might want to consider taking the computer apart and putting it back together without making any changes first.

Archonic Energy
2011-02-23, 06:30 AM
So if say I had an old windows 98 computer. Could I use that for pieces?

Incoming wall of text.

you might get away with using the case and DVD drive. however motherboard sizes and shapes have changed a bit since then so they might not fit.
also optical drives have moved from the old IDE to the new SATA which allows for faster data transfer, not all motherboards have IDE ports any more so you may be better starting from scratch.

first you should decide what you are using the computer for.
Then decide what "size" is most appropriate for that. a Browsing/document PC doesn't need a large box you may decide that a micro ATX case would suite your needs more. however a gaming PC is going to need some space inside for air flow so is more suited to a half/full tower.

some Cases come with barebones pre installed, this is good for the smallet cases but if you are going for something bigger you might want to find a bare box so you can pick the most sutible parts.

A gaming rig should probably have a 500+ W PSU
that's not as important for a smaller/ less powerful system

make sure you match the RAM speed with the M.B. i would usually suggest going for the fastest the M.B. can handle. just because.

Hard Disks are cheap at the mo, you could pick up a huge sized one for cheap or you could go for a smaller SSD for more and use that as the OS drive and use a bigish one for data storage.

Graphics cards, you sould only worry about this if you are into gaming, the on-board grapics cards are getting much better now so if you don't need a faster one you should save /$ where you can.

apart from that, Good luck!
in all honestly a trained monkey can Build a PC, See the production lines for proof. 1 person can build about 7-9 PCs in an hour. then pass them up for OS "install" (they cheat and use a drive image talored to the build) slap a 7 sticker on it and pass it up to tech to iron out any probs. it's quite impressive actually!
That was a fun summer.

do it.

2011-02-23, 07:15 AM
Funny story. I built my own back in 2004. I planned to spend $625 and get everything I wanted. I got one of the newest processors at the time, an Athlon or something bundled together with a motherboard. Also a tape deck drive (cause I'm retro like that) two dvdrw drives and a flatscreen monitor.

But when I put it all together it didn't work. My techie friend said, oh, it must be a bad hard drive. +$75 for that. no success. Well, it must be your power supply. +$20. Nope. Uh, video card? +$50, also no.

The problem was that the 'value bundle' of the motherboard and processor I'd bought were incompatible. Specifically, that the motherboard they stuck the new processor on was really old. A problem that is both obvious and very hard to spot. So, be careful what you order online (duh) cause it turns out its perfectly legal to sell out of date stuff like that.

Keld Denar
2011-02-23, 11:35 AM
I have 3 words for you: thermalpaste thermalpaste thermalpaste!

Don't forget it. Its probably the most commonly overlooked thing. It goes between your chip and it's heat sink. You only need a dollop, so check around with any friends to see if they have any lying around. Arctic Silver is pretty good stuff, if you do have to buy a tube. Get the smallest tube you can, since unless you plan on building computers professionally, you'll probably never run out!

Don Julio Anejo
2011-02-23, 02:42 PM
I honestly don't recommend getting a low-end bare-bones system and upgrading it. Unless you want a word processor (in which case I don't think there's any point to even buying a desktop as you can land a pretty decent laptop for $400-500 nowadays), you will find that they always cheap out on stuff and you'll have to replace more than you think (such as the motherboard). If it's built by a major manufacturer, you may also find the the components don't necessarily have a standard fit, like the motherboard with a different screw configuration. So.. don't.

Actually, unless you want a high-end workstation/gaming PC, there isn't much point in building your own PC at all, since cheap laptops are better for almost all intents and purposes. If you don't want a laptop, a cheap bare-bones PC with a PCI-Express port and a separate cheap (go for an older but high end at the time card instead of a low-end modern one) video card will let you play almost all games.

Now, as to actual component selection... don't listen to people who scare you about incompatible stuff. 95% of it is standard and will work together as long as you do research. Usually the only incompatible parts are CPU/mobo, and that's fixed with 10 minutes of looking stuff up.

Choose parts in this order:

1. CPU. Decide which one you want (determined by what you need from a computer) and what you can afford.

2. Video card and/or their configuration. Why this before motherboard? Well, if you want to use 2 video cards, you need to get a motherboard that supports it nVidia SLI or ATI Crossfire. If you want to get integrated graphics, you need a motherboard that has it. Otherwise, just make sure the board has PCI-Express.

3. Motherboard. Your CPU will have a certain pin configuration, like "LGA 775". So... look for LGA 775 motherboards if you have a CPU like that. Any decent online seller will probably already categorize them like that, so you just have to click on "motherboards --> LGA 775" and all of them will already be compatible. Then choose one that fits your price range and supports the video card configuration you want.

4. RAM. It's fairly cheap, so get the highest speed your motherboard supports. 6-8 gigs for a high-end computer, with 4 as minimum for a typewriter. Anything other than 6-8 is pretty redundant, I have yet to see a program that uses more than 2.

5. Power supply. If you've got two video cards, a high-end CPU like Intel i7 920 and half a dozen fans, you're looking at 750W minimum, maybe higher. In any case, don't go for less than 500W unless you're building a typewriter and then have no plans to upgrade it.

6. Everything else. As long as the component you buy isn't from 1985, it will probably be compatible. If you're not sure, look for which port it uses to connect to the motherboard (i.e. SATA/SATA II, IDE, USB 3.0, et cetera). Then look at your motherboard specs to make sure you have it.

Dubious Pie
2011-02-24, 01:37 PM
I would wait a week or two, Intel is fixing Sandy Bridge, and for not that much, you can get something more powerful than last years $1k CPU, once it hits.

Also, save yourself from driver hell, go with nVidia. I have had nothing but trouble with ATI/AMD's video cards.

If you want more advice, PM me. I build computers as a living.

2011-02-26, 07:31 AM
Funny thing about my friend. He would do all sorts of research for the best and cheapest parts, but by the time he was ready to purchase them, they ended up being obsoleted. :smalltongue:

2011-02-26, 09:03 AM
Funny thing about my friend. He would do all sorts of research for the best and cheapest parts, but by the time he was ready to purchase them, they ended up being obsoleted. :smalltongue:

Yeah, thats why I love computers. My granddad used to work for IBM. They thought it was a hilarious joke to make it so that when you first started up the computer it would say "help Im a prisoner ina computer factory!"

Of course his computers were huge. Room size things. Until they werent.

2011-02-27, 07:16 PM
1. Install Steam
2. Constantly message Askaris.

That's how I did it and it worked out pretty well for me