Building a computer

Discussion in 'Computers & Website Forum' started by Bible Believing Bill, Mar 19, 2006.

  1. Bible Believing Bill

    Bible Believing Bill
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    I am considering building my own computer. Has anyone here built their own computer? If you have what are the pros and cons of doing it?
    If I decide ditch my old computer instead of giving it to the kids can I simply take the HD out and put it in the new system, or would that freak out Win XP.

    Here is my pro and con so far.

    pro
    I get the system I want.

    I can build a middle to high end system for about the same cost as a low end retail system.

    It will be much easier to upgrade.

    Con
    warranty is only on the parts, and will vary from part to part, labor is all mine.

    I have never done this before, but I have upgraded RAM, CD Drives, and hard drives.

    Bill
     
  2. rsr

    rsr
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    You're right on the first part; you also are more knowledgeable about the machine because you've picked specific pieces. On the other hand, if you make a boo-boo, it's all on your head. (Not that I've every shorted out a board or anything.)

    In addition, you are not as likely to run into compatibility problems with a pre-built system. (That is no longer as big a concern as it was back when I was assembling 386 and 486 machines and had to constantly tweak the OS: You know, loading extended memory, rewriting config.sys and autoexec.bat. Fun stuff like that.)

    Whether you can save any money is a bit trickier. I built my own systems for years, mostly because I wanted to save money. I did save money, but I'm not sure that applies today, what with the way Dell and company have slashed prices. I've considered building the last few times I've upgraded, but when I started checking the parts prices, the savings didn't reach out and grab me.

    Pre-built systems may or may not be easier to upgrade — you have to be careful when you buy one to check the specs. For example, when I went to buy memory for this machine, I learned it has only two memory slots. If I want to add more memory now, I have to find something to do with what I already have in it. I tried to put a PCI video card in this machine and couldn't get it to work; I found some online user groups in which it was explained that the particular video card tends not to play well with my brand machine. In addition, many retailers use nonstandard cases that may or not fit a standard motherboard.

    As far as porting XP, I can't testify to that, those online sites seem to indicate it's not insurmountable. I know there are issues, but I've never had to do an XP reinstall. (Unlike when I was running 3.1 or 95 and had to do it with monotonous regularity.) As far as reusing the hard drive: Depends upon the system. If you have a fairly small slow drive, it might make more sense to buy a new, faster drive; If you're building a speed demon, you may not want want to keep a slow drive because prices are as low as $40 for a 7,200-RPM model.

    Building a computer can be a lot of fun, most of it in selecting just the right parts and then actually getting the thing to work. Good luck.
     
  3. MRCoon

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    The problem with transfering your HDD from old PC to new one is the hardware that XP recognizes in this old system is obviously not going to be in the new system. So you would either need to reformat the old HDD adn reinstall XP if you are going to use the old HDD in your new system. I would recommend you pass the old system to the kids and get a newer bigger more improved HDD.

    I have built many many systems (my side job...supports my PC habit ;) ) so feel free to PM me if you need personal advice.
     
  4. preacher

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    rsr spoke of the prices being down today which is true. I've done some checking in the past cause I would like to build my own somewhere up the road too. One thing I saw ya might want to look at, Dell,(others too?) will custom build to your specs.Don't know how the pricing is but ya might want to check.
     
  5. Trotter

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    Maybe, maybe not. Since Bill is retiring his old computer, he can use the copy of Windows he already has.

    Instead of reformatting and reinstalling, Bill can perform a repair installation of Windows and retain everything on the drive (hopefully). Doesn't always work, but usually. Here's a link to a great article along these lines (upgrading motherboard):
    http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1910093,00.asp

    I am a Super Moderator on a computer tach forum, and hardware is my forte.

    Care to post your budget? It would give us a better idea of where to go with it.

    The problem with pre-builts is that they are pre-builts :D

    Most use low-end or proprietary parts, have locked BIOS, and have minimal upgradablity. Plus, many come with a bunch of software that is basically useless and that just gets in the way.

    I'll be more than glad to give you advice, Bill.

    In Christ,
    Trotter
    [​IMG]
     
  6. JGrubbs

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    I just finished my system in January, I started buying the parts last Fall. I had to use the "pay as you go" method since funds were tight. I did finish the system and all I can say is, it rocks!!! It was my frist time building a computer, so I learned alot in the process, including how to reset the CMOS multiple times when you mess up on the overclocking. [​IMG]

    I will never buy a pre-built again, building the system was lot's of fun, and very educational, and now I can play Battlefield 2 for hours!! ;)
     
  7. preacher

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    Trotter..so when they say they'll build it exactly how you say , with what parts you say, they don't do that?
     
  8. standingfirminChrist

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    I built my own PC's throughout the 90's and up until 2003.

    I look first at motherboards. That is the main part of a pc, since all cards and cpu's plug into it.

    The specifications found in the book will tell you what video cards, sound cards, memory, network cards, cpu's, etc., have been tested with that particular board and work with no problems.

    Building a PC is very easy to do. I reccommend home built PC's for the main reason, you know what you are looking for.

    Store bought are good, but if there is a problem, some work to be done internally, your pc could be down for weeks at a time.

    A man brought a PC to me once when I lived in NC. He needed a memory upgrade. It was under warranty with the store he purchased it from. He had gone to them and they told him it would be 3 - 4 weeks before he could get the PC back.

    He brought it to my office. I popped the shell off right away, checked the type memory he had in it (256mb SDRAM) I pulled the 2 128's out and popped in 2 256's. Booted the PC, checked to make sure BIOS was recognizing the memory, put the cover back on and had it up front in less than 10 minutes.
     
  9. James_Newman

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    Building PC's can be fun, but after 30 or so it gets kinda boring. I used to build my own primarily for cost, but now days I find that it is very difficult to get much lower than some of the budget PC's out on the market. If you happen to live near a retailer like Fry's, you can get some very cheap deals. My PC that I have now is a 2.6Ghz Celeron with XP Home that I bought on sale for $200. it came a little short on memory and the onboard video was underpowered intel junk, but it had a DVD-rom/CDR combo and plenty of room for upgrading. I bought a midrange nvidia card for around $50 and a 512mb dimm for $40 or so, and threw in an extra harddrive I had from another PC. I have been very happy with it. Of course my 'power gaming' days are behind me.
     
  10. Trotter

    Trotter
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    Sometimes... but usually you find that from smaller builders.

    A Dell is a Dell, no matter how you slice it. It uses a Dell propreitary motherboard, sometimes a Dell proprietary power supply, only Intel processors, low-end/partially disabled video cards (but most only have integrated video), and such.

    I was wondering how that turned out.

    Looks I may soon be joining you... cooking up a deal with my wife so I can have a $1500 budget...

    I can't wait.

    In Christ,
    Trotter
     
  11. JGrubbs

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    I play on the "Men of God" Battlefield 2 server when it's not full, maybe I will see you there sometime.
     
  12. Bible Believing Bill

    Bible Believing Bill
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    I am figuring on spending around $1000 when all is said and done. I priced things cheap and came out at 590. This was the absoulote minimum I would bother with and it is still better than the basic low end system at the evil emipre.

    I will now look at better motherboards and processors. Any suggestions on processors? AMD vs. Intel, Celeron vs. Pentium, Athlon vs. Semperion (sp?), etc. That may of couse mean I will have to change some other things.

    The physical part of building it dosn't look too difficult, but things like CMOS could be a pain. Is there a good resouce out there explaining how to make sure the Cmos is set up correctly.

    I know I can skimp on CD/DVD - R or RW because I don't write to CD much, I know I want to be able to read both CD and DVD.

    I want to max out the RAM. The original motherboard I am looking out will take up to 2Gig. I am looking at one that will take up to 4 Gig.

    80 Gig Hard Drive is more than enough for me. I have an 80 gig now and it is barely half full.

    I want a media card reader, but they are fairly cheap. I currently have one hooked up to my usb port and use and SD card to back up my data files.

    I want a 10/100 network connection and a 56K modem. Most of the motherboards I am looking at have the network card built in. I need the modem because I do fax documents from my system from time to time.

    I need a mid range video card for the games I play. I will probably get one with at least 128 M of video ram. Anyone have preferance of Radon vs. nVidia cards?

    One question about TV tuner cards. If I put one in and have a large enought hard drive can I use it as a DVR without subscribing to a service such as Tivo? If so I might go with a larger hard drive.

    Is there any real advantage other than space to having a flat panel LCD monitor vs. a flat screen CRT?


    Am I missing anything major here?

    Bill
     
  13. James_Newman

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    I personally still like the way a crt looks as opposed to a flat panel. Nothing like the glow of warm phosphor. But there are some nice flat panels coming out these days. You will pay a premium for a good one, but a 19" crt is quite a space hog.
     
  14. Trotter

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    AMD rules in games, Intel edges out AMD in video/audio encoding. Celerons and Semprons are basically 'gutted' processors, as their onboard memory cache is a fourth of the main CPUs. Personally, I'm looking at the AMD X2 dual-cores.

    Connect the dots sums up building a computer. You really don't have to worry about the BIOS/CMOS, although some motherboards require a BIOS update right off the bat.

    Burners are getting dirt cheap (if you go for an older model). A combo drive sounds like the fit for you... CD-RW/DVD.

    2 gig is all you want. Windows XP can handle up to 4 gig, but anything over two actually slows the computer down. Be sure to get a mobo that utilizes dual-channel, and get identical sticks of RAM for it.

    Yeah, but when you have a newer, faster computer, space seems to evaporate... It's really easy to fill 80 gigs.

    There's one on the market that is a card reader and floppy drive all rolled into one.

    Yeah... LAN ports are pretty much standard, and modems are $20-$30.

    nVidia all the way! The 6800GT is a really good card, and the 6800GS is just as good. Be sure that you buy a card that uses the same interface as your mobo (newer mobos use PCI-Express x16).

    Yes, you can use your computer as a DVR. Sounds like the hard drive just got upgraded...

    19" CRT = 18" viewable. 19" LCD = 19" viewable. Do the math.

    Seriously, once you go with an LCD, you'll never want another CRT again. I have a 19" LCD that I gave $300 for at Walmart last year... I love it.

    Case, power supply (PSU). Cases are a matter of taste, except you can't put an ATX mobo in a micro case. Look for good air circulation and at least one fan.

    As for PSUs, go with a good brand. Antec, Fortron, PC Cooling (expensive, that one). Be sure to get one that will supply enough juice. Here's a link to a PSU calculator:
    http://www.extreme.outervision.com/

    The best site for computer parts is NewEgg, hands down.
    http://www.newegg.com/

    In Christ,
    Trotter
     
  15. JGrubbs

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    I got most of my parts at NewEgg, and a few from ZipZoomFly.com. I went with the ASUS A8N-SLI Premium mobo, 250GB Segate SATA III HD, 2GB Geil RAM, XFX 7800GT video card, floppy drive, DVD-ROM Drive, DVD-RW DL Drive all in a AeroCool 3D case.

    I will be adding a second video card later to go SLI, and can upgrade the RAM and add extra HD's as needed.
     
  16. ccrobinson

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    Same here. I'll be getting a new system in the next couple of weeks and I'm leaning towards buying pre-built rather than building my own. The sum of the parts is going to come in cheaper, but time has a value also. Once my time is included in the cost, it may not be worth the hassle to put the hardware together myself.
     
  17. James_Newman

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    For the serious hobbyist, building the PC is half the fun. So get the cheap preassembled, take it apart and put it back together, and now your having twice as much fun on a budget ;)
     
  18. Bible Believing Bill

    Bible Believing Bill
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    Ok here is what I am looking at so far, with links to the info on newegg.com. Any comments on this hardware or suggestions for alternates.

    Motherboard/CPU
    BIOSTAR NF4 4X-A7-COMBO31 AMD Athlon64 3000+ Socket 754 NVIDIA nForce4 4X ATX Motherboard/CPU Set - Retail $179.00

    One thing that is not included with this bundle is the CPU fan/heatsink. What do I need to look for in the fan/heatsink.

    Case / Powersupply
    ASPIRE X-Plorer ATXB8KLW-BK/420 Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 420W Power Supply - Retail $74.99

    RAM
    G.SKILL Value 1GB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM Unbuffered DDR 400 (PC 3200) System Memory - Retail 2@$64.75 = $129.50

    Video Card
    eVGA 256-P2-N356-LX Geforce 6500 256MB 64-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail $69.00

    Hard Drive
    Maxtor DiamondMax 10 6L300R0 300GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache IDE Ultra ATA133 Hard Drive - OEM $112.00

    CD / DVD Drive
    LITE-ON Black 16X DVD-ROM 52X CD-R 32X CD-RW 52X CD-ROM 1.5M Cache IDE Combo Drive - Retail $28.99

    Media Card Reader
    LINKSKEY LKA-CR15B 19-in-1 USB 2.0 Black Card Reader/Writer - Retail $11.99

    I will go with a wireless desktop, but havn't decided on one yet. Is IR or RF better for your wireless desktop?

    I will also need a wireless DSL router and card so I can network the new and old system to the net.

    I havn't made a decision on a monitor yet.

    Bill
     
  19. Magnetic Poles

    Magnetic Poles
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    Bill,

    I would suggest bumping up to a DVD writer (these also write CDs) for the reason that it is VERY EASY to back up a large HDD with one.

    I second NewEgg! Great products, great prices, great support.
     
  20. Trotter

    Trotter
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    A socket 754 will work, especially since it is a bundle, seeing as your looking for something to use and not game with. The 754 does not use dual channel memory, so the single stick of 1gig should do you well (plus leave a socket open for future upgrade).

    I don't know if you use floppies or not (some drivers still come on them), but if you do you may want to swap out your card reader for this one:
    MITSUMI Black 1.44MB 3.5" Internal USB 2.0 digital card reader with Floppy Drive Model FA404M BLK
    http://tinyurl.com/8mx64

    Oh, and Maxtor is not known for reliability. Look at Seagate (5 year warranty) and Western Digital (3 & 5 year warranty).

    My 2 cents.

    In Christ,
    Trotter
     

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