Can you build your own Computer ?
This guilde is in 2 parts
Part1 - What you need!
Part2 - Building it!
Please see the link t the end for part 2
If you can hold a screwdriver, you can build your own computer
There are a few things you will need to buy:
Modem/ Network Card
The biggest decision you will make is the CPU. This single part will determines the motherboard and that in turn determines the remaining components.
You will hear in forums many, many discussions as to what the best CPU is. If you want to start a war in the forums, just ask the question Intel or AMD. They both work well you will have to decide if they will do what you consider your highest priority.
My choice has been AMD for one reason only: Price.
I believe you get more performance for the price. On the other hand, my brother-in-law prefers Intel for their reputation. In benchmarks for multimedia and games with identical systems, stock speeds, and the best of the best products, there is a larger lead in these benchmarks for AMD. In productivity benchmarks, it will be Intel by a slight margin.
Component: Athlon64 3500+ This is a Single core CPU that is capable of 64 bit operation. We could have chosen an Intel Pentium 4 and gotten a small boost in productivity applications, but most people will hardly notice a difference.
This is determined by the CPU choice above. AMD processors use Socket 754 or 939, while Intel processors use socket 775. Both of these sockets are ZIF, which mean if the CPU is oriented correctly, the processor will slip into place with very little pressure when a locking bar is in the up position.
No matter the choice, price is a deciding factor here. You can go as low as £25 for a basic motherboard to £125 plus for a motherboard that has every imaginable feature and then some. Features you should look for now in any motherboard:
DDR or DDR2 memory support PCI-e slots
If you are just building a machine to do work, go cheaper or more features. If you are hardcore overclocker, read every review to see what is the best and buy it if it suits your needs.
Component: Abit KN8 SLI
The Heatsink is needed with the modern processors to keep them alive. The Processor will die a quick death if the Heatsink is not in place, unless there is a shutdown mechanism on the processor (Intel) or the Motherboard (AMD).
All heatsinks need a material between the top of the processor and the heatsink. This is because air is a good insulator and if there is any gap, heat will not transfer from the processor to the heatsink. If you are not overclocking, you can use what comes with a boxed retail CPU or low-end heatsinks - a small patch of thermal interface material (TIM) which will melt and form a fairly good path for heat to move to the heatsink.
Component: Thermalright XP-90, Arctic Silver 5
The memory you purchase should fit in your motherboard. At this time, AMD uses DDR and Intel uses DDR2. DDR has 184 pins on the bottom edge and DDR2 has 240 pins. They are not interchangeable.
I suggest you buy a major brand such as Crucial, Kingston, or Corsair. Most budget systems can use 512 total megabytes This is a minimum amount of memory to make the machine perform well.
Most Middle systems will need at least 1 Gigabyte of RAM.
Component: Corsair PC3200 512MB X2 for a total of 1 GB or Gigabyte.
5. Video Card
If you have a reasonably fast processor and a good motherboard, get a good video card. Most everything that you do depends on this card, as long as it is supported properly by the underlying motherboard/processor.
If you are just surfing the web and writing letters and not playing any games, watching DVDs, etc, then you can get a very inexpensive video card or use a motherboard with built in video.
There are two top video chip manufacturers: ATI and NVIDIA. Nvidia has the Geforce family of cards and ATI has the Radeon family of cards. Right now the best card is the Nvidia 7800GTX.
Here is what to look for: 128 Megs of Video memory and an PCI-e interface. At this time the older AGP video cards are being phased out. If your motherboard uses AGP then thats what you need to get.
Component: Nvidia 6xxx series - Good price/performance for the money.
6. Sound Cards
There are quite a few sound cards on the market. It is very subjective as to what is the best. Creative labs or Turtle Beach make very good sound cards.
Some motherboards have built in sound which is fairly good, but most people are going to want to add a sound card with the notable exception of the Intel onboard sound. If you are going to use two speakers and not listen to music on your system, then use the onboard sound - it's not that bad.
If you intend to listen to music, play games and watch DVDs, then by all means get a good sound card. But you must realize the best sound card is going to sound only as good as the speaker/headphones your using to listen to these sounds.
Component: Onboard sound. The newer motherboards are using some very good sound codec and are getting very good.
7. Modem/Network Card
There are two types of modems on the market today: Hardware Modems and Software Modems.
A Software Modem is cheaper. It does not have all the hardware on the modem to do the processing of the signals from the phone line to digital signals the computer understands. It relies on the power of the processor to do some of these functions. With today's powerful systems, you do not have to worry that it will bog down games.
A Hardware Modem does it all and feeds the digital signal to the system on its own.
It is suggested you get a V.92 modem, as it will work with virtually all Internet Service Providers that provide dial-up service to the Internet.
Network cards are for people with a Cable or DSL connection and/or networking.
Some network cards are built into the motherboard and others are separate PCI cards. Some very good cards are very inexpensive to buy. Only purchase a 10/100 card - this way you can plug into almost any network connection and you have room to expand. 10/100 refers to the speed the cards operate at when sending or receiving data, 10 Mbps (mega bits per second) or 100 Mbps.
Component: 1 onboard 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, installing a US Robotics Modem V.92
8. Hard Drives
The things to look for in a hard drive:
Speed of rotation: 7200rpm
Size: Bigger is better - minimum now is 120 Gigabytes
Cache size: Most drives are 8MB cache - try to get an 16MB cache if you can.
There reason you want a faster rotation is the disk will read and write the data you need in a shorter amount of time. If you are just surfing the web and downloading a few pictures, your drive can be smaller. If you are editing images and downloading MP3's, by all means go as big as you can.
There are now three types of hard drive interfaces
SCSI This is for servers and really high end systems. If you use this, you can stop reading and build you own system. Speeds are very fast and the disks can rotate up to 15,000 rpms.
IDE This the older system of connecting you hard drive to the computer. It works up to 133 MB/s - however, you will rarely see this. The ribbon cable is large and flat and can hinder airflow in the case.
SATA The latest in connecting your hard drive to the system. The cable is very thin - easy to use and route. Speed is 150 to 300 MB/s - however, this is also rarely achieved.
Component: Western Digital 250 G, 8 MB Cache 7200 rpm drive.
9. DVD/CDRW Drives
A DVD drive will read both CDs and DVD.
The price of these drives is at or below the price of a CD-ROM drive! Get a 16x DVD and that will read a CD at 40x (1x is about 150 Kbs). CDRW drive can read and Write a CD. Most of the CDRWs are rated as Read-Rewrite-Write and will be expressed as 52x-24x-52x. New DVD writers are out and the price has fallen very low. It is not worth getting a CD writer and a DVD writer, as a DVD writer can also write to CDs.
Look for a DVD writer that can write Dual Layer DVDs. Also look for "buffer under run" technology. This prevents or helps you to avoid burning a "coaster" (an unreadable disk) due to the system not feeding enough data to the CDRW/DVDRW while writing.
Components: DVDRW DL drive 16x and DVD drive.
10. Floppy drive
Not really needed anymore except to flash the BIOS on the motherboard. The disk is slow and holds 1.44 Megabytes - 2.88 MB on some drives. For £5-£10, it should still be included as you just may need it.
Component: Generic Floppy
The case is the where you place the components. There are a few important items:
The case is large enough to hold what you're going to install inside. There are many sizes of cases, colors and even materials from which they are constructed. Most cases are steel that is painted beige or white with a plastic face or front cover. There are now aluminum cases on the market, but they are expensive.
Make sure you buy a case that accommodates your motherboard, ie: if the motherboard is an ATX form factor, buy an ATX case. This is pretty much standard.
Component: Aluminum Chieftec case, Antec power supply - 400 Watts minimum
12. Power Supply
The power supply you purchase or that comes with the case should work with your motherboard and supply the amount of power required. The power supply you purchase should be at least 350 Watts. If it is Version 2.03, it will work with all Pentium 4 and Most AMD systems. You will need to pay attention to the connectors on the motherboard - some main power connectors are 24 pin and can use the older 20 pin connectors. You should consult the motherboard's manual.
With the newer processors and dual video cards, power requirements have gone up considerably. Nvidia has an SLI certified power supply list in its website. The lowest is 500 watts for the high end video cards/motherboard/CPU.
Underpowered power supplies are the leading cause of system instability you will find. Cheap 300 - 400 Watt power supplies for £15-20 cannot supply the power needed for a truly stable system.
There are inexpensive keyboards and good keyboards. The best way to purchase a keyboard is to try them.
Component: Microsoft Internet keyboard
This is probably used more than the keyboard, so purchase a comfortable mouse and you will not be disappointed. A few suggestions:
Get an optical mouse so you don't have to clean the rubber ball in a normal mouse
Make sure it has a scroll wheel - this makes it easier to navigate
Component: Logitech .
The monitor is the most used component in a system. You should get a large monitor that will display at a resolution of at least 1280 x 1024 @85 Hz and have a Dot pitch less than 0.26. The smaller the dot pitch, the clearer the screen to a certain extent. 19-inch monitors are not that expensive, but if you can afford it, get the largest and best monitor possible.
LCD screens are now becoming more affordable and account for the majority of screens sold. The good thing is they are clear and use less power. You need to watch the contrast ratio and native resolution, however. Contrast ratio is the difference between the lightest and darkest objects on the screen - the bigger the difference, the better the image.
If the monitor's native resolution is 1280 x 1024, then that's where you will get the best picture. One issue with LCD screens: If you're playing a game and your video card cannot refresh the image at an acceptable frame rate at 1280 x 1024, the image is going to look bad if you drop the resolution to 1024 x 768.
If the objects move too fast on the screen and the LCD cannot change colors fast enough, you will get blurred images. The newest LCDs work very well in gaming and blurring is a thing of the past. The specification to look for is the response time - this should be less than 12ms. A higher Contrast Ratio is also good as you get a bigger difference between the lightest and darkest objects on the screen. Component: 19 inch Sampo - 1600 x 1200 @85hz, 0.25 dot pitch or Hyvision MV178 Black 17" 8ms LCD Monitor
There are lots of speakers on the market from £5- £200. Speaker systems come in 2, 2.1, 4.1 and 5.1 packages; the ".1" refers to a subwoofer. Most people have either 2 or 2.1 systems as they are inexpensive and fit right on and under the desk. The 4.1 and 5.1 systems are for people who play games or watch DVDs. You really need to listen to the speakers and decide for yourself which to purchase.
Component: Logitech 5.1 system
There are many fans on the market for PCs. Most use 60mm, 80mm and 120mm. Try to get a good flow of air with the least noise you can. The size is determined by the case you purchase. The bigger, the faster, the more airflow you get. And a big fan turning slower will move the same amount of air as a faster, louder, smaller, fan.
Component: 4 Panasonic Panaflow, 21 CFM @ 20 decibels, quiet
18. Operating System
There are many operating systems to choose from, but the operating system most people use is going to be Windows XP. Linux is a good operating system and very powerful, but has a higher learning curve and some of the applications you may need are not supported.
Component: Windows XP Pro 64 bit