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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru godsfshrmn's Avatar
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    Building My First PC

    I'm planning on building my first PC later this year. I don't know too much about building one.

    Motherboard/CPU: Pentium 4 1.7Ghz 1AGP 3PCI 2DDR $271
    HD: 40GB EIDE Samsung $72
    OS: Win XP $84
    Modem: 56k V.90 $4
    Graphics: GeForce 2 Pro 64mb $94
    Sound: Creative Labs 5.1 channels $34

    I'm using the cd burner from the computer I have right now.

    How many watts do I need for the case?
    Is it ok to buy the cheap stuff? ($4 for a modem, seen it 30-40 in stores)
    Is that a good combo of hardware?
    Am I missing anything?
    Is it OK to buy hardware online? Some of them do not have return policies I think.
    Are those prices good?
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard Ian Glass's Avatar
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    Building your own PC can be rewarding, but it can also be a nightmare, I suppose. I'd suggest that you take a look at why you're doing this and you'll have a pretty good idea at what you need/want.

    Are you building this to have the fastest and meanest computer that you can afford (i.e. the personal gratification rout)? Or, are you building strictly according to your usage?

    If your just building this for your needs, your system that you've outlined here may be a tad excessive. For instance, right now, I running a 433MHz (I think) Celeron, but I do have about 326MB RAM (shared video memory). That suits me quite well for now. If I were a gamer or used more intensive apps (like for 3d), I don't know if that configuration would work so well. Just be sure that it's upgradeable as your needs change.

    If you're going the personal gratification rout (I would go this way, if I had any money), keep in mind that you may be paying for more than you need. You'll be paying premium prices for something that you could wait a few months and get for a third less. But that's half the fun of it, too. :-)

    But, what ever you choose do, don't forget the RAM!!! :-)

    ~~Good Luck

  3. #3
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    AMDs are cheaper than Intels.

    Building a PC in general is easy. Its just plugging things in. The parts that may be confusing will come when you set jumpers and setup your BIOS/OS. In those cases seriously read the manual and if you don't understand something hop on over to Google and find it. You can find the answer to almost any question on the Internet these days, never forget to ask.
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  4. #4
    epsilon transition cupid's Avatar
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    Most ATX cases come with a 250 - 300watt power supply.. A 250 should do, but I'd recommend 300watts so you don't need to worry about power issues with future upgrades.

    It's okay to buy cheap stuff.. for hardware that really isn't a crucial part of your system, at least. I have a $10 dollar modem before and I've yet to have a problem with it. Cheap motherboards, naturally, is a different issue

    It's okay to buy your stuff online if it's from a decent retailer. You'd usually find the best deals online. Make sure you check to see if they're on sites such as www.resellerratings.com and if they read, read some of the comments from past customers.

    Like aspen mentioned, jumpers could be a little confusing if you're doing this for the first time.. read through the documentation and you should be okay.

    And yes, don't forget the RAM!! www.crucial.com is offering free 2nd day shipping right now, and they're an excellent company.

    Good luck

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    im going to second what aspen said on the AMD...
    take a look at the AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53ghz) this is an awsome processor, this chip was tested by a mag i read quite frequently and it "managed to match Intels Pentium 4 2Ghz processor across a number of benchmarks, and even surpassing it in some places. At AU$600, the Athlon XP is also less then half the price."

    cheap stuff is generally okay for everything except the Motherboards, treat yourself in this area.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot pinki's Avatar
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    I recommend AMD also. I built a new system earlier this year for my good lady. I went for an AMD 1.2 Athlon on a K7VZA motherboard, 512mb Ram. I made sure that I went for a decent keyboard and mouse (logitech) and a decent hard drive and burner. My case was cheap (350 watt psu) and the AMR modem was a hugely expensive 3
    Just make sure you take your time putting it all together, read the motherboard manual and double check everything and you shouldn't have any problems.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Mouse! i forgot to mention my mouse, wich i HIGHLY recomend, its a Logitech Ifeel mouse, uses ir instead of a track ball and it is one of the best things ive bought.... no more dirty mouses

  8. #8
    SitePoint Guru godsfshrmn's Avatar
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    OK thanks for the info, here are a few more Q's:

    1. What is PCI and AGP? How many do I need? How can I tell them apart on the motherboard?
    2. Which type of RAM should I buy? Should I go ahead and buy 512 mb?
    3. Where can I find a pretty cool colored case?
    4. Should I buy the CPU/Motherboard combo or buy them seperate?
    5. Can I take the sound card out of my current PC and put it in my new one, or should I get a new one?
    6. Will I have to buy many cords?
    7. How long should it take to assemble and get going?
    8. I heard you can buy the XP upgrade and reformat your HD. You insert your old Windows CD during installation and it checks that you have a previous version.
    Will this work on a new PC using a Windows ME Upgrade cd?
    9. Will I need any screws?
    10. I've heard bad things about static electricity. Can I just touch a screwdriver and that will get rid of it?

    There's all the questions I could think about while I was at school today. I think I will write a tutorial on this later
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Guru godsfshrmn's Avatar
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    Here is what I am getting. I threw it all into a word document(157kb). Will someone please check it out and see if everything will work together and I have everything? Still wondering about above q's
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  10. #10
    epsilon transition cupid's Avatar
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    Originally posted by godsfshrmn
    [B]OK thanks for the info, here are a few more Q's:

    1. What is PCI and AGP? How many do I need? How can I tell them apart on the motherboard?
    They are slots for your devices. AGP is for your video/graphics card. There's just one on the motherboard.. older video cards use the pci slots. Note that your GeForce 2 card is probably an AGP device.

    Older motherboards had both pci and isa slots. Most current ones only support pci devices now. Nonetheless, you should always read the box before buying the hardware.

    How many will you need..? Well, let's audit what's going to go into your computer. Your 56k modem will probably be PCI. Same with the sound card. Then you should think about future upgrades. Devices such as network cards, capture cards, etc may very well be pci devices. This is really your call.

    2. Which type of RAM should I buy? Should I go ahead and buy 512 mb?
    You should probably get DDR (double data rate) RAM. I'm sure your new motherboard will support it. DDR RAM isn't all that more expensive than SDRAM anyway.

    3. Where can I find a pretty cool colored case?
    I saw some really cool (and expensive) ones here. Beware, however.. that the power supply are sold separately from these cases.

    4. Should I buy the CPU/Motherboard combo or buy them seperate?
    Get the bundle. Since you're building it for the first time, the jumpers will already be set on the motherboard for the cpu that you purchased, leaving you with one less thing to worry about. It's usually cheaper to get the combo anyway.

    5. Can I take the sound card out of my current PC and put it in my new one, or should I get a new one?
    Well, it depends. If the sound card an older ISA model, obviously, it will not fit into pci slots. Sound cards are cheap nowadays anyway

    6. Will I have to buy many cords?
    No, in fact, you shouldn't need to buy any. The power cords come with the case. IDE cables come with the device (ie. harddrive, cdrom, etc)

    7. How long should it take to assemble and get going?
    This is your first time building a machine, so it might take a while to get the jist of everything. I've done about 5-6 now and it takes me under an hour.

    8. I heard you can buy the XP upgrade and reformat your HD. You insert your old Windows CD during installation and it checks that you have a previous version.
    Will this work on a new PC using a Windows ME Upgrade cd?
    Sorry, I'm clueless on this... ;(

    9. Will I need any screws?
    Nope, they come with the case and hardware devices that you purchase, much like the cords.

    10. I've heard bad things about static electricity. Can I just touch a screwdriver and that will get rid of it?
    Static electricity has been known to cause some trouble.. That's why hardware usually come in those silvery anti-static baggies. You shouldn't have a problem handling them.

  11. #11
    + platinum's Avatar
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    Touching your screwdriver won't do a thing
    You can touch you power supply inside the case (as long as it's plugged in) to get rid of S.E.

    Ohhh yeah, you'll get all the cables/screws you'll need... well you *may* have to buy another IDE cable... if your still intending to use you old computer for somthing.

    Well... providing you dont run into any difficulties... it shoud take between 1 hour - day to put every thing in... add a bit of time to install sofware after that though....

  12. #12
    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    Originally posted by iTec
    take a look at the AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53ghz) this is an awsome processor
    I know that AMDs also became popular, because as well as being reasonably priced for their MHz rating, they could be overclocked to the point where they are smoking There are lots of articles on the web of people overclocking AMD Thunderbird 700MHz (or so) to over 1GHz.

    Is this still the case with these faster, more recent offerings from AMD? I have not been keeping up with the lit as I'm not much of a techie.

    I have never built an entire PC either - but having fiddled enough with them now, I would not consider doing other wise from now on.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Guru godsfshrmn's Avatar
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    8. I heard you can buy the XP upgrade and reformat your HD. You insert your old Windows CD during installation and it checks that you have a previous version.
    Will this work on a new PC using a Windows ME Upgrade cd?
    Anyone know about that? Thanks for all the help! I will be ordering the pieces sometime this week or the next. I'll tell ya how it goes
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  14. #14
    + platinum's Avatar
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    Which Version of windows are you upgrading from... if its windows 98... you *should* be able to do that... I know you could from win95-98...

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/p...ing/matrix.asp

  15. #15
    SitePoint Addict kevin_tremblay's Avatar
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    I would suggest AMD also. First of all the $$ is great and they perform really really well.

    I have built many systems and all of them I have used AMD in.
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  16. #16
    differently saned russbellon's Avatar
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    Originally posted by freakysid


    I know that AMDs also became popular, because as well as being reasonably priced for their MHz rating, they could be overclocked to the point where they are smoking There are lots of articles on the web of people overclocking AMD Thunderbird 700MHz (or so) to over 1GHz.

    Is this still the case with these faster, more recent offerings from AMD?
    my axp 1600+ (1.4ghz) will only go to the high 1.5s. i can get it to 1.6 but it's not stable.
    אין סוף

  17. #17
    Mlle. Ledoyen silver trophy seanf's Avatar
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    Originally posted by godsfshrmn
    8. I heard you can buy the XP upgrade and reformat your HD. You insert your old Windows CD during installation and it checks that you have a previous version.
    Will this work on a new PC using a Windows ME Upgrade cd?
    As long as you have a valid MS Windows CD this will work

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    -- Protected only by the kindness of your nature

  18. #18
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    Originally posted by cupid
    Most ATX cases come with a 250 - 300watt power supply.. A 250 should do, but I'd recommend 300watts so you don't need to worry about power issues with future upgrades.
    Athlon's require a minimum of 300w, as do most modern Pentium's, I think. 350w is safer, especially if you'll have alot of peripherals. I have an Athlon 1.4 with a 350 watt PS. On the PS I have the mobo, the CPU, 2 hard drives, a floppy, a cd-rom, a cd-rw a hard drive fan and 3 case fans. Take alot of juice to run all that.

    Sketch
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  19. #19
    Not a post-script error?!! guysmy's Avatar
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    Originally posted by iTec
    Mouse! i forgot to mention my mouse, wich i HIGHLY recomend, its a Logitech Ifeel mouse, uses ir instead of a track ball and it is one of the best things ive bought.... no more dirty mouses
    OMG!! itech The Logitech iFeel is God-send -luv mine. You can set it up to rumble when you roll over icons and links on the web. <--That's Immersion technology.

  20. #20
    Digital Warrior Renegade's Avatar
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    Gah! SKetch beat me to it.

    250 watt power supply is not enough. You want at LEAST 300w if not 350 like Sketch suggested.

    For static electricity, touch to power supply, while its plugged in, to remove SE from your person. And don't scoot your feet accross the carpet before handling computer hardware...mmmm kay?

    Good luck
    --There's my 1.5 cents, now where is my change!?!?

  21. #21
    epsilon transition cupid's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Sketch


    Athlon's require a minimum of 300w, as do most modern Pentium's, I think. 350w is safer, especially if you'll have alot of peripherals. I have an Athlon 1.4 with a 350 watt PS. On the PS I have the mobo, the CPU, 2 hard drives, a floppy, a cd-rom, a cd-rw a hard drive fan and 3 case fans. Take alot of juice to run all that.

    Sketch
    Oh geez, I'm out of date! Thanks for letting me know guys

  22. #22
    + platinum's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Renegade
    For static electricity, touch to power supply, while its plugged in, to remove SE from your person. And don't scoot your feet accross the carpet before handling computer hardware...mmmm kay?
    Yeah... and dont clean the inside of your computer with a household vaccum cleaner

    Why dont you just go for 3 phase power? j/k.... actually i hardly ever see any 350watt powersupplies around anyware around here... maybe i'm just not looking hard enough?


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