Building a PC

in General Discussion edited January 2014
Well, I made it through 3 years of college Computer Science courses just using my Mac, but now I'm at the point where I need a development PC for a class I'm taking. I had my Mac with Virtual PC running but it was just too slow to really get any work done.

So I'm going to build a PC. I'm not looking to break the bank but since I'm building one, I figure I might as well have it so I can run some games as well. I've never had a PC before and know there are people here who have experience in building them, so if there are any sites you can point me to, it would be greatly appreciated.

The college will basically give me a copy of Windows, Visual Studio, and Office with Frontpage so that's a plus, but I'm still going to need all the parts to build the acutal PC and I need a monitor as well.

Any thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated.


  • Reply 1 of 53
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    Athlon 64

    nForce 3 Mobo-

    SATA 7200rpm Drive-

    Lots of RAM of course-

    120GB HD-

    Decent Case-

    You should be able to hook it up for $400-500 depending on product choices.
  • Reply 2 of 53
    groveratgroverat Posts: 10,872member
    Shuttle XPC

    You can get them with the nForce boards (onboard video/sound/ethernet) and then add the other stuff. CD-RW, HD, RAM, Proc

    And they are cute little boxes.
  • Reply 3 of 53
    LiteOn Optical Drives DVD-RW or a CD-RW they own all other optical drives on any platform.

    Western Digital HD... best of the best.

    Athlon XP or 64....

    I'd suggest a gig of crucial ram, unless you are gonna o/c then get some Cosair
  • Reply 4 of 53
    mcqmcq Posts: 1,543member
    As far as building it, check the step by step guide on Extremetech (3rd section down this page),644478,00.asp
  • Reply 5 of 53
    Or just save yourself some time and buy one ($399.99)

  • Reply 6 of 53
    Just get an old PC laptop. You don't need too much power here.
  • Reply 7 of 53
    torifiletorifile Posts: 4,024member

    Originally posted by psgamer0921

    Or just save yourself some time and buy one ($399.99)


    emachines? Really?
  • Reply 8 of 53
    groveratgroverat Posts: 10,872member
    No. No no no. No eMachines.

    If you want all-built and cheap get a little Dell.

    This site always has Dell's latest deals.
  • Reply 9 of 53
    Ok.. well building a PC is not that hard... and it will save you some cash... but not that mucn...

    I build/fix/upgrade computers for a living... I could answer any questions that you may have while building your computer...

    If you deside to go for a pre-built system... which there is no shame in doing so... get a cheap dell or compaq... (I know half of AI is going to behead me for plugging dell but lately all the new dell systems I have been working with are quiet and stable... really really quiet)

    One thing to note... if you do go for a prebuilt system don't get interested in the price... while cheap computers are nice to think about... they are cheap for a reason... -- Most really cheap pcs are sold with on-board video (bad) and on-board sound (bad for gameing)... if you want a good gameing rig... then you will need to be able to see through the crap deals that will be tossed at you... if an ad just states 128 Meg graphics card then you know something is up... Also stay away from any Geforce MX card reguardless of the number... and any Radeon SE or non-pro/xt card... these are low end cards...

    Any questions? just PM me.
  • Reply 10 of 53
    fran441fran441 Posts: 3,715member
    Well I thought the experience of building a PC wouldn't be bad either, I just need to be pointed in the right direction.

    I was basically hoping people would have suggestions for a motherboard/processor and maybe some places to shop around. I also have to find a good case. Add ons like video and sound cards, drives, etc. I shouldn't have an issue with.
  • Reply 11 of 53

    Originally posted by Fran441

    Well I thought the experience of building a PC wouldn't be bad either, I just need to be pointed in the right direction.

    I was basically hoping people would have suggestions for a motherboard/processor and maybe some places to shop around. I also have to find a good case. Add ons like video and sound cards, drives, etc. I shouldn't have an issue with.

    As far as mobo suggestions go. . .

    Go with Intel. Intel motherboard, Intel Processor, ECC ram.

    It's worth it. An ATI 9800, on the other hand, is probably not. Intel also makes some decent MicroATX boards, which are cool because you don't need such a big case. Get a MicroATX board, a 2.4 P4 with 800Mhz FSB, 512MB RAM, and we're probably talking about a total of $600 at the most.

    I still recommend the old PC laptop. More portable, and what do you need a P4 to do anyway? Compile ENORMOUS programs?
  • Reply 12 of 53
    Don't get ECC RAM.

    I just built a PC today for someone. I've built a number of systems and I would like to think I am knowledgeable. Here are my suggestions:

    First of all, check out NewEgg for all parts. They consistantly have some of the lowest prices around, and most of the expensive options (CPU, RAM, etc.) have free shipping. They are also very fast. I ordered some parts Monday morning, had the parts shipped with free ground shipping (FedEx from California to Washington) and they arrived today (Thursday).

    AMD makes some respectable parts these days, I would highly recommend them if you are on a budget (even if you aren't).

    Here are the parts I would get:

    Shuttle XPC with nForce motherboard

    First of all, the motherboard has most of the stuff you need already built on. It cames with LAN, sound, and even video. The video is very good for integrated video, but if need _really_ good graphics, then you will probably want to upgrade with a card.

    AMD Athlon XP

    90 bucks for a 2500+ Barton (running at 1.8 GHz).


    Don't have a favorite brand. Just make sure it has a lifetime warranty.

    Western Digital HD

    They make some awesome hard drives. I recommend the "special edition" hard drives with 8 megs of cache. I believe the Serial ATA drives also have 8 megs of cache. You can also get a fluid bearing drive from them.

    LiteOn Optical Drive

    LiteOn is often rebranded by other companies, so why not buy directly from the source? In the computer I built today, I put in a 59 dollar combo drive (writes CDs, playes DVDs) 52x32x52x16 (writes, rewrites, reads, reads DVD). This came with PowerDVD and Nero burning software. They also make plain CD drives, plain CD-Rs, or DVD drives if you want to save a litte money.


    You probably don't need one, but NewEgg has them for less than 10 bucks. It might be cheaper to grab a more expensive one with free shipping.

    Hope this helps,

    Andrew Hitchcock
  • Reply 13 of 53
    fran441fran441 Posts: 3,715member
    So the big question seems to be:

    Intel or AMD?
  • Reply 14 of 53
    groveratgroverat Posts: 10,872member
    Don't let the haters get to you, as of now AMD does not have the advantage they did a year or so ago (two, three?).
  • Reply 15 of 53
    Ok well I would hate to plug another forum here but this thread is not going in any good (apple centric) direction...

    Here you can find many threads on AMD vs Intel.. and get help with almost any build... There is also a step by step for how to build your own PC that is really good... (that is on the main page..)

    Now lets stop this mess before it gets out of hand...
  • Reply 16 of 53
    mcqmcq Posts: 1,543member
    If you're on a budget, I'd say AMD as well (somewhere in the middle of the Athlon XP series), good price/performance ratio for the most part. And definitely use Newegg as suggested earlier.
  • Reply 17 of 53
    fran441fran441 Posts: 3,715member
    Thanks, I appreciate the help.
  • Reply 18 of 53
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Wow, there's some crap information being handed out here...

    Don't get a Lite-On DVD±RW...If you're going to get a DVD±RW, get a Pioneer.

    nForce3 is regarded as inferior to the VIA K8 chipset.

    ECC RAM, Splinemodel? Come on...

    Get a floppy. It doesn't really matter what brand.

    I don't like SFF PCs likes the Shuttle XPCs. Can you really live with one PCI slot? Onboard sound in the PC world still doesn't cut it, whether nForce or AC'97 or whatever. It's awful...the white noise...Oh God.

    Buy from trusted shops only. Try to order everything at the same place and time to minimize shipping costs. When I built my PC, I ordered pretty much everything from NewEgg and GoogleGear (now ZipZoomFly). I also ordered a few items from Amazon because of the free shipping.

    You don't need to go overboard on cooling. Get a case that can take two 120mm fans...or lots of 80mm fans. Buy low CFM fans. You don't need those mini-tornado fans that rabid OCers use.

    Do take your time to route all the cabling nicely. Buy a pack of zip-ties.

    The hardest steps in building a PC are the last steps. The little patch panel where the reset, pwr, speaker, etc. wires go isn't always color-coordinated. You can also connect them backwards by accident. Usually all the marked sides of the connectors are supposed to face one direction, but that's not always the case. Another hard step is software installation. For example, my Intel 845PE based board has S-ATA built-in, but with a Promise chipset. The drivers aren't on the Windows XP CD, so I couldn't install XP on the S-ATA HDD without first making a floppy disk that contained the right driver (.INF) files. Installation order is also important. Most people like to install all the Windows updates first, then the pertinent software from Intel or AMD (Intel Chipset Software, Intel Application Accelerator, etc.) then graphics, then sound, then stuff from the mobo manufacturer, etc.

    Personally, I would get an Intel P4 2.4C and mildly overclock it to 3 GHz. Yes, That's a mild overclock for a 2.4C. That results in a 1 GHz FSB. I would also get at least a 430W Antec TruePower. 480W is safer for any of a ton of easy drop-in upgrades in the future ...and overclocking. This preps you for a drop-in CPU upgrade to a 3.4 GHz P4 or whatever is the latest greatest CPU out there down the road.

    Here's a checklist (preferred brands):

    Case (Antec)

    PSU (Antec)

    Motherboard (Asus, Abit, Intel, Gigabyte)

    CPU (Intel in retail box)

    --optional Heatsink (Thermalright, Swiftech, Alpha-Novatech)

    fans (Panaflo)

    RAM (Corsair XMS, Crucial)

    HDD (Western Digital, Hitachi, Seagate, they're all fine)

    DVD±RW (Pioneer)

    CD-RW (Lite-On)

    Floppy (Sony, TEAC, Mitsumi, Panasonic, doesn't matter)

    Graphics (ATI)

    Sound (Creative for games, M-Audio for non-gamers)

    zip-ties might need various cables like 3-4 pin power connectors for fans, maybe an S-ATA power adapter, etc.
  • Reply 19 of 53
    I didn't sound like an Intel basher, did I?

    I feel both companies make quality products and I've made and own computers with both. I suggested AMD because they seem to have a better price performance ratio currently and because the nForce is availble (only?) on the AMD platform.

    Fran, another question to ask, does the main app you are going to use make use of SSE2? If so, you would probably want to get a Pentium 4.

  • Reply 20 of 53
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member

    Originally posted by Fran441

    So the big question seems to be:

    Intel or AMD?

    There's no wrong answer here, but with the extreme overclockability of the current low-end Northwoods, I would go with Intel. The AMD64 platform is nice, but the chipsets it's built around are still very immature.
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