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Ready to try my hand at building my own PC, what are your thoughts?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / August 17, 2012 9:19 AM PDT

Ready to try my hand at building my own PC, what are your thoughts?

I have purchased several PCs over the years, usually by customizing my
computer on the manufacturer's Web site. This can get very costly, and
I don't always get everything I want. I'm wondering if I am better off
building my own PC from the ground up, but I don't know what the
pitfalls might be. I have performed some basic upgrades such as
adding/replacing video cards, power supply, memory, or hard drives, so
I am aware of the precautions of proper handling. I don't want to
purchase incompatible parts or devices, and I don't want to use
technology that is outdated, or on its way out; however, I don't have
an unlimited budget. To be honest, I'm not even sure I know how
detailed I am going to have to be. Considering both cost and
performance, should I buy any of the parts as a combo (such as
motherboard with processor or memory, or case with PSU), or entirely a
la carte? I am strictly a Windows guy, and I frequently use my PC for
some relatively resource-hungry applications, including video editing,
AutoCAD, and Photoshop. I would like to incorporate an SSD for my
system drive, plus room for three or four hard drives. Any feedback or
personal experiences would be greatly appreciated!

-- Submitted by: Paul M. of Los Angeles, CA
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It used to be a no-brainer.
by webserf / August 17, 2012 10:28 AM PDT

Building your own computer can be quite satisfying, when you succeed in building, configuring and finally loading all the OS, and other software.

Downside?: TIME. It takes WAYYYYYYYY more time to build and configure your own unit than to simply buy one retail. And, there are some good retail-boxed values out there now a days.

About 12 years ago, I built my first computer for my office in a Raid Array for network configuration and redundant back-up. Back then you could buy quality parts and the end result was a better computer for less money than you could buy one at retail, especially in/with RAID-based systems.

So, you need to ask yourself why you want to build it. If it's about the challenge of putting the parts together, buying/ loading the OS and supporting software, regardless of time, cost, components and software ~ then great.
A bit of BIOS knowledge/insight (for your particular setup) is also helpful but easily found online.

Today you can buy a lot of computer for about or even less than the total cost of parts to build. And, the parts used in less expensive ready-boxed computers is/are fine. Maybe not the best, but good enough for most users and they will usually last long enough for most users.

You mentioned that you will be using CPU intensive applications. The nice thing about buying parts is that you can hand pick your Power Supply, GPU, CPU, Memory, Motherboard and so forth, BUT, if you are buying good quality, it will likely NOT be cheaper than a similar retail boxed unit.
You can opt for liquid cooling (or other high-end cooling options) for the CPU, better quality RAM, SSD and other drives. Places like Fry's have a good selection and they also have sales persons there who can guide you (if such a store is within your geographic area!).

It is a rewarding outcome when you successfully build a computer. But that reward will come at the cost of time, money and effort on your part! End result? Your Own Custom Computer!

PS, don't forget the case, power supply, fans, cooling, Motherboard, RAM, Solid State Drive, Spinning Drives, Graphics Card, Sound Card/Speakers, Monitor, Camera/Mic Combo, OS Software and ancillary software.

Make sure you have heat-sink paste, basic tools, and plenty of time!

Good luck, have fun!

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Oops! Forgot the:
by webserf / August 17, 2012 10:42 AM PDT

Keyboard, Mouse, DVD reader/writer, Blu-Ray reader/writer.

Okay, I think that's most everything you need to get it built!

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Thumbs Down?
by webserf / August 30, 2012 4:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Oops! Forgot the:

I was adding to the list in the previous message! ie,

PS, don't forget the case, power supply, fans, cooling, Motherboard, RAM, Solid State Drive, Spinning Drives, Graphics Card, Sound Card/Speakers, Monitor, Camera/Mic Combo, OS Software and ancillary software.

Make sure you have heat-sink paste, basic tools, and plenty of time!

Later I added the following:

Keyboard, Mouse, DVD reader/writer, Blu-Ray reader/writer.

Okay, I think that's most everything you need to get it built!

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FRY'S?!!?! Are you serious?
by Wolfie2k5 / August 17, 2012 10:55 AM PDT

Fry's Electronics is not somewhere I would ever consider sending someone to buy parts - especially if they're new at building a computer.

I could tell many horror stories about shopping at Fry's over the years. But that would take up a LOT of space.

Just a word of advice - should anyone go there and decide to buy something - AVOID purchasing ANYTHING at Fry's that has sticker on the box that says something about to the effect that the package "has been opened previously by a customer" even if it has a nice discount.

What that sticker means: Someone bought that product, took it home, opened up the box, stuck the item in their computer, found a problem (doesn't matter what, exactly), removed the item, put it back in the box, went back to Fried, stood in line and returned the product. At which point Fried technicians took the box, stuck some shrink wrap on it, slapped the previously mentioned sticker on it and put it back on the shelf.

Reasons why the product was returned can vary - the product was genuinely defective; the user who bought it didn't know what they were doing and misconfigured it somehow; or did something the screwed the product up. Odds are, the product is still defective. It could also be missing parts. I recall someone I know bought an IDE controller card with such a sticker on it - and found it was missing all of the jumpers - so he couldn't configure the card simply because the person who put it back in the box likely thought the jumper shorts were cool (they had a tab on them that made them easier to use) and decided to keep them. They also kept the instruction sheet so even if the parts were there - there was no way to figure out how the card was supposed to be configured. Bear in mind, this was before the Internet and Google was just a twinkle in it's founders eyes.

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Yes, I'm Serious. Please Re Read My Post?
by webserf / August 17, 2012 12:42 PM PDT


Thanks for your comment about my post:

My post was simply to suggest a store like or SIMILAR TO Fry's, where there is a large selection, and staff that can help with some questions. It was an effort to direct the OP to a place that has a large selection of product, AND where he will likely be able to purchase ALL of the components needed at one place, AND get a bit of help from sales staff.
Of course it's always better to research one's needs before shopping, but at least a store LIKE Fry's will get a person well on his/her way to buying the parts needed for a computer build.

Like ANY store, Fry's has a reputation. Why?, because they sell a HUGE amount of product. It's likely that a company that moves that much product WILL have complaints, and returns. I have purchased a copious amount of product there and have had my share of defective tech-based product, but, that's the nature of these types of products, as they are sensitive to handling, static, etc..

I don't want to diminish your feelings about stores like Fry's or belabor your argument because you've victimized yourself by choice when buying another customer's return(s).
Assuming you purchase factory fresh product(s), the odds of a defect are the same regardless of where the item is purchased, including Fry's, Best Buy, etc..

Cheers, Ron

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Unfortunately... He lives in Los Angeles...
by Wolfie2k5 / August 17, 2012 1:44 PM PDT

And in Los Angeles, most of the other alternatives have gone out of business.
Best Buy, while a "competitor" has been cutting back on their computer department. Every time I go by there, there seem to be fewer and fewer individual items being sold there. And their prices are astronomically high. Also, not a place I'd send anyone unless it was a dire emergency.
And it's quite entirely not my personal experiences with Fry's. I've had customers and colleagues who have had the misfortune to shop there and have been burned by their shenanigans.
The thing is - most places I know of, while they were still around, at least looked at the product being returned, maybe even popped it into a known working system to see if it was working or not, to determine if it was something that could still be sold or if it needed an RMA to the manufacturer. Fried seldom does that. They just slap a discount sticker on the box and put it right back on the shelf.
While it's true that there's always a chance you will get a dud device from any manufacturer, the odds of getting one - for whatever reason - seem to be MUCH higher at Fried than anywhere else.
Caveat Emptor...

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A couple of additional thoughts
by webserf / August 18, 2012 2:40 AM PDT

It's true about Best Buy (in particular). They used to carry more stock of computer parts/components for building and/or replacement of parts.
If they do stock, the selection will be very limited in/with most of the core stuff like SSDrives, and Motherboards (if they even carry them anymore).
I really would not consider them for shopping a new build.

Stores like Fry's
I still feel that as a first time builder (this OP), walking in to a store and having someone assist you with making sure all components are compatible is the best bet. My focus would be on getting the most Graphics power you can afford, and then work to purchase the best SSD, RAM and Motherboard/CPU combo you can afford. The rest of the components are a matter of choice/compromise for example, your choice of power supply and CPU cooling. There are opinions all over the place on these. Only buy factory fresh unopened product(s).

A final thought about the "horror stories" regarding Fry's (in particular)

I think that there are pros/cons to any method of purchasing the components of a new computer.
When comparing online purchasing, vs. going to a retail store similar to Fry's...

Some of what has been said about places like Fry's is true, but much of the downside can be avoided by careful shopping and being fore-armed with research and knowledge. After that, you need a little luck because a brand-new item can come out of the box defective no matter where it is purchased.

So what if you do end up with a defective item?

Mail Order is great if you have patience (handling/shipping) and know what you want.
But, when you receive a defective item, it's much more of a pain dealing with returns/replacement(s), compared to driving back to a physical store location for a return/replacement(s)..

For me? I'd rather buy my items from a location I can walk into, ESPECIALLY on a first-time build.

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A store I've had good luck with.
by tbone69069 / August 22, 2012 3:51 PM PDT

I had good luck shopping at Tiger Direct both in-store and online. I've built 2 computers and bought all the parts from Tiger Direct. I never had one part failed on purchase. But I didn't just go in and shop. and bought anything. I did a lot of research online. I didn't go to store sites either. I searched out tech review sites that had no store influences. Sure it takes time to do the research but it taught me a lot before I jumped in. If I can build a computer ANYONE can. Just do your homework ahead of time and don't rely on store reviews alone.

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by Wolfie2k5 / August 24, 2012 12:08 PM PDT

...Tiger Direct does not have a brick and mortar store within about 1500 miles of Los Angeles. The nearest one would be somewhere in Texas. Not exactly convenient nor local. But, yes, they are good for online shopping.

I would also agree - use a non-sales oriented review site - such as Tom's Hardware - as I mentioned in my own post further down.

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Another good source
by shrapnel_indie / August 24, 2012 1:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Unfortunately...

I've always found NewEgg to be a good source. Not necessarily THE best price, but good products and a good returns/support department if they're ever needed. (I bought a video card once that demanded more than my power supply could deliver, so I returned it for a different model without any hassle.)

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I would tend to agree with MOST things except Fried...
by Wolfie2k5 / August 24, 2012 12:41 PM PDT

MOST of the horror stories you hear about Fry's happen to be true.

Careful shopping at Fry's ONLY works if you're aware of their business practices.

Many moons ago, I purchased an IDE card that allowed you to attach up to 4 drives to a motherboard. Given the board in question only had ONE PATA channel, I could only connect 2 drives to the system. I did my research (as well as you could before the Internet) and went shopping at Fry's. I saw two boxes of the item in question on the shelf. One was pristine and unopened, the other had a sticker saying it had been opened previously by a customer - and was being offered at a significant discount.

Being "budget conscious" (read: Cheapskate, tightwad), I thought it was my lucky day. I went ahead and bought the discounted box - much to my regret. The IDE card, was indeed in the box, but there were two very important items missing from the box.

1.) Jumpers. There were no shorts you could use to jump the card to various settings.
2.) Instructions. The cheat sheet for how to set the above jumpers was MIA.

Needless to say, the card did NOT function at all.

As it was, it was fortunate that I had to drive past the Fried I bought the device from the next day. Otherwise, it would have meant a 50 mile round trip (at that time, that was the closest Fried to my home.)

Add in the extra time spent in the return line waiting, time wasted explaining to the guy what the problem was, and having to go through the checkout line again, to buy the pristine version of the card was pretty much NOT worth it.

Add in that Fry's employees tend to NOT exactly be computer experts. People in that category tend to get better paying jobs than what Fry's is willing to pay. So while it may be true that for whatever reason, there may be one guy who does know his business and is stuck working there, the odds of getting that one person's time and attention may be slim to none... The majority of the employees I've met are about as bright as a small appliance bulb when it comes to computers, their parts and how to build a system.

The problem is, you see, we're dealing with someone who is new at building systems. And sending him into the proverbial lion's den without warning is generally a bad idea. You and I might be comfortable navigating through the pitfalls that come with shopping at Fried, but I wouldn't want to send anyone who isn't fully up to speed about the place.

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I appreciate the concern, but...
by Paulinla / August 25, 2012 6:31 AM PDT

I have been to the lion's den several times before. My experience has been that if you understand how they operate, and you are armed with your own technical knowledge, you can save some $$ and some headache. I found out years ago that their corporate policy is to wrap up returned items and put them back on the shelf, so you have to pay attention. I will not buy an item at Fry's that has been opened before unless it is an item that is very unlikely to be defective (rare, such as cables, etc.).

I appreciate all the concerns regarding brick and morter vs. web purchases. While it is convenient to be able to go into a store and walk out with the stuff you need, I don't mind internet purchases for something as important as my first PC build, if it saves me money. I hate the return process at Fry's, but I will take my chances on things like an unopened name brand hard drive, keyboard, mouse, etc. if it is priced right. But chances are good that I'll make most of my purchases online.

Thanks again....Paul

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by Rob10 / August 24, 2012 11:23 PM PDT

Guess I'm naive...I'm shocked and disgusted that places like Fry's don't bother to test returns. That is a completely unacceptable, B.S. business practice. I WANT B & M stores to be around for shopping in person, but with this crap going on, might as well buy at NewEgg or Amazon. At least I will NEVER consider an Open Box anything from these clowns!

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Building your own computer
by HmrBtsRck / August 24, 2012 9:47 AM PDT

i built my own gaming computer, and make regular upgrades to its OS, and Hardware.

its a bit more complicated than just getting all the equipment, but if you know what you are doing, IMHO, its easier than dealing with pre built production models.

If you are using CPU intensive apps, i would go with an i7. despite many peoples opinions, the i5 has a lower benchmark, and OC than the i7 series. specifically i would suggest a 2600k or a 3770k.
Even if you are not an avid gamer, do not skimp on a good graphics card (ie. GTX 650/ATi 7950 or better).
If you are running CPU intensive applications. than it is likely they are taking their share of RAM, so i would suggest 8gb of ram. NOT 6 because you do not have parody (GOOD parody 2gb,2gb,2gb,2gb -- NOT good parody 1gb,1gb,1gb,2gb), and pay attention to the frequency on the ram, and make sure the mobo you are looking at can support that frequency.
The mobo can be a tricky pick. i personally find ASUS to be the best, and lots of others will agree. you wanna be sure the mobo has at least 2 USB 3.0 ports, has at least 6 SATA3 ports, and supports the CPU you are looking ate. if you are going with an I72600k, it a an 1155 socket, so you would need to make sure the MOBO is 1155 socket, this rule apply to whatever cpu you get, just make sure the socket types line up.


Building your own pc can be a complicated task, if it doesn't feel complicated, it will take you 30-45 min you build your pc, not including OS instillation and plugging in monitors, keyboards etc. if it feels a bit complicated, you might be there for a while, but when your done, i bet youl have an ""OHHHHH moment where your realize it really wasnt that difficult.

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Building and/or rebuilding
by tlc_lla / September 5, 2012 7:10 AM PDT

Upgraded an old Dell desktop PC with two new internal hds (500 and 1t) when I installed Windows 7 (this in November, 2010). Tower already had a two yo power supply and a GeForce media card. Thing has quit and I am thinking salvage of hds,etc. to build a "new" desktop (the dead one was used so seldom toward the end that I was a real surprise when in would no longer turn on...check of power supply with a tester, fan runs and components appear to be getting power per the tester just no juice to motherboard...). Have come to conclusion that I might be able to get away with a new motherboard and CPU reusing other parts. Thoughts? BTW while I am no novice this will be a first built from zero. Replaced/added plenty of RAM, done power supplies and sound/media cards. Issue with new mb and CPU is compatibility also...

Corollary is hds. I want information off of them and have an external hd case on the way from monoprice. Hope to be able to do a little "plug and play" on existing Windows 7 laptop with the info on the OS hd (other was backup and only has subsequent info not the recovered info on it from previous desktop ...long story...). Again thoughts. Formatting is the only issue I can think off...

Terry Combs

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Swapping HDs and saving software
by minahan1 / September 14, 2012 7:32 PM PDT


Hope you haven't formatted yet. There are several ways to get your info off your old drive.
If it is a working drive, without issues, you can clone your drive.
You can swap data from drive to drive in the new computer with bootable software or if that computer has a fully woring OS.
Also you can use a laptop or another computer and an external HD to transfer data.
Depending on what you are willing to save/or loose is the method that you will choose.

What I mean by that is if you are wanting to save your files, pics, music, movies, downloads, and other things like that and you are going to just start fresh with a new OS like XP or 7. What you will need is the programs that you are running to reload to the new computer. This is the easiest way to save things you want.

Cloning your drive would be easy and has saved me lots of time in some situations.
Usually cloning a drive it will have to go into that same computer. If you are building a completely different computer it may not boot because of the hardware changes.

Hope that this may help.

OH YA! As far as your computer and wanting to replace the mobo and cpu. If you are not getting power to the mobo it is probably the power supply. That would be a low cost replacement for a Dell. I would start there. I have worked with a lot of Dells and the P/S was a constant problem with them.
Good luck with the repairs and I am curious to see how you make out.


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excellant answer
by kichigai808 / August 24, 2012 11:08 AM PDT

Webserf has most of it right except the time involved. You mentioned having some experience upgrading your system so that would be a big help in building your own computer.
I assembled my computer in no more than two hours a few years ago and it has functioned flawlessly.
if you decide to build your own the most important part of the build will be to get a CPU and Motherboard that are good matches. The rest of the hardware is up to you. It took me much longer to load the OS and my Apps than it took to assemble the computer.
Another thing is to think about what your're going to use it for and match the rest of the hardware IE. ram, video card, sound card, hard drives, burner, power supply, case and fans accordingly.

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Thumbs up, websurf!.....even to the suggestion of Fry's.
by AriKona / August 24, 2012 1:29 PM PDT

I stopped buying computers in 1990 and built my first one 486 DX-100 and have built every computer I have owned since then. The satisfaction of knowing that you built it as well as what is in the case is worth every second you spend on putting it together. It doesn't take near as long now as it did then (I used to post every motherboard in those days), but it is still fun. As for Fry's, I don't know where those that denigrate Fry's Electronics live, but if you know what you are looking for, it can be a very good location to purchase parts. And, more importantly, you can find all the parts in a single location instead of buying the motherboard at one store, the hard drive at another and so on. So, let the pundits argue that this merchant or that is the worst, but usually the negative advice you receive is worth every penny you paid for it. I believe your answer was concise and accurate. Good post!

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by shrapnel_indie / August 24, 2012 1:47 PM PDT
MANY big-box computers skimp on the power supplies, especially those for vendors who demand the absolute lowest price so they can sell it to you only a couple of cents cheaper than [other] big-box stores. Oh they'll get you by for a little while, but then they'll start to fail. I've seen them not only die, but take out the motherboard and CPU with them. Usually about as fast as the warranties run out. I've also heard of cases where memory and hard drives were toasted as well.

Solid state drives, while adding plenty of speed are not mandatory, you still can get by with a normal mechanical hard drive. Plus solid state drives are still fairly expensive for their size and have a limited amount of writes to them before they start to fail.
Also, the quality of integrated audio solutions on modern computers allow one to not need to buy a sound card. So, they are optional for the average person or gamer.

For your money, and yes, it probably will not be cheaper than most big-box solutions, when you spend it right, you will get higher quality parts. (don't ruin that with an el-cheapo power supply)... but I'd wager that it might be cheaper than a pre-assembled solution that matches quality and specifications if you shop wisely.
Fortunately you can probably move your mouse, keyboard, monitor, and other peripherals over to the new system.
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Great response, except for one thing...
by Rob10 / August 24, 2012 11:16 PM PDT

Building a computer is something I may well do myself too in the next year. It sounds like something I could technically do, and would enjoy. But then there is the Me-as-TechSupport part. The builder gets to troubleshoot any problems that crop up, and that can add a lot of extra time too if the builder isn't pretty computer savvy. I have gotten fairly good a fixing things with the help of places like Tom's Hardware or Anandtech. But there are times when the answer isn't easy for me to track down, or I need it worked out quicker than waiting for responses from a website, or the computer that's down is the only one on site. If that isn't a problem, go for it. There will be a lot of satisfaction when it's done!

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Building your owm pc.
by bigdad17 / August 27, 2012 8:27 AM PDT

I wont say its easy, but with all the goodies they have to offer i would say its worth it , especially for a high end system. I have had my best luck with tiger direct, they will have everything you need. I would combine at least motherboard and processor, but not go with the barebone kit, because the case is often cheap and of poor quality. I like amd processors cost versus performance just a better value. Gigabyte boards, corsair memory, and definately a solid state hardrive. everything is graphic intense these days so get a good ati graphics card, although this will set you back a couple of hundred dollars. Nzxt makes big roomy gaming cases, and you can talk to the people at tiger direct about other options, corsair also makes an excellent power supply. As far as the build, patients, there are a ton of videos on you tube for this find the one you like the best be patient and you will have something you can be proud of without bloatware. dont forget the operating system. good luck.

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Good thought but..
by dave7072 / August 17, 2012 10:58 AM PDT

I have found it can be in fact cheaper in the long run to have a shop build the pc you want to your specifications. When a component goes u/s you can simply have them replace it under warrantee. For my last few pc's that is what I have done and I found out having the shop deal with such inconveniences is much easier.

My latest box has an Intel corei7 2600k chip 3.40Ghz 8GB ram 128GB SSD C: drive 2TB sata HDD Etc.. in a Very Quiet Antec Sonata case. the cost of assembly was $70. and installation of the 64bit Win7 Pro was $15.

It's a no brainer IMO Happy

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building a pc
by harrisjw / August 17, 2012 11:00 AM PDT

If you've never done this before imagine building your own car, boat, or motorcycle for the first time. Put that into your perspective.
Making a large investment in hardware to assemble could prove very costly for a first attempt. Rather than build your dream machine first, build a machine more suited for web browsing, google earth, and that kind of thing. That way you will have lower expectations, lower costs, and a better idea what to do to avoid failure...and there will be a lot of those.

You have to make sure the parts are all going to work for your intended usage...if you want more than 64GB ram then you need a 64 bit operating system...the work around for a 32 bit OS is a performance drag.

SSD might not be right for your boot drive but maybe your data drive for videos, photos, and cad. What you're going to save mostly with SSD is head seek time, but a well managed SATA will do just as well with good disk management practices.

One thing you can consider also is winding up with a very large machine....lots of ram and disk space but utilize it by puutting your apps in virtual machines that you can recover to known states should they get fouled up.

And I would suggest a VM for your practice at building a machine. You can host it on the machine you have now, see how it works, experiment within confines of the host's hardware, but you'll learn a lot before shelling out a bunch of money.

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building a pc
by harrisjw / August 17, 2012 11:02 AM PDT
In reply to: building a pc

Correction...typo, if you want more than 4GB ram not more than 64

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Good and bad
by Max Van Weezwijk / August 17, 2012 12:21 PM PDT
In reply to: building a pc

Just a note of emphasized caution with all the sound advice given so far. Consider that you will be the technician and the troubleshooter. If you run into any problems you'll probably need support and there could be a lot of trial and error before a boot screen ever appears. So if you feel very enthusiastic about the whole process and don't mind if you get bogged down and have to repeat many steps or re-configure them, go for it!

If you're just wondering what its like or takes to build a system, probably not such a good idea, especially if you start out with high end components and take on quite a fiduciary risk.

It is a very satisfying feeling to put one together from scratch, hit the power button and it fires right up. Conversely, its also quite an "oh, no" feeling when it doesn't. Good luck.

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by JCSouth / August 17, 2012 7:56 PM PDT
In reply to: Good and bad

I've had that oh no feeling a couple of times. That is the worst thing I've ever felt, then the overwhelming joy when you realize it was something simple and it works, followed by the I can't believe how stupid I am feeling. It's an emotional roller coaster.

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Good advice...
by Paulinla / August 24, 2012 6:36 AM PDT
In reply to: Good and bad

But I'm counting on the fact that I rarely rely on tech support to identify or fix my problems. Should I expect significant headaches beyond what I might have experienced with having to replace HDDs and performing fresh OS installs? It just occurred to me that I have never even considered the BIOS implications.

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Just do it
by kcoghlan / August 24, 2012 9:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Good advice...

I don't know if I'll ever buy a off the shelf desk-top PC. It's easy to build one, and you get EXACTLY what you want. You sound fully competent to do this. Tech support from PC manufacturers is usually useless anyway. Besides, without all the bloatware, you shouldn't have many problems anyway. Shop Newegg, TigerDirect, and amazon. Amazon almost always matches prices with the other two. Newegg has superlative support though, but tax+shipping is usually more (I'm an Amazon Prime member so tend to prefer them). Newegg has the best search system & sort system though, and the best user reviews & comments.
Laptops are a different story. But desktops? Build your own. Most of the time involved is researching the parts. Actually assembling it will take a couple hours at most, then whatever time to install the Operating System(s).
good luck, have fun, never look back.

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by elt10 / August 24, 2012 10:25 AM PDT
In reply to: building a pc

I just built a box and founf that SSD is absolutely the way to go for a boot drive, especially if you are going to use Windows Media Center or XBMC for media management and playback purposes. First, the drives boot in nearly no time; I go from pressing the power button to a live Win 7 Pro 64 bit screen in under 10 seconds. Second, the drive draws almost no power. I believe mine draws 1.4 watts at full honk, and less than a half watt at idle. Considering how good late-model mobos are at managing power, you can have a very powerful box that draws almost no power most of the time. Just be sure to read the mobo documentation, as not all SATA III ports can be used for boot devices. If your documentation is vague, call the manufacturer to be sure.

Cooler Master Storm Trooper case (it's huge but unbelievably well-thought-out)
Intel Core i5 3770
Asus P8-Z77-V Deluxe motherboard (full ATX, more room to work than mini/micro)
Cooler Master Hyper 612 cooler
Nvidia 640 GTX WHDI video
Corsair TX750 Enthusiast Series PS
OCZ Vertex 4 128 GB SATA III SSD (OS)
WD Caviar Green 3 TB SATA III (data)
Corsair Vengeance 2 x 8Gb DDR3 1600 memory
LG SATA BluRay drive
legacy DVDRW and SATA II drives

This took maybe 10 hours to assemble properly, including OS load and setup, and we were very precise about every aspect of the build. The case made things easier, as it is very well made and sensibly laid-out, but we spent extra time on cable routing and clearances, and in the end everything got cable-tied just to be sure. Final cost was about $1350 or so, and I got it all from Amazon. Sign up for Prime and you get free 2-day shipping, too. This is the fastest computer I have ever owned, and I think it was pretty reasonable, all things considered. I don't think there was any aspect of the project that someone with a modicum of technical skill and the ability to pay attention couldn't do. Just read the documentation 2 or three times before you do anything, and call the manufacturer if you are stuck; they can be very helpful. Good luck!

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You're making my decision easier
by Paulinla / August 25, 2012 6:44 AM PDT
In reply to: SSD

I think SSD is definitely the way to go. A few questions though: You said not all SATA III ports support boot devices. I want to make sure I understand your warning. Are you saying that I merely need to make sure I identify which SATA ports on the mobo support the boot devices?

Second: I think I've decided to shop for a 256GB SSD to use for my boot drive, and keep my 3TB 7200 standard HDD as my data drive. I see the OCZ SSD drives on NewEgg all the time but don't know much about the brand. Prices for similar sized drives from different manufacturers are all over the place, and I don't know if that is just paying for the brand name, or if there are other specs that cause the drastic price fluctuations. Any regrets with the drive you chose, or are there any other specs I should be focusing on?

I appreciate the shopping list you posted, it gives me a good "jumping off" point. Thanks again for your help.


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