Desktops forum

General discussion

Building a Better PC

by Nils80923 / April 14, 2008 7:08 AM PDT

First off let me apologize if this is the incorrect forum to be posting this in.

I'm currently thinking of building my own Desktop PC, I have around $800 to work with. However, I'm a bit of a newbie when it comes to hardware and to be honest I'm lost among the thousands and thousands of products and manufacturers out there. So I have a few questions.

1) AMD or Intel?

2) What's the best place to buy my hardware, I know newegg is awesome but are there any others?

3) This PC is going to be used heavily for gaming what are the components that I should throw in the extra cash for?

4) What do you suggest to buy? Essentially, what products have stood out to you, not just because of performance but because of price as well.

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Building a Better PC
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Building a Better PC
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
what to loomfor
by welrdelr / April 14, 2008 1:26 PM PDT
In reply to: Building a Better PC

1) The manufacturer doesn't matter. They use the same architecture. This makes as much sense as trying to determine which Honda dealer to buy an accord from. CPU flags
2) You can buy hardware anywhere. You need to look for guarantee and insurance when having it delivered to you.
3) Build it yourself
4) I suggest you build it yourself and make the base system minimalist.

Collapse -
if you can afford a $150 cpu
by ramarc / April 14, 2008 1:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Building a Better PC

1) intel core2duos outperform amd processors. however, amd x2s/phenoms are cheaper. phenoms are plenty fast for most gaming needs, but they can't match the performance of a 3ghz core2duo.
2) newegg is good but not the only place to buy. and can sometimes beat newegg especially when shipping costs are considered. can also be cheaper with its deals/combos. is also a good choice for mainstream hardware (monitors, keyboards, etc.)
3) video card. 9600gt($150), 8800gt/512mb ($190), 8800gts/512mb ($250), 9800gtx ($300) are the best choices currently.
4) core2duo e8400 3.0ghz dual core (about $200). 4gb cl4 ddr2-1066 ($90). 9600gt ($150). MSI P35 Neo2-FR mobo ($110).

Collapse -
Ramarc...where are you seeing PC1066....CL4 for $90 ?
by VAPCMD / April 19, 2008 12:54 AM PDT

BTW ..... I like Newegg over most others for a variety of reasons... like the product search engine; up to date products and product choice, good prices, reasonable shipping, good customer service and customer reviews. Finding things at other sites just isn't as easy, logical or intuitive as it is at Newegg.


Collapse -
sorry, meant to say cl 4 ddr2-800
by ramarc / April 19, 2008 1:08 AM PDT
Collapse -
(NT) Ok ....Thanks ! Thought I'd missed a good source.
by VAPCMD / April 19, 2008 3:22 AM PDT
Collapse -
New PC
by mwooge / April 18, 2008 2:23 PM PDT
In reply to: Building a Better PC

First off, don't build it yourself. If you have to ask what to include in a home-built, then you don't know how. And 800$ isn't going to get you the higher-performance stuff you'd get in a prebuilt. Buying the components separatly will cost much more than buying the batch already assembled.

My advice: get a name-brand computer. It'll have a proper guarantee, any professional can work on it, and you know what you're getting.

Be sure you have at least a gig of memory. Also check with the games you want to play to see what video board is needed.

BTW. You didn't say if by desktop computer you were including the mionitor.

Collapse -
Look at the professionals
by DOSpower / April 18, 2008 4:54 PM PDT
In reply to: Building a Better PC

Take a look at These guys do all sorts of wild stuff with hardware and have just done a 'budget' gamers machine that should suit your needs.

If you are going into games then look for a Direct X 10 compatible card with GDDR3 or GDDR RAM, a fast hard drive, fast memory, hopefully you have a copy of Windows XP (best for games at the moment) and a good power supply. I would encourage you to go for a home build as systems these days are about as complex as electronic Lego.

Before buying, do your research as prices drop daily and performance jumps as often. Build to a spec. Don't compromise yourself to severely on budget as sooner or later you will go out and spend the money to upgrade.

Good luck

Collapse -
Good site for advice
by dknapp / April 18, 2008 11:20 PM PDT
In reply to: Building a Better PC

Check out Lots of forums there and excellent advice on all aspects of DIY PCs.

Collapse -
Good site for PC builders.
by dknapp / April 18, 2008 11:21 PM PDT
In reply to: Building a Better PC

Check out Lots of good advice and articles, lots of forums.

Collapse -
The basics
by Willy / April 19, 2008 1:04 AM PDT
In reply to: Building a Better PC

I want to concenetrate of two items that are taken for granted. These are the case and psu. I suggest you buy a big case or at least a mid-size tower or better. The psu should be *MORE THAN CAPABLE* of handling your needs, consider 500W or better and a brandname. The case if big enough will allow better cooling options and/or space for any oversized items added later, plus ease of getting to items. Next, the psu if not enough will surely falter later on, if you tax it too much or isn't cooled enough itself. These two items are the foundation of a decent system, if you deny thier worth, you'll be a hurt soon

You can now buy whatever other devices/components you desire. However, don't stick too quickly to a budget as the best you can afford will be telling in a gaming system.

tada -----Willy Happy

Collapse -
If I wanted to build a gaming rig
by Bob__B / April 19, 2008 1:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Building a Better PC

Which I don't.

I would start with a huge for extra fans...and a whopper psu.

That takes care of the power and cooling issues.
Don't overlook this will bite you in the butt.

From that point I'd go shopping for innards.

Geez I'm glad I'm not a the rack.

Collapse -
Building a better PC
by winstonh5 / April 19, 2008 1:54 AM PDT
In reply to: Building a Better PC

If you have moderate mechanical skills, you can build a custom PC and I recommend that you do it. I built my own in December 2004, saved a lot of money, got a lot of satisfaction and would do it again. A lot of the components are assembled just by snapping them together and all the others are assembled using a small Phillips screwdriver and small Phillips head screws. With regard to useful tools:
I recommend that you do purchase a cheap toolkit containing several useful tools such as the one I got from, item 115 0100 for $7.95, , a small Maglite flashlight that uses 2 AA batteries- Lowes, Item # 76180, Model # JM2A11R for $9.48, an X-acto knife- XAC3201 @ $3.25, a 4-inch adjustable wrench, and put these last items inside your zip-up tool case. Also buy from, an anti-static wrist strap, item 116 0120 for $3.99, a wire stripper such as the one at for $2.50 plus $6.10 s/h (I paid $1.00 for one exactly like it at the Dollar Store.
Plan what you will build. Start a spreadsheet so you can compare features, compatibility and costs. The first step in getting a computer is deciding what you will be using it for and you?ve done that (gaming), and then pick a central processing unit (CPU). Intel or AMD (either should work for you). Decide how much computing power you will need for your CPU. I suggest you talk to some gamers and I am not one. Show the socket number on the spreadsheet so you can match it up to a motherboard. Next, select a motherboard that will accommodate your CPU. Make a few tentative selections and enter their specs and prices in your spreadsheet, then make a choice. I recommend that you choose to use a tower case so you can have lots of flexibility of components and can update your PC as time goes on. I recommend that you use a case that has the following features:
Accepts your mother board, has at least 4 each 5.25? drive bays and 2 each 3.5? external drive bays and another 3 to 4 each 3.5? internal drive bays. Determine the wattage of your power supply. Consult a computer technician or experienced PC builder for this.
Now shop for a ?bare bones PC kit? that you can use that includes the power supply, the motherboard and the CPU. You can buy your case, power supply, motherboard and CPU separately, but will pay more. You will need a good CPU cooling fan to match your CPU. A good gaming PC will need a separate adapter card for graphics (graphic card) and another for audio (sound card). Consult with a gamer or technician as these can go up to a lot of money for a game PC. Avoid using the ribbon cables for your drives that may come with your case. Buy the round, not flat, ones to permit better case cooling.
You may need a card for extra USB ports. Select a good DVD-CD dual layer drive. You will need one or two fast high-quality hard drives. Consult a gamer or technician. Finally, you need an operating system. My tech friends still prefer Microsoft Windows XP-Pro which is what I have as opposed to Microsoft Vista which still has a few development problems. You can buy your OS from any number of sources, but I chose to get an OEM version of XP-Pro from an internet vendor $75. I have been buying parts and components and equipment since 1983.
In my opinion, I think the best source for components is without question; for parts, cables, adapters, etc. it is My PC cost about half of what an off-the-shelf or built-to-order PC would have cost. You will have to add a monitor unless you already have one that meets your needs.
Make a 3-ring binder for your spreadsheet, equipment data, order data, etc. Keep a journal in your binder. TRACK YOUR REBATES!!!!!! Google the manufacturers of each major component and download PDF files of their manuals, etc. Go on TigerDirect?s website and download their illustrated instructions on how to build a PC. Print these and add to your binder. Good Luck.

Collapse -
DIY computing
by forkboy1965 / April 19, 2008 7:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Building a Better PC

First, having built my own computer a few years ago I can emphatically say that it is the best thing I have ever done. No, I didn't save a penny building over buying a manufactured computer. But I did get other things, which I consider to be priceless: better components by far and no ******** software preloaded by a manufacturer. There isn't anything on my computer that I don't want on it and didn't have to spend hours/days removing free trail this and free trail that. And trust me, some of those programs are a pain to rid from a computer.

Second, while I did find some components for less at other web sites, I fully stand behind my experience with Newegg. And for what little bit more I may have paid for purchasing everything through them I think it's much easier to deal with only one vendor instead of two, three or more.

Third, I don't know what you think you're going to be able to build for $800 for the purpose of gaming. You will need a sufficiently quick processor and an excellent video card. These two alone could set you back over $500. But I wish you luck trying to do this for that price point.

Fourth, regarding what specific components to purchase and from what manufacturers it's hard to go wrong with any of the big names. Exactly what you should acquire probably has more to do with how much money you have to spend. Stick to name brands with warranties and it's unlikely you'll go wrong.

And finally, one reply said forget building, but instead buy. While I respect the fact they have an opinion and felt strong enough to post it, I couldn't disagree more. Building yourself a machine will not only get you better components for the same price point, but you'll learn how to take care of and fix your computer so that you don't have to take it to some shop and spend hundreds of dollars. And it's always hundreds of dollars. If you have a problem with a home-built computer it can be daunting to fix, but there are simply so many web sites, forums and bulletin boards where you can find help. You'll feel empowered and excited about your new computer.

Collapse -
PC builder suppliers
by winstonh5 / April 20, 2008 4:57 AM PDT
In reply to: DIY computing

I agree that Newegg is an excellent supplier of PC components needed to build your own PC. After I built mine, I replaced the tower case with one I ordered from Newegg. However, I prefer for three reasons:
1-They have two excellent retail showroom stores withing 20 miles of my home.
2-They have better prices and more bargains on their products than any source I have found.
3-They send me 2-3 sale promotions each week via the internet.
I would also agree that $800 might not buy the components for a top performing game PC. I recommend that you go through the component selection process as I outlined using feedback you get from experienced gamers and/or technicians, lay them out on the spreadsheet as I described and then total up the cost to build the machine you really want. I believe you will need to increase your budget to meet this. If you can't increase it enough to get a good gaming machine, perhaps you should consider buying a used gaming machine from a gamer who is building a better machine than the one he has now. I just believe that you should begin by determining the spec's and costs of a good machine and not start with a predetermined arbitrary budget. Good Luck.

Collapse -
dont build! buy one!
by Aznmask / April 21, 2008 5:15 AM PDT
In reply to: PC builder suppliers

I bought the Dell Inspiron 530 for $680. Then i bought a 8600GT for $49.99 after rebate. Also 2GB Corasair DDR2 for $29.99 after rebate. I score 5.4 in Vista. Also this system is so quiet..

Vista Home Premiun + 24" Monitor (24" monitor for EPP is not available anymore.)
- Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Q6600 (8MB L2 cache,2.4GHz,1066FSB)
- Genuine Windows Vista

Collapse -
Where to concentrate the money
by 4Denise / April 20, 2008 2:25 PM PDT
In reply to: Building a Better PC

If you are going to build your own computer, there are a few things to know.

First of all, you need to spend most of your money on the core of the system. The case, power supply, motherboard, and CPU is a good beginning list. Since your budget is limited (as is mine-- and I'm currently building my new PC), you want to consider using used parts for the things that are really easy to replace, such as optical and floppy drives. Whatever is in your current computer (or another used computer, if you don't like that idea) is worth transferring to the new one. You can then replace them one at a time after the new computer is running.

The reason for this is that the core of the system is what you need to last. It is also the most expensive part of the system. Look for a case that meets your current needs and will meet any future needs you can reasonably foresee. This means drive bays, space, and any special features. Try to get one that is reasonably sturdy. You can always build another system in the same case later.

The power supply is more important than people realize. High quality, consistent power is one of the best ways to ensure that your system performs at its peak and doesn't break down prematurely. Electronic parts are delicate. Don't skimp on your power supply. Avoid the bottom of the line in power supplies. Check them out carefully.

The motherboard and CPU are the system, in many ways. Make sure you get what you want. Don't try for the "bleeding edge" here (you can't afford it anyway). On the other hand, just putting up with a minimal system is not cost effective. Try to get as close as you can to the middle of the road, altering specifics to meet your own needs. You want something that will satisfy you for quite awhile to come, but that you can reasonably afford to buy.

As far as memory goes, cheap may do for now (if you must), but a better idea is to buy decent memory-- but in a smaller amount than you really want. The reason is that memory, like optical drives, is fairly inexpensive. You can spend a few months adding to the memory, until it's up where you really want it.

Start with one hard drive. If one you have access to from a current computer is available and compatible, use it for now. Once again, hard drives are not particularly expensive. You can wait awhile to get a new one that you really want.

The above is far from exhaustive, of course. Consider taking a class on how to build your own computer. Also, check out all the information you can find online.

Here are links to the motherboard and CPU I have chosen for my new system:

Of course, my needs differ from yours, but check it out! I think I have chosen a winning combination that will serve me for years to come.


Collapse -
by 4Denise / April 20, 2008 2:40 PM PDT
Popular Forums
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Help, my PC with Windows 10 won't shut down properly

Since upgrading to Windows 10 my computer won't shut down properly. I use the menu button shutdown and the screen goes blank, but the system does not fully shut down. The only way to get it to shut down is to hold the physical power button down till it shuts down. Any suggestions?