A Conversation for Building Your Own PC

More tips from a do-it-yourselfer (long winded :) )

Post 1

Godless Infidel

A couple of things I would add - first, the more research you do upfront, the less time it will take to build the system and get it functional. IE, if you buy a motherboard that only supports a certain brand of RAM, make sure you get that brand of RAM - it helps to ask questions of the shop where you are buying your components. Even if you are buying online, go to a shop and ask the questions first. Don't be afraid of asking "stupid" questions - the answers are free, but the parts you may damage are not!

Second, make sure you pay attention to the "1" pin on all of your drives. It should be labelled on the drive's circuit board, but some manufacturers put it on a sticker on the main body of the drive itself. It's best to be aware of which side pin 1 is on before you put it into the case, as you may not be able to see the label once the drive is mounted. Then, make sure that when attaching the cable, you put the marked wire (usually red) on the side where pin 1 is. Do the same for the end that connects to the motherboard. If you get it wrong, it won't damage anything, but the PC will not start up correctly, and you will have to figure out which cable is flipped - and once you have everything in the case, it can be hard to get to the end of the cables.

Third, seriously consider adding extra cooling fans in addition to the one on the heat sink for the CPU and the power supply. Computers run slower as they heat up, and too much heat can be deadly. In addition to the CPU and hard drive, most of today's graphics cards generate quite a bit of heat. Even if yours has it's own heat sink and fan (if you play a lot games, make sure yours does!), you will want to increase the amount of cool air flowing into the case and hot air flowing out. There are case fans that attach to the box itself (I usually put these in the front to draw in cool air away from the power supply) and slot fans that attach to the back just like a PCI/AGP card, but without plugging into the slot on the motherboard (I have one mounted over the graphics card to pull the hot air directly off of the card and out the back of the machine).

As long as you get the right parts and pay attention to what you are doing, assembly can be a snap - the last one I built for a friend went together in about 45 minutes, and ran without any problems (admittedly, this was the first one that I didn't have to go in and do something to the parts - but I've only built 3 or 4 from the ground up).

More tips from a do-it-yourselfer (long winded :) )

Post 2

Silly Willy

The one thing I would say against building your own, is it takes time (buying a ready-made one from Tiny is a lot easier), and if someting doesn't work it'll really annoy you smiley - winkeye
smiley - silly

More tips from a do-it-yourselfer (long winded :) )

Post 3

Bald Bloke


I agree with you on the time and money stakes, at present the cost of buying the parts to assemble your own PC can easily be higher than buying a ready made system with the same spec.

However I feel everyone should build at least one PC for themselves.
Even if its just a low spec bitsa job as the process of building one removes all the mystery and fear associated with doing your own upgrades etc.

I know far to many people who are afraid to do even simple upgrades like adding a card into the machine because they worry to much smiley - blue

More tips from a do-it-yourselfer (long winded :) )

Post 4

Silly Willy

The reason I wrote this guide entry wasn't really to teach people how to build a PC, that's too difficult 'cos there are too many variables, instead I wanted to show people that building your own isn't all that hard!
smiley - silly

More tips from a do-it-yourselfer (long winded :) )

Post 5

Big J

Bald Bloke -

I feel that I can add a little bit of knowledge into this area. For years I had struggled with the peril of "family-PCs". The whole family shared the thing, and nothing was sacred. There was designated times to use it and then there were times where no one could use it. What was a struggling teen with vast amounts of computer knowledge to do? Build a computer. But what do I want? At the time I was limited to a standard Socket 7 board with an AMD K6-2 333 Mhz processor. As time went on I upgraded it with graphics cards, sound card, more RAM, a new harddrive, and eventually overclocking the CPU to 400 Mhz. But I couldn't quench the thirst for more. I priced the higher-end PCs that places like Dell and Gateway sold, and they were not too terribly priced, but I knew I could save more. So I started searching online. And I found what I was look for. A AMD Athlon Thunderbird 900 Mhz processor with a KT-7 Raid-100 Socket A motherboard with 200Mhz FSB, 3 SDRAM dimm slots, a 4X AGP slot, and 6 PCI slots. I was in heaven. Best part was it only ran me $300. Couple that with a 40GB hard drive and 128megs of more RAM (total now is at 320megs), and the periphials from the old computer (scanner, 19" monitor, speaker system, printer, cable modem, 10/100Mbps PCI network card, nVidia 256 graphics processor, SoundBlaster Live Platinum 5.1 audio card, webcam, DVD and CDR-W drive) made my out of pocket expenses a little over $500, which is extremely cheap for this type of computer. I priced a reputable computer company's mid to high end computers that came closest to my specs (only 128megs of PC-133 SDRAM) and it came out to a little over $1000, minus the $400 for AOL service agreement for 3 years, which meant you spent almost an extra $400 for the computer in the long run. I am not saying anyone can do this, but I am rebutting your comment on the expense of building your own computer. If you are starting from the ground up these days, it is far less expensive to build your own. Harddrives, DVD-Rom and CDR-W drives, and RAM are the cheapest they have ever been now. And places like www.computersupersale.com have great package deals on motherboard/CPU combos, and this makes it even more fool-proof because now you can't get the wrong kind of board for the CPU you bought. Just my $.02.

Big J

More tips from a do-it-yourselfer (long winded :) )

Post 6

Researcher jaw25yo

There are books out there to help you build your own, as quite a lot of you said, if you can build a PC once in your life then it does take away the mystery.

The unit I used now3 has been built from the ground up. Even though I have been dogged with problems every now and then, at least because I know I built it, configuerd it and so forth, the best person to fix is me as I know the machine better than anyone.

Even though it's time consuming, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than buying one at PC world, 'break it', ring them up on thier helpline for 50 a min, take the PC into the 'health Clinic' for them to break it even more, then get your 15 year old nephew saying 'Uncle I told you not to use the CD Rom drive as a cup holder', which was really why it went bust, then you go buy another one from Tiny anmd repeat the process again. AS if you 'break it' you should know who to 'fix it' thus costing you nothing for repairs!

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