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Eaglerulez's guides to building a computer Version 2.

#31Eaglerulez(Topic Creator)Posted 8/20/2007 1:08:25 PMmessage detail
DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH!!!

The best way to figure out what components are best for you is to figure it out for yourself. Remember my guide is more of a crash course I can point you in the right direction, and give you everything you need to know for basic comprehension, but other then that you are on your own.

Look at the benchmarks

It is impossible to gauge how well components perform based solely on tech specs. Thankfully many websites offer benchmarks to give clearer detail of how various components perform in real world scenarios.

I heavily suggest when looking at benchmarks to average the scores of the various components, and then determine the price and performance differences amongst the various components. This way you can physically see why a component would be a better choice for you than others.

Here are a couple of good benchmark sites.

www.anandtech.com

www.Tomshardware.com



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www.actsofgord.com . Long live Green Earth. Escalators can't break, they can only temporarily become stairs. I Love GREEN TEA
#32Eaglerulez(Topic Creator)Posted 8/20/2007 1:09:33 PMmessage detail
KEEP IT SIMPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If this is your first time building a computer, try to keep it as simple as possible. This means, not trying to use multiple hard drives, RAID, multiple video cards, sound cards, and other needless add ons.

The reason is, many first time builders don't have ample experience with building a computer, and are thus more prone to mistakes, and complications. The more components, the easier it is to make a mistake, the more components the harder it is to set up and assemble your computer, the more components the greater the chance for complications.

As a first time builder you should be worried about one thing, making sure you can get your newly built computer to turn on, the easiest way to do this is to have one of each of the nine essential parts for a computer. After that you can go crazy with adding extras.

Think of it this way, if you are a first time builder and your computer won't boot (which is a very likely possibility for a first timer), it will be way harder to trouble shoot with SLI'd cards, multiple hard drives, etc.

Besides, usually having a modern computer with one of each of the nine essential components, will be more than enough to perform great. Remember it's not like you have to buy everything possible on your first initial purchase you can always upgrade to SLI, Multiple hard drives, sound cards, whatever.

So please as a first time builder try to keep it simple, it usually takes one round through of building a computer, to get a feel of how you assemble your hardware, after that you can usually figure out how to deal with using more complex setups on your own.


Almost never buy your components at a retail store

With a few exceptions; most places that carry computer hardware severally mark up their prices.

For instance one can find a horrible, old, and cheap Radeon 9200 from 5 years ago, at a place like best buy for $100. Generally speaking it is very hard to find good deals from places that carry computer components. Often times you can find far better deals online.

The only reason why you should buy computer components from Retail Stores is if you are getting small things, like a fan, or some thermal paste. In most cases, the shipping alone on online retailers will cost more then the actual item itself.

However if you insist on using a retail store, you can't go wrong with Microcenter or Fry's Electronics.

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www.actsofgord.com . Long live Green Earth. Escalators can't break, they can only temporarily become stairs. I Love GREEN TEA
#33Eaglerulez(Topic Creator)Posted 8/20/2007 1:10:29 PMmessage detail
When shopping in the US, Newegg is the place to look at

www.newegg.com is easily one of the best places online to order components for your computers. Not only do they have a very broad selection of components to choose from, but they offer some very cheap prices, and some great deals.

The customer service is top notch, offering three day shipping that is usually never late, and often times early. Also newegg will take back just about anything regardless of reason, so if your components aren't working well for you, you won't have to fight with them to return your components (as long as they are in newegg's warranty time)

Finally the main reason why you should shop on newegg is because the site is very easy to browse, it offers usually useful customer reviews of various components to see what people think of the components, but most importantly it allows you to create wishlists so you can easily organize your build, and get a general idea of the cost. Plus if you make a public wishlist you can post it on this board for people to double check, and offer second opinions.

Newegg isn't always the best choice

When using newegg you can always count on some decent prices, and great customer service, however many other sites can offer slightly lower prices for components, which may be useful for people who are on a tight budget or want the best deals possible.

There are quite a few of these sites, but at the moments the only two that come to mind are:

Zipflyzoom.com.

and

Tigerdirect.com

I personally suggest using newegg to compile a list of the components you seek to buy, then you can search various other sites to compare and contrast prices.

(if anyone can offer anymore sites I would greatly appreciate it)

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www.actsofgord.com . Long live Green Earth. Escalators can't break, they can only temporarily become stairs. I Love GREEN TEA
#34Eaglerulez(Topic Creator)Posted 8/20/2007 1:11:18 PMmessage detail
If you live in Canada don't worry you can still order your parts online

http://www.shopbot.ca/
http://www.cipc.com/particulier/
http://www.academicsuperstore.ca/
http://www.acctech.ca/catalog/index.php
http://www.bcom.ab.ca/
http://www.ncix.com/
http://www.canadacomputers.com/
http://www.infonec.com/index.htm
http://www.vibecomputers.com/
http://www.futureshop.ca/
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/
http://www.cancomputer.com/index.php
http://www.bestbuy.ca/
http://mirror.memoryexpress.net/
http://www.anitec.ca/
http://www.filtechcomputer.com/
http://www.directcanada.com/

(Thanks to ss_samy for the links)

Keep the future in mind

Always keep in mind that new things are coming in the future, and while you can't always out run the future, sometimes it is better to wait. For instance look for major price drops in the near future. That way you can save money on whatever component you where going to go, or so you could get a stronger component for the same amount of money you where going to pay.

Also keep in mind that you should be aware of new components coming out. Remember with the introduction of new components means competition, which means cheaper prices all around, and possibly better performance.

For instance say you where getting an Nvidia graphics card, it would be wise to wait until the ATI counterpart is released, even if you aren't planning to get the ATI card, the Nvidia card will most likely drop in price. Also if the ATI card happened to have better performance then you would be able to choose a better performing card.

Finally be aware that today's high end components will most likely be about half the price a year from now, so if you are on a really tight budget, you could always wait till next year to buy lower priced components that would perform faster anyways.

Be aware, that you are going to have to buy your computer sometime, so don't try to keep waiting for new releases and price cuts, I would only suggest waiting, if you are on an extremely tight budget, or if a major release or price cut that will dramatically influence the market is near.

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www.actsofgord.com . Long live Green Earth. Escalators can't break, they can only temporarily become stairs. I Love GREEN TEA
#35Eaglerulez(Topic Creator)Posted 8/20/2007 1:12:39 PMmessage detail
5. List of trusted brands

Finally here is a list of trusted brands. Keep in mind that these are based off of personal opinion, and some manufacturers not on this list still make great products, be these are the brands that are consistently trusted.

Motherboards

Asus- An always trusted brand, but they seem to be having stability issues with their lower end boards, their higher end boards are top notch.

MSI- These guys seem to make a real commitment to stability, they also provide alot of extra cables and connectors with their motherboards, definitely a good value

Gigabyte- I personally don't like Gigabyte because I got a dead motherboard, however they usually have some of the best overclocking and high performance boards.

DFI- A solid brand, I haven't had a personal experience with this brand, but they are known for making high quality motherboards with many overclocking options, though they seem to cost a bit more.

Video cards

Nvidia


Evga- Usually have higher clocked cards for lower prices, they have a step up program which allows you to trade in your card for some credit within 6 months of your purchase in order to make an upgrade to a newer card. Evga also makes high quality cards.

XFX- Also makes very solid, high performing cards, their cards are reasonably priced, and I believe have a nice warranty.

BFG- BFG's cards are almost always overclocked right out out of the box. The only draw back is that their prices are a bit high, and also Evga and XFX usually have higher overclocks for cheaper prices.

ATI

Sapphire- Usually provides the fastest clocked, and lowest priced cards for ATI, always a good buy.

HIS Tech- HIS Tech's trademark is that they usually provide higher quality, and quieter cooling solutions on their cards, the only draw back is a higher price.

ATI- ATI also manufacturers their own cards. ATI's cards usually aren't anything special, and they usually are clocked at stock settings, and don't have the best price either, however I happen to own an ATI manufactured X1900XT and it's great.

Keep in mind many motherboard manufacturers also manufacture video cards and vice versa.

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www.actsofgord.com . Long live Green Earth. Escalators can't break, they can only temporarily become stairs. I Love GREEN TEA
#36Eaglerulez(Topic Creator)Posted 8/20/2007 1:13:21 PMmessage detail
RAM

Corsair
G-Skill
Patriot
Crucial
OCZ
Kingston

Power Supplies

Antec
Thermaltake
Coolermaster
PC Power and Cooling
OCZ
Corsair
Hiper
Zalman

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www.actsofgord.com . Long live Green Earth. Escalators can't break, they can only temporarily become stairs. I Love GREEN TEA
#37Eaglerulez(Topic Creator)Posted 8/20/2007 1:14:31 PMmessage detail
6. Assembling your computer

Before you purchase your build, be sure you feel comfortable building one.

On this part of the guide it is simply too hard to write out what you should do, so I will post links to guides, as well as write some tips and advice.

Guides on building computers

Here's some great guides

http://tools.corsair.com/systembuild/report.aspx?report_id=78237&sid=1

http://tools.corsairmemory.com/systembuild/report.aspx?report_id=12472

Some videos as well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVJ5ZEbf6F4

http://youtube.com/watch?v=nZm2iTWXn-Y
http://youtube.com/watch?v=HO8KsMTsYpg&mode=related&search=
http://youtube.com/watch?v=KmIl0fmqvlY&mode=related&search=
http://youtube.com/watch?v=43nC6Hd2aTU&mode=related&search=
http://youtube.com/watch?v=g3cIFMevIYg&mode=related&search=
http://youtube.com/watch?v=3zO5GYJnf7k&mode=related&search=
http://youtube.com/watch?v=kGLKwAFeYZU&mode=related&search=

(Thanks to ss_samy for the video links)

There are also many books at bookstores that will also show the assembly of a computer, they may be out dated, but you will still be exposed to the assembly process.

Finally many PC magazines have a build your own PC edition, try to find one of those.

Ways of gaining experience

Before trying to build your computer it will help a ton if you get some experience working with computer hardware.

The first way to get some experience is to simply open up your computer, look inside and try to identify the components. See which cables are connected to where, and simply try your best to familiarize your self with the inside of a computer.

Next if you can, try to find an old PC that can still be turned on. Now, take apart that old computer as much as possible, try to put it back together, and see if it works.

Finally if you want to build a computer, but simply don't have the funds at the moment, upgrading greatly helps with gaining experience to build a computer.

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www.actsofgord.com . Long live Green Earth. Escalators can't break, they can only temporarily become stairs. I Love GREEN TEA
#38Eaglerulez(Topic Creator)Posted 8/20/2007 1:15:00 PMmessage detail
Tips and Tricks

So now your parts arrive at the door, and your heart starts pounding with excitement. It's time to assemble your computer. Assuming you read the guides provided, here's some additional tips.

1. READ THE MOTHERBOARD MANUAL- Read the motherboard manual to identify where your case/USB connectors go. Also read the manual to be aware of anything else your motherboard has.

2. USE THE STANDOFF's. Standoffs are the small screws that screw into the case, and allow motherboard screws to be screwed into them. YOU MUST USE STANDOFF'S OTHER WISE YOUR COMPUTER WON'T BOOT. You see if you don't use standoffs your case will short out the motherboard.

3. BE SURE EVERY MOUNTING HOLE IS FILLED- Be sure that you screw in a screw for every mounting hole in your motherboard, otherwise your hardware/ motherboard may not work/install properly. Also donít screw in your screws too tightly into the standoffs as your screw will get stuck in the standoff, which makes it almost impossible to unscrew your motherboard. ( Trust me on this I once spent 30 minutes trying to get a standoff and screw that where stuck out)

4. BE AWARE OF THE CASE JUMPERS- The case jumpers are the small cables that come with your case. They are usually titled, power, reset, HDD activity, etc. You must plug these in properly otherwise your computer won't power up since the power button is plugged into the wrong port, etc. Refer to your motherboard manual to see where you plug the case jumpers in.

5. Be SURE YOU HAVE POWER CHORDS TO BOTH THE CPU, and VIDEO CARD. Most people don't realize that your CPU also needs power independent from the motherboard's connector. The CPU connector is usually a 4 or 8 pin connector that is usually located around the CPU socket. Also if you are using a PCI-EX 16 card be sure to plug in the 6 pin connector if your card needs one.

6. BEFORE YOU START YOUR CABLE MANAGEMENT, MAKE SURE YOUR COMPUTER TURNS ON FIRST-. Cable management is essentially organizing your cables so that your computer has a nice look, and so your cables do not block airflow. Before you begin cable management though, you will want to be sure your computer turns on, since if it doesn't there's a great chance that you will have to take it apart and tinker with it.

7. GROUND YOURSELF BEFORE WORKING ON A COMPUTER. Grounding is simply touching a metal object so that you donít give your computer an electrostatic discharge (static shock) which can seriously harm your computer. However you really donít have to go out and buy an antistatic wristband or anything like that, as that is excessive. Heck, Iíve assembled 5 systems, 4 of them where put together on the carpet (a static prone place) and Iíve experienced no trouble with static. So please donít get all freaked out about static ruining your computer. As long as you donít wear socks and rub your feet on the carpet for 5 minutes before your build a computer a simple touch of metal, or washing your hands will sufficiently ground you.

8. PUT THE VIDEO CARD IN TOP PCI-E X16 SLOT. If you are using an SLI board but only have 1 video, be sure to put that video in the top PCI-E X16 slot. Do this because sometimes SLI boards will only run at X8 when both cards are in use, and if you are using the bottom slot, your board may think you are running SLI, and will only give your card a X8 bandwidth (which really isnít that big of a performance blow) however you want the full bandwidth for your card, so just do it. Also itís easier to run cables with the card in the top slot.

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www.actsofgord.com . Long live Green Earth. Escalators can't break, they can only temporarily become stairs. I Love GREEN TEA
#39Eaglerulez(Topic Creator)Posted 8/20/2007 1:15:33 PMmessage detail
7.Configuring your computer

Assuming your computer turns on you should get a motherboard POST. POST stands for Power On Self Test, it usually is an indicator that your hardware is correctly installed, and that your motherboard is properly functioning. If you don't know what a POST is, it is usually the name of your motherboard and a little logo/ graphic, usually on the bottom of the screen there is an option to enter the BIOS (usually an F button or pressing the del key)

Upon entering the BIOS, you want to do a few things.

First off make sure your hard drives and optical drives are properly located. (To find this menu refer to your motherboard manual)

Next go to your memory setting page and be sure it is reading the correct amount of memory, as well as the correct timings/voltages. If your timings are all automatic you will most likely be alright however if you do experience system instabilities, it would be wise to manually set your timings ( you can find the timings on the memory specifications area on newegg, refer to your motherboard manual to find this menu)

Next be sure your CPU's clock speed is being read correctly. If it isn't, you may have to increase the multiplier to the highest possible number. (Refer to your motherboard manual)

Finally, be sure to disable onboard video, as well as any other options such as Cool'N Quiet, which may cause confusion when running your system. Cool'N Quiet under clocks the CPU so that it runs cooler, and so the fan isn't as loud, then when the CPU is under load it is quickly brought back up to it's maximum clock speed.

Other then that you may want to familiarize your self with the bios, but for the most part you are done with your initial configuration. Save and exit.

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www.actsofgord.com . Long live Green Earth. Escalators can't break, they can only temporarily become stairs. I Love GREEN TEA
#40Eaglerulez(Topic Creator)Posted 8/20/2007 1:16:27 PMmessage detail
Installing your OS

Assuming you have your BIOS properly configured, upon the next boot, insert your OS CD. The OS will most likely load up, and will ask you what partition you would like to install the OS on. Simply select your hard drive (which is most likely your only partition) and then follow the steps accordingly.

After your OS is fully installed, go into your BIOS and change the boot order so that your hard drive boots first and not your optical drive (refer to your manual)

Installing your drivers

After your OS is installed, insert the CD that came with your motherboard to install the drivers. This CD will usually contain the ethernet, chipset, and USB drivers, which will allow you to use USB and connect to the internet. After installing those restart.

Now go to your video card manufacturer's website, download the drivers. After that install the drivers, reboot and you should be good to go.

Run some tests

To make sure everything is functioning properly after you install your drivers, you may want to run some tests.

First off run memtest to test your memory. If you have any errors at all you may have faulty RAM, or you may want to confirm that the settings are correct.

http://www.memtest.org/ (I am not sure if this is the proper link but I think so)

Next run Orthos to stress your system for stability. Be sure to use a blend test, and run it for as long as possible, though a couple of hours should be fine. If your system crashes, you either have a wrong bios option or a faulty component

http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=200

Finally run 3D Mark 06 as an initial bench test. Depending on specs your system should perform around 3,500+ and up.

http://www.futuremark.com/download/

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www.actsofgord.com . Long live Green Earth. Escalators can't break, they can only temporarily become stairs. I Love GREEN TEA