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Last Post by Major Major
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Hi, Maydhyam. I'm absolutely new on the forum so keep that in mind. Also, I'm a biologist, computers are only my passion. My son builds computers and I'm the backroom person ordering and double checking compatibility. First thing that you may want to do is to decide what you want the computer to do when you are finished. My son is a gamer (heavy MMorpg's) which may bring up another limiting factor; how big is your wallet.... Anyway, once you've decided the function then you can decide if you want a function case or a pimped out one. Happily, there are just a limited # of components that go into making the computer, a fair amount of quiet contemplation when it comes to making the connections, and given that you've paid close attention to compatibility you should have great success. Hope you don't mind the lenthy post and remember I'm a newbie but we have several computers under our belts and aside from a certain amount of frustration here and there (and crossed fingers now and again) it's been great fun. Best Wishes.

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Hi, Maydhyam. I'm absolutely new on the forum so keep that in mind. Also, I'm a biologist, computers are only my passion. My son builds computers and I'm the backroom person ordering and double checking compatibility. First thing that you may want to do is to decide what you want the computer to do when you are finished. My son is a gamer (heavy MMorpg's) which may bring up another limiting factor; how big is your wallet.... Anyway, once you've decided the function then you can decide if you want a functional case or a pimped out one. Happily, there are just a limited # of components that go into making the computer, a fair amount of quiet contemplation when it comes to making the connections, and given that you've paid close attention to compatibility you should have great success. Hope you don't mind the lenthy post and remember I'm a newbie but we have several computers under our belts and aside from a certain amount of frustration here and there (and crossed fingers now and again) it's been great fun. Best Wishes.

Thanks for that information Liisa, it is well appreciated...I am still trying to put together the purpose of the computer (because my mom, little sister, and big brother wants to use it too...lol)...but with work and all....*sigh*....after which I'll let you all know my intentions, and I could move on from there...
:):):)

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its been a course offered and if you are intrested than you should enquire about it in your area...!!!

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hmmm, I'm looking to do the same thing at one point and I was wondering if anyone could reccomend anything to me :)

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I remember the days when I pored over specs and megaHertz and compatibility specs.

Those heady days of trying to squeeze every drop out of not only the system but the wallet too :).

Now my advice is if you want a generic computer for run-of-the-mill tasks, go for a name brand. Honestly you cannot put together a system for as few $ as these guys will sell you a full computer with LCD and OS. I know I've tried many times. All I end up doing is ensuring that they give me an OS (not a recovery disc) and wipe the OS and reinstall to get rid of all the crapware that the OEMs think you need, I will protect my LAN with a linux firewall/router thank you, goodbye 90 day trial of really annoying internet security suite <insert major name here> 200X.

Sorry for the rant, for building systems I'd suggest sticking with well known brands for components as they generally have a good track record. But be warned, even major vendors have lemons for example check out; asus A2N MX-SE (USB support), Nvidia 8400 / 8600 (Overheating), creative labs soundblaster (vista support or lack thereof).

Put everything down on a piece of paper (or spreadsheet for the digital only crowd) and make sure that everything is compatible. IE AMD chip with motherboard that is AMD compatible.

Your choice of MB will influence EVERYTHING from processor to memory to video card(s). Make sure you know what you want.

Things to look for

DDR2 / DDR3 RAM support (depending on processor chosen)
SATA2 support
USB2 support
PCI express video card support

Make sure your hard drive is supported by your motherboard. My recommendation would be SATA2 HDs.

Things to keep in mind.

SLi mother boards work with Nvidia video cards, Crossfire boards work with ATI/AMD cards.

To the pedants out there, yes I know you can put Radeons in an SLi Board and vice-versa but then you're wasting $45 or so for a feature you're not even going to exploit.

There are a lot of good hardware review sites out there that have recommended builds for 3-4 levels of computer from enrty-level to all out insane gaming rig, go, read, compare and plan.

If you have questions ask. And ignore fanbois/grrls they'll make your life miserable if you let them.

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Hey Major Major,

Thanks for the info, but I think I got lost with your jargon...:$ ...please excuse me for my ignorance...but would you care to explain in layman's terms...:)

Thank you kindly...
May

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I'm also looking for an excuse to get more new hardware, but every time I price out motherboard, CPU, RAM, drives , yada....it ends up costing more than just going to WalMart.

Seems like it would just be a lot simpler to buy a low priced unit, paying attention to CPU, socket, and features, and then stuff in more ram and another very large hard drive or two.

Max performance highly optimized gaming system excepted

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Hey Major Major,

Thanks for the info, but I think I got lost with your jargon...:$ ...please excuse me for my ignorance...but would you care to explain in layman's terms...:)

Thank you kindly...
May

Sure no problem.

Start with an idea of what you want to build. Building a games computer with massive video card(s) is completely different to building a stable workstation to do photoshopping on.

There are two major vendors of PC processors: Intel and AMD. They both provide processors that are reasonably priced and there is really little to choose between the two, except for serious high end computing (read games computer or the like). I've got more experience with AMD chips lately than with Intel although Intel holds the speed crown at the moment.

Processors have 2 things that you really have to look out for: Front side bus (FSB) speed and socket type. Make sure that the socket type and FSB speeds are supported by the motherboard you choose.

The motherboard, like I was saying determines pretty much everything in the computer, It will dictate the type and speed of RAM you buy, DDR2 and DDR3 are the most popular types of RAM out now. RAM also comes with speeds. Make sure that the RAM and motherboard have the same clockspeed (this is often dependent on the FSB of the processor but not in all cases).

The motherboard also determines the type of video card you will buy, some motherboards come with onboard video, which is OK if you just want something to surf the web but if you want to play even the occasional game or watch HD movies or the like. you'll want to buy a video card. There are 3 major manufacturers of video card Intel, AMD(ati division) and Nvidia. There are many packagers such as sapphire, bfg etc but they are packaging one of the big three chip manufactures. but I digress.

Most motherboards (MB) will come with at least one PCI Express slot. this is where the video card will go. Be careful here because some, mostly low end, MBs come with AGP slots for video. Also, video cards may have the same name but be AGP/PCIe.

Motherboards generally come with IDE and SATA device chains. IDE is generally reserved for DVD and CD drives these days but you can still add a hard drive(HD) (if you get an IDE or PATA drive). If you choose (and you should) to use a SATA HD ensure that both the MB and HD are SATA2 compatible (again most are), this ensures that you get the most throughput from your HD that you can. A 320GB drive is low cost and offers a good amount of space.

Oh and make sure that your MB comes with USB2 connectors this makes everything that you plug in like your camera or MP3 player or memory stick work at its fastest.

When you're buying a case make sure that everything fits, correct form factor, unless you're buying esoteric components this isn't a problem. If your case doesn't come with a powersupply you'll need one of those too. Make sure that it can cover the electrical budget of your computer (there are calculators a quick search away on the internet) and that it has the correct power connectors for your chosen components (the biggest one here is SATA power connectors).

A lot of this stuff is plug and play now so it's hard to screw up too badly if you do a little due diligence. It sounds hard now but go to your local PC parts emporium and grab a pricesheet or catalogue. read along it and google terms you don't know. read up and you'll be good, don't hesitate to ask.

Some of what I've said here is probably dated (I haven't built a computer in 1 1/2 years) and may sound alarmist. but the best thing you can do for yourself is before you go to buy parts make sure you know what you want. If the guy says to get something else because it's not compatible, listen research some more and make an informed decision. If they try to get you to buy the latest 4 gajillion giga texel video card with super duper go faster stripes, tell them no and probably find a different store.

Wow I'm long winded some times. One more piece of advice have a budget and stick to it, it's easy to get carried away with "it's only $30 more and I get X" when you're in the store.

If you come up with a list of parts upload them here and I'm sure that there'll be people willing to help/tweak/approve of the list if you're unsure.

Votes + Comments
Great explanation :) Thank You..
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Wow, that was superb, I am feeling much more enlightened now...ok, so I'll get a pricesheet and begin to put together a list of parts...I am so excited...:)

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Thanks... I have a set of system specs (it's written down somewhere's....) but when I find it, could someone help me with the compatibility? I've done some homework, but I want to be absolutely sure before I lay down the big bucks for anything.
I'm looking at a gaming rig; I already did some research on several websites (Falcon North-West - around $3000 for what I want, AeonCraft - around $1000 for what I want, WindowPC - around $1300 for what I want)
With this in mind, is it worth just going and getting a pre-built machine? (the prices quoted are on their laptops, btw... if I was going with pre-built I'd go with a laptop)

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Thanks... I have a set of system specs (it's written down somewhere's....) but when I find it, could someone help me with the compatibility? I've done some homework, but I want to be absolutely sure before I lay down the big bucks for anything.
I'm looking at a gaming rig; I already did some research on several websites (Falcon North-West - around $3000 for what I want, AeonCraft - around $1000 for what I want, WindowPC - around $1300 for what I want)
With this in mind, is it worth just going and getting a pre-built machine? (the prices quoted are on their laptops, btw... if I was going with pre-built I'd go with a laptop)

Sure I'll have a look.

To answer your question, pre-built machines are great for desktop/workstation use, a game rig is usually spec'd and built by the person buying it or if there's a good pre-built computer that almost matches your spec a couple of judicious additions (generally RAM and Video Card sometimes a harddrive) will get you on your way. Gaming laptops are a bit different. Laptops don't usually have a lot of swappable components in them so you're pretty much stuck with what you buy, and the parts (if you do have a laptop that has expandability/upgradability you're looking at big bucks).

Stay away from laptops that have a Nvidia 8400/8600 video cards, apparently they are dying in droves.

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Ohhh... I had no idea about the nvidia 8400 & 8600 vid cards... thanks... I'll stay away from them, then =D

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This is what I'm looking at for a motherboard/processor: Asus PCI Express
My dad recommended last year; is it still decent, or do I need something newer if I want to game?

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Ok, this is what I'm going to get (I'm doing up a new list completely based on compatibility) for a motherboard/proc:
Asus M2A-VM AMD Motheboard CPU Bundle - AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Processor 2.30GHz OEM

And… last night while I was looking at video cards I realized, “OMG?! I don’t even know what components go into a computer, or how most of them work!” *forehead/palm* (Well, I do know a fair bit about hard drives, but that’s the extent.)
So, before I look like a total idiot, can someone tell me if this list is right? (I don't speak geek, so if my terminology is off, sorry):

Basic components of a computer:
Media drive (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray)
Sound card
Video card
Motherboard
Processor
Hard drive
Memory (RAM)
Power source
Fans (or a water cooling system)

~Thanks – this is my first project, so I am really, really, really excited, but at the same time very nervous~ =D

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Ok, I can't figure out where to go online to see if something is compatible with something else (yes, I have googled, asked, and webcrawled =D) so, is the
Asus M2A-VM AMD Motheboard CPU Bundle - AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Processor 2.30GHz OEM
compatible with:
XFX GeForce 8600 GT XXX Video Card
or this:
ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro Video Card

Those are the two video cards I'm seriously considering... if they're compatible. I've already decided that the motherboard and processor are the ones I want, I'm just trying to make sure everything is going to work once I get it.

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This board has built-in Video (ATI Radeon) and Audio (ALC883 High Definition Audio 6-channel CODEC):
http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?modelmenu=2&model=1568&l1=3&l2=101&l3=496&l4=0
It also has a PCI Express 16 slot:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express
You don't need a video card, but it should be compatible with PCI Express if you get one.
You're hikjacking a thread here, so start your own to get better feedback.

I know it has a built-in video card, but for what I want to do, the built-in looks like crap (sorry if it isn't) but thanks :)
And I will start a new thread

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I know it has a built-in video card, but for what I want to do, the built-in looks like crap (sorry if it isn't) but thanks :)
And I will start a new thread

Hi,

Actually you are not hijacking a thread, this thread is all about how to build a computer...all are welcome...everyone can learn from everyone here...so you can keep on...

Maydhyam

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Hi,

Actually you are not hijacking a thread, this thread is all about how to build a computer...all are welcome...everyone can learn from everyone here...so you can keep on...

Maydhyam

Actually, he is.
When the questions get specific, it becomes very difficult to keep track of which poster asked which question, hence the rule:"Do not piggyback threads (aka "hijack" threads) by posting your question as a reply to another question."

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Actually, he is.
When the questions get specific, it becomes very difficult to keep track of which poster asked which question, hence the rule:"Do not piggyback threads (aka "hijack" threads) by posting your question as a reply to another question."

Oho, I see...thank you hughv for the reminder...hmmm...oh well...moving along...
:)

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Stay away from laptops that have a Nvidia 8400/8600 video cards, apparently they are dying in droves.

I have an Nvidia 8600 and it's fantastic! I must be lucky :)

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