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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Atlanta, GA

    Question Building your own computer - where to start?

    Hello WHT Forums,

    I have been considering building my own computer for some time now, after noticing that my 2007 iMac is struggling to keep up with day-to-day use now.

    I have long time considered building my own computer, but the hard part is really just getting started! Once you have everything laid out for what you want, it seems like it gets easier (as long as you know what you're doing).

    I was just wondering if any of you who have built your own computers or have knowledge in this type of thing might have any tips or advice for getting started?

    I know I heard of NewEgg as a shopping site for computer parts, but I've never really checked it out.

    Would it be better for me to go in-store (e.g. a Fry's Electronics) or buy online?


  2. #2

    Building a computer is very exiting for me. Almost like Christmas lol. I do recommend newegg that's where I get all my equipment. I guess you should start from the beginning, what type of PC do you want? Do you want a gaming pc, a video processing pc or just a PC to browse the web.

    Once you know that you can then look for what you need. I usually start with the motherboard or CPU. If your having troubles finding what motherboard fits what CPU just use the socket type. Even send me a private message and ill help you along the way.

    Once you get your mobo and cpu picked out, work on your power supply, case, memory, hard drives, cd rom, and graphics card if you want something better then onboard. If you really want to improve the performance get a better heatsink and fan, I have always been told not to use stock CPU heatsinks and fans. Always wanted to try the water cooling systems but nervous because water + pc's dont mix usually lol.

    Anyway, if you have any questions or need help feel free to ask me. If you have skype send me a message with your skype name and ill add you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Here are some steps:

    1) Set a rough budget for your new PC.

    2) Pick a CPU that you like. The new Intel i5 series (socket 1150) are nice. For example the i5-4670 or if you're budget is higher i7-4770.

    3) Pick a main board that you like, one that has the features you want (USB3, expansion, ports, sufficient SATA ports, etc.).

    4) Pick a video card. The HD 4600 GPU on the Intel CPU is just fine for office, coding, web browsing work and movies. If you're a gamer, pick a NVIDIA GPU -- which one depends on your budget, but even a $100 GPU is quite decent.

    5) Pick a chassis that you like optically, that has the ports (USB, audio?) where you want them, etc. Cheap ones are made from very thin metal so I would not recommend them. Pick something decent like an Antec case (but there are many others).

    6) If your case doesn't come with a power supply, pick a decent one with active PFC and high efficiency. It's worth it. Unless you get a power hungry GPU, even a 300W power supply will be sufficient. The new Intel chips need 30-50W at idle (system total), and less 150W under full load ... plus the GPU.

    7) Buy as much RAM as you can afford, at least 8 GB. For desktops most likely you'll be using non-ECC, DDR3 RAM. Check what the board and CPU support.

    8) Pick a hard drive that is sufficiently large. 2TB SATA drives seem like a sweet spot in terms of price, warranty length and reliability. If your budget allows and you want it, also get a SSD for OS and software. If you don't reboot often and have plenty of RAM, then the majority of activity will be served from the RAM cache anyway, so the SSD isn't a huge benefit IMO.

    9) The stock CPU cooler is actually quite OK on the Intel chips because those chips have pretty low TDP and run pretty cool. If the stock one isn't enough for you, you can always change it down the road.

    10) The DVD drive is inexpensive so pick anything you like... for like $25.

    That is more or less it. It's fun.

    PS: If you want a Mac, then you need to go to one of those fancy Apple stores. No assembly required.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by jflory7 View Post
    Would it be better for me to go in-store (e.g. a Fry's Electronics) or buy online?
    If you can match the product, Frys will price match most things (even online). Just throwing that out there.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    I've built a few and will likely build a few more. There's been some fine advice above. But I'm going to throw a couple cents worth in as well.

    Budget - Know how much you want to spend. And knowing how much you want to spend may save you from building one from scratch. You might find something that'll do everything you need in that price range. I'm not trying to discourage you from your first build (don't let the water scare you), I'm just sayin'.

    Case selection, to me, is one of the most important factors when building your pc from scratch. It can have all the best parts inside, but if the outside isn't exactly what you want, you've diminished your efforts immensely.

    My current build started with a Cougar case that had everything I wanted where I wanted it. Some previous builds are in boxes that don't really do anything for me. I hadn't given them thoughts. I just thought, "That seems a really good price!"

    But now that I have this Cougar, it's a box I could live with a long time. In fact, I'm sure it'll out-live me! I may buy different innards and addons, but I'll have this case for the rest of my computing life.

    That's it. That's my advice. That's where I would start.

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    If you want to minimize the headache, but still save some money by building the PC yourself, you could go with one of these DIY kits from Newegg:
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Top Secret
    Quote Originally Posted by SoftWareRevue View Post
    Case selection, to me, is one of the most important factors when building your pc from scratch. It can have all the best parts inside, but if the outside isn't exactly what you want, you've diminished your efforts immensely.
    I agree 100% with this. START with the case. Don't go cheap on it either, by any means. A $150-$200 case should be ideal, and last you for quite some time.

    Just another tip:
    NEVER rely on the PSU supplied in the case. Even that $150-$200 case is going to give you a cheap $25 PSU. This is probably the most important part of your whole rig. If it's not beefy enough, you're screwed. If it shorts out, you're screwed. If it doesn't have enough connections (SATA, etc), you're screwed. If your PSU goes out, chances are you're going to short your board and CPU as well. This means more cost down the road.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by twhiting9275 View Post
    Just another tip:
    NEVER rely on the PSU supplied in the case. Even that $150-$200 case is going to give you a cheap $25 PSU.
    When I went to Fry's case shopping none of them included a power supply, I wonder if they finally got the hint and phased them out? And yes, definitely get a good quality power supply. Whichever you buy, read reviews online.

    As far as actually building the thing, Youtube has a ton of videos that show up close how to assemble all the components. A CPU fan can feel weird to install if you've never done one before. I bought a custom Zalman for mine and kept feeling like I'd snap the thing off when I installed.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    While working with a budget, go with the most cost-effective components. That always provides the most fun out of building a new computer.

    Personally, SSD is always a necessity when I am building a new computer. Whether it is 128GB or 512GB (some SSD do come with I/O improvements for larger capacities), you would still see a tremendous improvement in loading speeds over the traditional mechanical hard drive.

    In recent years I have found interest in AMD processors as they seem to have the best performace to cost ratio:

    Also, depending on your usage, you may not need a graphics card and that can save quite a fair bit of costs. The AMD-APU series is something that impressed me greatly when comparing integrated graphics performance.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    I generally buy my parts from new egg. I don't think it breaks any rules if not ill tomorrow post up some links from new egg on a case and other parts I would recommend.

    I agree with the post above AMD is the best bang for your buck perfomace to cost. I highly recommend water cooling anymore. Corsair makes some really nice systems that you don't need to worry about leaking.

  11. #11
    All said well.

    1) Software's requirements for hardware:
    I think that the first thing you should do is to check out your software that you are planning on using for hardware requirements before getting in to any of the parts and pieces.

    Once you have the hardware requirements pinned out, the hardware selection becomes easier.

    2) Compatibility issues
    Once you know the hardware requirements, you would need to make sure that you have the compatible parts.
    It may help you to check out configurations on-line to make sure you are getting compatible parts. For example you can check out NEQX web-site for configurations.

    3) One stop shopping;
    If you have not build a system before, it may be best to order them all from one company that offers all the parts. You can also ask them to see if the parts are compatible with each other and if they have any recommendations. They may even throw in free assembly.

    4) post check:
    It may be a good idea to test the motherboard, CPU, memory combination outside the chassis prior to installation. You can connect the video card and the power supply along with the CPU and the memory to see if you have a boot screen. if you do, at least you know that you have parts that are posting.

    Depending on what kind of CPU you have, you may have to watch out how to install the CPU on the board, and make sure you are not bending the pins whether they are on the board or on the CPU.

    5) Installation:
    Please, make sure that the motherboard is installed to the chassis with all the nuts and bolts without any grounding issues! Some motherboard do come with a film that you can install between the motherboard and the chassis. That ensures that you are not grounding the motherboard.

    Good luck!

  12. #12
    Off course,I do agree.Building own computer is better..

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