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Windows 7: Building a Own System (or Bare Bones System)

01 Jun 2011   #1

windows 7 pro
Building a Own System (or Bare Bones System)

I have been aiming to design my own hardware system for 4 years.
Last year I amplified that goal and almost started the project. I had made shopping cart lists of essential parts (cpu, gpu, motherboard, ram,hd, cooling,case, and the like).
Unfortunately, I got snagged for financial reasons and uncertainty on hardware compatibility of some of the components.
So I compromised by triple-booting ubuntu, windows 7 home prem, and mac os on a pre-existing imac. While the experimenting with multiple OSes was grand (and enjoyable), I am very unsatisfied with apple products (their babylike interface, heinously overpriced, locked-down OS, plus I just don't care for the apple company) and need to get a new setup.

My alternatives are:
  1. a high quality laptop (with some kind of multiple monitor configuration (the addons and software for that I have researched fairly well)
  2. a pre-built rig (almost certainly Dell)
  3. building my own Bare Bones System or From Scratch

Because of the enjoyment, learning, and personal (and possibly professional) rewards, not to mention that I think it's about time considering how long I've used computers and my considerable interest in them, IF the bare bones system worked (and I've heard of incompatibility problems) just as well or better than the two other options, I'd much rather do #3, building one from scratch.

So, aside from typically unhelpful tutorials and looking at system specs (like I so alphanumeric's, which looked quality in parts) not sure how to go about this, but this forum was incredibly informative for at least one thread, so I posted here.

Initial question(s) is what's the best way to have a very clear accessible bit of data (like a table of known (in)compatibilities with hardware components?

For example, many cpus won't work with certain motherboards, correct?
Will only certain ram work for certain motherboards?
How do you know which cooling system is powerful enough for givne cpu(s) and hd and other component heat?

This is a project that I value, and IF I can get affordable high-quality parts AND they al compatible and it works, will be rewarding. Additionally, DIY and desinging a system from scratch is very congruent to how I operate.

I have some minimums such as:
1 (ideally 1.5 tb) HD
6gb+ Kingston ram
Was eyeing Eyefinity graphics card (6 ports), but it's price seems a bit out of range.
Intel (ideally i7) cpu

I also realize that some companies (like dell) basically just assemble computers from different manufacturers making it like an assembled machine. However, the benefit to the bbs would be the reward of diy, technological learning, and customization, so this is obviously something I value, but buying parts and having them not work is probably the main impeding fear.

What's the best way to have crisply defined compatibility/incompatibilities with parts? Thanks a ton.

I guess ideal responses would be people who have experience successfully building their own bbs.

also, I am not too clear on a bare bones system and building one from scratch. Sounds like a BBS is in between building one from scratch and buying one pre-assembled.

How does one pick out some of the components (like a case or motherboard)? Aside from a few brands (like asus) that I like, some components I am uncertain on how to pick one out.

Learning more about the componens will probably be decisively informative.

RAM, CPU,and HD are components of which I am more familiar, so selecting those is simple. I'd prefer to build a system from scratch, but it sounds like a BBS takes care fo the case, cooling, power supply, and mother board (is that correct?)?

For example, let's say I decide on a motherboard (likely asus) that is compatible with an i7 that I select. how do I know which case and cooling and power systme will be compatible with that motherboard and cpu?

Or (a more detailed question) the asus P8H61-M motherboard - ASUS P8H61-M (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel H61 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard says it has an audio chipset of Realtek ALC887. Does that mean that I will be set for audio (I won't need to get any other audio components?) Thanks a ton.

I've heard a lot about component incompatibilites (which was a deterrent to doing this project).

To avoid the obstacle of costs and incompatibilies, instead of buying all parts simultaneously (the way I incorrectly thought it had to be done), I plan to buy the motherboard, then another component or two, and then get the components over time (the gradual purchasing is primarily cost-related but also incrementally getting the parts is more appealing and doing so anchors the project because if I have a few of the parts (like motherboard and ram), then I have at least a core to build upon)

I realize this thread may be out of the scope of this forum. If so, I will simply repost it elsewhere.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jun 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

You don't need tables or documentation to build a system. My brother-in-law, for example, built his own with no prior experience. he asked me a few questions, and did the research on his own. First, choose your processor. Do you want Intel or AMD? Then choose a series, like Sandy Bridge. That will dictate what motherboard chipset you need. Once you do choose a motherboard, you'll know what memory, video card, and hard drives you can use. Choose those, add in a case, optical drive, and good power supply, and you are done.

Then, total it up, look at your budget, and adjust the processor as necessary...maybe going up a step or down. Other components can be adjusted as well, like maybe a lesser video card for a nonn-gamer, in exchange for more memory.

You are getting FAR to hung up on compatibility. Cases, for example, can handle most motherboards, unless you buy a full ATX motherboard and expect it to fit in a MicroATX case.

Honestly, building a system from scratch, in terms of compatibility, is very simple. Tweaking it to fit a specific budget is where any difficulities will arise.

I've built over a hundred systems, and even my wife, who's now an entry-level IT worker, built two of her own before getting into I.T. A place like Newegg helps you refine your searches down, compare many options, and build a wish list to watch costs. Compatibility isn't an issue if you take the time to read the descriptions. You can't buy an AMD processor and expect it to work in an Intel chipset board, obviously. But, it isn't like some memory brands won't work with some motherboard models. As long as you buy the right type of memory to go with your board, you are fine. It's far easier than you are making the project out to be.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jun 2011   #3
Microsoft MVP

Windows 10 Education 64 bit

I went bare bones mainly because I had limited finances. I didn't want to buy my PC one piece at a time and find out something wasn't compatible or was defective latter on down the road when I finally got it all together. If you buy a bare bones kit, whats in the box should all be compatible. I started with this:

MotherBoard - Asus M2N68-AM SE2 µATX Motherboard
Processor - 2.60GHz AMD Athlon II X4 620 Quad Core
Ram - 2GB Ultra PC5400 DDR2 667MHz Memory
Hard Drive - 250 Gig WesternDigital IDE
Video - NVIDIA GeForce 7025 Shared video memory (UMA)
Sound - ALC662 High Definition Audio 6-channel Onboard
NIC - NVIDIA nForce 10/100 Mbps Onboard
Power Supply - Extreme ATX 450 Watt Model No. RSY-645
OS - Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
Case - Power Up Black ATX Mid Tower

Latter on I added a NVIDIA Geforce GT 220 1024 Meg PCIe Video Card, upgraded the hard drive to a 500 GB SATA II. Eventually I swapped in an Asus M4N68T-M V2 µATX Motherboard and 8GB 4GB X 2 Kingston PC10600 DDR3 1333MHz Memory. When I finally manage to upgrade my processor the Athlon II will go back in the M2N68T-M and I'll have a backup system. I can't afford to buy the latest and greatest, but I have to say I'm happy with what I have. It does what I want and plays the games i want to play.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

01 Jun 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

As long as you understand some basics about hardware, you won't have to worry much about incompatibilities with hardware. That's a very vague statement, so let me break it down a bit.

First, you have to decide what type of CPU you want. AMD or Intel.

Second, you have choose which version of your preferred vendors CPU you want. For example, lets say that you decide to go with Intel, and you choose a Core i5-2500K CPU because it offers great performance for ~$225. Well, if you hit a site like NewEgg and pick that CPU, you will get the following page; - Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K
Now, click on the Details tab in the middle. Under CPU Socket type, you will find that this particular CPU requires a CPU socket type of LGA 1155. This tells you that you need an LGA 1155 socket type motherboard to plug in the CPU.

So, now you go to Motherboards. If you are on NewEgg, you can sort by Intel boards (since you picked an Intel chip) and then you can further sort by LGA 1155 since that is what you need. At this point, the rest is all personal preference. Do you want multiple video cards and need an SLI board, or can you run with a single video card? Do you need USB 3.0 or not? Once you find your board, click on Details and you will see the type of RAM that it needs. You can then find suitable RAM based on what the motherboard accepts.

There are sites out there which will help you determine how large of a power supply you need, I use this one;

As far as CPU cooling, I usually buy a retail CPU and it comes with a cooler. Unless you plan to overclock the CPU, you can usually just stick with that and be just fine. Heck, I even overclock a bit on the stock cooler.

For buying a case, it's all a matter of preference. Nearly all cases are ATX form factor, so as long as you get an ATX motherboard, or a micro ATX motherboard, it will fit in an ATX case.

And lastly, once you got some idea of what you want, post it here and we will all be able to provide feedback and such to ensure that you don't get 2 incompatible parts somehow.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jun 2011   #5
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Pro X64/Linux Mint

Another suggestion. As PParks1 said Newegg is a good place to look for parts, even if you buy them somewhere else. When you pick for example, the CPU as PParks1 said click on the details page but also click on the feedback page. Take your time and read all the feedback. You can learn quite a bit about the components of a system. The same goes for motherboards, graphics cards and all other components. Many of the posters on the feedback pages post their system components. You can get a good idea of compatible components. Also, when you choose a motherboard look up the motherboard on the manuf. site. They will post a QVL (Qualified Vendors List) whis is a list of components that have been tested with that motherboard. You are not linited by a QVL list, but it will tell you some of the specs that work with the board.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jun 2011   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

PParks has given you good advice.

I'd add this:

If you build from scratch, you SHOULD buy your parts all at once. You don't want to buy a motherboard in June and have it sit on your shelf for 3 months while you buy other parts. New parts are being introduced constantly and the motherboard you bought in June may not be your first choice in October when you finally have all of your parts together. And you want to avoid having new but defective parts awaiting installation when you don't even know they are defective because you have no way to test them.

I'd make decisions in this order:

1: Intel or AMD based system?
2: Bare bones or build from scratch; if you choose to build continue with the following:
3: Choose CPU based on your budget and what you intend to do with the PC
4: Choose motherboard compatible with CPU and graphics requirements
5: Choose RAM known to be compatible with motherboard/CPU
6: Choose graphics card if you intend to use one. Some CPUs have built-in graphics
7: Choose CPU cooler if you are not going to use stock retail cooler
8: Choose drives and any remaining components
9: Choose power supply to power all of the above
10: Choose case that will accommodate above components (ATX or Micro ATX?)

I probably left something out, but that's the general order.

Another way to get a list of presumably compatible components is to look at the system specs of experienced builders on this forum. Many of them will show brand names and model numbers of recently built working systems for both Intel and AMD.

Get a feel for the better brands in each of the major components, particularly PSU, RAM, and motherboard. You are going to have to choose between AMD and Intel for the CPU.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jun 2011   #7

Ubuntu 12.10

I suggest you buy an AMD processor, you can buy the top end Six-Core Processor for around 200 bucks. - AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition Thuban 3.3GHz, 3.7GHz Turbo 6 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor HDE00ZFBGRBOX

What are you going to be doing on your PC? You do not need more than 4GB of RAM, more than that is just simply overkill.

Compatibility is nothing to be worried about. Just pick your processor first, than motherboard, than graphics card, and then make sure everything else you get can fit into your motherboard (600W PSU recommended).

Yes, if your motherboard says it has an audio chipset then Audio is set. don't buy pre-built, they are overpriced and cheap unless you pay a lot more than it is worth (the PC).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jun 2011   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by SlasherIT View Post
I suggest you buy an AMD processor, you can buy the top end Six-Core Processor for around 200 bucks.
And I would say if you are going to pay $200 for the 1100T AMD processor, at least look at the Intel Core i5-2500, which is only $209 and in "most" benchmarks, outperforms the 6 core AMD...even though the Intel is only 4 cores. - Intel Core i5-2500 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jun 2011   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by SlasherIT View Post
I suggest you buy an AMD processor, you can buy the top end Six-Core Processor for around 200 bucks.
True, but it gets trounced by Intel processors around the same cost. No one is truly going to be able to make a processor suggestion, except the OP, based on needs and budget. If the budget is very low, AMD is a possible option. If the budget isn't so constrained, then Intel would definitely be the way to go. Once you get out of the low-end, budget procs, AMD starts falling behind.

Personally, I prefer Intel procs for one reason...Intel chipsets. The Intel chipsets tend to be super-stable and the easiest to work with for an install, especially for someone new to the OS install game.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jun 2011   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

From my experiences, sometimes a complte barebones kit is not really a good deal.
Note "Sometimes"

For example, you may get 2GB or 4Gb of cheaper memory in the kit, and its only 1 stick .. meaning just single channel.
Or a offbrand, cheap Power Supply. Just pay attention to what you are getting.

Before you settle on one of these kits I would suggest you shop around a bit.

For example, take a look at New Egg.
many times you can decide on a CPU for example. If you look through the combo deals, there may be a Motherboard you like with a discount for purchasing both.

Same with HardDrives and Windows .. Or Power Supplys/GPUs/ Memory etc.

If you spend a bit of time looking at the deals, and assemble it all yourself, many times you can come out cheaper ... or even the same price with higher quality parts.

Also, as mentioned what you use your PC for the most will be the deciding factor on where to to focus budget.

For example, if you are really into gaming, it may be worth sacrificing a bit on CPU/RAM (For example a step down on CPU and 4GB RAm rather than 8GB) and put as much as you can of the budget towards a Graphics Card.

If on the other hand, you do little Gaming, but want to do alot of Video Encoding for example (or any other CPU/Memory intensive task), youll likely be better of sacrificing a bit in the Graphics Card Dept. and focus your budget more towards Raw CPU power and RAM.

Regardles what system you build, one thing you should keep in mind.
The Power Supply is the lifes Blood of the entire system. You do not want to skimp here.

And Im not saying go spend $500 for a 1500W Power Supply. Im saying get a good quality one.
My suggestion would be stick with Corsair, Seasonic, or Antec.

The Motherboard itself is important as well. I would suggest looking into Gigabyte or ASUS. They are typically dependable, and easy to work with.

In terms of RAM, dont overlook GSkill. The make very good RAM modules, and can be priced quite competitively.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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