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Windows 7: Requesting tips on building PCs

29 May 2010   #11
A Guy

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1
 
 

I have to tell you, it's not overly hard to build your own PC, but based on your last post...will you have a PC savvy person to help? No offense. If you don't know what a CPU looks like, then how are you going to know how to correctly apply thermal compound to your CPU cooler, amongst other things. Just my 2 cents.

Now, iBuyPower...I have to say, at 1st I was looking at them and CyberpowerPC...until I started researching them and seeing what people had to say about them. They seem to be hit or miss, either you get a great system and love it, or you get a pile of trouble. many posts of them subbing parts without asking, trouble getting repairs, etc. Here, read some posts at Reselleratings, looks like mostly positive reviews lately. Their prices are certainly good:

iBUYPOWER.COM - ibuypower.com - Reviews, Ratings and Prices at ResellerRatings

BBB rating

BBB Business Review of iBuyPower.com - Computer Dealers Retail - El Monte, CA

iBUYPOWER: High Performance Custom Gaming Computers and Notebooks

CyberpowerPC (quite possibly the same company it is said)

CyberPower PC. - Custom Built Gaming PC and Gaming Laptops

CyberPower / cyberpowerpc.com / cyberpowersystem.com - cyberpowerinc.com - Reviews, Ratings and Prices at ResellerRatings

BBB Business Review of Cyberpower, Inc. - Computer Dealers Retail - Baldwin Park, CA

I made the decision not to go with them because of their reputations, and my ever escalating build quality (lol, I went overkill). Just some food for thought. A Guy

Have a look here:

http://desktop-computers.avadirect.c...AM3_Desktop_PC
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #12
smarteyeball

 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by A Guy View Post
I have to tell you, it's not overly hard to build your own PC, but based on your last post...will you have a PC savvy person to help? No offense. If you don't know what a CPU looks like, then how are you going to know how to correctly apply thermal compound to your CPU cooler, amongst other things. Just my 2 cents.
I also don't wish to offend either, but I have to echo Guy's statement/questions. Either have someone knowledgeable on hand for a complete scratch build, or have someone/ some company build it for you.

It is not difficult to build a PC, but it can certainly be daunting for first timers. It also makes troubleshooting in case something doesn't work properly that much more difficult.

The best way to learn how to recognize individual components is to view newegg / google/bing images.

EXAMPLE:
Newegg.com - Motherboard, Asus Motherboard, Gigabyte Motherboard, MSI Motherboard, Intel Motherboard, Motherboard Reviews

Newegg.com - Intel CPU, AMD CPU, Intel Processor, AMD Processor, Intel Core i7, AMD Phenom


Quote:
**Also, when working on computers, is it really necessary to wear static-electricity eliminating gear? Because I fiddle with the inside of my pc all the time and it works just fine.**
No.

However taking simple precautions such as not rubbing static inducing shoes on carpet floors prior to directly touching components is advisable.

When removing / installing components, don't place them on carpets, blankets etc (anything that can create static basically).

If in doubt, touch something metal like a screwdriver or even the case prior to 'fiddling'.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #13
FLaTLiN3D

MS Windows 7 HP 64Bit
 
 

Thank you for all your help! A Guy, that link was very interesting, the one where you can choose the parts yourself.... I am "computer savvy" in most aspects, I simply haven't had the required tools and income to become skilled in the hardware portion of computers, everything else I can do... Are you saying that it would be a better choice to build it on hardwood floors instead of carpeting? Makes sense to me.

My problem isn't so much as recognizing the parts, it's figuring out where they go in the motherboard, does it matter? Or is it just wherever the cords fit?? Am I making this more complicated than what it really is?

Does the case really effect the outcome of the computer that much or is it basically just visual? Apart from the number of drives that can be mounted. Is bigger better with cases? So I could fit more HDDs or does it really not matter? I guess I would only really need one HDD if I'm getting a new computer because it would most likely be a TB hard drive.

That last link you provided, A Guy, is very useful indeed.... However I'm still not sure which parts are better than others.... Like.... I don't know the difference between
AMD, Sempron 140 2.7GHz, AM3, HT 1600MHz, 1MB L2 cache, 45W, 45nm, retail
and
AMD, Athlon II X2 215 Dual-Core 2.7GHz, Am3, HT 4000MHz, 1MB cache, 65W, 45nm, OEM

The second one costs more so I assume it's higher quality. But I don't like going by "if it costs more, it must be better"..... Could you help me figure out what those numbers REALLY mean? I understand that GHz is gigahertz, MHz is megahertz, and so on... But I'm not really sure what it means to have 4000MHz.... Do you know what I mean?

Also with cooling systems... Am I to believe that the higher quality parts I have, the higher quality cooling system I shall require? Are liquid cooling systems safe? I'm not sure how they work but can they spill or what? Can they possibly render computers useless if you... tip them on their sides? Or how does that work?

And what if I buy a part that doesn't fit onto the motherboard? Like a cooling system, they're all different shapes and sizes, how do I decide whether or not it would fit and properly work? Measure my parts?

*^*I was looking at parts, and I noticed some of the network cards say "32 Bit" does this mean I would have to use a 32Bit OS to use this part?

Also, is thermal grease required when I have a decent cooling system?


I came up with this combination for only 524$.... Would I be getting what I'm paying for?But more importantly, would these items work together with minimal hassle? Basic Configuration
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

29 May 2010   #14
danpass

Win 7 64 Pro
 
 

As far as connectors go, the modern stuff is very nearly plug and play, it will only fit in one spot. Sometimes though there are two or more spots (like USB connections on the motherboard) and there could be slight differences. Not sure if it was the card reader but plugging into one USB area was the low speed and the other spot was the high speed.

Sometimes it may fit but you don't want to use that connection, such as with onboard sound options.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #15
FLaTLiN3D

MS Windows 7 HP 64Bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by danpass View Post
As far as connectors go, the modern stuff is very nearly plug and play, it will only fit in one spot. Sometimes though there are two or more spots (like USB connections on the motherboard) and there could be slight differences. Not sure if it was the card reader but plugging into one USB area was the low speed and the other spot was the high speed.

Sometimes it may fit but you don't want to use that connection, such as with onboard sound options.
Would this computer come with the basic things in the back of it? Places to plug in monitors, USB ports, Ethernet hub... that kind of thing... Or would i have to install it? O____O That would suck.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #16
johnwillyums

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Hmmn. The answer to a lot of your questions is yes.
It does matter a great deal where you stick things on the motherboard, if you put them in the wrong place either it won't work or you will ruin some expensive stuff you've paid good money for.
A case is not just for looks, it affects the efficiency of your cooling system and is important in terms of having the possibility of upgrading in the future. A 1TB hard drive may seem a lot but is soon filled if you put a lot of software and games plus media files on it.
Also, you want to game right? You need to think hard about your graphics card. Your ability to play new, complex and demanding games depends on both the power of your CPU and your graphics card.
The more powerful CPUs and graphics cards require more power (PSU) and produce more heat, hence the need for a case with good cooling properties and a good cooler for your CPU.
I agree that just because something costs more it's better is not necessarily true but in general it is.
There is a great deal of difference between an AMD Sempron and an AMD Athlon II. So much so that I could write pages on it.
The CPU cooler sits on top of the CPU. Thermal grease or paste enables the cooler to transfer heat to the cooler where it is cooled by fans blowing through a block of metal fins. It is essential.
You're running a 32 bit OS at the moment. If you intend upgrading to 64 bit you need compatible parts.
I wouldn't even think of watercooling. It is complicated and expensive and only really necessary if you are seriously overclocking top range components (CPU and GPU).
I looked at your basic configuration and it looks ok but I notice you have not included an optical drive. How you going to load your games?

All in all I have to agree with Smartey and A Guy. You don't seem to be ready for this yet. I hate to say that because a lot of my friends didn't think I could build my own computer and I did it, but I think I had more idea than you do right now. I had done lots of hardware upgrades to my existing pc-swapped out the motherboard, fitted a new CPU and cooler, upgraded RAM etc.
Also I had been reading PC magazines for years, studying complicated tutorials online and really working hard on understanding how pcs work. I had been reading this forum (and Vista forum) religiously for years. Reading threads I could barely understand and then looking stuff up until I could. It took a lot of study basically.
I'm really sorry to rain on your parade but I'm worried that if you go ahead you'll end up trashing a load of expensive parts.
If I were you I would go to a quality online pc builder. Look at their configuration in your price range and read up on comparisons of the various components.
Then either order what you want or go to a local pc builder and have it built for you.
I did this a few years ago. I decided on the parts I wanted, costed them and took a list in to a local pc shop.
The guy made a few suggestions for changes, which I had already considered anyway, and gave me a price for the build.
I had costed just under 800 for components and he charged me 60 to build it, install the OS and give me a guarantee.
I'm not sure where you are but if you let us know people can recommend companies to do business with.
If you go this route, continue to take part in this forum and study up on the basics then you can upgrade your pc a few times and build the next one yourself.
I really would not attempt it if you don't know where to stick things on the motherboard, sorry.

Best wishes, John
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #17
Carl Lawrence

Dual-boot: Windows 7 HP 32-bit SP1 & Windows XP Pro 32-bit SP2.
 
 

This website might help you: Build Your Own PC (Personal Computer)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #18
FLaTLiN3D

MS Windows 7 HP 64Bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by johnwillyums View Post
Hmmn. The answer to a lot of your questions is yes.
It does matter a great deal where you stick things on the motherboard, if you put them in the wrong place either it won't work or you will ruin some expensive stuff you've paid good money for.
A case is not just for looks, it affects the efficiency of your cooling system and is important in terms of having the possibility of upgrading in the future. A 1TB hard drive may seem a lot but is soon filled if you put a lot of software and games plus media files on it.
Also, you want to game right? You need to think hard about your graphics card. Your ability to play new, complex and demanding games depends on both the power of your CPU and your graphics card.
The more powerful CPUs and graphics cards require more power (PSU) and produce more heat, hence the need for a case with good cooling properties and a good cooler for your CPU.
I agree that just because something costs more it's better is not necessarily true but in general it is.
There is a great deal of difference between an AMD Sempron and an AMD Athlon II. So much so that I could write pages on it.
The CPU cooler sits on top of the CPU. Thermal grease or paste enables the cooler to transfer heat to the cooler where it is cooled by fans blowing through a block of metal fins. It is essential.
You're running a 32 bit OS at the moment. If you intend upgrading to 64 bit you need compatible parts.
I wouldn't even think of watercooling. It is complicated and expensive and only really necessary if you are seriously overclocking top range components (CPU and GPU).
I looked at your basic configuration and it looks ok but I notice you have not included an optical drive. How you going to load your games?

All in all I have to agree with Smartey and A Guy. You don't seem to be ready for this yet. I hate to say that because a lot of my friends didn't think I could build my own computer and I did it, but I think I had more idea than you do right now. I had done lots of hardware upgrades to my existing pc-swapped out the motherboard, fitted a new CPU and cooler, upgraded RAM etc.
Also I had been reading PC magazines for years, studying complicated tutorials online and really working hard on understanding how pcs work. I had been reading this forum (and Vista forum) religiously for years. Reading threads I could barely understand and then looking stuff up until I could. It took a lot of study basically.
I'm really sorry to rain on your parade but I'm worried that if you go ahead you'll end up trashing a load of expensive parts.
If I were you I would go to a quality online pc builder. Look at their configuration in your price range and read up on comparisons of the various components.
Then either order what you want or go to a local pc builder and have it built for you.
I did this a few years ago. I decided on the parts I wanted, costed them and took a list in to a local pc shop.
The guy made a few suggestions for changes, which I had already considered anyway, and gave me a price for the build.
I had costed just under 800 for components and he charged me 60 to build it, install the OS and give me a guarantee.
I'm not sure where you are but if you let us know people can recommend companies to do business with.
If you go this route, continue to take part in this forum and study up on the basics then you can upgrade your pc a few times and build the next one yourself.
I really would not attempt it if you don't know where to stick things on the motherboard, sorry.

Best wishes, John
I didn't include optical drives because I already have some that I could use. I did plan on upgrading to 64 Bit... I realize that I shouldn't assemble it myself just yet, that's why I was customizing it online... It would come all pre-assembled wouldn't it...? How do I determine the strength of the PSU that I need with all my parts? Even if I do wind up destroying some equipment, doesn't really matter to me... Money really has no value to me. I would learn from the experience and that's what matters most to me...

Even if I don't wind up building it myself... I would still like to have some sort of customization.... Do you think that's a good idea or should I simply buy one stock from Newegg? Also, on that 'Basic Configuration' would all of those parts work on a 64 bit system? And is the PSU powerful enough?
I simply NEED to upgrade from this pile of junk that I have now. Check my system specs, it's sad.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #19
HMonk

Dual boot XP Pro SP3x86 and Win7 Pro x64
 
 

@Flatlin3d:

As is the case with so many things in life, the question, "What is the best thing to do," in all of its forms, piques as many different responses as there are responders.

I have always been served best by doing what I want for my reasons, confined only by the resources that are available to me at any given time which assumes the following priority:

1. No mater what you want or what is best, your budget will dictate your choices. So, if someone suggests you get that n-core processor that has a blazing n-Hz speed - that costs $1200 - and you cannot afford it, what matter is it that it is the best thing to do?

2. What is going to be the PRIMARY use of your machine? If you play games on the weekends for a few hours but spend 90% of your time on the Net surfing, messaging, reading emails, etc., what will work best for you 90% of the time?

3. Research. But research what: what is the best? No. First research/learn what the components do and how they interact. Too often you read forum posts that evaluate components in the abstract or in a vacuum. "This gizmo is capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound." Fortunately, after a bit of research, you learn that leaping tall buildings is of no practical use playing "Call of Duty," e.g., and you wisely decide you do not need the gizmo. More significantly, you learn that many components are incompatible with other components. For example, you cannot place an ABC socket CPU into an XYZ socket mobo.

4. Because of the dependency of one component on another, where does one start? CPUs dictate or otherwise limit one's choices of a mobo - or - mobos dictate or limit one's choices of a CPU. Since these two components serve as the brain and skeleton on which your system will be built, one or the other is the only viable starting point for me. To be sure, you can decide upon any other aspect/feature of any other component as being the most important: it's a matter of preferences.

5. Before you make any final decisions, almost every mfr make component specs and manuals readily available for DLs. In conjunction with your research, these documents will tell you if the component will serve your needs and guide you during the installation process.

6. Finally, if you do enough research, you will, usually, be able to glean a consensus, which recognizes that fact that "one person's food is another's poison"; if the majority of users are being poisoned, you might consider dining elsewhere.

What do I do:

1. First choose CPU (brain): what, whose. For my very specific reasons, which are not germane to this thread, per se, I ALWAYS choose AMD. Here, rather than trying to be provocative, I anticipate rejoinders to the contrary, which will enforce my point that everyone has their own/borrowed opinions. The question that needs to be answered is always, "What do you want?"

2. Next I choose mobo (skeleton): which, whose? Your choices are greatly narrowed due to the fact that the mobo must be able to accept the CPU. For very specific reasons, I ALWAYS choose ASUS. Why? Doesn't matter. Here, however, you have any number of mfrs from which to choose. How on earth do you decide between 10 different mfrs of, apparently, the same mobo? Your research will point out the differences between these "same" mobos, as well as their reliability, warranty, costs, and other factors that your research may alert you to.

3. Next I choose gfx card. As in the case of mobos, a large number of mfrs make the "same" cards. I ALWAYS choose ATi for very specific reasons. That helps but now whose? By the way, are you considering an SLI or XFire array? That might greatly influence your choice of card(s). And, do you realize that many cards are so large as to block the use of two or three expansion slots. Planning on a number of PCIe cards? They all going to fit?

4. Next I choose RAM. This choice is largely dictated by the mobo, the CPU a secondary influence. A factor many people do not realize is that regardless of the RAM's rated maximum speed, the mobo may step it down to a lesser "maximum" speed depending. On what? Research. My mobo does that in some cases.

5. Next I choose a PSU. First question: how many watts? Whose? Modular or not? The PSU must have sufficient power to drive your system. You can go to any number of sites that allow you to list your components upon which a minimum wattage value will be calculated for you. Is this a valid approach? Many researchers agree that people often overpower their machines. My favorite example is a house service panel. You may have a 200A panel but if you add up all of the breakers you have 300A worth. You underpowered? No. The electric company/builder know that people do not use every light/receptacle simultaneously. So too with computing: all of my components are not under a maximum load at the same time.

6. Of course, all of this stuff has to fit into a case - whose options are legion.

7. Next I choose the monitor; talk about legion. There are hundreds of monitor mfrs, sizes, resolutions, types, matte v. glossy screens (each addresses different applications), type of connectors (Sub-D, DVI, DVI-D, dual layer DVI), etc., etc., etc. Research

8. Finally, I cannot remember his name but an MIT prof, several years back, accurately noted a principle that applies to computer obsolescence (the ? principle) which observed that, what is new today, becomes obsolete after six months. A question I always answer for myself is, "How long do I wish to use this computer before I have/want to upgrade." I responded to a post a few days ago to a man who was happy with his machine that he got - seven years ago. What makes you happy?

Way back when in this thread A Guy said, "research, research, research." Couldn't agree more.

One more thing: the actual mechanics of computer building is 98% mystique and 2% being able to plug tab A into slot A.

Monk


My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #20
Lordbob75

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, Mint 9
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FLaTLiN3D View Post
Thank you for all your help! A Guy, that link was very interesting, the one where you can choose the parts yourself.... I am "computer savvy" in most aspects, I simply haven't had the required tools and income to become skilled in the hardware portion of computers, everything else I can do... Are you saying that it would be a better choice to build it on hardwood floors instead of carpeting? Makes sense to me.
Yes. You need to discharge static from your body, but NOT INTO YOUR COMPUTER. It WILL destroy something (I blew out a motherboard and CPU this way).
When I work on mine, I DO NOT wear rubber soled shoes (they insulate you, you need to be grounded), and I hook a static band to the case. You don't need the static band, you can just touch the case.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FLaTLiN3D View Post
My problem isn't so much as recognizing the parts, it's figuring out where they go in the motherboard, does it matter? Or is it just wherever the cords fit?? Am I making this more complicated than what it really is?
More or less there is only one spot something will fit, and only one way. For instance, RAM usually will have 4-8 slots, but the sticks will only fit in ONE way. HOWEVER, you WILL need to read your mobo manual to know which slots to use first. Generally RAM is dual or triple channel (which means 2 or 3 sticks at a time), and they need to be put into slots 1 and 2 (and 3) to work correctly.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FLaTLiN3D View Post
Does the case really effect the outcome of the computer that much or is it basically just visual? Apart from the number of drives that can be mounted. Is bigger better with cases? So I could fit more HDDs or does it really not matter? I guess I would only really need one HDD if I'm getting a new computer because it would most likely be a TB hard drive.
The case is both. You can buy a really nice looking case that has terrible cooling (which is generally rare) or a bad looking case with just fine cooling. I like a cool case (see my thread on it), but a boring one can be fully functional.
Size only matters if you have a LARGE video card (HD5770, 260GTX, etc), and want to put a lot of HDDs, CD drives, etc in it. I tend to only like the full tower cases, I am sick of small ones, too hard to work with. But it is a personal choice.
The case can make a difference with cooling though. If you get one that is fully enclosed with no fans, it will hold heat, which isn't good. You want one that comes with a few fans to move air at the very least.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FLaTLiN3D View Post
That last link you provided, A Guy, is very useful indeed.... However I'm still not sure which parts are better than others.... Like.... I don't know the difference between
AMD, Sempron 140 2.7GHz, AM3, HT 1600MHz, 1MB L2 cache, 45W, 45nm, retail
and
AMD, Athlon II X2 215 Dual-Core 2.7GHz, Am3, HT 4000MHz, 1MB cache, 65W, 45nm, OEM

The second one costs more so I assume it's higher quality. But I don't like going by "if it costs more, it must be better"..... Could you help me figure out what those numbers REALLY mean? I understand that GHz is gigahertz, MHz is megahertz, and so on... But I'm not really sure what it means to have 4000MHz.... Do you know what I mean?
Well... As a general rule, yes.
The first CPU there is a single core, and the second is a dual core (the X2). 4000MHz is 4GHz (1000MHz to a GHz)
When you look at a processor, the clock speed actually matters less than they push. What you want to look for is a solid clock speed (3.5GHz for single core, 3GHz for dual, 2.5GHz for quad), with a good Front Side Bus (FSB), L1 L2 and L3 cache. These will all factor into your processor speed. If you intend to overclock (ever) make sure to get an unlocked CPU (which means you can increase the clock speed).

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FLaTLiN3D View Post
Also with cooling systems... Am I to believe that the higher quality parts I have, the higher quality cooling system I shall require? Are liquid cooling systems safe? I'm not sure how they work but can they spill or what? Can they possibly render computers useless if you... tip them on their sides? Or how does that work?
No. The high quality fans cost about the same as the low quality ones, but perform differently. The fans are determined by your case. If you case has mounts for 4 120MM fans, then you need 120mm fans. When you look at fans, look for high Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) and RPM. If you care about noise (I don't) then you want a low decibel fan (dBA).
Bearing type doesn't matter unless you have a purpose for it.

Liquid cooling is something I am considering, and yes it is safe if done right. However, a good base system for JUST CPU is around $250 to start.
If it spills, then yes it can ruin your computer (water is conductive). Tipping them SHOULD NOT spill them, but probably should be thrown around.....

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FLaTLiN3D View Post
And what if I buy a part that doesn't fit onto the motherboard? Like a cooling system, they're all different shapes and sizes, how do I decide whether or not it would fit and properly work? Measure my parts?
If you get a CPU cooler, you need to get one that is compatible with your CPU socket. You will find that on your CPU description (look for socket type) and just find a good cooler that matches it. If possible, you want an all copper heatsink with a nice fan.
For regular case fans, the size in millimeters is all you need. They are all cross compatible.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FLaTLiN3D View Post
*^*I was looking at parts, and I noticed some of the network cards say "32 Bit" does this mean I would have to use a 32Bit OS to use this part?
I am not sure, but I don't think so.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FLaTLiN3D View Post
Also, is thermal grease required when I have a decent cooling system?
YES YES YES. It is required for ANY cooling system. The reason for this is that the top of the CPU and the bottom of the CPU cooler (which touch together) are NOT completely smooth or flat. There are microscopic canyons, bumps, ridges, etc. The thermal grease is used to fill in JUST those valleys and ridges. That is why you use only a thin layer. Arctic Silver 5 is considered the best compound, and for about $5 you may as well get some. You DO NEED thermal paste though.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FLaTLiN3D View Post
I came up with this combination for only 524$.... Would I be getting what I'm paying for?But more importantly, would these items work together with minimal hassle? Basic Configuration
Not bad.
Your processor is good, but it is an AM3 socket, and your cooler is not. You will need to check that.
I would also get 4Gb of RAM, not 2.
For the graphics card, don't get a 220. Go with the 8800GTX, the 260GTX, or a 400 series. Or go ATI with a HD5770, 5870, etc. Don't get low profile.
You will probably want a bigger HDD, but that is a good one. You can always add more later.
I would also get a DVD burner if you don't have one (only about $50).
the network card is fine, but it is NOT wireless, it will need an ethernet cord.

~Lordbob
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