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Windows 7: Which components are often overlooked in a new computer build?

03 Jan 2013   #1
Erick Aguilar

Windows 7 professional X64
Which components are often overlooked in a new computer build?

This is just meant as a healthy discussion among us members of sevenforums.
Lately, and not only here, I've seen hundreds of people who showcase their selected parts list for their shiny new computer they will be proudly building as soon as they get the money to buy all those new glistening parts.

However, and this is mostly a pet peeve of mine. It upsets me when builders opt in for an incredibly high performance processor, video card, ram, SDD,HDD,1000 Fans, and water cooling from the most recognized brands, and they select a John Doe power supply claiming to deliver 600watts and 800amps in the 12v rails. Think of it this way.. what is the point of having such fancy accessories, when your engine will not be able to power all of them properly? Or even worse, damage them beyond repair?

Same with motherboards. They select the cheapest one they can find to save money, but people are saving money in parts they should invest the most in. Again, what is the point of having all that power, if your chassis is weak? Too much power and you might break it, and end there crying with pieces all around you.

It seems to me that individuals nowadays take light importance of components that do not seem as interesting because they are the ''computery parts'' they don't really understand the function of.

So tell me Sevenforums, what pc components to you often see overlooked in new builds, and what do you think could be the reason?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jan 2013   #2
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1

As soon as I saw the post title I thought PSU! You covered that too and I agree they do cheap-out for the heart of the machine that makes it all work and wonder why they have a black screen with a cursor.
The second thing is not getting a quality CPU cooler to help keep that 4.9GHz overclock cool and stable.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jan 2013   #3

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Britton30 View Post
As soon as I saw the post title I thought PSU! You covered that too and I agree they do cheap-out for the heart of the machine that makes it all work and wonder why they have a black screen with a cursor.
I recently fought with this very symptom, trying to upgrade a friend's 10-year old Dell 4500s, which came from Dell with a 180W PSU, onboard Intel Graphics, 256MB of memory, and a 20GB IDE hard drive.

I upgraded memory to 2x1GB, and found a 60GB version of that same WD IDE hard drive. I then reinstalled WinXP from scratch, but wasn't satisfied with the graphics (on the new 20" Samsung 16:9 monitor I'd also installed as the primary part of the project, since the old CRT monitor had died).

There was an open PCI slot so I tried to upgrade graphics using three different PCI video cards (a 1GB ATI HD5450, 512MB ATI3450, and a 256MB nVidia 8400GS... all of which actually do come in a PCI version), none of which worked. All three produced your "black screen with a blinking cursor".

I even tried upgrading the 180W PSU twice, first to 270W and then to 300W, thinking it was the original PSU which was the source of the problem, but still no luck. None of the video cards worked. The BIOS was at the latest level from Dell, but it appeared there was no way to use the spare PCI slot for an external video card. Obviously a BIOS limitation.

Finally ditched the whole project after a month of buying, RMA returning, and trying something else. Ended up buying a modern Lenovo K410 refurb (with G640 CPU, 2.8Ghz 3M cache) for $280 with Win7 pre-installed, 500GB 7200 rpm SATA hard drive, 4GB of PC3-10600 DDR3 memory, USB 3.0 ports, and 10/100/1000 NIC. And I was also able to put in a 1GB ATI PCIe HD5450 (in its open PCIe x16 expansion slot) to use instead of its own Intel onboard graphics.

Case closed. Friend "modernized" for $280 plus another $40 for the 1GB HD5450 video card.

The second thing is not getting a quality CPU cooler to help keep that 4.9GHz overclock cool and stable.

I recently had to build a new machine to replace my 4-year old Supermicro C2SBX board whose SATA disk controller died. While using many of the peripheral parts from the old machine (HD5770 video, TV tuner cards, BluRay drive, hard drives, etc.), I started from scratch with the motherboard, CPU, memory, fans/cooler, etc. I retained the 600W NestEQ ECS6001 PSU which was quite adequate even for my new hardware, and also very quiet which is critical for me.

After much shopping and comparing, I ended up going with an ASUS P8Z77-V Pro board. There are a number of related boards in this product family but this one had the right combination of features and expansion slots for my needs. I also went with a 3.3Ghz Intel i5-3550 (no onboard graphics) because I was going to be using my external HD5770 anyway. I'm not a gamer and do not overclock. Also went with 2x4GB Patriot DDR3 (PC3-12800) Gamer-2 memory, since Newegg included it for free with this motherboard.

I also replaced two old hard drives (out of my four on this machine), one of which was an old SCSI U320 and the other of which was a SATA-II 3.0Gb/s model, with two new SATA-III 6.0Gb/s 64MB cache versions (one a 10K rpm Velociraptor spinner for use as the OS drive, and the other a 7200 rpm Caviar Black). Not quite ready for SSD yet.

But to your point about CPU cooler, I am EXTREMELY CONCERNED about noise. So parts in my machines are all bought and built for low-noise or passive/silent.

In this case, I went with what I feel are the finest and quietest 120mm case fans: two Noctua NF-P12 fans with 4-pin PWM connectivity (supported by the P8Z77 board). Absolutely silent, and effective.

For the CPU cooler I again went with Noctua, and got their astonishingly silent but effective NH-U12P. This is a combination of huge CPU cooler, to which are attached a pair of the same essentially silent Noctua NF-P12 fans, clipped onto opposing sides of the cooler so that one is oriented in "push" and the other is orented in "pull", moving air through the radiator blades of the cooler itself and out the back of the case. The two bracket clips to attach the fans to the cooler (two clips for each fan, four clips total) were a bit mystical to figure out how to use them, but once that secret was cracked it was a piece of cake to do all four.

I have to say, when I got ready for the first power-on test (case still on the work table, all side panels removed) to be sure the CPU and memory and all other crucial pieces were installed properly and the PSU cables correctly connected to the board and all devices, I didn't know what to expect... as far as air flow volume and noise. But when I flipped the switch and the four fans started to spin (silently) and the airflow began to move impressively, I was amazed.

For me, super-silent is the #1 criteria. I have an "acousti-case" with foam padded interior panels, block foam pads in empty drive bays, etc., all in an attempt to minimize sound since these machines are right near me.

Also, I take great pride in building my own machines to ensure that all wires are routed around things and out-of-sight or behind chassis panels so as not to hang freely in the open cavity space, where they might impede airflow or just generally look ugly.

I tie-wrap everything (clipping the extra unused length of the ties down to the nub), make sure fans are mounted so that the fan cable wraps around the fan exterior so as to reach the fan header on the board with minimal cable loose, etc.

I position my hard drives in either the 5 1/4" or 3 1/2" bays such that there is minimal interference with any cables (data and power) and also to leave open bays such that the inward-suck of the front case fan can properly take in outside cool air and blow it effectively into the case cavity, over the video card and/or other expansion cards.

How often do you really do this? You might as well take pride in your work, get all of those cables tied down out of view and out of the way of interfering with internal airflow.

Silence... is a virtue. My machines are amazing. Case fans are attached to chassis holes on rubber legs, not using screws. The drive bays of my "acousti-case" have rubber grommets in the holes through which the drives will be screwed down, so again there is no vibration through the drive cage to the chassis to produce a "periodic frequency vibration noise" (especially when sitting on a wooden desktop). Just buy the right parts, designed to have no noise and zero vibration.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

04 Jan 2013   #4

openSUSE 13.1 64bit

Think you've covered it but -

PSU - Use a calculator and add 20% to the wattage it suggests
Decent cooling solution - Not just CPU but also airflow through PC case
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jan 2013   #5

Win7 Home Premium 64x

When I built my last PC, i forgot about wireless and had to buy a wireless card. It could hook up through ethernet cable, but I didn't have it near the router. sort of a duh moment there.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jan 2013   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

The PSU would have been my first idea, but already claimed.

The next that come to my mind, mouse and keyboard! Often, nobody talks about them, and since they don't affect performance or capabilities in any way, people just buy the cheapest one. But as the user is "in touch" with them all the time, a good quality reduces physical problems and are more comfortable than the cheapest generally, and tend to last longer.

Another possible can be the software itself, most pre-built computers came with Windows preinstalled together with a bunch of mostly crap-ware and trials that the user really never likes or uses, mostly forcing users to reinstall the whole thing from scratch to avoid those problems, and get all programs to work again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jan 2013   #7
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1

Often overlooked to is the box it all fits in. People look at the shiny exterior of a prospective case and buy it only to find out their really big CPU cooler hits the side panel...or it won't fit where the old one was...or it is lacking a 3.5" external drive bay for the card reader, silly stuff.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jan 2013   #8

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1

In addition to overlook don't overkill.
I would agree not to scrimp on the PSU and use a good brand such as Seasonic, Antec etc. Pick the rating for the purpose. I see no point in going overboard - use a calculator. Pick a well ventilated case probably with USB 3 port connectors.
The other components depend again on purpose. Pick a motherboard from a reputable manufacturer but it can be on the cheaper side depending on what you want to do. I recently built a system for someone with an $89 AsRock Z77M motherboard which had all the functionality required and more.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Which components are often overlooked in a new computer build?

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