Re: Planning on building 1st computer
- From: Fruit2O <jz137xww@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2007 14:45:08 -0500
It seems that all your replies are going to result in more questions on
my part (as I learn what to ask). Hope you don't mind......
On Fri, 9 Mar 2007 09:48:08 -0500, "Mike T." <noway@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
1. What manufacturers of boxes do you recommend?
Cases? That's totally up to personal preference. Many people suggest
Antec, though I've never tried them, personally. I've had great luck with
Enlight, Foxconn and Sunbeam, among others that I can't remember right now.
The only thing I'd caution you about is, if it comes with a power supply,
throw the power supply away. No exceptions.
I don't know the difference between a server box and a PC box except
that the server box has more room. Other differences? Should I
consider a server ox?
2. Isn't there a newer type of RAM on the market?
You thinking of DDR2? Some of the higher-end mainboards seem to prefer DDR2
800. But watch voltage! Many mainboards require RAM with certain timings,
or RAM that can run stable at 1.8V, or whatever. Check the mainboard manual
(download it in PDF format before you buy the motherboard)
3. Why do you recommend no more and no less than 2GB RAM? I tend to
run a number of apps in the background and am willing to pay for more
memory if I could use it.
It's not my recommendation, exactly. I built my wife a new computer months
ago, and she decided she wanted to run vista on it. NO problem, it was
thoroughly ready to run any version of vista Microsoft was pushing. So I
got her upgraded to vista, it was running fine (a screamer, in fact). Then
later learned about the Windows Experience Index. It's a numerical rating
(kind of like a GPA) assigned to hardware by Windows Vista OS. Was curious
of course, so checked my wife's system. (5.8) From what I've read, the
highest possible score is 5.9. My wife's system has exactly 2GB of RAM, and
it uses a ~4GB page file (windows controlled). From that, I infer that
more than 2GB of RAM would be a waste of money. But it's possible that you
could be running some specific application that would require more. If so,
I'd love to know what that puppy is. :)
4. Do you recommend RAID configurations? Right now, I just clone my
C: drive about once a week.
Me Personally? No. I do the clone thing myself, automatically, once a
month. If you do decide to RAID, continue to clone the RAID array to a hard
drive that is not RAIDed.
I also do the 'clone thing'. What app do you use?
5. My goal is to eliminate as many unsightly wires as possible. Any
Plan to spend an entire weekend on assembly, prior to OS install. That
would be my only suggestion. I'm not into cable-gami like many people are.
But you can route cables out of sight if you care to. It just takes time.
I meant external wires. I should have been more explicit.
6. You should know that I use Photoshop.
7. Why forget about Blu-ray?
We are in the middle of a format war, just like beta vs. vhs. To make
matters worse, even if the format is eventually "settled", there is another
format just around the corner, increasing capacity further. So even if you
could find an ultra-expensive burner compatible with BOTH competing formats,
it would be obsolete long before it was worn out. Don't waste time, money
or effort. Go dual layer DVD burner, until the dust settles. BUT NOTE:
Make sure your burning software is compatible with vista!!! I found out the
hard way when I upgraded my wife's computer to vista that we can't burn
simple data disks anymore. Luckily I can still boot that system to XP to
use Nero Express. But otherwise, I'd have to pay about $80 for the very
latest version of Nero, which I simply don't need. I just don't do that
much burning, at home. I was happy with "nero express" which came free,
with a (relatively cheap) DVD burner.
8. Should I stick with USB or Firewire? Which is faster?
Firewire is supposedly faster, but USB is more useful. Why choose though?
Get both. I'd recommend one or two firewire ports and as many USB 2.0 ports
as you can get (10 or more suggested, don't forget to count the internal
headers on most mainboards)
9. I now have about 14 peripherals that use USB. Would like to
eliminate the wires if possible.
Sheesh, I thought my wife's system was bad. It's got 8 USB 2.0 ports, all
in use. :) Don't know what to tell you about eliminating those wires.
There are wireless peripherals, especially stuff like keyboards and mice.
Downside is that they often have a transmitter that would be more unsightly
than the USB wire (unless you could figure out how to hide the
transmitter?). Maybe a new desk would be your best option, find something
that can hide the wires, or something with built-in cable guides. There are
desks with computer compartments large enough to completely hide a mid-tower
computer system. Ventillation (around the system) isn't the greatest, but
if your case is properly cooled, this should not be a problem (it just means
the ambient air around the system might be warmer than room temp, but
usually NOT a problem)
That brings up another question: How do I determine what is sufficient
cooling? Sub-zero would be fine with me if I could achieve it. In
other words, I want both a quiet AND cool system - but am not ready for
a liquid cooled PC.
10. I am NOT a gamer and probably won't ever be.
Awwww geez, you mean you actually use the computer for work? How boring.
Well, I'm 62 years old and retired - so I don't use the PC for work
anymore. Perhaps I'll get into gaming or flight simulation. For now,
I'm just fascinated with all the possibilities available with a
computer (and always have been).
11. What is eSATA?
Good question. I had to look that one up myself. It is SATA, with
provision for longer cable lengths. Meant for external peripherals. Or, if
you have to ask, you probably don't have a use for it, yet. Sounds like a
good feature to have for future use, though.
12. TV tuner sounds good if I can connect cable to it.
Depends. Do you have digital cable or analog?
13. I like the 30 inch LCD monitors I've seen.
Wow. Nothing like thinking big. You might want to increase video ram to
768MB to cover the extreme resolution.
14. I want to build-in the fastest way to back up my system to a hard
drive. Right now, I use a USB external drive and it's way too slow.
Sounds like eSATA is the way to go, then. SATA drives are pretty fast.
This eSATA specification sounds like EXACTLY what you are looking for. Just
gotta find an external SATA box for an external SATA drive now.
Should I consider SATA drives for my C: drive and my separate D; drive
(where I keep most of my data)?
Hope this was an error (lot harder)
10. There must be some Internet sites that rate components and give
instructions on the steps needed to build a PC.
Well there's the usual suspects such as anandtech and tomshardware and
sharkyextreme. Building a PC is a lot harder than you are making it out to
Here are the general steps:
1) Open case, remove power supply (if there's one in there), throw power
supply (that came with case) in trash. Need a philips screwdriver for this
2) Install good power supply in case, using screws removed in step 1
(Seasonic, fortron, enermax)
3) Check spacing of mainboard standoffs in case (must match all mounting
holes in mainboard, WITH NO EXTRA STANDOFFS!!!) If necessary, move some,
remove some, or install some more (usually just clip in or screw in)
4) Install back panel I/O shield in case (this comes with mainboard). You
might have to remove an I/O shield from the case first, as some cases come
with a generic I/O shield
5) Carefully mount mainboard in case, lining up ports in I/O shield, and
screw mainboard down to standoffs you positioned earlier
6) Install CPU (instructions with CPU and/or mainboard)
7) Install HSF on CPU. Don't forget thermal paste, if it's not already
applied (some heatsinks come with thermal paste on them) On a side note,
many will tell you to NOT use the thermal paste that comes with the HSF (use
arctic silver or some other special heatsink compound instead), but I
haven't found a heatsink with inadequate thermal solution yet, as long as it
HAS thermal compound of some kind on it.
8) DO NOT FORGET TO PLUG CPU HSF INTO MAINBOARD!!!
9) DO NOT FORGET TO PLUG CPU HSF INTO MAINBOARD!!! (worth repeating)
10) Install RAM on mainboard
11) Mount all drives (hard drives, optical). These usually just screw in,
though some cases come with drive rails (screw the drive rails onto the
drives, then just slide the assembly into the case) Run data cables from
drives to mainboard.
12) Install all expansion cards (video card, sound card, tv tuner, etc)
13) Don't forget many video cards require their own power connection(s)
from the power supply!
14) Hook up all internal power connections. You'll probably have TWO or
more power connections going to mainboard, one or more to each video card,
plus all the drives need to be powered. If any case fans need connections
to the PSU, don't forget those.
15) Make all the smaller connections to the mainboard. This would include
the connectors for the case (power, reset, HD LED, USB PORTS, etc) plus any
fans that are powered by mainboard connectors. Refer to the mainboard user
manual for proper pins. Keep in mind that LED connections can be reversed
easily, so if the LED lights don't work at first, flip the connector over
and try again.
15a) Before proceeding, double-check that RAM and all expansion cards are
firmly seated. Sometimes these can work loose, even during the build phase.
Also triple-check that your CPU fan is plugged into the proper header on the
16) Hook up monitor, keyboard, mouse and main power cable to power supply.
Turn on power supply if it has it's own power switch (most do).
17) Hit front panel power switch to turn computer on. Wait for some kind
of video on monitor. If you don't get video on monitor, post here with what
happens, EXACTLY (fan activity, LED lights, beeps?, etc.). Video
initialization is a later step of POST (power on self test), so if you don't
get video, you might have connected something wrong, or maybe have a
component that is DOA. If you DO get video, that's a great start, as it
means you -probably- have good hardware to work with, and you probably have
not 'goofed' very badly in assembling it.
17a) I'd suggest you leave your LAN disconnected until OS and firewall
software are properly installed
18) Assuming you have some kind of video on monitor now, load your optical
drive with your OS install disk and reboot (hit reset button) to start OS
install. If necessary, use floppy disk to load SATA or other disk drivers
during OS install.
There. That's by memory, don't kill me if I forgot a step or two. Don't be
intimidated. Building a computer is not much more complicated than a
~10-piece jigsaw puzzle. The hard part is doing the research to decide what
components you want to build with. IF YOU GET THAT RIGHT, the actual build
is a piece of cake. -Dave
Should I wait until quad cores come out this year? Remember, I want
the fastest for now and in the future.
Do you mind sending me your email address? Mine is correct in my
PS: What IS your real name??????
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