Anyone here built their own PC from the floor up?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by shadowritten, Oct 30, 2005.

  1. shadowritten

    shadowritten
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    I need a new project. It's either going to be learning the piano (see my other thread on this), or building my own PC from scratch. Anyone here done this and care to share some good advice with an absolute beginner?

    What I'm aiming to achieve - if this helps - is an integrated PC/HiFi/DigiTV/DVD media centre that basically runs all the entertainment and computing needs Shadowifey and I could have. I've decided to go down this route (when funds allow - got married this year and just bought a new car) rather than simply squirrel away cash for the next 10 years towards a high-end AV or 2-channel set-up.

    I'm all for convergence and integration - so the less wires, boxes and general clutter I can get away with, the better. The other advantage is that a self-build will give me a) knowledge I'd need to fix anything that went wrong; b) simple upgrade capability; and c) a hobby other than surfing the Net and listening to my DAP!!

    Any thoughts very welcome. :thumbsup:
     
  2. GrahamC

    GrahamC
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    Built loads of them, easy to do but it's always the software side that takes the time. :)
     
  3. Stuart Wright

    Stuart Wright
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    Yes, I've been building my own PCs for years initially because I couldn't afford to do anything else and now because I like to specify every component.
    When I started there was one type of CPU socket, one type of memory, one type of card socket and this made things relatively easy.
    Now, I think the hard part is making sure you get the right CPU bang for your buck and then matching decent kit with it. TomsHardware.com is a good place for reviews on kit. And there must be plenty of beginners' guides on the 'net on how to put it all together.
    I asked on here (in the computer hardware forum) for advice and got it.
     
  4. shadowritten

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    D'oh!! Cheers, Stuart!
     
  5. HMHB

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    I've always built my own for the same reasons as Stuart says, I can sepcify all the components that I want in it. I'm about to do another one soon and if possible I will try and buy all the components from one source as it's easier to send stuff back if something is not working (sometimes it's hard to know what component is causing the problem).
     
  6. pringtef

    pringtef
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    Fundamentally, building pcs is just like building with lego, it's a relatively straightforward process. Never really been an easier time to build these. Virtually all cables and connectors are keyed so that its only possible to put them in the one way, and more and more motherboards are jumperless so that all the config you need to do can be done in the BIOS.

    Some tips :-

    (1) If you've a way to have the computer in another room than where your projector is, then do it. No chance of hearing any noise, and it also means that you can get a decent sized case, making expandability easier.

    (2) Allocate a GOOD bit of money for your case, making sure it has loads of free drive slots. However many drives you think you'll need, you'll need more, i can assure you. Whilst i've upgraded the components several times, I'm still using the tower case i bought five years ago, and it's good for another two or three at least.

    (3) Also allocate a good amount of money for a decent PSU.

    (4) When you're putting the pc together for the first time, DONT build it in the case. Build it on your desk, with the hard drive, cdrom, keyboard, mouse, power, and monitor cables plugged into it. Once all the bits are connected up, power her up (either by attaching the power cable from the case to the required jumpers and using the switch, or just short to two pins with a screwdriver). Keep it on the desk until you've got actually got Windows all setup and can confirm the devices are working.

    (5) Create a directory on the C drive called i386, and copy the entire contents of the same name directory on the windows CD to there. Once you've done that, change the required registry key to point to this location so that windows will by default look for any system files it needs here instead of asking for the pesky cd to be installed.

    (6) If you're also having to apply a service pack after installing windows, then after installing it, slipstream this into the i386 directory on your system.

    (7) After getting windows and all the required drivers setup, Either configure more than one partition on your drive, or allocate a single drive for making a backup. Format it as FAT32. Use either Ghost or DriveImage once you've got your system all setup and up to date service pack, updates, and drivers wise, to create a single file image of your system. If your system ever goes tits up, and requires a reinstallation of Windows, then you'll be able to do this in about five mins instead of an hour or two.

    (8) Using the Logitech di Novo bluetooth package (keyboard, mouse, and media pad) with an HTPC is nice!!!

    (9) Get your self either a couple of playstation, or xbox controllers along with the adapters, for playing games.

    (10) Get yourself a capture card that is compatible with Dscaler, and feed your sky/freeview into it. It'll scale it very nicely.

    (11) Spend a decent amount on a graphics card.

    (12) Also get yourself a decent sound card. Believe the M-Audio kit is very good.

    Have a good bit of patience, it can take a while to get everything configured just as you'd like, but it's worth it!
     
  7. shadowritten

    shadowritten
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    Wow! Thanks, pringtef!! Lots to consider there!

    What I'm thinking of doing first is tinkering with the all-in-one PC World-bought jobbie I currently have (now three years old, with both CD/DVD drives dead!) to get a feel for the innards of a PC. That way, if I damage anything through my early meddling, I have a laptop to fall back back on! Think I'll start by replacing the CD/DVD drives, upping the RAM and experimenting with a new graphics card; think mine's starting to ghost on text in WinExplorer, and I'm relatively sure this isn't the monitor as it's very new and works fine with other PCs.

    Thanks again!
     
  8. The Dude

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    All very good advice from Pringtef, but you don't need to worry about point 5) as Windows does this itself these days, certainly Windows XP will not hassle you about needing the CD, it creates the I386 folder itself so no need to worry about that one.. :)

    Also, if you're gonna build the thing outside of the case (I never bother personally) it's best to lay the motherboard something soft and non-conductive like packaging foam, just in case..:devil:
     
  9. shadowritten

    shadowritten
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    Yeah, thought I'd seen the folder referred to on my C drive anyway. And probably won't build outside the case, as I want to be sure everything I need will fit - and I don't have the most amount of space to work in, anyhow. :rolleyes:
     
  10. Pbryanw

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    It's definately rewarding, building your own PC. I built my last PC and helped a friend build his as well. There's nothing more satisfying then seeing all the component's arrive in the post, then shoehorning them into one case somehow, then switching it on and everything working. Luckily both mine and my friend's PC worked straight away but most places and items have manufacturer's guarantees and/or a good return policy if that's not the case.

    I would also go for quiet components straight off. I bought my last PC preassembled and had to change about 3 or 4 components before I got the noise down to an acceptable level. Of course, it depends on how sensitive you are to PC noise. I'm quite sensitive to it and would always take a quiet PC over a basic stock cooling solution.
     
  11. gario

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    Have to agree with this, easy.

    My son & I have built from scratch a couple of pc's,
    I do all the screwing together stuff, he deals with the
    setting up/ software side of things.

    It really is very easy, neither of us had any previous
    experience of building pc's, I'm a woodworker, and at
    the time we built our first pc, the one that I am using now,
    he was a 16 year old.

    Go for it, good fun :thumbsup:

    Gary
     
  12. shadowritten

    shadowritten
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    Would anyone advise buying, say, one component per month, then assembling at the end, or saving up for/researching components, then getting/building everything in one hit?

    Yeah, I HATE :mad: PC noise ... so presumably, this is something I should look out for? From reviews, perhaps? Or do specs tell you this?
     
  13. shadowritten

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    Thanks for the vote of confidence! The software side (though arguably more complex and fraught with pitfalls) doesn't seem to faze me. It's just the actual hardware I've never tackled before ... beyond a bit of RAM upgrading. Even had to leave the new HDD installation to Shadowifey (she did a brief course some while ago).
     
  14. shahedz

    shahedz
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    i fyou wanted to you could always go for a barebones systems liek the shuttle computers which have a lot of the stuff preinstalled and then you add your own CPU, RAM hard and optical drives, the mother borad is preinstalled as is sound card and then if you wish to expand you can do at a later date, but they are a lot easier to begin with. the downside to them is there expansion is limited to a degree ( you can only fit one optical drive in the shuttles) and linmited PCI expansion slots etc. but i rate the shuttles and love em!
     
  15. overkill

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    If you're going to build for using in the 'watching area' I would have a trip over to 'Quiet Pcs' website here:- QuietPC and have a look at what they recommend. Be warned there is always a trade off with PC's between performance and heat. Not to mention longevity. All those who've used the Akasa damping material, as just one example, have commented on the temp rising in the case. Other examples include VGA cards using passive cooling and PSU's that use the same. Gigabyte do good quality passive cooled VGA cards and Enermax do quality 'quiet PSU's' while Antec's new range include the totally silent Phantoms.

    In terms of fans, the bigger they are the better as they produce less noise for more CFM. The new 120mm Silenx's fans are the quietest I've used, but my PC is still too loud to be used as an HTPC.

    You also need to consider looks for using a PC with your AV gear as the 'better half' won't wear and ugly great case in the 'lounge'. :D Good lookers, but cool and quiet include the new Antec range of quiet cases including the reasonably slinky Sonata.

    The big prob is cost! While building an ordinary PC costs can be kept pretty low for good performance, but the need for Quiet has seen the manufacturers roll off mainly quite expensive kit.

    Ie check out your budget before getting going! :D
     
  16. Digger

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    In my case I pretty much silenced my pc by replacing three items.

    1. Northbridge chip fan (it's on the motherboard - really whined as it was so small) with a Zalman heatsink

    2. Amd cpu fan/heatsink with a Zalman version

    3. 6800gt video card heatsink/fan with a Zalman again

    These three made a huge difference for only about £50 - £60
    Also my Antec Sonata case as mentioned came with large fans in both psu and case and were all but silent too.

    Now if only they could make silent dvd drives...any tips welcome?
     
  17. DLPMaybe

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    Personally I did not bother building my own PC. Scan allow you to choose all the componets and they will build it for about £50. With me it was just a laziness thing. Plus if an individual component is bad when you build from scratch it is hard to tell which part is bad. You need two of everything to swap in and out parts until it works.

    I have build one or two machines in the past but would not consider again. I guess I am more of a software person than hardware.
     
  18. Steven

    Steven
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    Yeah...a tip:

    Have a spare PC for standby

    I just can't use my custom to encode vids. My HP brand that I rarely use is a-ok. I put it down to too much installed software and resulting conflicts

    Unless someone will educate me better?
     
  19. Kazuya Mishima

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    I did my first PC build in August- bought a Sonata case. It's a really nice case, and friends have commented that it is very quiet, BUT if you are going to use it as a HCPC watch out for the EXTREMELY bright blue LEDs fitted as standard to the front of the case, with the room lights out they are blinding!

    Really enjoyed building the PC, bought the components from dabs with help from a friend, you need someone who knows their stuff to match the components, as referred to by other posters in this thread. For example (in my limited understanding) you can't bung in loads of high performance components without the cooling ability and power supply to match.

    The only thing that went wrong in my install was two duff memory modules, which completely crashed the Windows installation at the same point each time. Once we had isolated the memory as the problem, and replaced them, everything went smoothly.

    Good luck!
     
  20. shadowritten

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    Thank you all again very much for the fantastic advice. I'm doing as much background reading as possible before I start tinkering with my crappy old Fujitsu Siemens - found a great site (www.buildyourown.org.uk) which I'm trawling for info.

    I'll keep you updated on how things come along.
     
  21. suzywong

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    As you're in Hampshire, I can recommend you have a look at Novatech (www.novatech.co.uk), down in Pompey. They do a number of "barebones" kits as well as individual components, and the prices are reasonable (bl**dy good thing, considering the amount of money I've put their way over the years!)
     
  22. Digger

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    Not an issue really as it is connected by a standard atx power connector inside so you have the option of just leaving it disconnected... :smashin:
     
  23. The Dude

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    for RAM... CRUCIAL

    the best bet by far and without doubt... ;)
     
  24. overkill

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    Would agree dude. For 'normal pcs' Crucial has always been my no1. However, my AMD 64 board doesn't like Crucial ram so............... I'd have to recommend the 'expensive stuff', Corsair, as well. Slapped it in, runs like a whippet with a Chilli pepper up its ****. ;)
     
  25. nsherin

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    Novatech are very good - I'm also down in Pompey and have bought most of the parts for my PC from there. Good range of products and decent prices.
     
  26. Garrett

    Garrett
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    Knew someone who had lot of trouble Crucial the firm, so I have used Corsair myself and never had any problems.

    As to formating the HD, NTFS is better than FAT32.
     
  27. Kazuya Mishima

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    ...which I only figured out after having the whole lot together and up and running, pain in the bum to have to unscrew case etc....
     
  28. Astaroth

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    Ok, so I will be on my own here (as usual)

    I used to build a lot of PCs for myself and friends/ associates but after building my "server" I stopped due to the total headache that it caused.

    Things may have changed since my day of building PCs but the real thing to make sure is that everything is going to work fully with each other. The likes of Dell spend a lot of money ensuring compatability but when you do it yourself you are somewhat blind and have no one to turn to if it all goes pear shaped. I had major problems between my mobo and g.card even though both listed that they were compatable with each others chip sets and spent 6 months being passed between the 2 manufactures with each blaming the other.

    It is certainly fun to do, can be rewarding, but be cautious when you want to deviate from the norm or want to try and push the boundaries of technology - in these cases it is in my opinion best to go to a company and let them have the hassel of ironing out creases. (I never got my g.card to run at full speed within my "server")
     
  29. Rambles

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    So, are you going to go for a Media Center PC? It is not without its foibles, but it is a very good piece of kit. We have our own Media Center forum on here, can help you out with choosing components and setting up the software. It is a bit more challenging than a normal XP machine, as you have to choose particular MCE compatible components, drivers and codecs. My MCE machine is currently a shuttle - a bit limiting, but I have overcome it.

    Also, I would not advise buying compnents in stages, because price drops quite quickly, particularly on graphics cards and cpu's - if you buy it now, and don't end up using it for a few months, it may have devalued quite a lot.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2017
  30. shadowritten

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    I probably will go down the Media Centre route ... eventually. I'll need to tune up my existing wreck of a PC first, get it going great, then look at the options for a complete new build. I may start by building a 'Super PC' (yeah, like I'd have either the time or money!), then starting on the all-in-one media 'hub', if you will, once I've gained a bit of technical experience.

    I'll certainly check out the MCE forum as and when (I've already peeked in, actually! ;) ) And thanks for the advice on buying components! :thumbsup:
     

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