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View Full Version : I made a decision (Computer)



Popcorn
05-26-2003, 03:24 PM
Thanks for all the input, you won't believe my decision. I am going to build one myself. I think it would be fun and the more I thought about it the more interested I became in the idea. I mentioned before I have a complete cue shop that any cuemaker could make a nice living with. I go in there just as a hobby, but it is a nice feeling to be able to do whatever I like, build a new cue, make myself a new shaft, experiment, repair someone's cue for them and so on. I also work on my own car and do most repairs to the rentals when needed. I just put in central air condition in one place, full permits and inspections, no BS, top quality job. My wife and I put a new roof on our garage, (it's free standing and as big as a small house), a few years ago, and the inspector told me it was the best, home owner done job he had ever seen, in fact cleaner, and nicer done then most professional roofers. With the car, even if I don't want to do the work, I can't get screwed because I know what the guy is talking about. Now back to the computer deal. I have not liked the helpless feeling I have experienced the last few days, and I really don't like the feeling I got at the stores, sort of like a sucker. I am talking to some kid that looks like he should be cutting my yard, talking to me in some condescending way. I am not used to being the dumbest guy in the room. I began reading some on the net about building your own system and was talking to a guy at the pool room who builds systems. I think I will give it a try. It will take some study but it should be fun and it will make me more self sufficient in one more area. When I first got a computer I really thought this would be the case. I was reading all the magazines and stuff on computers but the interest wore off and I never learned that much more as time went by. I have a computer to use now for the time being that seems fine. I don't really care how long it takes, but most things I get involved in, I get on top of pretty quick. I can't wait to get started. Anyway, thank you all for your help.

heater451
05-26-2003, 05:57 PM
If you don't mind waiting for parts, you will probably find some good deals online--watch out for postage & handling costs though.

www.pricewatch.com (http://www.pricewatch.com) is a good place to look for parts individually, but if you want to buy all in one place, here are a couple of places that I've purchased from in the past:

http://www.krex.com/ppmain.asp

http://www.a2zcomp.com

There are also a few places that are good to take a look at for info:

http://www.tomshardware.com/

http://forums.anandtech.com/categories.cfm?catid=40 (this is a great place to find rebate deals and stuff)

Otherwise, you're local shop should have everything you need. You might also find a "needs assembly" type collection of parts, which some places offer deals on for builders (makes me think of those old "Heathkit" ads. . . .).

Don't be afraid of any of the parts, but do keep an eye out for static (although, the spring/summer humidity will probably negate most of it).

Otherwise, I would recommend an AMD processor over Intel, for "bang for the buck"--although, you should make sure to get a good CPU fan, because they tend to run hotter. Since you'll probably run XP, buy over 128mb RAM, even if it's just a little--but since RAM is still a deal, spring for an extra 128, and that should be enough. For a harddrive (HDD), I like Western Digital, think Seagate is alright (can be noisy though), and have had a few good Maxtors. with only one bad experience, but I stay away from them now. Casewise, get no less than a 300-watt power supply.

--I forgot, about motherboards (mobo), many of them have some suspect instructions in their manuals, due to translation issues. Abit and Gigabyte are pretty good, from my experience. . .only know of a few others, and two of them are out of business now.

A thing that might be confusing relates to ATA speeds (mobo to HDD interface/controller), but your local guys can probably help with that, if you have a problem--the issue deals with getting the right mobo, HDD, and cable. It's not supercrucial, just something to look at.

Also, some cases may not have the exact wires to hook to the motherboard (power, HDD light, reset button, etc.). You don't have to worry about this, just be aware.

Anyway, actual assembly is quite easy, but realize that there will be some resistance when installing daugher cards (video, audio, etc.). You will have to use the feel method, regarding how much force to use--"enough, but not too much". Ditto for installing the RAM strips--although there will be some retaining clips that will give you some idea of when they are 'in'. Installing the heatsink and fan on the processor might be a bit difficult (there is usually has a clip that snaps on the CPU socket).

After the assembly and powerup, assuming all's well, you'll get to play in the BIOS, but I'll leave that to you and your manual. Installing the OS should be a breeze, but I'll end with one more thing, in case it's not mentioned. Assuming that you're installing from a CD-ROM, there is a bios setting, where you select the boot device--usually about the 2nd or 3rd "features" group in the BIOS config. This seems something pretty obvious, but might not be something that makes sense if you've not done it before.

If you have questions, feel free to PM me.

Good luck!

========================

eg8r
05-26-2003, 07:38 PM
[ QUOTE ]
If you don't mind waiting for parts, you will probably find some good deals online--watch out for postage & handling costs though.

www.pricewatch.com (http://www.pricewatch.com) is a good place to look for parts individually, but if you want to buy all in one place, here are a couple of places that I've purchased from in the past:

http://www.krex.com/ppmain.asp

http://www.a2zcomp.com

<font color="red"> I would also add bizrate.com I have another at work and will add to this. I think it is pricegrabber or something like that. </font color>

There are also a few places that are good to take a look at for info:

http://www.tomshardware.com/ <font color="red">This is an absolutely wonderful website. If you for some reason really get into hardware, these guys are some of the best. </font color>

http://forums.anandtech.com/categories.cfm?catid=40 (this is a great place to find rebate deals and stuff)

Otherwise, you're local shop should have everything you need. You might also find a "needs assembly" type collection of parts, which some places offer deals on for builders (makes me think of those old "Heathkit" ads. . . .).

Don't be afraid of any of the parts, but do keep an eye out for static (although, the spring/summer humidity will probably negate most of it).

Otherwise, I would recommend an AMD <font color="red">(I second this.) </font color>processor over Intel, for "bang for the buck"--although, you should make sure to get a good CPU fan, because they tend to run hotter. Since you'll probably run XP, buy over 128mb RAM, even if it's just a little--but since RAM is still a deal, spring for an extra 128, and that should be enough. <font color="red"> I believe 256 should be absolute minimum. </font color>

For a harddrive (HDD), I like Western Digital, think Seagate is alright (can be noisy though), and have had a few good Maxtors. with only one bad experience, but I stay away from them now. <font color="red">I have a WD 150GB and an 40GB IBM. I would recommend either of these. The IBM is my main HD (only has the OS and software loaded on it, all other stuff is on second drive) and it is the quietest HD I have dealt with. Look for 7200 RPM drives if you do not decide to go SCSI.</font color>

Casewise, get no less than a 300-watt power supply.

--I forgot, about motherboards (mobo), many of them have some suspect instructions in their manuals, due to translation issues. Abit and Gigabyte are pretty good, from my experience. . .only know of a few others, and two of them are out of business now. <font color="red"> I have dealt with a couple other mb mfgs and they were fine, but I don't think you can get a better board than an ASUS. I vote ASUS. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif </font color>

A thing that might be confusing relates to ATA speeds (mobo to HDD interface/controller), but your local guys can probably help with that, if you have a problem--the issue deals with getting the right mobo, HDD, and cable. It's not supercrucial, just something to look at.

Also, some cases may not have the exact wires to hook to the motherboard (power, HDD light, reset button, etc.). You don't have to worry about this, just be aware. <font color="red"> Nice thing about ASUS is that mb is marked very well. A lot of the others require you to look at a poor picture and hunt them down on the board. </font color>

Anyway, actual assembly is quite easy, but realize that there will be some resistance when installing daugher cards (video, audio, etc.). You will have to use the feel method, regarding how much force to use--"enough, but not too much". Ditto for installing the RAM strips--although there will be some retaining clips that will give you some idea of when they are 'in'. Installing the heatsink and fan on the processor might be a bit difficult (there is usually has a clip that snaps on the CPU socket).

After the assembly and powerup, assuming all's well, you'll get to play in the BIOS, but I'll leave that to you and your manual. Installing the OS should be a breeze, but I'll end with one more thing, in case it's not mentioned. Assuming that you're installing from a CD-ROM, there is a bios setting, where you select the boot device--usually about the 2nd or 3rd "features" group in the BIOS config. This seems something pretty obvious, but might not be something that makes sense if you've not done it before. <font color="red"> Yup, you need to set the CD as your boot device. Later when the OS is finished you can switch it back.</font color>
<hr /></blockquote>

Heater451 pretty much covered a lot of it. There will be questions along the way, so don't be afraid to ask. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

eg8r

bluewolf
05-26-2003, 09:52 PM
Congratulations Popcorn. I am sure this will be great fun for you. I once took all of the parts out of my computer just so I could put it back together.From what you say, you have the aptitude for this.

Laura

Predator314
05-27-2003, 01:24 PM
If you haven't ordered your parts yet, I would suggest NewEgg (http://www.newegg.com). They have great prices and customer service. I used to go to Pricewatch.com all the time to get computer parts, but once I found NewEgg, I stuck with them.

Good luck on the new system.

Rod
05-27-2003, 01:34 PM
Popcorn,
Here is another link for you. You can find deals here that someone submits. tech bargans (http://www.techbargains.com/)

Aboo
05-27-2003, 04:48 PM
I've done this as well and it is fun /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

At the moment, I buy the majority of my parts from
http://www.newegg.com
very good prices, and their customer service and shipping speeds/costs are top notch.

I'll third the vote for tomshardware for all kinds of hardware info. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif Very nice site, I will also third the vote for the AMD processors over Intel. For home use, and most business use honestly, nothing beats AMD.

Seagate just released a new 120GB 7200RPM hard drive that is VERY quiet, the quietest I've ever heard, and I have two 120GB/7200 Western Digitals and an IBM 40GB. Western Digital has a longer manufactuer's warranty, but your more likely to use it with them too. /ccboard/images/graemlins/frown.gif

Anyway, prolly way more info that you want to hear. If you have any questions or concerns, I'd be glad to help. Shoot me a PM
Good luck building your system /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif It's really not as hard as folks think /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

eg8r
05-27-2003, 05:11 PM
Hey Rod thanks for the link. I could not remember that for the life of me. If you click on "find lowest prices" you will really be searching through the pricegrabber software.

eg8r

eg8r
05-27-2003, 05:12 PM
I like Newegg also. There are a lot of times when you will get free shipping. It is ground shipping but nothing beats free.

eg8r

Sid_Vicious
05-27-2003, 05:35 PM
I'm on the negative side of self-built systems, it invariably takes far too much of my personal time trying to firgure out a hardware/IRQ/Etc conflict, plus then you have to drive BACK to the PC shop to return a part that was GUARANTEED to be right and it wasn't! Now, if you've never done it them the experience will be new enough to satisfy you beyond the discomfort of the personal time issue, BUT most all of my past experience in PC building has tought me one thing...let a storefront be responsible for all the bells being exactly right. It simply invades far too much of my personal time, midnight oil and many times entire weekends! It's maybe gotten entirely plug and play by now since I developed that negative attitude and you will cruise right through it. My experience tells me that paying the overage to the storefront is well worth it...sid~~~would opt to replace a roof instead, well NAW not that either

sliprock
05-28-2003, 03:11 AM
Good Luck! I'm sure that you've found plenty of places to buy the parts, but here's a site that's been real reasonable for me...

http://www.tcwo.com/

heater451
05-28-2003, 10:24 AM
Sid, how long ago did you build a system?

Hardware has become much more standardized in compatibility nowadays, and most IRQ setup is automatic--rarely, there might be a conflict that requires "manual" handling.

As for Plug 'n Play, although it's often referred to as "Plug 'n Pray", it's much better now. Most issues could be resolved by simply updating the drivers, which is even less necessary now with XP (more/better included drivers).

Also, many motherboards use a 'softmenu' type of setup, where configuration is done in the BIOS, so there's no need to fool with a bunch of jumpers or dipswitches.

Pretty much, the assembly will run like this (non-SCSI setup): Insert CPU into mobo, add the 'heat-sink grease' (forget the actual term), heatsink and CPU fan. Plug the fan onto the mobo.

Insert RAM strips in mobo.

Screw the mobo into the case.

Connect the power switch, reset switch, power LED and HDD LED, and speaker wires from the case to the motherboard.

Install the floppy drive, HDD, and CD-ROM drive (plus DVD and/or extras) into case. [Floppy--&gt;floppy cable--&gt;floppy connector; HDD and CD-ROM--&gt;IDE cable--&gt;IDE port (HDD and CD-ROM can be master/slave on one cable, or masters on separate cables)]. HDD and other IDE drives (CD, DVD, 2nd HDD) will have to be individually jumpered to master or slave--most are shipped enabled as master.

Install the expansion cards (video to AGP or PCI slot, everything else will be PCI): video , audio, modem and/or LAN card, etc.. Note: Some motherboards have intergrated video and/or audio, and/or LAN port.

Connect the power supply to the motherboard.

Connect the peripherials (mouse, keyboard, LAN cable or modem line, video cable).

Connect the power cable and power up the machine.

(Press "Del" (delete key) when prompted, to enter and adjust the BIOS settings. Sometimes the powering-up screen will suggest something like, "suggested memory latency is '2'". This just means change the RAM latency setting, which should be in the second or third set of BIOS 'features' (this makes sense, when you see the BIOS screen). Hopefully, the BIOS will 'see' the HDD capacity correctly, and not require another jumper setting to limit cylinder sizes (Current hardware and XP will probably be fine). BIOS settings are changed by navigating (arrow keys) to the desired set of features, and then entering, and navigating to individual settings and (usually) selecting w/ the "Page Up/Page Down" keys.

As mentioned in my other post, the boot sequence will have to be set to start with CD-ROM, so that the OS (assuming XP on CD) can be loaded from that drive.

Load the OS--this should take more time than the parts assembly, but may be about the same, for a first-timer. This will require a few things before starting the install:
<ul type="square">

Work through any screens requiring a decision ("Do you want to install, recover,"--blah blah blah), until you reach the partition creation screen.

Create and choose to install across the whole thing, or create a primary
partition on part of the HDD capacity (ex., you may have a 60Gb drive, but wish to break it up into 20Gb for the OS and apps, and keep your working files on the other 40Gb).--I prefer to section up large drives, in order to keep maintenance times down, and so that bad sectors in one partition won't take the whole drive down.

(XP should handle setting the primary partition to "active") Choose a format type--NTFS is more secure, but if you want to possibly ever network another PC running 95 or 98, you'll want to go with FAT32. I suggest FAT32.

After XP finishes installing and wants to reboot, "Del" must be pressed again, in order to change the boot sequence back. (Sometimes, the setting can be left to "CD-ROM,C,A", in which you should just be able to remove the CD from the drive, and it will move on to the C drive, but it's better to just change the first boot device to "C" (or whichever partition you've installed the OS).

XP will ask for info when required, such as timezone settings, personal info and the authentication key. If a LAN card is installed, and the machine is connected to the network, it should ask for the computers name on the network and such. Most stuff is configured through a "wizard", so this it should be a cakewalk.
Reinstall desired applications.[/list]

So, the real time involved is with waiting on the computer to finish copy files and setting configs--but I know what you mean by taking time. I just think there should be less frustration involved in it than several years back. Of course this is all assuming that nothing goes wrong. . . . /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif



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CrispyFish
05-28-2003, 12:48 PM
Pretty pictures:

http://arstechnica.com/guide/building/

Sid_Vicious
05-28-2003, 04:54 PM
My last experience was about 3 months ago. I bought a MB with a 1.7Ghz processor(all suposedly correct via the man in the configuration dept at the Fry's in Dallas, FYI: he included a socket to adapt the CPU to this particular motherboard, standard procedure on this deal he said. Well, the thing never found a prompt, just an annoying sequence of beeps, so I thought that I had memory incompatibility. I made two trips to a friend's house for a loan of each new memory type he had, and the DAMM thing still sang the beeping tune. I ripped that POS out of their and reconfigured back to my 550meg box and am still waiting for the opportunity to buy into a built and I mean working "all the way" box. I mean it, except for peipherals, all you do-it-yourself PC builders can have all of it. I shot the whole Friday night, then Saturday AND Sunday morning by not just givng up...sid~~~dog bit me for the last time

heater451
05-28-2003, 06:04 PM
Ouch!

Although, I can only respond with: You trusted a guy from Fry's?

I've never been to one, but I've seen lots of unsatisfied customer stories on the web.

Also, socket adapters are one area that's going to be hit or miss. I've only dealt with PPGA(370)-to-Slot1 adapters, and I've even had one die, that worked fine in one machine, and then wouldn't after being removed and sitting awhile.

Another time, my brother, who knows more than I do, tried some Powerleap adapters, which were designed to run a PIII in a PII mobo. Now, he added the complication of attempting to use a dual-socket motherboard, but I think he also failed to get them to work in single-socket configs. And Powerleap had some good write ups on the web.

Anyway, (as you probably know) beeps can be a sign of more than memory issues. Another common one involves the video system, in which case it could have been a badly seated card. Could also have been a bad motherboard (again, considering what I've read about Fry's).

In any case, I would trust a person at an independent shop, long before I would a retail electronics person. Not that some of them don't know their stuff, but I'd at least try to fine the PC service guy in the place for an opinion.

Also, just out of curiosity, were you going AMD, or staying with an Intel setup? (Nothing wrong with either, just wondering. . . .)



=========================

Sid_Vicious
05-28-2003, 07:29 PM
It was an Intel Celeron. I truly believe that the socket was the problem, it just looked odd going in with the only orientation which it fit into my MB. I suppose you could say I was a stubbor JA by using all of my time fiddling with it instead of going back to Fry's for the question, but the sales guy that day assured me it was all standard equipment in the bundle, plus it was a heck of a drive from home...I was ready to see a boot up, success and to move on into the regular followup treaks! Bottom line was that many times in previous years I'd used a lot of personal time with these do-it-yourself PC ventures(conquered those with self satisfaction though) and this was my last straw, no matter the reason. Sorry for the bitterness, it doesn't take much to get me back to the emotions on that day of giving up with the Celeron....sid

heater451
05-29-2003, 09:43 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Sid_Vicious:</font><hr> . . .I was a stubbor JA by using all of my time fiddling with it instead of going back to Fry's for the question, but the sales guy that day assured me it was all standard equipment in the bundle, plus it was a heck of a drive from home...I was ready to see a boot up, success and to move on into the regular followup treaks! Bottom line was that many times in previous years I'd used a lot of personal time with these do-it-yourself PC ventures(conquered those with self satisfaction though) and this was my last straw, no matter the reason. Sorry for the bitterness, it doesn't take much to get me back to the emotions on that day of giving up with the Celeron....sid <hr /></blockquote>Sometimes stubborness can be an issue of faith, whether in religion, or pursuit of a goal. This, I would simply call determination--I've certainly been there.

I know how it is, you fool with something that "should just work", and often chase your tail, driving yourself crazy, trying to discover the underlying problem. If you use a 'scientific method' approach, where you think you've accounted for all the variables, it can become infuriating.

I've even fixed problems (with PCs, cars, and powerchairs) where I would get things figured out, but when I continued final assembly, I got nothin'. It seems that I have the occasional (safety) habit, of disconnecting power on a partial--but working--assembly, and then completing the project, and forgetting to reconnect the power!

Anyway, I think it's odd that you would have to adapt a Celeron to a more current motherboard design--the PPGA-to-slot1, "slocket", probably hasn't been necessary for nearly two years. (FYI, when the Celerons became popular, the PPGA (Socket 370) boards came back in style.)

Tell you what, Sid, I'll let this part of the thread go now, so you don't have to relive the experience anymore. /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif



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