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Help me build my own PC

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Okay, due to the fact I'm only 17 and money has never really been flowing in my household, I've never built my own PC. I've upgraded them and troubleshooted them, swapped NICs and Drives etc., but I've never done it all from scratch. What's more, I'm no hardware guru, so you may need to tell me seemingly obvious things that I just didn't realise. Anyways, I want to buy my PC off Maplins, and here is the config I've thought up:

PC3200 512MB DDR400 RAM

SEMPRON 2600 BUNDLE - with motherboard + processor, integrated gfx and sound etc.

ATX Midi Case with 400W PSU

16x DVD ROM Drive with CD read speed 48x

80GB 7200 IDE HDD

Now, first of all, is that all I'll need? I've already got a mouse, keyboard, and 17" CRT monitor.

Second, will that config all work together, and how hard will it actually be to put together?

Third, any improvements you think I should make? 2600 Sempron not too great, should I trade that out? And if so, what for? I've heard good things about AMD 64bit processors, but I've also head there could be compatability issues etc..

Finally, I'll be running the whole thing under the latest Ubuntu.

So, go on, help a hardware noob out :D

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Doesn't sound too bad, but do you already have these parts or are you buying them. I'm currently building my supplies to build my new comp. I'm currently sitting on:

2.0 GHz processor

2 - 1GB sticks of DDR RAM

6 - 512MB sticks of PC133 RAM

2 - 80GB HD's

1 - 200GB HD's

Edited by Booter
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Okay, due to the fact I'm only 17 and money has never really been flowing in my household, I've never built my own PC. I've upgraded them and troubleshooted them, swapped NICs and Drives etc., but I've never done it all from scratch. What's more, I'm no hardware guru, so you may need to tell me seemingly obvious things that I just didn't realise. Anyways, I want to buy my PC off Maplins, and here is the config I've thought up:

PC3200 512MB DDR400 RAM 

SEMPRON 2600 BUNDLE - with motherboard + processor, integrated gfx and sound etc.

ATX Midi Case with 400W PSU

16x DVD ROM Drive with CD read speed 48x

80GB 7200 IDE HDD

Now, first of all, is that all I'll need? I've already got a mouse, keyboard, and 17" CRT monitor.

Second, will that config all work together, and how hard will it actually be to put together?

Third, any improvements you think I should make? 2600 Sempron not too great, should I trade that out? And if so, what for? I've heard good things about AMD 64bit processors, but I've also head there could be compatability issues etc..

Finally, I'll be running the whole thing under the latest Ubuntu.

So, go on, help a hardware noob out :D

Sounds like you've done your homework already. About the only thing I would suggest is buy the case and PSU separately then get a name brand PSU. Cases are purely subjective as different cases provide different levels of functionality (plus if you're into case modding, even a shitty low end case can look pimp after cutting holes into it). Personally if you got the funds, Lian Li and Enermax works beautiful. (Plus who wouldn't want a case that you can lift with your pinky?)

If you've done hardware upgrades before, I don't think this is too much of a stretch. Again, I've been one to stick with name brands when it comes to hardware. Not so much the pimp factor (I run P4-2.8HT on Asus P4C-800E) but more of support. If something breaks or has issues down the road, I want the company to be there when I throw the board through their window. Plus, not all mainboards/memory is the same. Any hardcore gamer geek will tell you that chipsets are only as good as the OEM making the board. I recommend reviewing your hardware list with either Tom's Hardware or my choice [H]ardOcp. Both have never done me wrong in their reviews of hardware and don't hold punches when testing. Take your time and be sure to install drives and mainboard first before cabling. Also make sure cable runs are long enough and that you don't clog up the flow of air through the case. You can cut quite a few degrees by having proper airflow.

While on that subject, be sure to get a decent heatsink/fan combo. Right now I'm using the heatsink that came with my P4 and I dread it. My nForce1 system had (damn I miss that board... i'm gonna frame it someday) a ThermalTake Volcano 7 heatsink on it. Remember, copper heatsinks transfer heat better than aluminum. Be sure to skip the heat tape and use Arctic Silver heat paste (available at any decent computer store and some CompUSA types).

The proc sounds fine. When I shop for a new system I hit pricewatch and look at the sweet spot for the best processor whether it's AMD or Intel and get it. Then I shop around from there. There has been times when I pay the extra 20% and buy local just to have my system running that night but it's up to you. Processors change all the time and I rather get the best in the sweet spot than take it up the ass when the price falls on the latest and greatest. If you want to go 64 bit, then it's up to you. Compability issues are pretty minimal. It just means you'll need to recompile everything for 64 bit to take full advantage of your system. But nothing wrong with having 32bit backwards compatibility. Personally I have different opinions about 64 bit and am waiting till there are enough killer applications on the market that warrant the upgrade because when I build a system, it stays together (at least proc and board) for the life of the computer. Upgrading systems out every 3-4 years doesn't sound unreasonable... just like buying a new car. Plus all my friends/family get top notch stuff as I upgrade if I don't need a extra server filling up the room with heat.

Remember, for any computer, it always depends on the applications/tasks you'll do with it. If it's just a word processor/general surf 'puter, why dump the money into a phatty video card and shitloads of memory just for that? Also, with Linux, you'll need to triple check that drivers are out for the hardware on the system as you may loose some functionality and be stuck with Windows just to have it all. Again, that's where having a name brand board pays off tho driver development lags way behind on linux compared. Like my M-Audio sound card... it works halfassed under Gentoo so I had to switch back... plus winmodems and stuff.. blah.

-jf

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Cheers for the replies. I haven't actually bought the stuff yet, I'll probably do so in January. Hopefully things will be cheaper then.

About the PSU, would the case fan not be good enough? I'm not running a particularly powerful rig there, and I won't be able to upgrade to anything past a GeFORCE 2 and a decent, if not great, sound card till april or so.

On a side note, since I'm buying in January, will there be any significant 'January Sales'? I don't think I've noticed these in the IT world before, but if they do happen, I might be able to get rather more than I bargained for :D

Thanks for the links, jfalcon, I'm going to check them right away...

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About the arctic silver - it does provide better cooling, but over the long run it can melt and leak out or evaporate leaving your processor with a less than ideal heat transfer constant to the heatsink - eventually killing your proc. So if you're not planning on swapping heatsinks, just use the thermal tape it lasts longer.

Also, I didn't check out your specific hardware, but make sure you check the obvious. Since you got the mobo / proc combo you don't need to worry about matching the board to your proc type. Just make sure the power supply has the right connectors for the mobo. Also I highly recommend reading hardware reviews on what you plan to buy, just to make sure you dont end up with cheap memory that won't work or something. And if you plan on running *nix on the box, any special tweaks you may need to do.

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About the arctic silver - it does provide better cooling, but over the long run it can melt and leak out or evaporate leaving your processor with a less than ideal heat transfer constant to the heatsink - eventually killing your proc. So if you're not planning on swapping heatsinks, just use the thermal tape it lasts longer.

Also, I didn't check out your specific hardware, but make sure you check the obvious. Since you got the mobo / proc combo you don't need to worry about matching the board to your proc type. Just make sure the power supply has the right connectors for the mobo. Also I highly recommend reading hardware reviews on what you plan to buy, just to make sure you dont end up with cheap memory that won't work or something. And if you plan on running *nix on the box, any special tweaks you may need to do.

I've never seen arctic silver melt or leak. I run my shizzle hotish and do a yearly cleanup on my machines (use orange cleaner to clean out heatsinks... gets them sparkly). Compared to tape, when I take off a sink, usually it's tape that is really skimpy and flakey... At least arctic silver you still have to wipe off the core before you reapply and refasten the sink.

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About the arctic silver - it does provide better cooling, but over the long run it can melt and leak out or evaporate leaving your processor with a less than ideal heat transfer constant to the heatsink - eventually killing your proc. So if you're not planning on swapping heatsinks, just use the thermal tape it lasts longer.

sounds like a bad experience. ;)

but I've never had that happen. My boxes that have Arctic Silver have been together for 2-3 years, hasn't happened yet.

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i love the amd64's and ubuntu 5.10 has a 64 bit edition that is great on it. there is no sense in my mind not to get the 64.

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i have a magazine somewhere with some really good configs for a pc....i'll post them as soon as i find the magazine.

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About the arctic silver - it does provide better cooling, but over the long run it can melt and leak out or evaporate leaving your processor with a less than ideal heat transfer constant to the heatsink - eventually killing your proc. So if you're not planning on swapping heatsinks, just use the thermal tape it lasts longer.

Also, I didn't check out your specific hardware, but make sure you check the obvious. Since you got the mobo / proc combo you don't need to worry about matching the board to your proc type. Just make sure the power supply has the right connectors for the mobo. Also I highly recommend reading hardware reviews on what you plan to buy, just to make sure you dont end up with cheap memory that won't work or something. And if you plan on running *nix on the box, any special tweaks you may need to do.

I've never seen arctic silver melt or leak. I run my shizzle hotish and do a yearly cleanup on my machines (use orange cleaner to clean out heatsinks... gets them sparkly). Compared to tape, when I take off a sink, usually it's tape that is really skimpy and flakey... At least arctic silver you still have to wipe off the core before you reapply and refasten the sink.

You shouldn't even be putting that much artic silver on, just a thin layer between the heatsink and processor is all you need, to fill in the little crevaces in both the heatsink and processor. Nothing should leak out, and I've been using it for years on my machines.

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About the arctic silver - it does provide better cooling, but over the long run it can melt and leak out or evaporate leaving your processor with a less than ideal heat transfer constant to the heatsink - eventually killing your proc. So if you're not planning on swapping heatsinks, just use the thermal tape it lasts longer.

Also, I didn't check out your specific hardware, but make sure you check the obvious. Since you got the mobo / proc combo you don't need to worry about matching the board to your proc type. Just make sure the power supply has the right connectors for the mobo. Also I highly recommend reading hardware reviews on what you plan to buy, just to make sure you dont end up with cheap memory that won't work or something. And if you plan on running *nix on the box, any special tweaks you may need to do.

This is so wrong it's not even funny. Arctic silver takes about a week to set and it should NEVER leak. Have you even felt the substance? "leaky" is most definately not how it feels. You shouldn't even use enough to stick out of the sides of your heatsink. I love arctic silver, and have used it on many builds.

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Okay, I've got another question: Do I NEED a graphics card? I'll be running Ubuntu using XWindows, but would it be able to handle all that on purely software?

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Okay, I've got another question: Do I NEED a graphics card? I'll be running Ubuntu using XWindows, but would it be able to handle all that on purely software?

I may have misunderstood your question, but If the motherboard doesn't have one integrated then you will need a graphics card...well, if you want to see what you are doing...

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i love the amd64's and ubuntu 5.10 has a 64 bit edition that is great on it.  there is no sense in my mind not to get the 64.

i will seconed that i have an AMD64 bit proc aswell and i love it, i had only one driver problem and it was with my scanner (microtek). i have Fedora core 4 64 and win xp x64 on a dual boot and am happy.

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Well, I bought it today! Went for the Athlon 64bit 3000, felt it was definitely worth it for future-proofing. Got a cheap GeForce 2 MX4000, crummy but then I'm not looking to play the latest games. Otherwise, everything else was pretty much the same. I'll update you on just how incredibly brilliant it is (and how easy it was to put together) once I've got it.

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Honestly the hardest part about building a computer is often just struggling to try to slide the motherboard into the case and hooking up the case pins to the motherboard. The rest is a breeze, you'll be fine :)

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If you worry about future upgradability, I hope you went with socket 939 :)

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Honestly the hardest part about building a computer is often just struggling to try to slide the motherboard into the case and hooking up the case pins to the motherboard. The rest is a breeze, you'll be fine :)

The hardest part of building a computer is getting the money need to do so.

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Honestly the hardest part about building a computer is often just struggling to try to slide the motherboard into the case and hooking up the case pins to the motherboard. The rest is a breeze, you'll be fine :)

The hardest part of building a computer is getting the money need to do so.

heck yeah.

I wanted to upgrade to dual core, but my mobo isnt 939.

So that means I'll need a new mobo if I get a new chip.

I have only found one Motherboard that supports 939 AND has an AGP slot. Everything else just has PCI express.

So if I get a good board, that means I need a new Video cared and Sound card.

New Chip = board + Graphics card + Sound card

chip + board + g card + s card = new computer

new computer = empty pocket

no job = no computer

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the first time i built a computer, I found it a lot easier than I thought it would be.

get all the parts and make sure that they are all compatible with each other, then just put it all in the case and plug it all in. :)

if you did it right, just load the OS and there you go.

The hardest part for me was finding the right motherboard and proccesor that met my specs and were compatible with each other.

~Cory

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The only thing that I would add is a CD-RW or better still a DVD-RW, you'll find good uses for it, backing up data etc

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