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plans for building a computer: where to begin?

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  • plans for building a computer: where to begin?

    I have a few simple questions concerning the construction of a machine.

    When starting to design the machine you want to build, where should you begin? Should I begin by saying "What kind of motherboard do I want?" or should I ask "What kind of component resources do I want"? I am curious if I should first decide what I want on a motherboard before I go looking for a motherboard that can handle what I desire.

  • #2
    Re: plans for building a computer: where to begin?

    First of all, a budget would really help. Also are you planning to recycle any hardware, such as a hard drive, DVD player, mouse, keyboard, monitor? These things will play a role in deciding how much of your actual budget will be used for the motherboard, processor, ram and video card :)


    • #3
      Re: plans for building a computer: where to begin?

      ^^What he said.

      If you're starting from scratch - the place I usually start is what type of CPU do I need/want. From there you figure out the type of GPU you need/want. Then the amount and type (very important) of RAM. THEN you pick the motherboard that supports all of the components and gives you everything else you want (ports, connections, SIZE). Next up is hard discs and optical drives. Then pick a PSU that will power all that sweet gear you want. Finally pick out a case.

      That process can get twisted especially if you want to water cool or something like that where you'd have to pick the case out ahead of time, but that's the basic process I go through when starting from scratch.

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      • #4
        Re: plans for building a computer: where to begin?

        First determine the main purpose(s) of your computer

        ... most likely gaming? What games?
        Take a peek at the benchmarks for those games(or other software). Note if there is a preference for certain hardware, ATI/NVIDIA GPU, DUAL/QUAD core CPU, certain amount of GPU RAM, and so on

        are there any other specific requirements for the computer?
        Do you want certain CPU instruction extensions(example: SSE 4.1), do you need a certain interface port for another piece of hardware(firewire/USB3.0)

        After you figure out some of these preliminary questions I would grab your budget and go to town balancing CPU/GPU power(dependent upon those benchmarks you checked earlier) with a slight bias towards CPU as the GPU is much more easily upgraded.
        |TG-12th| Namebot


        • #5
          Re: plans for building a computer: where to begin?

          I'll agree with what all the fine folks above have said, especially Namebot. But that would make for a very short comment, so I'll add a few points. First, identify the main purpose of the new computer, then the most hardware-intensive uses you're planning on putting it to. If you're planning on occasionally doing some FPS gaming, or some video rendering, it would be rather disappointing if the machine wasn't up to the task. On the other hand, if you had to pay an extra $400 or so to make sure it was, you might just skip those video projects... :)

          While the motherboard would be step 3 in my personal checklist (after CPU and video card, in that order), that's the part that will dictate a lot of your hardware choices. Are you OK with a board that only supports up to DDR3-1066 RAM, or do you want the full DDR3-1600 capability, even if that means an extra $100 for the board (not to mention the added cost of the memory)? Are you looking for a board that will let you overclock your system easily? Are you an audiophile, or will you be OK with onboard sound? Do you want a motherboard with a tonne of USB ports, or are you only going to plug in two or three USB devices, or use an external hub...? Etc. etc. etc.

          I highly recommend the most current issue of CPU Magazine as a starting point. (June 2010, vol. 10, issue 06). Pages 60-68 are an overview of boards for both Intel and AMD, ranging from $45 to $500 in price.

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          • #6
            Re: plans for building a computer: where to begin?

            Budget and Usage. Until you can answer those two BeSiege, not much more helpful advice we can give. Kind of pointless to start delving into core components, if you don't know what your spending limit is and what you plan on using the system for.
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