Building computer help

To all you people out there that know about computers,

I’m looking to build a custom computer, basically for running newer games like saints row 2 and gta 4, with decent speed and graphics settings, i’ll also use it for blendering and other 3d work but that’s kinda irrelevant cause the computer i’ve got at the moment is good enough for that.

I’ve never built a computer before, but i’m going to at school this week (start anyway, don’t know how long it should take) with one of there old machines so i can learn what’s involved.

Basically i’m wondering how much i’d be looking at paying for a computer like this. Also if your feeling generous, list some good components to use.

Thanks for any help,

Also any usefull websites would be much appreciated

The best advise I can give is; options are good. No matter what you do don’t skimp on the mobo. Gamers started by overclocking nice Asus machines. Now high end AMDs are the hot item. Make sure and fit the case to the mobos’ form factor and match the power supply perfectly. From there just install the best supported hardware you can get your hands on. Don’t leave any fan connecters blank. You gotta keep it cool. is a good place to start looking at components.

At the bare minimum you will need:
Hard Drive
Optical Drive
Video Card

I leave soundcard and ethernet card off the list, because most motherboard have some sort of onboard sound and LAN, and they are usually more than sufficient for playing games.

Some people swear by AMD, some swear by Intel. Personally, I’ve bought AMD for my previous couple of computers for the price, ad the last Intel PC I built had heat issues (that was way back in the day, tho). The Current Intels are generally ‘better’ than the current AMD’s, but they are also more expensive, so you’ll have to look at some charts and some prices to see which way you want to go yourself. I’m about to build another PC and right now I’m still leaning towards AMD, but the Intels that are out now (like the quads…) are really blowing the doors off the AMD’s in performance terms.

With Video cards it’s largely the same. The ATI cards are ususally more expensive, and the most expensive ATI cards will outperform any Nvidia card out there (as far as I know), but the Nvidias are - in my experience - more stable and tend to play well with everything. I prefer Nvidias drivers and settings as well, and if you’re going Linux or think you might decide to go with Linux, Nvidia is much easier to work with. Get something with Pixel Shader 3.0 and get a minimum of 512 MB Video Ram. The video card - in my experience - should almost always end up being the most expensive thing in the PC, and with GLUT on the horizon, the faster, better a video card you get, you might end up with a LOT more bang for your buck later on.

SATA Hard Drives and Optical Drives are the way to go. Seagate Hard Drives are bad-asses that last forever. Western Digital is the privious ‘best HD ever’ award holder, and they still make decent stuff. Maxtor is popular, but I think it’s just due to price. I’ve had a few Maxtor Drives, and they’re stable enough, but I’ve had three HD’s crap out on me and two of them were Maxtors. The other one was a decade-old Western Digital. The Maxtors were only a couple of years old.

You can get nearly a Terrabyte of storage now for a couple hundred bucks. It’s insane.

For an Optical Drive, get some sort of burner… Depending on what way you go, the optical drive can cost you next to nothing (like $30) for a decent, solid DVD burner, or you can get something more high-end, like the newer LG Blu-Ray burners. These drives will burn and read anything you throw at them. Optical Drives are less likely to up and die on you, but I make it a point to avoid Pioneer, as all the optical drives that have EVER crapped out on me were Pioneer.

Asus makes a good motherboard, but there are so many board makers out there now, I’m not sure how many of them are solid and how many of them are crap. New Egg allows you to look at the reviews and see if people are getting a lot of dead boards or whatever.

Also, one thing to be aware of is that your Motherboard will be key factors for other purchases. Some motherboards are laid out oddly, so that a large Video Card will obstruct your RAM slots or something else. Always look at the reviews for motherboards and see if the comments mention any really abnormal things like slots being covered by cards or by the cases, not fitting the cases correctly or large numbers of complaints of DOA boards.

Anyway, I’ve put together a few PC’s on New Egg in the last couple of months without actually buying them, and for about $600 - $700 you can build yourself quite an awesome little PC that will be playing games well for the next three or four years without worry. Since I’m more of a budget-oriented guy, I’ve also built some “e-Machine” type PC’s and have determined that you can build a PC right now for $400 that will be quite good in most cases (tho for playing games you’d probably have to lower some settings or resolution…). It’s a good time to be building PC’s tho. You might want to practice by making an e-machine first. You can probably build a “cheapest possible PC” for $150 or less. (and that PC would probably still be better than the one I currently have…)

I built my first computer 2 years ago.

It took months of research before I knew what motherboard I wanted and what was compatible with it.

My tips: research everything

Spend the most money on the motherboard/processors, power supply, and the drive that you will install your OS on. Memory and graphics card you can always upgrade as needed.

important When you are assembling the computer wear non-conductive gloves and ground yourself (I wrapped a wire around my wrist and around my bed frame) Our bodies carry small electrical charges, which could destroy your processor if you accidentally touched the wrong pins. Also buy the best thermal grease and take your time getting a good contact between the heatsink and the processor.

Who needs a case? My motherboard didn’t fit into the cheap one I bought so I modified it and removed the panels. Since it is open air I could get rid of 2 noisy case fans. Now every 3 months or so I just remove dust with compressed air. I’ve heard people just bolting their mobo down to their desk, or even suspending it in a fish tank full of mineral oil.

Thanks for your replies guys, much appreciated, especially you Squiggly_P that must have taken a while to write.:wink:

Another question, would you guys recommend buying parts locally or via the web?


Just note that the motherboard you buy will influence everything. If you upgrade your motherboard later then you’ll probably be forced to upgrade everything else too so it’s pretty important.

You should probably should go for the current intel “nehalem” i7 processor and motherboard line for performance and futureproofing. It’s like the hardware equivalent of blender’s 2.5 update - a major rethink of the architecture.

If im building a cheap computer but still want to be able to upgrade after a year or so and have a great computer again I buy mobo thats a little bit expensive and that supports current high end cpus. Then I buy the cheapest/slowest cpu for that mobo and ram. So in about a year or so when cpu prices go down I can use that mobo and just replace cpu and ram and still have a great computer.