Building my own PC

#1
Have decided that my present computer is due for retirement. I built it about 7 years ago.

I am thinking of building a new one and am lost when it comes to current specs.

What I need to know is some decent specs for graphics cards and soundcards etc.

Am looking for a base unit with as much RAM and as fast a processor as possible. Ideally there should be the capability to add more RAM.

A small unit with a DVD/RW 120Gb hard disk 2.8Ghz processor and 4Gb RAM to start or there abouts. Don't need a big hard disk as I have an external and don't keep much on my PC.

Budget of about £400 -£500
 
#2
Go buy Custom PC; they are doing a £400 build this month.
 
#3
roadster280 said:
Just out of curiosity, what's your age? Is building computers a younger, older or middle age thing? Not trying to kick off, just curious.
Old 50 now. Always wanted to build my own pc, so did it. Never blew up when I switched it on and has lasted all these years.
 
#4
Just been having a quick look on Dabs.com and making up a rough shopping list. There is a good computer shop near me so may go there and get a quote, will also look at the custom build option
 
#6
IT professional - wonder why you want to build it - you can get as good spec buying ready-made as the cost of parts, and will have a full warranty.....
 
#7
Also try www.scan.co.uk they are extremely good (I worked for them for 2 years, and stay in touch with the owner/MD), so in a way a shameless plug, but they do know what they are doing, and a damn sight better than Dabs!
 
#8
Have seen some half decent base units, but only have 4Gb RAM and not sure if the motherboard hs room for more. The hard disk is also huge for my needs 640Gb. I have a 120 and have only used a quarter of it.

Have bookmarked the above website and will have a look probably on the weekend when I make a shopping list. May get one built by a local computer place. Small shop which is very good and fairly cheap.
 
#9
Have seen some half decent base units, but only have 4Gb RAM and not sure if the motherboard hs room for more. The hard disk is also huge for my needs 640Gb. I have a 120 and have only used a quarter of it.

Have bookmarked the above website and will have a look probably on the weekend when I make a shopping list. May get one built by a local computer place. Small shop which is very good and fairly cheap.
 
#10
Taffnp said:
Have seen some half decent base units, but only have 4Gb RAM and not sure if the motherboard hs room for more. The hard disk is also huge for my needs 640Gb. I have a 120 and have only used a quarter of it.

Have bookmarked the above website and will have a look probably on the weekend when I make a shopping list. May get one built by a local computer place. Small shop which is very good and fairly cheap.
Bear in mind if you are wanting to go over 4GB RAM than you will need a 64-bit OS and a modern OS is going to bit heavily into a 120GB harddrive.
A smaller hard drive isn't going to save you very much anyway.
 
#11
I'm on my third or fourth self build right now depending how you define it and my current one is the best so far. I started building it around 2 years ago and only recently got around to finishing it up.

I had a clear idea of what I wanted and the standard I wanted to achieve at the outset so I knew I would not waste time / money replacing parts in the future for slight technological advancements.

You should know that there are lots of people out there that have built "rigs" of all types and just about anyone you can build right now has been made, played with and tested so there is a load of data out there and you should read up.

My premise was simple. A friend of mine bought a €3000 Alienware pc and I wanted to self build to have similar performance and come under the 3k mark. I am glad to say that I did it and in every area I reach competitive results with the cost total around €1100.

I learned a lot from the build as it was the first one where I didn't get all the parts from a crap hole like PC world. I paid attention and didn't impulse buy anything and the result for this gaming machine is actually above expectations and is better than it reads on paper.

I generally don't give much stake to benchmarking although it has it's place. For me what was the "bench" was maintain 80+ fps in shooters like modern warfare while trying to establish comparative loading speeds. Right now, I am normally first to load into any map. So it does what I want.

I did cheap out on the GPU but performance was already in the ball park I wanted. Even before anything was over clocked - I built the machine to be an overclockers dream :)

I would suggest the following rationale:

1. Decide what your real goals are. (if you want to play some civ4 or wow then you are not going to need a top end machine and may as well buy a tescos special)

2. Read up on other builds for similar needs. I would suggest http://tomshardware.com

Now is the important bit.

3. From all you have read up on, pick the CPU. Pretty much that means AMD or Intel (green or blue as a friend says) - note that Intel are pushing there new generation stuff but following Boyles laws, the stuff you sell the house to fund now will be car booted in a year.

I managed to get hold of one of the last run of the Intel Q6600 which was already old when I started my build but still punches above its weight compared to the new generation chips.

4. This might be more important than the CPU but you need to pick your Motherboard with great care. I personally am a fan of ASUS but they are starting to fall from grace again. For my chip at the time there was no better for my needs. Read reviews about the chip and the mobo working together and make sure the FSB is the right sort of range you need as this will effect the RAM you can use and will be one of the biggest limiting factors. The FSB on the P5N-d Asus board I used was lower than I would have liked but was acceptable given the capabilities of the board.

5. RAM is next. This is wild card territory but aim for OCZ brand if you have the cash for it and make sure the timing is right for your system. If by this point you don't understand this or have questions, you should read more.

Don't buy anything until you have got these sorted. Everything else is pretty piecemeal and while what you use is important everything from now can have some shuffle.

Really now you will want to look at the GPU. This might influence the case you use. In my case, this wasn't an issue for me really but the monster of the Noctua CPU cooler I used forced my hand with the case but the Haf 922 was worth it.

This is part way through the final wiring up phase



Best of luck :D
 
#12
Save your time and money (you will end up doing this again in 2 years' time I am sure!) and get yourself a Mac.

Yes, more expensive at the start, but holds its value, does not get viruses, goes like lightning, and importantly does not slow down to a crawl after a year's use.

And it is very cool.
 
#13
CivvyPete said:
IT professional - wonder why you want to build it - you can get as good spec buying ready-made as the cost of parts, and will have a full warranty.....
If you look at ALL the components in a ready made, and then look at the cost of equivelant components bought seperately, there is often very little in it.

If the pre-built is significantly cheaper then that may well be because they have put low quality components in to save money, the PSU being one of the ones that often suffers here.

Personally I would always go with self builds, simply because I can get exactly what I want, within my budget.

I have been looking at both types recently as I am upgrading. With a £1000 budget I can get a better, all round system with a 22" screen included for just under £1000.

Almost every pre-built I have looked at in that price range (most of which don't have screens included), are lower specs in one area or another.


Cormank said:
5. RAM is next. This is wild card territory but aim for OCZ brand if you have the cash for it and make sure the timing is right for your system. If by this point you don't understand this or have questions, you should read more.
To add to that, I would say Crucial are also very good. I would suggest the best place to get info on RAM is the Manufacturers website of the motherboard you have chosen. They will (or at least should) have a QVL (Qualified Vendor List) and it will tell you what RAM, exactly, has been tested and works with the board. That doesn't mean to say others won't work, but the ones on the list are good, again look for OCZ, Crucial, Corsair. Also, if there are problems you have some comeback as the manufacturer has stated they are fully compatible.

Another, often overlooked component is the PSU (as I have mentioned above). Spend a bit of money on it, buy a quality unit from someone like OCZ, PC Power and Cooling or Corsair and buy a unit that is a bit above what you need. Not only for potential upgrades but a PSU will last longer if it isn't working at its limit.
 
#14
Lead_Isotope said:
Save your time and money (you will end up doing this again in 2 years' time I am sure!) and get yourself a Mac.

Yes, more expensive at the start, but holds its value, does not get viruses, goes like lightning, and importantly does not slow down to a crawl after a year's use.

And it is very cool.
I suppose someone had to do the obligatory ... 'buy a mac' post! :p
 
#15
Lead_Isotope said:
Save your time and money (you will end up doing this again in 2 years' time I am sure!) and get yourself a Mac.

Yes, more expensive at the start, but holds its value, does not get viruses, goes like lightning, and importantly does not slow down to a crawl after a year's use.

And it is very cool.
What!!!!


:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
 
#16
Lead_Isotope said:
Save your time and money (you will end up doing this again in 2 years' time I am sure!) and get yourself a Mac.

Yes, more expensive at the start, but holds its value, does not get viruses, goes like lightning, and importantly does not slow down to a crawl after a year's use.

And it is very cool.
The best way to accelerate a Macintoy is at 9.98ms^-1 - preferably from at least a 5th floor window.

The days of no virii on Macs have long gone. There are now enough users to make it worthwhile targeting them.

Also if Steve Jobs/Apple keep blocking Adobe Flash on the iphone/ipad/ipod touch I would not be suprised if the next version of Photoshop became windows only.

Disclaimer: I use windows because the games industry only tend to write for directX rather than openGL. Give me GuildWars on Linux (native, not through Wine) and I'll reformat and reinstall.
 
#17
If you don't need tons of space or play games then the single biggest speed/performance upgrade you can give to your computer is a Solid State Drive. Without exaggeration they are 100 times faster than a normal hard drive. Absolutely nothing makes them sweat, and they don't have any moving parts so they don't churn.

Make sure you get Windows 7 because it has TRIM support (a process which keeps SSDs working in peak condition). Without TRIM the speed will decrease but level out after a while - but it will still be many orders of magnitude faster than a spindle hard-drive.

I'm not sure what your reasons are for a new PC but if all you're after is speed and a fresh feel to operations then you might as well save yourself a lot of money and just get yourself 60GB or so of SSD (about £100).

P.S. - Anandtech has some good indepth introductions, reviews and articles on SSDs.
 
#18
Lead_Isotope said:
Save your time and money (you will end up doing this again in 2 years' time I am sure!) and get yourself a Mac.
Fag :p
 
#19
Lead_Isotope said:
Save your time and money (you will end up doing this again in 2 years' time I am sure!) and get yourself a Mac.

Yes, more expensive at the start, but holds its value, does not get viruses, goes like lightning, and importantly does not slow down to a crawl after a year's use.

And it is very cool.
Balls!

Macs are good, but they do get viruses and Mal-ware. Same for Linux PC's.

Mac's have very high specs but are also a fashion item, when they go out of fashion the price will drop. Also they are tricky to upgrade.
 
#20
cupoftea said:
If you don't need tons of space or play games then the single biggest speed/performance upgrade you can give to your computer is a Solid State Drive.
I would partially agree however its an unfinished tech atm and if you get a cheaper one, ie under £200 then you actually will have issues with micro writing and the result is lower performance. In a year or so they might be worth it on a standard gaming rig.

What I have instead is several top end samsung 500gb drives with one unpartitioned with system and programs then the next 500 drive with the primary partition set to around 100gb (this is several times more than is needed) and this is for a dedicated page file. Further drives are for long term storage(pics/vids etc) are used. If you really want to be fancy, you can us a usb flash drive for temp files such as internet shiz.

An extreme example of SSD at work is here LINK
Seriously though, I have found that running the numbers fully and using gear that is designed to work together even if older, normally works much better than strapping on the latest gucci bits.
 

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