TechSpot

Tips for builders

By StormBringer
Jul 11, 2002
  1. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 1,040

    Stay away from generic or no-name PSUs (Power Supply Units).

    Too many times have power supplies been advertised as 400W (should power just about anything), and they can't get the computer to start with the video card plugged in only.

    Let me give you a name of a PSU that gave me trouble--EVER. Don't use their PSUs, they suck.

    Spend a little bit more that goes a long way.

    Good brands are Enermax (inexpensive, and good quality), and Antec (which is a tad expensive but good quality).

    Don't use too much thermal grease/compound, you want it to conduct to the metal heatsink, not become its own.
     
  2. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 1,040

    I would like to stress something, because of my carelessness I suffered the consequences.

    Turn off the computer AND unplug it from the outlet before doing anything! Even if you are installing a fan, TURN IT OFF.

    Me, and my carelessness, I was working on a computer last weekend, and was connecting a fan to a computer that was on. For some o-so strange reason, it appeared the molex conector from the PSU was cut off. I'm thinking what the heck? So I go ahead, and strip the wires (while the computer is still on). When I began to twist a couple wires together, I touch the second wire. SHOCK! ZAP! SMOKE! Computer restarts. Luckily, the computer was fine, I wasn't really.

    After being in shock, litterally and bodily state, I looked at my fingers. They were burned very severly deep, and had wire marks. It hurt alot like being burned, to this day I still have a scar on two of my fingers.


    SO THE LESSON IS: TURN OFF THE POWER AND DISCONNECT THE COMPUTER BEFORE WORKING ON IT!!! I can't stress it enough.

    You don't need to learn from your own mistakes, you can learn from others!
     
  3. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 1,040

    Also, it's a good idea to remember to not install "accessory drives" when installing Windows XP and formatting for the most part. You can, and probably will, get drive letter confusion, and the computer would get kind of messed up on some programs that think there's only such thing as a drive C. It's uncorrectable if your hard drive letter becomes something other than C. You cannot fix it.

    So, when formating, disconnect all "accessory drives" (e.g. Zip Drive, Flash Panels, etc.) and leave your CD ROM drives and a floppy in. Just to be sure, I would only have the hard drive(s), 1 floppy, and 1 cddrive, and after the install, just add your others on.

    This is a tip that will save you from an extra format. It's time saving if something were to get mixed up. It only takes less than 1 minute to disconnect your "accessory drives". Spending one minute to be sure that you won't have to format and install an OS for two hours, and then install applications for another hour, and all kinds of goodies, leading up to probably a day.

    I'm not saying you are guaranteed to have a problem if you don't follow this. It actually depends. Take that extra minute to only have minimals when you format.

    One minute goes a long way.
     
  4. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,199

    I wouldn't normally say this, but since this thread is used as reference to alot of people (4300+ views) I have to sort of intercede here...
    I have 5 hard drives (12 partitions) and 2 CD-ROM drives, and I format, remove, repartition and generally change them fairly frequently. Every single program I've ever used has recognized all of them, I even store as many savegames as I can on my M: drive and run a few programs (like SETIDriver) off my J: drive. I've installed tons of OS's (XP, 2000, 2003 Server, RH9, Fedora, Slackware, etc.) with the only hitch of several of them not supporting my RAID controller. Plus leaving your components in makes it so that their drivers are installed during installation, and not via the Add Hardware wizard later. If every time I installed a new OS I unplugged every other hard drive, that would be the epitome of inefficiency and a nightmare of retardedness, because anyone with a little common sense knows how to dual boot. We're not teaching our grandmothers how to build a computer, but maybe I am wrong and everything does need to be rounded down to the lowest common denominator. I assumed people who were bold enough to build a computer weren't like that, but I guess not. Maybe some people do have these problems :dead:
    All I'm saying is that removing all your "extraneous" drives isn't necessary and is just too much of a hassle to be worth it. But if you want to because you're paranoid and freak out even though absolutely nothing is going to happen, go ahead, I'm just saying it's nonsensical.

    And it's perfectly alright to install just a fan when your machine is running, just not to...heh...strip the wires and proceed to touch them...:rolleyes:
     
  5. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 1,040

    Your hard drives and CDROM drives aren't what I mean by "ACCESSORY DRIVES"


    That's not what I mean by accessory drives. Sure.. you should be fine with things windows will obviously recognize... cd drives... hard drives... etc.

    But, I found that when installing the OS... at least for Windows... and a Zip Drive is connected, it sometimes likes to label the Zip Drive as the C... I've done it over a few times and it happened each time on an install of Windows XP Pro SP1a OEM.

    By "Accessory drives" I am talking about stuff other than hard drives and CD ROM drives. I just happened to take it to a further extent in explaining that maybe it's best to remove all of them... just to be sure.

    Yes, I've installed my OS plenty of times with 2HDs... or just 1... or add 1... 2 CDROMS... etc.

    It's stuff like Zip drives that will knock you off the cliff.
     
  6. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,199

    Zip drives should be labeled as B:, but having 2 floppy drives would screw that up. I can see how that would happen. But who has two floppy drives? I don't even have a single one.
     
  7. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 1,040

    Not necessarily. I was instaling a setup:

    SATA HD on chan 0
    CDROM drv on primary master
    zip drive secondary master
    floppy drive... on its own channel

    And it decided to make my zip drive C:, my HD E: CDROM D: and Floppy A:.
     
  8. lowman

    lowman TS Rookie Posts: 446

    Best advice I can give is to ask questions and TAKE YOUR TIME!!!!!
     
  9. Brain Picker

    Brain Picker TS Rookie

    If it won't turn on the first time, check the pawer switch lead to the mobd. It may be backwards. Also if power/disk lites won't come on it may be the same thing.
     
  10. Glenville

    Glenville TS Rookie

    Heres my pennyworth....

    Need to find out whats happenning in the Manufactures World of our Stuff...Computer Products.

    Log into http://www.computerproducts.globalsources.com/am?page=articlehome_cdev

    Register and request a Copy of the Magazine ....

    You will recieve a Complementary Copy of this exellent publication Direct from Hong Kong which will land on your doormat about 6 Weeks from initial registration....

    Once you recieve it... Log into your Asian Sources account and complain that you are still waiting for your copy of Computer Products....
    Meanwhile enjoy reading about all the stuff that is heading our way... and Generaly all the stuff happenning in the factories that are producing the stuff we are talking about on these Forums...

    By the time you have Ingested all that lovely info... you will recieve the NEXT copy of this publication...

    Its a seasonal magazine for the Big Boys and Buyers of all stuff Computers...

    Carry on getting it for as long as you can...

    Ime into my 6th edition....
     
  11. Glenville

    Glenville TS Rookie

    Oh... PS.
    Ime a newby here...and dont know the nature of people here...But guess ill soon find out...

    Thanks to an excellent thread StormBringer
     
     
  12. redfoxtx

    redfoxtx TS Rookie Posts: 28

    I find one of the mistakes I keep making is plugging the fdd cable in the wrong way round, as they don't tend to be tabbed like normal IDE cables. It's not a big issue, as if you do have it upside down when you power on, the activity lite will be solid, turn off, flip around, problem solved.
     
  13. ArchVile

    ArchVile TS Rookie Posts: 73

    im not gonna say that a show off but i never use a strap and ive never killed any components.
     
  14. meganox

    meganox TS Rookie

    When you power up for the first time, don't bother plugging in any drives; CPU, RAM and video card is all you need to get into BIOS. Keep a finger on the PSU switch or if there isn't one keep a hold of the power cable and if the CPU fan doesn't start spinning flick it/pull it. Once you've verified these components work you can start plugging in your drives.

    After that install your PCI cards one at a time. I enable the "Update ESCD" (or "Reset Configuration Data") option in BIOS whenever I make hardware changes after having one board that required it.
     
  15. n3tw0rk t3ch

    n3tw0rk t3ch TS Rookie Posts: 17

    another thing to keep in mind when buying parts is to pay attention to things like the FSB (front side bus) numbers on things like processors and drives are as important as the right memory type. never assume anything when building from scratch.

    "when in doubt, find out"
     
  16. n3tw0rk t3ch

    n3tw0rk t3ch TS Rookie Posts: 17

    winXP is very capable of figuring out what drive is the primary regardless of its drive letter. i accidently got my primary drive labeled as F: but evrything goes in smooth, and i have never had to manually point to f: for the sake of installation. i do installs via the manufacturer disks or via my network. no prob cept it looks weird is all ;)
     
  17. TacticalFlow

    TacticalFlow TS Rookie Posts: 49

    Ok im upgrading and im thinking of getting a nforce4 with a amd64 3400+ with a 6800gt New case with psu, and keeping my old computer parts.. generic ram one stick 3200 1gig ddr. That should work right? Im I forgeting anything?
    60 gig hd..

    Question 2.. The nforce4 should have dual channel ram right? cause i got nforce2 and it has it.. But i dont know how to work it. I got this 1 gig generic 3200.. Wondering if i could just buy another exact same kind and run them as dual channel so i can have 2 gig? But i also hear its not worth getting 2 gig for gaming (which is why im upgrading) and should just get 2 sticks of 512.
     
  18. marcothy

    marcothy TS Rookie Posts: 27

    Some things about building a computer you learned in Kindergarten:

    1. Put a square peg into a sqaure hole. Put a round peg into a round hole. If the peg doesn't seem to fit-don't force it because breaking things is just not nice.
    2. Be neat and clean up as you go. Don't be anxious to pack everything in your case-plug her up and let her rip...take some time, be careful about how you lay out your wires and keep them neat as you place them.
    3. The only stupid question is a question that is not asked.
    4. Don't be afraid to read the directions or user manual.
     
  19. adambloor

    adambloor TS Rookie Posts: 18

    Just to say thanks

    Just thought I would say thank you to all the people that put information into this thread. It has helped me out alot being a first time builder my pc is running nicely.

    Nice 1 guys (and girls)
     
  20. Ea$Y

    Ea$Y TS Rookie Posts: 73

    Yep -
    Everything said here is perfect advice.
    And rememember.... K.I.S.S
    Keep it simple stupid.

    R.T.F.M Read the Freaking (substituted word) :p Manual.

    And most of all if it aint broke dont fix it.
     
  21. REB_ElMagnifico

    REB_ElMagnifico TS Rookie Posts: 32

    Before buying PLAN everything. Think about what you are going to use the computer for and then research the individual parts. If you are on a budget you can get a really good computer if you are just patient. For example I got a 300 gB Seagate HD for $107 after taxes and rebate. I pieced my computer together looking for sales, especially at Fry's electronics. And look for good warranties.

    As far as putting the parts together...everything is covered on this thread very well.
    I just want to add one thing...
    When I am inside of my computer, I usually drop a little screw into a little space that seems impossible to get out. First of all, NEVER use a magnet. I invent a little tool: I take a non-magnetic screw driver and wrap tape on the end and wala...a non-magnetic magnet.
     
  22. Wotrop

    Wotrop TS Rookie Posts: 112

    Amd is simply the underdog in this on going war of the CPU's

    But let's make it short.

    P4 coolin differs from AMD. Because intel has been more times around the block they have fore knolage of cooling. Sorry AMD lovers but intel cpu are much cooler and better for overclocking in that manner. And HT looks useful. Intel CPU's will last longer and malfunction the least. Take it from me. my oldoverclocked MMX is still chugin.

    On the other hand AMD CPU's are better for intense gaming somehow. 64 bit is cool and AMD is well an underdog.


    So fallow my chart.
    ________________________________________________________________
    Home use like e-mail and internet, go with the celeron 2.4 - 2.8
    ________________________________________________________________
    Moderate gaming, internet and home, go with the XP 2200+ - 2800+
    ________________________________________________________________
    High gaming, and extreem overclocking, go with the P4 2.6 - 3.4
    ________________________________________________________________
    Extreem gaming,Online gaming and 64 bit, go 64 3000+ - 3800+
    ________________________________________________________________

    Anything more and U will be going into the 2000$ range (stay away)



    Most of the system's speed is based on the HDD. Only use 1/4 of your HDD any more and you could lose up to 40% of your speed. Get big hard drives!the bigger the better.

    For the $ sake get a motherboard with alot of onboard stuff. It is cheeper, about the same quality and it comes with your motherboard warenty.
     
  23. charles1961

    charles1961 TS Rookie

    mb.s

    also, before putting the Motherboard in, check to make sure you got all the standoffs in the correct place first... one inncorrect standoff if metal could short out the motherboard..


    as far as heat goes wotrap, Intel has had a problem with there faster cpus staying cool, so what you said is not true..ive even seen a few of them with thermal cooling(the ones when you put voltage to em, one side gets hot while the other side freezes) and that wasn't enough,,

    I'm sure that over clocked mmx cpu your talking about is one of intels older cpu's... not there barn burner new ones..



    >>For the $ sake get a motherboard with alot of onboard stuff. It is cheeper, >>about the same quality and it comes with your motherboard warenty


    bad advice... usually the crap on the board is crap.... and if one thing goes out,it might take the whole board out with it.. stay away from boards with everything built on it... unless you need to save a few $$$....
     
  24. Ea$Y

    Ea$Y TS Rookie Posts: 73

    Hehe
    I love the variety of opinions.
    Nobody is right or wrong - (well not really :p)-
    Most of the tips here are great advice. Especially the part about the standoffs in the correct position ..I have experienced that first hand lol.
    I agree with Charles... integrated hardware on boards is definatly the cheaper way to go ..however- for example if the onboard sound or video fails...depending on if it is an integral circuit it will render the board useless.
    Having said that I have had a board with integrated lan and sound for 3 years. No problems. But it depends on a lot more factors then just care/use of the board.

    My 2 cents..
     
  25. Ea$Y

    Ea$Y TS Rookie Posts: 73

    Hey ...
    One question about hard drives.
    40 gigger- 2 platters spinning at 7200 (give or take a few revolutions)
    how hot is each platter? 15 - 20 deg c ?
    how many platters are in a 200 gig?
    its gotta be 6-8 platters?
    How can a drive that hot be better? lol
    Drive manufacturers used to have a 3 year warranty now they have 1 year cause these beasts are running so hot and systematically breaking down due to heat issues - and mechanical failure. Not only do you have much more moving parts to worry about - you have a virtual greenhouse in the h.dd case lol
    It must take 2 hours to format the beast lol.
    It takes 15 mins to format a 40.
    I have never gone above a 40 for a primary - and if i have needed it I have always put a raid array on the primary boot order. Or sata if needed.
    Just a thought

    Cheers
     
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