Wanting to build a PC

By JackGallagher · 55 replies
Apr 11, 2007
  1. Hello,
    i am thinking about building a new pc from scratch and am about to start saving for what i might need. I have ordered building pcs for dummys and wanted to start looking around for different parts to buy. I am thinking of buying a case from maplings which has dials to tell you the speed, power and temperature.
    It will be a home pc mainly used for internet, work and music and maybe some games. Could somebody tell me a list of things i need,
    i.e which tools and components.
    As i will start looking to find the cheapest ones and which i need and so i will know how much to save and what equipment i need i.ee screwdriver e.t.c.
    Many thanks,
  2. lilaaron

    lilaaron TS Rookie

    Hi, heres a little list!

    Power Supply
    Heatsink and Fan
    Graphics Card
    Sound Card (If not included with Motherboard)
    120mm & 80mm Fans
    Hard Drives
    Cd Drives
    Floppy Drive
    IDE Cables
    Power Cables (You may run out if you put more in the system)
  3. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    Internet, work and music.

    Unless you're into high quality music (NOT mp3), and your work doesn't involve CAD or video editing, chances are you won't need anything really fancy. Other than for bragging rights, or to relieve your eyes... :D

    The only question is your gaming, what kind of games are you looking to play? How often will you want to play? And from your first post, I can see you want something as cheap as possible?

    And yes, you'd probably only need a screwdriver.
  4. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    If you live in a city that has stores with large magazine racks, look there for a publication that will tell you what to do with options. There are good ones by CPU, Maximum PC, and others that will tell you everything you need to know, with photographs.
    Also, there is a good 10 part series on About.com
    You start with a good motherboard and power supply. Be careful about cases that come with a power supply already installed. They are usually trouble sooner or later.
  5. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    I'd recommend a motherboard with onboard graphics if you aren't really interested in the latest games.

    I'll also recommend an m-atx system.

    I would dig up more for you if I know what types of games you play and your budget.
  6. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,996   +2,528

    50/50 I Agree.....

    Since many times the same chipset can usually be purchased with or without onboard graphics for about $15.00 more (USD), that's a good idea. Almost a no brainer.

    The Micro ATX boards sometimes have size issues with add-ins, particularly many large aftermarket CPU fan/heatsink combos.
  7. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    You always tailor a specific spec for a specific use. Adding 15 bux for on-board graphics is not a "no-brainer". Heck, I have NEVER bought computers with on-board graphics. On board graphics usually have less performance in other sectors, plus the fact that they use up RAM, and I'll need to get a graphics card anyway, cos on board graphics is just not powerful enough.

    However, if all you want to do is play CS, Warcraft3, and "low-powered", old games like that, on board graphics should suffice. Forget about playing Oblivion, or Supreme Commander or newer games. Personally, I think that Starcraft is still a great game to play....

    We'd still need a reply on budget, and the types of games...
  8. JackGallagher

    JackGallagher TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Thanks for your replies. I dont have any savings so i intend to buy things when i need them. I am going to put 30pounds per week towards it. Overall probably not over 400pounds (is this to small). the games i will be playing will be low graphics as i play games on xbox360. Also, if i entend to copy dvds to burn to dvd and MP3 player will i need anything extra other than a DVD rewriter drive?
    I intend to spend 400pounds just on the tower not including screen e.t.c, i go to computer fares alot to get realy cheap things aswell. But i dont realy have a fixed budget.
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,996   +2,528

    Well I NEVER, Indignation Rules......

    I'm in the US and RAM is dirt cheap at the moment. Some of the perennially insecure among us enjoy having a spare tire in our car. So, should your shiny new graphics card break, or the drivers fail to function in Vista.... It seems to me that a metered approach to building a PC can offset one time major expenses. In other words, if someone buys what they need to get it running, (with a medium to high end motherboard), you can add later as need dictates and finances permit. Intel's new boards with the 965 chipset spec out pretty much the same with or without onboard graphics. No, they're not overclockable, Intel sort of adopts a computer expert proof approach to warranty matters. Matx boards still have issues with CPU cooler clearance, and If you feel the need to tell me you've NEVER bought an Intel board, DON'T BOTHER because I DON'T CARE.
  10. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,186   +469

    Don't forget to allot some money to buying an O.S. I presume the choice will be between Windows XP and Vista. If you want Vista, keep in mind the system requirements for Vista are higher than for XP and in some cases onboard graphics may be insufficient to install or display all of Vista's features. Of course, it also depends upon which flavor of Vista you want.
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,996   +2,528

    I know no one cares...but....

    Intel's media series G965 boards with their GMA3000 chipset, will run Vista Aero Glass. Memory is still cheap in the US at the moment.
  12. JackGallagher

    JackGallagher TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Thanks for your replies again. If the case i buy has a fan already on it (at fornt and side) do i still have to buy the 120mm and 80mm fans? And also do you think an Intel Celeron 3.06ghz procesesser and Kingstom 1024mb 400mhz DDR24 RAM is enough to run vista home premium?
  13. foozy

    foozy TS Rookie Posts: 139

    When i'm building 'net rigs I usually just get a m-ATX board that has video, sound, and network built-in. It's good to make sure the board has a PCIEx16 slot just in case you want to upgrade in the future.

    Vista is pretty graphics dependent. 1 gig of DDR2 is alright, but I only get "vista experience" scores of 3.0-3.2 using an onboard GeForce 6100 gpu.

    In my opinion, vista is much ado about nothing anyway.
  14. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,996   +2,528

    Celeron...Famous or Infamous....

    At the present time the only Celerons worth considering are the Cedar Mill 65nm varieties, #s 356 (3.33Ghz ) & 360 (3.46Ghz) the 356 is probably the big bargain at $59.00 (USD) Newegg. They have 512Mb L2 caches. They're pretty much a Pent4 but with only a 533Mz FSB. Link: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...0000343+1050706982+1050919458&name=Cedar+Mill Once Again: memory is dirt cheap right now: Here's a sample: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...1052108080+1052408745&name=DDR2+667+(PC2+5300) BTW: Newegg is selling the Cedar Mill Pentium 4 641 (3.3Ghz) for $75.00. Another huge bargain, (my humble opinion).
  15. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,186   +469

    I would recommend adding a rear exhaust fan, 120mm if it will fit.
  16. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    Hmm... come to think of it, AMD would be a better choice at that budget.

    Especially since you said that your gaming is done the the Xbox360, so I'd take it that an on board graphics and sound should be good enough. Also, you don't really need alot of processing power to run winamp and a couple of office programs.

    What you're really looking for here probably is a very budget PC.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131014R (open box, same as above)

    This motherboard should suffice for your needs, it has onboard video (Geforce 6150), sound, LAN, and will support a PCI-E graphics card if you want.

    What you need to do is find the biggest AM2 CPU you can find AND afford, and add in 1GB of DDR2 RAM, an old HDD, a micro-ATX case of your choice, a PSU, and you're done. The hardest bit is looking for a suitable m/b.

    The graphics on this isn't all that great, but we'll just work around the budget. Besides, with the PCIex16 slot, you can always upgrade later.

    Okay, reasons for this motherboard suggestion:
    m-ATX: You can fit this motherboard in any old computer case you've got, saves you abit of money there. Also, the option is there for you to put your PC in a micro-ATX case, which are smaller than the usual cases, which means it takes up less space, and would be easier to transport around if there's a need for that.

    You also don't seem like the person who will need all the features which are usually associated with full sized ATX boards, such as a huge array of HDDs, overclocking capability, or the minimally faster speeds. However, they may also be harder to install, but it shouldn't be much harder, we're just talking about the size making it a little harder to install, less space to move around. But once installed, you shouldn't see any difference between a m-ATX and an ATX board.

    AMD: Well, their chips provide the highest value for money at the moment, so I don't see why you should stick around with Intel. I'm not discounting that idea, all you've got to do is switch the board and CPU. I'm just gonna dig up a suitable LGA775 micro-ATX board, there's one thats been recommended alot, which has all the same features, but uses Intel chips.
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,996   +2,528

    The Psychology of PC Procurement......

    Sometimes you think you don't need something, you pass on it, and then find out later that you can't live without. So it goes with room for expansion in PCs. Why paint yourself into a corner?
    But for now I think I'll demure and let the outspoken, perhaps a trifle overzealous, AMD fanboy win.
  18. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    For some reason, I'm an AMD fanboi, who owns only Intel PCs... :D

    I gave a suggestion, with reasons to back it up. I have also given warnings about the potential problems, and I'm looking for the Intel equivalent, which I have recommended in other threads, albeit for a different reason.

    Therefore, I really fail to see where I've gone wrong.

    But lets not get all heated up about this.

    Yes, you might be backing yourself into a corner, but from my own personal experience, its going to take years before you realise you need more HDD spots than you've got on your motherboard. By then, chances are you'd be looking for a new computer anyway, or storage has become really cheap. 4 years ago, 120gb HDDs were considered pretty large. I remember forking out a bomb for an 80gb HDD 8 years ago.

    And if all you're gonna do is office type work, listen to abit of music, you probably will take forever to use up 320gb of HDD space.

    Edit: I found the intel 775 equivalent:GA-965GM-S2
    Arguably the best m-ATX motherboard out there for Intel.
    The product link is here:

    Bear in mind that the onboard graphics is an Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3000 (Intel GMA X3000). I've got no idea how good this chip performs, but it does sound catchy :D

    edit #2: I think I've got to clarify what I meant about on board graphics using up your RAM.
    I don't mean that you've got to get more RAM, although you'd have to do that. RAM is cheap these days, as previously mentioned.

    However, the DDR2 RAM that you run is piddles when it comes to speed compared to the GDDR3 RAM which is on almost every graphics card out there at the moment. I've also got this nagging feeling that GDDR2 RAM is still faster than DDR2 RAM, but I can't be bothered looking that up at the moment. Bottom line is that when you compare an onboard graphics with a graphics card, even if they have the same chip, the graphics card will be superior.
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,996   +2,528


    The reason I supplied Mr.Gallagher with Intel CPU prices and info is this; He seemed comfortable with Intel (good brand recognition)
    The CPUs as I recommended them represent excellent performance vs. price values. (This due to the Intel's core 2 duo placing price pressure on it's own product as well as AMD's).
    Four SATA sockets on a motherboard should be considered a bare minimum on a motherboard. This would be due not to the necessity of multiple HDDs, but because of the fact that the next generation of optical drives will likely interface via SATA.
    You do have some consistency issues with respect to the graphics card specs.
    On one hand, your're "making sensible recommendations", in the next sentence (or thereabouts), you're lauding the supremacy of GDDR3. I ascribe this to enthusiasam, nothing more. Yes, on an absolute basis GDDR3 will outperform DDR2 in a GPU setting, but I thought we were still back at sensible. You actually make my point about onboard graphics with PCI-E x 16 to be added later.
    I'm still going to go with the recommendation of an ATX motherboard for the easier service, oftentimes additional features, and better (generally) fan/heatsink options with the larger board. Yes, size could be a consideration and is a decision better left to the individual, albeit one with all the facts.
    As to onboard memory, you can exchange the cost of the graphics card (at the onset) for 2 GB of RAM. This would pacify Vista.
    Some people, (and businesses) are still using Windows 2K, so I'm not sure who to blame for probable obsolescense, the owner, or the manufacturers wanting to sell more computers. Enthusiasts often replace their machines much sooner than other people. A partial hedge against this is to(tentatively) overbuild at the onset.
  20. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    I did say all that about the GDDR, but as an upgrade option. Any graphics card upgrade would be better than the on-board graphics. And its written more as a reply to your reply about onboard graphics taking up RAM, which is cheap.

    I've seen the trends for the moving from one standard to another. SATA optical drives will be here, but PATA ones will still be available for a long time to come. I wouldn't worry about that.

    I personally will ask you not to install Vista, it creates more problems right now than its worth it. Especially for the general consumer.

    About being more serviceable, I don't think having an m-ATX board will make it less serviceable. A little more inconvenient to upgrade maybe, but thats a really small problem (no pun intended) due to the lack of space. You'd still be able to fit just about anything you want, but its going to be a little more tight, which means you'd need to arreange your wires a little.

    If you don't need the space, nor the portability, then go for a full sized ATX. All I really wanted to do is to bring m-ATXs into the picture because its so often skipped over. My budget machines are all m-ATXs because of the space-savings, and the portability. My main machines are full sized ATXs tho.
  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,996   +2,528

    At long last.....

    Finally, something we agree on 150%!!
    Or as I like to put it, Rejoice, the wait is over, Vista is now available from Microsoft in 32 and 64 bit suppository form.
  22. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9


    Just to mention more about why not to get vista. Vista has problems running some hardware because of the lack of drivers. This is especially true if you use something thats not for the general consumer.

    You also run into problems with older software. Again especially true if its not a widely used one. There has been numerous reports that some old games just won't work on the same machine after Vista. I don't see why other programs won't run into the same problem.

    Its a whole new interface. Its supposed to be easier to use, but Office Vista was really confusing to me after being used to the old versions of office. My suggestion to Microsoft: Leave the option open for old style menus!!

    Btw, nice quote :D
  23. JackGallagher

    JackGallagher TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Thanks for your suggestions, here is what I think I will go for, please tell me if you know if they are incompatible or you know how to get more power from these parts,
    form factor- ATX
    memory- 4x 240 pin DDR2 RAM DIMM, support for 800mhx DIMM
    support for up to 8gb of mem
    Audio- 5.1 using SigmaTel* STAC9227 audio codec
    Video- Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator X3000 (Intel® GMA X3000)
    1gb module
    240 PIN ddr2 non-ecc
    DDR2 PC6400
    Pentium 4 duo processer D915 DUAL CORE
    95W POWER
    L2 CACHE (4MB-2X2MB)
    64 BIT
    ATX V2.0
    WEIGHT-- 2KG
    SEEK 8.9MBPS
    16XREAD 5.25"
    I have decided to go for vista in a few months time after problems are sorted and depending on how much I can get it for and have decided I will actually use it for gaming, such as Doom, COUNTER STRIKE E.T.C. Other than screen, keyboard e.t.c do you think everythong is o.k? Just thought id get a second opinion before I started buying.
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,996   +2,528

    Given That Set Of Variables......

    You should get RAM in sets of 2 for that board. 2 x 512MB NOT 1 x1 GB

    You can normally download any of several audio codecs from Intel's web site.

    There's no point at all to buy a DVD-Rom drive, since Dual layer DVD burners such as Pioneer DVR111 is available in OEM for about $32.00.

    Since you've settled on an Intel ATX motherboard, I would recommend the DG965WHMK (retail box) pretty much the same thing but it has more room for expansion, PS2 ports for keyboard & mouse, and 7 channel sound. (like 5 isn't enough, right). It's within $10 to $15. of your choice.

    The 80 GB HDD is good for a system drive, but small for a storage drive. As you go bigger, the price per GB comes way down. I like to store files off the system drive, so I did it "backwards" and just ordered an 80 GB to install Windows on. I had 2 250GB drives, so I'll wipe the OS off and install Windows Monday when I get the smaller drive.
  25. JackGallagher

    JackGallagher TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Ok then ill search for them then. What would i have to do to build in wireless internet connection or is it better to just use a usb dongle?
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