Build your own computer guide

#1
Word on the street is it would be helpful to create a guide to learn how to build your own computer. I learned how to build my own computer by upgrading an old one part by part (added bonus of learning to fix my mistakes quickly so Dad wouldn't find out I broke the computer he spent a ton of money on) and I really think that's the best way to do it if you're just getting started. I'll be linking other threads to this thread that deal with various parts of the computer. I figure that way everything can get a good overview with added comments from everyone afterward. Hopefully that will make referencing easy.

The following spoiler tag has an overview of the vital components for those that could use it. It's a bit of a block of text, so those of you that don't need it can scroll to the links faster.
To give some info on how to look at a computer I usually like to use the example of a library. The power supply is the breaker box coming into the building. It steps down the power coming in to a level that each component connected to it can handle without frying it (I know that’s more of what a transformer on the pole does, but indulge me). The files are the books on the shelves and the collection of all the shelves are the hard drive. The table you’re working at can be considered the RAM. When looking something up, it’s very unlikely you would go find a book, read it, get the information you need, return it to the shelf and start on the next book. You would bring various books to your table and reference each one while doing your study. The RAM is like that in that it stores files in an area for easy access. How much RAM you have is how big the table is you’re working at. The CPU is a little tricky in this example, but the simplest way to think about it is how quickly you can figure out what you’re reading in the books on your table. The connection to your hard drive (IDE, SATA 1.5 or 3.0) is how quickly you can get to the books on the bookshelves and get them to your table. The motherboard is kind of the floor connecting everything together.

Thread Links
Power Supply
Hard Drive

...more to come - this is a work in progress
 
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#3
I would have already happily posted a guide (or three) by now except that hardware changes so quickly and it is absolutely impossible to assemble a generic build that meets everyone's needs.

--Patrick
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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#4
I would have already happily posted a guide (or three) by now except that hardware changes so quickly and it is absolutely impossible to assemble a generic build that meets everyone's needs.

--Patrick
^^ this. Any computer guide is obsolete the instant it is published.
 
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#5
could there be just a basic one about just what basic components are needed and how to actually assemble them? I think I could shop around and get the parts I want for the PC I want to build but I honestly have never actually put one together and don't know where to start.
 
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#6
I think I could shop around and get the parts I want for the PC I want to build but I honestly have never actually put one together and don't know where to start.
Ditto. I've replaced almost every single component in various PCs I've owned except the mobo and CPU, so I'm assuming I could manage, but you know what they say about assumptions...
 
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#10
I will resist the urge to update computer. Works just fine and plays current games at full bells and whistles... but processor bottlenecking some stuff...... no .... will not buy....
 
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#21
Why can they not put it all on one page.
So many sites draw out their reviews to generate more pages to click, which generates more ad revenue. It's not a big deal to me if they want to add in an extra page, but when there start being 3-5 obviously unnecessary pages, it gets tiresome.

--Patrick
 
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#25
FYI for anyone watching/thinking about this stuff. This fall (probably) we start getting DX12, DDR4 and HBM memory, AMD starts to completely redesign their CPUs, Intel should be coming out with their Skylake line (with better USB 3 support), and SSD prices will probably continue to fall. Oh, and Windows 10 is coming, too.

So what this means is that we're at another corner in computing, another sea change, another point where a lot of things are going to change at once but haven't yet. My personal advice is that now is a good time to build, because the DDR3 generation is stable and well-tested, and it'll probably be until mid-/late-2017 before the DDR4 generation really starts to settle down. And if you do build now:
-Make sure the board supports PCIe 3.0
-Try to get something with 4 RAM slots
-An M.2 slot would be nice, one capable of size 2280 even better
-Intel CPUs are still the best performers, so you probably want a socket 1150 board
-Minimum of 2xSata-III (Sata/600) ports
-Should have an extra 4-pin or 8-pin power hookup from the power supply

--Patrick
 
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GasBandit

Staff member
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#26
You heard the man. The PC dev cycle solstice is upon us. This is the time to consecrate your new rig to the glory of the master race.
 
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#27
I hear that Windows will stop having version numbers, too, making it less like an operating system and more like a makes-your-computer-work service that they just push updates to for the rest of your computer's life. I wonder how that'll turn out?

--Patrick
 
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#28
I hear that Windows will stop having version numbers, too, making it less like an operating system and more like a makes-your-computer-work service that they just push updates to for the rest of your computer's life. I wonder how that'll turn out?

--Patrick
It seems to work for Android. Your computer will also only get updates for as long as it meets the minimum requirements. So it's not exactly the entire life of the computer.
 
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#29
It seems to work for Android. Your computer will also only get updates for as long as it meets the minimum requirements. So it's not exactly the entire life of the computer.
It works for OSX/iOS also, I just don't know how far back they will keep open the "window" of compatibility, hardware-wise. 3 years? 5 years? 7 years? Or will they divide by generations?

--Patrick
 
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#30
FYI for anyone watching/thinking about this stuff. This fall (probably) we start getting DX12, DDR4 and HBM memory, AMD starts to completely redesign their CPUs, Intel should be coming out with their Skylake line (with better USB 3 support), and SSD prices will probably continue to fall. Oh, and Windows 10 is coming, too.

So what this means is that we're at another corner in computing, another sea change, another point where a lot of things are going to change at once but haven't yet. My personal advice is that now is a good time to build, because the DDR3 generation is stable and well-tested, and it'll probably be until mid-/late-2017 before the DDR4 generation really starts to settle down. And if you do build now:
-Make sure the board supports PCIe 3.0
-Try to get something with 4 RAM slots
-An M.2 slot would be nice, one capable of size 2280 even better
-Intel CPUs are still the best performers, so you probably want a socket 1150 board
-Minimum of 2xSata-III (Sata/600) ports
-Should have an extra 4-pin or 8-pin power hookup from the power supply

--Patrick
Damnit, now I'm really torn. My current computer is at least 6 years old (if not older) and has really come to the end of its lifecycle. Not in that it won't work anymore, it still performs most tasks I throw at it without an issue, but it can only support up to more GB of RAM and they have to be DDR2, it can't handle USB 3.0, and putting either an SSD or a better video card in it would really be a waste of money. Oh, and it's an off-gaming-brand AMD Athlon desktop (Lenovo), that was $699.99 at Fry's however many years ago. I was really tempted to throw together a budget build for around $750 from the guide up there that would at least get me up to Haswell and DDR3 support with an Intel quad-core. But, the performance of my computer isn't preventing me from playing any of the games that I currently desire to play, or preventing me from browsing the net with about 80 tabs open at a time (except when the flash container in Firefox starts eating exceptionally high amounts of RAM and I have to shut it down), so I don't exactly have a need to replace it any time soon.

Grr.
 
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#31
I think the most important question to consider is this: "Do you feel your current computer will meet your needs until Q2 2017 (i.e., 2 more years)?"
If the answer is yes, you're probably good.
If the answer is no, then it's probably time to start scoping out a build.
Rationale: By the start of 2017*, barring any really disruptive technology, legislation, or act(s) of God, the market should have started to settle down and coalesce around the new standards, and prices should also be stabilizing.

--Patrick
*my guess only, I am not basing this on any real data, just a feeling that it'll take until H2 2016 for things to settle down techno-allegiance-wise BUT then adding a few more months because of inevitable holiday season "everyone's gotta have the new hotness" markups and other craziness.
 
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#32
It should be fine for me for the next two years, barring any catastrophes, acts of God, or incredibly nasty virii. I've been living on computer savings time for so long I wouldn't even know what to do with a top-of-the-line new computer. Hell, I just had to upgrade my video card last summer when I bought Tropico 5 because my last one didn't support DirectX 11 (probably because DirectX 8 was the standard when I bought it). The only thing I'm really concerned with is the possibility of suffering a system casualty after the new tech comes out, but before prices can calm down.
 
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#33
The only thing I'm really concerned with is the possibility of suffering a system casualty after the new tech comes out, but before prices can calm down.
Don't worry about that. Not because it's something that won't happen, but because it's something totally beyond your control. Prepare yourself for the possibility that it could happen (keep your system dusted, make backups, look for swelling caps, etc.), but don't lose sleep over it.
Also, to build a $2000 system in 2 years, you only have to sock away $20/wk if you start today. ;)

--Patrick
 
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