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  1. #1
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    Default Computer-construction tips please!

    Yea, Fallout 3 is coming.

    So I've been thinking about buying a new computer and scoping out my options. When I saw how much a top-end gaming system (premade) would cost though I was outraged. So I'm looking now at constructing my own computer. I have access to friends who have some (somewhat dated) training in the area of assembling computers, so this isn't quite the INFP pipe-dream it may appear to be. They are willing to put it together for me. I have a list of components I will need to procure, and I'm willing to spend around $5000.

    Before I wade into the hit-and-mostly-miss of googling, any tips on how to go about this, or any websites you can refer me to which offer reasonably objective advice? Which video card brands are the best etc, that sort of thing. While I'm aware that the potential reward of self-construction is great, I'm also aware that my chances of fucking it up and/or getting fleeced are also great.

  2. #2
    Lallygag Moderator Geoff's Avatar
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    There's a lot to be said for buying a bare-bones system. So it has a motherboard, memory and a processor, then you just slot in your graphics card, hard drive etc. Less chance of making a mess up. I've done that with my last two desktops, and it has been cheap and worked well.

  3. #3
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    It depends on your question... are you asking whether you should assemble it, how you should go about assembling, what components you should get, or all three?

    I'd recommend paying a store to put it together after you get the components, but the main tip I have if you're doing it yourself would be to stand on a rubber static mat, discharge yourself by touching a screw in order to avoid damaging anything with static, and handle all the components by their edges. Also, get a well-designed case with a removable motherboard tray... it makes installation a lot easier. If you need specific tips, you'll have to ask me about it while you're putting it together... I can't tell you what to do unless I can "see" the situation mentally. Assembling a computer isn't a step-by-step process, you have to think carefully about how to make everything work together, and dynamically watch for problems in the process of assembly.

    If you want a list of good components, I can give you one (I always keep a mentally updated one of what the better ones are)...

    (Processor) Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 $1,030
    (Motherboard) ASUS Striker II Extreme $450
    (Memory) 2x OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 $700
    (Hard Drive) 2x Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD (RAID 0) $340
    (PowerSupply) Corsair HX1000W $310
    (Video) 2x ASUS EN9800GX2/G/2DI/1G GeForce 9800 GX2 1GB (SLI) $1,120

    You should have just over/under a thousand left to buy all the things left up to personal taste like case, dvd-rom, input devices, monitor, speakers, etc. That should be plenty.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Apollonian's Avatar
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    I have been thoroughly impressed with my ASUS P4GD2 Deluxe motherboard. A good motherboard seems to make a big difference in the longevity and stability of the computer. I got mine over three years ago and its still working great despite all the crazy things I tried to do with RAID drives. If you are doing RAID (especially 0), do your research first and at least get a reliable top-of-the-line Hard Drive which won't fail any time soon. My understanding is that in RAID 0, if one drive fails, they are pretty much both lost.

  5. #5
    Senior Membrane spirilis's Avatar
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    well, on the RAID piece... and a little babbling about data protection:

    Whenever you build a machine and intend to store data on it (such as your own personal stuff, financial records, documents, etc) you should always roll with a back-up plan, whether that involves purchasing an external hard drive to use for backups or use one of the on-line backup services (eg JungleDisk - Reliable online storage powered by Amazon S3 ? - Jungle Disk) and make sure you back-up your data as often as you can stand to lose it. (ie if you're working on a book, and make changes every day and can't stand to lose more than 1 day's worth of work, force a back-up of your data once a day)

    When choosing a disk layout, consider the following:

    1. A single WD Raptor 150GB disk is already a fast mo-fo, reading about 60-80MB/sec sustained off the platters. It's basically a server-class hard drive (~140-150GB at 10,000RPM is a common size you find with SCSI, SAS and FiberChannel drives) with a cool-looking case and a SATA interface on the back.
    2. If this isn't enough performance for you, consider purchasing two WD Raptors and using RAID0. Be aware that RAID0 doubles your risk of data loss--with 1 disk you lose all data if 1 out of 1 disks fail; with 2 disks striped (RAID0) you lose all data if 1 out of 2 disks fail.
    3. If you're fine with the performance of 1 disk but really want it to be resilient--ie NOT lose all your data if 1 out of 2 disks fail--purchase two hard drives and implement RAID1 mirroring.
    4. Regardless whether you choose #1, #2 or #3, be sure to purchase a chassis that has a fan shroud in front of the hard drives so you can install a fan there to keep them cool at all times. This is CRITICALLY important with WD Raptor drives as they operate at 10,000RPM and usually generate more heat than typical 7,200RPM desktop drives (though from what I've read, they're also amazingly heat-resilient, but still). Even if the chassis does not include a fan shroud, there are hard drive cooling solutions out there you can buy.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Grayscale's Avatar
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    my two most important pieces of advice:

    1) read reviews, then read more reviews, then repeat ad nauseum. this is how you select good parts that are worth your money.

    2) post your builds on PC forums where more knowledgeable folks can tell you whether your components are compatible and balanced.

    past that, it's just a matter of putting it together.

  7. #7
    Senior Member millerm277's Avatar
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    Assembling a computer is quite easy, especially if your friends have some knowledge.

    Not to say that static isn't a threat, but it's not as dangerous as people make it out to be, you should take the precautions, but don't worry too much about it. (Unless you're working on a shag rug or the like.).

    I would doubt that building a computer, and getting it running will take you more than 2 hours, even for a first timer, as long as you've got some basic knowledge.

    A quick google search, turned up these two guides, which from a quick glance, look like they'd be fine for familiarizing you with stuff. (If you can find an old Pentium III machine, taking it apart and reassembleing it might not be a bad idea).

    Howstuffworks "How to Build a Computer"
    Build Your Own PC

    Do you actually live in australia? That will narrow down the list of reputable sites to buy from a lot.

    Just as something amusing, once I didn't have a case for a machine I was building, so it ran on my desk like this for a few weeks. (Yes, it was on in this picture). http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f1...277/Desk-1.jpg
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  8. #8
    Courage is immortality Valiant's Avatar
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    If you're building a computer, put a pair of mechanical legs on it! That'd give you lots of attention if you ever go to a LAN-party! And a couple of beefy mech arms and then paint a couple of evil eyes on the front and put a helmet up top

    Mightier than the tread of marching armies is the power of an idea whose time has come

  9. #9
    Large Member Ender's Avatar
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    Skip the 9800GX2's in Athenia's buildup and get ATI 3870X2's instead. Fallout 3 is basically using the same engine as in Oblivion and the ATI's are faster in that game, not to mention they're $720 for the pair vs $1120. Or an 3870X2 and a 3870 for a Tri-Crossfire setup instead of a Quad-Crossfire one and only $500.

    Also swap the Motherboard to an Asus Maximus Extreme for $350 if you go with the ATI's.

    Raptors.. well I hope you like screaming banshee's.. Otherwise stick with a few SATAII drives that offer more space but slightly less speed and a lot less noise.

    In the end Athenia's build is a bit overkill especially since it'd run the game at 2560x1600 and the only monitors that do that are the 30" ones which cost about $1k themselves, leaving you with no cash for the rest of the parts you need. Sadly $5k is not enough to get the top of the line parts in everything so you'll have to cut corners in some areas.

    Quote Originally Posted by YourLocalJesus View Post
    If you're building a computer, put a pair of mechanical legs on it! That'd give you lots of attention if you ever go to a LAN-party! And a couple of beefy mech arms and then paint a couple of evil eyes on the front and put a helmet up top
    Hell no, make the case look like a Companion Cube
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  10. #10
    Senior Member millerm277's Avatar
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    Default

    Also, in reality, there is no real point to wasting money on getting top of the line everything...going one notch down gets you almost the same performance and chops a lot off the cost.

    An example: The QX6850 costs $1030 dollars or so, the Q9300 costs $293. Based on my estimate, the Q9300 is about 17% slower in benchmarks. In a game, or something like that, it will wind up being much closer than that (As games are more limited by the Graphics Card).
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