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Advice before I build my first system?

Last response: in Systems
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June 25, 2008 2:53:55 PM

I was gifted a once-robust-now-not-bad homebuilt computer (IS7-G, p4 2.4GHz, 2GB Giel, nvidia 6600, SATA Raid-0, etc.). For a while I ignored it and just played games on it. Then one day about 2 months ago it started acting wacky. I got a few random freezes, the occasional over-heat alarm, and before ya know it I had a complete system crash.

One thing led to another and I decided to try and fix it myself. And a modder-wannabe was born. I've spent weeks reading, re-installing, repairing and even a little overclocking. I have learned a TON in the last month. Now I'm ready to start from scratch.

I won't bore you with the specs of my new project, but I thought I might ask for last-minute advice. What's the one thing you wish you knew before YOU built your first computer? Who not to buy from? What wires not to cross? Any advice would be appreciated!

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June 25, 2008 2:58:37 PM

Use newegg for most or all of your part purchases. They have great support, fast shipping, and the best prices. Also buy a quality case. I once bought a chinese piece of junk and it wouldn't even fit atx mobo's even though it said it would. Also read the case instructions where to connect the usb port wires etc. to on the mobo.
June 25, 2008 8:46:25 PM

If we'll not talk about budget
Then the only thing is how good the motherboard you have decided to buy
Second thing will be PSUand case
These parts will serve for the comming 3-4 years and you'll not upgrade
All other parts you can upgrade anytime
Get the best mobo and do not think about saving on mobo, does not worth it
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June 26, 2008 12:41:36 AM

Dont cheap out on the PSU!!! Wish I would have learned that years ago.

Also spend the extra time to read the manuel. I am too lazy now so I never get all the hookups right. (LED, Power, Reset, Front Bay stuff)

Finally my wife got mad at me one day and made me get all the stuff working correctly. It only takes 2 minutes to read, but when I built new systems I just wanted to game on them ASAP.
June 27, 2008 11:18:29 AM

If at all possible have an experienced builder on hand to watch you work, this can save you a lot of money, because you will likely make a mistake.

Triple check your mounts to make sure an incorrectly placed one won't short your board.

Jiggle your system around after you finished it and before plugging it in, it's not hard to lose a screw behind your motherboard and have it cook your board. (I did this on my first build)

Take your time and be patient, it's going to take you a while to build your machine, rushing it leads to expensive mistakes.

Do not force screws and connectors in, if you have to force something it's because there is something wrong.

It should not take any force to put the CPU into its socket, do not use any force, those pins bend easily and are annoying as hell to fix.





June 27, 2008 8:34:41 PM

get a quality mobo and case. Though they aren't the power and shiny-dangily-things that everyone oh's and ah's about, they serve as a base of your system that provide quality airflow/connectivity to all your more expensive parts. Skimp on those and it doesn't matter how many gtx280's you have.
June 27, 2008 8:45:12 PM

just built my first computer a week ago, it's running well no problems. i spent 2 - 4 weeks researching components. ordered everything from newegg except the cpu and case. took 4 days to get built. when i hit a road block i researched, read manuals, etc. until i figured it out. there were a lot of things i wasn't sure about so taking the time to research and make sure i was doing it right was what was most time consuming for me. now, i feel like i could do it in an hour or two.

make sure all your parts are compatibile, obviously. i'm glad i took the time to research because there were a couple moments when i thought i'd learned everything. then i'd come across something else and go "oh crap".

on the heatsink (intel), make sure the pins are all the way in the MB and it's locked. when i thought mine was on, it wasn't. unfortunately i realized that once the MB was already mounted in the case and half the computer was put together. so i remounted heatsink (removed & reapplied thermal grease) while inside the case and wires everywhere. actually wasn't as hard as i thought it might be with my case but would like to have avoided it anyway.

flash light came in very handy, like when i wanted to get a good look at a sata header before plugging a sata cable in etc. and a table lamp.
June 28, 2008 12:19:27 AM

Awesome advice, thanks everyone! By the way, this makes me wonder: why hasn't someone written 'A Beginner's Guide to Building a Computer'? Everything I learned, I picked up one ill-formatted, typo-ridden, explicative-prone forum post at a time. That's hardly a way to make converts!

I've also been tinkering with LCDC on my current computer and it makes me wonder: why hasn't anyone created a screensaver that gives me my System Info (CPU MHz, Voltage, etc.), muhc like LCDC?
June 28, 2008 5:39:10 AM

I assume you already know, but always ground yourself when you are working with computer parts. Touch the metal of the case chassis; this way, your static electricity won't ruin your components.

I know that I often get excited when I see what looks like a good deal. Always stop and think over your purchases. Is this new (whatever) what I really need? Does it fit into my plan? Is it as good as I think it is?

Besides that, always keep a case of compressed air nearby. You never know when you'll want to open up your computer; blow the dust out of your case and keep it running cool and efficient :) 
July 15, 2008 5:31:59 PM

Just a final note: I managed to build my 1st computer a few weeks back (specs in my signature below). It lit up on the very first try and I successfully pushed the CPU up to 3.6GHz (so far!). Thanks to everyone for the hints and advice.

Now, if I could just figure out how to overclock my memory (http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tomshardwareus.inc&cat=29&post=248037&page=1&p=1&sondage=0&owntopic=3&trash=0&trash_post=0&print=0&numreponse=0"e_only=0&new=0&nojs=0)...
July 16, 2008 12:06:32 AM

chriswarner said:
Awesome advice, thanks everyone! By the way, this makes me wonder: why hasn't someone written 'A Beginner's Guide to Building a Computer'? Everything I learned, I picked up one ill-formatted, typo-ridden, explicative-prone forum post at a time. That's hardly a way to make converts!

There is a really good one somewhere (maybe even on this forum), that even details selecting the correct parts.
!