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Things I should consider with my first homebuilt system?

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December 24, 2008 4:01:19 PM

I'm getting ready to add a new PC to the house. However, I'm strongly considering building my own system ... this would be my first homebuilt system. My main concern is this:

As I build this system, piece by piece, how do I know if I'm making a mistake on the choice each part as I buy it and install it? Can I realistically buy and build this a piece at a time or is it best to plan out the whole system and review it or have someone review it for me?

Thanks for any advice for this novice builder.

December 24, 2008 4:21:20 PM

I would recommend that you ask here and let use know what the purpose of this computer is for...workstation or gaming or so on. If you look at the motherboard you are buying it will let you know what parts will work for it. Best bet is to buy all your parts together to test them out. In the case that a piece of hardware is bad and you may RMA asap.
December 24, 2008 4:21:38 PM

ravel96 said:
I'm getting ready to add a new PC to the house. However, I'm strongly considering building my own system ... this would be my first homebuilt system. My main concern is this:

As I build this system, piece by piece, how do I know if I'm making a mistake on the choice each part as I buy it and install it? Can I realistically buy and build this a piece at a time or is it best to plan out the whole system and review it or have someone review it for me?

Thanks for any advice for this novice builder.



pick parts of your choice, and have us check them.
Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
December 24, 2008 4:31:45 PM

+1 for paq. I bought the pieces for my current pc over a year+ period and did have some rma issues. Ended up buying a different PSU and an Antec 900 case etc.

However I am a college student and no way possible I could afford to buy everything at once.

Important factors to consider:
What will you use this system for?
Will you need to include monitor, keyboard mouse, shipping, etc in final cost?
If gaming is involved plan on spending a good portion on your video card, or you'll regret it later.
Do you want hi def?
December 24, 2008 4:39:24 PM

paq7512 said:
I would recommend that you ask here and let use know what the purpose of this computer is for...workstation or gaming or so on. If you look at the motherboard you are buying it will let you know what parts will work for it. Best bet is to buy all your parts together to test them out. In the case that a piece of hardware is bad and you may RMA asap.


+1

best place to start is the objective of the computer and then we can go from there
December 24, 2008 4:57:50 PM

+1 - just give us an idea on purpose and budget. Quite often, we can build far cheaper here.

We're more than willing to help.
December 24, 2008 6:36:01 PM

Wow! I'm taken aback by all the offers of help. Thank you all.

I'll start putting my design together and will post it soon and see what everyone has to say.

This PC will be used for normal run of the mill work activities (Office, online securities trading, stuff like that), but I'd also like it to be fairly souped up to handle gaming including MMOGs. I'm strongly considering a multiple monitor setup as well.

Budget .... I'm not wanting anything specifically cheap. I realize that my expectations for speed and future enhancability and expansion of the system dictate an approach that is flexible in terms of budget.
December 24, 2008 8:06:30 PM

ravel96 said:
Wow! I'm taken aback by all the offers of help. Thank you all.

I'll start putting my design together and will post it soon and see what everyone has to say.

This PC will be used for normal run of the mill work activities (Office, online securities trading, stuff like that), but I'd also like it to be fairly souped up to handle gaming including MMOGs. I'm strongly considering a multiple monitor setup as well.

Budget .... I'm not wanting anything specifically cheap. I realize that my expectations for speed and future enhancability and expansion of the system dictate an approach that is flexible in terms of budget.



for multiple monitors, almost any add in graphics card (from either ati or nvidia) can give you at least 2 outputs

adding in another gfx card usually works without a hitch if it is same make and generation, most decent mobos have two pcie x16 slots so you can add in a 2nd card (usually this is for crossfire or SLI setups but it can be used to drive more monitors as well)

if you are doing securities trading and running a bunch of apps at the same time and presumably on different screens, a quad core 2 or even a new core i7 based system would be the best bet

December 24, 2008 8:21:29 PM

Yes, the idea would be to run trading screens at the same time as other apps on the other monitor.

Is it better to have two separate graphics cards, one for each monitor, or to run them both on the same card?

With 2 cards, does that increase the heat generated in the system?

If I decide to do only a single monitor now, but plan for a potential monitor later, I'm assuming that's not a problem if I set up everything with the proper parts ahead of time.
December 24, 2008 8:48:00 PM

I'm with everyone else here, take a close look at your needs first but by the sounds of it (trading and gaming), you need a really fast rig based on the i7 920 processor & corresponding platform. You would also want to consider very carefully your future upgrade path in light of your needs when you make such a substantial investment in a system.

Look carefully at motherboard design when considering upgradability (expansion slot design, features).

It's no problem to go from 1 monitor to 2 as any video card that anyone here would recommend to you can run an additional monitor without additional changes. You'll probably go with a dual GPU setup--for gaming, not the 2 monitors.

You would want to consider cooling vs. quietness for the case (as well as appearance), as well as a full tower for maximum airflow and expandability.

Consider how you want to setup your network adapter (wireless or onboard), and maybe the configuration of the rest of your home network too.

Think about upgrading to a RAID 1 array for data backup and security later on.

Since you're trading, you'd want to select components for quality and stability over time.

I would build the platform first, with as much of an open-ended upgrade path as possible on as many factors as possible, for maximum future flexibility.

I know I'm jumping the gun here but this is what came to mind when I first read your post. Do an "alpha test" when building (i.e. everything except drives and expansion cards) to cover defective components before and after the alpha test.

You've got a sophisticated build going and we're all more than happy to pitch in for you.

Good luck!
December 24, 2008 8:54:01 PM

Quote:
You would want to consider cooling vs. quietness for the case (as well as appearance), as well as a full tower for maximum airflow and expandability.


If I interpret this correctly, you mean I might have a tradeoff in terms of cooling vs quietness? That one case might be better for cooling but not as quiet, and vice versa?

I'm definitely thinking that I want a full tower for the reasons you stated.
December 24, 2008 8:56:32 PM

OH, one more thing. I'm aware that for a sophisticated high end system I might be better off having it done by a professional. However, having tinkered in small ways with my PCs for several years, I've really determined that I want the experience of building my own PC as well as the knowledge gained in that endeavor.
December 24, 2008 9:19:10 PM

ravel96 said:
Yes, the idea would be to run trading screens at the same time as other apps on the other monitor.

Is it better to have two separate graphics cards, one for each monitor, or to run them both on the same card?

With 2 cards, does that increase the heat generated in the system?

If I decide to do only a single monitor now, but plan for a potential monitor later, I'm assuming that's not a problem if I set up everything with the proper parts ahead of time.


one card running two screens is usually the best way in this case since you are running 2d apps

adding a 2nd card would then give you access to a 3rd and 4th monitor

and yes it will increase heat generated if you added another card but probably not by much, the second card doesnt have to be as beefy in terms of 3d power, you can even get by with getting a passively cooled card, just make sure the case you get is nice and roomy with good cooling

you can add a 2nd monitor at any given point since most (99.99999999%) of mid range/high end gfx cards have two outputs, the two outputs is basically a given feature, you basically just plug the 2nd monitor in, change some settings in display properties and presto, extended desktop

a motherboard with two pcie-x16 slots would give you the option to add another gfx card in the future as well to get a 3rd/4th monitor so i would put that as a top requirement in the mobo department

if you decide to go with the core2 architecture, i would look at p45 based mobos, such as this
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
paired with this
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


and for core i7, there is only a handful of x58 mobos currently to look through and from what i've heard, this mobo is good
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
paired with this
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


as you can see, the new i7 stuff is pricey still and i7 only takes ddr3, which is also expensive lol
December 24, 2008 9:34:39 PM

ravel96 said:
OH, one more thing. I'm aware that for a sophisticated high end system I might be better off having it done by a professional. However, having tinkered in small ways with my PCs for several years, I've really determined that I want the experience of building my own PC as well as the knowledge gained in that endeavor.



meh building a computer is easy :)  it's like lego, only with more expensive pieces lol
as long as everything is compatible then you are good to go
December 24, 2008 9:43:37 PM

ravel96 said:
Quote:
You would want to consider cooling vs. quietness for the case (as well as appearance), as well as a full tower for maximum airflow and expandability.


If I interpret this correctly, you mean I might have a tradeoff in terms of cooling vs quietness? That one case might be better for cooling but not as quiet, and vice versa?

I'm definitely thinking that I want a full tower for the reasons you stated.


mid to full tower cases with big fan are usually the quieter while still retaining cooling capacity

the reason is that the fans are larger in diameter and the blades have more surface area and can move more air at slower speeds than smaller fans, slower speeds means less noise

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
this case is fairly large and uses 12cm fans and has some sort of insulation in it and is very quiet while still giving you ample cooling capacity

this one is the one i have and is a bit smaller
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
most of the front and top is a mesh and this makes it a bit louder but its a decent trade off for more cooling capacity and it also takes 12cm fans

December 24, 2008 9:43:51 PM

Regarding cooling vs. quiet, that is a generalization and it is also a matter of degree. One way to increase airflow and cooling is to use a mesh enclosed case with lots of fans inside. That means that you can hear all the noise inside your case, especially those GPU fans. But there are ways around this, like turning down the fans with a fan controller or using a larger quantity of fans to move the same volume of air. On the other side of the coin, making a case quiet requires some form of sound damping, which tends to trap more heat than mesh. Hence, the general tradeoff.

Quote:
OH, one more thing. I'm aware that for a sophisticated high end system I might be better off having it done by a professional. However, having tinkered in small ways with my PCs for several years, I've really determined that I want the experience of building my own PC as well as the knowledge gained in that endeavor.

You're right in that a "professional" build comes with tech phone support if something goes wrong. I'd agree with you, though, on the second half of that thought--once you build, you will have an idea on how to troubleshoot. Plus there are plenty of "professionals" here on these forums to help you out as well. However, if you're trading volatility positions by way of collars, then it's a risk issue for you and you might want to reconsider... ;) 
December 24, 2008 9:49:03 PM

Quote:
You're right in that a "professional" build comes with tech phone support if something goes wrong. I'd agree with you, though, on the second half of that thought--once you build, you will have an idea on how to troubleshoot. Plus there are plenty of "professionals" here on these forums to help you out as well. However, if you're trading volatility positions by way of collars, then it's a risk issue for you and you might want to reconsider... ;) 


Yeah, there's always a risk. However, if I have problems, I have other backup PCs in the home as well. In any event, I'll learn quite a bit by doing this.
!