Clueless about building a home computer

Hello everyone,

Initially, I wanted to buy a beefier laptop but the cost was way out of range ($5K+). Now I am settling in for a desktop which is very confusing at the moment.

One thing I know for sure is that I would want a minimum of 24GB of memory. The CPUs and memory are very confusing. I am sort of planning for the i7 CPU but the AMD equivalent (Phenom or Opteron) is significantly cheaper. As far as the memory, if the motherboard supports 24GB+ memory I will incrementally add 8GB at a time when the money is available. The big question is which memory DDR2 or DDR3. Some of the posts on the Internet mention the i7 has a RAM controller and it is better to go with the DDR3 modules.

My questions are:

1. Which processor would be the recommended choice?

2. What is the price difference for 8GB modules for DDR2 and DDR3?

3. Which motherboard should I choose to build this system?

4. Which cooling system or fan should I buy? (I have no clue in this area. There are CPU cooling, GPU cooling and on on.... units. I don't want to hardware to burnout.)

My initial budget is around US $1000.

Any advice and help is appreciated.

Thank you.

12 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about clueless building home computer
  1. APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Around December 2009

    SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: surfing the internet, video/photo editing and Virutal machines

    PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

    PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I was told Nextag. Are there any other sites?

    PARTS PREFERENCES: I would prefer Intel i7 processor and minumum of 24GB RAM


    CROSSFIRE: What is this CROSSFIRE?

    MONITOR RESOLUTION: Must support WUXGA monitors or HiDef monitors (1024x768, 1280x1024, 1440x900, 1600x1200, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 1920x1200)

    ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: A good Video card. (I am clueless here too.)
  2. Well, easy start. Best I can tell, 8GB modules start at about $500. Doesn't leave you much room for anything else.

    And any system that would allow 24GBs would be triple channel - you'd be crippling it by putting only 8GB in, as opposed to 6GB - 3 2GB modules. And you'd save a LOT of money putting in 3 modules now and throwing them away in a year and getting 3 larger modules. You pay a big premium for RAM like that when it's not popular yet.

    I don't know Intel well but I doubt you can build a fast i7 system with even 6GBs of RAM and a great GPU for $1000. You can build an AMD for that price, but might make tough decisions.

    I recommend this. Pick a motherboard manufacturer. Look at what that maker offers in various configurations. Use their site, like or a sales site like Get a feel for what they offer - a big maker will generally cover the scope of what's out there - these are based around the chipset.

    Once you have an idea of what chipset and processor you want, then look at the speed of the CPU. Decide what's reasonable for your budget.

    You're so far away from thinking about fans or price of DDR2/DDR3 that it's pointless to worry about it.

    What is the idea about 24GBs of RAM... what could you possibly use it for?

    And don't forget, you'll need an operating system.
  3. The RAM is mainly to be able to run Virutal machines. In my job, I do need to be up to date with different systems as they become available. It is best for me to create a VM and learn and test the system. From my experience with Windows, they are memory intensive system. My laptop now have Vista Ultimate and I have gradually added different applications for the gadgets I have purchased and its 2GB memory does not seem to be enough. I chose the 24GB limit to support Windows and the supporting application appetite for memory.

    I do prefer Intel chips (i7) and good video card.

    As for the OS, I may go with Linux and install VMs on them including my Vista.
  4. $239.99
    G.SKILL 12GB (6 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9T2-12GBNQ - Retail $169.99
    ASRock X58 Extreme LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $279.99 Free Shipping*
    Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
  5. Well, I think you can plan on a motherboard that supports 24GB but don't plan on actually getting 24GB of RAM. The roadblocks include: you can't buy 8GB DDR3 modules and the prohibitive price of single 4GB modules (~$450) and sets of 3 4GB modules (~$1200).

    With 6 slots on your i7 motherboard, you can put 12GB in your new system easily by purchasing 2GB modules - 6 of them would run around $280 for decent quality fast RAM. Prices will fall over time and down the road you can expect to throw away that RAM and replace it with 4GB modules.

    You have the choice of Intel's x55 and x58 chipsets. These support Intel's i7 processor - you'll need these to get the 24GB capacity you want. (As noted below, only x58 supports over 16GBs of RAM)

    Again, my advice for narrowing down your motherboard choices:
    Gigabyte and Asus are among the most popular brands.

    You'll want a 64-bit version of Vista to take advantage of more than 3GB of RAM.
  6. As mentioned by mongox, 4gb ram sticks are very expensive. I suspect that 12gb will be plenty for your purposes, and a mobo that supports 24gb would give you the option of changing out the ram if you need it when 4gb sticks become reasonably priced.

    Otherwise, you are looking at server motherboards which are in the $400-$500 range, and support dual Xenon cpu's.
    You can get such boards with up to 18 ram slots. You do not have to populate the board with two cpu's, and the cpu's are, at the low end, priced close to the i7-920. Also, be careful of the OS, you will need windows-7 to be the ultimate version to support>16gb of ram.
  7. Best answer
    Idk and maybe i don't know so much about virtual machines, but I was never under the impression that they used 24gb of memory lol. That just seems like a ridiculous amount but here the best suggestions i could give

    Cpu Intel Core I7 920 $279

    Motherboard Evga Micro ATX $209

    memory: Corsair 1600 XMSE (6x2gB) $270

    PSU (Power Supply Unit) and Case Combo $95

    Hard Drive: Samsung Spinpoint F3 $49

    GPU (Graphics Processor Unit): Sappire Radeon HD 4850 $99

    Optical Driver HP CD/ DVD burner $39

    All that together is $1040 so a bit overbudget. But i believe for what your doing this is about the best you can do if you want an I7 and for primarily office programs. The I7 is sucking up alot of your funds from the get go. you definitely won't be disappointed with it's performance. 24gb is pretty much out of the question with $1000 dollars. you would either need a server board mentioned before that cost 400-500 dollars along or 4gb dimm kits, which a cheap set of 3x4gb cost about $380 so 24 gigs is unforunatly unachivable. I woul dmaybe downgrading the gpu and going with a raid. But since your not really tech savy ( no offense) it's a pretty complicated process. So i hope this helps
  8. Not sure why you want 24GB of RAM but the only mobos that can support them are X58s.

    If you're near a Microcenter, they have the i7 920 for $199 plus tax.

    Personally I did a P55 and i7 860 and spent just under $400. But P55 maxes out at 16GB of RAM
  9. I do lot of picture/video editing. Also, I have lot of VMs. Each VM these days is demanding over 512MB (and going upto 1GB). Vista requires you to have 2GB on a standalone system. Once you start using memory resident applications, then the system starts to slow down. I want the system to be expandable in the memory area.
  10. Well, I think you'll have to settle for "convertible" rather than "expandable" as far as RAM's concerned. Start with 12GBs of 6 - 2GB modules and plan to replace with 6 - 4GB modules later. Or can go with 3 - 4GBs but you'll pay a premium price now.
  11. 24G is way outa your budget, and like others said if you go a stick or 2 at a time its gonna affect ferformance. I& x58 is nade for triple channel, requireing 3 sticks at a time.

    6-12G is fine If all your doing is trying out new OS's you should know Vista works already, so you should only need one for win 7. If you want to have multiple OS;s stick with 6-12G of ram and set up a multiple boot machine. On a multiboot, you use the OS you need and it gets all the resources.
  12. By the purchasing time (December 2009), it might be possible for me to increase the budget by $1000. For sure, I do want the 24GB RAM on my system.
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