To build or not to build

Hello all.

I have not made a computer since my old celeron days. that was 15 years ago.

I am thinking of spending around 1,000.00 to build a gaming computer but I am not sure if I still know how. A lot has changed in the last decade. How hard is it to install the cpu? back then it just clicked on and you were done. now it seems you have to glue and put better heat sinks in and have to worry about the heat. Is it much harder now a days? Not to mention how All you had to worry about back then was what cpu to get from intel now you have to put amd in to the equation.
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  1. Building a computer is still very easy. The CPU has notches and arrows that only allow it to be installed one way. Installing heat sinks doesn't require anything special except for reading the instructions.

    Here's a checklist that can help you avoid some of the most common mistakes:
  2. I just built my first PC (after using the darn things for 21 years) and it was easy. If you can teach this old dog, you can do it too.

    I spent several hours picking all the parts, and used passmark benchmarks to pick a balanced build. Essentially, the cpu needs to match the motherboard and memory, then the aftermarket cooler needs to fit inside the case. When you pick the parts you think will work, post them in this forum, and the guys here will give (somewhat biased) advice.

    Look at the marathon builds here for hints. Also, I live near a microcenter in Atlanta and had one of their flyers to help get some really good prices Find the guy at your local geek store to double check and make sure you have compatible components. It helps if you can go when the store is empty and spend a lot of time there. I did not buy everything at the same store, but got the major components all at once.

    For the build, follow the directions above - it was a lot simpler than I thought it would be. Take your time - plan a whole weekend for the endevor so you are not rushed. Just remember to push in your RAM hard enough to make it go "click", and don't use too much thermal paste for the cooler.

    I spent more than I thought I would (about $1700) but now am hooked, and wish I could build more! I have to settle for overclocking, which I never thought I would do. You probably will enjoy this more than you think. Good luck :)
  3. Back in that era you had to set alot of switches to control IRQs and such. Now everything is self-detecting and software controlled. Its pretty much plug and play (maybe mess with bios for better performance). Just be wary of static and install the CPU heatsink well.
  4. Ahhh the old days with dip switches and jumpers to set IRQ, DMA channels and set the CPU. Don't miss them at all;)
  5. Building is easy. The trickiest is buying the right parts (best value for money and performance more than compatibility as that is pretty straight forward)

    The next hard part is troubleshooting once the computer is built - it is a pain identifying what may or may not be wrong once it is built (if you have any issues). However, you should find plenty of help here if you do have trouble once it is together.

    The most common issue after building a computer is the RAM being a pain. That is usually easily solved with a couple of tweaks in the bios.
  6. Building is pretty easy these days. There can be some challenges with the wiring, more a matter of making it pretty than making it work, and some of the smaller wires are a challenge to get plugged in since you're working down in the case and maybe around the big cpu cooler.

    It is much easier these days than it was back when you had to set the voltages and frequencies for the cpu using dip switches, and motherboards had a lot of options to support the various cpu's available.

    Picking out just the right parts is still a challenge, but do a lot of research, watch what people post here for builds, read all about the various tom's system builder marathons and other cpu and gpu tests, and you'll get it.
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