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Pre-Buying Questions on Building (first time)

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December 25, 2010 10:28:03 AM

Hi everyone, reading this forum quiet regularly, i've been "persuaded" to 1) build my next pc for the first time and 2) wait for sandy bridge proccesors.
Now Since i've never really done any building before what so ever, i'm excited but also worried which is why i want to get prepared, i've got a few questions i want to ask.

1)Is it a good idea to buy off 1 of these new sandy bridge proccesors straight away or wait a few weeks for reviews and more information, as i have delayed my christmas present and i'm quiet an impatient person, i would probbably try to get all parts asap but like all new things, some stuff could go wrong and since this is my first time bulding, i don't want problems.

2) Ram - how much ram do you think I should get -> i'm a average gamer but also i do tend to open a lot of stuff at a time (IE,firefox,program etc) and will probbably be using certain adobe programs even if not much. I was thinking of 6gb should be a nice balance?

3) Windows 7 -> Home version is the one i need for a basic user like me right?

4) While assembling the pc, I'm kind of worried of these static shocks and i don't quiet understand how it all happens. I'm probbably getting these static wrist bands or w/e their called but how exactly do they work, are they 100% proof and can you only use the hand that has the wrist band on or both hands?

5) While putting the first few bits on the motherboard (CPU/cooler etc) where do you leave the motherboard, i've heard it needs to be on a grounded metal (side of case?) but have also seen pictures/videos of them just being left on the floor?

6) I'm in the UK and was wondering how much would i need to spend around to get a decent pc that will last playing new games for atleast 2 years but be stable for general use for atleast 4-5 years. I will have a max maximum budget of £1000 but if i can lower the cost down, it would be perfect as then i can use the saved up money for a better monitor.


These are the questions i can remember at the moment, and i will probbably get even more as it gets closer to buying on selecting parts and everything.
Sorry for the long post and thanks for help :) 
a b B Homebuilt system
December 25, 2010 1:19:45 PM

If gaming is of concern, I'd opt for at least a GTX460, or, GTX570 if money allows...

The socket 1156 mainboards and i5 quad cores are nicely priced, and, SandyBridge might be a tad faster, but, a 2 fps in gaming at high res wont be noticeable....

YOu can save some money on 64 bit Windows 7 by opting for an OEM version, about $120 or less....
December 25, 2010 4:20:27 PM

Well gaming isn't everything i do, so i would like to benefit from sandy bridge if their prices are worth it.

I'll wait a bit more until i decide on parts but suggestions are still welcome :p 

at the moment, i'm bit more worried on the actual building as in the above questions.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 25, 2010 5:03:58 PM

My thoughts on your questions:

1. If you are firm on Sandy Bridge, look for a product promotion and then buy it.

2. Minimum 6 GBs of RAM for your gaming and multi-tasking- 12 GBs would be great.

3. Win 7 64-bit OEM (OEM is less expensive than the retail cousin, and has no tech support from Microsoft, and is not transferable to another computer).

4. Grounding straps are a must in order to safeguard against static electricity. A little moisture around the wrist wearing the strap will help obtain a good grounding. Just one wrist (or ankle) needs to be grounded, and you are free to use both hands to perform your work. Avoid carpeted areas. Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Static_electricity

5. The motherboard may be left on the top of a wooden (or metal) desk, or on a large sheet of corrugated cardboard - not on a carpeted area. Then start the assembly work.

6. 1,000 quid will buy you a jolly good system, suitable for gaming. Two years will not be an issue, but 4 to 5 years will be a stretch. Well within the realm of possibility.

Here is a nice guide: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/274745-31-step-step-g...

Good luck!
December 25, 2010 9:59:59 PM

Thank you Ubrales for your answers, and i read that guide you posted at the end of your post, every time i read building guides i get more excited lol.

I also just remembered another question which I had in mind -> Do most modern CPU coolers require the thermal paste thingy applied manually or do they already have it applied? As i really don't like the idea of me putting that stuff myself.
December 26, 2010 1:44:20 AM

I managed service dept before where we did a lot of custom build and my recommendations are:

1 - install CPU, heatsink/fan, and memory on the motherboard BEFORE installing the mobo inside the case. Test these 3 components, and graphics card, outside the case. Once you verify that they are good, remove graphics card and put mobo inside the case.

2 - DON'T forget the brass risers. Screw them on the case and the mobo is screwed on top of the brass riser. I have seen people screwing the mobo directly on the case and later turn the computer and wonder why it does not work.

3 - If you use stock fan, it comes with thermal paste pre-applied. If you use 3rd party heatsink, I recommend Artic Silver. Apply a very thin layer on CPU. A small bead the size of grain of rice and spread evenly on CPU. I use old credit card for that.

4 - Use a small capacity HDD for Windows and application. And a large HDD for your personal stuff(games, movies, music, etc). I have 150GB WD raptor for my OS and apps and 2TB for my personal stuff. If Windows get corrupted, my stuff is safe in different drive.

5 - After you install the OS, drivers, and apps, make a back up and save on 2nd drive or DVD. I use Acronis. So if my OS drive fails, I can restore my clean install in the new drive. That way I don't have to re-install all the apps, drivers, etc.

Have fun building your computer.
December 26, 2010 8:18:43 AM

Nice tips there electrontau, thanks for that but unfortunately that leads me to a few more questions:

1)You mentioned to test the CPU,heatsink and Memory components while the motherboard is outside the case, how exactly do you do that? (Sorry for newbiness)

2)Do all CPU purchases come with a stock fan, since i'm not planning to overclock, is there a reason for me to get 3rd party heatsink? As i just have a bad feeling with this thermal paste but if it's better off i guess i will have to try.

3) When you have your OS in a different hardrive, if you reinstall your OS, do you only lose the data in that specific hard drive or all data?
a c 122 B Homebuilt system
December 26, 2010 1:03:02 PM

You test components outside the case by breadboarding (slang expression dating back to the early days - the 1920's - of electronics experimenting):
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/262730-31-breadboardi...

And remember, we were all noobs at one time. It may have been 50 years ago, but ...
a b B Homebuilt system
December 26, 2010 1:29:10 PM

orkie said:
Thank you Ubrales for your answers, and i read that guide you posted at the end of your post, every time i read building guides i get more excited lol.

I also just remembered another question which I had in mind -> Do most modern CPU coolers require the thermal paste thingy applied manually or do they already have it applied? As i really don't like the idea of me putting that stuff myself.


Most after-market quality heatsinks do not have the thermal compound pre-applied. (On those that do have this pre-applied, I clean it off using alcohol swabs because I don't know what the stuff is)

A good product to use is 'Arctic Silver 5'

First, use a 'grounding strap' to protect the CPU (and any other electronics that you may touch) from static electricity discharges. This will explain more on this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Static_electricity

Wrap your finger with plastic wrap (Saran wrap, Reynold's wrap). Then apply approx. 4 mm dia. quantity of the compound in the center of the CPU. Then gradually spread this compound from the center towards the edges of the CPU. Keep in mind that this face of the CPU is usually slightly concave. Therefore, you will need more in the center and less towards the edges. Carefully set aside on a sheet of paper on your assembly desk. YouTube has several videos on 'applying thermal compound'. Watch some of these in order to familiarize yourself.

Next, you must do the same for the base of the heatsink, AFTER you remove the protective plastic film on the base of the heatsink.

Now you are ready to assemble the CPU and heatsink to the motherboard using the designated brackets. (Refer to the new build article)

December 26, 2010 2:13:55 PM

Thanks for the further help guys,

@jsc -> looking at your breadboarding guide, I think that kind of complicates stuff and i do understand that it makes it easier to identify and remove problems but i'm going to hope that their ain't no problems with the parts i get lol.

@ubrales I watched a few videos on youtube and read a few comments there as well but there was quiet a few different methods, I watched a video where they put it in the center and spread it all over the CPU, another one, they put some in the middle and just spread it in a circle around the center but left out quiet a bit and then there was the video where all they did was put some of the thermal compound in the middle and just put the Heatsink ontop of it. There was quiet a few comments supporting that idea because of "no air trapped" or something. So that has confused me a bit over which method to use.

Also, in none of the videos did they actually put any thermal paste onto the heatsink directly so, again a little bit of confusion as to that as well.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 26, 2010 2:32:52 PM

My suggestion is to apply a thin film of thermal compound on both the CPU as well as on the heatsink per established practices (grounding strap, not excessive thermal compound, etc) - the key-word here is "thin" film. Try and practice this on a small piece of metal to make you more comfortable.

The people making the videos are good in computer building; not necessarily good in video making. That's why one needs to watch several videos and glean bits of information from these videos.
!