Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Scratch Building my Computer

Last response: in CPUs
a b à CPUs
November 22, 2000 1:55:23 AM

Soon I will be undertaking a project of custom building a computer. I've never done it before so, I don't know how to perform a few of the actions necessary to get the computer working. I will be using the following hardware. I have not purchased the hardware yet so any suggestions are

Asus A7V motherboard. AMD Athlon/Thunderbird, Socket A, 1 GHz CPU. Western Digital 40 gig, 7200 RPM hard drive. Creative Labs SoundBlaster Live! Value PCI. 3Com 56k V.90 internal PCI Performance Pro FaxModem. Creative Labs 52x
CD-ROM. Altec Lansing ACS45.2 speakers. Microsoft Natural Elite keyboard. Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer, optical mouse. 128 meg PC133 SDRAM from Crucial. Addtronics 6890a case with 300w power supply. Creative Labs Annihilator 2 GeForce2 GTS 32meg DDR AGP video card. A ViewSonic 19” PF790 monitor. I will be running Windows 98 SE on this machine. I have that on CD.

I don't know the order in which I should install the components. I know how to install all the hardware. I've done most of it before. But, tips are still welcome. I need detailed help in what is done after the hardware is
assembled. I have never touched BIOS in my life nor have I installed an OS. If I am going to need help in order to undertake this project.

Thank you for whatever help you can provide me with.

Mark Fitzsimmons
November 22, 2000 2:43:40 AM

i have similar system (a7v with 800 mhz t-bird)
i'm sure you will be very happy once you have it all together.

a few things to remember...

1. get a good heat sink/fan for your chip.. ie hedgehog...or have a look on this forum for another one that is good.

2. bios is very easy to set up especially in jumper free mode... but, with the sound blaster live! value (what I have) there is a special setting you need to change in the bios, has to do with the setting up irq's and stuff, more info about it at

3. take a peek at tom's a7v guide somewhere on the homepage for some other hints and tips

good luck and have fun!
November 22, 2000 2:51:53 AM

your not going for the 1000mhz on a DDR system? shame.
that DDR ram and increased FSB will help alot.

Related resources
a b à CPUs
November 22, 2000 2:55:00 AM

I've built my own pcs, but I'm sure my methods are, by far, not the most efficient. Basically, I don't install anything on the first boot that I don't have to. No sound/network/modem/whatever cards (except the video card - you need it to be able to use the monitor!), only 1 cd-rom/fd/hd drive, and of course don't forget the heatsink on the cpu! If you plan on having any case fans that require you to slice-n-dice your case, I usually do that first, and make sure I don't leave any metal shavings anywhere.

Also something to consider is cleaning up the mess of cords you'll have inside the case. I like zip-ties, some guys like rubber bands or other things. Also (just a note) maybe it's just me, BUT, I often have trouble finding the right size screws for different areas of the case, so I run to the hardware shop quite often. Some places do send a good assortment of screws, though. Besides all that, a few suggestions on your hardware selections *rubs hands and feels strangely like a cars salesman*

#1) DDR-RAM (Double Data Rate RAM) is about to sweep into the market full-scale, offering your pc a hefty 266mhz bus! Since you would be buying new RAM and a new MoBo anyway, I would suggest looking into a DDR setup. It really wouldn't cost you much more than you are spending on the ASUS+Crucial pc133. In fact, Crucial is selling pc2100 (266mhz) 128mb DDR DIMMs for a little over $110 (My pc2100 2x128mb DDR DIMMs from them will be in tomorrow! Scha-wingg!). Also, in the next month or three the market should see quite a few different DDR MoBos pop up, giving us consumers a good variety to choose from. Otherwise (if you are planning on buying within the next week or something), Giga-Byte and Biostar have put out boards with the AMD 760 (ddr) chipset.

#2) Have you checked out Kenwood's new True 72x cd-rom drive? I've heard (via webpages and word of mouth) that it is a really good product that boasts actual 72x cd read speeds (whereas most cd-roms over 20x only go 20x!). I think they run around $100, so that's probably a little bit more expensive than the cheesey old Afreey 80,000x cd-rom drive out there. I personally would like to wake up xmas morning with a Kenwood under my tree (by what I've heard/read) =))

#3) Maybe a 64mb GeForce 2? (If you really feel like shelling out the bucks) Mostly for bragging rights =) I have a LeadTek GeForce2 GTS 32MB and I love it! No problems yet, and rock-solid, screaming-fast performance.

#4) (Ok, ok. I'm gonna stop after this one!) I understand that Viewsonics are nice, but have you considered looking into a MAG Innovisions brand monitor? I had a 15 inch Trinitron model of theirs, and it impressed me more than any piece of hardware I have purchased to date. MAG has a really superb model, the 810fd, which is a 19 inch powerHOUSE! It can do 1920x1440 and it has a Trinitron tube! At you can get one for (cheapest) 368$. 368$ for a 19" Trinitron is not a bad deal to me! Especially a MAG. Unfortunately (and strangely) I don't know of any MAG products' reviews. Anyway, I bought a MAG once before, am saving for one again (the 810fd =)), and would buy one anytime (assuming I didn't have to sell my kidney for it).

*gasp puff pant*


Sorry about the length, hope this all helps. If anything, definately think about a DDR setup *cough*andaMAGmonitor*cough*. Other than that, looks like you've got one mean little system! Hope your installation goes well!

~Chris the Long Winded
November 22, 2000 3:36:24 AM

If you can't wait for DDR: your mother board choice is a good one, check out a raid controler card if posible(I can't remeber if that board comes with raid or not). Also look at Abit's KT7 raid. Western digital use to be king on hard drives up till about the 6-8gb range. now adays IBM is producing some of the fastest. Make sure the drive/s you pick up, have at least a 2mb buffer, ata100, @7200rpm. The IBM 15.2gb drives are relatively cheep at $100(USD). Higher capacity drives may be substituted. On the CD rom I would sugest either opting for Pioneers 16xDVD (available at or below $100). This DVD player reads CD's at 40x. Or if you just looking for a high speed CD then definatly go for a Kenwood true 72x.
a b à CPUs
November 22, 2000 6:49:23 AM

My suggestions:
Good choices for mainboard and cpu
It sounds like you want good quality components in your system so I question why some of the other choices however.
First, look at Tom's guide on storage for benchmarks on the best harddrive for your needs.

Second, why SB Live Value? Why not SB Live XGamer 5.1? Not that you are going to use it now, but upgradability is always nice, plus you get some games with it and it's only $80. If you do any serious gaming, MP3 work, or DVD watching, I wouldn't get anything less than 4 point surround. Step up to the 5.1 just in case you feel like someday getting those Cambridge Soundworks DTT3500s (Digital 5.1). No need to get a home theater system with those puppies unless you want to wake up the neighbors on the next block rather than your own block. I personally have the Klipsch v2 4.00 Pro Media setup, but I bought them before SB had the 5.1 card.

Third. I think others have touched on this, but the selection of CD-ROM. If you want the fastest definitely the Kenwood (I have the 72 truex), but I have yet to see someone be able to run Diablo II, including myself, on a Kenwood truex drive so it still has it's read problems. Definitely don't want it for any sort of CD "back up" procedure either as it can't read the subchannel data on today's highly protected CDs. If I was to get one CD-ROM, I would get the Plextor 12x10x32 IDE CD-RW. Give yourself the option to record as well as a highly reliable cd reader.

Fourth. If your only getting 32 MB of DDR on your video card, why spend your money on a Geforce2. The Geforce1 is still limited by it's memory bandwidth as it is with 32 meg of DDR so it's plenty fast. Plus, a Geforce1 card you can find for $130 (Annihilator Pro). I have the hercules Prophet DDR-DVI. I would only get the Geforce2 if I was going to get an "Ultra" version with 5.5 ns memory.

Five. I agree with the other guys about the DDR memory support on the motherboard. Memory bandwidth is one of the biggest bottlenecks of any PC and DDR will help it not be. Tom does a great review of this and he claims something like a 12% gain in performance which is very significant.

Six. I like CNet for there monitor reviews. Check out their page before you buy. Maximum PC will tell you to get the highest quality and biggest monitor you can afford because, besides the case, it is probably the least likely component you will need or want to upgrade.

Seven. This is nit-picky, but if you want a highly accurate and precise mouse, optical is not the way to go. It doesn't require any maintenance, but a roller ball mouse is still what the expert gamers and graphic designers prefer. It simply has better resolution.

Assuming you don't have any difficulty with hardware installation...

With ASUS, you shouldn't have to touch your BIOS until after you've installed your OS at least. Whenever I install 98 I always first boot up into Dos from a start up disk. This allows me to run FDISK. With FDISK I can partition my harddrive. First you create a primary dos partition (This is your C drive), then you assign the remaining portion of your harddrive to an extended dos partiton. Then divide up the extended dos partition into as many other logical drives as you want. I usually make one for games, and I even have one set aside in case I ever want to have a dual OS system (say with Win2k). You could set a large chunk aside for MP3s or video too.
Once all the partitions are made, exit out of FDISK and run FORMAT on all of your logical drives (C through whatever).
You can then run setup from your 98 CD and windows should go smooth. I assume you know what to do after you have your OS. Unless you want to tweak your system's performance or how it boots up, I don't think the BIOS should be touched. If things aren't working however, a BIOS update will help sometimes. You can get these from ASUS's website, of course. If you still have trouble with hardware detection, switch your PCI cards around so that sensitive cards (like SCSI controllers and DVD hardware decoders to name a couple) are not sharing the PCI bus with other cards. ASUS prints which PCI slots are shared with each other in their motherboard manuals. For the life of me I could not get my Sigma Designs Hollywood Plus MPEG decoder card to work when I first got it. I ended up tearing all my cards out, save video, and putting that decoder card on it's own slot. All my problems went away.

Whoa this is long.
a b à CPUs
November 22, 2000 1:31:29 PM

Thanks for all the help. I truly appreciate all the help. I love long posts! Why I made some of the choices I did. I am basicly on a budget. I really want to keep the total system cost around $1,500. This is all I can afford right now. Being 15 and unemployed puts a burdon on your computing life.

I think I'll wait for a DDR system. Maybe Asus will decide to remove the pesky AMR slot and add an ISA slot or something on their DDR board.

Where can I buy a good heatsink, link.

If I was going to spend ~ $100 on a 72x I'd just get a DVD-ROM. I would like to get a 5.1 system but don't you need like the SB Live 5.1 Platinum to get the full benefits of it? I can't spend that money right now.

Someone I have been talking to said I should use the command /s to format the hard drive. Is this right?

Can someone write me a more detailed explanation of what I do after the system is put together. Including the specific commands I need to type in.

Thanks for all your help.
November 22, 2000 2:01:45 PM

I have an athlon 850 with a gforce 64 meg ddr and a kenwood 72x cd-rom. I have absolutely no problems with the cd rom reading diablo 2 at all. I would strongly recomend this drive to anybody period! I have found that I was able to recover many of my old cd's that couldn't be read by any other cd rom by using the kenwood true 72 speed as the read drive and burning a copy to my phillips cd-burner. This drive is extremely quiet, and quite frankly faster than anything out there. Trust me when I say if it did not perform it would not be in my system, For I have an all black system from the black case to the black burner to a black keyboard on and on right down to a black 20" micron monitor. And quite honestly the beige 72x kenwood sticks out like a turd in a punch bowl. But it not only works it works dam good, and that is why I left it in there.
November 22, 2000 2:38:46 PM

I just thought I'd add in my 2 cents like everyone else. I try to stay away from Western Digital personally. Some people have good luck with them, but I have seen like 5 die on me. Maxtors are very reliable, and IBMs are the fastest out there. I am also waiting for DDR. I have owned a MAG 1795 monitor for about 4 years now. I don't believe it is a trinitron tube, but I have to admit the resolution is outstanding. I would like to say that about 3 years after buying it, it stopped working. Turned out to be a bad connection on a PC board, so I just resoldered it, and it is all good again. If you do not wait for DDR, look into the Abit KT7 RAID. Asus makes good stuff, but the Abit board is super easy to setup. It has 6 PCI, 1 ISA, active chipset cooling, and a great soft bios that lets you set every motherboard option there is. Good luck with the setup. Sounds like a nice system.

"Water-Cooled CPU Runner"
November 22, 2000 3:19:30 PM

I love my Kenwood 72X drive and I have purchased many Maxtor HDs in the last 10 years and would recommend both if you are building from scratch. I think they would go well in your system.