Don't be afraid to build your own!

Most people only post when they are having problems and if you read forums like this one would often think that putting together a system is difficult and the area of geeks only. Here is my experience.

I had never even turned a computer on until September of 1999, I purchasd a Compaq for college and I quickly fell in love with computers, the internet, and everything else that goes along with it.

My Compaq did well for me at first, but I came to the point that I needed something better, so last month I decided to take the plunge and build my own.

This is what I put together:

1 Ghz Athlon
A7V motherboard
45 GB Maxtor HD
256 MB pc133
12x DVD
4x4x24 CDRW
Creative Soundblaster Live
ATI Radeon 64MB
and a floppy drive.

I read the A7V manual from front to back, than I simply followed the instructions and put all the pieces together. A couple hours later I fired it up and everything went perfect. I installed WinME and all my various programs over the next few hours.

Everything works. It took me about 5-6 hours to put it all together and install the OS and software. I had no problems that couldn't be fixed by reading a manual or doing a quick search on forums such as this.

Moral of the story: Don't be afraid to build your own. Just buy quality parts and read up on what you are doing.
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  1. You said it Darwin! I was a HARDCORE computer-phobe until I went back to Purdue. Not only did I BUILD a computer, it was the first computer I ever had!

    Building a system takes a lot of the mystery out of computers, since you know firsthand what is inside that innocent looking case and how it works.

    Of course, it also helped that I was surrounded by fellow propellerheads who could answer my questions!! ;-)

    Next stop, LINUX.....


    My inferiority complex is not as good as yours is.
  2. great post, i had the same experience....

    around october 1999 i was using a 486 with a 586 overdrive chip, 12 megs of ram, 640meg hard drive, 2x cd-rom, and believe it or not i was running win98se (and very slowly). when mp3's were getting popular, i realized my computer couldn't even play them. needless to say, it was time to upgrade.

    at the time, i knew how to use a computer for the very basic stuff but knew nothing about them. my friend was kind enough to find me great deals and build the computer for me. i must have bugged the crap out of him, i was like cyrix what? celeron what? what's k6? etc..... and i looked over his shoulder at everything he was doing hoping to soak up some knowledge.

    anyway, the computer that was built was a k6-3 450, 64megs ram, 13gig hard drive, 8meg sis video card, scavanged sb16 isa sound card.

    over the past year or so i have learned a ton, if i may say so. most learning has come from messing with stuff, messing it up, then having to figure out how to fix it (although i still do that now, just at a more advanced level). these newsgroups and tech sites have healped tremendously as well.

    since the k6-3, i have gone through MANY upgrades and my k6-3 computer has been picked apart a bit and put back together as a computer for my mother.

    fast forward to the present day and i run the following:
    t-bird 900@1000 (1.75 volts)
    ep-8kta+ mobo
    384megs ram (3x128 meg micron pc133)
    30gig quantum 7200rpm
    40gig western digital 7200rpm
    pioneer 16x dvd
    plextor 12/10/32 cd-rw
    leadtek geforce2 gts
    sb live mp3+

    the only problem i encountered that i couldn't fix either with a friends help or by reading articles was when my mobo crapped out (the k6-3 mobo) and i didn't know it till i called tech support where i got it from (no problem getting a replacement) and they told me the problem.

    basically, this was a long winded post just to say that the best learning is hands on learning. it's really not that hard... it can be frustrating at times but i get a nice feeling of satisfaction when i learn to troubleshoot my own problems (and no, there's nothing wrong with asking wuestions). keep in mind that a question that you or i might find very basic, someone else thinks it's complicated. to all the newbie's who actually read this entire post, keep reading and learning......
  3. You should also post the amount of money saved and talk about how the famous computer brands cut corners to pay for their marketing costs and use inferior products and don't want you asking too many questions or taking a look under the hood.
  4. I've had a similar experience. I bought a computer whose insides I pretty much shunned. Then later I began tinkering and checking out fora like this. Now I'm a certified gotta have a new toy, junkie (most recently an Athlon 800 and an Asus A7V). Now how do you make it stop. There's so much else that needs to get done in the day (and tuition, bills and research materials to be paid for).
  5. it's hard to say how much money was saved because after the k6-3 i never started from scratch. every upgrade involved selling the previoes part. for example, i had a classic athlon 700 and pc chips mobo, i sold that to a friend to get a t-bird and gigabyte board, and it was close to an even swap. same thing when i changed hard drives, and the list goes on. what i can say is that when you build your own you can pick your parts piece by piece. i guess you do save money because if you configure something like a dell, gaqteway, compaq, etc... and pick all the good stuff, you run up the total price quickly. when you buy a dell, the low prices advertised get you a good processor, like a p3-733, but everything else is crap. my friends mom got the dell $899 deal (something like that, i think it came with a p3-733) and it is really slow because it is crap except for the processor. the average computer buyer deosn't look at the total package, they see the processor mhz and make their purchase.
  6. Every high street seller needs a good kick in the ass. If they took a little time to educate the average buyer in to what they were buying, and recommended decent parts, with the best possible chance of future upgradeability, the general publics opinion of the cyber universe, and the possibilities held within it, would be so much better. But no, they prefer to sell on all the old crap, so that Joe Public has a really slow system, clogged up with useless gimmicks, albeit with one feature (probably useless) that is in the news at the time. I'm sure that everyone here will agree, a good system that works well, and will keep you in the game for a while to come, because you know how it works and how you can upgrade it, is what computers are all about.
  7. Amen! I was still using a P-200MMX and I decided to upgrade to a Celeron 300A (back when they OC'd 450). I just bought a barebone system (case, motherboard, cpu) and I swapped the rest out of my old system and voila! I got a new system for under $300 and saved myself hundreds of dollars in labor expense if I had a dealer do it.

    I recently upgraded to a Duron 600Mhz for under $200. I got a new Case with AMD approved power supply, MSI 6340 K7TM Pro motherboard, CPU w/fan, and assembled it all myself.

    A little knowledge goes a long way.
  8. bravo Darwin!
    hope everybody starts thinking your way, what will compaqs and dells and the hps do?

    but remember to use "quality" parts, be it a tad expensive you will always save more as compared to buying pre-built or branded systems. this keeps check on whats being used, and of course make you a hardware wiz!!!

    be sure to turn the pages of tomshardware or anandtech before you zero in on a part.

  9. It's all so true. My mate's girlfriend bought a PC from PC World (a british company that sells [-peep-] at high prices). It's made by a company called Patriot and it crawls along. It's sold on the PIII 700 inside it, but the motherboard is crippled be unthinkable performance and one!!! IDE port. They have the hard drive as master and the CD-ROM ad Slave, so you can't access them both at the same time. This machine is painful to use, my old K6-2 at 450 (though now I have a Duron 700 and the Asus A7V, woohoo) and a Soyo mobo kicked sevem colours of shite out of it. The damn thing takes half a minute to load MS Word because of its unbeleavably sloooow hard drive.

    but it did only cost 450 pounds.

    Lisa doesn't think it's much of a bargain now!

    Fat Chucky
  10. Since eveybody is telling their sweet old story, thought that I might share mine as well.

    Just like to say that computer junkies starts from Gamers and up and thus becoming Computer tech heads. Well, I come from the region where you learn the hard way, all work and no fun of playing games. Took up a summer job in a small computer firm building machines and that's where it all started for me. The owner was generous enough to hire me even though he had more staff then components staked on the shelves. I know, I'm just lucky to be able to get into a situation where hands on experience coems to me.

    First computer I had was a 286 8 meg ram machine, eveyrbody marvelled at it with it's sleek design and huge 14" monitor and 256bit colour. "WOW' That was in 1982 I think.. How long was that ago.

    There wasn't any Internet back then thus computer was to me a tool for gamers. How wrong have I been but the internet has been a great source of information and it will even more as broadband becomes mainstream. (Looking forward to that)

    It's very true, you get a better understanding of things when you get yours hand into, I did it and it's an amazing world to enter into. First it was a CPU, like normal brainwash consumers, CPU Mhz was everything, the higher it was the better the speed. Nowadays it's totally changed. FSB, FPU... WOW..

    With the amount of components we have in our machine these days, power supply is a very important component to look into when building your computer. Cooling of your CPU is equally importnat if you have an athlon. Careful, the die is very touchy, make sure you take care putting the proper cooler on. And what is this thing about closing all gap on the atholn for overclocking? and what is a PCB pen? Not to worry, do a serach on the forum and you shall find what you seek to open or close all bridges on the CPU.

    Currently, I have a self build

    PII 266
    LX440 MOBO (I know that's really old, can't even find a upgrade of a BIOS)
    64 Meg Ram PC66 (hoping to upgrade soon)
    IBM 20 GIG 7200 RPM 2 meg cache
    Quantum 3.2 GIG
    HP 8100 CDR 24X,4,2
    AWE 64 GOLD
    300 Watt Power supply
    Running WIndows 2000 professional

    The great thing is this computer is still running like a dream.

    I know.... it's time to upgrade but I still have this thing about SLOT 1 CPUs.. Heavy, rugert looking, therefore I plan to keep it as a momento.

    Will be planning to upgrade the MOBO to a ABIT BE6 or a BH6 hopefully to O'clock to 300 Mhz and purchase another:

    Athlon 1.2 GIG
    ASUS A7V
    128 PC2100 (hopefully the 760 CHIPSET bug will be resolved)
    IBM 75 GIG (7200RPM)
    Creative 5.1 Souncard
    One of those high speed CD-RW (not decided yet)
    Pioneer DVD
    Nvidia GForce 64 Megs but who knows what will Nvidia get up to in January? (New card? Most liikely)
    3com network cards to link me PII 266
    ADSL line
    17" LCD WOOOOOHOOOOO (Costing a bomb)OUCH
    mainly for DIVX encoding and some gmae play (yes.. I have finally succumbed to the gaming side of tech heads)

    Yeah I think that's all.

    Anyway, kindda went off topic there, if you wantta learn something well, get your hands DIRTY.. like properly formatting your HD using F-disk and making sure that your slave is given a proper drive letter, downloading the proper drivers for hardware and softwares, check for updates now and then, never buy newly manufactured products, give it at least 3-6 months and read forums like these for bugs and where to get the updates. (VALUABLE INFORMATION. what more can I say?) READ READ READ and ABSORB!!!

    Anyway, I can't wait for the new compiled DIVX for AMD. It's the future man.. DVD into a normal 650 Meg CD.. OUCH for the DVD industry. COMMON AMD don't let me down.

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