What to Consider When Building Your Own System

Geek!This is Daniel Cebulski’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

When and if you decide to build your own computer, there are many things you have to consider about the configuration and hardware that you are going to purchase.

1. BUDGET – You always have to know how much you are willing to spend or the most you are willing to spend for the parts to your system. Make sure your budge is not out-of-proportion to the type of system you are building.

2. SYSTEM TYPE – First, decide what you are going to be using the computer for. Common types are an Internet and Mailing Computer, a Gaming Computer, a Audio Production Computer, or maybe a Graphical Design Computer. Also, know the type of hardware associated with each type.

3. MOTHERBOARD – When shopping for a motherboard, make sure you know the type of processor it accepts (AMD, Intel, etc.) and know the “Socket” type of the CPUs supported. It is a good idea to get a motherboard with 2 or more RAM slots, just in case you decide to add more RAM. Also, know that the motherboard supports multiple front side accessories such as card readers and media bays.

4. PROCESSOR – First, search for all processors that are supported in the motherboard. Some motherboards come with processors and fans, so this step might not apply. If you are looking to build an e-mail and internet system, a single core processor would suit it just fine. If you are looking to build a gaming system or some other graphics intensive system, I recommend a dual core or higher processor.

5. RAM – The amount of RAM should be in series with the type of operating system you are using and what you are using the system for. Also know that 32-bit operating systems only support a max of 4 GB of RAM, while 64-bit systems support up to 32 GB. A simple internet and e-mailing machine with Windows XP would only require about 512 MB memory, thought I suggest 1 GB for good performance. A gaming system running on Windows Vista Home Premium (For DirectX 10) would require at least 2 GB of RAM to run smoothly. Check whether your motherboard uses DDR or DDR2 RAM.

6. HARD DRIVE – The hard drive choice really relates to what the user plans on storing on the machine. If the user does not plan on storing files or large amounts of documents, a 40 GB hard drive would suit them just fine. A gamer, video producer, or music producer would more than likely need a significantly greater amount of hard disk space to save games or projects. Check your motherboard to see whether or not it supports SATA hard drives.

7. VIDEO CARD – This part is mainly for the gamers, graphical designers, and video producers. To maintain smooth video and high FPS (Frames Per Second) in video games, or be able to edit videos and graphics with less error, a high-end video card is suggested. Video cards come in 4 types: AGP, PCI, PCIe, and PCIe-2.0. I recommend a video card with at least 256MB RAM and an updated pixel shader.

8. CD/DVD Drives – I hugely recommend at least a CD drive in every computer. If you do not have a CD drive, it would be difficult to install drivers. If you are planning on publishing movies onto discs, you should purchase a DVD burner.

9. CASE/FANS/POWER SUPPLY – Make sure you buy a case that can contain all parts of the computer. A lot of the time, fans are provided with a processor and the case. Make sure you buy a power supply to accommodate all pieces of hardware that need power connectors.

10. OPERATING SYSTEM – I recommend Windows XP for internet/e-mail users, Windows Vista Home Basic for gamers, and Windows XP for video/graphical designers. Linux is also an alternative operating system, though, it does require a bit of learning!