Tag Archives: custom

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!

Five Important Tips on Building a PC

Geek!This is Ziggles’ 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:

I’ve been into computers for quite a while and I’ve been following Chris and his geekiness for about three years now. Now I recently saw Chris’s YouTube video about the HP contest and I decided what the heck, why not enter. After being in a tech chat for a little over a year sucking in loads of information and helping tons of people, I think that I have earned the right to make a top 5 tips for Building a Computer. I know many people are interested in building their own computer, but when it comes down to actually starting the entire process, they get stuck. Building a computer is actually very easy and quick if you know what you’re doing. So I hope with these tips, it’ll will make this really fun process much easier.

  1. Do your research. I don’t know how I can stress this enough. I see people come into the chat I am usually in, and they buy all these computer parts thinking it will all work together but it doesn’t. It took me a good solid 3 months to find compatible parts, really good deals, and an overall satisfactory with the computer and its insides. I recommend going to websites which give articles and benchmarks about specific products. Ask a lot of questions to fellow techies you find for help with your build, whether it be on the web or in person. I’ll repeat it again. Do your research. If I could make a top ten list, I would use the top 1 – 5 just to say do your research. It’s that important.
  2. Prepare for Your Build. Once you have finished your research and you bought all your parts you must prepare for your build. For starters, pick a nice BIG clean space to work on, preferably on a table. Try as much as possible to keep away from mounting everything on the floor, especially the floor. That is a big no-no. Static is a computer’s worst friend. One zap and everything will get fried. I recommend wearing no socks, buying a static free wristband, and grounding yourself by touching something metal each time you go to work on your build. Now it’s important for any computer build, that you have the right tools for the job. Many stores like Staples buy computer building kits, which includes all kinds of screwdrivers, screws, clips, and other goodies to help streamline the process of building a computer. I HIGHLY recommend buying a magnetic screwdriver, because when assembling everything, you don’t know how many times you will lose the little damn screw inside the case. Having a magnetic screw driver can easily pick it out of there. Have everything that you need with you before assembling. That includes parts, peripherals like monitors, keyboards, and speakers.
  3. Take Your Time. Even though I said earlier “it doesn’t take a long time to make a computer if you know what you’re doing” – take your time. Its better that the build be done right instead of rushed. Don’t build if you are in a bad mood. Take out around 5 hours to dedicate to your build and start with a fresh mind. Keep all the manuals and installation instructions for each part. If you get stuck, you can always use them for guidance. A nice word of advice I can give you is that everything fits in only one way. All the power connectors, SATA connectors, CPU installation, fan installations, and PCI installation only fits in ONE way. You can’t mess it up. If you get stuck, once again refer to the manuals. They usually have nice little pictures for you to see.
  4. “Bench test” everything outside the case first. This is a commonly skipped step made by all computer builders. It is very important that you assemble your entire computer OUTSIDE the case first to make sure everything is working. Put your motherboard onto of the box it came in and plug everything into it there. Power it all up and test it. It’s very stressful when you have everything nice and snug inside the case only to find out the power supply is dead. Make sure all the connections are securely fastened, and that everything is turned on and working alright. Once you have done this, take everything apart except the RAM, CPU, and CPU fan. Leave those things plugged into the motherboard as they are a pain to install once the motherboard is inside the case. After that, place the motherboard inside the case, WITH standoffs in place between the case and the motherboard. This is so there is no shortage. Proceed with installing the power supply, video card (if you have one), DVD drives, hard drives, and whatever else you want to put in there. Plug the computer into a power outlet, and fire her up. Format the hard drives; install the operating system, and drivers for components.
  5. Enjoy! Building a computer is a really fun process if you are into it. Be social and join forums and tech sites to just gather all the information you can. Share your knowledge and have fun. This leads to making more informed decisions in the future. Research, be prepared, take it easy, and follow the steps. If you did that successfully and you have a new computer, congratulations on a job well done! You aren’t a true computer builder if you haven’t done the sacred blood sacrifice for your new rig. Only then you can consider yourself a true master.

Ten Steps to Building Your First Computer

Geek!This is Joel Parker’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:

Step 1

What user category do you fit in? Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What will I use my computer for?
  2. What is my budget?

After answering those questions it’ll make this next step really easy. You have three basic user categories to choose from, so it shouldn’t be too hard to choose.

  • Mainstream – Mostly anyone not wanting to game or do any kind of rendering. (budget: $250-$600)
  • Gamer – Those guys that go to LAN parties regularly and spend late nights on the computer. You guys know who you are. 😉 (budget: $600-$2000)
  • Enthusiast – They are crazy. They enjoy spending money on the top of the line products for benchmarks, gaming and high end rendering. (budget: $2000+)

Step 2

Which reseller should you choose for the parts? If you’re going by trust, reliability and fast shipping, here’s a few main choices:


  • http://ebuyer.com

My favorite reseller has to be Newegg.com. Newegg has been my favorite for a few years now just because of it’s awesome customer service, amount of products and cheap shipping cost.

Step 3

Choosing the parts – this is the hardest step for the entire build, no joke. You have to take in consideration your budget, your user category and the reviews of the product(s).

5 tips for choosing the parts for you:

  1. Choose name brands. (ASUS, HIS, XFX, crucial, etc)
  2. Make sure the products have 4-5 star ratings. (If they aren’t at least 4 stars, find out why and move on)
  3. Cheapest and/or most expensive isn’t always the best choice.
  4. Make sure all of your parts are compatible. The best way to find that out is to look at the motherboard specs.
  5. Make sure you are choosing the parts for you and your user category. If not, you will loose your budget.

The next 5 steps explain which components to look for depending on your user category.

Step 4

Search Google for “Power Supply Calculator”. This will determine your choice of correct wattage. This list will show how much wattage you will need for each user category:

  • Mainstream = 100w-500w
  • Gamer = 500w-800w
  • Enthusiast = 800w+

Step 5

Motherboard/CPU – These two components are the most important choices for the entire build. Make sure you read all 5 tips on the 3rd step! Here are the things to look for in a motherboard and CPU, depending on your user category:


  • 2+ SATA ports
  • 2-3 PCI slots
  • Onboard graphics and onboard audio
  • 1.6GHz-2.6GHz dual-core or single-core CPU

  • 2+ SATA ports
  • 2 PCI slots
  • 2-3 PCI-e 2.0 slots
  • Your choice of onboard audio or a high definition PCI slot audio card
  • 2.6GHz-3.2GHz dual-core or quad-core CPU

  • 6+ SATA ports
  • 1+ PCI slot(s)
  • 3 PCI-e 2.0 slots
  • 1+ PCI-e x4 slot(s)
  • High Definition PCI slot audio card
  • 3.2GHz quad-core CPU

Step 6

Graphics Card – Here we are, choosing the core to your powerhouse machine. What should you pick? Well it’s really up to you and it really depends on the year I will give you some choices based on the here and now: (this step doesn’t really apply to the user category “Mainstream”, so you guys can skip on along to step 7.)


  • ATI (CrossfireX) – 4870, 4850
  • NVIDIA (SLI) – 9800 GTX+, 9800 GTX, 9800 G92, 9800GT


  • ATI (CrossfireX) – 4870×2, 4850×2, 4870
  • NVIDIA (SLI) – 280, 260 core 216, 9800 GTX+

Step 7

The memory and the HDD is one of the easiest decisions out of the whole build. But really this is all totally up to you, just remember your budget.

  • Mainstream – RAM: 2GB-4GB, HDD: 80GB-160GB
  • Game – RAM: 4GB-8GB, HDD: 160GB-320GB
  • Enthusiast – RAM: 8GB+, HDD: 320GB-1.5TB

Step 8

Rom Drives/Case – These components are the shell of your computer.


  • Case sizes: MicroATX, Mid-Tower ATX
  • Rom Drives: CD/DVD burner combo drive (everyone should have one of these)


  • Case sizes: Mid-Tower ATX, Full-Tower ATX
  • Rom Drives: CD/DVD burner combo drive, Blueray Reader drive


  • Case sizes: Full-Tower ATX
  • Rom Drives: CD/DVD burner combo drive, Blueray burner/reader drive

Step 9

Building your computer – Once you’ve chosen all of your computer parts. You’re probably asking yourself, How do I put all of these parts together into a computer? Well, the only way to find that out is Google, YouTube and your motherboard manual. Believe me, it’s really simple. I’d go on to say it’s almost like building a complex Lego creation.

Search for “How to build a computer” in any major search engine and you will get tons of results on how to do it. Good luck and have fun!

Step 10

Should I overclock? Well, it totally depends on what parts you chose and if you want to take the risk. I recommend you checking out the overclocking community over at http://overclock.net for more info on the subject. And if you wish, join http://geeks.pirillo.com for a whole community with overclockers, gamers and computer builders!

How to Build your own Laptop

LaMott is a PC Tech, and wrote in to ask this: “My question is why isn’t there an industry standard of MBD’s & cases that techs can use to build their own laptops? Also, what percent of people in the U.S. would you say build their own PC’s vs. those that buy?”

PC fanatics are up in arms over how Apple doesn’t let you build your own Mac. I hate to say it, but there’s a good reason for it. Some people feel that’s not how things should be. I guess I won’t open that particular can of worms.

By the way, if you are subscribed to my Podcast, you could be eligible to win a computer this Saturday, March 15th! If we reach 20,000 subscribers, I will be giving away the AMD Spider computer system. Ok, so now on to your answer!

I don’t think 12% of the world population build their own computers. I actually think it’s less than 5%. Most people will buy off the shelves. It’s a matter of convenience and being taken care of. People think that they are better off buying from a well-known brand. I seem to recall an old movement surrounding building laptops. There are so many things that go into a laptop. A notebook needs to be designed to move around. Weight is a concern, the lid needs to easily and fully shut, the connections need to be secure. Is it possible? Yes, it is. At the end of the day, I really think it may not be worth it. There’s just too much that goes into it, and it can get to be extremely expensive to get everything just right. CCMike, who is an Op in my Chat room said it best: “Many laptop platforms are much too “style” specific to be able to find parts for”.

For any of you who enjoy building machines, I ask you this: If the parts were all available, would you build a laptop from scratch? I honestly don’t know that I would. There’s just so many complexities that go into building something that’s designed to be mobile. It’s a different level of challenge from building a desktop computer.


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