Usually at some stage in a faction/guild I will post a nice help guide for XP/Vista user on how to clean up their systems and make their pc run smoothly but since I can't find my document it is stored it in it will have to wait.
Instead I want to start off a small section on helping people consider building a pc rather than buying a pre-made one like Packard Bell, Dell etc
I started off with a computer from Tiny (a company that went bust years ago) in the UK which was Windows 98se and was basic in the sense that it could only just muster playing games like Unreal Tournament and it was on that system that I sat and learned how to look after a pc and fix it when the proverbial crap it the fan.
I constructed my 1st pc from a bare bone kit which came complete with the parts needed to build a system but that had processor already attached and memory slotted but never the less I gained my initial insight into building them then I never really looked back.
My 1st complete build came about 2000/2001 when I did the case upwards and that is what I want to share with you now! How to design and make a pc system. What Do I need
1st before we can rush into buying components we need to get a grasp of what the computer will be doing, like gaming, editing music etc and we can take it from there.
You will need a decent screw driver set initially because (+) screws which hold things in place, you can pick up a 50piece set fairly cheaply we do them in Maplin (UK) for about £10-£15Case
An ideal starter case is the Antec 300 http://www.ebuyer.com/product/143854
the case itself doesn't come with a power supply unit (psu)
The case will come with the screws required to fit the drives and motherboard in place.Power Supply Unit
The more juice you give your pc the more it can cope with when it comes to hardware, each component will takes some power so the general ethos is you aim high to accommodate the need for upgrades in the future I use a 600w psu which is adequate for my system.http://www.ebuyer.com/product/159920Motherboard
It is easy to start here because what you decide here will alter how you build will progress. You need to decide the following;
Intel or AMD - the engine that will run you new system
Memory Slots - this will determine how much memory your system will hold and what speeds
SATA Slots - this will tell you how many DVD drives and Hard Drives can be fitted you need 2 at least to start with
PCI-E x16 slots - this is the expansion that will house the graphics card and if you can run 2x of them together
Buying a decent board is important, with so many to look at the best thing to do is set a budget and then look for one that offers the right expansions for your build in mind. For my system I went for Gigabyte GA-MA78LMT-US2H which is an AMD processor board http://www.ebuyer.com/product/193510
Looking at the picture will give you some indication of where things go and how they are attached. In my system 2 DVD RWs and a 1TB Hard Drive currently are in use with an option to expand 2 more times!
The motherboard will come with a backing plate which will need to be fitted to the case, we will deal with that soon! When buying the motherboard you will need to make note of the Socket number because not all processors will fit on the same board. The Sockets are identified as the following
940 / AM2 - Athlon 64, Sempron, Athlon 64x2
AM3 – Phenom
LGA 1156 for i3, i5, i7 processors
LGA 1366 for i7 processors
AMD vs Intel
Intel have been major players in the field for some 20 years so it no understatement that most people will have at some point used an Intel product even without realising it, their grasp on the market is almost as the Empire in Star Wars! They came to fame with the Pentium range processors back in the early 90s and from then grew but fell off the ball a little with the HT series which led to their rivals taking up some ground but in recent years and mainly to the I series processor Intel seem to be clawing back to their dominance.
AMD are the surprise package in the 90s if you heard of them you was a technician and if you used them you was a die hard hater of Intel. Word of mouth is what kick started AMDs drive into the market and soon after the Socket A series Athlon range was launched Intel was placed firmly on the toilet release chocolate hostages! AMD had created a processor that could meet and exceed the Pentium 4 and it was also the first of the two power houses to make a true 64-bit processor which Microsoft later declared as their preferential choice.
AMD continue to grow and now rely on their user base to keep coming back so much that they hardly mainstream advertise! The current flagship for AMD is the Phenom range which is high power for gaming and the likes.
For my build I am using a AMD Phenom II X4 955 AM3 processor because my preference lies with AMD.Memory
Can you cast you mind back to the 90s? some of you might be a bit young to remember but back then the average price of memory was £1 per 1mb and the maximum memory was somewhere in the region of 32mb
Now we have super fast memory that can blow holes in the trousers! anyway buying the right memory is pretty much crucial and this is were you need to do some reading.
The motherboard you decided to go with will have a lower limit and an upper limit to the speed of memory it can support and then the maximum capacity of memory. New boards will support up to 16GB which is insane considering what your pc uses.
The motherboard which I linked will serve as our dummy model and because I have already bought and installed the memory needed I can show you how I came to the decision.
1st on the link click the specifications
- Quote :
Supported RAM Technology DDR3 SDRAM
RAM Installed ( Max ) 0 MB / 16 GB (max)
Supported RAM Speed PC3-8500, PC3-10666
RAM Features Dual channel memory architecture
This bit of information tell us what we can have and how much it will take before it throws a fit and point blank refuses!
For more information about what memory can be used on a motherboard there is a help tool on the crucial website (http://www.crucial.com/index.aspx)
For my build I went for Vengeance Performance Memory Module 8gb (2x4gb) Ddr3 1600mhz Cl9 Unbuffered Dimm you pay extra but it means the motherboard can set a comfortable stability rate and the memory modules will just adapt. http://www.ebuyer.com/product/262580
here is what the memory looks like.Graphics
nVidia vs AMD ATI
Its a personal choice but the main important information to share is this, nVidia card DO NOT show true colour the refresh rate of the card trick the eyes into seeing what is not there, ATI do show true colour which gives better gaming, photo editing and playback visuals.Drives
All current drives be it DVD or Hard Drive use SATA as the standard so when buying for the 1st time please make sure you get a retail box version since you will need cables, best pay the little extra now than realise ooops I need a cable
The basic Hard Drive now you should be looking at 1TB without hesitation and on the DVD front will 20x speeds and upwards The BuildAs in building using the Antec case, but all cases are pretty much the same some things may vary rely on user manuals to help with any finer details
OK the parts finally arrive and your ready to go so lets get to it!
1. On the case you need to replace the generic back plate with the motherboard issued back plate, to do this get a screw driver and gently tap the plate out of its surround. Where the gap is now the new back plate will slot into it the same was the old one was.
When slotting it in make sure it clicks in place and is not over lapping anything.
2. Insert the PSU and then screw into position
3. To make life easier when fitting the motherboard get some A4 paper and draw an outline of the board then where the screw holes are make markers on the paper to indicate them. Move the paper into the case and using the screw mount supports follow you template.
4. Place the motherboard on the screw mount supports and line up the holes being sure to push the connectors through the back plate also! its fiddly but be careful with it. Once this is lined up you can use the washers and the screws to secure the board in place.
5. Now get the motherboard manual out and then find the page on the front panel this will show you the pin configuration for power switch, power led, hdd led etc... and then using the labeled connectors from the case place them in the right slots where it shows + - it can be either way though some cases do label their connectors + -
Plug in the front USB and front Sound using the motherboard manual for reference and that enables all the case abilities to run.
6. Insert the long Power connector to the board and the 4 pin connector to the board this will now allow you to see and hear (if board as speaker built) if the unit as power (another way to test the power supply is plug in one of the case fans which usually come with the case. The Antec as 2 you can try!
7. Open the processor and follow to the letter the manual, if your using my system components then on the board the large white area is the processor home and there is a metal pin lever that will raise lift that which will align the processor locking tool, gently place the processor into the pin holes matching the marker on the board with the marker on the processor once it is resting lower the lever and the processor is now locked in place. The stock heat sink is next and will be a case of aligning a metal bar over two latches then lock using the lever.
The heatsink will have a small wire this will go into the cpu fan or system fan which is located close to the processor (see motherboard manual for location on your board) once this is done test the power to the system you will notice the fan will fire up which is all you can expect at this stage.
If your board as speaker you will hear a series of beeps this is telling you there is no memory or graphics card installed.
8. Installing drives is fun, the hard drive will be inserted from inside the case (usually case design vary) and will require at least 2 screws to maintain a stable balance. Plug you SATA cable into the drive and then find SATA0 or SATA1 depending on board that’s all needed for that, insert the power cable from the tangling mess that is the PSU and the drive is set
9. Installing DVD drives is done by taking the front of the case off, there will be 3 clips inside front area press down and the case will open up slide the drives into place and then secure with the screws then same as the hard drive plug the leads into the board and put a power lead into the drive and that’s done, place the front of the case back on.
10. Fire up the pc you will see the led for HDD working, the fans moving and the drives will be able to eject
11. Turn the power off unplug the power lead from the case and allow to settle for a couple of mins this is important to remove static. We know the system is running fine but now we need to add the memory. Memory fits only one way so line the modules up and press down until you hear the click and then if the brackets need pushing in any more help them up and that’s the memory installed!Memory modules have cut outs which indicate how they will place on the motherboard, the original DDR had two pins on the board were as the newer stuff comes with one. When installing you must make sure that the pins on the slot align with the memory module otherwise you could damage them.
this picture will give you an idea of how to proceed
12. Installing graphics card is easy, get the card line it up with the PCI-E slot find which of the metal back plates needs to be removed, unscrew the plate and then slot the card into place. Screw down and if the card requires an additional power source find the correct one in the mess then plug it in.
13. Using common sense try find a place in which to tidy up the wires making sure no fans are obstructed in the process.
14. Your new pc is now completed all we need to do now is install Windows! And for that you need yourself a copy of Windows XP / Vista / 7The OS you choose to install if of your own preference, to make a future proof system Windows 7 64-bit would be my recommendation
Boot the PC up and then press delete and f2 usually until the BIOS page comes up and then you can go into advanced setting and alter boot sequence so that it will search for a CD first then the hard drive this will make the system quicker to find the Windows CD for installing on a new system.
Install windows and then when the pc reboots go back to bios again and set the boot sequence back to Hard Drive 1st and your done!
your new pc is built and completed all that remains to do is install updates and drivers from the cds and internet
The last thing I really have to add is that there is such a thing as TOO MUCH RAM. Yes believe it or not having too much RAM can actually cause problems. Just one knows problem is by having too much RAM, your PC gets all freaked out and basically Can't get enough memory because you have too much memory (silly, I know). Also if the OS your running is 64 bit then you can support more than 3gb of RAM, but something like a 32bit OS cannot support more than 3gb of RAM (so getting anything over is just a waste)Windows as a cut of point to the amount of memory it can use as you rightly pointed out 32bit will refuse to see more than 4GB of ram no matter how much you throw at it, 64-bit can support the full allocated memory but it is down to whom is using and what for.
The way around the over memory is to go for the Unbuffered memory which allows the system to make its own mind
up on what it wants to use
I agree with Frank. Simply put, newbies have to ask either the manufacturer, the salesman (bad idea i know) or any tech support for additional info on the compatibility issues of hardware. Such an issue I had encountered is using an ATI Video Card with an Intel Chipset motherboard (while in theory it is possible, in application, it's just not quite... practical, and this happens a lot with high end hardware running mostly for a gaming rig). And with the power of the PC also comes the temperature build up inside it, so I suggest and additional info too on cooling options (such as fans, or liquid coolers, etc.)
Btw, I never took up any formal education regarding computers or troubleshooting regarding it. So please disregard any info that I have that may be biased, because all of it are just from my experience. Since the last Intel board I used an ATI 5750 1GB and it didn’t once throw up an issue during gaming I would put that down to the software more than the hardware.
I don’t want to go into after market cooling options whatsoever this is because they come with their own little risks I wasted my last Phenom quad with an after market cooler because it failed and the processor went from 40oC to about 70oC in the blink of an eye! If people want to go down the after market cooling they can go to TOM HARDWARE or the likes to get an unbiased opinion. The new stock coolers are coming fitted with copper base and fins which is what most of the after market are using.
Your in put is gratefully appreciated – It was 2am about when I typing that up so some thing may have flown out of my head and ears which I didn’t think was really necessary but it was =)
Yet when you build them, you wonder how it can be so much text at least if you know all this.Yes I agree a lot of text for 20 minutes work and the Windows comment I cant say what you will or will not use
Windows XP is older and reliable
Windows Vista was written off as a faulty product which joins ME with the same tag line
Windows 7 new, shiny and getting better as it progresses