Build your Own PC

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Modulation Maniac
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Build your Own PC

Post by zerosum » Fri Mar 09, 2007 8:16 pm

I posted this a while on another forum,
Ill probly modify it later, but its the basic idea.

I personally wouldnt want to put up with a PC
if I didnt build it myself.
If I wanted to buy something pre-assembled than
I wouldnt be buying a pc, for a number of reasons......

If your going to deal with the microshaft or a unix based
Operating System, building your own rig isnt as difficult
as you might think, in fact its pretty damn simple.
It also costs a lot less than an Alienware system(if your into that)
and better quality parts than what would be found in a
cumpaq,Hell,or HPee are available.

First your going to need an ATX case.
These range from as low as 30 to 200 bucks...
Life is full of choices.
I get a lot of my parts from FrozenCPU
and CrazyPC.

This is what i use.
This is the home that all your components will rest in.

The main essential component that determines what the
computer will have connected to it is the motherboard.
Everything is connected here and controlled by the chipset
on board.
The chipset determines what CPU you will have,how many/what kind
of harddrives you will have, and controls ports such as
USB,firewire,LAN,onboard audio,etc.

You will want an ATX motherboard to go with your ATX case,
which is pretty much the standard for most available.

I wont really get into which board to buy, cause these days
Ive kind of fallen behind, but here are some links: hardware section
Universal Audio working setups
digidesign approved working systems

Now places to get boards and virtually any other PC component:

Now that you have your case in front of you,
do you see where the motherboard goes?
There is only one place it will fit, your motherboard and case too will have
directions where and how it is placed.
As well as a buttload of screws!
Use your manual as an aid to find out where to connect the
power switch cables,LED's,etc. Its hard to read the small wording on the board,
but its simple overall,fairly universal.

Most cases will come with some sort of Power Supply,
But keep in mind,your entire system is running off this
and a cheap or faulty power supply renders your system
useless and unpredictable.
Ive witnessed 3 storebought/preassembled PC's power supplies
go out, which were the result of unexpected shutdowns and
"sometimes it turns on,sometimes it doesnt."
Something to think about.

So get the best powersupply you can buy!
Vantec and Enermax both make great reliable units
and you can make them look sexy with cable sleeves,
alhtough now almost everything already comes wrapped you dont have to do that anymore!

Now for the fun part:
Installing the CPU.

If you fuck this up, your pens are bent and the cpu is dead.
However thats what makes it easy,there is only one way that it will go in,
any other way will prove to be difficult and forced.
Your motherboard manual as well as CPU manual will give specific
detailed directions with pictures.
Its easy.
Drop it in and lock it in place with the bar and your CPU is in.

Your CPU will come with a fan and heatsink to keep your processor
cool and operational.
Most do just fine, but if your in doubt or plan to do any overclocking,life is full of choices,pretty ones too!
Most will come with heattape on the heatsink itself,(the heatsink is the heavy chunk
of copper underneath the fan that the fan blows on to create a cool surface)
If there isnt any tape then get some Thermal grease,
or if you think your conditions may be a little hotter than normal(overclocking,hot room,etc)
get some thermal grease.

Your CPU manual will have instructions on how to install the heatsink,
If you buy a second party heatsink it should have instructions too,
they both go on the same way, different sockets have difference ways
that they attatch, but for the most part the concept is the same.

If your applying thermal compound like artic silver, than lightly spread
it over the top of the CPU, dont go crazy with it, you dont want a lot of
leakage splurging out on the sides when you apply the heatsink,
just lightly spread it around so it covers the entire top of the
heatspreader or if your using an older AMD athlon chip,
just cover the chip itself(the rectangle in the center).
Now install the heatsink.

RAM-Random Access Memory, its ridiculously cheap these days, so get a bunch.
512 mb is plenty for internet,pictures,music,some games,basic office setup,
but a 1024 mb is ideal and so cheap now that getting less RAM almost costs just as much.
Most of everything starting in 2002 uses DDR(double data rate) RAM.
Your motherboard will list what kind of ram the board takes-RAMBUS,DDR,DDR2,etc.
The speed of it relates to you CPU, if you have a 333 FSB processor youll use
DDR333(called PC2700), if you have a 400 FSB processor youll use DDR400(called PC3200).
It doesnt do any good to have DDR400 if your processors Front Side Bus is only 266!
But if you want to overclock then faster RAM is where its at!

The speeds are usually measured in multiples of 2,
Athlon XP 2600-166x2=333
Intel Pentium 4-200x2=400, but since it uses dual channel settings they call it 800FSB.

Anyway, dont skip on your RAM, much like a powersupply, you dont want cheap shit, AT ALL.
Tons of people get by fine with stock "hara hugi jitsu hoi" generic RAM, but others dont,
and a lot of PC/computer problems if not most stem from the RAM.
When troubleshooting, thats the first place to go, and is a lot of the time the culprit
(unless its a powersupply issue).
Again RAM is so cheap these days that it doesnt cost *THAT* much more to get high quality RAM.

I use Corsair, and thats all i use(personally).
They have been doing it long before the entire galaxy decided to start to make decent RAM.
Best of all they offer a lifetime warranty(even when overclocked!Just as long as you dont go over 2.9v),
Kickass and patient prompt tech support,
and a huge pile of choices.
Your in good hands with Corsair.

If your motherboard supports a Dual Channel configuration, which just about everything
these days does, than get a matched pair of ram:
You want 1024mb get 2x512,
You want 512 mb get 2x256.
Its best not "mix and match" RAM, get a pair that was designed to work together
as well as tested together in a dual channel configuration.
People do mix and match different RAM just fine, but not something i care to do,
or recommended.

Your RAM will only go in one way, its much like the "dont stick the square in the round hole" theory.
There are also directions in the motherboard manual how to do so.
So drop the RAM in there and lock it in place.

Hard Drive.
Theres a bunch out there, but the important thing is match the connection interface
on your harddrive with what your motherboard has.
Just about everything 2004 and after has SATA connections which offers a faster
throughput than IDE, so if your motherboard has SATA(serial ATA) ports,use them!
SATA drives dont cost anymore than IDE drives, unless you go for faster speeds
like the 10,000 RPM Raptors by Western Digital.
If you have extra money than get one! However you wont notice as much differnce getting
a 10k RPM drive as you will applying that extra money towards a faster processor.
7,200 RPM's is the standard for just about ALL desktop drives,and will do just fine for all computing needs.

I personally got a 36 gig raptor to run my Operating System/Applications,
and i like it, computer boots in 8 seconds, and handles apps smoothly,
Id like to get another for my Audio drive, but well theres just other things
to spend money on, so the 7200 RPM drive does just fine.

If you have the money spring for 2 harddrives, one for your operating system and apps,
and another for files,videos,music,etc.
This is more important for doing intensive tasks like video editing,audio etc.
If you must get just one drive then partitioning the drive is a must.(dividing space
between the drive so that the computer sees it as 2 or more physical drives)
This can be done when you install windows or with software such as Partition Magic.
You dont want anything important on your windows/OS driver do you!:P Do you????
If anything goes wrong with the C drive(which will happen with windows eventually)
and you have to Format, then there goes all your pictures,music,files,etc.
Or if your C drive just dies,everything will go with it,
so its best to have 2 separate drives, or atleast a partition so your
work is separated from the OS.

Slide your drive into the bays(case manual as well as motherboard manual shows how)
and screw them in.
Connect your cables from the drives to the motherboard.(again see manuals if this is unclear)

DVD/CD-RW etc drives.
They have gotten insanely cheap these days as well, so why not just get a
DVD burner/CD-RW combo instead of a DVD drive *AND* a CD-RW drive?
Slide it in the frontbay(s)(see manual) and screw it/them in on the sides,
Then connect the IDE cables on the drives into the motherboard.

Floppy drive.
I dont know why people omit these, if your flashing your BIOS,
youll want one!
A floppy is pretty much a floppy, so get one and mount it just like you
would a cd rom drive, only mount it in the smaller bay designed for floppy/zip drives:)

Your case will probly come with some, if not,Well...Theres plenty of choices.
Just check the dimensions your case houses and order away!!!
For installing they just slide right in, some you have to screw,some you dont.
It should be fairly obvious where they go.

One thing regarding fans, Anyone whos lived in the dessert/anywhere hot knows this:
For every intake you need an outtake.
It does no good to have all your fans blowing in without anything
to suck the hot air out,
and it does no good to have all your fans sucking out with no circulation
inside the case.
So have one blowing in on the front and one sucking out on the rear,
that way there is some circulation.
If you can mount your harddrive(s) in front of the front fan, do it!
if you have a neat window on the side and your case will hold more
fans, then do it!
I have 2 intake and 2 outtake, pretty:)

Video card.
Everything used to be AGP for the most part,
now there is the PCI express revolution taking off and complicating a few things.
the concept is the same-it only goes in one way, refer to your motherboard
manual for a visual aid.
With your case on its side,motherboard facing up slide your AGP/PCI express card
into the slits and screw it in on the case.
Looking down at it will speak for itself, as well the motherboard and graphics card manual.

Its not difficult to get large amounts of RAM on the graphics cards these days
for small amounts of money.
Get as much as you can afford, 128 mb is a good place to start if you play games,
watch movies, do anything with media.

Now a computer is useless without power, so slide that sucker in
if you havent already and connect all those tentacles(power cords)
to their appropriate connectors.
Slide the door on the side of the case and your done.
Install your Operating System.
Install your programs.
Have fun:)


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Post by zerosum » Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:02 pm

-Processor scheduling is set to background services.
Seriously you need to do this.

-Control panel>power options:
*power schemes: Always on
*turn off hard disks: never
*system standby: never

-Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Services
I turn off the following:

*Automatic updates: disable
*error reporting service: disable
*human interface devices: disable
*internet connection firewall: disable
*messanger: disable
*print spooler: disable
*remote accesss auto connectio nmanager: disable
*remote access connection manager: disable
*remote desktop help session manager: disable
*routing and remote acess: disable
*smart card: disable
*smart card helper: disable

Run>type in regedit
navigate to:
HKEY LOCAL MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters
right click EnablePrefetcher and select Modify
Under Value data, change the value from 3 (the default) to 5

Test your PC health:

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Muff Wiggler
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Post by Muff Wiggler » Tue Mar 13, 2007 4:22 pm

great thread! i've *always* build my own PCs, man for like 15 years now

this is an awesome wealth of info for anyone getting started - save your cash, have some fun and do it by yourself 8)

thanks for posting this zerosum!


Post by Babaluma » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:38 am

great thread!

sorry for hauling it up from the depths of over four years ago...

i was gonna go for a carillon audio pc from the uk to italy, but my friend has been trying to persuade me to build my own, to save money/get a better machine.

anyone any recommendations for european PC parts dealers, or any good recent online guides to doing it yourself? i'd like something SILENT as it's going to be in the mastering studio.

is it still worth building it yourself? i've read some people reckon you won't actually save much dosh, but you WILL save yourself a lot of frustration if you buy pre-built.

opinions sought!


Post by Babaluma » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:42 am

P.S. MAX budget will be £1500 for everything, including shipping, that's about US $2450.

I have the audio hardware and software already covered, so it's just the PC/display I'm talking about. Would like a high quality monitor, size at least 24".

Focus should be on SILENT and RELIABLE above all other considerations.



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Post by therk » Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:59 am is the home of all things quiet in the UK. Bought a couple of things from them for the last PC I built - all delivered next day. There was a problem with a fan on the CPU cooler, but they sent me a replacement straight away - so pretty good service. Presume they'd ship to europe no problem.

It's not quite silent - my laptop is slightly quieter - but it's far and away the quietest PC I've ever had. However, having built it, I think I should probably have just bought a MacMini or something instead - the latest versions of those are plenty fast enough for most things, and it'd have saved me the fustration of banging my head against Windows again after a few years of only Mac use! Would have cost slightly less too.


Post by Babaluma » Fri Jun 03, 2011 3:26 am

Thanks for the link, will check them out... Their site has an Italian version, so seems shipping to there would be no problem.

I'd rather stay with PC out of habit. Whilst most of the software I use is now cross platform, a lot of it would require that I pay for it all over again to use it on a Mac, and am trying to stay within budget.

Any ideas where to find suggested shopping lists, and are there any little things it's easy to forget about? Cables etc.?

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Post by therk » Fri Jun 03, 2011 3:56 am

My shopping list was:

dvd drive
2 x hard drive
firewire card
CPU cooler
graphics card

Think that was it - no extra cables or anything. The case and motherboard came with enough to connect everything up. Even the CPU came with a little tube of thermal gunk which I've had to buy separate in the past.

Am sure there are a bazillion and one guides to all this on the interwebs somewhere if you get stuck. It's all pretty easy these days :)


Post by Babaluma » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:02 am

thanks dude! will pretty much any cpu work in any motherboard in any case, or do you need to be careful?

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Post by Somatic » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:03 am

Gregg , this site has alot of info
Gimme that funk, that sweet, that nasty, that gushi stuff ...
mark wrote:There is another possibility, but it's almost too terrifying to mention. Do you know if your cat happens to be a Beyonce fan?


Post by Babaluma » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:13 am

Thanks dude! Lots of great reading there, I will check the reviews of pre-built systems against their prices etc. (hoping to find Carillon reviews there), and compare with what it might cost to build my own...

It's a shame, those Puget Serenity systems look perfect and are nicely priced, but they won't ship outside the US/Canada...

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Post by therk » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:35 am

CPUs have a socket type (e.g. something like LMA1366) - match this up with the motherboard and you'll be fine I think.

Other thing is RAM. If you pick a motherboard, then go to their website, you should probably be able to find a supported list of sticks of RAM they've tested it with. Best to buy something off that list to be sure of it working. I stupidly didn't do this and have ended up with a PC that crashes from cold boots, so have to turn it on, turn it off, then turn it on again everytime I want to use it :bang:

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Post by Somatic » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:39 am

re. the Puget Serenity systems, i'm sure a wiggler could help you out there.
Gimme that funk, that sweet, that nasty, that gushi stuff ...
mark wrote:There is another possibility, but it's almost too terrifying to mention. Do you know if your cat happens to be a Beyonce fan?

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Post by BananaPlug » Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:33 am

Seems like all the people I know use laptops for everything but I still think there's a lot to be said for a desktop PC. I've tried both approaches. The main thing is a desktop can be really quiet and you can keep it going for a long time by replacing parts. I've worn out the hard drive and the power supply and replaced them. When I replaced the hard drive I put in a pair of drives with a RAID controller and the latency went down so much that the system seemed like a new machine again. I think that was a better upgrade than a faster CPU would have been.

For quiet:
A heavy steel case with sound deadening dense foam inside the side panels.
A properly sized PSU with a large slow fan.
Avoid graphics cards that need a fan.
Provide CPU with fancy finned copper heatsink.

The stuff you see in big box stores will probably not have any of that.
Babaluma wrote:thanks dude! will pretty much any cpu work in any motherboard in any case, or do you need to be careful?
Probably best to get a built system. I used this place because they'd already been building quiet stuff for some time.

Operating system? Well, I stick with Windows mostly for the software I use, skipped Vista and am liking Win7 after turning off some off the more insipid user interface features. Macs are nice but remind me of gated communities where the hedges may only be so high, etc. I like Linux on web servers but my experiments with it on personal computers have not gone as well. There's always been some driver issue or glitch in the install process.
Anyone here have an ASUS PC1000 running Linux well?
(Sounds)--> :eek:

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Post by sduck » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:35 am

I've built many computers. I'm from the days where if you wanted a computer you pretty much had to build it yourself. In 1990 or 91 I built my first pc, and built several others afterwards, often just modding the previous version with new MB's and stuff.

I agree that it's a great way to get a great computer affordably. More people should do it!

I switched to macs back in 2005 pretty much because I was tired of the constant hassle of maintaining several desktops, and I wanted a reliable long lasting laptop. And while I'd still like to have a nice desktop for games, otherwise I haven't missed them.
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Post by th0mas » Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:02 pm

just came here to say...

fuck retailer chip family/model numbering. :despair: so many now! take a random selection of letters and numbers, it's probably a CPU put out in the last two years.

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Post by pugix » Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:26 pm

I built many a clone PC in the past. Still have one of them going with Win XP. I turn it on at least twice a month and it only takes five minutes to boot up. :mrgreen:

There are many ways to go about this. If you can find one online store that supplies all the needed parts, they may have matched 'kits' that you can customize. The last one of these I had them also install the CPU and memory and test it.

So what OS? If Windows, you'll pay a pretty penny for it unless you get it installed with your system. If you're going Linux, then you have to decide on the distro.

I've built my last PC. From now on it's going to be Macbook for me.

Enjoy your project!

"Everything in our world is actually always modulated by everything else." - Peter B

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Post by Neutron7 » Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:48 pm

havent bought a PC for ages, it is so easy to build one now. just watch out for crappy components, there are TONS on the market.

2 of the machines i currently do not use in the studio are dual xeon 6 cores on EVGA SR-2 motherboaeds. i was using them to heat my house in the winter with folding@home. one is off, one has one CPU disabled and im using it to post this(which i could do on an ipad or something)

thats a bit overkill for almost everything except rendering and distributed computing

these machines are going off to render farms soon.

My studio computer is water cooled and only mildly overclocked It is barely audiable, new CPUs are powerful enough they can preform most studio tasks easy as pie, (mind you i offload most things people would use VST for on to the XCITE-1)

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Post by Veqtor » Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:16 pm

I always build my own pc's, it's super easy and cheap, best of all you get warranty on every part and you won't be ripped off when something breaks since you won't have to bring it to some authorized repair shop where they charge $200 to get you a new 300gb drive!

As for choice of manufacturer, I've been super-happy with gigabyte and corsair recently, also the new amd phenom 6-cores looks neat, go with amd for gfx too if you go phenom. As for dual gfx I really don't see the need for it.

Def go ~8 gigs of ram, ddr3 1600 mhz and do yourself a favor, get like a 60 gig ssd for the os to run on, it's super-fast and really neat.
You can reallocate the users directory to another drive and install most applications there.

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Post by Panzerfaust » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:46 am

I build my own PC and I noticed retail PC makers have scale that typically makes these things cheaper then you could build yourself from equal components.

Building your own computer seems to only be cheaper if you are going to forego features in retail available computers, overclock components or you are filling a specialty application (quiet PC, special featured DAW).

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