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Build Your First PC
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  (#1)
Psychosematic
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Videocard: 2xGTX 570 @ 800/1600/2000
Processor: Q6600 @ 3.0GHz
Mainboard: eVGA 680i LT SLI
Memory: 4GB OCZ Platinum DDR2 800
Soundcard:
PSU: Corsair 1200w
Default Build Your First PC - 07-30-2003, 23:19 | posts: 1,939 | Location: Massachusets, USA

To build or not to build...
Most people have said that building a PC yourself is cheaper than buying a pre-built one, and that they would opt to do so if they only knew how. Well, before we accept that statement as the golden rule, I am going to go against these comments and say some people are better off buying pre-builts. You have to come to the decision on whether or not to build yourself, based on the following questions:

- Am I willing to take the time and effort needed to build an efficient and problem-free PC?
- Do I have the patience to deal with any problems that may arise, including defective hardware?
- Do I have the budget to buy more parts after the fact, because I forgot something the first time?

If you don't have the time, don't want to put in the effort, don't have the patience, or don't have a decent budget, it's probably NOT the time to start building PCs (doh!)

But if you're ready to rock and roll hen let's get started!
   
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Old
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Psychosematic
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Videocard: 2xGTX 570 @ 800/1600/2000
Processor: Q6600 @ 3.0GHz
Mainboard: eVGA 680i LT SLI
Memory: 4GB OCZ Platinum DDR2 800
Soundcard:
PSU: Corsair 1200w
Default 07-30-2003, 23:19 | posts: 1,939 | Location: Massachusets, USA

(Phase 1) Pre-Build
Step 1 - Educate

First you should read up on current hardware specs, pricing, availability, compatibility and recommendations. Some good places to start are:

www.guru3d.com (duh)
www.anandtech.com
www.amdmb.com
www.xbitlabs.com
www.tomshardware.com
www.hardocp.com

Step 2 - Inquire

Ask Ask Ask! Ask people you know, people on forums, and any people you can find that are knowledgable on hardware! WHAT you should be asking is, "For gaming, what motherboard do you recommend", or "For video editing, what processor is best?" ... these are things that change with time, so you can't always trust articles and guides as the solid word on what to buy, you have to ask people!

Step 3 - Compare

Having a general idea of what you'll want for hardware, compare everything about them... make a list of features, compare prices, compare how reputable the company is, compare online retailers (or brick stores) for their return policies and customer service. Eliminate ANYTHING that you are unsure of, the last thing you want is to jump to conclusions or start building a PC you aren't sure about. If it's your first PC, it should be something you are positive about.

(Phase 2) Purchase and Assemble
Step 1 - Narrow Retailers

You'll be needing ALL of the following, and possible more depending on your individual needs:

- Case
- Power Supply (could be with Case)
- Motherboard
- Processor
- Heatsink/Fan for CPU (could be with Processor)
- Thermal Compound (could be with Heatsink/Fan)
- Memory
- Video Card (could be on-board)
- Sound Card (could be on-board)
- Hard Disk Drive(s)
- CD/DVD Drive(s)
- Floppy Drive
- Keyboard & Mouse
- Monitor
- Speakers

Once you have each of those items picked out, you have to pick a place or places to purchase from. My suggestion at this step is to shorten the amount of retailers to 1 or 2. If you're buying online, visit www.resellerratings.com and look up your seller. If they are under an 8.0, I would advise going somewhere else for your first big buy. If you buy from 5 or 6 different places, and for whatever reason you have a problem with something, it's more confusing and difficult to get the problem solved... 1 or 2 retailers for your first build is a good idea, and always get some REAL testamonials from places like resellerratings or from right here on Guru3D!

Step 2 - Pre-Assembly
When everythign arrives, before you unpack you should clean a good sized area, preferably static free like a kitchen or hardwood floored room. Get all the tools you need first, these will include:

- Box knife
- Anti-Static wrist strap
- Philips screwdriver
- Ultra-Fine sandpaper
- Compressed air
- Rubbing alcohol/Isopropic alcohol
- Paper towels
- Tweezers
- Flashlight or bright room light

Unpack everything and make sure it's all there. The first thing I do when building is open the case and make sure it's not defective. If everything is in order, clean the case with compressed air and a dry paper towel. Next remove the drive cages, if they exist, from the case. Check the power supply switch and make sure it is on the correct voltage setting for your house. Usually they are set properly but it's something you MUST check because it could cause serious problems! Install the power supply in the case if it isn't already there, ensure it's secured with nothing blocking it's airflow. Figure out which AGP/PCI slots on the back of the case will be needed for your devices and punch out the metal slot blockers for the slots you will be using. You should also remove the on-board functions connector panel and use the one that came with your motherboard. Make sure all appropriate connector holes have been cleared so your motherboard will fit into the slots nicely. Locate the screws that came with the case and screw in all of the tall gold mounting screws into the case where the motherboard will be mounted. You should refer to your board to make sure it has holes in all the places you have mounting screws, and vice versa. Unwrap the motherboard from it's anti-static bag, but leave it in it's original box directly on top of the foam underneath. Open your motherboard manual and read through it, make sure you are familiar with everything that is on the board. You MUST know what each jumper does, what each slot accepts, and what each switch or lever does! Set the jumpers/DIP Switches on the motherboard according to your hardware and individual needs. This usually includes CPU FSB, special power-on functions, and on-board device controls. Open up your hard drive(s) and mount them in the drive cages. Make sure the connectors face towards the middle of the case, and try not to stack drives on top of each other. If you got a floppy drive you can mount it now. Do not mount the drive cages into the case yet. Open up the heatsink and make sure it looks in working order. If you have a seperate fan for the heatsink, mount it on the heatsink now. Use the ultra-fine sandpaper to polish the bottom of the heatsink to a smooth shine. Use figure 8 patterns and don't dig too deep, it's a finishing touch not a grinding scrape. Wipe the heatsink with a clean paper towel that has been moisened with rubbing alcohol. Make sure there are no gashes in the heatsink and that it has completely dried.

Step 3 - Assembly
Now you can prepare to install the CPU. Open the CPU and be careful NOT to touch any of the pins on the underside or the core on the top! Hold it by it's edges and align the CPU in the socket. It will not take any force to fall in, so you WON'T have to push on the CPU! Leave any stickers that may be on the CPU, on the CPU! These are probably warranty stickers and you could void your warranty by removing them. The only time this is an issue is if the sticker overlaps onto the CPU core. In this case, you should contact the retailer for instructions, they will probably have you return the CPU for a new one. Once the CPU is in place, get your thermal compound, your knife, and a paper towel. Thermal compound can be gooey and a mess, so be careful. Squirt a tiny amount onto the paper towel to make sure it comes out smooth and not chunky. Now squirt a tiny amount onto the CPU core itself and recap the compound. Use the knife to spread the compound evenly across the core, make sure there are no mounds or missed spots, and make sure you use a THIN LAYER of compound, do not load up the core with paste, it should be almost as thin as you can make it, while still completely covering the core! Here comes the toughest part, installing the heatsink. For this, you have to use extreme care, and I suggest the motherboard still remains in it's box with foam underneath, at a somewhat tall height, like your stomach, so you don't put too much pressure on the CPU. Make sure the heatsink will fit into the socket before letting it contact the CPU. Often, heatsinks have a small indent which usually means that side faces the extruded part of the CPU socket. If you have a screw-down heatsink, you'll have to make sure all the holes will line up. Clip-on heatsinks should be installed as parallel as possible to the CPU, try not to tilt the heatsink when snapping on the clips. If a clip snaps in and the heatsink is tilted, it could gouge both the heatsink and the CPU. You'll have to use quite a bit of force to get a clip-on heatsink attached, but make sure you apply the pressure to the clip itself, and not the top of the heatsink! If you apply too much pressure to the top or center of the heatsink, it will crush and damage the CPU core! Apply pressure to the clip, and secure it to the CPU socket. Grab your RAM and install it into the appropriate slots on the motherboard. Your memory should be as far in as can be, and the locking clips on the sides should be locked once the RAM is in it's final position. Give everything another look to make sure it's clean, flat, and secure. Lay your case on it's side and gently place the motherboard (with CPU, heatink, and RAM installed) into the case, on top of the mounting screws. Do NOT! slide the motherboard either on the case or on the mounting screws! If you have to reposition it, pick it up and put it back down, don't slide it. Secure the motherboard in all of the mounting screws and make sure the connectors all line up at the back of the case. With the motherboard secure, your next step should be to wire the case buttons and LEDs. These can be tricky and you will have to consult your motherboard manual for proper wiring diagrams. Double check everything you've done so far at this step. Then you can install your optical drives and connect the appropriate cables to the power supply and motherboard. Next you should install the hard drive/floppy cages and connect their appropriate power and motherboard cables. Now you can begin installing AGP/PCI components. I suggest starting with PCI components and working your way up from the bottom of the motherboard. Once installed, you can wire anything that needs power or connection to another device.
   
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Psychosematic
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Videocard: 2xGTX 570 @ 800/1600/2000
Processor: Q6600 @ 3.0GHz
Mainboard: eVGA 680i LT SLI
Memory: 4GB OCZ Platinum DDR2 800
Soundcard:
PSU: Corsair 1200w
Default 07-30-2003, 23:19 | posts: 1,939 | Location: Massachusets, USA

(Phase 3) The Software
Step 1 - First Boot
Start connecting your components to the back of the system. Save the power cable for last because some motherboards have auto-powerup and it could be dangerous to power up without being ready for what could lie ahead. Consult your motherboard manual for instructions on how to get into the BIOS setup. Once you know how, you can plug in the power cable and hopefully you'll be greeted with a BIOS POST! Enter the BIOS setup and configure it as needed. Most of the time you'll have to set your CPU's front side bus, you're memory's latency, and your on-board functions parameters before getting your system to boot properly. Give EVERYTHING in the BIOS a double check, make sure you have your boot order set properly because you'll need to boot from floppy or CD to get an OS installed, and save your settings.

Step 2 - Continue your quest for perfection!
Good luck! I hope you've been able to successfully assemble your first PC, always remember that your hardware is only as good as the software that runs it, and for that reason you should follow every instruction in your manuals as far as driver installation and obtaining software updates!

Thank you very much for reading :-)
   
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SaNTaCRuZ77
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Videocard: Radeon HD 3450 512MB
Processor: AMD DualCore 2.5GHZ
Mainboard:
Memory: 3 GB
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PSU: 500W
Default 07-31-2003, 01:25 | posts: 1,224 | Location: Los Angeles

Wow, great article, very helpful. Do the manuals for your Mobo/Ram list the appropriate Ram speed settings and FSB? Also, is it that important to wear static free gloves? Does everything like the mobo and fans directly wire and power from the Power supply? Also, do you apply thermalpaste to the motherboard to mount the cpu or to the cpu to mount the heatsink? Thanks, if you could answer my questions that be great.
   
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Old
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Psychosematic
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Videocard: 2xGTX 570 @ 800/1600/2000
Processor: Q6600 @ 3.0GHz
Mainboard: eVGA 680i LT SLI
Memory: 4GB OCZ Platinum DDR2 800
Soundcard:
PSU: Corsair 1200w
Default 07-31-2003, 03:39 | posts: 1,939 | Location: Massachusets, USA

Quote:
Originally posted by SaNTaCRuZ77
Wow, great article, very helpful. Do the manuals for your Mobo/Ram list the appropriate Ram speed settings and FSB? Also, is it that important to wear static free gloves? Does everything like the mobo and fans directly wire and power from the Power supply? Also, do you apply thermalpaste to the motherboard to mount the cpu or to the cpu to mount the heatsink? Thanks, if you could answer my questions that be great.
The manual for your motherboard will list how to change the FSB settings, but won't list the approriate ones for you CPU/RAM. You'll have to find out what FSB your CPU and RAM are designed to run at.

It is not required to wear an anti-static wrist strap, but it is suggested. The amount of voltage required to damage an electrical device is very smaller, smaller than what is needed to feel, see, or hear anything. So even if you don't feel/see/hear a spark, you could have damaged something permanently. Better safe than sorry.

Most of the components will wire directly to the PSU. In some cases, the CPU heatsink fan will use a 3-pin connector that is meant to plug in to the motherboard near the CPU socket. There are other exceptions to, some motherboards require an extra 12V connector from the PSU. For proper power wiring, consult your motherboard and component manuals.

Thermal paste is applied to the core of the CPU only. It is meant to transfer heat from the CPU core to the heatsink, and it fills in the microscopic ridges and bumps along both the CPU core and heatsink to ensure maximum cooling.
   
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WildStyle
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Videocard: MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G
Processor: Intel Core i7 2600
Mainboard: MSI H77MA-G43
Memory: 16GB Samsung PC3-12800
Soundcard: Onboard
PSU: Corsair CX600M
Default 05-15-2005, 03:50 | posts: 15,302 | Location: UK

Whilst this is an old thread, there have been a number people here recently asking for help on building their first PC. This thread has been forgotten about even though it's pretty useful so I think it should be stuck again. Besides, this section is looking pretty lonely with only one sticky.
Share your thoughts.
   
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  (#7)
death__machine
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Videocard: Sapphire 270X TOXIC 2GBx2
Processor: i5 4670K
Mainboard: MSI Z87 G45
Memory: 8GBx2 2133MHZ DDR3 Viper
Soundcard: Onboard
PSU: Antec HCG 750W
Default 05-15-2005, 09:19 | posts: 795 | Location: Dubai

Very helpful guide for noobs thumbs up
Hey you could also tell about sata drives cuz many people dont get tht too
   
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Dr. Vodka
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Videocard: Sapphire R9 290 Tri-X
Processor: i5 2500k @ 4.5 Ghz
Mainboard: Sabertooth P67
Memory: 2x4GB DDR3-1333 @ 1866
Soundcard: Xonar DX
PSU: PC P&C Silencer 750w
Default 06-11-2005, 21:54 | posts: 3,803 | Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

nice guide.. I think the part of setting up the jumpers pins and cables is the most difficult one, if you plug something not in its correct place.. BOOM!! joking.. is there a guide on what are all the jumpers' and pins' functions???
   
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stefanie
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Videocard: xfx geforce 5500 oc 336/430
Processor: pentium 4 3.6 1 mb cache
Mainboard: MSI
Memory: 1.5 GB DDR 400 CL3 Ram
Soundcard: Creative Audigy 2ZS platin/ 5.1 Altec Lansing 5.1
PSU:
Default 06-12-2005, 20:21 | posts: 238 | Location: Canada

I just want to throw my opinion about building your own pc out to everyone.:-) It is 100% worth the time to build your own and become familiar with your hardware software and other components. I built my own and after I did the satisfaction from doing it was like creating a new edition to my family.;-) Seriously if you have time, go for it! It tends to take a little of the trouble out of trouble shooting.. Have a nice weekend.
   
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stefanie
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Videocard: xfx geforce 5500 oc 336/430
Processor: pentium 4 3.6 1 mb cache
Mainboard: MSI
Memory: 1.5 GB DDR 400 CL3 Ram
Soundcard: Creative Audigy 2ZS platin/ 5.1 Altec Lansing 5.1
PSU:
Default 06-13-2005, 17:38 | posts: 238 | Location: Canada

One thing left to say. Thank you for posting such a thread to help and educate others who pursue building their own.:-)
   
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Gilbo
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Videocard: x800pro
Processor: Athlon 64 3200+
Mainboard: DFI Lanparty UT
Memory: 1 gig pc3200
Soundcard: onboard sound
PSU:
Default 07-05-2005, 23:10 | posts: 2,504 | Location: usa

Quote:
Originally posted by Dr. Vodka
nice guide.. I think the part of setting up the jumpers pins and cables is the most difficult one, if you plug something not in its correct place.. BOOM!! joking.. is there a guide on what are all the jumpers' and pins' functions???
I think these tend to differ from motherboard to motherboard. Your motherboard's manual should have detailed diagrams explaining all of the jumpers and pins and their functions.
   
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  (#12)
instantcrash
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Videocard: 8800GTX 21' Widescreen HD Monitor
Processor: Intel Core Duo E6400 @ 2.4Ghz
Mainboard: EVGA NF680i Sli
Memory: Corsaire Xpert 2GB DDR800 2-2-2-5
Soundcard: Audigy 2 ZS + 5.1 Speakers
PSU: 500 Watt Enermax
Thumbs up 09-06-2005, 16:53 | posts: 80 | Location: UK

Could I suggest a piece on RAID? I have seen alot of people asking about that recently! Good Guide! later
   
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vintageone
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Videocard: GeForce 9800 GTX+
Processor: Phenom II X4 970 3.5gHz
Mainboard: ASUS M4A88TD-V
Memory: G.Skill 8GB DDR-1333
Soundcard: Realtek
PSU: Corsair GS600w
Default 10-17-2005, 22:14 | posts: 111 | Location: California

What an awesome guide for people going into the world of custom pc building, this will help them very much, and a tip for people looking for a good place to get parts, i suggest www.newegg.com

They sell everythign (Up to my knowlege) and its easy to buy new parts, and they have VERY IN-DEPTH Descriptions and For motherboard they do explain what memory is compatible.
   
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  (#14)
PETEY
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Videocard: eVGA 8800GTS
Processor: AMD Opteron 180 @ 2.8
Mainboard: MSI Neo2 Nforce4 Motherbaord
Memory: 512x2 1x1024 PC3200 DDR RAM
Soundcard: X-Fi XtremeGamer
PSU: 520Watt PSU
Default 11-21-2005, 23:33 | posts: 471 | Location: Seattle, Washington

I have to say, it is a good guide, but really I don't think budget is much of a thing here. I am 13, and I have already built a PC, and I tell you - I am hardly middle class (No, Not High Either).
   
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PETEY
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Videocard: eVGA 8800GTS
Processor: AMD Opteron 180 @ 2.8
Mainboard: MSI Neo2 Nforce4 Motherbaord
Memory: 512x2 1x1024 PC3200 DDR RAM
Soundcard: X-Fi XtremeGamer
PSU: 520Watt PSU
Default 11-21-2005, 23:50 | posts: 471 | Location: Seattle, Washington

Also, when you put on the thermal paste, what exactly is the core? When I applied the thermal paste onto my processor, I really just put it on the copper circle looking thing on the proccesor. I didn't even it out or anything, and I am running just fine. I do happen to have a more powerful heatsink though, probably making up for my mistake.
   
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{HLH}
 
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Default 11-21-2005, 23:51 | posts: n/a

i prefer to know whats inside my machine 8-)
   
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Bubbaganoosh
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Videocard: eVGA nVidia 7600GT 512MB
Processor: AMD Sempron 64 3100+ 1.8Ghz
Mainboard: ASUS K8N nForce 3 800FSB
Memory: Corsair 1GB (2x512) DDR 400 2.5
Soundcard: Gamsurround Fortissimo 3
PSU: Antec Smartpower 2.0 450W
Default 11-26-2005, 03:57 | posts: 1,485 | Location: St.Catharines Ontario Canada

REMINDER

don't put jumpers on 3 pin fan connetors.
   
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WildStyle
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Videocard: MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G
Processor: Intel Core i7 2600
Mainboard: MSI H77MA-G43
Memory: 16GB Samsung PC3-12800
Soundcard: Onboard
PSU: Corsair CX600M
Default 12-23-2005, 03:10 | posts: 15,302 | Location: UK

This new system building guide from Corsair looks very comprehensive to me:

http://sysbuild.corsairmemory.com/re...spx?id=2&sid=1
   
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SL-spirit
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Videocard: 1GB Sparkle 9800GT
Processor: Intel Quad Q8200 2.33GHz
Mainboard: Gigabyte GA-EP31-DS3L
Memory: 4GB DDR2 Kingston 800Mhz
Soundcard: on board-Realtek HD Audio
PSU: Seasonic M12 II 550W
Default 01-13-2006, 10:38 | posts: 256 | Location: Sydney, Australia

Cool website WildStyle. Useful for new PC builders!!! I might indeed start building a PC myself prob.
   
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Definately worthwhile keeping!
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Esskie
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Videocard: NVIDIA GTS540
Processor: Intel Q8400
Mainboard: Asus
Memory: 4Gb Geil BlackDragon 800
Soundcard: LogiTech 5.1
PSU: CoolerMaster
Thumbs up Definately worthwhile keeping! - 01-22-2006, 18:01 | posts: 138 | Location: Scotland

Hi There,
Although the post is old the info is the bizz!, there seems to have been an upswing in the number of folks building their own puters over the last couple of years IMHO.
This could be credited to the initial overclocking of CPUs and GPUs, the modding of graphics cards to add H/Sinks & fans, cases etc, it's now possible to buy 'ready modded' parts off the shelf. I just bought a new 9980 silver windowed case myself a few days ago. Infact, it's now possible to buy ready modded PCs ready to go!.

Having just built the system I'm using atm, I agree with many of the points made in the above posts, from the satisfaction of that first boot to the, perhaps more important, becoming familiar with your h/ware, s/ware and how things work.
I don't mind admitting that ended up installing windows twice with this PC as I inadvertently got landed with a virus after the 1st install that affected the 'wininet.dll'.
Nomatter how many times my vs found & renamed it for deleting it had re-instated itself after every boot and attempted to dial & connect to a porn site. Luckily, thanx to not having a dial-up modem it couldn't as I bet it was a 0906 #!.
The annoying thing was I couldn't install, uninstall or even execute the majority of my progz so the only thing left was to format /q & start again.

I apologise for going on but my point, before I started waffling, is that the second install went much smoother than the first due to knowing what disc was needed and when etc,.
Ok, I still have a couple of little teething probz to be sorted out but it makes you use your brain which can't be a bad thing?.

Regards, Esskie.
   
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mutant
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Default 01-28-2006, 10:20 | posts: 16

OK I am going to build my 1st ever system for my 3d design business. I have never built a system before. My motivation for building this system is that if I succeed I will never need to spend my hard earned money on crappy PC shops!

My system will be dual Optweron 280/285 based so Iam kind of nervous. Do you think with help from people here I colud do it?
   
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  (#22)
rox1co
Member Guru
 
Videocard: Sapphire X850XT @ 580/600
Processor: CONROE HERE I COME!!!
Mainboard: CONROE HERE I COME!!!
Memory: Corsair XMS 1gb DDR400
Soundcard: X-Fi XM / ATH500 + ZM-Mic / Z-5300
PSU: Antec TP2-550W
Default 01-30-2006, 15:40 | posts: 50 | Location: Houston

this is now in my favorites, i'm building soon

would you mind if i PMed if i had any problems? this is my thread

TIA http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=169464
   
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  (#23)
far3
Newbie
 
Videocard: Evga 6800 128
Processor: Pentium 4 3.0
Mainboard: intel
Memory: 1.5gb
Soundcard: TDK tremors
PSU:
Default 05-31-2006, 22:39 | posts: 1 | Location: New york

Excellent Post
   
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  (#24)
cyanosed_au
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Videocard:
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Duel-Core
Mainboard: ASRock 939Duel-Sata2
Memory: DDR 1GB
Soundcard: 7.1 on mb. Logitech 5.1 Speakers
PSU:
Default 06-22-2006, 13:09 | posts: 24 | Location: South Australia.

i'm building soon to. this is a realy good thread. it very usful
   
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  (#25)
0blivious
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Videocard: MSi 1070 X / 970 / 780Ti
Processor: i7 4790K/i7 2600K/i3 4160
Mainboard: MSi Z97 Gaming 5
Memory: 16 GB @2133
Soundcard: SBZ + Logitech Z906
PSU: Corsair AX760 / CX750M
Default 06-23-2006, 07:01 | posts: 2,070 | Location: Bremerton, WA USA (Go Mariners)

Excellent guide.

I just built my first a couple months ago. I was a bit leary, but I got alot of help from the techs in another forum, both with easing my trepidation as well as with with component suggestions and OKing my build lists. I was really happy when the moment of truth came, and I powered it up and it posted (joy!).

It was actually really easy. I was done in about 3-4 hours including windows & driver installation. Probably could have been done alot faster, but I took my time as I didn't want to screw up!

I bought everything from newegg.com, and I'll never shop anywhere else. I don't like how zipzoomfly or tigerdirect have their websites layed out. Newegg has it set up to near perfection, and their service is awesome!

I also recommend that people also look at the Corsair build guide. It has tons of pics and is laid out in lamen's terms.
   
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