Building a computer from piece by piece is the best way to get the computer you really want, in addition to being an entertaining process. There are many different parts that make up a computer but it doesn’t take long to learn. Depending on what you will be using your computer for, the parts can be inexpensive or cost some serious dollars. People who are serious gamers are the ones who will most commonly need an extremely high-end computer setup. If you are not concerned as much with the gaming aspects but still want a great system, the building process can be much less expensive.
Usually starting out with purchasing the desired case is good idea, but you might want to decide on the motherboard first, this way you can make sure the case will be the right size to accommodate the motherboard. The most common types of motherboards are Advanced Technology Extended form factor, or “ATX”. These and micro-ATX are the most common sizes available. You can purchase an NLX style board if you want to use a slim desktop computer as well. Server motherboards can be very large and sometime require huge server cases. The Server motherboards can have multiple processors and a vast amount of memory, usually for business use. Decide if you want to use an Intel Processor or an AMD processor and then you will be most likely purchasing a motherboard with socket 939, 755, or 754. You are also going to need to get a power supply, so grab a name brand 450-watt power supply to be on the safe side.
Next on the list is the processor, which in most cases will be Intel or AMD these days. Both brands offer budget processors that don’t operate quite as well as the more expensive processors, but they get the job done. Intel offers the “Celeron D” on socket 775 and AMD offers the “Sempron” on socket 754. These two processors are cheap and will save you some money if you choose to use them. The Pentium 4 and the Athlon64 are the performance processors that cost much more money.
Moving on to the hard drive, the memory and the removable devices. Hard disk drives come in very large capacities now, but if you want speed over capacity, you might want to use a smaller hard drive. Serial ATA hard drives can obtain higher speeds than that of an IDE drive. SCSI drives are faster than both Serial ATA and IDE but you will need to buy a SCSI controller to use it. Brands such as Western Digital, Seagate and Maxtor offer drives varying in sizes from 20 to 500 gigabytes. Once decided, you might want to pick up at least 256 megabytes of RAM. 512 megabytes of DDR memory is recommended for the best operating experience with today’s advanced applications. “Double Data Rate” memory is available in different frequencies, but 400Mhz or higher will be fine. Removable devices such as the CD-ROM and the floppy drive are mostly optional. A CD-ROM device of some sorts is required, but other than that, it is all decided by what tasks you will be performing. If you want to be able to burn compact discs and Digital Versatile Discs, then you will need to purchase the proper writing devices.
Sound and Video cards will need to be purchased separately if they do not come equipped on the motherboard. A good sound card will run about 50 to 150 dollars, depending yet again on the tasks that will be performed. Cards strictly used for speakers will generally cost less. Video cards are extremely important for playing video games, more so than the processor. PCI-Express type video cards are the best choice for gaming while an inexpensive PCI-Express or AGP card will work fine for all other tasks.
Once you have all of your main components assembled and your computer can power up, all that is remaining are the other peripherals. You can grab the speakers, printers, mice and keyboards to better accommodate the system you will be using. Any monitor will do, but a more expensive LCD monitor would be a space saver. When the computer setup is complete you may realize it was much easier than you once thought.
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