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Building Computer

Posted on 2003-11-08
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I currently have an 500MHZ, 124RRAM PC and I'am in need of a new computer.

All I want to know is it worth building my own computer for half the price i would buy 1 or is it asking for trouble.

Thnak you
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Question by:tonyxp
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by:buckeyes33
ID: 9707679
I would build one.  Here are the reasons.  
1. It is cheaper in the long run, if you want to upgrade you already have a case and other things
2. You learn a lot. When I started building I did not know as much as I thought.  
3. because you are building you learn to troubleshoot your own computer.
4. There is no need for all those tech support people that ussually don't know much.  You have this website.
5. It is fun, at least to me
6.  In my mind because it is my computer I would want to tweak it to make it better.  basically trying to get more out of my money.


Has long as you get high quality products you should not have problems.  You just have to be careful with stuff.  
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by:patrickab
ID: 9707817
Build but don't imagine you are going to save much. You'll learn a lot and know what's going on in your machine but remember there are some mighty good value machines around so do cost your home-build machine very carefully before you part with you money. I built my own but I'm not too sure it was really much cheaper than buying the full thing from an established company.
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by:buckeyes33
ID: 9708380
I will second patrickab and that is might not be cheaper the first time you build, but when you build again or up grade it will be cheaper.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9712482
Just build your own PC.  It's so easy!  How fast do you want to go?  I built my sister's PC, and it has an 800MHz CPU.  It runs extremely well!  However, your opinion may differ, depending on what you want to run.

I'd suggest getting a case that has a power supply at the furthermost top part of the case, aligned to be perpendicular to the motherboard.  This is to allow for more room, airflow, and heat dissipation.  Cases with power supplies above the motherboard, parallel to it, are cramped and hard to poke and prod.

Minimally, you should have a 300W power supply.  Do not buy a cheap power supply, and be prepared to love and cherish the one you do buy.  That's very important.  Don't get something like a 500W PSU (power supply unit).  That's crazy.  The extra wattage is supposed to support stuff like lights, coffee makers (yeah...), and extreme SCSI setups.  So, get a PSU with about 300-400W.

If you'd like a new hard drive, you should buy one with 7200rpm (speed), ATA133 (MB/s transfer rate), and 8MBs of cache (temporary memory).  Try to buy a hard drive with about (in user level order) 40-60GBs, 80-120GBs, or 160-200GBs, depending on the stuff you'd like to do.

Because you haven't explained how much money you're willing to shell out for this thing, I'm not sure about what to recommend for you.  The above recommendations should be eligible for any system.  As far as the rest of your hardware, the cost is the limit.

Thank you,
Radomir Jordanovic
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by:MrWhipster
ID: 9722290
It might be easier and cheaper in the long run to find a good deal from a reputable PC manfacturer. For example, Dell offer 3 year on-site warranties with their machines. If you just want a good PC that wont give you loads of trouble, and wont cost a small fortune when it goes wrong, then that is your answer. On top of that, you will get legit OEM software preinstalled.

Here is a scenario with a self-build.

You buy all the bits and put the machine togeter. However, from day one it just isn't right. It keeps crashing for no apparrent reason. Who do you turn to? Motherboard manufacturer, CPU manufacturer, obscure Nvidia reference board manufacturer. You just dont know. It can become a nightmare. Especially if you start replacing parts in the hope of finding the problem.

With a pre-built warranted PC the same problem would be dealt with by an engineer coming to your house.

Personally I have always gone for self-build. But that is because I have access to spare parts that I can try if a problem appears, and because I've done it so many times now, I can have a PC built from boxed parts to working PC in under 30 minutes. However, I am seriously thinking of buying a pre-built because the cost of self builds in most cases is more than that of a pre-built.

It all depends on time and inclination. If you want to fiddle, self-build. If you want a PC that just works and is backed up by a service agreement, buy pre-built.
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by:buckeyes33
ID: 9722592
I have one more thing to say about this.  If you have access to software, not ilegal, but access to windows for cheap.  
For example I am at school, I got Windows XP Pro for $5.  Yes $5, even dell could not compete with that.  But in the end if you are going to put a lot of software on your computer, say Office pro or other microsoft products it would be cheaper to go through a place like Dell if you don't have access to the software.  If you were to go to the store and have to by the software that I have gotten cheap it would cost as much as the computer, but through Dell it would be a lot cheaper. just another thought.
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by:rustyrpage
ID: 9725696
From what I would assume from your computer you don't need a heavy duty machine, and as such I would stick with something that you can get from Dell or Compaq.  You are going to save a lot of money on OEM OS's & Office suites and you are going to take the hassle out of it.  Sure, it is fun to build a computer (the first time....), but there is far too much risk if you haven't done it before, and it isn't worth it since it will more than likely end up costing you more in the end.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9725849
The first PC I ever built would have worked fine had it not been for the misprinted manual.  I had the motherboard replaced, and then I found out that wasn't necessary.  I always found it fun to build computers.  Of course, I don't work with repetitive hardware.  Actually, I build different computers in completely different cases (hard to open, jammed, too small) than others (Antec megatitans).  Also, I use different processors and shove different problems at myself to see what I can do.  Building PCs should be a hobby rather than a pain because it "gets repetitive".  You need to provide challenges to yourselves.  Why not put together a PC with only the motherboard manual and no software?
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by:rustyrpage
ID: 9725880
What do you mean?  "without the manual and no software".  The problem is that he is trying to obtain a computer here, and if he wants to remain legal, he has the option of getting Windows XP at full price or at OEM price...office at full price or OEM.  etc.etc.etc.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9725892
Because you have 124MBs of ram, it's obvious that your PC takes away 4MBs from the system memory to use for the video memory.  As a short-term upgrade, you could borrow someone's video card to improve speed overall.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9726024
Didn't see your comment, rustyrpage.  It was just a blunt suggestion.  There's no need to go along with it.  I rebuilt some old IBMs, and it was the most fun I had that week (one year ago, when nothing was happening at all).
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by:rustyrpage
ID: 9726104
Oh...not a problem.  I will agree, making a PC for the first few times would be fun...however, if money is the only (primary) incentive here, then the best bet is to stick with a retail PC w/OEM software.  650 bucks for a PC with Office 2003 & Windows XP home from Compaq...or better yet, Dell is running some wicked promotions right now:

Dell Dimension 2400:
 - P4 2.53ghz w/533mhz FSB
 - Windows XP Home
 - 256 mb of memory (or 512 for an additional 60)
 - Microsoft Office 2003 Basic (Word, Excel, Outlook)
 - Free Upgrade to Norton AntiVirus w/12 month subscription!
 - Free Upgrade to an 80gb 7200rpm hard drive!
 - Free Upgrade to a 48x CD-RW drive!
All of that for $657

I am not usually one to recommend Dell over an Evo, but that is an incredible price for such a usable machine!  You can easily use that for games, media, etc.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9726169
What about the video card?  My main problem with Dell is the video card selection.  I'm sure the extreme models (big blue cases) have 9800s, but those PCs cost a whole lot more than a Dimension 2400.  Also, the 9800s are only 128MB versions.  I'm severely injured by the decisions Dell makes to haul in cash.  What's the cache of the hard drive?  What's the memory's speed?  Is it anything but DDR?  Nice Norton deal, though.  I also like the free 48× drive.  That's nice.  I haven't been able to get a transfer speed from either my hard drive or other CD-ROM that was greater than 41×.  Too bad.  I have a 52×.  However, that PC's dead!  I can't find the problem!  Why am I so cursed?  Does Dell cover voltage problems?

Thank you,
Radomir Jordanovic
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by:rustyrpage
ID: 9726224
The hard drive is a good, fast drive...the memory is DDR etc.

The reason that Dell can provide such cheap prices & still make money is that they have the ability to get OEM software for dirt cheap, and make money there, and also, they have the ability of getting cheap cheap parts, but still warrantying them.

The video card may not be an awesome video card, but I am assuming that, by the specs of his old machine, he doesn't do gaming or anything with needs of a great video card.  In my opinion a lot of these video cards are only evident when you are doing some very massive gaming, and only have results if everything else on the system is in line.  I have played some really intense games on my 1.6ghz Thinkpad laptop & never had any problem with video.  As such, I feel that this Dell with standard, onboard video meets the user's needs...otherwise, it is simple to add an AGP video card later.

Yeah, most people won't get a full 52x burn speed...it just isn't likely.  I have SCSI CD -burners with SCSI 15k drives & I still can't get higher than a 45x burn.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9727836
Pity.  I really enjoy bragging.  My CD burner is on the first channel as the slave to my hard drive.  Any difference?
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by:MrWhipster
ID: 9730365
The speed rating is only ever a theoretical maximum. For most of the CD a reader/writer will be running at less than the maximum. The maximum speeds only start to come into effect near the outer edges of the CD. Also, I think it has as much to do with the media being used as the speed that the system can get data to or from the drive. Poor media = slower results. CD-Rs are rated at certain maximum speeds in the CD's pre-written header block. If the CD-R maximum speed is less than the CD writers maximum writing capability, the writer will slow down.

In my time, I have had 2x,4x, 12x, 16x, 24x and recently a 32x writer. I have never noticed much difference between them when you get past 16x, in the speed of finalising a CD. The difference is probably about a minute or two. Life is just too short to worry about those lost minutes. The time, money and effort is better spent elsewhere.

Besides that, why bother with CD Writers anymore. DVD writers are so much more cheaper than they used to be. £79 for a DVD multiformat burner is the cheapest I've seen. You should look for one to be bundled with the PC.
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by:tonyxp
ID: 9731666
ive got about £450, ive seen the dell pc's but im looking for a good gaming pc and dells intergrated graphics isnt good enough.

The main things i'm lookin for is about:

*2ghz pentium or amd not celeron (maybe p4 with ht if in my price range)
*128 ram or over
*64 or 128mb graphics

im considering a pre built time pc with has all these but ill have to spend about £600 and im lookin around to c if theres a cheaper alternitive.

Thank you all for replying.


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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9735347
Because 2GHz CPUs are pretty much a good start, why not go up to something faster, like 2.26GHz, or 2.4GHz?  Both have faster FSBs than 2GHz P4s (533 or 800 as opposed to 400).

You really don't know how painful such a low amount of ram can be on a gaming PC with WinXP.  Please get 512MBs of DDR ram.  That'll help a whole lot.

A 128MB video card that fully supports DX9 is your best bet.

Thank you,
Radomir Jordanovic
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by:buckeyes33
ID: 9737064
>maybe p4 with ht if in my price range
you won't find one in your price range.  If you do give me the site.

>128 ram or over
you will need 128 MB just for windows.  Another 100 for what ever programs you have open at start up, leaving you with only 28 MB to play games and do what ever else you want to do.  Get 512 MB you will end up getting it in the end, trust me.

64 or 128mb graphics
If you are looking for a good card for a good price try a Geforce4 MMX440  or Geforce4 MMX440SE.  They are a little older and are only 30-60 bucks currently.  They are 64MB cards, there is however some 128MB card but, if you are going to get a card with 128MB you would want something newer to the market.

If you are looking to really save money buy AMD over Intel.  A two gig P4 cost aproximitly 130 bucks and an AMD 2000+ cost aproximitly 65 bucks.  So if you were to get a AMD 2200+ or 2400+ which are about 70-85 bucks you would get the same preformance but would save a lot of money.
An AMD 2000+ is almost equal to a P4 2.0 GHz
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by:buckeyes33
ID: 9737068
forgot this
>You really don't know how painful such a low amount of ram can be on a gaming PC with WinXP
nice comment radomirthegreat
it is so very very very true.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9744533
Thank you.

I really do not like GeForce4MX cards.  They were realeased to make more money for nVidia.  I hate marketing scams.  I hate Athlon64 CPUs being sold as "the world's fastest CPU" (as opposed to the Athlon64FX).  I hate PC600 RAMBUS.  I hate plastic compact cases with power supplies parallel to the motherboard platform.  I especially hate HP cases with those stupid wide buttons that cover the actual CD-ROM buttons and headphone jacks.  I am so severely bothered by bad cases that I'd start a giant bonfire of them if I had more money.

I'd have nothing against GeForce4MX cards if they had different names.  They can render video games at about 30fps on average.  Even though movies run at those framerates, video games will seem choppy and blurry.  There is a difference between rendering polygons and showing 30 pictures per second.  Movies have blurred pictures so that the pictures blur into each other.  Video games, however, are not rendered like that.  Therefore, 30fps is not enough.  There is a greatly visible difference between 30fps and 70fps.  My FX 5200 is not enough for most of the games that I have.  I run a lot of games at 1024×768 and 2×FSAA.  That's not nearly as great as those games can look.  Please sell your life for a good video card.  You'll be glad you did (unless you don't play video games).
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by:buckeyes33
ID: 9744658
>I especially hate HP cases with those stupid wide buttons that cover the actual CD-ROM buttons and headphone jacks
not to metion that you have to take the MB or take the whole front of the case off just to put a little extra RAM in.  Now that is a pain in the you know what.
I did not say that Geforce4 cards were the best or the greatest.  I can play BF1942 with no problems with mine.  When you are trying to save money you don't go and by a ATI Radeon 9800 Pro.
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by:tonyxp
ID: 9747278
1 last question can anybody recomend the best value for money grapics card at 64mb

thank you
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buckeyes33 earned 50 total points
ID: 9748849
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by:MrWhipster
ID: 9749029
What about an NForce2 motherboard with the builtin GeForce 4MX graphics controller. It might not be perfect but it will give you a half reasonable video card which can be upgraded at a later date if you need to.

Failing that look for a GeForce 3Ti200 or Ti500. They are better than GeForce4MX cards if you cannot afford the full blown GeForce 4 cards.

I currently have a Radeon All In Wonder 9000. That cost me about £120. Its fine for most of the stuff I do, with added bonus of video capture built in. It also scores reasonably well in Quake 3 tests (150+ FPS) and 3DMark2001 (about 7500 points).

I used to have an FX5200 and it was awful. My GeForce 3Ti200 was far superior.

To sum up you are looking at either Geforce 3Ti200, GeForce 4MX (maybe not though), GeForce FX5200 or Radeon 9000. All have at least 64mb but some come with 128mb.

Of course a good graphics wont make any difference to your setup if you skimp on the memory, CPU, motherboard and harddrive. All are important. In fact I would say that the most important and often overlooked component is the motherboard. It is that which determines the reliability, and in some cases a good motherboard will perform better with the same memory/CPU/VGA setup as a poor quality board. If you can go for a SATA drive. Most of the waiting around will be waiting for things to load. The faster the data  can be read/written to the hard drive, the better the overall experience will be.

Your limiting factor is your budget. None of this stuff comes cheaply. If you only have £450 to spent, you'll get an adequate PC, but not necessarily a high performance one.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9752021
Do not get a 9200SE.  It has 64-bit ram.  The FX 5200 has 128-bit for the most part.  Watch out for extra cheap versions (below $80US) so that you don't get stuck with 64-bit ram.

You don't need to buy a Radeon 9800 Pro.  How about a 64MB Radeon 9200 (the original one)?

Thank you,
Radomir Jordanovic
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