building my first computer. (in Off-topic)

three4thsforsaken July 9 2010 3:48 AM EDT

Well, I'm attempting to build my first computer this summer. I'm very new to this so I don't really know where to start. Do you have an recommendations on helpful websites? Are there any components you recommend?

I've just started looking at processors, and I'm kind of lost. I can't tell what's new and what's old and what's a good standard. All the user reviews are so positive that's it's hard to choose one over another.

I am going to use this computer primarily for photo editing, video editing and programming. Maybe games too. Planning on running both Windows 7 and Ubuntu. My price range is around $1000. Is that too little?

I could really use some advice, just a little direction would be a great help. I hope not only to get a nice computer out of this, but to learn a lot from the research and trying to optimize my resources. Thanks!

InebriatedArsonist July 9 2010 4:09 AM EDT

It would help to know what you have available to recycle from any previous computers. Using an older, but decent, monitor can save a several hundred dollars. Same for reusing hard drives, power supplies, fans, DVD drives, etc.

{EQ}Viperboy July 9 2010 4:09 AM EDT

$1000 is enough for what you are building. I would go for the ATI HD5830 video card its $200 on newegg. go for a motherboard with 226 socket and get an i5 intel processor. at least 4GB DDR3 memory kit. You can get 8GB kit (4GBX2( for about $200, but that is excessive although if you are doing serious video editing that can come in handy. Otherwise a 4GB kit (2GBX2) should run you under $100. Got these prices also off new egg. power supply, go for any 80 Plus certification with at least 650 Watts. Desirable to have Active PFC.
Check out this guide for PCs under $1000 from anandtech. The guide is from February so prices would have come down so buy accordingly, you can probably get a better built than the ones they say due to price drops.
Also sometimes there are some computer building guides on

{EQ}Viperboy July 9 2010 4:11 AM EDT

you can get a blue ray burner for as little as $140 with shipping from newegg. If you want lightscribe or a bigger memory buffer it will cost more, but i think the $140 will do. too bad i only have the LG BD player not burner, bought it a while ago, prices used to be more.

{EQ}Viperboy July 9 2010 4:15 AM EDT

scratch the $140 BD burner, the LiteON one is much better with 12X burning speed (instead of X10) and 8MB buffer (instead of 2MB) and supports 3D Blue Ray by description, only $160. but currently out of stock on newegg. Look around on other e-tailers if they have it or wait for newegg to restock.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] July 9 2010 5:46 AM EDT

i usually start with a mother board and then get the best processor it will accept for the money i can pay. when reading motherboard reviews, go for stability first and then performance. then pick the other components that reviewers are recommending for that motherboard.

this gives you a place to start as well as a stable computer, hopefully.

iBananco [Blue Army] July 9 2010 6:06 AM EDT

Tom's Hardware can help you out there.

ScrObot July 9 2010 7:25 AM EDT

I built a new machine in January. I've built computers before but this was my first purely solo attempt. I was looking for a good balance between price and performance. I read a bunch of stuff at Tom's Hardware and Anandtech to figure out what I wanted. I use it for development, photo editing and gaming.

I bought it all at, I've had good luck with them over the years. If you're not in a hurry, you can watch the ads there and elsewhere and piece it together through sales. Generally stay away from CPU/motherboard combo sales, as they are often crappy motherboards (at least at Fry's).

You have to decide what CPU type you want, to determine which socket type you'll need on your motherboard. This will determine your potential upgrade path, if you plan on upgrading your CPU at a later date on the same motherboard.

I went with an Intel i5-750 ($195) -- it's identical to the low end i7 other than hyperthreading, which my usage wouldn't take advantage of anyway. By the time I upgrade my CPU I'll need a whole new computer anyway, so I'm not worried about the 1156 socket type being on its way out.

I stuck it on pretty good ASUS P7P55D motherboard ($155).

I'm running 4 screens so I got two GeForce GTS 250 1GB video cards ($130 each). These aren't high end cards at all, but I can SLI them together to combine their power when I play games, and I haven't had any issues as of yet. They're not DirectX 11 either, but that's not a big deal to me. The only caveat here is that these particular cards didn't come with an SLI cable, I had to get one separately.

I rounded it out with an Antec 750W power supply ($120), 4GB of Crucial ram (2x2GB at $45 each), a DVD burner ($35) and a couple hard drives (I already had a third), then stuck it all in an Antec 300 case ($70).

That all came out to $1,034.81. I can send you the exact specs if you want. That doesn't include screens, keyboard, mouse, 1 more HD (you can probably get by on 2 though), speakers, printer, a UPS or a backup system (I use a mirrored Linkstation on my network). Some of that stuff you probably already have laying around though.

After putting it all together, I went from BIOS to Windows 7 Ultimate installed in about 20 minutes.

My only other advice is to make sure you have some sort of redundant backup setup in place for your data -- backing up daily to external drives, mirrored preferably, and rotating one offsite every week or two. Snagging an image of your C: drive after a clean install and getting your base programs installed is a good idea as well, in case you get nailed by a virus or something else down the line.

Demigod July 9 2010 7:38 AM EDT

there are some computer building guides on

Like Bananco, I also agree with this.

subucni July 9 2010 10:09 AM EDT

scrObot's advice is sound!

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] July 9 2010 10:36 AM EDT

Unless you're building it yourself for the experience there are a number of places where you may find a similar deal for similar pricing with a pre-built system. (also has components and is NS's favorite site)

three4thsforsaken July 10 2010 6:29 PM EDT

thanks for all the help. I've got a lot of reading to do :D

DERPA [Red Permanent Assurance] July 10 2010 7:17 PM EDT

Better start using newegg now if you are going to and get the summer deals.
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