ANSWERS: 5
  • Start with the processor you want and work your way up from there.
  • Start with the operating system you want to run on the bare metal. You'll want to ensure that all hardware is well supported. If you're installing Linux, here is one place you can check everything will work (which is pretty much anything nowadays - you can even install Linux on Playstation hardware or an iPod!) http://www.linuxhcl.org/
  • First, you need to decide on a CPU family. That will determine what sort of motherboard you need. The type of RAM you get will depend on the motherboard which depends on the CPU. Go for at least 2GB (3GB if you are running an i7 with tri-channel memory). How much storage capacity do you need? Well, given the price of hard drives these days you can probably just slap in a 500GB and be happy unless you try downloading half of YouTube onto your PC. You will likely want an optical drive of some kind. DVD burners are common and dirt-cheap but I've seen Blu-ray burners under $200 if you want to go high-end. Don't worry about the mobo not fitting the case. Most boards and cases are build to the ATX spec and thus nearly any combination will fit together. Some cases are a little shinier or better built than others, but the case is fairly low on the list of priorities. I like cases with tool-less drive bays, at least three bays of each size (3-1/2" and 5-1/4"), and at least one fan hole in the left side panel. While the last step chronologically, this one may be the most important one for the longevity of your rig; the power supply. Most PCs can get by with something in the 500-650W range, but not all power supplies are created equal. Many people get everything else right and then stick in a cheap, brand-X PSU. Kind of sad when they fry something or just don't boot one day because the PSU died. If money is tight for you, get a CPU that is one step slower and splurge a little on the power supply. Power PC & Cooling and Antec are both decent. Efficient, reliable, smooth voltage output... just great!
  • The 3 answers so far pretty much cover the bases. The only thing that hasn't been mentioned is what the computer will be used for. Everybody assumed you're not wanting to build a carputer or portable gaming box or something else unusual like that. (if you are, you'll probably want to stick to ITX mainboards and specialty/custom cases, etc...) You asked about mobo/cpu or mobo/ram combos, well, you can find things like that here: http://www.pricewatch.com/motherboard_combos/ http://www.pricewatch.com/motherboard_combos_with_memory/ (I'm sure there are many other similar sites out there as well, so do some googling or binking or whatever it is that you do...) But, like somebody already said, they are generally cheap/generic/possibly crappy motherboards and not necessarily what you are looking for. Just decide on a list of specifications and then try to stick to them as you search for parts that are compatible with each other. Typically that last part is the hardest. As hard as you try, you'll occasionally end up with some component that just doesn't want to get along with the rest of them.
  • To build a PC I got an AMD processor. Make sure the processor is going to fit the motherboard or get a motherboard with the processor installed. The case, memory sticks, the hard drive, Windows XP, cables for the hard drive, a monitor, keyboard, mouse, the power cords. I hope I didn't forget anything. After installing the operating system, you have to use the CD that comes with the motherboard to install the drivers for the motherboard.

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