How-To Geek

Building a New Computer – Part 1: Choosing Hardware

Note: This article is part of our archive and is likely out of date.
(Links may not work, downloads have not been recently tested for safety)

I recently decided to build myself a new desktop computer for my house, and after talking about it with a number of friends, I realized that most people have no idea what goes into building a computer yourself… so this series will explain the basics of building your own custom PC.

My primary goal with the new computer was to have a quad core machine with lots of memory, and two DVI ports so I can run dual monitors. I didn’t have a huge budget, so the configuration I chose was the best I could find for the money I had.


Why Should I Build a Computer Anyway?

Sure, building your own computer is something of a rite of passage for geeks… but that isn’t reason enough to build your own computer. Here’s a few reasons for you to ponder:

  • You can more easily upgrade a custom-built computer.
  • By hand-picking the components, you’ll end up with a much faster computer than buying a low-end Dell, which uses somewhat inferior components in order to keep the costs down.
  • You can overclock the computer to get a lot more speed than the components are spec’d for.

If you think you’ll be able to build yourself a cheaper computer than a low-end Dell, you are mistaken. If you are looking for absolute budget deals, buy a Dell. Otherwise, building a computer is a good option.

Pick Your Price Point

The first thing you need to do is figure out how much you are willing to spend… whether $500 or $5000.

You should be able to build a very fast computer for less than $1000, just keep in mind that the very latest components are going to be way more expensive than they are worth. If you choose the next edition down for any component, you’ll probably save a ton of money.

What Parts Do I Need?

Building your own computer gives you infinite possibilities in the components that you choose… want three hard drives? No problem! But what are the bare minimum parts you need for a computer?

  • Case with a Power Supply
  • Motherboard – Note: some motherboards come with integrated video, most have integrated sound and network.
  • Processor
  • Memory (RAM)
  • Hard Drive
  • Video Card

Optional parts:

  • DVD/CD drive – Not technically necessary, but important for installing the OS.
  • LCD Monitor – If you don’t already have one.
  • Keyboard/Mouse – If you don’t already have them.
  • Speakers – If you don’t already have them, and want sound.
  • Etc – There are many other optional components you could add, but we won’t cover them all.

The big question: AMD or Intel?

The biggest choice you have when building a computer is the processor… do you want to use AMD or Intel? There’s no right answer, but your choice will dictate the motherboards that you can use.

If you are completely unsure, choosing one of the Intel Core 2 CPUs is probably a decent choice. You can always check the CPU charts at Tom’s Hardware for benchmark comparisons between chips.

Once you’ve chosen the processor, you’ll need to examine the specs to figure out what type of motherboard you’ll need. For instance, if you look at the processor I chose, you’ll see that it has an LGA 775 socket type, and runs at 1066MHz bus:


Using this information, most sites allow you to do a power search by those characteristics:


This will help you make sure that your motherboard is going to match the processor that you chose. You can further refine by other specs, such as whether the board has integrated video, RAID, etc. (Note that if you plan to buy a separate video card you shouldn’t get a board with integrated video on it)

You also want to make sure that you choose a motherboard that will fit in the case. For instance, if your case is ATX, you’ll need an ATX motherboard:


What about my Graphics Card?

Choosing a video card hinges on the following question: Do you play PC video games?

If you do, then you should spend the money to get a good card. If you don’t, then you can pretty much pick up any $50 ATI or NVIDIA DVI video card and it will work perfectly fine for your needs. Just make sure that your motherboard has the correct slot… if you buy a PCI Express x16 card, your motherboard should have that slot (most do).

If you are a gamer, you should think about getting an NVIDIA 8800 GTS card, which is going to be blazing fast. You should note that many of the higher end video cards will require a separate power connector, so you should make sure that your power supply has the right connector.


I don’t usually play video games on my PC, so I decided to use an NVIDIA 7600 GT video card that I got from my brother. Even though it’s a slightly older card, it’s still blazing fast and more than meets my needs.


Note: If you are really not worried at all about video card performance, you could get a motherboard with integrated video, but it will be a lot slower.

How Much Memory Should I Get?

If you are going to run a 32-bit version of Windows or Linux, you should probably only get 3GB of memory since the system is not going to support more than 3.2GB of memory. If you want to use more memory, I’d recommend switching to 64-bit Windows Vista.

When buying memory, make sure that you buy memory that matches the memory standard… if the board only accepts DDR2 1066, 4×240 pin memory, make sure that you get memory that matches.


Note that sometimes the quick specs don’t tell the full story… for instance the motherboard that I bought supports DDR2 800 as well as DDR2 1066 memory, so I ended up getting the cheaper memory since I’m on a budget here… having more memory is more important than memory speed.


I wouldn’t advise wasting your money on the absolute fastest memory unless you plan to overclock the system.

What About DVD and Hard Drives?

There’s one very simple rule: Make sure you buy only SATA drives, for both hard drives and DVD drives. The SATA bus runs at 3.0Gb/second, which makes it much faster than the ancient IDE bus. This will also protect you for the future… someday there won’t be IDE ports on motherboards.


Your hard drive is the most likely component to have a failure, so the key things you want to look at are: good reviews from other buyers, and a good warranty. I recently had a hard drive come in the mail DOA… so being able to return it easily is very important.

Should I Get an Expensive Case?

When looking up cases you’ll quickly notice that some of them are very expensive, and some of them are very cheap. The more expensive cases will usually run quieter or cooler than the cheap ones, and they will give you easier access to the components. You’ll also find that the cheap cases come with cheap power supplies… which will not last as long and you’ll end up replacing them.


If you are building a computer for your basement, you don’t plan to open it often, and don’t really care what it looks like, you can get by with a fairly cheap case, but you might want to buy a decent power supply.

If you are building a computer for your bedroom that you’ll leave on… you should probably spend the money on a decent case that dampens the sound coming from the computer.

Make Sure to Get Feedback

Once you’ve picked out your components, you should get feedback from other people. Obviously checking the reviews for each component is necessary, but you want to get some opinions on the overall configuration.

One great place to do that is on our forums… I posted my configuration there and got some valuable feedback from our great forum users.

Final Configuration

Here’s the hardware that I chose, note that the prices were as of the time I bought them. I’m not necessarily recommending this exact configuration, if I had to choose the parts again I would have bought a better case / power supply.

Update: These particular parts are somewhat out of date now, considering this article was written quite a while ago. Make sure to shop around.

Processor Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz LGA 775 $219
Motherboard ASUS P5K-E LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Motherboard $139
Memory mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) $88
Hard Drive Samsung 750GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s $120
Case XION II XON-101 Black Steel ATX Mid Tower 450W Power Supply $70
Video Card NVIDIA 7600GT 256MB PCI Express x16 (This link is to a similar card) $73
DVD LITE-ON 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner with LightScribe $30
Total Price: $739

Note: the video card in the list isn’t the exact card I used, and I didn’t have to pay for mine since it was a gift… but I figured I’d include it so you’d get the whole picture.

Here’s all the parts stacked up on my table at home:


You can also read the rest of the series:

Be sure to subscribe for updates!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/23/08

Comments (124)

  1. ThePeopleGeek

    I am guessing you did not choose to run 64 bit Vista.
    I think your readers could learn something from that example.

    I am not a gamer so I am using the $450 Dell for my desktop. I do not have the expandability or bios access. My machine is a little louder than I like. I am running a 2 head PCI-e and a 2 head PCI card for 4 screens. I will have to upgrade the stock power supply soon. I have 2 Sata hard drives with no plug or even room for more. It does not have spots for and IDE drives so I can’t use older drives. There are no ps2 ports either so my favorite older trackball has to use an adapter and a usb port. I spent the rest of my budget on an EEE PC but there were trade offs.

    Thanks for your blog. I always get something.

  2. The Geek


    I did install 64-bit Vista on this computer, actually, since I put 4GB of RAM in it.

  3. FantomRedux

    I’m so glad I don’t splurge on another 2Gigs of RAM when I bought the 2 I have. Didn’t know you could only have up to 3.2G on a 32bit system :(

    Is there a way to run 32Bit apps in a 64Bit OS?

  4. BigNerd

    Niiice! I think your tutorials are awesome. This one has my interest as I have always wanted to build one from the ground up. I’ll be looking over your shoulder on this project. Good luck!

  5. The Geek


    Yes, you can run almost any 32-bit application in Windows Vista 64-bit. The only exceptions are certain applications that require drivers or kernel-level modules… for instance most ISO mounting utilities don’t work.

    So far, I’ve not had any problems running the software that I use often.

    There will be a few more articles in the series… stay tuned :-)

  6. rswrc

    if i would now buy i new computer i wouldn’t choose a Quad Core. There are simply no applications that use all 4 Core’s (ok, there are some, but they are not used at home). I think a much better choice would be a new 45nm Dual Core. They consume less power, they don’t produce so much heat and they are newer than the Q6600 which was introduced in 1/2007. Personally i would choose an E7200 – 2.5GHz, 3MB cache, 45nm – cool, quiet and fast enough. If you would need more cache than an E8x00 is for you.

  7. The Geek


    You are probably right, for regular people the quad core might not be necessary. I’m a programmer, and I run a lot of virtual machines… so the more cores the better for my purposes.

    There’s also a faster version of the quad core that runs at 2.5Ghz as well… but I was working on a budget.

  8. jack7h3r1pp3r

    that is a nice machine that you got there. and when i was building mine not too long ago i almost picked the same case as you :)

  9. The Geek


    Yeah, the case is pretty cool looking… but the power supply is really cheap, and the fans are a little louder than I’d like.

    I mainly bought it because I already have another XION case for my linux server… figured I’d go with the same brand.

  10. Bigcheez2k5

    I have 4gb running on my 32-bit Vista, SP1 allowed you to use 4gb.

  11. Alex Leonard

    Nice work. This is a very clearly written and well put together piece. I first learnt the basics of building a computer from a friend of mine, who showed me that there really isn’t anything to worry about. Since then I’ve built countless machines and, whilst it’s good to know a bit about what’s going on, there really isn’t that much to it.

    It’s kind of like lego, or even more simple, like fitting those blocks through the similarly shaped hole. Stuff can only fit in one place – it’s kind of hard to really mess it up!

  12. Chad Everett

    I’d agree with the comment about quad cores – most people aren’t going to need it (at home). I recently upgraded my own CPU to a 45nm dual-core E8400, running at 3GHz out-of-the-box, for just $209.99. On the stock cooler, it can easily be overclocked to 3.6Ghz with next to no tweaking.

    Though you – very – briefly touch on the subject of being able to upgrade the built PC, you might want to mention that this is one of the best reasons to roll your own box. You can sometimes upgrade those of others, but more often than not, you can’t. On your own PC, you can almost always do so, which is a great advantage, giving you lots of life.

    I’d also second the idea of going with two graphics cards for > 2 monitors (I prefer 3 to 4, however), and suggest that if you can, go with a 64-bit OS and > 4GB of RAM. Recently expanded to 8GB myself. It’s nice. :)

  13. BurntToast

    Are u abl 2 get a laptop case to build ur own laptop?

  14. Justin

    “If you are going to run a 32-bit version of Windows or Linux, you should probably only get 3GB of memory since the system is not going to support more than 3.2GB of memory.”

    You’re right, and then again, not quite. 32-bit Windows will only use 3.2GB, not because that’s all it can, but because Microsoft has designed it that way, or so I’m told.

    Linux, however, is a different story. While 32-bit protected virtual address mode does have a limit of ~3.2GB for usable RAM (it’s actually 4GB, but a certain amount is reserved for the kernel), 32-bit systems are not limited to using protected virtual address mode. By using Physical Address Extension (usually through a “bigmem” kernel), 32-bit systems can utilize up to 64GB of RAM. Some distributions don’t have a bigmem kernel by default, notably Ubuntu, but the server kernel (or a somewhat difficult-to-discover server kernel with restricted modules: linux-restricted-modules-2.6.24-16-server), which does have PAE enabled can be used instead.

    There is a lot of conflicting information floating around the internet regarding RAM limits for 32-bit systems, but I can vouch for PAE, as I use it on my 32-bit Ubuntu system with 4GB RAM, and I’m not limited to 3.2 GB. (What are limited though, are individual processes, which can’t use more than 3GB at a time.)

  15. The Geek

    @BurntToast: I would recommend Alienware if you want a custom built laptop:


    I didn’t mention PAE since it’s more of a server technology… while it does exist in the Windows world as well, it’s not optimal since desktop applications can’t use the extra memory. Same goes for Ubuntu desktop in my testing… the default kernel just doesn’t support it.

    PAE for Windows is usually limited to server applications…. we have at least 8GB of RAM in each of our SQL Server machines at work, for example.

    I personally think people should start moving towards 64-bit, it works quite well and has no issues with memory limits. I’m now using nothing but 64-bit… my linux server at home, this Vista box, and even the howtogeek website (RHEL 64-bit).

  16. Eric

    I am curious as to why you chose the Samsung HD. According to your article the warranty should be a big consideration when choosing a HD. Samsung does not provide a very good warranty. Even worse, Samsung requires you to RMA their products through the original vendor (ie: NewEgg) which seems like a real hassle.

  17. The Geek


    Good catch… The reason I wrote the line about warranty being important was from personal experience over the last few months :-)

    I actually bought that hard drive separately, was originally going to use it as a scratch drive for my linux server. I bought another drive for this box, but it came in the mail dead… and silly me didn’t open it up and test it for about 34 days after I got it… so the newegg return had run out, now I have to send back to the manufacturer. Then I had another hard drive die without a warranty…

    In my experience, it’s almost always better to RMA products through Newegg vs anybody else… they are simply top-notch.

  18. Mustafa

    hi geek nice review can you tell me the config if i want a gaming pc and the perfect video card and the heat can be controlled of the whole pc.

  19. rik

    The first thing you want to ask yourself is, “What do I want to do with this PC?”
    You could find a used PC for $100 monitor included if all you need to do is surf the internet. Heck you don’t even need a hard drive to do that. A CD with a PE installation can have you surfing the net VIRUS PROOF!

    I recently built a highend gaming rig for $700* so if you are paying more than $1000 you are paying too much.

    * INTEL lga 755
    2 gig ddr2
    geforce 8600gts 256mb
    dvd burner 12x
    I beat crysis on 1280 x 768 maxed

  20. Dirk

    It’s great the feedback your blog produces. Thax for sharing all this with us. That said, my turn to ” why didn’t you… ”
    Asus has a motherboard that has linux embeded on it and can boot in 5 ( FIVE ) seconds to a splashtop!! The P5E3 Deluxe motherbaord has a browser and skype embeded on it so you can surf the web or make a call FIVE seconds after turning the machine on :-) Or you can boot to Windows or to Linux. It would have been great for you to try it out for us

  21. The Geek


    I really want to try out that Asus motherboard… the problem is that they are more than double the price of the one I got… I’m sure they will come down in price.

    What I’m wondering is whether you can customize the embedded version of linux… I’d love to use that as a media box hooked up to my TV.

  22. 1fastbullet


    I wish I could roll the calander back 10 or 12 months. It was then that I decided I was not going to pay the prices demanded by the cookie cutter companies for the weak machines they offerred.

    I literally spent months checking compatibility of various components and asking questions before finally committing to a plan and ordering parts for my first (ever) computer. Doesn’t it figure that, right after I spent my first $400 on my “Black Hole” machine, I was given a Dell D3000.

    Like you, I don’t do games and my budget is limited.. Unlike you, I went with a single-core Intel 631 Cedar Mill, 3.0GB processor and ECS 945 MoBo without graphics. I then chose an EVGA nVidia 8400GS card, 2GB of Kingston Hyper-X (PC6400) RAM and stuffed it into an inexpensive case with 480w. My needs only slightly exceed Email, surfing and some video and music stuff, but with the SATA 250GB (16MB) HDD and Optical drives, the machine should cook whatever I throw at it for a long time.

    The best thing about this configuration, I suppose, is that the MoBo is dual-core compatible and will accept another 2GB of RAM, if and when I find the need (and the price drops).

    Yes, you’re right- I didn’t mention an OS. I originally planned this machine as a Linux box but may end up adding XP Pro in. My lack of experience with Linux being the only reason.

    Meanwhile, The new 19″ LG Flatron and MS Ergo 4000 are in use on the Dell while I ping-pong the OS issue.

    Finally, I tend to question the one statement you made regarding saving money. Even if I do barf up the funds for XP Pro, I haven’t seen a ready-rolled machine yet with specs approaching mine for the money I will have in it.

    P.S. The Dell machine, named Anemic Enema, is further proof that you do not get what you pay for. A 4 year old machine with only 256MB of DDR (not DDR2) RAM? That’s pitiful!

  23. mehdi

    Great thank you
    I had many problems specially choose between AMD or Intel but with this useful post i can solve them
    Good luck to you

  24. Alan

    What did you do to buy Windows Vista 64? Did you get an OEM? I would think having a valid Vista would add to your cost on that thing.

  25. The Geek


    I personally have an MSDN subscription from work, which includes licenses for Vista (MSDN isn’t cheap)

    I should probably add something to the article about buying a valid license for some operating system.

  26. Alan

    Ok cool. I’ve been building and repairing computers for years. didn’t have time when I stepped up to something for Vista. I found a decent priced HP and the re-opened CompUSA in Fort Lauderdale. I think I paid around $420.00 for a factory refurbished with an Intel Core 2 4400 and 2GB Ram. Not super duper but it does seem to be doing better than my much older white box (Soyo P4iY Fire Dragon) with P4 2.0 Ghz. I needed to keep up for my business with Vista as many customers were starting to get it by default on new laptops and such.

    I put my website this time, so you’ll know who I am. I assume that doesn’t go live on the page here. I don’t need any more publicity — I’m already doing fine :-)

  27. Chad Everett

    @Alan –

    You can also get the Action Pack Subscription (which is about $300, depending on your location), and it gives you a 64-bit Vista license. IIRC, you’ll only get one, which may not be enough for you, but it may also do the job for you. Finally, you are supposed to remove the Action Pack software after your license period (one year), which may not be a good thing, so keep that in mind – but with the variety of software you get, it can be a good deal.

  28. DS

    I just wanted to let you know that I recently built a computer for my family. i have a thread for it over at “The Vista Forums” called “Building a new Family PC”. use the search button @ the top-right of the page and search “Building new Family”.

    i posted a lot of pictures (hi-res) so people could see my build.
    -my OS is Vista Ultimate (upgrade), i got it for $120 including shipping (

  29. brian

    I have always built my computers in the past until my notebook, and then my desktop. it is fun to build not cheap but fun. right now i am running a quad core phenom, with 3gb ram, and haven’t had a problem yet. thanks good guide

  30. Eric


    Multi-core processors aren’t restricted to just running a single application threads concurrently. Nowadays, regardless of operating system, a user will generally have a couple dozen or more processes loaded and available to run. This includes system processes and user processes. Multiple applications can take advantage of a multi-core processor. So anyone with a quad core system should see a performance improvement whether they are running a multi-threaded application or a few applications.

    This is not to say that a dual-core system isn’t enough for the average user though. Dual-core is plenty for most people.

  31. Jon

    I was just curious what other things you bought that are not listed here. Was the heat sink and thermal compound included with the processor? Or was that a separate purchase? And did you buy extra fans for the case, or were they all included with the case? And was there a need to buy any extra cables? Thanks.

  32. Blake

    This case looks pretty cool to me:
    RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612WBP ATX Mid Tower With 500W Power Supply — $95

  33. Swepperz

    Does the 450w power supply included with the the case have any 6 pin connectors for power because I plan on installing a 8800 GT in my setup.

  34. Whack Brain Puzzeled

    Hey there.. thank you for all the great advice. i did the comptia a+. how do you know what to run, what goes with wht. i’m puzzeled.

  35. Jon

    No monitor? No OS? Gotta add that into the purchasing options when building a “new” computer.

  36. JacksonComputerExpert

    You know, the AMD Boxed Athlon X2 Dual-Core 3.1GHZ is cheaper. It costs 75 bucks at Micro Center. Your processor is quad-core with ONLY 2.4GHZ. What’s wrong in this picture. You can get AMD Athlon with MORE speed with LESS cores for LESS PRICE. Just wanted to point that out.

    Link to this processor:

  37. The Geek


    This article was written quite some time ago.

  38. Clement

    Good morning All,
    I just want to ask if I can always or sometimes get all or some of the Articles on PDF Format so that I can save or Print it for Future reference. Please kindly let me know its possible or not.

  39. EniAlbo

    Hey hi all!
    I’m interesed on building a new computer my own, b’cuz it will cost me less.
    I want to have a AMD 1.8 GhZ Dual Core Processor, a 2GB RAM , a 160GB HDD and 512MB Graphic Card Card On Board. So please can anyone tell me the name of all above as shown on the table?
    Thanks a lot!

  40. Brock

    Ive got a Nvidia based epox MB with 2gb RAM with the Nvidia 7800GTX graphics which is a HD graphics card (no HD monitor:()… My HDDs are SATA 3GB per second and my MB accepts that.. i like it….. want more RAM though… GAMING PC

  41. venomireland

    I’m wondering, I’m buying all my parts from Newegg so do I have to buy a fan or do they come supplied with the processor?

  42. venomireland

    Sorrry for double post, but do I have to buy the connection wires also or are they supplied?

  43. venomireland

    Yet again, with the hard drive do I need an enclosure? And does it matter if it’s 2.5” or 3.5”? Also, should i buy a HDMI-compatible motherboard so as to connect to my 15.6” 720p tv? or should i just get an LCD?

  44. venomireland

    I can’t believe I have to keep posting but more stuff keeps coming up, I will only post this when I (hope) to have asked all questions I’d like answering, I would like to use A Blu-Ray drive but will I be able to properly use DVD’s and write info to them( I could also get a 4X External Blu-Ray drive but don’t like externals that much, altough it is cheap)? What about adding extra USB ports? Did you’re Motherboard have sound ports( I’m getting the same one as it suits what I can afford)? What OS should I get(XP or Windows 7, I will use it to game a lot so I am defintely not geting the memory hog that is Vista but Windows 7 will be nigh expensive( more expensive than my proccesor, Graphics card and Hard drive combined I think))? What is LightScribe? Those are ALL the questions I need answering as of now, I MAY have to post some more later, hopefully not.

  45. venomireland

    Does this motherboard(simlar to your’s, actually) hvae a VGA out? :

    The reason Being my 15.6” has a VGA in so I don’t have to buy a monitor.

  46. venomireland

    In addition to my previous questions, how many PCI and PCI-e slots does that Motherboard have?

  47. Aaqib


  48. venomireland

    NEvermind, I have gotten all my questions answered by friends :)

  49. Greg

    Hello. I was wondering if you could tell me if this build is going to work.
    I spent a good amount of time going through your guide and here’s the build that i concluded with:

    Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 @ 3.0GHz
    Motherboard: ASUS P5Q Premium LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX
    Memory: mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
    Video Card: MSI R4830-T2D1G OC Radeon HD 4830 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP
    Hard Drive: SAMSUNG HD103UI 1TB 5400 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s
    Case: Sunbeam Transformer IC-TR-B Blue Steel ATX Full Tower
    Power Supply: APEVIA ATX-CW500WP4 500W ATX
    DVD Drive: LITE-ON Black 22X 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD Burner with LightScribe
    Is that all going to work together? Will i need a bigger power supply? Will i need to buy a cooling system? Will the tower fit it all? And finally should I get a hard drive with more speed instead of more space?

    Thank you

  50. Greg

    Oh and I forgot to ask.
    Is that going to be (if it all works together) a good and fast computer once it’s all put together?

  51. John

    To Greg.

    The computer will definately be fast. But keep in mind, mushkin is expensive RAM. You can get cheaper for the same quality. Maybe bump up the PSU a bit.

  52. Robert Reed

    well I decided to build your idea only one question I have a new seagate 160mb ide/sata hard drive with windows xp and licence in my old del 933mhz computer. can I just put it in the new one and be home free for the OS
    pleas e-mail

  53. Robert Reed

    sorry I mean ide/ata hard dr

  54. Chris Olson

    Hey guys, great tutorial man… i think that i can definitely do it if i can get the right parts which is what i need help with.

    Its for my chuch doing dual projector during service and the the program we use has to have

    dual core processor
    2gigs ram
    dont need more than 100gig HD because we have a network server
    2 video cards with 256mb each

    i just dont know how to peice this thing together… or if it would be cheaper to just buy a stock pc and add a video card

    if anyone could tell me exactly what to get it would be great!

  55. venomireland

    @ Chris Olson:
    You would not need two graphics cards for a projector, it’s hard to find something with 256MB nowadays anyway. Follow the instructions above and simply substitute or remove parts you don’t need. That 7600GT would be fine for the projector as well.

  56. Robert Reed

    okeeee dokeeee i put my puter togather turned it on it beeped and started up giveing me a choice for boot order ans bios i believe f2 and or f12
    well after that the screen says “boot failure” press any key
    so now what do i do ???

  57. PS

    To Robert Reed.

    You could try reinstalling the operating system. Sometimes certain components fail to install properly the first time.

  58. Robert Reed

    update; it is all new and has no os installed. in trying to install
    win x9 home edit it will start to install setup but stops installing with a ‘file error “could not be found” i tried 50 times and its always a different message.
    in the mean time when it does NOT try to install the message is PXe-E61 media test failed ck cable , PXe-MOf exiting PXeROM. “boot failure press any key
    eather way I cant get os to compleat its setup.

  59. Robert Reed

    I mean windows XP Home Edit

  60. PS

    I have one question: Is this a new OS disk? This sounds like something could just be wrong with your disk, but if it isn’t your disk I’m not really sure.
    does it give you these messages part way through the installation, or is it as you are trying to start it? If this is the case you may need to install drivers for your SATA controller if that is what you are using.
    The first thing you can do to start narrowing down the problem here is by at least trying a different OS disk. Maybe a friend has one? You could still use your Activation key with a different disk if this is the case.

  61. PS

    To the Geek:
    What are you using your computer for? While a quad core processor may seem really great and cool sounding, if you are not using your computer for a lot, and I mean a LOT of multitasking, or some type of video editing or rendering software, you would have been better off getting a dual core with a higher clock speed.

  62. PS

    Wait… crap. Didn’t see those previous comments about cpus… i feel dumb now.

  63. Robert Reed

    PS; alls well the problum was that the cd rom was running real slow and when I put in a new used one from my other puter it installed xp just like it new what it was doing :) thank for the help it was the cd rom

  64. PS

    To Robert Reed:

    Cool! Glad the problem wasn’t too serious! Have fun with your new computer

  65. nerd herd!!

    This stuff is soooooooooooooooooooooo confusing im just so mind bottled this is very very interesting!! you are so amazing i wish i couls be that smart! thanx!!

  66. James

    Hey, i was using your forum/site as a reference for building my own system. however, once putting it all together i came upon a stumbling block. After connecting everything and plugging everything in, the power wasn’t working. I have the same Xion II case that you recommended, and a Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD4P motherboard running the AMD Phenom II 940 X4 chip…am i having compatibility issues? Or are my wires all crossed? (everything seems to be plugged in in the right places)…hope someone has an idea of what i did wrong.

  67. Bruce

    So, besides the whole RAM issue, are there any other downsides to having 32-bit version of Windows XP?

  68. Jeroen


    I was wondering why you are advising to choose Intel if completely unsure. When looking for upgrades for the P4 computers in our small prepress company I found the price difference between reasonably performing CPU/MB combinations with Intel vs AMD computers to be considerable, especially with dual-core processors rated at 45W or lower (good for energy bill and low noise production), such as the X2 5050E. With 4GB memory, on-board GeForce 7050 DVI and Windows 7 the 5050E smoothly handles our jobs in Word 2007, CorelDraw/Photopaint, Acrobat Pro, etc. The money saved in this department was invested in a low-noise power supply and CPU cooler to reduce office noise as far as possible.

    I can imagine that a top-of-the-bill game rig calls for the extra speed of a fast Intel, but in that case I would think there is no “safe choice for the unsure”.

    Personally, I think the very first question in building a computer should be “What am I going to use it for”? The answer will suggest a desirable configuration, which can then be tweaked for reasons of budget [usually lower than desired], (un)wanted noise production [usually higher than desired], and looks.

  69. Whatever


    You could bought Intel Core i7, although it could be very expensive. Nice guide Mr Geek!
    By the way, that is a budget price, very good pricing!


  70. bikash

    i had bought ram but i don’t know it will support to my pc motherboard or not
    i want to know whih had been insurted in my pc from command

  71. Walt

    A need for speed.
    I have a 775 Asus atx board with an Intel E5300 cpu. (800mhz FSB). Can i replace the cpu with an E8400 without any other alterations necessary. HP 8gb.

  72. Walt

    A need for speed resolved.
    I finally got an answer from HP tech that said, in a word, NO. Need a new Mobo to upgrade the cpu.

  73. charles

    I wqant to build or buy a computer that my daughter can use for starting a graphic artist busieness, you know logos silk screen design, but I could build one rather buy a 10 thousand dollar modal what do you suggest? Is it better to buy the mac g4 whatever? or can I save a lot of money building my own and then including extras like memory cards for gaming so we could set up a studio in our garage and start pumping out the graphic art log buisiness? We bought adobe creative suite 4???


    hey man, I’ve done countless pc mods but never a full build before last night, I may as well have, having replaced everything at one point or another. but i didn’t know where to start. thanks for the checklist.
    also @ the peopel talking about processers, I got a pheneomII X2 550 callisto black edition. at specs it’s 3.1 GHZ but can be overclocked to 4, starts ou dual care but with certain motherboards can be unlocked to 4 cores, only costs 100 bucks too. so if ou do a little work you can end up with a quad core 4 GHz processor that only consumes 85W for just 100 bucks, thats the way i went.

    add that with my 8 gigs of DDR2 1066, 7200RPM hard drive, and 1 gig 256 bit 9600gt card

    I did pretty good for 600 I’d say

  75. Rob

    The motherboard is what all the other components depend on. The system board is your key component. What comes afterwards; RAM, processor, memory, chassis size is determined by what motherboard you choose. Whether it’s AMD or Intel, the motherboard manufacturer or store where you bought it from will all have the information you need to choose the rest of the components. It’s not rocket science. One piece of advice, the faster graphics cards, $100 and up, do require a heftier power supply. You will want to look at your Graphics Card power requirements before choosing the power supply. I recommend 600 Watt, right off the bat, even if they say you only need 400.

  76. John M.

    whats the difference between Email , and Website? Since i don’t know mush about computers i thought i would make me a SUPER , SUPER computer a gamer. But i don’t know how . i hope you guys could help me. looking 2 build desk top. what parts do i get or need. Every bit of help will be appreciated. thnz

  77. Ty

    I have to build a virtual computer for a programmer that would use C # and pick out all the hardware, software and things I would need for if I was actually building it. Can anyone help me out and give me some advice.

  78. Kyle

    You shouldn’t buy a case with a PSU in it as many of these are old under-specified models. It’s much better to buy a PSU separate.

    ^ Here’s a good but cheap PSU.


  79. js

    Thanks for the guide, it helped give me both the idea and the confidence I needed to build my new pc. My old PC was a 2003 lowish end dell, so this is just such a huge upgrade XD.

  80. John Skarzynski

    My computer is between 5 and 8 years old. I have a very bad bug in it and my son Matthew wants to build me a new computer. Can I replace to mother bd. and processor only? I know I should go all the way but at this time in my life ( 69) I really do not need the best computer but I do need a good one. And I now have XP of Microsoft and should I upgrade to Windows 7?

  81. Shakil

    Hi, I’m 13 and in the UK can you find me some decent components on the web to build a new computer?
    I need 3+ RAM, a decent processor and motherboard with a good case and video card,

  82. josh

    hey guys im new to the website ima learn how to build a computer

  83. josh

    plz plz plz plz plz plz somebody plz could send me a videohow to build it i noe all the pc component

  84. mmorpg games

    Is there a site where i can get some mmo reports? I’d really like to hear about this

  85. gary gliter

    im a pedo

  86. James

    OMG why is gary gliter on this

  87. China Tablet PC

    You could bought Intel Core i7, although it could be very expensive. Nice guide Mr Geek!
    By the way, that is a budget price, very good pricing!

  88. qudelkedel

    This was very helpful to me. As i was reading it i was going and finding each part as i read and i was just wondering if all of these would work:

    Intel Core i3 Processor i3-540 3.06GHz 4MB LGA1156

    Intel Media Series Micro ATX Motherboard

    Crucial CT2KIT25664BA1339 4GB 2GBx2 240-pin PC3-10600 DIMM DDR3 Memory KIT

    Cooler Master CM 690 II Advance ATX Mid-Tower Case (RC-692-KKN2)

    LG Electronics 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Internal Drive

    ZOTAC nVidia GeForce 9500GT 1 GB DDR2 VGA/DVI/HDMI PCI-Express Video Card ZT-95TEK2M-FSL

    Seagate Barracuda 7200 500 GB 7200RPM SATA 3Gb/s 16MB Cache 3.5 Inch Internal Hard Drive ST3500418AS-Bare Drive

    Coolmax M-500B 500W Eps Power Supply with 5 Sata Connectors ATX12V & EPS12V

    Corsair Cooling Hydro Series H50 All in One High-performance CPU Cooler CWCH50-1

    This is my first computer built so I need to know if I have anything wrong. Thanks for the help.

  89. Prumzy247

    I’m planning 2 build up my desktop.I tink those requirements are ok by me.

  90. mike

    i have a dell dimension dim2400 intel {r} celeron {r} cpu 2.60ghz 2.59ghz 768mb of ram with windows xp just upgrade mermory with a 512mb what elso could i do to improve my speed to make it faster …. i did all the cleaner up like the cookies the files and defragit the stuff like that

  91. Alex

    Check out the super-fast machine I built using latest and greatest technologies… totally awesome!

  92. Fermina Jarels

    Excellent summary, bookmarked your website for interest to read more information!

  93. Arash Kayaan

    hello everyone, and thanx for the tips all of you. I am going to try to put together my own pc for the first time, And I have a budget of around 600 euros, i think that would be around 7 to 750 dollars. I would want it to be a gamer PC, so what would you guys suggest I should do. I would really appreciate any help.


  94. david boring

    i will ALWAYS dual boot. every BYOC i have done since 2000 is that way. i even remember the LILO days before GRUB.

  95. dell cheap computer

    It’s a blog with full of latest and spectecular informations – This blog has helped me to gain much more information
    I would like to appreciate the blog owner for his efforts

  96. Kfinds

    Hmmm. I won’t you rebuilt this computer spec, would it comes out to $739. Probably not. Computer parts are pretty inexpensive now. I will test this one and find all the correspond parts to rebuilt this blog.

    Update late on that.

  97. tom

    you guys talk about weird stuff gimps

  98. tom heavyhand

    OMG!!!!!!! that is fricking dude how do you get the computor to do that ???
    are you in the geek squad you genius

  99. tom


  100. tom

    yeah i am

  101. tom

    hey ollie

  102. tom heavyhand

    i’m such a nerd i tried to build one my self but i was so busy nerding out on fifa 12 i left the bath running and it flooded all the parts

  103. tom heavyhand

    can you do me a step by step guide on how to build a computor i am becoming a nerd you know what i mean i have tried to take a xbox apart and put it together but i just kept braking it with my hand it so fricking heavy help me out dude ?????

  104. tom

    same but is was on mw2 im Predator

  105. tom


  106. tom heavyhand

    beccky litefoot = fit

  107. ollie


  108. tom

    Lilly Petty = fitter

  109. ghjghj

    kill u where u stand

  110. tom heavyhand

    shut up becky allda way yeeeeaaahhh boiiiiiiiiiiiiii

  111. ollie


  112. tom


  113. tom heavyhand

    in love with my dog he spunks all over me

  114. ollie

    SAFETYS !!!!!!!!!!!!

  115. tom

    Dont sir look like STEVE HAWKINS

  116. ghjghj

    Ollie wells has pigeon bollocks and a needle dick

  117. tom heavyhand

    nah harry potter

  118. ollie

    Some ones done a quif.

  119. tom

    doesnt tom hups look like nevil longbottom

  120. ollie


  121. tom

    edd gardner is hagrid

  122. ollie


  123. george harman

    can some one help me hack the main frame with a intel cor 2 winodws 1.3 ect

  124. Hitanshu

    amd phenom ii X4 955 black edition processor
    gigabyte 880GA-UD3H motherboard
    transcend 4gb 1666 ram
    400 watt cooler master power supply
    1TB seagate hardisk
    how is this config???

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