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View Full Version : Thinking of building a new PC - your experiences and recommendations please?



Chikara
03-05-2008, 08:09 PM
Hi all,

I'm starting to plan ahead, in a few months time I'll be ready to replace my aging PC.

I'm considering trying to build my own. I haven't yet decided on specs, I'll do that over the next few months.
I've never built a PC before, and I would say my existing knowledge levels on hardware etc. are average only. I've replaced a few video cards and really, that's it.

So my questions for you are:

1) Would you suggest it is a good idea to attempt to build one myself? Or would I really need to be a lot more experienced with dealing with hardware?

2) If not, any recommendations for brands? Or should I just get a shop to custom-build. My work usually uses Dells and the IT guys at work rate them quite highly...

3) If you *do* think I should try and build my own, can you recommend any good websites or resources, that would have tips and instructions, and also ideally details on what you need to check to make sure parts are compatible with each other. I know there's the Project Beast articles in the mag, I've also been having a look at www.tomshardware.com what other resources would you recommend?

4) Sourcing parts - those of you who build PC's, do you try and get the cheapest price you can for each part, even if that involves multiple suppliers and multiple postage costs?
Or is it not worth the hassle of shopping around for each individual component, and just get them all from one suppler? What stores/websites would you recommend/avoid?

5) Op system. Without getting too much into the whole XP vs Vista argument, if I do decide to go with Vista, would it be easier/cheaper to install my existing XP disc, and then purchase the Vista upgrade and do an upgrade installation? Instead of having to pay more to buy the full Vista?

6) Worst case scenario - if I did try and build my own system and totally @&!* it up, what is a ballpark cost a technician would charge to fix it for me??!! (I know it will vary based on what's wrong, but just a rough idea would help).

Thanks in advance for your help

Tony

Speedy Gonzales
03-05-2008, 08:21 PM
Hi all,

1) Would you suggest it is a good idea to attempt to build one myself? Or would I really need to be a lot more experienced with dealing with hardware?

Nothing wrong with making your own PC up. Just read the manual for the mobo, you cant go wrong. Also, make sure you put spacers between the mobo and the case. Once u get it, or it will short. It'll probably be cheaper making your own PC, since most ready made PC's have too much crap on them.


2) If not, any recommendations for brands? Or should I just get a shop to custom-build. My work usually uses Dells and the IT guys at work rate them quite highly...

I would say ASUS, Gigabyte should be OK. Altho I've never brought a GB mobo.


3) If you *do* think I should try and build my own, can you recommend any good websites or resources, that would have tips and instructions, and also ideally details on what you need to check to make sure parts are compatible with each other.

Thats what the manual for the mobo is for


4) Sourcing parts - those of you who build PC's, do you try and get the cheapest price you can for each part, even if that involves multiple suppliers and multiple postage costs?

Just as long as it works and fits, I dont care. Postage isnt a prob, the shop here is 10 mins down the road


Or is it not worth the hassle of shopping around for each individual component, and just get them all from one suppler? What stores/websites would you recommend/avoid

Since there's only one shop down the road, I usually get parts from there.

Otherwise, I'll have to catch a bus, and go to Symonds Street, or Newmarket

I dont buy online, cant anyway, I dont use credit cards



5) Op system. Without getting too much into the whole XP vs Vista argument, if I do decide to go with Vista, would it be easier/cheaper to install my existing XP disc, and then purchase the Vista upgrade and do an upgrade installation? Instead of having to pay more to buy the full Vista?

Probably be better, getting the full version



6) Worst case scenario - if I did try and build my own system and totally @&!* it up, what is a ballpark cost a technician would charge to fix it for me??!! (I know it will vary based on what's wrong, but just a rough idea would help).

Depends on how much you stuff things up. If its bad, it'll cost a lot. If youre not sure about something ask here

jwil1
03-05-2008, 08:38 PM
Ascent (http://www.ascent.co.nz) is the best computer part retailer IMO.

Goods despatched same working day and arrive next working day - Free delivery! :clap

Reasonable pricing too.

jwil1
03-05-2008, 08:41 PM
Probably be better, getting the full version

No, you can actually buy the Vista UG disc and do a full install from that. (http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/winvista_upgrade_clean.asp)

EDIT: Also if you have a Vista RTM disc (ie no SP1 on it) you can do a clean install because you can't install SP1 Vista over the top of RTM Vista...

How to:
-Install Vista RTM
-Upgrade using Vista SP1
-Clean install option FORCED.

gary67
03-05-2008, 09:08 PM
Some online shops accept direct transfers of funds I bought some laptop ram last week from Here (http://www.laptopbatteries.co.nz/) and did an online transfer from my account to theirs, try not to use my credit card unless I really have no alternative.

EviLClouD
03-05-2008, 09:28 PM
Like jwil1 said, I would recommend Ascent. Since you're in Wellington and you've purchased your parts from them, and anything goes wrong, you can always take your pc to them and get them to have a look at it, usually free of charge. :D In my opinion they're the best computer store in the Wellington region due to their great pricing and excellent service.

The_End_Of_Reality
03-05-2008, 10:20 PM
I also vote Ascent :thumbs:

1. I built my first PC with not much experience and nothing went wrong. Just take your time and read all the manuals.

2. Ascent can build it for a fairly cheap price.

3. Read all the manuals.

4. I, like a lot of others will go for Ascent, the prices are a little higher than other places. But they have free postage and the service is amazing, returns are no issues and if the item you are returning is less than 10% what you have spent in total with them they will send you a forward replacement :D

5. I would get the full OEM version when you buy some hardware, Vista Ultimate SP0 OEM is only $286 at Ascent, that is cheap considering the upgrade SP1 version is $517, though the Vista Ultimate SP1 full (Not OEM) is $587, so not a huge difference between upgrade and full IMO.

6. If there is hardware damage, you will need replacement hardware, so a ball park figure can not really be given...

feersumendjinn
04-05-2008, 12:44 AM
As long as you are reasonably careful (are not all thumbs :thumbs: ) especially with antistatic measures, and motherboard/cpu fitment, you shouldnt have any problems, I would recommend building your own.
If you have any questions/get into strife while building it, give us a post, we're here to help.
Personally, recently I have sourced all the parts for my Core 2 Duo machine from Atech (http://www.atech.co.nz/c.aspx) Computers in Wakefield Street, found their prices competitive and their service friendly and helpful.

Greg
04-05-2008, 10:26 AM
Chikata - it's a great idea to build your own. Very satisfying, costs less and in the end if you make mistakes it's a good learning process.

To get a feel for what you'll be required to do, read (http://www.dansdata.com/buildpc.htm) these (http://www.dansdata.com/homepc.htm) articles (http://www.dansdata.com/ca810e.htm). They're old, but still pretty relevant.

Cicero
04-05-2008, 02:52 PM
Also have a look at this.......

http://forums.pcworld.co.nz/showthread.php?t=88915

Battleneter2
04-05-2008, 03:15 PM
I personally would only recommend building your own PC if you have a friend or someone you know that has at least built a few PC's before that can assist. I have seen far to many honest mistakes that have ended up costing the user money and or time. Last one I saw was a guy that put the plastic protector back on the C2D processor somehow closed the socket, amusing but not flash.

Chikara

You really need to state what you plan to use the PC for, a bit of word processing and browsing, or a full on gaming rig?. Also helps to know how much you want to spend, you can get some real value if you buy wisely or spend a bomb on a mediocre rig.

a helpless random
04-05-2008, 08:14 PM
Hi

I built my own pc and it turned out to be a lot cheaper, one thing i should have considered though is that my pci-e is right beside my 1 of my pci slots and with my double sized card i have an unavailable pci port(i only had 2 to start with)

Hope that helps

pctek
05-05-2008, 09:47 AM
1) Would you suggest it is a good idea to attempt to build one myself?
2) My work usually uses Dells and the IT guys at work rate them quite highly...


6) Worst case scenario - if I did try and build my own system and totally @&!* it up, what is a ballpark cost a technician would charge to fix it for me??!!

Up to you but if you physically damage something it won't be covered under the warranty.

All decent PC shops will build it for you.

IT guys who do business IT always think "brand" PCs are great.
Not.
Forget it, get a custom built one.

Chikara
05-05-2008, 06:08 PM
Thanks guys (and gals), for all the helpful replies as always. :clap

To add a few points to some questions you've asked:

I haven't sat down and figured out my specs needed yet, I'll do that over the next few months (I'm currently on a short-term work assignment overseas, not back in NZ full-time for a few months, so I won't/can't start doing anything until then).
However I am looking to get a decent system, capable of playing the latest games - I'm not a hardcore gamer but do enjoy playing the latest ones. But I'll also use it to do a wee bit of audio and video processing and editing, again just amateur/hobby stuff but I'd like a system with plenty of storage space and grunt to do this reasonably quickly.
Budget wise, I'd be happy to spend around $4k if required. Bearing in mind my old system needs *totally* replacing, so that would have to include a new monitor, pretty much a new everything...

Thanks for the links and helpful info posted so far, that's exactly what I'm after - a chance to do a bit of reading and research before I build one when I'm back.

Thanks again all, and keep the useful info coming...

Tony

SPARTAN 860
05-05-2008, 06:24 PM
Probably be better, getting the full version





Did you know, you can buy the Vista Upgrade Disk, install a trial, then do a custom(clean) install from inside the trial Vista. This will get you the full Vista without paying for the full Vista. Microsoft has not fixed this loophole in SP1, so they actually tolorate people who know about this to get Vista cheaper. So therefore, this isn't illegal.

Speedy Gonzales
05-05-2008, 06:46 PM
Did you know, you can buy the Vista Upgrade Disk, install a trial, then do a custom(clean) install from inside the trial Vista.

Probably not, since I wont be installing Vista

jwil1
05-05-2008, 06:48 PM
Did you know, you can buy the Vista Upgrade Disk, install a trial, then do a custom(clean) install from inside the trial Vista. This will get you the full Vista without paying for the full Vista. Microsoft has not fixed this loophole in SP1, so they actually tolorate people who know about this to get Vista cheaper. So therefore, this isn't illegal.

Yup did know that - in fact utilizing it right now :D

And it works for the academic versions too :clap

Cicero
05-05-2008, 07:10 PM
Did you know, you can buy the Vista Upgrade Disk, install a trial, then do a custom(clean) install from inside the trial Vista. This will get you the full Vista without paying for the full Vista. Microsoft has not fixed this loophole in SP1, so they actually tolorate people who know about this to get Vista cheaper. So therefore, this isn't illegal.
And from where do we get such a disc.?

Battleneter2
05-05-2008, 07:23 PM
And from where do we get such a disc.?

I don't know anything about that little trick but..

With buying a new PC(bootable hardware) you can pick up a "OEM" version worth about $270

The "Upgrade" version is worth about $420 so its not going to be worth doing over the OEM version unless I am missing something.

autechre
06-05-2008, 10:10 AM
And from where do we get such a disc.?

Most shops will have the upgrade disc.
Ascent (http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=364056) has them for sure - you can search for other versions.

Cicero
06-05-2008, 10:39 AM
Most shops will have the upgrade disc.
Ascent (http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=364056) has them for sure - you can search for other versions.
Thanks for that.:cool:

wainuitech
06-05-2008, 01:48 PM
Most shops will have the upgrade disc.
Ascent (http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=364056) has them for sure - you can search for other versions.
Why purchase an Upgrade , if you notice Ascent's link is Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 Upgrade, Upgrade, DVD

A OEM version of the same OS is about $100 cheaper.

autechre
07-05-2008, 09:59 AM
Why purchase an Upgrade , if you notice Ascent's link is Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 Upgrade, Upgrade, DVD

A OEM version of the same OS is about $100 cheaper.

Yep and if you get a new PC or motherboard dies, you're supposed to buy a new license. Though i'm sure there are ways around it.

Thebananamonkey
07-05-2008, 11:14 AM
I'd be happy to spend around $4k if required. Bearing in mind my old system needs *totally* replacing, so that would have to include a new monitor, pretty much a new everything...


I'm putting together a really nice rig at the moment, and I've only spent around $2500. For $4k you could get a lot! RAID Raptors, SLi, Q9xxx etc... But somehow I doubt you need all of that. I'd go for a ceiling of $3k if I weren't seriously thinking of gaming hard.

Either that or get a behemoth monitor. And a behemoth GFX card to match.

But if you're happy with $4k, go for a crysis killing giant that might possibly last you for a few years.

Chikara
08-05-2008, 10:37 AM
Thx, Thebananamonkey. $4k is my maximum, but certainly not my target :) I'd like to spend less than that if possible, but my budget could stretch that far if I had to.
Also bearing in mind, I'm a little out of touch with hardware prices (hence my first post). I recall that when I got my last PC, a mid/high end system would have cost around the $4k mark, a mid/high end system now is obviously a little cheaper.

wainuitech
08-05-2008, 11:44 AM
Yep and if you get a new PC or motherboard dies, you're supposed to buy a new license. Though i'm sure there are ways around it. yep there are ways around it - simply call MS and tell then the board died and they reactivate the License.