B.Y.O.P.C. Chapter 1

Discussion in 'Computing, Science, and Technology' started by mattym, Jul 24, 2008.

  1. mattym

    mattym New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    786
    Likes Received:
    3
    Device:
    iPhone 4 (Black)
    Build Your Own PC Chapter One: Parts Info/Selection

    Updated December 15th 2010
    Current comments start on page 2 where noted.

    I have let this guide go un-updated for a while now. Lots of things have changed in the last two years, so i plan to cover that now. This guides original purpose was to help those members on the forum who want to build a custom computer, but arent completely sure of what they need, or what parts will work together.

    Some Often Used Terms:
    OEM - When used in term of computer hardware refers to hardware sold with the intention of being used by a builder. Often packages without instructions, or fancy packaging.
    Refurbished - This means that the part or item has been "fixed". When some items are broken or defective and returned to the manufacturer they sometimes fix them and then resell them at a lower price.
    BIOS - These are the settings that are saved on your mother board that tell the computer what parts are there and how they work. This will be covered more in the later chapters.


    Section 1: The CPU/Processor

    The CPU is the brain of your computer and the most important part. I find that the CPU is the best part to start your search with. When choosing your CPU there are a few pieces of information to look at. The two main brands out there now are Intel and AMD, both great manufacturers. The speed is often if not always denoted in a number of Gigahertz(#.##GHz). A higher number is better. In a multi-core situation each core has the ability to reach that processing speed. Now this does not mean that a dual-core CPU at 3.0GHz will achieve speeds of 6.0GHz. All a dual or quad core CPU does is allow the cores to work in parallel when they can. Now the next thing to look at is your cache. The cache is what allows your processor to access memory more efficiently. Once again a higher number is better. Tho with the current mainstream processors there isnt much variability in cache size within the speed ranges.

    Compatibility: The specifications of a CPU that relate to compatibility are the Socket#, FSB/Other, and sometimes voltage.
    -Socket# / Socket Name: This is essentially how you tell what it will "plug" in to. It is important when choosing a mother board.
    -FSB*: This is the Front Side Bus. It denotes a speed, It also will weigh in on how you choose your mother board.
    -QPI(Intel only): Intel QuickPath or Quickpath Interconnect has replaced the FSB rating on newer Intel Core series CPU's. Currently this can be ignored as the majority of motherboards cover the full range of CPU's that will fit on them.
    -Hyper Transport(AMD): HT is used in place of FSB on AMD based motherboards. Most of the time it will coincide with the socket. This only becomes an issue with more powerful AMD CPU's.
    -Voltage: Sometimes you will be required to set the CPU voltage in the BIOS. You should make sure that whatever motherboard you select will support the amount you need. (However this is not often an issue)
    * Mostly an older technology, not used on current mainstream or future CPU's.

    Section 2: The Graphics Card/GPU

    With all the different options out there these days i find that it is best to make your graphics card the next component you select. The two major chipset manufacturers out there are AMD and nVidia. Currently they make the Radeon HD and GTX/GTS series respectively. With current graphics cards the specifications that you want to look at are the Core Clock, Stream Processors, Memory, and Connections.
    -Core Clock: This is similar to the speed on your processor. It in fact is the speed of the GPU. Most often denoted as ###MHz. Once again a bigger number is better. Also there are now graphics cards with multiple cores/GPUs.
    -Stream Processors: This represents the numbers of individual precessing cores used withing the GPU itself. Once again a higher number is better. Tho this number cannot be compared when looking at graphics card from different chipset manufacturers. AMD and nVidia use different architectures so you can only use the number of stream processors to compare within brands.
    -Memory: Most if not all current graphics cards have dedicated physical memory. It is actual memory chips on the graphics card itself. Denoted as ###MB or #GB. Generally you want as much as you can afford, as long as it is offered.
    Compatibility: When looking into the compatibility for a Graphics card these are the things you need to look at.
    -Interface: This is the part that connect to the motherboard. Most cards are now PCI Express x16 version 2.1 and the majority of motherboards have support for this. Just keep in mind that cards needing PCIex16 version 1.0 or version 2.0 will work on a version 2.1 motherboard. However the reverse is not true. If your card needs a higher number, so does your motherboard.
    -SLI/CrossFire Support: When you choose to use two often identical graphics cards together you can often tether them in order to use then in parallel similar to how multi-core processing works.
    -Power Connector: You will need this info when choosing a Power Supply. Make sure to note the type of connector and number of pins. Also some cards require two connectors.(Sometimes these have different numbers of pins)
    -Output Connectors: This is what you need to look at when choosing a monitor. Most common is the DVI connector. Most cards have two of these. Most cards now in production also now have either a HDMI, Display Port or both. These two have the ability to carry sound as well as video. They also carry additional data lines, tho this is often unused.
  2. mattym

    mattym New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    786
    Likes Received:
    3
    Device:
    iPhone 4 (Black)
    Section 3: The Mother Board (Mobo)

    The mother board is all about compatibility. While some specifications can be looked at in terms of what you want most are decided by the other parts of your PC. So heres what you need to look at.
    -Form Factor: This will come into play when choosing a case. Most common is the ATX form factor, however there are several different types. Small cases often fit the microATX boards which have fewer expansion slots. There are also Extended ATX boards, often used in servers, but have more expansion slots. There are several other form factors, but they are less often used.
    -Socket: This refers the the socket type of the CPU. Make sure they are the same.
    -CPU Type: While the socket most often rules this out, some mobo's are only designed to work with certain types of chips.
    -FSB: Once again refers to the CPU. The mobo's often have a range of supported FSB's but once again must match the one of your CPU.
    -QPI: Needs the match or exceed the amount needed by your Intel CPU.
    -HyperTransport: should match what your CPU can do, however it doesnt need to, this is just how the AMD architecture works.
    -Memory Slots/Type/Max: The number of slots refers to the number of RAM sticks that can be installed. The type refers to the size and shape. It is denoted by a PIN #. I will cover this further in the memory section. The Max is the maximum amount of total RAM the motherboard is made to support.
    -Memory Standard: This will be the deciding factor for choosing your memory. I will cover it in the memory section.
    -Expansion Slots(PCI / PCIe): These pertain to were your graphics and other cards will go. If you plan to have multiple graphics cards, make sure that you have 2 or more PCIe x16 slots at whatever version matches your graphics card. Also make sure that you have a decent number of other expansion slots so that you may add components to your PC.
    **Note on PCIe: Most boards have either x16, x8, x4, or x1 slots. They are physically different, but only in number of pins. You can put a PCIe x1 card into a larger slot, but obviously not the other way around.**
    -Drive Connectors : This part describes the type of connectors available to you for use with your hard drives and optical drives. At this point you shouldn't use anything older than a SATA connection. Currently there are SATA II(3.0 GB/s) and SATA III(6.0 GB/s).
    -Bridges: Your north and south bridge are what allow your computer to control the parts that are built into your motherboard. With the most current motherboards there are less options in this section. If you are using older parts, you need to make sure your northbridge will support SLI or Crossfire technology if you want to do that.
    -Power Plug: The power supply plugs into your mobo, but the connectors arent all the same. Make sure you record the number of pins that your mobo power connector has. Most will use a 24-pin connector, just keep in mind that when shopping for a power supply you get one that has the proper connector. It will either be a 24-pin or (20+4)pin. The (20+4) just means that the connector splits so you can use it on a 20-pin board if needed.
    -CPU Power: This is the CPU's dedicated power plug. Most often is is a 4-pin or 8-pin connector. When buying your power supply, make sure it has a CPU power line with the right number of pins. Once again you will often see (4+4)-pin, this means once again that the connector is split and will work for a system that needs a 4 or 8 pin connector. **Some newer AMD processors that work on socket AM3 have support for or require "dual CPU power". This means two individual CPU power lines**
    -Others: You should also look for the number of USB ports the motherboard has. Also the other types of ports that may be built into it.

    Section 4: Memory/RAM

    RAM is a physical part of your computer. RAM is what allows your pc to have more memory to work with. The physical module itself is called a DIMM. This is what allows it to run multiple things at once with ease. What you want in RAM is quantity and speed. RAM is now most often measured in Gigs. I recommend at least 2gigs of RAM for any setup. Now you can buy several sticks of smaller capacity and add them up in order to get the desired amount. But remember that you can only have as many DIMM's as there are slots on your mother board. RAM speed is designated by a three or four digit number after its type(DDR2 or DDR3). A higher number means that it communicates faster with the rest of the PC.
    Compatibility:
    -Pins: The pins on a DIMM are what correspond to the number of pins in the slots on your mobo. Keep in mind tho, DDR2 and DDR3 both have 240 pins. So double check that your memory is supported on your motherboard.
    -Speed: The speed of the DIMM must also match that of the slots on your mother board. Some motherboards support several different speeds, and some speeds only by overclocking. The speed is denoted after the type. i.e. DDR3 ####, where the #### represents the speed in MHz of the RAM. DDR3 1600 is one of the more common and standard speeds currently supported.
    -DIMM Type: Not often a problem but there are different types of DIMMs, differences are mainly due to buffering setups. One alternate type is FB-DIMM, or fully buffered RAM. If your mobo requires this, make sure you get it. If your mobo is not made for it make sure you dont.
    -CAS Latency: This is another speed related tho RAM sticks. The number will vary based on the speed and capacity of your RAM. In this case a lower number is better, but it will get more expensive.
    **Dual and Triple Channel: Dual Channel RAM meas that you are supposed to install 2 or 4 individual DIMM's of equal speed and capacity. They are designed to work together to improve the efficiency of the RAM. Triple Channel means the same thing, the only difference is you are meant to use 3 or 6 DIMM's, and Triple Channel is only supported by Intel Core i7 9XX series chips on Intel x58 based motherboards.**

    Section 5: Storage/Hard Drive(HDD)

    This is almost entirely up to you. The most common type of hard drive is the standard platter HDD. This is a mechanical part of the PC that stores information magnetically on several high capacity rewritable CD like platters. The hard drive has a capacity, often in the hundreds of Gigabytes now even in the single digit Terabyte range. There is also a speed. The hard drive speed dictates how fast the platters spin(in RPM's). The faster it spins generally means faster read times. Having multiple hard drives is allowed so that you may have more storage space. There is something called a RAID configuration which allows you to view all the hard drive as one single larger amount of space. I will discus this at another time. Additionally SSD (Solid State Disk) technology becoming a more common option. They use an array or memory chips instead of platters. They offer faster communication times than regular HDD's but do have their drawbacks.
    Compatibility:
    -Connector: Most commonly HDD's are connected via one of the SATA ports on your mobo. Tho some models still work on a PATA (IDE)cable, if that is the case make sure your mobo has one. Also if you choose a SATA 6.0GB/s drive, make sure your motherboards has a connector for it.
    -Power: Make sure that when choosing your PSU that it will have a connector that fits onto your hard drive.
    -Boot Drive: Your computer needs to use one of the Hard Drives(if you have more than 1) as the drive you install your operating system on, this becomes your boot drive. **Currently all systems using BIOS cant use a 3TB HDD as a boot drive. This will be resolved with the release of UEFI, but for now you will need to use a 2TB or lower capacity drive to boot from**

    Section 6: Optical Drives

    These refer to your CD/DVD/Blue Ray drives. Like a hard drive you can have more than one. Often no more then two. Also like hard drives most optical drives will be connected to one of your mother board SATA connectors. Tho once again it may have an older PATA connection. Things to consider in optical drives are.
    -Read Speed: This dictates how fast the drive can read data of the media it has inside it.
    -Write Speed: When choosing a burner this will dictate how fast it will write data to your media.
    Compatibility: Once again like a HDD make sure that your connector and power cable are the same on that of your mobo and PSU respectively.

    Section 7: Expansion Port's

    Expansion ports are most often filled by additional PCI or PCIe type cards. These are often sound cards, ethernet/wireless adapters, and other special input controllers. Most of these are optional in this day and age. The most commonly used, is the sound card. Sound cards offer more connection options and sometimes better sound quality. However modern mother boards have decent built in sound controllers.

    Section 8: Power Supply(PSU)

    The power supply is what gives your PC the juice it needs to make use of all its parts. First and foremost you need to decide on a wattage. Newegg.com has an excellent wattage calculator, tho they have not added some more recent video cards to their list. You will have to do some research on the power consumption of your parts and add them up. Keep in mind that if you have multiple RAM DIMM's you will need to multiply the power needs. Same goes for multiple video cards, multiple hard drives and optical drives. You want to make sure you have enough power. It is perfectly fine to have more then you need.
    Compatibility:
    - Connectors: You need to make sure that your power supply has several things. First it must have a mother board connector with the correct number of pins as well as a CPU power plug also with the correct number of pins. Next you want to make sure it has the proper number and type of drive power connectors. These are often called SATA power connectors and 4-pin connectors. Next make sure it has the proper type of connector's for your graphics card or cards. Keep in mind that some graphics cards require 2 of the same power connector plugged in at the same time.
    - Size: Some power supplies are larger and wont fit into smaller cases. Also you guys that live outside the US, make sure that the PSU has a setting for different household currents.

    Section 9: Operating Systems

    Due to the legality of the situation i will not be telling you how to make any type of Hackintosh. .
    While choosing your OS is entirely up to you there are a few things to keep in mind. Windows based operating systems come in several "flavors". Generally the "Home Premium" is the best option. You should only look into the Professional, Business, or Ultimate options if the extras they offer are things you actually understand and need. They also both have a 32-Bit and 64-Bit version, ill explain why this is important. 32-Bit systems have a maximum physical memory allotment of 4 Gig's. This means that not only can you not have more then 4 gigs of RAM, but video memory is counted as well. So if you have a graphics card with 1gig of memory they you are only going to be able to have 3gig's of RAM. If you have two of those same video cards, then you can only use 2gigs of physical RAM. Also some sound cards have built in memory and guess what, that counts also. So if you desire a PC with super graphics power and a lot of RAM, then a 64-Bit OS is what you need. I recommend everyone use a 64-bit OS. If you choose to venture away from the standard Windows based system, a good choice is Linux. The main supported distributions of Linux are Red Hat, Fefora, and Ubuntu. The choice is up to you at that point, but i advise that you use the one with the best support for the parts you have chosen.

    Section 10: Case/Cooling

    I will cover all Case and fan or other colling information in the second chapter.

    That is it for now. Please if you feel i am wrong about anything or left something out, let me know. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

    Chapter 2 is available but not currently up to date. I will change this info as i update the next part.

    Chapter 1, Version 3, 12/15/10
  3. Gamma

    Gamma Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    Messages:
    1,964
    Likes Received:
    3
    Device:
    iPod touch
    nice!
    i didn't read everything, but the part i read was well-written

    however, i thought vista x64 was also able to have 128 gigs of ram
  4. mattym

    mattym New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    786
    Likes Received:
    3
    Device:
    iPhone 4 (Black)
    as far as i know it had been crippled. They built in limitations so some versions of it. I believe Ultimate editions do allow 128. And one of the other versions does 16.
  5. mattym

    mattym New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    786
    Likes Received:
    3
    Device:
    iPhone 4 (Black)
    I went away this weekend, so ill try to work on the next part of the guide soon.
  6. TSOnTheDrums8892

    TSOnTheDrums8892 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2007
    Messages:
    904
    Likes Received:
    7
    Device:
    2G iPod touch
    This is an AWESOME guide, im surprised alot more people havent commented... it helped me alot already, and i cant wait for the other parts!
  7. mattym

    mattym New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    786
    Likes Received:
    3
    Device:
    iPhone 4 (Black)
    Seeing as there is a small interest in this I guess I will get back to work on part two.
  8. TSOnTheDrums8892

    TSOnTheDrums8892 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2007
    Messages:
    904
    Likes Received:
    7
    Device:
    2G iPod touch
    yeah, i'm definitely interested, cant wait for part 2
  9. exit1010

    exit1010 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Messages:
    4,812
    Likes Received:
    48
    Device:
    4G iPod touch
    i want to build my own... i want to bulid a fast computer... is it possible to build your own laptop?
  10. mattym

    mattym New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    786
    Likes Received:
    3
    Device:
    iPhone 4 (Black)
    you can build your own lap top. But as far as I know there is only one company that makes the "cases" and comparable parts. Custom built laptops are still quite a few years from doable/affordable.

Share This Page