Who isn't sick to death of those smug individuals who build their own PCs and then proceed to tell us all about it. Who hasn't wondered how difficult it can be ? Here's a technical article for the rest of us in which adequacy.org demystifies the act of building your own PC from components.
A lot of you have mailed us at adequacy.org telling us of your dream of building your own PC. You have been drooling over the custom built rocket that your tech-savvy neighbor built for a lot less bucks than Dell or Gateway.
You told us how a stream of unitelligible techno-babble and gobbledygook nonsense spewed forth from the "rocket scientist" genius-next-door when you, as a mere 'normal' person dared to ask Mr Elite Hacker how to build a computer.
You told us of the utter scorn heaped on you by the tech-support monkeys when you accidentally asked for SIMMS when you meant to ask for DIMMS.
With this in mind, we at adequacy.org offer this time saving guide on DIY PC building.
Written by our team of PC experts, and carefully designed to remove the steaming piles of bullsh*t that surround this 'black art', we will take you step by step through the extremely simple process of building your new PC from scratch. We cut through the layers of confusing jargon put there by people who want to seem clever. We share the jealously guarded secrets of the pros. You will soon realize that there is nothing difficult about building your own dream PC.
You will soon be shooting the breeze with Mr. Nerdy next door about Ram, Rom, RIMM, motherboards and bus speeds like a pro, as you "surf the net" on your newly built dream machine.
The first thing to do is to make it clear that we are talking about a USEFUL PC for a NORMAL person. By a normal person, we mean someone of average intelligence, and someone who has no patience with technological obfuscation. Someone who can program a VCR but who has no desire to take it apart to see if they can get it to rewind faster by replacing the drive motor with the larger one they removed from their kitchen blender. In short, if you are a habitual reader of sites like these, or if you look anything like this or this then this guide is not for you. Please look elsewhere.
We will not be talking about overclocking, FSB speeds, thermal compound, so-called 'alternative' Operating Systems or any of that elitist BS. After reading this jargon-free guide your eyes will not glaze over as you fall into a boredom induced coma. You will not tear it up in frustration at all the complex indecipherable acronyms. You will however, be able to build a perfectly functional PC, that will do what you need it to. No more, No less.
So without further ado, let's get you started on your exciting PC-building adventure.
First, you will need to buy some components. (If you have an old PC, you can probably save a bit of money by cannibalizing some parts from it, but its better to get new components since they will last longer).
It is important not be intimidated by the salespeople. Remember, they know little more than you do. And you have this guide to fall back on. So call a few suppliers with your credit card at the ready. Here is your 'rocket scientists' shopping list :-) You will need to buy the following components:
# A PC Case - simply the cheapest one you can find. Do not pay more than $15 including PSU and fans. They are pretty much all the same, unless you are a web-savvy geek who wants to build a 'server farm' or a small-penis compensating wiener who wants to build a 'beowulf cluster'. A good brand is Globalwin or Lian-li, but its best to stick to the absolute cheapest generic case you can find.
# A motherboard - This is technical jargon. It means the bit that it all plugs into. Again, as with the case, it doesn't really matter what motherboard you buy, they are all basically identical. It is difficult to see why the propellerheads get their panties all in a bunch about such arcane features as dynamic aperture allocation, raid level 5 anti-virus lockout, xga pallette snooping or bios shadowing stealth protection - but they do. Adequacy.org suggests you waste your time on something more constructive (like maybe getting laid!) and leave the tedious motherboard feature comparisons to the so-called experts. Since all motherboards are the same, it doesn't really matter what brand. Go for the cheapest. Probably something like an Abit KT7 Raid. It is as good a choice as any.
# A processor - or 'CPU' as the jargon-addicted poorly socialised hackers like to call them (anything to obscure a simple concept). The best processors are obviously made by Intel. Other companies make processors too, such as Sun and AMD, and while these are OK, they are not guaranteed to be Intel-compatible. adequacy.org tip: Ask for the retail-boxed pentium 4 1.4GHZ.. This will include a free cooling fan and fitting instructions, and is the fastest commercially available processor on the market to date.
# Hard drive - This is exactly like your VCR or cassette deck at home. It uses magnetic coated surface to store digital information. the best price/performance hard drive on the market is the IBM DeskStar 75GXP. There are other manufacturers and types of drive, but you don't need to know about them. (leave the futzing to the nerds) Order one of these, but make sure you don't pay over the odds.
# Memory - You need a maximum of 128MB of ram. Again, as with the PC case a lot of nonsense is talked about memory. What you need for your functioning PC is 1 generic 128MB 168-pin PC-100 DIMM. Do not fall into the trap of learning lots of details about CAS levels or RDRAM vs DDR etc. This is simply an expensive waste of time and money. (which seems to be an ever-present feature of the home-built PC world). Avoid at all costs. We've given you all the info you need right here in this paragraph. I've even highlighted it in bold to make it easier to read, and added a hyperlink for you in case you cannot locate a supplier.
# Graphics card - Simple. You need to get the cheapest generic GEForce2 Non-ddr 32MB card you can find. Sparkle makes a good one as do plenty of other Taiwanese manufacturers. Don't waste any more of your life reading reviews of superfast GeForce3 cards with emoticon engines or any other marketing garbage. A GeForce2 is sufficient for all but the most demanding of applications, and you don't plan on operating a CAT scanner with your PC or performing remote keyhole surgery, do you ? And Quake III looks fine so long as you can get 30fps - a speed the GeForce2 is more than comfortable with.
# Sound card - Here the choice is simple. There is no point in getting anything other than a SoundBlaster Live! Value. This is cheap, and effective. Take it from us, you don't want to get into the mind-numbing details of other sound cards. Suffice it to say that in the gaming world the 'blaster is king.
# A cd CD-RW drive - Again, there's no need to spend large or think too much about this. Just buy the cheapest one you can get your hands on. $49 should be more than enough to get a decent one. Don't go for a SCSI device, however, as it won't work on your machine without an expensive 'SCSI adaptor' (as the boffins love to call them).
# A modem. - Make sure you get a so called 'WinModem'. These modems are enhanced to work better with Windows Millennium, and represent very good value for money.
# Keyboard, mouse, monitor - Again, just get the cheapest one you can find in 'Computer Shopper'. In fact let's be honest here, the prices for most of these items don't vary from supplier to supplier. Save yourself loads of valuable time by simply allowing your copy of computer shopper to fall open at a random supplier's advertizement page. Chances are their prices will be as good as the next guy's, and you just saved yourself hours of pointless price comparisons. Better yet, if you live near a Fry's Electronics Store just go there and get your components retail. This has the added advantage of knowledgable and helpful staff on hand to answer any technological queries you may have.
# A Genuine Retail copy of Microsoft Windows Millenium. There's no reason to economise here. Your Operating System is the thing that holds your whole PC together. It will be the program you use whatever task you perform with your PC. Millions of people over the world trust Windows. There's simply no point in risking any other OS. Windows ME should come on a watermarked CD. Check that your copy is genuine, and call Microsoft's anti-piracy hotline if you suspect anything untoward.
OK so you have got all your components home, and unwrapped them. The next part should take about twenty minutes max. You are going to build your PC (and guess what ? it is not going to be rocket science). Clear a space on the table. Get all the components out of their protective wrappers and put them on the table in front of you. (Don't worry about all that garbage about wearing an anti-static suit. Almost nobody bothers these days. Modern components are surprisingly resistant to static shock, and the cost of the anti-static gear is not justified by the risks. If you are concerned about static electricity damage, we suggest you simply turn on the air conditioning. This has the effect of reducing the relative humidity, which in turn removes the static electricity from the air.)
So where to start ? It's all pretty obvious and easy. If you think of it like an Erector Set, or Lego you will feel more confident. Make sure your tech-savvy friends are nowhere to be seen, you don't want to listen to their snotty and superior 'advice', and you don't want them laughing if you make a mistake.
So here is a step-by-step guide to assembling your new PC.
# open the case, screw the motherboard onto the mounting points and slide it back in.
# Remove the top of the case. Plug the DIMMS into the slots which look the right size. You may need to use a bit of force (But please be careful. It's ok to whack the top of the DIMM with the spine of a paperback book, just don't use a hardback. You could damage your components).
# Plug the graphics card into the AGP port (it's the only one it will fit into). Next plug the sound card into one of the slots marked PCI. Plug your WinModem into the AMR slot. As with the graphics card, it will not fit in the incorrect slot, so don't worry about getting it wrong.
# Mount the hard drive and CDRW drive in the case. Connect the ribbon cables to their matching sockets on your motherboard.
# Finally install the processor, making sure you install a cooling fan too. It is impossible to fit the processor incorrectly, due to the pin arrangement.
# Close the case, plug in the keyboard, mouse and monitor.
AT LAST! You are done. You should now have a fully functional PC. Its now time to fire it up for the first time and install Windows Millenium.
Insert the Windows Millenium CD into the drive and switch on your computer. Follow all the instructions on the screen. About 10 minutes later you will have a freshly installed machine ready to do productive work. All for about $500 at today's prices, plus the satisfaction of knowing you have beaten those irritating amateur experts at their own game.
Now you can go around telling everyone you know how easy it was. The more people we let in on this PC industry 'secret' the better. Those annoying conversations round the water cooler with people who think they are so clever because they built their own PC will soon be a thing of the past.
Just keep telling everyone how easy it was and point them to this page if they need any more help.