Alright, well lately it seems that a lot of people come here and post their question, but they leave out vital parts of what we need in order to give them correct info. In an attempt to clear some of this up, I'm going to make a brief guide to read and what to research before buying a new part.
People seem to ask this a lot, "What *video card, cpu, mobo, hdd, or psu* should I get?
Before asking this, do a little research yourself.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Section one-------------- When buying a motherboard
Section two-------------- When buying a processor (CPU)
Section three------------ When buying RAM (memory dividers by pzerofgh)
Section four-------------- When buying a power supply unit (written by STE)
Section five-------------- When buying a video card (Updated 4/07/06)
Section six--------------- When buying a case
Section seven----------- When buying a hard drive (written by pzerofgh)
Section eight------------ When buying a sound card
Section nine------------- When buying optical drives (coming soon )
Section ten--------------- MISC
Section eleven----------- Stuff to look forward to. (Created 3/29/06)
If buying a motherboard:
~What socket CPU do you have?
The most common AMD sockets now-a-days are socket 754's and socket 939. There is still some socket A's still laying around too. Socket 939 is the better out of them all as of now. Socket 939 supports dual channel as well as the most stable overclocks.
~Will you be overclocking anything?
Some motherboards handle overclocks better. To my knowledge, DFI is the best in this category.
~Do you have an Operating System disk?
When you buy a new motherboard, you will need to reinstall your OS unless it is the same exact model.
~ What do you plan to do with your mother board?
If youre going to game, then get a motherboard with pci-ex16 video card slot because AGP is on its way out any day now.
~ Make sure the RAM slot pin number:
~~168 pin SDDRAM
~~184 pin DDR SDDRAM
~~184 pin RDDRAM (16 bit )
~~240 pin DDR2 SDDRAM
~Will you SLI or Crossfire your video cards?
Nvidia has a thing called SLI that basically lets you have two video cards on one mobo. ATIs version of this is called Crossfire. More will be explained later.
~"I am not going to be gaming"
Good for you. You just saved yourself a couple hundred bucks on not buying a video card. Most motherboards out there have onboard graphics AND onboard sound. This means that the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is built into the motherboard as is the sound card. 95% of people out there are happy with there integrated sound and don't complain about it. The only reason you should need a sound card if your sound recording, you're a sound freak, or you have the money and want it. Note, the integrated graphics DOES take away from your system memory. For example, a motherboard may have 32MB of memory and your system has a stick of 512MB. The memory will go down to 480 unless you buy an actual video card which has its own memory and doesnt take away from the system.[/b]
********* Section Two
If buying a CPU:
~What will you be using it for?
Intel is better for more day to day jobs where as AMD is more of the gaming type of cpu. Many people choose AMD over Intel because of the lower prices and better performance. Your going to multi task more than gaming, get a Dual core processor.
AMD Dual cores = X2
Intel Dual Cores = Intel Duo
~"What is Dual Core?"
Think of dual core like this. There is a pile of bricks. The dual core would have 2 "people" working to move the bricks where they needed to be moved as where a single core would have 1 "person" moving them. Therefore, the dual core would obviously get it done faster.
~What socket motherboard do you have?
info in the "if buying a motherboard"
~Will you be overclocking?
Different CPUs handle differently than others when it comes to overclocking, but overclocking isnt my forte so Ill let someone get into that
~Different type of cores
AMD and Intel CPU's both have different types of cores. The most popular single cores for AMD are the Venice and San Diego. The San Diego core is more "High-end" so if youre gaming, I would go with that (that is IF youre buying an AMD). AMD also has the Toledo and Manchester cores for their dual core cpu's. If you multitask, a duel core would fit you over a single core.
Info on Intel cores will be up soon.
For advanced AMD core details and stuff about overclocking them CLICK HERE
Think of it like this if youre in a pickle between Intel and AMD.
AMD= fat guy
Intel= skinny guy They are in a brick carrying competition.
AMD can pick up more than Intel but moves slower with them as where Intel can't pick up as much as AMD but can move faster with them. Get it?
********* Section Three
If buying RAM:
~ Will you be overclocking?
If youre overclocking, spend what you have. There are sticks for 40 bucks all the way up to 3500 bucks. The more expensive, the better the overclocks. But if not over clocking, go with some value select or something. Remember:
Performance: Cheap RAM = Expensive RAM
Oveclockability: Expensive RAM > Cheap RAM
**NOTE** More will be explained about overclocking later
~ Will you be gaming?
Games now-a-days are using up a crap load of your RAM. Dont even bother trying to game with a stick of 512 or even worse, 256. If your building a gaming rig then get at least 1 gig of ram. Preferably two 512 sticks. Reason is below
~ What is better? One 1024 gig stick or two 512 sticks?
If your motherboard supports dual channel, go with two sticks. Having an odd amount of RAM sticks in a dual channel mobo wont let the dual channeling take place. Therefore, IF your mobo supports dual channel the two 512 sticks would perform better.
~ Make sure your RAM pin number is compatible with your mobo.
WRITTEN BY PZEROFGH
This is how it starts, ram is basically rated at some particular speed
PC-2100 - DDR266
PC-2700 - DDR333
PC-3200 - DDR400
PC-3500 - DDR434
PC-3700 - DDR464
PC-4000 - DDR500
PC-4200 - DDR525
PC-4400 - DDR550
PC-4800 - DDR600
Most AMD motherboards support PC3200 which is the usual speed for RAM. IF you dont know ram is random access memory, which serves as a temporary storage of files that the CPU needs to access quickly. This will help when youre opening many programs at once or your multi tasking. In games it will help you during loading times, and minimizing the game when youre not supposed to .
So your problem is, you bought corsair valueselect knowing that its not good at overclocking. Rofl. Anyways you want to OC your cpu but you cant OC any further cause your stupid ram wont go any further. You tried various ram timings and voltages but nothing is working!!. So this is what you do O.O smart pc makers. Instead of throwing out your ram and buying some decent ones like OCZ ones you can run memory dividers woot or q00t. Memory Dividers come in a list of things like this
400 = 1:1
333 = 5:6
266 = 2:3
200 = 1:2
200 = 1:1
166 = 5:6
133 = 2:3
100 = 1:4
Or if you have a DFI
200 = 1:1
180 = 9:10
166 = 5:6
150 = 3:4
143 = 5:7
133 = 2:3
100 = 1:2
So on default the ram is 200 or 400, which means if youre running the FSB/HTT at 200 then your ram would be running at 200. If you were to run your FSB/HTT at 220 then your ram would run at 220mhz. So your problem is your value select wont go past 220mhz, which is pretty lucky for value select. So you would first try different mem timings then voltages, if nothing works your last choices is memory dividers . This is where you would put it at the next step down. Which would be 166, to solve this, you can set up a 5:6 FSB:RAM ratio. Basically, this ratio will mean that for every 6MHz that your FSB runs at your ram will only run at 5mhz . So if you put it at 166mhz the memory divider. Then your ram would only be running at 183mhz which is lower then the stock speed of 200mhz, so you know your ram would definitely do that. Which means your cpu will run at 220mhz while your ram is only running at 183. Now you can successfully be stable without any memory errors for your cpu to run at 220mhz woot woot.
********* Section Four
If buying a power supply unit
WRITTEN BY STE (inside the ~~~ area)
As was for mentioned, look for weight, if the product does not say how much it is look for the shipping weight that will be pretty close. Anything about 4-6 lbs is a good weight. The heavier the components of the power supply the better quality they are.
You don't have to spend a lot of money for a good power supply the most you would need, as in the cheapest I would go is around 50 to 55$, anything below that usually aren't made with "quality" parts or are very generic power supplies.
To find the right amount of wattage you will need for a computer you can go to a website such as this one and calculate your wattage needs. http://www.jscustompcs.com/power_supply/
However you can use this simple chart to easily figure out what you need.
High End System=520 Watts to 800 Watts Depending
Medium End System=400 watts to 500 Watts Depending
Low End System= 300 Watts to 400 Watts
High End systems
~This includes Servers, Video work stations and Top of the line gamming computers. Or computers with multiple HD and Burners for different needs.
Medium End systems
~Systems much like high end but have mid quality parts and or single uses.
Low end systems
~Only used for light light gaming, word processing, email and internet use.
With medium to higher end systems you will want to have PFC on your power supply. PFC stands for power factor correction. The power coming into the power supply is not always "clean" there can be variances with frequency and spikes that lower the life span of your power supply and can cause damage to parts if it is not corrected. Active PFC is more efficient then Passive but also is more expensive.
Other aspects of Power supplies, are hold up time and efficiency. Hold up time refers to how long a power supply will continue to produce voltages after the AC input has ceased, it is measured in milliseconds. The longer the better.
Efficiency in a power supply is determined how much of the energy it takes in is actually used and is not wasted in other forms, as with hold up time the higher the efficiency the better, 65 to 70 and higher is recommended, The more efficient power supplies save more money on the electric bill. The efficiency for most power supplies is when it is at highest workload or when the most energy is being drawn from it.
~Voltage rails should never straw more then 5% in either direction, that is also what is recommended. If a rail does drop or increase more then 5% of what it should be it can potentially damage and destroy components. This isn't something most companies tell you before you buy it, its something that is bested tested with a Digital Multi Meter (DMM) while the computer is active.
~Obviously Higher systems should have more amps on their rails, for low end systems, with power supplies with only 1 12V rail there should be from 15-17 amps on it, Medium end, 19-24, and 26-35 amps for high end systems. For computers that have a PSU with dual 12V rails or more, 12V1 @ 18-22 or more Amps and for 12V2 the same. The 12V rail is the main concern as it is drawn from the most and is directly connected to motherboard.
As for reliable Brand names
(High Priced: Usually Greater Than 150$ USD)
~PC power and cooling
~Fortron (FSP Fortron, 700 Watt Version)
(Medium priced: Usually Between 70$ And 150$ USD)
(Low Priced: Usually Less Than 70$ USD)
~Forton (FPS Fortron, 400 and 450 Watt Version)
~Rosewill ( I Stress The LOW End Part Here)
Some brands I mentioned have higher end power supplies and some lower end ones but for the most part it holds true.
The brands I stay away from and would never recommend. Ever.
~Thermaltake (The Higher Models Only, See Low Priced Power Supplies)
~Ultra (X-Connects Especially)
Generic ones that come with cases are usually listed at their peak wattage not their continuous wattage, which means the power supply may only be a 320 watt continuous but they list it as a 380 watt Power supply, which is its peak wattage. This way they make it look better then it really is. If you are an overclocker, than you will want to buy from the medium to high priced region. Overclocking puts more strain on the voltage rails. Therefore only high quality Power supplies are recommended. A digital multi meter will assist you during Load Tests. You can check the voltage and amperage readings of your power supply to check for stability.
Those power supplies that look sweet, that glow and flash and are brightly colored are that way for a reason, to sell, they make look awesome but as you will learn these power supplies are only this way cause just about everything else is bad, as in quality of parts, life span and efficiency. There are few power supplies that actually are good performers and look good. They are usually more expensive then people want which is why the cheap crappy ones that look so cool sell a lot. Stay away from these power supplies unless they are made by the name brands I mentioned under good brand names.
~When buying a psu, dont cheap out. Brand names = good quality even though there more expensive. PSUs work like this. (my attempt is probably vague but at least Im trying). If you buy a 500 watt generic PSU and compare it with a ,lets say, 350 watt brand name, the brand name would perform better and last longer. DONT CHEAP OUT WHILE BUYING YOURSELF A PSU!!!!
********* Section Five
When buying a video card:
~Again, will you be gaming heavily, moderately, or just want a slight increase? Heavy gamers that like EVERYTHING on max settings will be most satisfied with a 7800GTX, thats if they have the money. So, Im going to create a little scale for you to try to help you. (note, these are all Nvidia GPUs as I dont know ATIs that well and are all in USD currency).
~If you have a budget of about $110 bucks, a 6600GT would be perfect for you. They are great in performance, very reliable GPUs (I will get into cards in a second), and are VERY popular. And better yet, play games with very decent settings.(the new games coming out though may very well murder this card). In my opinion, the best budget card that will ever live In addition, these cards come in 128MB of memory and 256MBs. If your buying this card, go with the 128MB because the card dont know what to do with 256MBs of memory and the 128 would perform better than the 256. Just because the memory is lower doesnt mean a cut in performance.
~~~~~ATIs equal----X1600 Pro
~If you have about $130 bucks or so to blow, go with a 6800. These are great mid- budget cards.. This will also play most game on decent settings. Now, if your going with a 6800, get the 256MB version because the 6800 CAN and WILL use it.
~The 6800GS is almost exactly the same as the 6800GT, just a little cheaper. You can pick this card up for around 160 bucks.
~The next step up would be a 6800GT. These cards are for people who have around $200. This card is 256mb.
~Another card would be the 7800GS (around $300). Just like the 6800GS, this card is the value version of the 7800GT (also around $300). These cards will play mostly all games on high settings.
~The 7800GTX/7900GTX Will most likely play all games on max settings with ease. Very high frame rates.
7800GTX-$450-500 ( ATIs equal----X1800XT
7900GTX (512MB)-$550-600 ( ATIs equal----X1900XTX
~When buying a video card you will see AGP or PCI or PCI-E(X16).
These are referring to what kind of socket they are. Each mobo has either AGP or PCI-E and all will have PCI. I dont even think there are any PCI video cards worth mentioning. But due to the rise in demand, no new video cards will be designed for AGP. But they will still be manufactured (the ones that are already AGP). AGP cards are also more expensive than PCI-E because not a lot of people make them anymore since most new motherboards are PCI-E
~Will you be rich/hardcore enough to SLI/Crossfire?
As mentioned above, SLI and Crossfire is the ability to have two of the same video cards operating on your computer. It pretty much just splits the screen in half and gives each card half of it. When doing this, you will probably not be as pleased or surprised by the performance. I, personally, am against SLI and Crossfire because I think its a waste of money for only a 50% increase in performance. Just make sure your Motherboard supports SLI/Crossfire before buying the two cards.
~Will you be overclocking?
If your planning on overclocking and are on a budget. Get a 6600GT and overclock it. The 6600GT can reach equal performance to the 6800 Vanilla if done properly.
~"I found a 6600GT... but they all say different stuff like MSI, eVGA, Asus, (ect.). But I want Nvidia. What's going on?"
Alright, I see this asked quite a lot so I figured I would tackle it. There are a lot of company's in this world today and they all want a piece of the pie (money). So, what they do is take their
card and put Nvidia's or ATI's GPU
on it. In my opinion, the eVGA is the best card there is. XFX are tempting because they are cheap but I would NOT
recommend one to someone because they are known for having heating issues. So in short, you'll still get Nvidia's GPU, but would get eVGA's, MSI's, Asus's (ect.) card.
~WHOA!! I just saw a $2000 video card on a website!! Is this some kind of joke??
These cards are for 3D Rendering called Workstation cards. These cards are made to process millions of polygons that would otherwise murder a normal gaming video card.
********* Section Six
When buying a case:
Make sure it has good airflow, enough places for fans, will fit all your hard drives and optical drives.
~Will my mobo fit in my case?
Mobos have different categories, ATX and Micro ATX being the most common I would assume. Cases, when buying, will say whether they are ATX or Micro ATX or other. First find out what your motherboard is.
Different materials dissipate heat differently than others.. if youre overclocking, get a case with efficient heat dissipation.
Some cases hold up abuse better than others do obviously. If youre going to be transporting your computer a lot, I would say to get a durable case. Well, I would say that anyway.
~What to stay away from:
~Low weight cases (no durability)
~Cases that come with the power supply. The case may be good, but do NOT use the psu that comes with it.. they have a tendency to die and fry valuable hardware.
~Cases that dont have sharp insides that will eat your hand if you stick it in there
~Cases that do not have room for heat sink fans (big ones, stock will always fit) and video cards.
********* Section Seven
When buying a hard drive:
WRITTEN BY PZEROFGH
~"What does RPM's have to do with hard drives?"
Higher RPM usually means faster access times, but perhaps not in all cases. 8 Meg cache is about all you'll ever need for today's stuff, 16 is more of a marketing thing for people that think they need 16 to look cool. The difference in your everyday usage will not be noticeable.
7200 RPM's is decent
10,000 RPM's is great
15,000 RPM's is excellent
5,400 RPM's is ideal for laptops
***NOTE*** The higher the RPM's, the higher the temperature.
~What is all this SATA and IDE talk?"
An IDE hard drive is as good for anything as a SATA drive is. The only difference is that SATA cables are significantly smaller so it helps with cable management.
********* Section Eight
When buying soundcards:
Someone can get into the complexities of this if they want but I'm getting into a few things.
~[b]"Do I NEED
Absolutely not. I'm pretty sure that ALL recent motherboards have integrated sound. 95% of people are happy with the int. but the people who, in my opinion, need soundcards are those who record music, edit music/videos, or are hardcore gamers and want the best of the best. Soundcards can go from anywhere from (they have these on newegg.com) $8-$400. If your going to game, you can pick up a nice sound card anywhere from $80-$150.
********* Section Nine
When buying Optical Drives:
There are several different kinds of optical drives out there:
These are the oldest. All they can do is read CDs; no burning, and no DVDs
These can read CDs, and burn them.
Do the same thing as CD-R's, but they can also burn CDs in such a way that you can erase/reburn the CDs once again. (RW=Re-Write) Unfortunately, this is pretty much pointless because most of the time you can't use these RW-burned CDs on any computer other than the one you burned it on.
These do the same thing as CD-ROM drives, but they can also read DVDs.
These can read, burn, and reburn anything you put into them!
Optical drives are pretty much all the same these days. You used to have to shell out over $100 for a DVD-burner, but now they're all about $40-50, so there's really no reason NOT to buy a DVD-burner, unless you're really on a tight budget and have to go with a $20 CD-RW drive. Therefore, I believe most people choose their drive based on aesthetics. I, personally, have a Sony DRU-720A burner, which I chose because the first time I saw it on Newegg, I said "Oh, Mommy" (it matches my Antec Aria case quite nicely). The highest-rated DVD-burners on Newegg are from brands NEC and Lite-On, along with a few BenQ's and Sony's. So pick one that looks nice, matches your case, and has decent reviews.
One last note: Most optical drives use IDE interfaces to transfer data to and from the motherboard. Newegg has one DVD burner that uses the SATA interface, but it costs $100 as of this writing and has lots of problems, judging by the 2/5 star rating.
This section is going to deal with some information on speakers, monitors, keyboards, and mice.
When buying speakers and headsets
As of now, this was written by me. By the end of the week, I think DJ CHRIS will be going more in depth into sound cards.
~ What does the 2:1,4:1,5:1,7:1 mean?"
Don't be intimidated when you see these numbers. This is simply stating that, lets say a 2:1, speaker set will have 2 normal speakers and 1 sub woofer. The 4:1 would have 4 speakers and 1 subwoofer ect. I have an Altec Lansing 2:1 system and it performs to my liking. Hardcore music-goers/gamers would, if they had the money, go for a 7:1 system. They are a bit on the pricey side though. There are 5:1 systems for like $400.00 (they do make them cheaper also. You can pick up a decent 5:1 system for about $100 or so) so I have no idea how much a 7:1 system is.
~"What are the benefits of using headphones?
I have seen this asked a few times. Figured I might as well throw it in as well. When wearing headphones, it's virtually impossible for other people to clearly hear them. So, you can have them blaring and not have your parents yell. But beware for your safety.
When buying a monitor
Alright, I'm just going into the MS of this. If someone wants to get in to more details, feel free.
~"Whats the "ms"?"
MS stands for mili-second. If youre gaming, the lower the MS the better, the higher the MS the more "ghosting" will take place.
People can use 12MS monitors with little ghosting if they dont care but most people go for 8 or even 4. Now if its just a low-end computer, I wouldn't shoot for a low MS monitor. You would probably be happy with a 25MS or somewhere around there.
~Whats the contrast ratio mean?
The contrast ratio (xxx/xxx) means the difference between the darkest of darks and the lightest of lights.
~What does DVI and VGA mean?
DVI and VGA are the two kinds of outputs on a video card. (VGA is on the motherboard if you are using onboard video). DVI puts out more of a quality video than what VGA puts out. Therefore, a lot of people try to get DVI.
When buying Keyboards and Mice
If youre gaming, there are special keyboards and mice out there for you. Different mice have different response times. People sometimes fork over 80 bucks for the best of the best gaming mice.
However, if youre just building a low/mid end computer you can pick up a 20 dollar optical that works just fine for what you need it for.
Alright, well everything in our computers has temperatures. The cpu, the motherboard, the video card, and the hard drive.
A good idle temp for a cpu is about 25-40 degrees Celsius on stock cooling. They make coolers for just about everything.
~CPU's have special Heatsink fans that allows you to take off the entire heatsink and add a big fan in its place. The fan will most likely use copper because of its heat dissipating capabilities.
These could range anywhere from $20-$100 and it DOES depend on what socket you have so refer back up to Section One or Section Two for more info on sockets. (Note: Different cores operate at different temps, if you see your temp go above 60 degrees Celsius and it is NOT overclocked, buy a heatsink fan or water cooling (more will be explained later on water cooling.
~ Video cards also have smaller versions of heatsink fans. These could be from $20 to $30 .
~ Hard drives have a thing you clamp on to them and it dissipates the heat. These are about $20.
~ Fans are always a good idea when trying to keep stuff cool. Some people go overboard and have like 10 80MM fans in their computers, but that's for the overclockers or control freaks
. These could be from $4-$20. Depends on the RPM and/or if you get light's in them.
This is for the hardest core overclockers. This, as its name states, uses cold water to cycle through the computer and keeps parts cold .Bad things about water cooling is that if you screw up, miss a leak, or spill something, you pretty much ruined your computer. These could cost from $100-$300+
********* Section Eleven
Stuff To Look Forward Too
The day in time has come when Microsoft has decided to make yet another new OS (operating system). This edition of Windows, Vista, was supposed to be out next month, but they screwed up and have to re-do 60% of their coding. So, Vista is due out at late 2006 or early 2007.
Google is also supposed to be coming out with a new OS as well. It will be free to download and around ten bucks to order for a CD.
AMD is working there butts off to get the AM2 on the market. The AM2 is not a new processor, but a new socket. But guess what a new socket means? New cpus. These are due out, I think, late 2006. AMD is also working on the fx-62 which they plan to sell for the ridiculously high price of over a grand. (USD)
Intel is also coming out with the Conroe. They plan on NOT selling this for as high as AMD is going to sell the fx-62 which will most likely cost AMD a lot of money because the Conroe supposedly performs just as well.
Since Windows is coming out with their new OS, guess what that means? Direct X 10. The new video cards (G80S and Im not sure what ATIs new ones will be called) are DX10 cards and will not and can not be released until Windows gets there code right. These cards will play anything with ease.
Though not a video card, PHYSX cards are supposed to be coming out in late may. These cards take some work off the video card by doing its own thing with the physics which will improve what the video card can do so therefore, higher frame rates and more realistic game play.
Since AMD is coming out with a new socket, motherboard companys will be making the boards to fit them. Im not sure if anything has been announced yet but Im sure they have something cool to come along with it.
Well, hope this cleared a lot of stuff up. Im open to suggestions on adding stuff or being corrected. PM me or post it here.. either way, Ill edit it as you see fit.
November 7th, 2005-------------Created
March 29th, 2006-----------------Up to date prices added on to Section 5 along with the addition of Section 11
April 7th, 2006---------------------Added ATI equivelents to Nvidia in Section Five. Minor updates to Section 1.
April 25, 2006----------------------Updated Section Six (minor)