So how hard is it?

donlondon

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So I'm thinking of building my first computer, $2000ish. I've done quite a bit of research on parts etc, and I think I can do it. The problem is convincing my wife... So how hard is it to build your own computer? How much time would it take for a rookie? I'd hate to f something up and hear the dreaded 'I told you so'...
 

lockdownx1x

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For a rookie maybe 2 hours tops and I'm 15(FTW) I take 45 minutes or less(I build them for a living).It can also depend on the case,some are tooless and very fast set up.
Building the PC is very easy BTW, just read the Mobo manual and your fine.
 

dicobalt

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Building a pc is easy the hardest part is fiddling around with those little screws! :heink:

Those annoyingly designed case headers for the power/reset/led lights you have to sorta slip onto the totally jammed together headers on the mobo down in the corner where your hand cant get to cause u have big hands and you need to use needlenose pliers to do it instead. :heink:

Not to mention the god awful front audio header plugs u have to put in 1 by 1 and they are all jammed together. :heink: I just applied a pair of scissors and cut off my audio cables from the case, i will just plug it in the back thank you very much. :non:

Also for some reason everytime i build a pc the mobo never really fits easily up to the io port cutout and i have to really press it hard to get the screwholes in the mobo to align to the case screw risers. :heink:

That OEM intel heatsink is evil as well,... whats up with the cheap little plastic press down and turn and hope it dont pop out technology :pfff: That OEM heatsink worked but i dont trust it at all to stay on if the pc is moved (aka ups or fedex), get a aftermarket one u can just screw on and know its 100% secure. :heink: Itll work alot better anyway is will probably be easier to put on for u. That intel heatsink is a pain to get on. yay intel :fou:

Also when you turn on the computer the first time and nothing happens dont freak out as you probably did one of the following: forgot the CPU fan to mobo plugin, forgot the mobo 12V 2+2 or 4+4 power cable, forgot the pcie power cable to the video card, forgot to switch on the psu with the switch thats *on* the psu, reseat the video card after you are done building the computer, reseat the ram after you are done building the computer.

Just make sure to review your parts with people to make sure that they are all compatible.
 

sunny27

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here's something that might help you out:
(1)mount the cpu in the socket and then place the heatsink fan over it--look at the manual that came with your processor.
(2)open the side panel of the cabinet -the one which would give you access to the cabinet interiors for mounting the motherboard.
(3)now remove the input/output connector panel from the cabinet and insert the new I/O panel at the back of your cabinet.
(4)now place the motherboard on the cabinet and NOT IN THE CABINET in such a way that you can fix the front panel connectors the reset switch the power switch and harddrive LEDS and the front panel audio and USB connectors.this makes it easier because the wires can be pulled around a bit.
(5)now place the motherboard IN the cabinet and fix it with screws in the cabinet.
(6)now fix the harddrive,dvd writer
(7)fix the power supply unit(psu) this would help keep the interior of the cabinet from being jumbled with the psu cables and connectors while you work with your motherboard.
(8)fix in the ram and the video card(graphics card) and all the other expansion cards that you have.if you have 2 sticks of ram make sure you plug it into alternate slots in your motherboard to enable your ram to run in dual channel mode.
(9)check everything ,all the connectors and their placements on the motherboard.look out for lose connectors.cross-check everything with your motherboard manual.
this should get you to assemble your pc.keep the motherboard manual handy at all times.it also would contain a lot of other information on what to do if something fails and post codes and beep interpretations,etc.study the manual carefully.
ALL THE BEST!
 

sunny27

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here's something that might help you out:
(1)mount the cpu in the socket and then place the heatsink fan over it--look at the manual that came with your processor.
(2)open the side panel of the cabinet -the one which would give you access to the cabinet interiors for mounting the motherboard.
(3)now remove the input/output connector panel from the cabinet and insert the new I/O panel at the back of your cabinet.
(4)now place the motherboard on the cabinet and NOT IN THE CABINET in such a way that you can fix the front panel connectors the reset switch the power switch and harddrive LEDS and the front panel audio and USB connectors.this makes it easier because the wires can be pulled around a bit.
(5)now place the motherboard IN the cabinet and fix it with screws in the cabinet.
(6)now fix the harddrive,dvd writer
(7)fix the power supply unit(psu) this would help keep the interior of the cabinet from being jumbled with the psu cables and connectors while you work with your motherboard.
(8)fix in the ram and the video card(graphics card) and all the other expansion cards that you have.if you have 2 sticks of ram make sure you plug it into alternate slots in your motherboard to enable your ram to run in dual channel mode.
(9)check everything ,all the connectors and their placements on the motherboard.look out for lose connectors.cross-check everything with your motherboard manual.
this should get you to assemble your pc.keep the motherboard manual handy at all times.it also would contain a lot of other information on what to do if something fails and post codes and beep interpretations,etc.study the manual carefully.
ALL THE BEST!
 

aziraphale

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"For a rookie maybe 2 hours tops and I'm 15(FTW) I take 45 minutes or less(I build them for a living)..."

I sure want to see some rookie building a PC for the first time in 2 hrs. This time is over once he unpacked all the stuff. I'd say reserve an afternoon plus the evening...
 
PC's are pretty simple to build these days. My first PC build was an AMD 486 120MHz. Back then you needed to set several jumpers on the motherboard so they matched all the frequencies of the RAM and CPU and all that other crap. I also Build an OLD IBM 8088 in Vo-Tech years ago which was a REAL pain in the butt. Now everything is jumperless and self configured in the BIOS. Everything has firmware and basically, for the most part, does the configuring for itself.

2 hours? ehhh I'd give yourself a long evening to do this. Just some advice for a Noobie is to either have a buddy that knows what he is doing on hand, via phone maybe or right there with you. More or less for support or suggestions, not so much on how to do it. If you run into ANY issues don't guess, ask on a forum or better yet someone already probably asked and do a search.

Lay EVERYTHING out and make sure you have all your tools. RULE #1 do not get frustrated. I've seen so many people get bent out of shape because something was hard to clip or didn't fit right and they end up breaking things in frustration.

I suggest mounting the CPU, fan, and memory before putting it into the case. I would then mount all your drives and attach them with the appropriate cables. Also attach the front panel buttons of the case to the mobo. AND look at the mobo manual it will tell you where everything goes because sometimes the labels on the mobo are hard to read or questionable. I always mount the Power Supply last because it looks like an octopus of cables when you first put it in. I suggest getting zippy ties to make everything nice and pull loose cables out of the way. bad cable management can block good air flow and you dont want power wires flopping around if you move your pc.

Fire it up and go into the bios to make sure everything is detected and reporting correctly. Especially the ram. sometimes you have to manually enter the timing and stuff at the very most. I had to do this with mine. No biggie.

Then load the OS, install drivers, update drivers, update windows (assuming you are installing windows).

A self install is ALWAYS cleaner than a manufacture install that has all the extra crap.

Good Luck. Just tell the lady it's a guy thing and you want to accomplish something and say you did it yourself. There is a certain pride in building your own system. When people say "what kind of computer do you have?" you can always say "I build it myself".

$2000?? what are you making with that? that's a good PC for a first timer. Share your parts, we can help you tweak them to make the best performing machine possible and help you avoid any issues with compatibility.
 

Belinda

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It's easy peesey lemon squeezy....unless theres a problem then it's trial and error and a bit of head scratching.
Advice i'd give is install the minimum amount of hardware for first boot and installing of OS. Less chance of incompatiblity errors or a bad part. If there is a problem it's easier to find. Like someone earlier said though it's all pretty much push it in and go and on the whole you can't put anything in the wrong place or insert the wrong way.
 

piratepast40

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Keep in mind that you're not really building a computer - just assembling pre-built parts. As others have allready said, it's not that tough but you do need to pay attention. As far as the "I told you so" stuff, some call that the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor). You'll most likely have some hiccups and problems but you have to keep reminding yourself that it's a hobby! For me, most problems are software related and have nothing to do with actually putting the parts together.

As far as Vista or XP, if you have to buy an OS anyway, you might as well just go with Vista. You'll have to buy it eventually and there's plenty of help out there with the initial glitches. With a new system, there should be minimal conflicts.
 

turtle1

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Please share with us what you are planning on doing with this computer and we can help you pick the parts out along the way.
 

ausch30

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If you have a copy of XP laying around, use it, if not I would suggest going with Vista. I have Vista Home Premium and it's beginning to turn into a solid OS, they've fixed a lot of it's problems.
 

rodney_ws

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I'd say it's a coin flip... 50/50. Half the time you'll get it right and you'll be wondering what all the fuss is. The other half... you'll have compatibility issues, electrical shorts and computers that won't even POST. To me it seems the more extreme you go (SLI, water cooling, overclocking, etc) the more problems you're likely to encounter.

Here's how you should explain it to your wife... if it works correctly, you've saved a little money, had fun and learned something in the process. If it doesn't work right, you can always pay a local shop to finish the job and you've still acquired knowledge for your next attempt. Every part you order will have a manufacturer's warranty so the only thing you're risking (other than time/stress) is a trip to a local computer shop (that'll be what... $100?)
 

jsc

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And if it doesn't work and you do fix it, you will really learn a lot - and look really good to your wife. The downside to that is that she'll start expecting that all the time.

I just put up a "How to troubleshoot a new build" article on Tom's Wiki.
http://www.tomswiki.com/page/Troubleshooting+a+New+Build

You could use it as a guide to where common faults occur. And I would suggest breadboarding the system. That way, you will know you have good parts before you put them into the case.
 

donlondon

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wow thanks for the great responses! This will hopefully be a gaming/multimedia machine, my wife will use it for her research projects as well.

As far as the OS I think im leaning towards Xp pro. My brother is in school and can get me a copy for 16$. I can always upgrade to vista later.

About the other parts, I have configured some things on newegg but was really waiting for the new processors and video cards to be released in November-January to really get serious. I'll be sure to post the specs here before I purchase. I just wanted to get the ball rolling on the wife factor ;) I'll show her this post for sure now that I have some good feedback.
 

ausch30

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I could be wrong but I believe the software you can get from college's is only an upgrade, not the full retail version. If you can get XP from your brother's school you should be able to get Vista as well but if not then XP is fine.
 

ausch30

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The image of the packaging is a graphic rather than an actual picture but underneath Microsoft in the top right corner there is something written which I can't make out which is where it will say if it's an upgrade. I read everything and it didn't mention anywhere about being an upgrade so I would say just buy it since your not building for a while and if it isn't the full version you can send it back or sell it on E-Bay or something and look at other options.
 

SirCrono

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I Think I can tell you from experience that it's not as hard as it looks, I'm 20 yeras old and i'v just put together my first computer around may.
The harder part is fiddling with the screws, but after the first 4 or 5 of them you will get the hang of it.
The MOST importan thing is common sense, you don't have to force anything inside, you've to handle everything with care.

My advice:
-Be cool (you need a somewhat steady hand)
-Look, read and think before you do anything, cables are color coded, only fit in one direction, etc.
-When in doubt ask someone, if you have any question post it in the forums and we'll answer it gladly.

Best of luck.

PS: I really hope you don't get that dreaded phrase.
 

zenmaster

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The School Copies of the OS are full retail copies.
Technically, he is not allow to buy it for you since you are not a student. But as far as MS is concerned, they are not going to track down if you are a student are not or where not when it was bought.
 

notherdude

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Here is a tip: On your first build you really should have an experienced friend on hand, even if they only built one PC.

You can PROBABLY do it alone, but it may be an adventure. Go slow, be patient, if it doesn't boot you probably missed a simple step.

Before putting the mobo in the case do this first:

1. Lay the motherboard on a non-conductive soft surface, such as a phone book. You are gonna build it, barebones only, outside the case.

2.Install CPU and heatsink and connect CPU fan to CPU fan header on mobo.

4. Install 1 stick of RAM only.

6. Install video card

7. Attach monitor cable to card.

8. Hook power from PSU to 1. Main 2. 4 pin Cpu aux 12 v connector (near CPU) and 3. to video card. Plug in and turn on power supply rear switch.

9. Find the power switch pins on the mobo and short them together momentarily with a piece of metal such as a screwdriver.

10. It should start and boot, partially, as there is no OS installed of course.

11. Put in your second stick of RAM, boot again. Works? Good.

Don't run it for any extended period on the phone book. The bottom of the mobo can't breathe. This is just a quick test.


Now you have proven your main parts are good and you understand the basics of a simple boot. This will be a LOAD OFF YOUR MIND, trust me. Now take off the power cables and the video card but leave in the CPU and RAM and begin the process of building it in the case.
 

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