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Building my first PC! Advice requested.

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Holman
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Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Holman » Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:10 pm

Actually more than one!

My two boys have been playing on aging laptops for some time, and I've decided to make a project of learning to build desktop PCs with them. For one of the boys, this process (and its documentation) will be part of an application to a special-projects-based high school next year.

I've done a little research, and I have the basics of how it all works. I've found various guides online and I've been watching videos. Our goal is to produce a couple (heck, maybe three) gaming PCs that would have been pretty close to top-of-the-line a couple of years ago. In another words, we want good power but not necessarily the bleeding edge$$$.

I thought I'd ask here if there are any obvious pitfalls to avoid, by which I guess I mean toxic or unreliable brands of hardware. Also, if you know of any must-read/must-see guides to building a decent PC, please let me know.

Thanks for any advice!
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Isgrimnur » Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:27 pm

Tom's Hardware

They keep a monthly tally on best deals at various performance points for components, especially processors and GPUs.
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by JCC » Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:37 pm

It's really pretty easy to build PCs these days. Arguably the most "difficult" part is connecting the case wires to the motherboard, just because it's a little awkward to see/read the cables and connectors. Just be careful placing the CPU correctly, and it's hard to mess up anything else.

Other advice:
If you don't plan to overclock your CPU the stock fan is fine. If on a budget, splurge on the video card which has the biggest impact on performance. But plan your video card budget based on the resolution you plan to play at. (ie. 1080p vs 1440 vs 4k). Definitely get a SSD for at least the boot/OS drive. Also, spend a tiny bit more on the PSU and get 80+ Gold.

I second the suggestion of doing research on Tom's Hardware.

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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Daehawk » Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:37 pm

Just ask away. Ill try to help. Im not myself and Ive not built a full PC in 7 years but I have built high end gaming PCs since 1995. My wife got me my first PC June 1994 and the next day I put a sound card in it. Then in 1995 I built a full PC...no guides back then. My friend did help though. From then on just me. Id build a full PC then over the next 3 or 4 years Id upgrade parts at a time then Id build a full PC and start over. Im still using the one I built in 2011 for the most part. Since then I replaced the video card thanks to an OOr because mine fried. Added 8 more gigs of ram. Installed 2 SSD drives at different times.
Last edited by Daehawk on Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Holman » Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:54 pm

I've swapped out a lot of video cards, added memory, and even changed a dead power supply, but I've never researched and built a full machine.

The weirdest part seems to be the application of thermal paste (which I haven't done yet).

I'm wondering if I'll manage to screw it all up by procuring the wrong case or something.

And then of course there's the installation of a fresh OS (which will be Win10). How automatic is that? Will I need to know a lot of stats and settings?
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Daehawk » Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:13 pm

Normal PCs are ATX size so a case is all about style other than that.

I reinstalled Win 10 on my wife's laptop a year or bit more ago. I didn't need a cd even. It was all digital online. I may have used a flash drive to boot to do that .Cant recall. But was nice not having to fool wit ha cd .
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:35 pm

Holman wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:54 pm
And then of course there's the installation of a fresh OS (which will be Win10). How automatic is that? Will I need to know a lot of stats and settings?
As long as you have a 4GB+ USB flash drive handy, installing Windows 10 should be fairly effortless and almost completely automatic. Here's an excellent step-by-step guide from tenforums.com you can follow on How to Clean Install Windows 10. You'll likely want to follow the 'Installing Windows 10 with UEFI' instructions, unless you know for certain that the motherboard you're working with specifically does not support UEFI 2.0+.
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:49 pm

BTW, in terms of essential reading, here's a very useful beginner's guide for building a PC courtesy of /r/buildapc.
"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." -- Daniel Webster

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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by hitbyambulance » Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:53 am

after all your preparation, you're going to be disappointed when you see how easy it actually is

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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Blackhawk » Sat Feb 16, 2019 1:12 pm

The only tough part about building a PC is pushing the power button for the first time. Other than that, it's about as complicated a putting together a Lego set.

For price + future proofing, make sure you read up on the Nvidia 2060s that just came out. They're recent enough that they're not in a lot of the guides yet.
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by GreenGoo » Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:59 am

hitbyambulance wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:53 am
after all your preparation, you're going to be disappointed when you see how easy it actually is
+1.

Seating the CPU and getting good contact between the CPU fan, thermal paste and CPU is probably the one thing that stands out for me as requiring attention. That said, most stock fans come with thermal paste pre-applied, so all you have to do is get a nice solid contact, which itself is aided by the mounting bracket. Just need to make sure you apply pressure evenly.

Cable management is not something I'm good at or spend any time on, but it's the one thing I would improve if I had to choose something to do better. The insides of my PC's are often a mess. That limits air flow and can exacerbate heat problems, not to mention make them a pain to work in.

All good advice. AB has never steered me wrong before. I always look forward to his responses re: consumer hardware. Lots of knowledgeable people here though.

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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Holman » Sun Feb 17, 2019 5:46 pm

Thanks for the advice!

I'm certain I'll have more questions. Right now I'm still making a list of what to buy.
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by MonkeyFinger » Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:34 am

Blackhawk wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 1:12 pm
The only tough part about building a PC is pushing the power button for the first time.
Been there and can agree with that, much like the time I totally rebuilt my 240Z's engine and went to start it again for the first time. :shock: :lol:
More fun is pushing the button and nothing happens. :think: And +1 on the cabling thoughts, that can be the biggest PITA.
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Jaymon » Tue Mar 19, 2019 9:37 pm

Any updates? I want to know how it went.


I like building computers, but right now i have no need for a new one, and no need to upgrade, so I must live vicariously.
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Holman » Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:29 am

Jaymon wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 9:37 pm
Any updates? I want to know how it went.


I like building computers, but right now i have no need for a new one, and no need to upgrade, so I must live vicariously.
I haven't started yet! :D

I've been reading up on it, but I've yet to order my first part.

I'll report in when I do.
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Geezerone » Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:19 am

A couple of bits of advice I have is:
  • install the CPU, heatsink, and the memory onto the motherboard BEFORE you install the motherboard into the case. This gives you lots of space to work rather than in the tight confines of the case.
  • pre-route the power supply cabling through out the case before you install the motherboard.
  • check and double check the location of the motherboard stand-offs to ensure that they are only positioned at the motherboard screw holes. This is especially important if you're installing a mATX motherboard into an ATX case.

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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Jaymon » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:12 pm

if your case is not a tower, then you will need to be careful about choosing the video card, because some of the big amazing awesome video cards don't fit into the smaller or compact cases.

a modular power supply is good if you only have a few things to put in, can save you from having extra power cables to tuck away

a pretty popular way to have your drives is a moderate sized SSD for the OS, and then a really big standard drive for the data

if possible buy 2 bigger sticks of ram instead of 4 smaller ones. that way, its easier to add more ram later
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Jaymon » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:20 pm

I have a Fractal Design R4 Silent Case.

out of all the cases I bought over the years, this is my favorite. its big, its modular and easy to get stuff in and out, and the acoustic padding is amazing, I have a big ass video card and a power supply that could make the lights dim, but I barely hear anything.

the only part I don't like is the door is not configurable, it only opens one way. but its rare that I put disks into the machine any more, so thats OK


here is the newer R5 version, with configurable door
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product. ... 6811352048
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by Holman » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:27 am

Thanks for the advice!

This is going to turn into a major project. I'm going to build computers for my MIL, both kids, and eventually myself.

I'll be doing the MIL's first, since it will be pretty barebones and use the cheapest parts. (MIL is not a gamer.) Seems look a good way to get practice.

Doing the kids' machines will involve them closely, and will be documented as part of an application project to a special-admit high school next fall.
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Re: Building my first PC! Advice requested.

Post by infinitelurker » Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:13 pm

Another thumbs up for the Fractal Design cases. My previous build used the R4, and it was such a joy to work with when building and so silent over the past several years, that I went with the updated R6 USB-C version for my recent build I completed a couple of weeks ago.
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