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I (almost) have a computer! [Aug. 2nd, 2006|07:24 pm]
Ari's wanted to make a custom computer for me for a very long time. There's been so much going on lately that I completely forgot I hadn't mentioned this here yet.
In a nutshell, I finally had enough money to order his long list of parts. They came, and I am sooooo close to having my own computer up and running. He's assembled everything and now we're just waiting on the video card (the one that came was a bit defective, so we ordered a new one).

He started up the rest to see if it would respond, and it started making the noise of a computer going through startup! (It's alive -- ALIVE!!).

It's a kickass computer, too. The parts he chose are top quality, and it's gonna have everything I'll need it to have. Buying everything from scratch also saved a tremendous amount of money for a computer this good, even with all the shipping fees.

[User Picture]From: glacier_kitty
2006-08-02 11:52 pm (UTC)
Ari's awesome lol! I wish he would make Kathryn a computer..
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[User Picture]From: rewhite
2006-08-03 05:10 pm (UTC)
I could, but I'd have to ship it out. There would be the double shipping for me sending it after I'd assembled it. I probably would send all the external components (i.e. monitor, mouse, keyboard) directly to her, and just assemble the other parts.

She'd probably save money, too.
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[User Picture]From: glacier_kitty
2006-08-03 05:11 pm (UTC)
Wow...you'd really do that?
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[User Picture]From: rewhite
2006-08-03 05:41 pm (UTC)
Well, not for free, but I could. I'd probably charge about 10% over the cost of the components for putting it together. If all goes well, that'd be in the ballpark of $10 an hour.

Amanda's computer cost just over $700 (including shipping). If you really got a good bargain from a major manufacturer you might be able to get a comparable machine for $1000 without shipping. Their asking price would otherwise be somewhere between $1500 and $2000 for that machine.

It's not as though there aren't warranties on most of these parts. They just come from several companies, rather than just one. Besides, places like Dell use carpy components that get iffy results on QC tests.
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[User Picture]From: rewhite
2006-08-03 05:35 pm (UTC)
Amanda thought I'd be better for answering this question.

The first step is planning. You select the type of processor you want. I like to go with AMD because they tend to make beefier processors than Intel. I wanted Amanda's machine to be useful and even upgradable for many years to come, so I selected an inexpensive model that uses the higher-end socket. The socket is the plug and pins that connects the processor to the motherboard. The processor I picked for Amanda's computer uses socket 939, a new and fast type that is only used on higher-end processors. Thus, her processor is the lower end of the higher-end.

Next, I selected a motherboard compatible with her processor. That still left me with a list hundreds of entries long. I whittled the list down by excluding those with low user-ratings. I also excluded any with built-in graphics, as that only adds to the price, and we'd be buying a card anyway because built-in graphics are carp to begin with.

I had a specific motherboard selected some time ago, but they discontinued it. I found another one with more features for slightly more (and with a discount) and we bought it. Unfortunately, it proved to be incompatible with the graphics card I had expected to use.

After the motherboard is selected, one looks for a case. Motherboards come in a set of standard sizes, so one simply selects a case that will fit the size of MB. I selected a black (because it looks cooler) steel case that had front ports, built in fans, and a built in 350 watt power supply. Unless you need a really powerful computer with all sorts of bells, chimes, and whistles, you don't need more than 400w, but one should never get less than 300w, because those power supplies die quickly.

Now one looks for drives. Because I prefer SATA in assembly, as well as it being significantly faster than ATA (aka IDE), I made sure the MB had SATA. I got a large (160 GB) SATA hard drive as well as an old-style ATA DVD-RW drive for very little money in the correct color (and it had good ratings!). Because Amanda has a strong affinity for floppies, I also threw in the least expensive floppy drive I could find that was the same color as her case.

With the drives out of the way, one then looks for the graphics card. There are two major graphics card chipset manufacturers: ATI and nVidia. ATI has a more easily understandable product line, and has always been my first choice. Over the last few years they have lagged slightly behind nVidia in new technology, but they tend to cost less and have better support. I went with a radeon 9550 for Amanda, which is the same chipset that I used for mine. The video card has been a great source of trouble for us. We are now hoping that three's the charm. The first card, an Asus 9550, leaked thermal paste over the circuitry. We sent it back before even trying to power it on, as it probably would just have fried the card. The second one, a Sapphire 9550, proved to be incompatible with the motherboard due to the motherboard company getting too creative. Both of those other cards connected to the AGP slot on the MB. Our third one will connect to the PCI x16 slot, which should work with any card. It is a Powercolor x300 with good ratings. The chipsets for all three boards were made by ATI.

Do you want some help making a computer?
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[User Picture]From: thedarkcrystal
2006-08-03 06:29 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: minuetcat
2006-08-04 01:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
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