Arman's stuff
Building Computers

(Fri Jan 15 10:57:08 2010)

All computer builds have stages, though these stages vary due to various inputs

Once begun, however, all builds follow the same basic pattern.

In the beginning, there is a need. Someone asks me to build a computer, or one of my computers just gets too old to use anymore, or I have extra money and want to build something - I need to buy computer parts.
So, I research. Newegg, Pricewatch, even Walmart. I look up three different price sets:
Cheap: These are the absolute lowest prices I can get, without using absolutely terrible parts. Usually, a full computer is around $300, not counting a monitor.
Decent: The stuff I'd rather have. It has power for more than just simple browsing, without much of a price increase - around $400, usually.
Nice: The good stuff. It's got a pretty good video card and probably some other fancy stuff, like RAID. This usually runs $550-$600.
Sometimes, of course, I'm given a dollar value - get the best you can with this, no more, no less. The usual value is $1000, which gets a really nice system.

After hours, days ,maybe even weeks of research, I'm ready to make my purchases. I double-check what all I'll need (a heatsink, if the CPU doesn't come with one; a power supply, if the case doesn't come with one, or we don't want it...), then drop all my stuff into my (usually) virtual cart, and away I go. Of course, I probably burn an extra hour or two checking deals, just in case I could get a free CD case or mouse or something. Then the hard part - waiting for my stuff to arrive!
When my stuff finally arrives, I tear open the boxes, and bask in the glory of new computer parts. Generally, at this point, I read the manuals. What? I like manuals! It's how I figured out my motherboard actually does do dual-channel, for one thing...
At this point, I may stop to work on the case, assuming it is getting modded. Usually, though, I just mod the side, so it can go together first. After a quick perusal of the manuals, I start putting things together. Motherboard, hard drive(s), and optical drive(s) (and power supply) go in first; once it's all in there and I see how it fits, I usually take it apart again to route the various cables around. After routing and sheathing cables, I bolt everything down and add in any extra cards (video, sound, tv, etc.). It's usually about this time that I remember to start taking pictures to document the process. Sigh...
Once everything is in place (and possibly documented), I run around trying to find a free monitor to plug things into, and test it out. Apart from that stupid hard drive LED that ALWAYS goes in backwards, it boots, and everything works. Nice!
I test the system with a live CD (Ubuntu or KUbuntu, whichever is closest), making sure things work right, then jump into installing the OS (or OSes). Windows takes forever, because it keeps stopping to ask me questions. Ubuntu installs fast, because I can wander off in the middle while it does it's thing.
Now it's time to mod that side panel, assuming I'm going to do so; cutting, coloring, marking, and occasionally stopping to install software. Again, with Windows, I have to go all over, where with Ubuntu it's all right there.

At this point, there is a plateau; the computer works, the software is there, the mod... well, it's at least halfway done. It's not complete, but it works. Now, if I'm building this for someone else, I usually push past and finish it (stupid little details). If it's my own computer, well, it's doing what I want; I'll come back to it later. Sometimes much later.

And this is where I am with my mediacenter. It's put together, almost everything there; it just needs a DVD drive (doh, no IDE on the board) and an internal fan (and an HDMI cable, though I can probably get along fine without that), and it's good to go. One mediacenter PC, complete with awesome graphics, all in a cubic foot of airspace. Sweet!

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This blag is tagged: Computers, Mediacenter, Modding, Newegg, All