. . . I was intimidated by the things I've never done, like installing a microprocessor (if done wrong, you could crack it in half, or bend a pin the wrong way, ruining it) or setting up a system BIOS the first time. . .
The risk of destroying up to, and over, $700 between your forefinger and thumb in a fraction of a second is definitely something to be concerned about, and is a big fear for the unfamiliar. The sockets are called ZIF connectors, ZIF for Zero Insertion Force. They have a lever similar to a paper cutter lever that you pull up vertically, and actually “rest” the CPU in place with no danger of doing the wrong thing. For most of us, ktutzes not included. Once the CPU is down and out of your fingers, pull the lever arm down and gently snap it into place. All done!
The BIOS needs almost none, and often it just finds everything and works without even glancing at it. It’s THAT easy.
One word of caution: do research into the components you want before you buy, even if you want to build your own. There are certain websites out there with advice for building your own PC. I'll dig a few out for you and post them here.
In the Boston area, PCs for everyone.com is simply the best. Micro Center [probably microcenter.com], located at the opposite end of Cambridge, has the cheapest parts locally, but you need savvy before you venture in there otherwise you can throw away money there. Upgrade Source [upgradesource.com] to name a few are superior. Upgrade is usually the first with the newest that’s been reputably proben ok. They have 15K SCSI drives and the new ATA serial drives which are much faster than, and are the coming replacement for EIDE drives.
Here's a link to Maximum PC's guide to How to Construct the Ultimate PC. It's about a year old, but still has good info. The new, faster Pentium chips are out, so they might be worth looking into, if you want to be on the cutting edge.
The new Pentiums simply blow the doors off everything else. The new hyperthreading ones border on supercomputers. Nothing else is even close.
Below is a suggested shopping list. This would be one mega machine. My friend suggest the AMD - he has had good performance and say upgrades are easy as poping on a new chip. He has a watercooled case that allows him to overclock his AMD.
I'll get to the rest of the stuff in the list in a few minutes, but first the AMD...
Trust me, unless you’re into hot gaming and want to play around tweaking the #$%%&* BIOS all the time, stay away from AMD and overclocking. AMD chips are NOISY!!! Plain and simple. I’ve just retired two Athlons, an AMD 1100+ and an AMD [1800+ or] 2100+. The quietness of three purring Pentium-4 PCs is beautiful. I’ll sell you a good, robust, functioning and fast Athlon system, real cheap, if you want to go that route. Nothing wrong with them except they run hot and heat kills them and other hot-running components, such as video cards that require fan cooling.
Another AMD killer is heat, and overclocking generates even more heat, the reason they’re noisy in the first place. AND water-cooled? I purchased an Iceberg watercooled system ready to go into one of the retired AMDs but there were a few caveats that made me stop in my tracks while reading the instructions and decide to cut my losses right on the spot. It has to be turned on before the pc. That means if you don’t want to think about it you’ve got to devise a relay system that turns the water cooler on a fraction of a second before the pc and not the other way around, else pffft! Not a concern, the chip killers say? If you power down, say a cold reboot and power up again right away you simply have to remove the heat away from the chip before you power it up again, the heat that’s been accumulating since you’ve turned the PC off.
An AMD plus a water-cooled heat exchanger system can end up costing more than a simple Penium 4, much more, especially if you have to replace everything after the flood.
Gamers love them because they can sit their colored pcs up on top of the desk and show them off. They have cases with plexiglass side panels and colored neon lights inside, and in the case of water-cooled units have some real serious plumbing as well. I build one for my youngest last summer. It has an aluminum case, the plexiglass window, and the neon lights (blue in his case and I have a pair of red neon lights in my server case).
He has one of the retired AMD setups and his roommate complains about the noise at night. The Iceberg is his if he wants it, but he’s taken no action to install it, hence up for sale.
Maybe I'll hold off on the DVD R/W??? Although I thought this was a pretty good price.
You just have to have a use for one to make it worthwile otherwise CD burners are real cheap, as low as $20 with rebates when they're on special. Like I wrote above, you can get up to 18 minutes AVI video from a CD. More time from Mpegs, but they just can't deliver the quality.
I just read BOM the list after I wrote all the above, and decided you’re hopelessly (LOL) lost. You’ve actually had all this stuff picked out ahead of time and was waiting to drop the bomb.
‘*Test Before Shipping?: ‘
Yes, expect everything to have been tested before shipping. Some bench techs may even have been burning-in some of that stuff inside their own computers for as long as six months prior, to insure the parts don’t give the purchaser infant mortality.
Excellent choices, most of them. A question, a couple of comments, and one suggestion. Subjective, but make sure 512 is enough memory. I notice my pc uses a lot of memory when I feed the pinnacle card a new video to crunch. And if you are doing DVDs, you’ll be feeding in videos.
The case is where I decided you’re helplessly/hoplessly lost. For those who still don’t know what I mean, check out http://www.thermaltake.com/
THEY’RE mean. I like the sick pea-soup-green neon-color ones best, although I haven’t seen any outstanding orange ones yet. The colored ones drive everyone nuts, especcially with matching internal neon lights.
I swear, you’ve got all this stuff in your living room, just laughing at us all (LOL).
The one suggestion is to get a larger hard drive, by Western Digital, of course. Comp USA has a sale on the 180Giggers right now for about the same price. Go for it because 120 will get too small. I’m running a pair of 120s on one of my Shuttles.
Abit makes great motherboards. I’ll look at only three: ASUS, MSI, and Abit. And it’s got the Firewire AND the serial ATA ports. Good! Radeon is one of the best, if not THE best video card on the market today.
Enermax is the best in power supplies. I have a dual-fan one in my server case and it’s a s quiet as can be. Excellent choice. The Pentium ready means that it has a special 4-prong power connector for Pentium boards.
You may want to consider getting a rounded cable for your WD hard drive as well because it’s not SATA, the serial cables provided by Abit w\are useless for it, everyone’s going to be googling inside that case, and you want to show it off good!
One more thing... I missed the line where you wrote internal neon lights. You've got to get neon lights to really set that new baby off. Envy, now I have envy, ooohh.
Always with an even keel.