Build your own computer

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BT
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Build your own computer

#1 Post by BT » Mon Jul 28, 2008 8:52 pm

Here's my question to everyone: do you build your computer/s from scratch or buy straight off the shelf? Or do you kind of do a bit of both by customising a certain model on offer?

I ask this because recently my computer has been overheating (I hate summer even more than normal now, 87C on a graphics card under no load isn't healthy) and have decided to attempt building my own from scratch. I think I've managed to fix my overheating with some canned air cleaning (well it's reading 73C when under no load), but now I want attempt making something more powerful with liquid cooling. Hopefully it will be a good learning experience, although costly, with a nice reward at the end.

Also if you build or customise your own PCs feel free to show them off. Pictures, specs, stories, anything relevant to building computers you can post here.

BT

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#2 Post by kodama » Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:34 pm

Personally, I always say don't bother.

That's just the cynical professional speaking though. Buying individual components is always more expensive than buying a complete PC and you usually discover some incompatibility somewhere along the line. If I was going to spend my own money I would buy a Dell, reliability wise they are mostly bullet proof (again from experience, my warranty call outs have dropped to near zero), they are well designed and quiet. Their home user sales centre sucks balls though.

That said have fun, and try not to blow anything expensive up. Enjoy the eye watering price hikes of bleeding edge technology

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#3 Post by Aramaki » Tue Jul 29, 2008 6:44 pm

I build mine from scratch. Nuffin' in the shops comes close to what I want for high quality gamin' an rendering. I been doing it this way since my first PC , mainly due to habit and not short of shinies. That an' not trusting someones elses fingies nr my m/board :lol:
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#4 Post by clair » Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:46 am

we build ours from scratch
it worked out cheeper that way specilly if you shop around
we usually use ebuyer and novatach
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#5 Post by BT » Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:48 pm

kodama wrote:Buying individual components is always more expensive than buying a complete PC and you usually discover some incompatibility somewhere along the line.


Yes I've come across this already. I was originally going for a GTX 280 with AMD processor until I found out there's no motherboard to support this combo (with all functions working). Same with DDR3 and AMD; or GTX 280 with liquid cooling set. After 10 hours I think I've got my parts list sorted. I'm just waiting on getting it checked over by someone in case I've picked something stupid.

kodama wrote:I would buy a Dell

I wouldn't. After buying 3 PCs from them in the past, all 3 fail to shut down properly. We don't use the support service for anything, since my Dad has been fixing computers for years, and now I'm quite good at it myself. Although we're mostly software fixers, anything hardware my Dad doesn't have a clue; and I've just got a vague idea of what's wrong normally.

But yes, for your average user buying straight off the shelf is fine. Even just customising existing models is fine. But I've now realised the limitations of doing this for gaming, so I'm going to the next level up which is making my own from scratch. Oh and for the parts I've selected it's definitely cheaper going for the parts. Just now I'm under 1.8k; if I was to buy this set-up from a website or retailer it would cost over 2.5k, and even then I won't be getting all the functions I want.

Thanks for those websites clair. I did look at novatech before, the prices were a bit higher than others but at least I can look at stuff that might not be offered elsewhere. I think I'm going to be getting most of my parts from scan.co.uk since they seem cheapest.

BT

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#6 Post by kodama » Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:44 pm

Failure to shut down has not been an issue for my clients so far and we've been recommending and buying Dell for about 4-5 years. You must be very unlucky or else a PC breaker :lol:

The only issues we've had are failed HDDs almost all due to age, the one exception is a compact PC that has destroyed two HDDs through boiling them to death.

Being a IT professional, I'd rather die than spend 1.8k on a home pc 8) I'd spend that kind of money on a motorbike or car.

I presume that you've been here:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/

Can't vouch for how reliable they are but they've been around for a while now.

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#7 Post by fillet » Sat Aug 30, 2008 3:21 am

We have a lot of similar sites over here like that. Egghead.com and Tigerdirect.com to name a couple. Thinking about ordering something from one of these, cause I'm not familiar enough with a comp to build something myself. But I'd still rather do that. Just for my own entertainment, ya know, rip it apart on the floor then put it back together even better.
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#8 Post by BT » Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:23 pm

Woo, they're here. All my computer parts arrived this morning. So I've been going through all the manuals to work out the best order to do things and get a clearer picture of what to expect.

Looking at the liquid cooling stuff though, that looks as though it's going to be difficult. To get the kit running you need to use jumper cables off the MB and stabilise the unit. Then once all that is clear I need to remove the fans from the 2 GPUs (yes 2 for Quad SLI rawr) insert a water block and then reassemble it. Also removing the standard cooling fans from components voids the warranty, so if I mess up that's a lot of money lost.

So far I've found out I'll need to go buy some Thermal Paste to stick the heatsinks onto components; and I need another 2 L shape valves for the GPU cooling block. I just went to Maplin as well to get some stuff, but forgot about Thermal Paste.

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#9 Post by kodama » Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:36 pm

Mmmmm, water and electricity. My favourite combo. :shaking:

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#10 Post by fillet » Thu Sep 18, 2008 4:17 am

Wow, I'm now working for a company that strictly subs work from a conglomerate that is a blend of electronics and water-based protection! Simplex Grinnell, one of those big words of construction over here (har har har)
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#11 Post by BT » Sun Sep 21, 2008 9:45 pm

It's alive (I was going to post from it, but I don't know the url to get here :lol: ). After 5 days or so of intense problem solving and foul mouthing I have got the system up and running in a fairly stable condition.

However... Vista 64 bit is a nightmare, because it needs special drivers and Zone Alarm can't run on it (Trying out this Comodo firewall but it's very different. Always asking to "allow/deny" every single tiny change.)

One of the 4 GFX cards is in an error state and I can't figure out why, so I'm waiting on a reply from the manufacturer to see if they can help. Hopefully once this is sorted I can update the drivers, since just now if I try, nothing is output to the monitor. Then I'll get to see the performance of this beast.

I've had to drop 2GB of RAM because Vista will not install with 4GB. Need to look in to getting the patch to fix this, although I've heard if I try to install updates it's likely to crash again.

And the heat the GFX cards give off! It's causing the casing to heat up. I'm going to bet they're operating at above 60C. Hopefully, though, liquid cooling will sort this. Just need to get them in a stable condition first.

I had a scare with the system not getting past the POST. I thought the Mother Board was dud, but it just turned out the PSU had a few "loose" connections. Just had to push them in further. Then the BIOS was playing "I don't want to save settings" game; resetting the CMOS killed that. Then there was the 2 failed Vista installations resulting in having to re-partition the HD. At least Vista offers a partition resize feature for my Xpress Recovery tool, otherwise it would have been a 3rd re-installation of the OS.

Still got so much to do until I can "enjoy" the system. I can already predict Vista 64 being a pain with getting updates, drivers and software. However at least I've learnt not to bother taking this route again. If I want a new computer I'll order it from a dealer. I've also learnt a lot more about how a computer operates, so if I ever need to do upgrades or sort hardware I'll have more of an idea what to do. I've always had a rough idea of what it's like, but nothing beats first hand experience.

I've still to see a BSoD, all my problems have been before the OS was put on, if that's of any value.

BT

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#12 Post by kodama » Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:02 pm

4 gfx cards?

The whole 4GB ram Vista thing is a total farce. You'd think MS would pull it's finger out of it's arse and start pushing 64bit PCs hard. Especially as Vista is only comfortable with 2GB and really wants 4GB.

What rating PSU are you using? A big enough one to make a good room heater?

Approx how much did you spend?

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#13 Post by BT » Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:13 pm

9800 GX2, 1 card has 2 GPUs onboard, so with 2 of them that's 4.

Yeah, it's a joke really. Software is really far behind hardware just now. Running Vista just now uses about 1GB of my RAM, but all my other components are taking their loads, so I don't notice any lag. It takes less than 30secs to boot the machine to desktop. 1066tps of DDR2 goodness (AMD doesn't support DDR3 yet :( ).

I'm using a 1kW PSU. It comes with lots of different connectors all pre-wrapped in a solid fabric mesh and it's ready for SLI use too. There are no switches as well to "accidently" blow up your motherboard.

I've spent just under 2k on this system; 1.5k if you take away all the liquid cooling apparatus. It's an expensive lesson, but worth the experience dealing with the latest hardware.

BT

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#14 Post by The Shady Badger » Mon Sep 22, 2008 5:28 pm

£2k - Jesus, thats a lot of money. The last machine i built was an AMD K7 jobby, and that cost me all of nothing - hurrah for free chips & bits!

What are you going to do with a PC that powerful? Apart from heat your house :wink:

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#15 Post by BT » Mon Sep 22, 2008 6:54 pm

*waves from 64bit Internet Explorer*

Yeah 2k is a lot, but I save my money just to buy computer stuff. I get my wages, they sit in the bank until I can throw them at some fancy hardware. Also with almost nothing draining my account it's set to increase again, just lunch at uni whenever there's an afternoon lab on.

I plan on playing games with all the settings maxed out. Nothing beats playing a game on very high resolutions, AA, AF, max draw distance, full shadows, full lighting effects etc and all at a stable 60fps. I've fallen into the group of people who can't stand a minor drop in fps; if it's not 60 it's not playable :P .

I got a reply from EVGA support "What exactly is the error you are getting" *head -> desk*. I even attached a screenshot of the error. That's them wasted 1 day of my time waiting for a reply. Starting the counter now.

BT

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