Build a great PC on a budget with these parts and procedures

Build a great PC on a budget with these parts and procedures

Summary: A lot of people don't realize that it's possible to build a dual-core workstation with good 2D graphics and even some decent 3D performance that's fully Vista capable for a reasonable price. In fact, you can do it for around $1,133. The only catch is that you actually have to build it. This tutorial explains the parts you need and shows you how to assemble it all. Not only do you get the satisfaction of knowing you've put in good components, you also get the satisfaction of giving the PC life with your own hands.

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  • A lot of people don't realize that it's possible to build a dual-core workstation with good 2D graphics and even some decent 3D performance that's fully Vista capable for a reasonable price. In fact, you can do it for around $1,133. The only catch is that you actually have to build it. This tutorial explains the parts you need and shows you how to assemble it all. Not only do you get the satisfaction of knowing you've put in good components, you also get the satisfaction of giving the PC life with your own hands.

    This gallery is also available as a TechRepublic article and a TechRepublic download.

    CNET Networks / TechRepublic
    George Ou
  • The chassis shown is the Cooler Master CAV-T03-UW, which is solidly built and relatively cheap at $60. It's lying on the chassis on top of the drive bays. I've also taken the power supply out of the box and laid it inside the chassis, shown in the upper-right of the photo Note how the power supply has the fan grill exposed toward the motherboard. That is the orientation you want.

    CNET Networks / TechRepublic
    George Ou

Topics: Intel, Hardware, Processors, Storage

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  • You'll crack your motherboard and zap your chip

    <p>Mounting the CPU with the board already in the case is crazy. You don't have a way to push back on the bottom of the board. The strain is transmitted to the area around the nearest mounting holes where it turns into bending force. Even good quality motherboards are too thin to stand that kind of force. Maybe you've been getting away with it for a while, but don't tell folks who don't know any better to risk their new motherboards that way.</p>
    <p>
    Insert the CPU and mount the heat sink <i>before</i> you put the motherboard in the case. Memory, too. That way you can support the the board under the CPU socket with the palm of your hand and there's no strain on the board. Don't try it with the board flat on a table; that's almost as bad as when it's on the standoffs in the case. If you don't like pressing against the board with your hand, use a clean <i>cotton</i> oven mitt or towel.</p>
    <p>
    Pure cotton is slightly hygroscopic and dissipates electrostatic charge safely. Do not bring synthetic fabrics (acrylic, polyester, nylon...) or ordinary plastic anywhere near exposed electronic circuitry.</p>
    <p>
    And while we're on that subject, that plastic clamshell the retail CPU comes in is static-safe, too. To avoid zapping your CPU, touch the clamshell before you touch the CPU and touch a mounting hole or connector shell on the board before you let go. Static builds up on your clothes and your skin from the air moving past it, so you need to be draining it away continuously. The charge that can damage a 65 nanometer silicon device is way too small for you to feel. That's why the pros wear a wrist strap connected to a dissipative bench top.</p>
    cls@...