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Building A System from Scratch, Part I
By: Dan Wellman
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    Table of Contents:
  • Building A System from Scratch, Part I
  • What do you need?
  • Where to start: the motherboard
  • The processor and the power supply
  • RAM, modem, and case
  • Hard drive, floppy drive, peripherals

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    Building A System from Scratch, Part I

    (Page 1 of 6 )

    Why buy a stock computer system off the shelf when you can build your own from scratch and get a computer that is perfectly suited to your needs? In part one of this three-part series, Dan Wellman explains how to evaluate your needs, lists the components you will need to acquire, and tells you what to look for (and what to watch out for).

    There are many benefits to building your own custom PC from scratch; you have absolute control over exactly which components and which brands make up your system, you can often save money, it is hugely satisfying, and can often be a learning experience, among other things. It will also prevent you from gaining the really terrible cheap and nasty "free gifts" included in many big name store computer deals, such as the really low-res camera or extremely ugly looking, bottom of the range, flat bed scanner.

    But it does have its drawbacks too; component suppliers, especially those that sell RAM, are often unwilling to refund or replace on items that, for some reason, you cannot get working. Although most suppliers offer a warranty on their products, all too often you'll be turned away with a line such as "Well, memory can be a tricky thing…have you opened it? I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do…" Which of course, is hugely frustrating. Other retailers, especially those online, usually will accept returns on most things, as long as you retain the original packaging; they will want to test the product once you have sent it back to them, and will often take their time doing so. By the time they get around to sending a replacement to you, you could easily lose a month.

    While this article won't provide a 100 percent guarantee against buying an incompatible type of RAM, it will at least point you in a direction that makes it less likely. This article will discuss building a complete system from nothing. While not many people will go from not owning a PC at all to building one from scratch, sticking a new processor in your computer is not quite the same as putting together a complete PC, so I'm making a clear distinction between upgrading and constructing, and focusing on the latter.

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