My latest project has been to research different PC hardware and wishlist three different machines on newegg. I decided to make two reasonable machines, one AMD and the other Intel and then a ridiculous one with an Intel core i7 at it’s heart. If you ever want advising on current hardware and junk like that, let me know.
Since I already have a monitor, speakers and basic PS/2 keyboard I set out with a goal of building a machine coming in under $900, with the rest of the parts.
As a starting point, I checked out Tomshardware for reviews and then I went to Anandtech for in-depth information about every aspect I didn’t know much about. When building a computer, I like starting with the CPU and working my way outward. The CPU is the heart of a computer, and therefore I find it the most critical part. It’s like buying a car with the right amount of horsepower. The reviews there go by price bracket, some CPU’s are sub-$100 all the way up to ~$300 for the ridiculously new parts. The best processor they have at the $160 price point was the AMD Phenom II x4 955 BE.
AMD is Advanced Micro Devices, Intel’s somewhat less exposed competitor. There’s an advantage to buying an AMD chip instead of an Intel one, complete freedom to overclock the processor (which is denoted by the BE for Black Edition), which is a means of making it go faster than originally set and LOWER PRICE! The Phenom, is just the product line, like Corvette or Mustang. X4, means it has four parts to split up the work. Splitting up the work is cheaper than making a chip that goes really really fast, so that’s why there are four chips in this one little processor.
Since I wanted to build and all AMD machine, and AMD also makes video cards, I checked out reviews for those. I picked a reasonable price point and found they suggested the ATI 4850. I’m between that and the 4890 as solid possibles. (The 90 at the end instead of the 50 being higher performing)
The next piece of the puzzle was a motherboard. Since my processor uses the AM3 socket, I need a motherboard with the same socket technology. The video card I have runs on a PCIe 16x slot. Further down the road I can use another card that’s pretty much the same, and then use two cards for more video processing power. All the motherboards I could find didn’t let the two video cards use all of the 16x speed they’re designed for, so until further notice I’ll be unhappy with the motherboard selection.
Banducci suggested I get an Lian-Li case, so I picked one that looked the most non-descript, elegant and best for airflow. Here.
Since I knew very little about power supplies, I poked around on Anandtech and found a review of several 550 watt power supplies ( 550 being the wattage I’ll need based on Antec’s power supply caluculator). After their lengthy review, I picked the BFG.
To finish I picked the best RAM that’ll work on my mobo, at a decent price.
A DVD burner, Logitech mouse, 500GB hard drive, and an aftermarket CPU cooler on standby if I decide to overclock.
Price of my AMD build: $798