Friday, June 10, 2011

New computer

I have a new computer, but it's not just any computer. This one, I actually built myself! I bought all the components, a case, hard drive, processor, dvd/cd drive, etc., and put it together on Sunday.

It all started with James's campaign of terror against the Mac. He kept saying he wanted a Dell, but I didn't want to buy him a new one, so I found an old one at the thrift store, and thought I'd try to upgrade it. Turned out it had a fried hard drive, so I thought maybe I could replace that, and I started looking for videos on YouTube on how to do it. When I saw it demonstrated, I realized that it's really pretty easy - same thing goes for replacing a cd-rom drive. But there was a hitch; I discovered that the computer was really pretty old - from about 2003 or so, and a lot of the connectors have changed in the meantime. Finding compatible parts looked like it was going to be a difficult, expensive process.

Then, while looking for "how to upgrade your computer" books in Chapters, I saw one on how to build your own pc. (This one). I took note of the title, and found it was available in our library, so I took it out and read it. This is when I decided I could do this myself, so I followed their "recipe" for building a budget computer, and gradually accumulated all the parts needed. Then on Sunday I followed their pictures and guidelines and put it all together. And believe it or not, it all worked perfectly the very first time!

Of course, they said they could assemble it in 30 minutes, while it took me 4 hours! And that included a trip to the computer store to buy another SATA cable, because the components only provided one for the dvd drive, not the hard drive.

Since this was a first-time attempt, I saved money by buying a $10 monitor at the Salvation Army, and a used keyboard and mouse for just a few dollars each. Now that I see how well it worked, I'll watch the sales and get a really nice monitor when I see a suitable one on sale - it's a bit weird to go back to this curved square screen again, as it's one of those old-fashioned monitors with the big long rear section, just like an old TV.

Now that I can do it, I'm going to save up and build a really super computer in a year or two: something with huge memory, that I can use as a media center, with all our movies on the hard drive, and connected to big HD TV! Ahhh, it gives me something to dream about...

Here are the components I used:

Case - ANTEC NSK 4482B (Power and fan included)
Motherboard - MB ASROCK K10N78M-PRO
Processor - CPU AMD|ATH II X2 250 3.0G AM3 RT
Memory - 2x2GB Crucial CT2KIT25664AA800 R (4GB total)
Hard Drive - SEAGATE ST3500418AS 500 GB
Optical Drive - Asus
Speakers - Altec Lansing 2.0 Computer Speaker (VS2620)
Monitor - Dell (used)
Keyboard - Dynex wired (used)
Mouse - Logitech wired (used)

It's almost exactly what was recommended in the book for a "budget system", except that the processor they called for was #240, I think, and this slightly more advanced model had replaced it. I'm just a beginner, and I didn't know enough about computer building to feel competent to change the components, but maybe someday I will.

I strongly recommend the book to anyone thinking of building a pc. For the most part it's very easy to understand - they occasionally get swept away using acronyms and tech terms, but eventually you'll find a definition or explanation of what they're talking about. Before I tried this, my only computer hardware experience had been connecting cables at the back and prying off keyboard keys to clean the dust and hair that was gumming up the works. If I can have a success the first time, I think anyone can, you just have to be patient and read the instructions and get a clear idea of what you're about to do.

Taking apart the old computer was a big help - it was useful to actually see how things fitted onto a motherboard, how big a processor and fan were, how many cables there were, etc. It made the real thing much easier to comprehend.

Here's a picture:


Blogger Priscilla said...

Smarty pants!
Personally I wouldn't know how to begin. That's why I'm a Mac! I go the easy route.
You are a star!

8:08 pm  
Blogger Alan Stewart said...

Wow! I'm impressed. When I needed a "new" computer I settled for an $80 special off lease -- came back from being leased. I think that I actually installed an ethernet card and a sound card years ago, but I don't even like the idea of opening up the back of my computer. One time I did it there were spiderwebs in there and ick. The idea of "vacuuming it out", which I read, didn't sound too bright to me.

Just having utube videos around (for anything) is comforting. I'll definitely consider this option in the future.

3:29 pm  
Blogger Tina said...

I've been meaning to stop by and congratulate you on this! What a smart approach. Thanks for sharing, maybe it will give me courage to try it myself one of these days! :-)

6:34 am  

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