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Topic: Tips for computer builders (Read 1189 times)

  • ersi
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Tips for computer builders
This is my advice to first-time computer builder: DON'T! The process is not easy. The components may be faulty. Accidents happen. And you don't have enough tools to find out where the problem is.

Tutorials on youtube by professionals don't help. Professionals don't get into trouble. Noobs do. Professionals have mostly forgotten how it was to be a noob. Instead, they give you the false impression that the process is easy and fun like a game of Lego with a screwdriver.

Many video tutorials tell you all you need is a screwdriver and the computer components. This is wrong. You will need at least

- two sizes of screwdrivers (preferably with magnetic tips), if your box is anything less than huge,
- pliers (very tiny pliers to pick fallen things up from tight places if your screwdriver doesn't have a magnetic tip),
- cutters (not scissors, but specialist cutters in order to avoid damaging the bundles of wires when you cut them open),
- alcohol for cleaning,
- clean (dustfree) wiping cloth,
- thermal paste (even if the stock CPU cooler has thermal paste preapplied, be ready to install the CPU multiple times, so you will have to clean the parts and apply your own thermal paste),
- a small flashlight to examine things in the case,
- tons of patience and time,

and it will still not be enough. Something will go wrong. They tell you it's max two hours of assembling things. No. It will be weeks of troubleshooting, months if you have nobody to help you.

More thorough video tutorials by professionals tell you to start by choosing the "right" case. This is a strong clue that we are dealing with someone who has forgotten real-life situations, who has lost the capacity to be useful to a first-timer. People in the real world actually already have a computer and are looking for a way to reuse some parts from there to spare money - at least the case should be reusable, if not anything else. Computer cases have been most resistant to change and innovation. There is no "right" case. There is the case you have wherein you want to build a new computer. If you as a PC build first-timer need to buy a new case, then you should not be doing this. You should take a very good look into your old case first and find a way to reuse it (and maybe a thing or two in it), but even so you will remain a noob. You won't become intermediate by staring into a box.

There is no gratification to be had from building a computer. It is not cheaper or better. It is not cheaper because you cannot afford to cheap out on any of the components. You may think you are putting together something precisely for your own needs, something that is best for you, but in truth you don't know your needs. You certainly don't know which parts correspond to your supposed needs, because you are noob. You think your idea has hatched long enough, for months even, but this is a process where no amount of planning will be enough. You will end up in frustration and overpaying on top of that.

Specifications and manuals don't help. They only tell you what things should fit together, but if the things don't fit together in reality, you are out of luck. And there will surely be some things that don't fit together, unbeknownst to you, because some parts require a surprising amount of force to connect, while the components mostly are very fragile and should be treated gently. As a noob, you will never know if you did it right. More precisely, you cannot be sure what exactly you did wrong. Either you didn't press strong enough where needed or you broke or bent something without noticing or, even if you apply the right force at the right times, the surface you work on isn't quite right. And you don't have enough tools to figure out later where the problem lies.

Something will definitely go wrong along the way. There's no escape from it. You will need someone to share the responsibility with. First-timers should be building under expert guidance the first twelve times or so. Otherwise you will be like me, like many other first-timers who did it wrong. They don't get likes on youtube, they usually don't share their stories, so you don't know about them.

Yesterday I tried to assemble my first PC by myself. The motherboard manual that I got doesn't contain anything about troubleshooting. They expect everything to work. A completely unjustified expectation.

I assembled enough things outside the case - CPU onto motherboard, stock cooler on top of it, RAM into its place, PSU connected at the necessary places. Then, outside the case, I attached the monitor and keyboard to the mobo and the PSU cable to the wall and switched the thing on. Fans spin, mobo lights up, cool. But the monitor has no signal. I thought it was something temporary. I disconnected the power and removed the power cable. I put everything into the case, added a DVD drive and a harddrive, reattached the power cable and switched the thing on again. The DVD drive opens and closes. There seems to be power in the harddrive too, so these parts are getting electricity. And the fans are spinning. The other side however, HDMI and USB and other holes, they don't get anything.

Googling I found out that this is actually a common noob problem. Noobs should not be building computers. I tried some advices. I tried removing and reinstalling RAM. I tried booting without RAM. This is the best troubleshooting list I came across http://www.mysuperpc.com/build/pc_first_boot_common_problems.shtml

They say the mobo should beep when you try to boot it up. No, it doesn't. I understand that this is a basic thing, to have a feedback signal whether things are right or wrong, but looks like modern motherboards, certainly the one I have, don't have this basic thing. The manual does not mention it nor indicate where such a beeper could be attached. Also, the mobo lights up in cool colours when turned on, but there's no indicator light to show whether the mobo recognises RAM or such. Pointless.

Basically, I tried everything short of removing and reinstalling the CPU. My next step will be to call someone who has actually assembled computers and who has an electrometre.

Let no one else undertake this useless and frustrating experiment.

  • ersi
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #25
You didn't have floppies? How did you save your documents?
Ctrl+s.

Floppies are not for saving documents, but for transporting. I hardly ever needed to transport them. When the need arose, I got by with emailing for a long time and then sometimes by making CD's (those I did a lot, music for friends and such).

Anyway, apparently back on Windows 98 I had used something called DriveSpace to greatly increase the storage capacity of floppies. It's basically like a ZIP archive, but completely transparent to the OS. I was badly surprised to find that Windows 10 does not support it anymore.
Right, just like I was surprised that my new mobo doesn't support IDE optical drives. The good thing in this is that I got to know that I had an IDE drive. The bad thing is that I must ditch it.

Since I'm older and wiser now I already have a strong preference for uncompressed Markdown, i.e. plain-text files that will almost certainly remain legible for long after DOC(X) and ODT are lost to the sands of time.
People who are older and wiser than us keep their stuff on paper. And the wisest have minimised their need to be loaded with documentation.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #26
People who are older and wiser than us keep their stuff on paper.
I fail to see how you made this into an either or kind of thing. I have many digital-first documents in paper form, but I also have them (alongside just about everything else I ever wrote or drew on the computer) with me wherever I go if I've got my netbook with me. And more than just that: the other day I couldn't quite remember something I learned in computer linguistics several years ago, so I pulled out the reader and found it within less than half a minute. And I could've done that anywhere on the planet. Meanwhile, back home I'd have to go digging through a mount of papers, assuming I didn't throw it out because I didn't foresee ever wanting to remember the specific name of some experimental video game (Façade). My biggest mistake about the obligatory introduction to Western philosophy course is that all I have retained is my paper printout. Quickly finding something will at the very least take minutes, assuming I'm at home in the first place.

And the wisest have minimised their need to be loaded with documentation.
"Documentation" doesn't have value. Documentation is something you throw out after the legal ten years. Even so, in digital form there's hardly such a thing as being "loaded with documentation". It's completely hidden out of sight in the relevant folder unless you specifically look for it.

  • ersi
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #27
People who are older and wiser than us keep their stuff on paper.
I fail to see how you made this into an either or kind of thing.
It becomes an either or kind of thing when you have to deal with the kind of older and wiser people that I have to deal with. For example, I know an old dude who, every time he receives a bill by email and the email says "to view this document you have to have Adobe Reader installed, click here," he installs Adobe Reader. Meaning, he installs Adobe Reader every time he receives a bill. And as soon as he manages to open the bill, he prints it out to take a "closer look" at it. This is how it's an either or thing, ironically enough.

And there are creative writing projects where I prefer to draw plans and make notes on paper. I'm that old.

And the wisest have minimised their need to be loaded with documentation.
"Documentation" doesn't have value. Documentation is something you throw out after the legal ten years. Even so, in digital form there's hardly such a thing as being "loaded with documentation". It's completely hidden out of sight in the relevant folder unless you specifically look for it.
I didn't mean documentation in the static sense. I meant the rate of bills you receive per month, projects you run in parallel, etc. I prefer to keep all such running stuff in my inbox sorted/searchable, no other folder. The wisest people don't need to do this, not excessively anyway.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #28
And there are creative writing projects where I prefer to draw plans and make notes on paper. I'm that old.
Everybody should. If they think otherwise they're wrong. Sometimes I start digitally, sometimes I start analog, but revising has a big necessary analog component. If eInk were any good it might not need to be analog, but I'd need A4 with a proper digital pen for that. (I think Sony sells something that might kind of do that for upward of $1200... so I'm not even the least bit interested in giving it a try.) I actually tried a vague approximation of that in Xournal as well as a couple of Windows applications, but the experience is just too poor. I do think paper has the potential of being obsoleted for this purpose, but certainly not anytime soon.

People also severely underestimate the inherent value of the natural editing that comes from typing up your initial written-down notes. It's a chore, but one you have to perform anyway. Starting analog to some degree forces you not to skip the step.

On the flipside, those notes can be awful to keep track of, even when done properly (i.e., in the type of binder where you can swap pages around etc.). I've incorporated Git as a major part of my editing process as well. For me it comes down to importance. The more important the text, the more analog components my process entails. Because I can concentrate better on paper, and because the process of getting my revisions back from paper to digital makes my text better. Or as the old adage goes, writing is rewriting.

  • ersi
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #29
Yes, when you have first learned to write in silence on paper, it's a habit hard to give up. A computer whirls and sucks mental energy away from the writer.

There are also more prosaic reasons to prefer plain paper. For example, I often need to put down very different fonts, notations and scripts in one mix. Computer software is still woefully inadequate to handle this situation. For a moment I became interested in Latex which was supposed to be a good markup for scientific writing, but soon enough I discovered it's only for math and it is an outright obstacle in simple cases like umlauts, not to mention when you need to put Cyrillic, Greek, Uralic phonetic transcription, and Devanagari all in the same document.

Somehow there is still no better tool for my use case than office software. That's why I don't see plain paper ever coming obsolete.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #30
Umlauts should be very simple, even in LaTeX. The problem is you need to know some basics about package handling. I can give you some pointers if you're interested. How to properly type things like IPA I haven't really figured out, although there are some pretty nice web-based keyboards out there (first random result in a search engine is http://ipa.typeit.org/full/).

  • ersi
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #31
How to properly type things like IPA I haven't really figured out, although there are some pretty nice web-based keyboards out there (first random result in a search engine is http://ipa.typeit.org/full/).
I always knew how to type things, in principle at least. In computers, the problem is how to preserve things, save it so that the next person who opens it will see the same thing.

In Latex, when I researched the umlaut problem, the answer was to define in the document a font with a broad Unicode base, such as ttf-linux-libertine. And if you want more, add more packages and extensions to Latex.

This is wrong in my opinion, or wrong for my writing purposes. If a markup language claims to be for scientific writing, it should be able to swallow and preserve whatever I scientific stuff I type into it. Linguistics is a science, so Latex should deal with it out of the box. It's not good when I have to pioneer new Latex packages just to be able to type and popularise new standards to be able to share what I wrote. This would leave no time for actual writing.

Office software and PDF are still unbeatable in this area. Their main problem is convertibility. When you convert them to HTML for example, the result is often crap for no good reason. Where functionality is the same, it should be cleanly convertible between markup languages.

  • Belfrager
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #32
A friend of mine builds computers. He knows things that no one knows, things far beyond logical reasoning.

Things like how so many components from official brand sellers are falsified and simply don't work. Things as how many new computers have already original components substituted.

Building computers is not accessible to everybody, it demands the knowledge you extract from trying to build and repair hundred of computers, not one.
Such is the f_cking computer industry.
A matter of attitude.

  • ersi
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #33
Building computers is not accessible to everybody, it demands the knowledge you extract from trying to build and repair hundred of computers, not one.
Going through the trouble of building some computers will make building/repairing computers ever more accessible to you, if you are the kind of person who grows along with the stuff you do. There has to be a broader purpose of course, then there can be growth towards mastery. Here's a guy who is a champion on the level of mobo components.



  • Frenzie
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #34
I always knew how to type things, in principle at least. In computers, the problem is how to preserve things, save it so that the next person who opens it will see the same thing.
Well, when I say "properly" I suppose I really mean "easily". I can type your regular French/Dutch/German characters (ç, ß, ë, ï, etc.) without resorting to any kind of character tables. I'd like to be able to do the same at least for the most common stuff like ɛ and ɪ. I think some compose key magic should be able to handle it, but I certainly don't care enough to try to come up with my own standard.

This is wrong in my opinion, or wrong for my writing purposes. If a markup language claims to be for scientific writing, it should be able to swallow and preserve whatever I scientific stuff I type into it. Linguistics is a science, so Latex should deal with it out of the box. It's not good when I have to pioneer new Latex packages just to be able to type and popularise new standards to be able to share what I wrote. This would leave no time for actual writing.
It's still easier than word processors imo. As far as proper character support goes, either use XeTeX or LuaLaTeX with \usepackage{fontspec}. (That's the kind of thing that's hard to figure out as a n00b.) The rest mostly sorts itself out although you might want to use some hacks for typographic consistency among different alphabets and character sets. But that's no easier in LibreOffice or Word or whatnot. Also see http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/latex.html

Office software and PDF are still unbeatable in this area. Their main problem is convertibility. When you convert them to HTML for example, the result is often crap for no good reason. Where functionality is the same, it should be cleanly convertible between markup languages.
LaTeX is basically just a convenient way to generate PDF (or originally PostScript). PDF is often the way to go, with some form of HTML a distant second. Anything else (e.g., DOC, ODT)? Hell no! That's just for during the editing process. I'd prefer if we could edit files in plaintext markdown, but unfortunately that only works among people with a certain affinity with programming for now.

So basically in my preferred workflow you have

1. (Pandoc) Markdown, always readable on basically every computer ever. This is used as the basis for PDF.
2. PDF, typographically etc. perfect and pretty much your best bet as an archival format.

If desired, the initial Pandoc Markdown can be easily converted to something like DOCX instead, in order to accommodate an inferior but more cooperative workflow.

The advantage of LaTex is that it has remained stable for something like three decades, so your source files can still generate the same PDF decades later. The advantage of Pandoc Markdown is that it's much easier to write. The disadvantage is that Pandoc Markdown is much less stable.
  • Last Edit: 2016-06-05, 11:04:54 by Frenzie

  • Sparta
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #35
i was thingking to build lga 1155 pc.


but i want to keep my graphic card from lga 775.


hmm..

what is some good mobo with pcie slot and ata hardisk slot.


  • Frenzie
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #36
How old a GPU are we talking? A modern built-in model might equal or outperform with significantly better efficiency.

  • Sparta
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #37
its zotac of nvidia.

1gb vram,  64 bit.

open gl 2.0 -  4.2

  • Frenzie
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #38
You left out perhaps the most important part (the name) ;) but I suppose 1GB VRAM means the thing is probably post-2010? Basically you should take a look at this list: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gpu-hierarchy,review-33383.html

You can see that the latest integrated Intel graphics (HD Graphics 530) are already roughly on par with my old '09 GPU, a Radeon HD 4850. This means that if I built a new computer right now, my '09 GPU would offer no or at best an extremely marginal improvement.

Of course it's different if you go for AMD. For instance, here's the Tweakers.net recommended budget system: http://tweakers.net/reviews/4553/2/desktop-best-buy-guide-mei-2016-budget-en-basisgamesysteem.html#budget In that one your GPU would be useful no matter what. I imagine every motherboard mentioned in that guide should be a good one. Generally speaking I like ASUS and Gigabyte.

  • Sparta
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #39
its geforce gt 610
 i bought that for $50.

not a decent gpu,  however its just works.


used to set the core clock at 1000mhz.
and memory clock 600mhz.

more than that it will crash the system.

perhaps its because voltages deficit.

and hence,  i cant find voltages control,  even in msi afterburner


  • Sparta
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #40
hmm  have checked the link.

really helpfull,  however there is price differences.

in example the gygabyte mobo  ,  its said  50euro.

and at here the cheapest is $100.


saphire nitro is 194 euro.

at here the cheapest is $400

  • Frenzie
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #41
its geforce gt 610
 i bought that for $50.

not a decent gpu,  however its just works.
Yeah, from what I can find that's roughly equal to what's built-in to last-generation Intel motherboards (like mine) and should've been surpassed by the latest.

Anyway, not that it really matters. All motherboards come with PCI-e and will be able to use your old GPU. I mostly wanted to point out that you might be able to save some electricity.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #42
The Volkswagen scandal also applies to GPUs: http://www.hardware.fr/news/14693/gtx-10x0-asus-msi-bios-special-presse.html

tl;dr ASUS and MSI GPUs are sent out with a special press BIOS which is ever so slightly overclocked compared to the regular retail BIOS. Gigabyte doesn't do this (yet).

  • Sparta
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #43
So bought secondhand mobo,  lga 1155 american megatrend.

Intel core i3,  and 2 gb ram as starter.

I hope i doing it right.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #44
I'd say 2 GB is a bit low for a new(ish) build but I suppose it depends on how you use your computer. :)

  • Sparta
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #45
I dont do video editing.

And most of games using video ram,  rather than system ram.


  • ersi
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #46
Is there a way to insert a graphic card on the motherboard so that you don't have to reinstall the operating system?

Finally I found a nice graphics card for the computer box I've been building. It fit easily into the chassis, but the opsys got stuck booting at some silly stage like Network Manager. After reinstalling the opsys everything works.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #47
I went from Nvidia (7600 GT) to ATI (HD4850) to AMD (R9 270X) with possibly a minuscule Intel sidestep (HD Graphics 4600) in Windows & Linux without any issues.[1] Occasionally you might need to uninstall or install something,[2] especially if you installed any proprietary drivers, but you should generally be able to do that even if X fails to start? The important thing is to uninstall or remove whatever's causing trouble; the computer should always be able to boot in some kind of basic VESA mode.
I believe the Debian install I'm using dates back to 2011, and besides three motherboards and as many graphics cards it has also lived on two or three different HDDs and more recently two different SSDs. Linux just doesn't care. Windows is unfortunately a tad less pleasant to work with motherboard & storage-wise, but changing GPUs is something it seems to tolerate.
Or remove a customized Xorg.conf if it pertains to your GPU

  • ersi
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #48
Okay, I'll try to figure out some cleaner course of action next time. This time, reinstalling was the fastest and easiest option, so I did it.

My step was from no graphics card to a graphics card. And when the graphics card was not inserted (not inserted because I wanted to boot into the opsys again), I could not find a fast way to install Nvidia drivers, whereas a fresh install detects the graphics card and installs the driver automatically. Being in a hurry does not help.
  • Last Edit: 2017-01-13, 07:43:37 by ersi

  • Frenzie
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Re: Tips for computer builders
Reply #49
On Debian and derivatives the most important basic drivers should already be preinstalled. For Nvidia that's called Nouveau.

xserver-xorg-video-vesa <- probably the most basic driver, works with just about anything
xserver-xorg-video-nouveau <- open-source Nvidia driver, kinda meh (blame Nvidia) and you'll likely need the Nvidia binary blob to get proper res/performance but it should generally at least get you a picture and on some cards it actually works quite well

There's a slew of other things (radeon, trident, r128, etc., etc.) for all kinds of cards.

If a distro doesn't do something similar I'd probably avoid it as deeply user-unfriendly. We're talking hundreds of kilobytes here, megabytes at most.