As I blogged here, I have just finished building a new Windows 7 x64 PC based on the lovely Intel I5/750 with a Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H motherboard, Arctic Freezer Pro 7 Rev 2 cooler, 4 Gb RAM, 2x 500 GB WD discs and a Sapphire ATI HD 5670 graphics card all in an Asus TM-261 case.
Despite the things I learned from building it, I did get a lot right before I started assembling, so in the interests of balance…
- Have a budget this really focusses the attention on features and trade-offs, e.g. motherboard cost for features versus disc space
- Careful shopping I bought the mobo, CPU, memory and disc all from Novatech as they have a shop near me (and also the thermal paste). The graphics and case I got from Amazon saving some cash and I was confident I wouldn’t get these wrong. I had a PSU, the DVD and second disc came from the old system. Mouse / keyboard get from wherever you like
- Clear requirements is this an htpc/media server, file server, games monster or power desktop. I went Intel I5/750 as I am in the power desktop / budget / some gaming camp
- It’s hard to find a budget micro-ATX case with no PSU. I went for the Asus as it was low price, not a bad build for all that and no PSU. Too many models have an unspecified PSU in them for my tastes
- Dig out all the measurements – this led to my being 90% certain I could fit the Arctic Freezer Pro 7 in my case (and I was right!)
- USB3 – most boards have a problem in that you can’t get USB3 and a graphics card to work together without the USB dropping down to USB 2. The chip to fix this is around £25 so for a budget this is a deal breaker. In early 2010 when I built the system few boards had USB3 and none in micro-ATX that would also allow the graphics card to be used. I nearly went for a dearer motherboard here but found out just in time.
There we have it, message – definitely think hard before just throwing money at the system build and you can maximise key components – CPU and memory in my case