I would have thought that selecting custom curtains and drapery for your home would be a lot simpler than building a PC for under $1000.00. I stand corrected. My significant other is in the process of “decorating” and has decided to have some curtains made. Opps, I mean drapes custom made. First of all apparently you can have made virtually any style of drapes. Well that opens up too much of a choice if you ask me. Or you can narrow the selection to the four most popular drapery styles: Box Pleat Drapes (also known as Inverted Pleat), Pinch Pleat Drapes, Euro Pleat Drapes (also known as Top Tack) and Goblet Pleat Drapes. Great names. Then you need to select the type of fabric you want: cotton, linen. or silk. Hey what about synthetic fabrics? Only natural fabrics I have been told. OK, let’s go with good old cotton. Then you need to select the color of the custom drapes and whether or not there is a pattern, stripe, or weave. And boy, are there a lot of selections when you consider solid, pattern, stripe, or weave. I give up. Let me get back to my simple component list and leave the custom drape decisions to someone else.
The Heart of the Build:
These are the major decisions, which will likely determine everything necessary about the project’s longevity, especially concerning the potential for upgrades down the line.
- CPU – usually, I’d look at the newest socket specification and pick a reasonable CPU, knowing that I can upgrade later. Unfortunately, I decided to build right after Intel released the first batch of X58 CPUs, so I’m stuck at the bleeding edge. It’s pretty much i7 or go backwards to the 1156 socket CPUs (in which case i3, i5, i7). li>Mobo – again, the 1366 vs. 1156 is bugging me. It’s not just the CPU socket, it’s the USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb compatibility (which, I suppose, will come no matter what socket ends up going longer) and the triple-channel memory. Between the CPU & Mobo, all of this adds up to a couple hundred bucks of difference!
- Graphics – well, at least this one is simple. I just have to decide whether to start with one more or less powerful card or go for two cards with more power and micro-stuttering potential in Crossfire, decide which of the available 5000 (or possibly 4850/4870) GPUs is right for me, then choose the specific card from the various manufacturers (and onboard memory configurations). Compared to the CPU & mobo decision, this is easy!
Usually the less-exciting components, but no less important. The choices here are pretty much completely replaceable and dependent on the mobo (well, except for the power supply, which isn’t really dependent on anything except maybe the case).
- Memory – ugh. It’s gonna be DDR3 for sure. But what speed and how much? single, dual, triple-channel 2GB 1600 or 3GB 1333 or 4GB 1066 or…
- Hard Drive – hmm, this could be the year I finally go solid state…or not. SATA 3 or 6 Gb is here, and so are 32mb and 64mb caches. 7200 is now standard, with 10000 a definite possibility. Worst comes to worst, I’ll use one of the many old ones I have laying around (not).
- Power – bare minimum: 500watts. Working minimum: 650w. Average center mode median: 750w. Feeling ridiculous: anything over 1000w. I need to learn more about 12v rails.
Not that they’re not needed, but these are more or less totally interchangeable. I could replace them at any time during the life of the computer.
- Case – I like the Antec Skeleton. I don’t like that it’s $150 of my budget right there. Maybe I’ll make something myself?
- Optical Drive – I don’t really need it. Like, at all…would my external USB 2.0 DVD-RW be okay for installing/ recording/ playing stuff?
- Sound Card – really don’t need it right away. Onboard sound is okay to start with (though not ideal, and definitely not worth making mobo decisions about), and I do have a few older SoundBlasters kicking around if necessary (and an Echo Mia if I need high quality ins and outs). Very little improvement in consumer sound cards over the last decade.