Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Building a PC

  1. Jan 18, 2017 #1

    BiGyElLoWhAt

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Perhaps this is the place to put this?

    I'm in the market for a new pc, and am thinking of doing it myself (this will be my first time building one from scratch). I'm fairly familiar with the components and what they do, but specifically, what I will need, that is where my real question lies.

    I might be asking a lot from my PC, but basically, I want it to run ProTools 12, run large Java/C/Python programs, and also run League of Legends. That's about the only game I play, and it's not that heavy on resources, I believe. My crapola desktop runs it fairly well currently.

    So a few questions, really.
    1) I have 2 server towers. Would it be recommended to use one of these after gutting it, or should I just get a new case? The cases are pretty old. One of them has 8 or 10 hard drive slots on the front of it.

    2) What would estimated minimum requirements be? And what are good brands/models to look into? If someone has a PC that they've built that would/does handle this and would like to provide specs/part numbers, that would be fantastic.

    I look forward to hearing everyone's opinion, thanks!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2017 #2

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    First, get at least 16 Megs of RAM [EDIT: GIGS, GIGS, GIGS ... not megs]. Second get a SSD boot drive. 256Gigs is more than enough provided you also get a hybrid drive of 1TB more more for the non-boot stuff. Third, get a graphics card that will much more than handle your current needs (so as to cover new games, etc.). I also recommend a second HD, beyond the hybrid, for system backup/restore.

    I'd say go with an existing box if you have one, as long as it is compatible with a modern motherboard.

    Other than that, it's pretty much do what you want, but DO watch out for parts compatibility. I recently did a workstation build and not having done a build for about 25 years, I spent a HUGE amount of time on researching modern parts. I can send you my full system specs if you like.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017
  4. Jan 18, 2017 #3

    BiGyElLoWhAt

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I would love your specs, actually. Thanks for the reply.
    I was just reading an article in PC magazine about using an SSD-Mechanical drive. Would it be necessary to get a hybrid over a strictly mechanical for separate files?
    Also, I have a 1TB external, is that what you mean by a second hard drive? Or do you mean also plugged into the mother board?

    I suppose I should mention that I'm looking to ball park between $500-700. Do you think that's feasible for what I'm looking for? I saw a couple graphics cards from Xfx for 50-100$. One is the core edition Amd radeon R7 with 4 gb and PCI 3.0 ($79.99) and the other is the radeon R5 with 2gb with PCI express 2.1 ($59.99). Both are DDR 3.

    I have no experience knowing what a good amount of ram or how fast of a connection I need. Would the R7 be significantly better than the R5? Would you recommend another brand/model?
     
  5. Jan 18, 2017 #4

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    I'll PM you my specs.

    Hybrid is not necessary but it's very nice how fast they are and the cost is not that much more.

    An external 2nd drive is fine. What matters is that it NOT be the boot drive or the primary data drive. I have several internal drives and a set of rotating external drives (one of which is kept at a separate location in case my house burns down).

    I used Intel and have forgotten what I learned about the AMD CPUs

    I think your price range is optimistic. I built a bit more than you are looking at but not HUGELY more and I spent something like $1200.
     
  6. Jan 18, 2017 #5

    BiGyElLoWhAt

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Do you know why the CPU cache is so small compared with the storage in a graphics card?
     
  7. Jan 18, 2017 #6

    Svein

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Simple answer - lack of space. There is only so much space on the CPU die.
     
  8. Jan 18, 2017 #7

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    The CPU depends on main memory. The POINT of graphics card memory is to NOT depend on main memory.
     
  9. Jan 18, 2017 #8
    check out and or join geekstogo.com They have a forum for selfbuild advice. One thing they'll ask is what OS you'll be using. Windows: An existing licence or buy one. If you buy one, OEM or retail. OEM is cheaper but can only be installed on the one PC configuration with some modifications allowed for. Retail can be installed on any number of PC's, one at a time. (Linux: unlimited and free, also has WINE for installing windows progs) They wont advice on anything vaguely illegal but if they go ahead you'll get good advice.

    I think as a first build you might be better off buying a beefy second hand PC and upgrade it over time. Take your time
     
  10. Jan 18, 2017 #9

    rbelli1

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You'll want significantly more than that considering the current version of windows requires at least 64 times as much.

    One thing to watch is that your power supply can supply enough power. Pay attention to the standby power. I had one that was significantly more power than I needed but the standby power was low and it sometimes did not start. This was after upgrading the MB.

    BoB
     
  11. Jan 18, 2017 #10

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    WHOA !!! boy was that a goof. Yeah, 16 Gigs.
     
  12. Jan 18, 2017 #11
    This (http://askubuntu.com/questions/3378/my-processor-is-64-bit-does-that-mean-i-need-the-amd64-image) :


    "X64, amd64 and x86-64 are names for the same processor type. It's often called amd64 because AMD came up with it initially. All current general-public 64-bit desktops and servers have an amd64 processor.

    There is a processor type called IA-64 or Itanium. It's only found in supercomputers and a few high-end servers.


    A 64-bit processor can run a 32-bit system, so you have a choice of installing the amd64 version or the i386 version. Here are a few points of comparison:


    • A few years ago, some programs had bugs when compiled for 64-bit processors, but that's mostly a thing of the past.
    • You can run 32-bit programs on a 64-bit system; the converse is not true.
    • A 32-bit kernel can access more than 4GB of RAM, so having more than 4GB of RAM is not a compelling reason to run a 64-bit kernel. On the other hand, a 32-bit program can only access less (than) about 3GB of memory. (microsoft says 4)
    • Which one is faster depends on the application (number crunching can be more than twice as fast in 64-bit mode, while symbolic manipulation can be more than twice as slow)."
    Deals with another point. RAM and cpu architecture.
     
  13. Jan 18, 2017 #12

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Gosh, somebody better tell Intel. They are going to be VERY surprised to hear that.
     
  14. Jan 18, 2017 #13
    It's just nomenclature. *I think intel is trying to break that by calling it x64.

    edit add: * I posted that before the next post**.

    edit add 2 : I can't help thinking that comment** can sound argumentative.

    I was just stating a fact because the poster of the next post wouldn't have seen that and possibly read it as some upmanship whish it isn't.

    I think I worry tooo much.

    Anyway. I've built many PC's for myself and others.

    I think 500 to 700 is not enough unless you use used parts. Hence buying a good working system with an OS license is probably a less risky way to end up with a good reliable system than putting together a complete first build.

    One way to keep costs down is to always buy last years cpu for example. They come out at a high price and within six months to a year have a significant price loss.

    A motherboard on the other hand. It's a good idea to get a good one that can be upgraded for years to come. eg a latest motherboard and a past cpu is a good way to keep costs down while saving up to in a few years buy a much better cpu.

    A good fast video card with lots of fast ram needs not be expensive unless you're going for max perfomance gaming.

    Don't rush into getting any parts. Do your research.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017
  15. Jan 18, 2017 #14

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    I don't think that Intel likes to call their processors "amd <ANYTHING>" :smile:
     
  16. Jan 18, 2017 #15

    rbelli1

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    This is only true for motherboards and CPU's that have the appropriate hardware support. Also the OS needs to support it. PAE is the term for that support. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Address_Extension

    I believe on the Windows 4GB limited versions you can use the full 4GB and are not dinged for the graphics and driver windows like in non PAE systems with 4GB RAM.

    BoB
     
  17. Jan 18, 2017 #16
    Here's my own PC. "Outside the box, or: no box".

    When I hang it on the wall like this it's easy to plug in and remove things.

    With the screen it comes to about 700.

    wallpc.JPG
     
  18. Jan 18, 2017 #17

    rbelli1

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Long term operation like that is not exactly the best idea. Cooling is compromised. There is a concern with EMI both in and out of the system. Noise will be a bit higher too but that can be mitigated with proper component selection.

    Dust ingress is a mixed bag. You get more dust collection but you can better see when the cooling devices need cleaning or replacing.

    BoB
     
  19. Jan 18, 2017 #18
    The point about dust is very good. One reason I like this setup.

    Cooling works fine. I tilted it so that no heat from components rise on to any others. It survives the Australian summer with no airconditioning. Often in the mid 30's. A must to keep the dust to a minimum. A blow with pressurised air a few times a year.

    Noise is no problem at all. A quiet power supply behind, an ssd, and no fan on the video card. It's quieter than my last setup which was in a box with cooling fans. Plus I can easily see, smell and feel all components.

    The only thing is I'd never have kids or clumsy people around it.
     
  20. Jan 19, 2017 #19

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    As a veteran DYI desktop assembler I recommend
    1] 64 bit OS
    2] 600+ watt PSU [a little overkill >> roadkill]
    3] i5 CPU
    4]~256 GB SSD [for boot drive]
    5] TB hard drive [for non boot storage + 1 for emergency boot]
    6] compatible MB [based on CPU socket]
    7] video card with 2GB VRAM [1GB will do if pinching pennies]
    8] 8 GB RAM, PCI 3000+
    9] Case matching MB form factor with fans and good air flow
    10] keyboard
    11] mouse with wheel
    12] CD ROM
    13] LCD monitor w/cables
    Get a MB with built in sound chip, but, not onboard video - it sucks - and a socket that matches your CPU, from a reputable mfr. Avoid wasting money for features you don't understand or need. 8GB ram is the sweet spot for a 64 bit OS. You should already know if you need more and it is cheap to add. Get a reputable PSU with decent wattage, saving a few bucks on that is not worth risking a rig fry. You don't need an i7 cpu. The i5 is plenty powerful and cheaper. I'm not a big AMD fan, they run hot and heat is the number one cpu killer - which explains my case specs. SSD is fast and the preferred boot drive. you still want a couple HD's - 1 for misc storage and 1 for backup/reserve boot. Once you burn the backup/boot image, that drive should not even be connected unless your SSD crashes or you get a nasty virus [because a nasty virus can infect any drive that is connected]. Such a package is possible for under 1k, if you shop smart.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
  21. Jan 19, 2017 #20

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    @BiGyElLoWhAt , one thing I should add is that my whole system, i7, four hard drives, two DVD players, a couple of external USB-powered drives, large add-on CPU dual fan, 4 case fans, a graphics card and sound card, ALL TOGETHER take a grand total of 80Watts so my 600W power supply turned out to be massive overkill. Oh, it DOES spike to almost 120Watts when the bigger of the two DVD players is active, but still ...

    And just as a pleasant aside, the thing that surprised me completely, not having done a build in 25 years, was how totally silent the case and CPU fans are. If you put your ear right next to one, you can hear a very low hum, otherwise, it's like they aren't even there.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted