Building a PC

January 12, 2010 | categories: Me, Pcs

A while back I decided to build a PC from parts for the first time. Why didn't I ever do so before? (a) Lack of money, and (b) Worry I'd screw something up. Of course, what kind of computer nerd would I be if I never built my own?

So first things first, the specs (some components old, the rest ordered from

  • MSI G41M-F Motherboard
  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 (2.5Ghz)
  • Geforce 210 (512mb)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 630W PSU
  • 500GB HDD
  • Nox Saphira Case
  • DVD±RW drive

Nothing astounding there. A decidedly below-par graphics card for a new system, but considering it was my first buld, I didn't want to spend loads in case I screwed up. Plenty of room for expansion later however.

The first part of the build went easy enough. A minor beginners mistake when I didn't check which way I was putting the heatsink beforehand, so I had to unwrap more of the CPU fan cable than otherwise needed (which meant I later had to cable tie it to another cable to keep it away from the fan blades).

The system was assembled and wired up, hassle-free. Turning it on first time yielded spinning fans, spinning hard drive, running graphics card, no CD drive and no display. After a minor panic attack, it turned out I'd forgotten to plug in the extra 12V power cable for the motherboard. That solved, the system booted up fine.

System setup was the next step. The first OS to go on was Windows Server 2008 R2. Why Windows Server? Because I'm a cheapskate, and could get it for free from Microsoft Dreamspark. That started installation. Everything looked fine, but it froze at expanding Windows files. A quick install of Fedora 10 proved the system was capable of running an OS, and even Windows XP ran fine. Then it dawned on me. I burned a new disc, and Server 2008 R2 installed fine.

A little tinkering was needed to get a decent desktop experience from the Server OS. This is actually so common, there are websites for converting Server 2008 to a Vista-esque PC and the same for Server 2008 R2 to 7.

The system runs fine, and can handle all my games without any difficulty, except Fallout 3. I don't know what's causing the Fallout 3 problem, but it freezes randomly within the first 5 minutes. A quick google reveals some people have the same problem with Windows 7, so it may just be an incompatibility, so I'll have to hang on and wait for another patch.

in total (remember, some parts are from old systems), this build cost me just under €350. could i have gotten a comparable system for €350? checking on dell, the same money would buy me a pentium dual core e5300 and integrated graphics, so probably not.

Footnote: I've written this post while trying out Windows Live Writer. It seems cool. My one problem is it doesn't quite render my theme right in the edit section, but apart from that it is fine. Anyone know of any Linux programs with similar features?