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2007kid
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28 Nov 2019, 5:33 pm

I intend to build a computer from scratch, for the purpose of gaming, someday. Please PM me if you're up to asking me about more specific needs and if you're kind enough to give advice.



jimmy m
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28 Nov 2019, 9:28 pm

Over 40 years ago I had a friend that built his own computer. At that time there were no personal computers. He decide to do it and constructed the computer from scratch. It took him 2 years to build and it really worked in the end. But by the time he finished, the first PCs hit the commercial market. And soon many people owned their own PC.

Today many people build PCs not from scratch but using major subsystems. You buy a mainframe and select processors, hard drives and assemble it. In a sense you can use liquid coolant and overclocking to build your own supercomputer.


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2007kid
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28 Nov 2019, 10:21 pm

jimmy m wrote:
Over 40 years ago I had a friend that built his own computer. At that time there were no personal computers. He decide to do it and constructed the computer from scratch. It took him 2 years to build and it really worked in the end. But by the time he finished, the first PCs hit the commercial market. And soon many people owned their own PC.

Today many people build PCs not from scratch but using major subsystems. You buy a mainframe and select processors, hard drives and assemble it. In a sense you can use liquid coolant and overclocking to build your own supercomputer.


Well I wasn't wanting to shape metal into computer parts or anything. I was looking to find computer parts from city dumps in order to cut down on pollution. And get a type of monitor I want specifically for this computer, but I don't want to talk about what it would be outside of PMing because I asked one of my friends about whether it would work, as in, I don't want my identity to be revealed.



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28 Nov 2019, 11:19 pm

2007kid wrote:
I intend to build a computer from scratch, for the purpose of gaming, someday. Please PM me if you're up to asking me about more specific needs and if you're kind enough to give advice.


As this is the computer forum, people who want to respond can simply post on the thread.



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28 Nov 2019, 11:33 pm

Well it's all a matter of what you'll be running as you said in your OP - if you're not dealing with heavy software engineering workloads, there are a great many midrange processors, boards & these days, extremely advanced GPUs you might go for in the usual price range for this sort of thing. I'm reasonably up to date about this since I very nearly just did the same thing, until I bought the ThinkPad I'm replying to you on.

I really recommend PC Part picker - it's a great site for configuring this out of new pieces, though depending on what you actually intend to do & what's available in your area, recycled parts might be fine. Craigslist, Kijiji & so on are great for finding donor machines if you're just into putting together a simple ATX tower.


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jimmy m
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29 Nov 2019, 6:02 am

I agree with cberg.

Assembling a computer from scratch can be done because my friend did it 40 years ago. But you must be very, very good at engineering to accomplish this task and possess a high degree of tenacity.

Also if you try and shortcut the process by using computers from the scrapheap realize these computers are generally in the scrapheap because they are either defective or outdated.

Also the other property of parts from the scrapheap is that they are used and their lifetime is already degraded. Therefore it is possible that you might spend a significant amount of time constructing such a computer successfully only to have it fail due to a short lifetime of one of the critical components.


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2007kid
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29 Nov 2019, 10:53 am

jimmy m wrote:
I agree with cberg.

Assembling a computer from scratch can be done because my friend did it 40 years ago. But you must be very, very good at engineering to accomplish this task and possess a high degree of tenacity.

Also if you try and shortcut the process by using computers from the scrapheap realize these computers are generally in the scrapheap because they are either defective or outdated.

Also the other property of parts from the scrapheap is that they are used and their lifetime is already degraded. Therefore it is possible that you might spend a significant amount of time constructing such a computer successfully only to have it fail due to a short lifetime of one of the critical components.


This is good to know. Thank you.



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03 Dec 2019, 11:15 pm

I've built several computers over the years, what kind of price range are you looking at?


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Dial1194
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05 Dec 2019, 8:50 am

It's not hard to assemble computers from standard parts. Many computer shops even offer customization options in the form of a web interface where you can pick the specific parts you want, and they'll either assemble it for you for a small fee or just ship you the parts.

The problem with building computers from junk is fourfold:

Firstly, you don't know if the parts you're using actually work, unless you have testing equipment or enough other spare parts to build a compatible test bed. (Or, I guess, it's possible to be a member of a computer club which has testing facilities, or be friends with someone who does.)

Secondly, you will run into the problem that the various parts you find, unless you have access to a lot of them, are not guaranteed to be compatible. Internal computer interfaces change every couple of years, and there are often many of them in any given computer. *Some* parts are able to be backward-compatible, but not all. You're basically trying to assemble half a dozen to a dozen parts where some might be Lego, some might be Lincoln Logs, some might be Capsela, and some might connect via paperclips, and if two parts don't have the same connector, they're not going to go together. With time (and assorted internet references), you can learn the various types of connectors and which ones can go together, but it does mean that if your source of parts is relatively random, you're going to be collecting five or ten components for every one you can actually put into a working system.

Thirdly, if you're building from junk, you have no guarantees on the parts. You might get lucky and find some parts which were barely used and are still in great condition, but you might also find a lot of parts which only partially work, or which die six weeks into being used, or which (in the worse case) cause actual damage to anything they're plugged into. This is more likely if the parts you're using have been exposed to weather, extreme temperatures, heavy amounts of dust or smoke, or have damage from liquids.

Fourthly, even if all your parts are 100% compatible (in theory), and all are in good working order, the particular combination might not work. The power supply might be great - but of too low a wattage for what you're wanting it for. Or it might not have sufficient connectors to power everything. The motherboard might be missing vital jumpers. The operating system might not be able to recognize some of the components due to them being too new or too obscure. There might be subtle glitches in how parts from one manufacturer have a slightly different interpretation of a protocol to parts from another. Your motherboard slots might not line up with your case slots, or the case might not be able to accommodate oversized cards that another case could.

That said...

It is still possible to learn to do this. I would honestly recommend getting some experience assembling computers from known good parts first, so you have a feel for how things go together and you're not left wondering whether a non-working computer is the fault of the parts or of your assembly skills. It will be easier if your source of parts is a source of a *lot* of spare parts - dozens or hundreds of computers - rather than just a scant handful, because then if one combination of parts doesn't work you have lots of backup options.

I'd also advise getting hold of some relevant tools if you're going to do this. Not just things like a static strap, or a good source of many types of small screws, but things like multiple types of screwdriver, some kind of magnifying tool, thermal paste, cleaning tools suitable for circuit boards and electrics as well as electronics, and so on. I'd also recommend that if you're going to disassemble something which isn't meant to be taken apart, you video the process so you can reverse it later and watch how to properly re-assemble it, including every fiddly screw and connector.



2007kid
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10 Dec 2019, 12:48 pm

Dial1194 wrote:
It's not hard to assemble computers from standard parts. Many computer shops even offer customization options in the form of a web interface where you can pick the specific parts you want, and they'll either assemble it for you for a small fee or just ship you the parts.

The problem with building computers from junk is fourfold:

Firstly, you don't know if the parts you're using actually work, unless you have testing equipment or enough other spare parts to build a compatible test bed. (Or, I guess, it's possible to be a member of a computer club which has testing facilities, or be friends with someone who does.)

Secondly, you will run into the problem that the various parts you find, unless you have access to a lot of them, are not guaranteed to be compatible. Internal computer interfaces change every couple of years, and there are often many of them in any given computer. *Some* parts are able to be backward-compatible, but not all. You're basically trying to assemble half a dozen to a dozen parts where some might be Lego, some might be Lincoln Logs, some might be Capsela, and some might connect via paperclips, and if two parts don't have the same connector, they're not going to go together. With time (and assorted internet references), you can learn the various types of connectors and which ones can go together, but it does mean that if your source of parts is relatively random, you're going to be collecting five or ten components for every one you can actually put into a working system.

Thirdly, if you're building from junk, you have no guarantees on the parts. You might get lucky and find some parts which were barely used and are still in great condition, but you might also find a lot of parts which only partially work, or which die six weeks into being used, or which (in the worse case) cause actual damage to anything they're plugged into. This is more likely if the parts you're using have been exposed to weather, extreme temperatures, heavy amounts of dust or smoke, or have damage from liquids.

Fourthly, even if all your parts are 100% compatible (in theory), and all are in good working order, the particular combination might not work. The power supply might be great - but of too low a wattage for what you're wanting it for. Or it might not have sufficient connectors to power everything. The motherboard might be missing vital jumpers. The operating system might not be able to recognize some of the components due to them being too new or too obscure. There might be subtle glitches in how parts from one manufacturer have a slightly different interpretation of a protocol to parts from another. Your motherboard slots might not line up with your case slots, or the case might not be able to accommodate oversized cards that another case could.

That said...

It is still possible to learn to do this. I would honestly recommend getting some experience assembling computers from known good parts first, so you have a feel for how things go together and you're not left wondering whether a non-working computer is the fault of the parts or of your assembly skills. It will be easier if your source of parts is a source of a *lot* of spare parts - dozens or hundreds of computers - rather than just a scant handful, because then if one combination of parts doesn't work you have lots of backup options.

I'd also advise getting hold of some relevant tools if you're going to do this. Not just things like a static strap, or a good source of many types of small screws, but things like multiple types of screwdriver, some kind of magnifying tool, thermal paste, cleaning tools suitable for circuit boards and electrics as well as electronics, and so on. I'd also recommend that if you're going to disassemble something which isn't meant to be taken apart, you video the process so you can reverse it later and watch how to properly re-assemble it, including every fiddly screw and connector.


This is a very intricate piece of advice. Thank you!



Dial1194
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17 Dec 2019, 11:23 pm

I should also add - depending on what kind of budget you want to throw at this, it might be an idea to buy or acquire some very old, cheap or free computers which still work, and practise taking them to pieces and reassembling them into working order. While older parts may not have exactly the same connectors as newer systems, many of the same principles apply - daughterboards plug into the motherboard, as does memory and the CPU, boards go into cases in much the same way, peripherals plug into ports, the power supply generally connects up to the same places, etc. The basics either don't change, or change rarely enough that you can easily research the two or three ways they're done, instead of getting bogged down in 900 minor variations.

Once you're familiar with those fundamentals, and have reassembled some older systems into fully functional (if ancient) computers, you'll have that basic knowledge and confidence to build on, and you'll find that newer systems will have a lot of parts and concepts you now recognize, so you can concentrate on tinkering with the one or two new ones instead of floundering in a sea of the unknown.

Consider it similar to learning to strip down and rebuild something like an old Volkswagen Beetle before moving on to more modern cars. While cars in the last ten years might have more in the way of electronic systems, and might not have all the parts that the Beetle came with, the essentials are there - engine connects to the wheels, wheels go on the four corners of the car, there's the electrics, lights, gearing, engine, dash indicators, paneling... even something like a Tesla has a lot of points of similarity; if you know your Beetle inside-out, you could probably recognize and even repair half to three-quarters of a latter-day EV. And maybe even more of a current-year combustion-engine sedan, even if the technology has progressed significantly in the last half a century. The same design patterns are still there under the surface.



Dr_Manhattan
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21 Dec 2019, 10:27 pm

You'll need additional graphics cards and non-volatile storage (hard disk or solid state drives w/ large capacity). Extra RAM and multicore processors aren't really necessary, but these will improve performance, so that's really only optional.



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21 Dec 2019, 10:32 pm

You should also look into heat pipes. You're going to be doing a lot with your CPU, so the most efficient cooling system may prove useful. You're also going to need thermal paste to put in between the CPU and heat sink assembly. Another thing to consider is your power requirements. Just add up the power consumption of each component and use that number to select a power supply.



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21 Dec 2019, 10:55 pm

You might try this site:

https://pcpartpicker.com/

I'm currently using it to do a build - it's nice because it only shows options for parts that are compatible to what you've already selected, so is especially useful if this is a first-time build.

You can also see examples of what others have done - while you might not copy the build exactly, you can see what parts they chose in your price-range, and what works well together.