azdesign's Hardware Build Guide

Started by azdesign, August 31, 2012, 02:13:01 am

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August 31, 2012, 02:13:01 am Last Edit: August 31, 2012, 11:13:21 pm by azdesign
Hello guys, I want to share my knowledge and experience in all hardware related things.
This is my guide for you if you ever need to build a PC or buy specific hardware

First of all, what you need is to think what is the purpose of your computer, here are the type :

1. General purpose : Does everything, gaming, programming, watch movie, do photoshop, etc
2. Gaming : Play games in highest level of details in resolution above 1440x900, play in multi-monitors, use gaming equipments.
3. Server : Very long term up state, serves as data/web/app server
4. Special purpose : Serious 3d rendering, movie editing, intense matlab, etc
5. Mac : If you prefer design over performance and price, be my guest, can't help you with this.

Each choices will lead you to different build. I'll give you list of hardware and considerations of choosing one best suited for you :
I try to simplify the overview as possible, if you want to know the details, google it yourself. Oh, also this is important :

Spoiler: ShowHide

Overview :
   A device that store your data in a magnetic platter. HDD are very common in computing as it cheap, reliable and fast way to store data.
Point of Interest :
   Rotation speed in RPM - The faster the motor rotates, the faster the head will reach at its destination = faster data read.
   Q : Is this the determinant for read speed ?
   A : Yes, but there is "platter density" which has obvious effect combined with rotation speed. Example :
      a 1TB HDD has 1 plate (1TB per plate) and its motor speed was 5400 rpm while
      a 1TB HDD has 2 plates (500GB per plate) and its motor speed was 7200 rpm
      The result was a very slight difference in read speed by the single plate, it also benefit in lower power and lower heat.
      Newest WD and Seagate products has implement 1TB per plate.
      Note that information regarding how many platter do a drive has were not made for public, so you might want to take a look at drive's
      detailed specification on google. Check the model
   Q : So higher RPM better ?
   A : Depends on the purpose, faster motor = faster read speed, more heat, more power, less durability.
       Overheating hardware could result in failure. In HDD, means loss of data. You wouldn't want that.
      Overheating won't occur if you gave them proper cooling btw. People who want durability over performance prefer lower rpm.
   Size - Common size(in GB) nowadays are : 80, 160, 250, 320, 500, 750, 1000, 1500, 2000, 3000 and 4000
   due to flood while ago in thailand, HDD prices went nuts. up to 200% original price. I bought 2TB seagate 5400 LP before around $90, now $110 (was $140)
   That's why, please consider the size you want to buy in term of price. Example :
   Seagate 250GB = $50 while Seagate 500GB = $60, is the $10 worth the double size difference ?
   Seagate 1TB = $85 while Seagate 2TB = $110, is the $25 worth the double size difference ?
   Q : So what size should I buy ?
   A : If you're in a tight budget, go for 500GB. If you want to store more data, consider 1TB or 2TB (depends on local price tag)
My HDD Recommendation by type :
General usage - Balance of performance and reliability : Seagate Barracuda >= 500GB

Primary drive/gaming/special purpose - SSD recommended, but if you want big storage with high performance, here it is :
   Fast write/read : WD Black, Samsung Spinpoint F4 (Samsung HDD was bought by seagate recently, so dunno if this product still available)
   Faster read : Seagate Momentus XT (combination of SSD and HDD, note this device sized 2.5inch, means you might need a converter for normal HDD bay.
   *then again, I wouldn't recommend you to use RAID0 for better performance, instead, go buy SSD
Storage - Focused on reliability, you want to have a reliable drive to store your collection :
   General collection storage = WD Caviar Green 5900rpm >= 1TB
   NAS storage = WD Caviar Red, comes with NAS/RAID related software >=1TB
   *for more security, consider using RAID1 to make sure your data secure if a drive fails.

Spoiler: ShowHide

Overview : This is the container where you put all hardware parts. Usually, most people view computer case as fashion rather than functionality
While the decision is entirely up to you (choose whatever design you like), I just want to share what make a case good or not :
Point of Interest :
   PSU Location : Where power supply located inside the case. If it outside, then don't buy it.
   There are 2 common location of psu placement; top and bottom, most of older and cheap case place the PSU on top of the case,
   while newer, modern and usually more expensive case place it on the bottom.
   Q : Why would this affect the quality of a computer case ?
   A : This is related with airflow. Bottom PSU means there are reserved space on the top of the case as ventilation or fan mounting.
      The ideal case are case with front, rear, bottom, top and side fan mounting. This means, PSU in the top restrict this.
   Space behind motherboard : A reserved space between the plate that holds the motherboard and "case door" (big plate that close the case)
   In older cases. this area reserved as ventilation and space for mounting HSF (heat sink fan, placed on top of motherboard as cooling)
   While in newer and modern case, we route the cabling through there. There are special hole for cabling, look at below picture :
   That was Corsair Carbide 400R, one of my recommended case. Look at the points a circled in red, thats where cabling goes in and out
   from the back side of this space behind motherboard. Make sure it have at least 2 centimeters. Well.. that's not specified on most
   case details / manual, so good luck googling it.
   Q : Why should I care about cabling :
   A : Look at the picture carefully, looks tidy right ? No cable hovering and tangling around. It's your call if this is not important
      to you. For me, case is like a home. I have to make sure its clean and tidy.
   Features : What offered by a case for your else than the basic functionality as hardware container
   I list the most common features offered :
   1. Design = If you like the design then call it a "feature". Most people like flashy case with glowing and colorful fan leds, unusual shape,
            and of course, cheap is a must. Hardware enthusiast prefer boxy, plain, low profile case, and those usually expensive.
   2. Cabling support = What I mentioned earlier in "space behind motherboard"
   3. USB3 = USB2 ports are no longer a feature, they're must. Caution, please take a look the USB3 connector, is it 20pin or male USB3 ?
           Newer motherboards support 20pin connector. So it is recommended to pick a case with 20pin connector USB3 ports for you.
           Or, for compatibility reason, most USB3 port connectors are ended in male jack, which you have to connect with the USB3 female
           port on the back of your motherboard. If your motherboard does not support USB3 then forget it.
   4. Tool-less toolkit = This is also a neat feature where there are absolutely no need to use screws and screwdriver. Look at the previous
                     picture. To insert a hard drive, they provide you a caddy/tray to hold it. The caddy/tray is also screwlees, insert the HDD
                     then slide the caddy back to its cage. Easy right ? As for the 5.25 inch bay, there are special "lock" that replace
                     screw functionality. You only have to switch it, then its lock your drive in place.
   5. Dust Filter = Dust is hardware nemesis. It blocks the airflow, make it easier to overheat. Dust comes from any hole which suck air from
                outside, mostly, fan. Dust filter prevent dust enter the interior while let the air comes in. Dust filter usually placed
                in fan mounting. Once a month, you need to clean it (depends on the level of dust in your room)
   6. Sata Hot-swap Dock = A capability to plug hard drive quickly, just like the same when you put your hard drive inside and connect the cables
                      Look at this picture :
                      That was Cooler Master CM690II Advanced. One of the most preferred case for hardware enthusiast, one of the best.
                      It has this sata hot-swap I mentioned. Check the top right picture and you'll understand what I meant.
   7. Water cooling outlets = Usually in form of holes to let water cooling cables and tubes goes in and out. Custom water cooling devices usually placed
                        outside because they're big and took much space. If you use it, make sure the case has this feature.
   8. Sound supressor layer = A special feature to suppress noise from case interior. This is not common, few cases has it and these are the most popular :
   9. GPU retention bracket = Did you know, big, 2-slot GPU, usually those with $150++ cost has tendency to slant at the other end over time. Because the                       nature of its heavy heat sink againts the gravity will pull the other end which does not have enough support over time. My 6850 was slanted  (though not extreme, only 10-15 degree) after 2 years of usage. This GPU retention bracket as seen on previous picture support the other end of your GPU so it will keep straight.
Simple steps to get case suits you
   1. Go to -> compouter hardware -> computer cases -> computer cases
   2. Filter the case by your motherboard size (ATX/MicroATX/Mini-ITX) in "Type"
   3. Filter by the budget you have; the actual budget you have including the tolerance budget
   4. Sort by number of reviews.
   5. Pick those which design catches your eye. If you don't like the design even though it has good features, most of time, you will regret it (for most people)
   6. Eliminate cases from step 5 by feature you want it to have, create the top 3 cases you'd want
   7. Google and read review for each case, pick the most case you consider the best
   7b. (optional) ask my advice, tell me your budget for this case, then I'll give you recommendation
   8. You have your case, don't doubt now, as you have read the reviews. If you still have doubt, repeat the steps.
   9. Buy and enjoy. If you're going to assembly it yourself, do that on top of carpet/rug to avoid static electricity
My Case recommendation
   General - Preferred case by many people
      Below $50 :
         Cooler Master Elite 372
      Between $50-$100 :
         BitFenix Prodigy (mini-ITX only)
         NZXT SOURCE 220
         Cooler Master HAF 912 ADVANCE
         Corsair Carbide 300R & 400R
      Between $100 - $150 :
         NZXT PHANTOM 410 SE
         NZXT H2
         Cooler Master CM690 II Advanced
         Corsair Obsidian 550D
      More than $150 :
         (maybe next update)
   Fit, no-wasted space - Like me, who want it as small as possible for its motherboard form factor. No wasted space
      Mini-ITX : Silverstone SUGO series
   NAS Case - For those who think Pre-built NAS case company such as QNAP charge too much and want to create custom one -
      Fractal Design ARRAY R2
   LAN Party Case - Lan with your friends ? Case too heavy carry over ? These cases designed for mobility :
      NZXT VULCAN (Micro-ATX), SILVERSTONE TEMJIN SST-TJ08-E (Micro-ATX), LIAN LI PC-TU200 (Mini-ITX), BitFenix Prodigy (mini-ITX)
   Bench Case - This is the most peculiar case, everything exposed. Bench case is for display and special purpose :
      *overclockers usually create their own bench case
Then again, case is something you will always see next to your computer table. If you dont like the design, don't buy it. You'll regret it.

Good and recommended references :

Spoiler: ShowHide
1. News and general =,,,, many of them.
2. PSU specialist =
3. Cooling specialist =
4. Data and network specialist =
5. PC Mod specialist =
6. Random, sometimes epic, also for trouble shooting = (not recommended for newbie)
7. Shop and product reference = <- Has detailed information, lot of images, great navigation system, and also reliable customer reviews

Coming up Motherboard, CPU, RAM, SSD, ODD, Laptops, etc just wait for the next update :^_^':
Feel free to correct my grammar and spelling, but if you want to add contents, ask me first  :D
~ Check out my deviantart ~