Posted 07 August 2007 - 11:16 PM
As a consummate PC parts scavenger, let me make some cost-cutting recommendations.
First, the case. While it may be handy to buy a new case, sometimes the price is prohibitive. So, your old case may be the way to go. CAUTION: many off-the-shelf PC's (Dell, HP, etc) use nonstandard cases and parts. So, if you use your old case, make sure that it's ATX compliant.
You can also scrounge a case. Look on ebay, your local craigslist, and other places for cheap cases or old computers that you can buy for pennies and use their case. Some Goodwill stores sell computers, but I've never seen them sell cases. Worth a look, though. I just bought a sweet Alienware case off of craigslist for $20.
Find a local PC parts store (not a chain place like CompUSA, but a small operation) and see what they have to offer. There's one about a mile from my apartment that I love. I've bought new OEM DVD burners and motherboards there for cheap. Example: my DVD burner cost me $35 new.
Power supply: Here's one part that you really don't want to skimp on. I've had bad things happen when using used/old power supplies with my new equipment (long story short, I had to get newer new equipment). Also, make sure that the power supply has the proper plugs for the motherboard and hardware. All PC parts use the standard Molex plugs, but there are different sizes. For example, hard drives and CD/DVD drives use a standard 4-pin plug, whereas fans tend to use the smaller 3-pin plugs. All power supplies have both, but you don't want to run out of plugs! Also, check to see whether your motherboard uses a 20-pin connector or a 24 pin connector to the power supply. Most boards these days use 24 pin sockets, but you may find a 20 pin out there. Good power supplies usually have the ability to connect to either kind.
Video/sound/other cards. Check what kind of connection they use and make sure that the motherboard has enough of them. Most medium priced boards give you 5 or more PCI slots, and 2 or more PCI-E slots. Most newer video cards use PCI-E while most other cards still use PCI. I'd avoid AGP video cards as fewer and fewer motherboards support AGP anymore.
By far the hardest part of building your own PC is actually getting the various parts. It takes a little research to make sure everything will go smoothly, but once that's done assembly is really quite simple. Just remember: If it doesn't fit in the socket, it probably doesn't go there!