Skill level: I'd say intermediate.
I've changed and/or upgraded many components over the years. The three systems runnng in my home right now are 5 to 7 years old and have been upgraded through scavenged parts many times (sorry, I'm a scrounger at heart). Thanks to Bleepingcomputer.com, I've eradicated viruses & malware for myself and friends. I have NO brand loyalty to Symantec, Norton, or McAfee and prefer to use third-party, open-source firewalls and malware protection such as Comodo's free firewall combined with aVast's free real-time antivirus software. I alos run other scanners manually, such as MBAM, SuperAntispyware, Spybot, etc. And, running things like CCleaner and ATF are SOP. However, I've never built from scratch. And, many of the successes I've had in cleaning up an infected system were due to my decision to simply performing a complete destructive recovery (all data lost!), resetting the system back to it's original factory specs, because I got sick and tired of messing with it and could think of nothing else to do.
I've now reached the point that my system can't be upgraded cost-effectively to meet the needs of my small business and what will be my new career. I'm currently offering design services (using TurboCAD Deluxe) and I'm going back to school at age 57 to study computer-aided design and drafting. I'm going to need a desktop that will handle TurboCAD and, later, AutoCAD. The more I read about which processor is better for CAD and CAD's dependency on a processor that can handle a math-intensive resource hog software like CAD programs, the more confused I get. So, please guide the feeble minded and forgive the stupid questions in advance!
Before I go any further, I'm BROKE! Can this be done for, say, around $600 to $650? If not, what can I do for that amount and how does that affect my need to run CAD programs?
First question is the motherboard. Or, is it the processor? Chicken or egg? Which does come first? Al I really know is that they have to be compatible. Can I take advantage of the Quad Core processor/motherboard bargains created by Intel's i-series processors? Just because the Quad Cores are now "old technology" doesn't mean they are any less kick-ass than they were. It just means that there is a bigger dog in the fight now. Should I wait until AMD releases it's next line of processors? Someone said they will release a line called Bulldozer this month. I've never been a fan of being the guinnea pig on new technology. I'm lousy with debugging. For that matter, which way should I go, AMD or Intel, considering what I'll be using the system for.
Memory is next. I wanted a minimum of 4GB but, I'm finding out that I should really go for 8GB if at all possible. Huh?
I'm planning to run Windows 7 home premium 64-bit at a minimum. Or am I? You tell me!
I want at least two HDD's. One for the OS and software and the other for data. How big? Solid state for one? or both? or not at all? I was just going to get a 500GB or 1TB drive for the OS and software and a 500GB for data. Now, I'm lost.
I will need a very good graphics card. How good, I don't know. Investigating this got me to trying to understand things like Crossfire and SLI. Will I ever need two graphics cards?
Of course I'd planned to install two combo burners or one combo burner and one CD/DVD ROM drive. Should I?
Finally the case and power supply. Full tower? Mid-tower? And, what the heck are ATX and Micro-ATX form factors? More importantly, do I care? I was set on ATX. Now, I'd rather just be advised as to what to buy (or what to avoid)based on what I'll be running. Should I buy the case and power supply together? From what I've read, it seems the answer is no because the determination of which power supply I need is based on the equipment it will need to supply.
I'm sure there are numerous other considerations I've not even covered so, feel free to expand on any advice you may have.
Thanks in advance for your help!
PS: I already have keyboards, mice, and a new Acer 23" LCD monitor.
Edited by StartingOver, 01 June 2011 - 11:49 PM.