Remember that one time I BUILT A COMPUTER? – Part 1

This is part 1. Part 2 (with bonus hair pulling drama) will follow when I feel like it.

As I’ve been going on and on and on and on about on Twitter, I built a computer. All by myself!

My overall observation: “The statement ‘building a computer, OMG aren’t I awesome’ is somewhat misleading. The building part is by far the easiest and fastest step of the process. Building is a joke compared to the challenges represented by getting the parts from the shop to your small, isolated town and installing Windows.

I went through life, living each day, never considering building my own computer. My dad used to like to put computer parts together. A lot of my guy friends (many of them actually having JOBS that had to do with computers) used to build their computers. And their machines USUALLY turned out to be poorly functioning, virus-loaded bundles of junk. If these people who read computer magazines and who know what the letters CPU stand for aren’t very good at it, what the heck would I do with two boxes of computer parts?

Well. I made a discovery. I discovered that you can totally build a computer if you don’t know anything about computers. In fact, I highly recommend that you build your own computer BECAUSE you don’t know anything about computers.

I learned a lot from my experience. Words that made no sense to me (I knew a “motherboard” was something you had to get changed after smoke comes out of your laptop, but otherwise I didn’t have a clue) suddenly became part of my vocabulary. I even had a REAL conversation with a guildy the other day about graphic cards and their power supply requirements. Where I ACTIVELY PARTICIPATED! Hey, if I can talk about the Geforce GTX 500s series and voltages, so can you.

Oh, and by the way, I’m very annoyed by the fact that most of the savy and helpful people had to say things like “Ah yes, I built a computer for my girlfriend/wive/sister/female cat”. No one, not one person, said anything along the lines of “I built a computer for my boyfriend/husband/brother/male cat” Technology is power, fellow ladies. Take power into your own hands and stop letting penises control the technology in your household. I did it and you can too.

The Workbench

This is where we drool over the goodies I got to work with.

Here’s what we’ve got:

Intel Core™ i5-2500K Processor, 3.30GHz w/ 6MB Cache (Processor, 230$)
Zalman Z9 Plus Case w/ Fan Controller (Case, 60$)
Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 w/ DDR3 2133, 7.1 Audio, Gigabit Lan, CrossFireX / SLI (Motherboard, 135$)
Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB DDR3 1600MHz CL9 Quad Channel Kit (4 x 4GB), Cerulean Blue (RAM, 90$)
Seagate 1TB Barracuda SATA III w/ 64MB Cache (Hard drive, 160$)
LG Super-Multi 22x DVD Writer, SATA, OEM, Black (CD/DVD drive, 22$)
Cooler Master Silent Pro M 850W Modular Power Supply (Power supply, 150$)
eVGA GeForce GTX 580 1536MB GDDR5 PCI-E w/ Dual DVI, HDMI (Graphics card, 510$)
Asus VW224T 23inch (Monitor, 212$)
Windows 7 (Operating system, 220$)
Basic Microsoft Keyboard and Mouse kit (Keyboard – I couldn’t find one without a mouse – 30$)

Typically you’re supposed to go with a budget, but I tend to be more of the “best I can get with less” type. And I had no idea what computers cost. In the end, I spent a little under 2000$, including a monitor, Windows 7 and keyboard. I looked at premade gaming computers with similar parts, and they seemed to be within the 3000-5000$ bracket. So not only did I learn a lot from my adventure, I got more out of my money too.

How I learned to never order stuff online before Christmas

Picking out parts was pretty straightforward. I’m lucky enough to have a friend who knows what all those gibberish numbers and letters mean (GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 w/ DDR3 2133, really?) so for about 10 hours (in 3 sessions) we scrolled through my options together, part by part, talking about each piece.

If you can, I highly suggest getting one of those smarts friends, especially one who knows when to explain and when to wait for questions. And who ultimately leaves the final choice up to you. (I know, I know, those friends are a hard to find. That’s why I hang onto mine fiercely!)

On December 15th, I submitted my order. Memory Express, a relatively local computer store that came highly recommended by local friends, delivers for free, so I went with them. There was also the option of picking up the parts at the store, but I live 3 hours away from the city and figured delivery would be faster.

10 days before Christmas… Yes, sometimes I am really that stupid. (Which bring me back to this post’s theme: if a person stupid enough to order online 10 days before Christmas can build a computer, you can build a computer too.)

- On December 17, UPS had my package.
– On December 19, UPS took my package from Calgary (starting point) to Edmonton (the city nearest me).
– Delivery scheduled on December 22. Yay!

- On December 22, there was a message saying UPS was looking for my address. I double checked the address I gave Memory Express. It’s my address. No phone number for UPS, so I let them sort it out.
– December 26, still no change. I call Memory Express. UPS is closed for the holiday, but they promise to look into it.
– By December 27 the websales customer service staff at Memory Express recognizes my voice.
– On December 30th, I’m finally in touch with UPS. The address thing should be sorted out, but they won’t deliver until the New Year. I have some time off so I ask if I can pick it up in Edmonton. They say sure and point me to Purolator who will be handling the final delivery.
– December 30th in the evening, I get to Edmonton. Purolator gives me one box, my computer case. Tell me they’ve lost the other box.

That’s right, they lost a 1400$ box of computer parts that I drove a total of 6 hours to pick up.

- During the first two weeks of January, UPS calls me 3 times. Each time they ask for my address.
– On January 12, I receive my box of computer parts.

And that’s why I’m only level 16 in SWTOR.

If you’d like to hear more of this absolutely riveting tale, hang tight and part 2 will be delivered you to in 3-7 business day (read: in a month).

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14 Comments on “Remember that one time I BUILT A COMPUTER? – Part 1”

  1. SirFWALGMan Says:

    Gratz. I plan on building my own soon too. wanna wait a little to afford better parts.

  2. Fannon Says:

    Congratulations on finally getting it together and working. I was beginning to worry that this saga would never have a happy ending.

    In the next post, don’t forget to mention the unfortunate $50 tech support call. :) I still feel guilty about that.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Ah, don’t worry about it. That’s the beauty of pay-as-you-go phones anyway. It just hangs up when you run out of money, instead of surprising you with a 400$ bill at the end of the month.

  3. Xsinthis Says:

    Ahh but this was only the first part of building the computer, now *YOU* are responsible to fix it when it goes wrong, and that is the fun part :P

  4. Dulce Says:

    I built a gaming computer last year using a guide from Ars Technica online (they had budget, mid-range, and high-end builds) and it went really well. I also ordered my parts from newegg.com who were recommended by friends in the IT industry. They were great! the parts came fast, they have super fast easy returns etc. And the whole thing was cheaper than the pre-built computers I’d been looking at locally. Even better, I didn’t need any help picking stuff out and putting it together from my husband who’s a programmer :-)

    Check for a good online guide next time, and I totally recommend newegg.com for ordering the components…they were great!

    • Ophelie Says:

      I used Newegg for reviews and stuff, but they charge a lot for delivery and their prices were considerably higher than Memory Express. And since the delays were due to UPS and the fact that I live hours away from civilization, it would have taken just as long.

      I did look at some guides for choosing parts, but I couldn’t find any up to date ones. A few magazines had recent reviews, but finding any useful information in there was like looking for a needle in a haystack! I used a few online guides a little bit, but for the actual building process, I found it easier to just follow the manual. Motherboards come with fantastic instructions.

      Kudos to you for getting it all done on your own!

  5. raijair Says:

    Congrats on building your own Ophelie! :) and Noooo, not the dreaded 3-7 business days!! :(

  6. Morrighan Says:

    I can do the ordering and choosing part, and the installing software part. I am not, however, allowed to touch the inner parts of a PC. Why? Because I am STATIC WOMAN. See me spark. Especially in winter when I get static shocks from car doors, the cat, all sorts. The year I lived in the US (either because it was even dryer in winter or because they don’t have the third grounding wire in their electrics or both) I used to have to go shopping with gloves on because every tin in the supermarket, every fridge door – basically everything that could conduct electricity – would give me a shock. Too expensive to risk me blowing out a part!

    • Ophelie Says:

      Hahaha, I was so worried that I’d zap my parts beyond use. And I kept touching everything I shouldn’t.

      I’m kind of lucky though, I’m a pretty moist person, so I don’t get static very often. Still, I kept a lot of metal nearby to ground myself, I covered my workspace with the antistatic bags my parts came in and I tried very hard to not rub my feet on the carpet.

  7. Somnar Says:

    I can’t wait to read part 2 of this! (And probably laugh at some of the same stuff I went through when I decided to build my first one..) Then, I got addicted to it, easiest thing in the world to do now.

    Congrats on building your first one though!

  8. Andy Says:

    I was nodding my head in agreement (and in some cases wishful thinking, particularly with the CPU) until I got to this bit:

    “Basic Microsoft Keyboard and Mouse kit (Keyboard – I couldn’t find one without a mouse – 30$)”

    Do you already have a decent mouse? Cos if not I’d definitely recommend getting a good one like a Logitech G5. It’s one part you’ll be holding almost all the time you’re using the computer, so it makes sense to get a good one.

    The same argument could apply to the keyboard, although less so for games as I guess you don’t spend much time typing in them compared to how much you use the mouse. Still, given you’re a blogger you owe it to yourself to get a nice keyboard (I have a Cherry G80 and it’s wonderful, albeit pretty noisy :D )

    • Ophelie Says:

      Really, who do you take me for? ;D I have a Razor Deathadder and a Naga. I usually use the Deathadder, really like how it feels in my hand. I had the G5 for awhile too, really liked it. I have a thing for computer mice. Other women collect shoes, I collect mice.

      Keyboard, I chose to go cheap on. I’ve tried gaming keyboards and I really don’t feel the difference between a cheap keyboard and a fancy one. I prefer quiet keyboards too, can’t stand the sound of keys! The microsoft one is ok. Very quiet. The only complaint that I have is that it’s hard to reach the left “alt” button. But otherwise, it does the trick.

      • Andy Says:

        Haha, excellent :D Although, I don’t currently take you for much since I only recently started following you on Twitter ;)

        I tried the Deathadder and couldn’t get on with it – it made my fingers feel too stretched out, and the sides were too slippery. I have a Steelseries Xai now and it’s like the best mouse I’ve ever used. Goes great with the Steelseries 4HD mouse mat.

        I’ve had a poke at some gaming keyboards in shops but none of them really compare to the wonderful clickiness of my Cherry. Skype calls can get interesting, though. It sounds like this:

        [audio src="http://caerphoto.com/misc/cherryg80.mp3" /]

        Music to my ears :D But more importantly, the keys feel really nice. Honestly, if you’re going to be handling your parts all day, it should feel as nice as possible.


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