Building Your Own Recording PC - Putting It All Together


By Frank Stroupe



       This is the last article in this series, Building Your own Recording PC.  I really wanted to do an article on deciding on a video card, but things really are moving a little too fast in the video card world for anything I write to be relevant for more than short time.  nVidia has released two entire new generations of video cards in the months I have been writing this series, ATI has been purchased by AMD, so I feel it tough to say much that won't change in a month or so. 


       I guess that the best advice I can give is in how much you spend.  If you feel comfortable that you won't be gaming with your recording PC, I wouldn't spend more than $100 on a video card.  If you think you might do some gaming, I highly recommend that you do your own research in deciding on a video card.


       Finally, after the grueling task of making the decisions of what hardware you will use, it's finally time to put all of your new toys together.  Though at this point, you probably think that actually building the computer is the hardest part, I can assure you that you have already done the worst...making decisions and spending money.   Actually putting the computer together is relatively easy, once you familiarize yourself with the what, when, and where of building a computer.


       So, let's review what you will need:


-A processor or CPU

-A motherboard that supports that particular CPU

-System memory or RAM, that must be supported by the CPU and motherboard

-A video card that has the same interface as the motherboard (PCI-express or AGP)

-A power supply or PSU

-Hard drive(s)

-CD drive(s)

-A computer case


-Input devices (mouse, keyboard)


If you use dial-up internet, you will also need a dial-up modem, I don't know of any motherboard that has one installed.


If you are going to be using this computer for recording only, and will not connect it to the internet, keep in mind that you will need to connect it to the internet for verifying Windows, and to use Windows update.


       You are also going to need an operating system, I don't recommend using anything but Windows XP (either home or Pro) or Vista (when it becomes available in retail).  I recommend purchasing an "OEM" version when purchasing your hardware, it is a full version, and costs about half the price of the retail version.   The only difference between the retail and OEM is the number of times you can verify after reinstalling without having to verify by telephone.  Retail allows an unlimited number of verifications, OEM allows three.  After three times, you have to verify by takes less than five minutes...I have never had a problem doing so.


       You will need a suitable place to build the computer.  I usually use the dining table, and cover it with an old sheet or towels to prevent scratching it or the computer case.  I really don't recommend building the computer in a carpeted room, but I have done it with no ill effects.  Static electricity can damage some parts of the computer, but if you take a simple precaution of grounding yourself by touching the bare metal of the inside of the case occasionally, you will eliminate that problem.  You could also buy one of those grounding bracelets, which looks like a hospital bracelet with a wire connected.  I have used them, they look pretty silly, but they do work.  The main component that can be damaged by static is the RAM...take special care to ground yourself before handling it, again by touching bare metal in the case.


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