You may not need a separate video card
at all because many new motherboards have video
built in. Add-on video
cards come in two basic "flavors". Fast,
expensive, high-performance cards designed for
gamers that can cost hundreds of dollars and
standard cards with 1-2 GB of video memory and cost
$50-$100. For a non-gaming system a $50 AGP/PCI card
is all you'll likely need so put the money into a
At a minimum you'll need a SATA hard
drive ($50+) and a CD/DVD($35+). I
prefer keyboards that don't have the numeric
pad built in since I never use one and they fit
better on my desktop. Adesso makes such a keyboard
for about $30. Finally, any inexpensive mouse
If you are going to splurge, do it on the monitor
and buy the best monitor you can afford.
Your eyes will thank you and you'll actually be able
to calibrate it! A LCD good monitor is one area
where you will probably spend considerably more
money then you would in a "pre-assembled system".
This is because including cheap monitors is where
system manufacturers can control costs at the
expense of your eyesight!
Selecting the right combination of motherboard
(mobo), CPU, and memory can be
tricky. These components must be properly
matched so I prefer to start with a bundled
motherboard/CPU/memory but if you are brave you can
purchase components separately and save a few
Assembly is relatively easy. Start
with the power supply and case fans. Follow
instructions that come with each component. Next
place the drives in the case bays. Next secure the
motherboard/CPU/memory unit. Mount the video card,
attach cables (see motherboard manual) and plug in
the power cord, keyboard and mouse.
The first time you turn on your new system
you may get error messages caused either by hardware
or operating system problems, this is common so
don't panic. On another computer go to Google and search on the text
of the error message. You'll likely find both a
description of what's gone wrong and how to fix it.
Again, work slowly and solve one problem at a time.
You'll need a variety of software to make
your new computer run. Much of it is now available
Source, or freeware, even the operating
system (Linux). Open Source software is
developed by communities of dedicated programmers.
The programs are available for free. As such,
however, the documentation often is not as complete
as commercial equivalents so installation and
operation of the software takes a bit more work on
your part -- but the price is right!
How to Calibrate a