Building a custom PC (page one)

My last PC (seen in my review of a workstation PC build) has served me well since I built it in 2003. Just over five years later, it still seems to be in perfect working order but it's beginning to groan badly when put to work on heavy tasks, and it groans especially loudly when running games. Playing Team Fortress 2 on a PC with a Radeon 9700 Pro and only half a gigabyte of RAM is not easy: the framerate is on the low side and disk thrashing causes frequent stutters and slow level loading. Newer games like BioShock and Crysis are effectively unplayable. So I decided it was time to build a new rig.

Select the components

Rather lazily, I used Custom PC magazine as my buyers' guide, with almost all of my chosen components being the ones recommended in their CPC Elite pages. Of course, I carefully checked manufacturer pages and other review sites online, to make sure I knew what I was getting. I didn't find anything bad written about the items from the Custom PC shortlist, so I ended up buying the following:

Antec P180 case£86.89
Be Quiet Dark Power Pro 650W PSU£99.88
Asus P5K Premium/WiFi-AP£103.17
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 G0 SLACR129.24
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro£14.91
Two OCZ Reaper HPC OCZ2RPR10662GK RAM kits£85.00
Two Samsung Spinpoint HD753LJ drives£122.18
BFG NVIDIA 8800 GT OC 512MB£129.99
Akasa Vortexx Neo£19.96
Total cost (including VAT)£791.22

Most of the items were purchased from Scan, but the RAM kits and hard disks came from CCL and the graphics card came from Delivery came to an extra twenty-two pounds.

I took the Audigy 2 sound card out of my old machine, plus my Plextor optical drive, and I kept my existing mouse, keyboard and monitor. If you need to buy any of these components, remember to budget for them.

So, with components delivered, I was ready to start building my new quad-core four gigabyte PC with a graphics card fit for recent games.