These courses will help you build your dream computer


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/12/22/these-courses-will-help-you-bu.html


#2

Ah, late stage capitalism, in which we attempt to sell information that is not just available online for free, but is available for free in more locations and formats than I can count.

And the ad copy doesn’t seem to be with the times. It’s been, I think well over a decade since building your own desktop actually saved you any money to speak of. The reasons to do so have more nowadays to do with getting exactly the configuration and features you want, and with getting a clean OS install that is free of shovelware.


#3

This post is about learning to build a desktop, but the guy in the image is working on a laptop mainboard and stripping it down by the looks of it. I only point this out because there are plenty of people who can fix laptops, but barely ever any who build there own as laptops tend to be bespoke to the manufacturer and as such don’t have standard formats apart from the standard memory and mini pcie port types.


#4

I have been building my own PCs for years without any specialized training. (never tried a laptop, my fingers are too fat for that) Here is a good resource:


#5

Additionally it’s selling “classes” for something astoundingly simple. Building a PC is dead easy. An awful lot like Lego. Picking the parts is hard. But after that it all clicks together.

The most complex tutorial I’ve ever seen is still just a list of less than 20 steps and some advice on cableing. Especially these days when your not messing with jumpers and other back in the day weird.


#6

Or… you could just use PCPartPicker and do some research, check out others’ rigs and make your own and then post the configuration for people to give you feedback.

https://pcpartpicker.com/


#7

Exactly. And that’s been the case since the 90’s. There used to be tricky bits that required reading the manual - like knowing how to plug in two identical power cables with the correct colour wires together so that they would not fry the machine, or looking up jumper settings. But it’s never, not even in the confusing days of AT power supplies, been something that’s required an actual course to learn how to do it.

A scout merit badge, maybe. A course? give me a break.


#8

Well the weird little color coded/numbered cables for front panel switches and lights where you got to look up whats what are still there (SOMEONE needs to institute a better solution for that). And I can attest, as some one who started in the 90’s that the jumpers and weird were in full force at the time.

But you’re right even back then it all just clicked together. The most complicated it got was looking at a diagram in your MOBO’s manual. The primary difference these days is less frustrating connectors and there’s far less tweaking in software after you build it to get it working.


#10

To really boil it down to basics: these courses will waste you good money that you could have spent on your dream computer.


#11

$19 could buy you some sweet case lights.


#12

URRRGGGGGG

Why do all my computer things have to glow?

$19 dollars could bump up your processor, ram, or video card in most cases. Not a lot. But just enough for bragging rights OR real performance gains. But not both. And honestly the best “well its only $20” I ever spent PC building wise was that time long ago when I decided it was better to spend more than $35 on a case.

MAN those $35 cases were bad.


#13

There’s no way you get more shiny out of $19 worth of CPU, Ram or GPU, though. /s


#14

Oh, yes. Just 20 or 30 bucks extra can mean the difference between a case with an insatiable thirst for human blood and a case that you won’t be scared to put your hands in.

And, a secret that you would never guess reading all the build articles on nerd sites: if you choose wisely, you can reuse the same case for all of your home built computers for many years to come as well.


#15

#16

That is exactly what I was thinking of. Round abouts PC 3. Dad thought I needed stitches.

Even with the bad cases I tend to get at least 3 builds out of a case. Over the years I’ve gotten myself into a nice build-upgrade-rebuild-upgrade-replace cycle. Due for a rebuild in about a year or so.


#17

I came here to rant… But, everyone else seems to have covered my objections pretty well already.

Building a PC takes no more effort or mechanical ability these days than the ability to turn a screwdriver and plug in a few plugs. Long gone are the days of having to jumper a card to set the IRQ and DMA addresses, and then still not having it work.

Then again I had to install a reset button on my first computer, a Commodore, with a soldering Iron cut traces in a 1541 drive to set it to address 9 for dual drive, so I might be fogey-splaining.

Also, while not “building” a laptop, picking up an Off-lease Dell business class laptop and upgrading the CPU, RAM and HDD is a heck of a lot better than a Walmart laptop, for about the same price.


#18

Even worse, many laptops will disable non-whitelisted wireless cards, because Reasons. Of course, they hide behind the FCC even though Wi-Fi is standardized.


#19

Most laptops are built from standard, commercially available parts. Its the motherboards and enclosures that tend to be custom (and the same is largely true of desktops).

The reason noone builds laptops is because its never been particularly cost effective or worthwhile. Once upon a time, off the shelf laptop cases were available to the home builder. As were motherboards in standardized formats that were mobile appropriate.

Frankly it was the exception to the general rules with PC building. It ended up being more expensive to do than just buying one. And the results where a lot bulkier, and generally worse. Lower quality screens etc. So these sorts of things didn’t sell. And you generally don’t see them on the market anymore.

You could still build a laptop if you could line up a case and screen from somewhere (like I said haven’t seen that in a long time). A bunch of those custom gaming PC companies make gaming laptops by effectively mounting full size desktop parts in an over-sized laptop body. But nobody does it at home because its not worth the trouble or cost.


#20

image

Unless your name is Bunnie Huang, perhaps.


#21

Building or repairing a laptop is just a pain. I’m not talking about these:

Dealing with glued parts basically put me off from even trying, and pentalobe security screws, which we can all bypass, are irritating.

The comment about desktops having bad cases is spot on. In addition to cheap cases basically being a case of razor blades, I had a number which would short the motherboard (yeah, motherboard was at fault too). A friend took to installing a sheet of thin cardboard between the MB and the mounts. Worked like a champ.