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30. The Basics

That's the big question and one answer does not apply to everyone.

Here are some things to consider:

•Often times perform better than Intel
•Wide range of motherboard support

Pro Intel
•Run cool
•Faster clock speeds (does not necessarily indicate performance)
•Better application tweaks for some multimedia software
•Wide range of motherboard support

Note: Some of the info above is outdated and no longer applicable. In many ways, the question comes down to individual preference, and both manufacturers continue to pump out new processors on a regular basis. TD members are probably equally divided, and everyone experiences success.

by slash See Profile edited by KeysCapt See Profile
last modified: 2008-01-28 07:38:10

The simple answer is no. Laptops are proprietary devices for the most part and each manufacturer makes them pretty much their own way. There are few standardized features which makes it impossible to build a laptop.

You can, however, add memory (RAM) and perform a few other upgrades to your laptop.

by slash See Profile edited by KeysCapt See Profile
last modified: 2008-01-28 07:39:52

To build a cruncher, you must have some bare necessities. The following is a list of items you must have in a cruncher. For a list of things you may need if you will be using your computer for other tasks besides crunching, see this faq.

Required Components

Processor (CPU): In a cruncher, the processor is the most important factor in determining how much crunching is done. The faster the processor, the faster work gets done. Choice of manufacturer is an individual thing, but generally try to buy the best you can afford. Money spent here pays off!

Memory (RAM): RAM is also a very important component and the more you have the better. Larger amounts of RAM may speed up crunching by a modest amount, but mainly serves to keep your system running smoothly. 512 MB is the minimum recommended for Windows XP machines but more will work far better. Many if not most run 1GB (one gigabyte) and more. Most current machines will accept 2GB and up. Vista works best with 2 GB or more.

Motherboard: The motherboard is the guts of a computer and can influence the speed of crunching. Some motherboard chipsets are faster than others which will result in faster crunching times. Do some research here ... and make an effort to match your mobo to your new CPU.

Hard Drive: Every computer requires a hard drive, but it does not really affect the speed of crunching. 7200 RPM hard drives will give you faster performance in load times of applications, but should have little to no effect on crunching.

CD/DVD Drive: While not an every day requirement in a pure cruncher, you will need an optical drive to initially load the operating system onto your hard drive. This may be temporary in nature, and a good external drive will work too.

Video Card: Every computer requires a video card even if there is no monitor hooked up. A faster video card will not speed up crunching but will allow your games to run faster. For pure crunching, many motherboards contain "on board" video that should be sufficient.

Operating System: Having a stable operating system is important to efficient crunching. If the OS routinely crashes, crunch time is lost. Microsoft's Windows 7 is the latest Microsoft operating system and is very stable.

Power Supply: While some case manufacturers include a PSU, you would do well to invest in a quality unit, with more than ample power. When a power supply fails, it can take out other components.
Stable voltage is key here to feed your system continually.

Network Device: You must have either a Network Card or a modem in your cruncher in order to send and receive work from the servers. Once again, most motherboards now have on board NIC's.

In addition to the above, you will might need a case, proper cables, fans, and a heatsink unit.
Ceramique is a good recommended thermal paste as well.

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • Hey all, how about a section here on GPU's now that they're in full swing :). May want to talk about integrated vs discrete graphics, overheating issues, how to run multiple tasks on one GPU, etc.

    2013-01-22 20:08:04 (ayoustic See Profile)

by slash See Profile edited by lilhurricane See Profile
last modified: 2010-09-23 07:16:53

No! In fact it is extremely easy to do ... as long as you follow instructions. Many people are intimidated because they do not think they are capable when in reality it is just like putting a ten piece puzzle together. If you have any questions, we will be more than happy to help you out. There is great satisfaction in building your own ... do it!

by slash See Profile edited by KeysCapt See Profile
last modified: 2008-01-28 07:48:24

Probably a pretty common question. The answer of course, depends on what type of machine you want to build, but honestly, at the present time, you can put a decent computer together for around $500. If you're scrounging parts from other sources (cannibalizing), you might even do it for less. A pure "cruncher" might not need a big hard drive, or a CD-Rom, etc.

by KeysCapt See Profile

You have to do your research and get the opinions of others in order to know what the best components are to get. Since technology is always changing, it is hard to recommend specific components. For specific questions, either post in the Hardware Chat forum or the Team Discovery forum.

by slash See Profile

This depends greatly on your experience level. It can take some time to build a pc neatly and carefully but it also can be done rather quickly if you have experience and know what you're doing. For experienced builders, look at it taking about 1 hour to build the system; for inexperienced builders, maybe an hour and a half. Those times are to actually put the system together, one must then install an operating system and software which will add varying amounts of time depending on how much software you need to install.

by slash See Profile

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts are usually the same as retail parts but their packaging and support options are different. OEM parts are usually less expensive because they do not come in any fancy packaging (just a plain box), and do not usually contain any software or cables. But the primary difference is that OEM components tend to have lesser warranties. Do your homework here. OEM Processors MAY not come with a heatsink/fan combo but many do. Retail versions always do. Buying the OEM CPU permits you to add a high-performance fan and heatsink if you prefer.

Retail simply means that the component is in the same packaging that you would find in a retail store. It includes all the accessories to make the device work; as with a CPU, the retail version comes with heat sink, fan and WARRANTY. You will almost always pay more for retail.

In general, you can feel safe buying OEM and saving some money since they usually come with a 30 day warranty. Most failures of computer parts occur within a short period of time, but not all.

by slash See Profile edited by KeysCapt See Profile
last modified: 2008-01-28 07:54:29

There are basically two ways to go when building your own machine.

If your intention is to build a state-of-the-art cruncher/gamer/MP3 extreme machine, then you will obviously be looking at a bigger budget, and searching for the best components for your new box.

But if you're just interested in building a new box to add some crunching power to your existing setup, you can put an effective machine together without spending a ton of money.

Either way, it's a fun project, and you should find some great info right here.

by KeysCapt See Profile

You were looking at some of the sites for build-it-yourself links, and you saw "Barebones" prices ... now what is that?

A barebones system is one that the distributor has put together to save you some of the hassle of component selection, and maybe to save you some money as well. On the other hand, it may be one that the distributor has thrown together to get rid of surplus or unpopular stock ... reputation matters here.

In general, a barebones system consists of a case, motherboard, CPU and RAM. If you want to go this route, you will simply add whatever else you need, like CD-RW, Hard Drive, Video and Audio, NIC, OS, and so on.

This is really sort of a half-way point between an OEM computer and a build-it-yourself box, OR, an easy starting point which saves some of the decision making ... the basic parts are already there.

by KeysCapt See Profile
last modified: 2008-01-28 07:56:23

In cases as with other components, the choices are endless. Generally for a cruncher you can select an inexpensive model; however, if you will be in and out of it often to add or change things, you will want a more substantial and accommodating case. Other considerations are cooling and layout; you want to be able to circulate air with as little obstruction as possible.

You can spend a lot of money on a case, and get all sorts of LED lights and gimmicks, but it's probably a good idea to spend that money on other components, and get an adequate case for your use. The following example is an old one, but representative of a good choice.

ChiefTech 601-AE

Server size tower: 21" high, 19" deep, black or white.

This case is readily available, and is a cheaper cousin to the Antec cases. It comes with or without a power supply, and is usually priced at around $54 without.

The case includes two case fans (not the best quality, but sufficient) and two drop-out 3.5 inch bays. CD-ROM and similar drives load from the front, on guides that are included.

Not a bad case, for the money.

There are many different models and are manufactured by different companies, but the case design is the same. This is a solid, well-built case, and can take a beating. Loaded with all the goodies, they can weigh up to 50 lbs.

by KeysCapt See Profile
last modified: 2008-01-28 21:35:54