I just recently lost my computer due to everheating. It only lasted me 3 years. I spent between 3-4 thousand dollars on it. I made the mistake of purchasing it from Circuit City. It was an HP... Here are some system specs on my recently lost HP computer: - 1Ghz Athlon AMD processor - 40GB Hard Drive(IDE/ATA/2MB ...uncertain) - Sound Blaster live! - Video card 32MB nVIDIA Geforce DDR - Motherboard is uncertain - Two 256 SDRAM Sticks = 512 SDRAM I have to honestly say, I was extremely dissapointed with my experience. When I bought the computer, the processor was the fastest there was. (Or at least the sales person who got the commission claimed it was.) Everything else was the best Circuit City had to offer at the time. (Or at least the sales person who got the commission claimed it was.) The computer worked beautifully for the first year with only an average of maybe 2-3 crashes per week. The second year everything went down road; I was experiencing a crash every four or five hours, and from there it only got worse. Every game I bought and played, brought with it a horrendous series of trial and error. Cleaning this, changing that, turning down these options, installing these drivers/patches... etc.. By the third year only half the games I purchased actually worked on my computer. Those that did work, worked only with frequent crashing. Once per hour was about the average crashing rate. I spent over 500 dollars over the course of one year just taking the computer to the tech. to figure out what was wrong. the computer tech. found nothing. Its obvious to me now, that the hardware was just obsolete. In one year, my hardware in combination with the bugs that come with HP and the several different operating systems I went through, my computer was no longer efficient. After a lot of research I've decided its best to build your own PC. This way I won't have to worry about being doomed from the start. My only responsibility is to educate myself, and get help from a professional when it comes to the actual installation of the hardware to the motherboard. In deciding which hardware to purchase, however, I need only choose wisely, thats where you come in. I figure there is no way to prevent my computer from eventually becoming obsolete, but hopefully, if I choose the right hardware, I can leave room for future upgrades, and remain efficient in most the departments for years to come. My goal is to still be using the same hardware 4-5 years after purchase. To do this, I'll have to buy the best quality hardware. I read somewhere the average life expectancy of a PC is 5 years. Until now thats only been a dream of mine, with your help, I'd like to make that a reality. Before I ask any questions I'd like to give some advice of my own: - For those who are not aware, HP's way of ensuring that you return to them or their manufacturers in the near future is to place a large motherboard in a small case, with the floppy drive almost touching the motherboard. By doing this, they prevent customers from being able to upgrade their hardware. (I actually bought the new nVIDIA Geforce2 4600 Ti 128MB video card and when I took it to the computer tech. to be installed, I discovered that there wasn't room for it. Unless I wanted unhook everything and then hook everything back up in an entirely new case, I had no way of upgrading.) - If your a gamer, or own a high end computer, invest in cooling products. The more the better. You really can't spend too much on cooling products. Arctic Grease, water cooling, multiple fans. They all work. They also all work together. The cooler your machine runs, the longer it lasts. When determining the age of your computer, there are two things to consider: 1) The average temperature of your computer when running at its average performance/speed. 2) The average amount of time your computer is in use. When choosing your computer case, try to find one with side panel fans. A built in ventilation system is also a common feature to consider. I'll list the hardware I've done research on and decided is the best while taking these three things into consideration: - Best performance - Quality: long lasting - Cost efficient - Athlon AMD 2800+XP Cost: $600.00 Comments: I compared the two best processors. The Intel 3.06GHZ with the Athlon AMD 2800+XP. The Athlon was the best for the quality and cost. Performance was very slightly behind that of the Intel 3.06Ghz. - Three Corsair XMS3500 DDR 512RAM Sticks (1536RAM) Cost: $229.95 each Comments: I read that Corsair has always been the highest quality RAM. Its used in most comparitive reviews. - Two 8MB 7200RPM 80GB Western Digital Hard Drives Cost: $139.99 each Comments: I was convinced by a sales person from Circuit City that these Hard Drives are the best speeds. They are being sold on sale for a limited time only. Chosen for quality and cost efficiency. - nVIDIA Geforce2 4600 Ti 128MB Video Card Cost: None Comments: I already recently purchased this video card. I chose it for its quality and performance. The Radeon 9700 Pro had some negative reviews. I read the video card didn't work with certain PC games. nVIDIA also seems to have easier maintenance. - Audigy 2 Platinum Cost: $199.99 Comments: I read a couple reviews which indicated the best performance. - Motherboard: Undecided (Help needed in deciding.) That pretty much sums up the internal hardware I'm considering. Please give your comments freely. If you disagree with anything, please let me know. Think theres something better out there? Let me know. Remember, my top priority is to buy hardware that will last me the longest before needing to be replaced because the performance is too poor. As you can see above, I also need help in deciding which motherboard I need. I know little about motherboards. I need a motherboard that can take advantage of the rest of the hardware listed above. For example, how much ram can a motherboard really use? Will 1536ram slow down the computer rather than speed it up? Is it too much ram? The reason why I am considering purchasing three stick of 512ram is because I want to ensure that I'll have efficient ram for years to come. Games these days are requiring more and more ram than before. Please educate me more about the motherboard and how it corresponds that your ram/other functions. I know everything has to be compatible. However, I also know that your system specs need to be balanced in order to ensure everything is being used at %100 efficiency. Below are accessory items under current consideration: - Multiple Cooling Fans Cost: $65.00 Comments: I considered water cooling, but someone scared me away from that idea by warning me about the tubes breaking and water damaging the internal hardware. Arctic Grease seems complicated, does it really work? Multiple fans seem like an adequate solution. I am a bit paranoid about overheating...again. However, I was talked into this simple solution by three separate individuals. --I'd like your opinions... - Beautiful full sized case with clear side panels and side panel fans. Plenty of room for upgrading. USB ports on front and back. Blue light for enchanced look. Cost: $99.99 Comments: I wanted a case with clear side panels mostly for the comfort that would come with having the ability to see inside and perhaps spot overheating and/or fans malfunctioning. It also seems to be an easy way of determining when your fans need to be cleaned. (The room where my computer will reside tends to collect dust extremely fast. This probably contributed to my previous PC overheating.) - Bluetooth Cordless Laser Mouse and Keyboard with Receiver. Cost: $159.99 Comments: I do a lot of gaming. Its my cure for bordom. When I'm not studying or working out a the gym I'm on my PC gaming. I'm damn good at it too. I read this mouse and keyboard were the best for what I do. - Windows XP on one Hard Drive. Windows 98 on other Hard Drive. WinXP Cost: $100 Win98 Cost: None Comments: I already own 98. Windows 98 seems to work better on some games, whereas Windows XP seems to work better on others. Windows XP is also better for its many features. --I had my single hard drive partitioned on my previous PC, with Windows 98 on one half, and Windows XP on the other half. The computer tech. told me that Windows XP was causing problems with Windows 98 because the two operating system were programmed to work together. Would I encounter the same problems if I had them on seperate hard drives? Can you confirm these claims? More information regarding this topic would be appreciated. - Speakers: Undecided (I'd like to purchase the best speakers, ones that can fully take advantage of the high performance sound card listed above. I play a lot of first person shooter games. When playing those games its essential that you know exactly from which direction noises are coming from. For example: when an opponent opens a door when playing Medal of Honor, when he/she is not in any line of site, I need to be able to determine if he/she is coming from the south, southwest, northeast... etc; Pinpoint sound accuracy is essential.) It's getting late here. Please don't be afraid to type a long response. Try to be informative when posting. Give plenty of examples when necessary. I'll check the thread again tomorrow. Thank you for reading/posting.