PC hardware--CPU & Motherboard & RAM/Building a system

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Hi Keith,

I'd like to build a really powerful (Windows) laptop - I suppose much cheaper to build than pay for brand name.

As far as my tech knowledge (hardware/putting one together/researching & following instructions), I guess I'm about an 8/10 - mostly just from being able to research & follow guides.

Of course a light, thin, sleek body would be great, but that is last on my priority list. I don't want a 20lb. cinderblock on my waist, either - that has to be ice-cooled. I'm not trying to go THAT hard-core. I'm not even a gamer.

I do want a high-resolution monitor, and being able to upgrade to as much RAM as possible is important.

I would probably rather get one that comes with a great monitor, motherboard, and chip. (Or should I do the chip myself?)

I want to buy everything one-at-a-time, everything top-notch.

As far as finding the best in each category, I don't THINK that will be too hard; and I don't THINK assembling everything will be too difficult.

What I'm having a hard time trying to figure out, is where to start.

What I guess I'm going to be looking for is a barebones setup that doesn't look too hard to assemble, and definitely comes with a good monitor, lots of cooling vents/fans, and every port that I would need (several USB - some 3.0; HDMI; etc..). What am I forgetting, that I should be paying attention to?

Also:

There are a lot of places that sell the shells/barebones systems, but do you happen to know of a good, quality, fairly reputable company or should I be looking more at a good quality setup itself (as in brand name) - but I don't know if there IS such a thing - a brand-name "shell".

And, would you recommend getting a setup with the board & chip (and fans) already installed? What do I probably want, 'already installed'?

Generally, just any info that you can give me on this will be much appreciated. You may even know of a great production model out there, with a decent price.

Any input that you can give me will help me a lot.

Thank you very much,
Mark

Answer
I would look at the barebones systems at http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/category/category_tlc.asp?CatId=31&name= . When it comes to building a computer I am just going to list some things that you need to make sure of.
1. Cooling- get a case with a lot of fan slots and fill them up. My favorite configuration is 2 blowing in the front and 2 taking air out the back.
2. Do not under power the machine.
3. Compatibility- this is one thing good about a barebones system. Everything is already bundled to be compatible. Compatibility of the CPU will be socket type. Memory will be how much each slot will hold, type (DDR2, DDR3, etc.), and dual channel capability.
When it comes to brands I have always had good luck with ASUS and AMD. Intel processors are good but are much more expensive than AMD.
The answer is very broad. If there is anything more specific you run into let me know.  

PC hardware--CPU & Motherboard & RAM

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Keith

Expertise

Experienced in complete system builds where knowledge of kinds and types of motherboards, processors, and RAM have to be compatible. This includes intermediate knowledge of video card technologies and the troubleshooting and repair of problems associated with said hardware.

Experience

11 years experience as a self-employed PC technician with 100% customer satisfaction.

Education/Credentials
4 classes from a Networking degree. Mostly self-taught.

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