Wow- if you do it first time and have some asset of time in your disposition – then go ahead and purchase motherboard, your favorite processor, memory, video card (probably it is better to purchase it external for advanced quality). You will also need computer case – first computer should probably go to the cheap one – with USB 2 ports from the front side – the only question – you might want to replace noisy cheap power supply with $ 50 dollars one. Processor fan – nowdays you will see the variety for all the tastes – get the one with adjustable spinning speed to regulate noise (if you could not place it into the basement of your house – I guess you live in apartment or student dormitory). Let's go to details:
o Ahead of Generation. It is not a secret that when you build your own computer – you might overpay – in considering to what is available in the stores .. However you typically get ahead of technology. For example – it is still common when Dell / Compaq / IBM computers use PC2700 standard of memory. If you bought PC3200 – you have two years of being ahead of the competition
o Processor. If you build your computer from scratches – you should look into 64-bits processor from the beginning. Get AMD Athlon 64 3400+ at least
o Video Card. For $ 100 you can get maximum of memory and performance. This is why we recommend to get external videocard
o DVD Writer. RW +/- unfortunately Japanese manufacturers are in the process of decision making on winning standards plus DVD of high density. Get both supported.
o Hard Drive. Decent motherboards support IDE raid and you could experiment with striping (raid 0). Then if you purchase two IDE disks 400 GB each – you will get 800 GB – unbelievable for supercomputers – but you are on your own and cosmopolitan individual – step forward and be ahead of competition.
o Troubleshooting. Understood and respected. First listen your mother board beeps and refer to its documentation. It may not see memory, graphical card, etc. When you are installing memory – be very careful to static electricity issue. When you are attaching your mother board to computer case – the most typical issue is motherboard shorting – so do not be surprised to try your motherboard first outside the case