The selection of a motherboard is the most important choice you’ll make when building your PC, as it determines the future upgradability of the computer. However, as motherboards aren’t as expensive as other components, it’s also a choice that can be made in favour of price or quality.
In terms of speed, you’ll be looking for an open-ended board that will last through several sticks of RAM and processors. The choice really should be between Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 (or Prescott); at the moment we come down in favour of the Athlon 64 motherboard, due to the relative cost of Pentium chips. The Athlon 64 also has the advantage of being future-proofed, and at the moment the fastest chips on the market. However watch out; there are two flavours of A64 out there, the vanilla 754-pin 3200+ and the flagship 940-pin FX-51, which require different motherboards.
In terms of functionality, every motherboard should have a minimum of 2 SATA and two PATA ports. At least three dual channel memory slots are desirable, as . AGP 8x is also a minimum, and if there are any boards supporting PCI-X by the time this comes out, you might consider them too. Onboard Ethernet (Gigabit preferably), onboard 5.1 sound (7.1 preferably) and onboard video ( are all essential. Finally, if connectivity is an issue, make sure there’s a couple of USB and Firewire connectors, and IrDA if you’re feeling excitable.
The breaking point for a motherboard is in the region of for Athlon 64, for a P4 or Athlon XP. This should get you the minimum features we’ve listed above.
Breaking point = £100 for a well featured Atlhon 64 motherboard.
A cheap hard drive needn’t be noisy, nor should it be . Looking online we instantly found a selection of excellent hard drives at very low prices; an excellent Excelstor 60Gb
The minimum these days should be 60Gb, as the price increase from 20 or 40 to that is minimal, but surprisingly perfectly good 80GB drives are available for only a few more pounds. SATA capable hard drives are a little more expensive, but convertors are available if you don’t mind the speed loss; if you do, you can get .
When looking for hard drives, you should be looking to get 8Mb cache and
If you’re unsure about the stability of your hard drive, you can always buy a hard drive cooler; though these will only serve to cool the plates by a couple of degrees, that may be enough to stabilize your system.
Turning point = £50 for an 80GB SATA drive
Power Supply others (300)
The key to a good set of accessories
Vox Pop Grids 5 x 5(50)
Ian Harris (MacFormat)
ATI guy (
Cleaner lady (
Overclocking the PC, once built is simplicity itself; PCF readers will know by now