Need some help(1st time PC builder)

I am still new to this forum, but I really appreciate all the help I have been getting.
I have some questions.

1.I am building my first PC, and I really don’t want to mess up. I have bought the ANTEC 480W TRUE BLUE Powersupply. Is this a really good PSU? My research shows that ANTEC is one of the best. What do I set my PSU to. 115V or 230V? Does the PSU automatically do this part by itself. I have heard that if I set the Voltage wrong I could destroy my mother board.

2.I have been told that I should burn in my computer. Where would I go to get the Burnin Software? Is it free? When do I burn it in, after I install my OS and apps or before?

3.Could somebody take me through the steps of installing and partioning the OS. XP PRO.

4.Finally, are there any tips or anything that will help a first time builder. Even if it is something u would assume I would know I would still appreciate the advice.


  • Yes.
  • 115V is for USA. 230V is for Europe.
  • It’s not necessary. Only freaks and geeks do it. But if you insist, it’s the process of having your CPU work at 100%. The simpliest is by running SETI@Home and set it to always running.
  • You don’t need to partition the HD, you’ll just end up kicking yourself down the road. Buy a 2nd HD.
  • Go into motherboard BIOS, set 1st boot device to CD, put in WinXP Pro CD, reboot, follow instructions. Make sure you set the boot device back to HD when you’re done installing OS.
  • Check out the system buyer’s guide @

Not partitioning a hdd is in general a bad idea and will/may cause you unneeded hassle in the long run, as a clean reinstall for instance.
You don’t need to “burn in” your computer but it’s always a good idea to run Prime95 (freeware) or such for a while (a few hours) to see if it’s stable.
Installing and partitioning is very easy, just follow the instructions as Windows provides you and you’ll be fine. A good size for a system/program partition is about 4-8Gb, you can partition the rest after the installation using Disk Management, btw, don’t create several primary partitions on the same hdd. One primay and the rest of the space as extended (the “actual” partitions will be called logical drives).
Oh yea, if you plan to use a SATA (Serial ATA) hdd as system drive you need to load the drivers at the beginnig of the installation when it asks about RAID-drivers.

  1. ANTEC is da shit, its the only brand I will ever use. if you really wanan know if its good enough, check the specs of the CPU, see how much power it needs, then make sure that the Power supply can give more than that amount (multiply Amps by the 3.3V rail to get Watts)

  2. Most burner drives come with software, however, most people here on the forums are known to use several softwr eoutside the bundled package, as you too might like to experiment.

  3. Partitioning is not necessary, and it would be an entire guide altogether to explain th eprocess and when its needed and such.

  4. Research and ask about any specific PC pars before ordering, here is a great place to ask all those questions. And don’t be cheap about RAM, get the good stuff.

  1. Partitioning is not necessary, and it would be an entire guide altogether to explain the process and when its needed and such.


  1. Small guide on Parition Magic 8 if you want to partition your drive. Still a work in progress but everything should be there for you to follow.

…and why would you want to use a 3rd party application?

The real question is why would you want to partition in the 1st place? Are you still living in the 20th century?

Better to have a second hard disk, but partitioning does still have a use.

Admittedly, NTFS, the preferred filesystem for XP handles large partitions/drives better than FAT32, but still…

If you have a large drive, lets say a 120Gb, as one partition only, then you have to virus scan, defragment, and finally clean out the whole thing in one go.

I’m a firm believer in keeping the System and Programs in one partition, and TRYING to keep the data in another - the stuff you install, and in case of trouble, reinstall, goes in one, the stuff you create and back up, goes in the other.

A well thought out partitioning scheme can save you time and trouble, a badly thought out one will waste space or have you breaking from the neat arrangement (believe me, I’ve done it!).

PS. another Burn-in/qualification step is to run a RAM tester for several full passes - take your pick!
At the very least, ONE full pass of the normal tests to rule out any consistent dynamic faults - unless you are suspicious of the RAM for some reason, any additional passes just serve to increase confidence - and Windows is the best finder of dodgy ram there is, it homes in on it, and uses it for the most critical data automatically!

You should also enable the BIOS RAM check to start with, it’s a very minimal test, but it’ll weed out any memory with a permanent hard failure - once happy, I’d turn off that test, unless the system is moved often.

Matth covered most of it.
My personal reason would be give XP like 20 gigs, reserve 100 for personal stuff, migrate everything to second partition, and if XP ever goes Ape-Shit, just format the 20gigs and reinstall without losing personal data. Not everyone can afford two HDD, and so partitioning is still a very useful feature implemented by many.

Hope that helps. :slight_smile:

@ matth & xtacydima
Yes, that’s basicly the idea. It would still be a waste not to even if you had two hdds though…

what i do is have 1 hard drive in the computer (160GB SATA) with NO important stuff on it, and 1 external 120GB (i bought a external kit of eBay for like $30, works great and got a old 120GB wester digital ATA) that i keep all my stuff on, this means that if anything happens to the computer all my stuff is safe and if things got really bad i can just put it on the other computer. works like a massive pen drive and only about 3x the cost of one, i would advise it over partitioning loads. but i still every 3 months put everything on dvds just in case :wink:

  • ben :slight_smile:

This depends on the user needs, and is a per user personalization setting based on those needs, you can not generalize your conclusion this way.

Your approach is true fault tolerance… :wink:

One thing to beware of, in a multi-partition setup, is forcing long seeks, by putting the swap file in the last partition.

My favored layout, going highly multi, is:

  1. System and software
  2. Small partition for IE cache
  3. Main data partition
    4a,b,c - If desired, empty partitions for testing CD/DVD layouts (some start menu builders are impossible to use, or at least to test, without this)
  4. The end of the drive has the lowest data rate, so a final partition is where I normally keep a copy of the install media - certainly for Win98, is saves many a scrabble for the Windows CD when you change something.

@ xtacydima
Who wouldn’t benefit? Separating system files from user files is a good thing, just look at Linux/*BSD/Unix which have the same approach.

@ Matth
A bit excessive for my taste but it depends on usage too. I’d guess that two partitions would be enough for most users. System + Software and user files on the other one.
If you’re a performance freak a separate partition for the swap file and temporary files would help but I doubt you or anyone would notice a difference