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Build Or Buy Group Network
www.buildorbuy.org | www.buildorbuy.net ]

Recommended Minimum Configuration For New PC


Special Build Session was Tentatively Scheduled: May, 31, 2000

Questions regarding recommendations? Join us @ Build or Buy for discussion, help and product specifics! 
  1. Decide what you want to do WITH your new PC.

  2. Decide what you want IN your new PC.
  3. And plan now for disaster recovery! Better we inform you what to do now than tell you what you should have done later.



  • Processor: Intel Pentium III 550 (Coppermine) / PIII 600 or AMD Athlon 750 (or faster) CPU

    • Note: As of the end of April, Intel currently manufactures nothing slower than the PIII 600.
    • AMD Athlon 700 can over clock to 1GHz with Ninja Micros chip!!!
  • ATX MotherBoard: ATX / 1 AGP Slot (4x Pro support), 5/6 PCI Bus Slots, 2/4 USB ports, 2 serial, 1 parallel (Meets PC 2001 Design Guide preliminary specs).

    • MotherBoard Brands: GigaByte, Intel, ASUS. 

    Look for MotherBoard Chipsets supporting: AGP 4x Pro, Ultra ATA/66. Promise Technology has Ultra ATA/66 Controller for upgraders. Or get a MotherBoard with the Promise Controller on board!

    Special Note:

    Stay away from Intel 820 chipset like the plague! We're currently experiencing problems with Registry Errors. Relates to Win98 SE & Intel's inf chipset update to correctly identify the chipset to the O/S. Appears to be related to this driver and also the Intel ATA/66 Controller Driver when using other ATAPI Devices such as a CD-RW on that Controller. Remedy: Replace MotherBoard with different chipset. Yes, if AGP 4X is required, go AMD Athlon.

    Intel Slot 1 CPU Chipsets: Intel 440BX + Promise Ultra ATA/66 (Additional Controller Card) or Intel 820 (Camino) Chipset.

    Athlon Slot A CPU Chipsets: AMD 740 or better still, Via Technologies Via Apollo KX 133 Chipset.

Special Note: 

Slot Technologies are on their way out! Suggest waiting to embrace Pin Grid Array (PGA) CPUs.

  • RAM: 128 MB (MegaBytes, approx. 1 million bytes) RAM (Random Access Memory)

    All Ram now spec'd: PC 100 SDRAM (168 pin DIMMS). 

    Typically, Ram, MotherBoard and Processor are closely tied together when upgrading or changing. Everything else is apples and apples to change out. Currently PC 100 Memory specs make this too an apples for apples component. Only CPU & M/B are married technologies.

    No matter which CPU platform and speed you choose, Chipsets rule! A bad chipset ruins everything and new Chipsets change everything!

    BTW: Do you know for sure whether your Ram is PC 66 or PC 100? Test using app on BBPC CD Disc1.

  • ATX Case: We recommend Tower cases for maximum flexibility and ease of access and use.

    Most will find a Mid Tower case adequate. We prefer a full tower case for those planning to get a little of everything over time!
    Case brand: InWin or Macase, PC Power and Cooling

  • Power Supplies: 300/400 watt. (PC Power and Cooling). Supplied with most cases.

    Use what you get. Later, get what you need!

  • Video Card: AGP Graphics/Video Accelerator card with 16 MB Video RAM 

    (32 Megs better! Suggest Matrox G400 Dual Head Display for business and most multi-media. Lots of real estate to view!)

    Gamers may want to go for the Nvidia GeForce instead.

  • Hard Drive: 10 GB (GigaBytes, approx. 1 billion bytes) EIDE Hard Drive, 7200 RPM + UDMA/66.

    (Watch prices, 20 Gig 7200 RPM + UDMA/66. Older PC's require new PCI controller card.)

    HD Brand: Maxtor (Good people to work with who support our efforts!) or Western Digital

  • Floppy Disk Drive: 1.44 MB (3-1/2")  (Legacy device still handy to have.) Teac brand.

  • Monitor: 17" (bigger IS better), non-interlaced, .28 maximum dot pitch (.23 is even better), 85 hertz vertical refresh rate (or higher), capable of 1280x1024 if 17". (Watch prices on 19" monitors with USB Hubs!)

  • Pointing Device: Mouse, Trackball, Graphics Tablet or other pointing device. 

    (Legacy PS/2 connection with USB optional) 

  • Keyboard - 104 keys (PS/2 connection with USB option.) 

    Watch for new Multi-Function / Internet Keyboards with creature comfort buttons!

  • CD-ROM Drive: (Compact Disc - Read Only Memory) 40x (40 Speed) Not an option! Will become your primary boot device.

    • Brands recommended: Toshiba or Sony 
    All CD-ROM drives are now Multi-Read compatible meaning they can read CD-R/CD-RW Discs!


    Additions (in no particular order) as allowed by funding and desired uses:

  • CD-R or CD-RW Drive: 32x 8x 4x (Reads 32x, Writes CD-R 8x, writes CD-RW 4X)

    Interface: EIDE (less expensive) or SCSI (higher performance, more costly)

  • NIC: (Network Interface Card 100BaseTx) Required for DSL or 2 or more PC's

    • Brand: Intel or 3Com 
  • Modem: Includes Fax & Data, 56,6K/V.90 speed capabilities. To connect PC to phone line to use Internet or BBS (Bulletin Board Systems), and send/receive files direct from other PCs. Cable, phone line or DSL.

  • Sound Card and Speakers, to hear audio from games, audio compact discs, and used in many multimedia applications coming out. (See Note 2 below.

    With USB Audio Speakers, you may not need a sound card! Check your component specs!
    Sound cards differ greatly in quality! Watch for our Digital AV Gear Section coming soon!
    Note 2: Multimedia "Kits" including CD-ROM, sound card, and speakers may be purchased. Better quality components and results will be obtained by buying separately!

  • Disaster Recovery Solutions... 

    Hardware, software or both? Attend to learn!

Copyright 1997, 2000-2001, The Build Or Buy Special Interest Group!
Web Developer, Gill Boyd - Updated 05-02-2001; Revised 11/03/2001