I work in IT ….
…......Install the service pack and run Windows update. The drivers should be updated before you attempt any application installs.
If you can swing it, get yourself a 250 GB SSD and install Windows 7 on it and all your applications. You will be surprised how fast Win 7 install on a SSD drive. Save your HDD as a data drive, ….
I built a PC and helped my nephew build one for himself about a year ago. Sourced all the parts except for the motherboard, cpu and power supply from newegg.com. I live about 2 hrs drive from the S.F. bay area and found a good price on a package deal (motherboard, CPU and PS) from a local computer store in Santa Clara:
It's actually fun to build a computer . Really. Just allow yourself about 8 hrs. if its your first build.
I believe newegg had some DIY videos at one time on YouTube as well as their website......
For those of us not in IT, it's difficult to keep up with the state of the art, well, for me anyway, I suspect for many others as well.
Having not kept up to speed, the most difficult and time consuming part of a new PC build is researching component selection, I spent months.
I reverse showroomed my build, that is, I did a lot of research on line, final purchase was made in a retail store.
I chose ASUS for the motherboard based on features and prior experience with the brand, read a lot of reviews.
I found NewEgg very helpful, many individual product pages have links to the corresponding Manufacturer's product page(s).
I ended up purchasing at MicroCenter as there's one not too far away from my current location in MI.
I've since placed some other orders with NewEgg.
When I lived in the Monterey Bay area of California I built a couple of PCs from Fry's
, another from Central Computers
in Santa Clara as they specialize in ASUS and only a few other quality motherboard brands. Perhaps Central is who lilmsmaggie is thinking of?
I've been quite satisfied dealing with NewEgg, Fry's, Central and MicroCenter with some qualifications to that statement.
NewEgg's web site has a ton of information which is very very helpful but I found no way to get any sort of human assistance in purchasing decisions at least by phone, I didn't even want to try on-line chat on the matter. Contrast with B&H phone ordering where staff understands your questions and has (or gets) answers.
Fry's are Walmart huge, getting knowledgeable help is hit or miss. Best if you know what you want going in.
Central and Micro Center are much smaller and more personal, generally more knowledgeable than at Fry's. Still helps if you have a good idea what you want going in.
I would buy from any of those four again.
The actual physical build time was maybe two hours on my latest, earlier builds took about an hour with simpler gear.
Minimal tools are needed, a small Phillips, magnetic is good, small needle nose or large tweezers, a cutter of some sort to open packaging and trim ties, good light and maybe a magnifier.
OS install on modern hardware was pretty quick, maybe 20 minutes or so.
Service pack installation should not be needed, just buy Windows & SP1 and the SP is already integrated in.
Drivers come with motherboards and some other components, often there are updated versions on line.
Installation time of other programs varies widely according to program selection.
Instead of a single 250GB SSD I used two, one for the OS and programs, the second for files. I added a 1TB HD for back up, an optical bay mounted slot loader bay for additional and redundant back up.
- - -
Choosing components is the part I found most difficult.
I started with the desire to have a fully color controlled work flow for stills.
I decided on a wide gamut monitor with an integrated calibration solution from NEC. DisplayPort was the video interface that sounded most attractive so that choice narrowed motherboard and processor choices.
I have no interest in shooting video so I went with on board graphics instead of a discrete video card. Modern on board graphics are very capable.
I'm fussy about memory, I'll choose only from the motherboard manufacturer's recommendations and max out from there, same for the processor.
I like excess capacity from the power supply and modular connections to keep the inside of the case tidy, both for aesthetics and air flow.
Choose a case for fans and air flow, drive mounts and then appearance to taste.
Noctua makes exquisitely beautiful fans and coolers though the colors are bland to say the least.
Whatever brand of fans and coolers you choose, if the motherboard supports Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) fans, spend for those.
Stock processor coolers are barely adequate, two steps up is plenty, no need to go nuts.
The final bit of color management is a printer/ink/paper profiler.
Calibrate the monitor when it's well warmed up with minimized ambient light, profile the printer/ink/paper combination to be used, soft proof in Lightroom or whatever using the desired profile and minimized ambient light, what you then see on your screen will match the printer output very closely.