I've been meaning to do this for ages, dedicate time to actually try and put together a thread on what I considure decent principles of machine build, (not necessarily overclocking) but things I think are crucial to making the process of building your machine a pleasent experience and fruitful so when complete you end with a computer you are pleased with.
The first thing to start with is PURPOSE
Work out what you want to do with the PC and then set yourself a cash budget.
Work upwards from a solid base... By this i really mean quality components, buying from good well established brand names with proven products being the best idea.
Motherboard - (Asus and A-bit, Epox) probably the most important part of the system - In my opinion the most restrictive part of the system, get a motherboard that does match you requirements then you won't get a system to suit you. (Future proofing relies on the motherboard being as expandable as possible)
Do you want S-ATA, Raid, dual bios incase of failure. Do you want lots of memory or overclocking potential - all of this is determined now.
Processor, (Amd or Intel)- Currently in my opinion the easiest part to choose, again as i say i'm not dealing with overclocking, it is quite easy to be happy with most of the processors on the market for doing everything you require. (only hardened gamers, Seti units and overclockers really need the top level processor or the best overclocking processor) - What difference does it make to windows loading up?
Memory - (Corsair, Twinmos, Samsung, Crucial - tho i don't personally like Crucial) Again something that you have to bear in mind, with ddr memory at least supposed to be used in the AMD64 and the first generation of Prescott systems the current DDR400 systems are going to viable for a future upgrade path for a fair few months yet, so i'd suggest always going for ddr400 memory at present, Personally i wouldn't go any higher than this, I think until there are actually some major advances in memory we'll see prices extremely high for memory that you really really need to overclock really hard to get the best of.
Hard Disks (Maxtor, Quantum, Seagate)- What is a sensible size to get, DO you really need that 120GB of disk space? REALLY?, well obviously that does depend on what your doing, but considure this - the more programs etc you have installed - the more cluttered windows becomes and the slower the system loads. Sure have some space for storage but maybe you really should considure what you actually need on your machine.
Hard Disk setup - varies for different people, but if you've got the discipline then maybe you should considure the following, don't make 1 large hard disk from your system, break it down, Personally i go for a 10-20GB windows and Core utilies partition (virus scanner/firewall/image viewer/messenger/e-mail etc)
Then have a Games disk - for me 40GB is fine for this and a Downloads/storage disk (achived service packs, drivers etc) and again 20-30GB is fine for me.
IF you do get a virus on C:\ lose the master boot record etc, sure you may well have lost your lovely configured windows OS but you've got all your game saves, downloads, and you can just stick a windows disk in - wipe the C: and then just use all your sp/drivers from the storage to quickly and rebuild your system.
Graphics Card - (Ati or Nvidia - individual branded cards are built to reference specifications so there isn't a great difference between any manufacturer) well depends on your games requirements, if your not playing anything more modern than CS, it is my firm belief that you don't need anything more modern than a GF4MX440 or Radeon7500 i.e LOW cost £20-£30 quid cards. Most people where playing counter strike on 16mb tnt2 ultras or less when i was at Uni, And even the GF4MX440 is more powerful than this.
Sure if you are playing lots and lots of gamer in high res, i personally believe the more money you can spend the better, but buying the newest card on the market isn't always the best idea and certainly isn't the best use of money. I think the usual best time to buy say the fx5900ultra's or radeon 9800 pro's is usually 2 months after the manufacturers have got there New wonderful drivers out, this is when the real performance comes from these cards. The novalty of the newest hotest thing has slightly died away along with the heavy price premium.
I'll basically skip CD/RW because its so common and cheap to have these in a system you'd be a fool not to. People here seem to prefer there own trusted brand that they've been using for years, LG, Lite-ON seems to be popular. DVD/CDRW combo drives also seem to be catching on with none of the flaws of the early types of these drives faced.
Monitors/LCD's - Thanks for the information - It seems that if you've got the money maybe £350 ish it may be time to considure an LG 1710B or a Hitachi 17" LCD screen, They are taking leaps and bounds ahead in quality and may well be worth the cash, but these are extravigent purchases and it may be nice to have if you use your machine hours and hours day in day out, but for those of us who don't most will make do with a nice 17" or 19" Flat screen monitor, Either Iiyama, Sony or LG are makes i've had here and can really recommend.
Think thats enough words for now.
Feel free to comment, agree/disagree
I hope to add something like this soon to the software forum to discuss all those utils that everyone should considure having stored away just incase.
Thanks for listening