A custom PC configuration guide. © 2000,2001,2002 by Jef Poskanzer. Updated 23may2002.
If you're looking for a PC a little more customized than one of the pre-packaged Dell/Gateway/IBM/Compaq/HP ones, consider designing it yourself. It's not that hard, you'll get exactly what you want, and you'll probably even save a few bucks.
This is just a bunch of stuff I've gradually picked up while figuring out what system I want to buy. At some point friends started asking me for advice on their own PC designs. I was wondering why they were asking me such simple stuff, but when I started writing up explanations for them I realized that there was actually quite a bit of arcane knowlege involved. Hence this web page.
So. Start by figuring out what CPU, chipset, and motherboard you want. These are respectively the brains, soul, and heart of your machine.