I named this thread so maybe somebody googling or searching the forum will find it quick.
until 2 weeks ago I had put RAM and a video card into a computer. (both just plug in and worked)
found a sample build on this forum and tweaked it a little, then ordered all parts from newegg.com. parts came in and I freaked out a little asking questions on this site, watched some you tube videos.
took about 4 1/2 hours to build, and that is with spending an hour on you tube trying to figure out how to put the cpu grease on before I found that it was already on the cooler from the factory
yesterday turned it on voila! went into bios, set to boot from disk, Vista is running and updated.
I guess the whole point of this now getting long thread is: if you are looking into doing this and you are scared you will mess it up, don't be. If everyone knew how easy it is then Dell would be out of business in a week.
I will never buy a pre-manufactured computer again!
and thanks to everyone that replied to my posts.