Please note, I've never done any of this before. Take my word with pound of salt.
My intentions here are to build a PC that is the total opposite of my previous experience. Before, it could barely run at all. Windows XP Chugged, the hard disk was always almost full, and getting shit to work on it was a nightmare. I want something that's fast and snappy, can do all the normal tasks for a computer (office etc), code IDEs, games, and whatever other bullshit I throw at it. I just want a Y2K beef monster. Is that too much to ask?
Once my hard disk died I knew it was time for an upgrade.
The main part of the repair is to get a new hard disk. I opted to get a SanDisk U110 64 GB SSD SATA drive. (side note, this thing is fast! I remember hearing that hard disk struggle on every task for the longest time, the SSD just zips through!)
However, my pc did not have a SATA port in its motherboard. After some trial and error, I found a SATA Female to PATA/IDE Female adapter. After I removed the old hard drive, I plugged in the adapter, then plugged in the SSD. The BIOS recognized the drive without a hitch.
I had some trouble installing windows. My DVD Drive is pretty dodgy. I burned windows 2000 on to a DVD, and it refused to boot. I burned it on to a CD, and though it ran, it again refused to boot until I set DVD drive to boot first in the Bios. Mind you, I tried to read the SSD from an MS-DOS boot diskette, but it could not recognize the SSD. Windows 2000 however did recognize it, and once the CD finally booted, I was able to format the drive and install windows.
With this in mind, it might do you good to install a new optical drive. I'm telling you, that thing struggles to read DVDs, despite having a DVD logo on it. I might get one of those cool GD-ROM readers for some period accurate Sega Shenanigans >:).
After those two upgrades were out of the way, I really wanted to do some other upgrades. I bought a new GPU - NVidia Geforce2 MX200 64gb graphics card. Probably not the absolute best of the best, but it was quite inexpensive and it works well. Once I first booted into windows however, the color depth was extremely low and the GPU did not appear in the Device Manager. After downloading some drivers from Nvidia's website, it worked fine.
Before I installed the GPU drivers, Unreal Tournament could barely run under default software rendering. After installing the driver, it ran quite well.
FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS: I also have a Yamaha YMF724 sound card, but have not installed it yet. I want to upgrade the RAM as well (I'm currently running 96 Megabytes.. not bad but we can do better).
As for cable management, you're asking the wrong guy LOL