So you’ve heard that you can build a computer, but you don’t know how, whether you need to do it, and what (literally) it takes to build your own computer. The good news is that building your own computer is very easy and rewarding, but not for everyone.
Based on the fact that you’ve never built a computer before, we will approach this rather important topic as logically as possible.
Desktop or laptop computer?
If you didn’t know, laptops are taking over the world of computers. The appeal is understandable. We now live a more mobile life, and just buying a ready-made laptop in one package is the easiest way to get on with your life and work.
Should you buy a laptop instead of building a desktop computer? Honestly, if you buy a decent mid-range laptop, most users will be perfectly happy with a modern laptop. Even more budget laptops have more than enough performance for office work, web browsing, and casual video games. This is one of the reasons some people are even ditching laptops in favor of tablets. General-purpose computing no longer requires a dedicated computer.
High-performance computers are still the domain of the desktop, especially since high-performance laptops are very expensive and have many trade-offs. In this case, a laptop will work for most people.
That being said, there are several good and compelling reasons for building a PC. Some of the most important ones are:
- Usually cheaper than laptop or similar specs.
- Some computers, such as home media servers or shared computers, do not require portability.
- You can build the base computer now and expand it later.
- You can change and update individual components over time to extend the life of your computer or get it repaired.
- You can customize your computer exactly according to your needs.
If this is a list of reasons that seem attractive to you, prepare yourself for a journey of discovery as we begin building your computer.
In the beginning: Define your vision
Computers come in all shapes and sizes, and this should depend on the purpose you envision.
- Looking for an office computer that can run applications like Word and browse the web?
- Are you going to use your computer for multimedia applications such as video or audio editing?
- Maybe you want to create a multimedia PC connected to the TV, located next to the console and AV receiver?
Everything you want to do with your future computer will affect which components you choose and how your budget is allocated. Therefore, before making any decisions that require financial commitment, think about what this computer is for.
Keep in mind that this guide is for users who want to build general purpose computers, but you can customize the basic guidelines to suit your needs. If you’re specifically looking for a guide to building an amazing gaming PC, do yourself a favor and check out our dedicated gamer guide.
Set your budget
This is perhaps the most important part of the PC build process. The total amount of money you have to spend on building your PC is everything . It dictates what overall level of performance you can afford, how many sacrifices you need to make, and whether you have to rely on used parts in some cases.
First, decide on your budget and then allocate it to the various components according to your priorities. We will talk about reasonable budget solutions for each component separately.
Use the Computer Creation Planning Tool
Fortunately, there are now quite a few very intuitive online tools that you can use to â€œbuildâ€ your computer on paper and make sure all the pieces work together.
For our money, the choice of PC components is the best choice. Using this tool, you can experiment with your build, make sure your components really work together, and get the best prices for each component.
It’s also a great way to show your perspective build to a friend who can help you make the right decisions. In fact, we’re going to use their budget home office build as an example system in this tutorial.
Shopping List: Each component version
You now have a good idea of ??what kind of system you want to build and a tool to help you organize the parts before you buy and start assembling. Now we need to select the parts that will make up the computer.
We’ll go over them in a logical order and discuss the key points for the different needs you might have. The suggested part in each section is taken from the aforementioned PC Part Picker build.
A chassis (sometimes called a chassis) is the physical base of your computer. All parts of the device are mounted inside this element. Why do we start with a case? We think there are some good reasons to choose a case before choosing anything else.
First of all, you need to choose a case of the right size and shape for your needs. You don’t want a bulky Full Tower to be used only as a media server or office machine. You also don’t need a case that won’t handle future add-ons you might need.
Chassis come in many different standards that dictate which motherboards they are compatible with. We’ll explain what you need to know about motherboards below, but a particular PC case supports certain motherboard sizes. You will most likely come across three (from largest to smallest): ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX. There are other variations of these size standards, but they are not suitable for general home users.
Chassis designed to house ATX motherboards are usually larger than chassis designed to accommodate lesser standards. It doesn’t have to be true, but it’s a good rule of thumb. Sometimes ATX cases also have retention points for smaller boards, although there is little reason to fit a tiny motherboard into a giant case.
In terms of actual case size classes, the most popular PC build style is a mid-tower case like this one.
Mini ITX systems are also gaining popularity, especially since you can buy a system with full-size expansion cards and excellent cooling.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a case, but we’ve boiled it down to this:
- A to-do list that suits your space and looks good in that particular environment.
- Make sure the chassis has enough drive bays and expansion slots to meet your current and future needs.
- Features such as tool-less design and modular drive bays are nice, but not necessary.
The last piece of advice we can give you when it comes to PC cases is to avoid cases with a power supply. We’ll talk about the power supplies themselves a little later in this article, but it’s worth mentioning here It’s best to buy the PSU separately to suit your exact needs, and the ones included in the box are often a bad investment.
The offered case is Thermaltake Versa H15
The motherboard is the component that connects all the other components of your computer together. Since you have already selected a case above, the first important filter when narrowing down your motherboard selection is what types of motherboards are suitable for the selected case.
Next, we want to see what brand of CPU your motherboard will support. These days, the choice is between motherboards that support AMD processors and those that work with Intel. As of this writing, AMD is offering the best value per dollar and is challenging Intel to claim the absolute performance crown.
Most of the important performance components that used to be on the motherboard are now on the processor itself, so the most important decisions you need to make have more to do with how much the expansion board allows. In other words, how many USB ports does it have? What are they? How many PCI Express expansion slots are there? Select a motherboard that:
- Fits to your chosen case.
- Supports the latest processors as much as you can afford.
- Has enough extensibility to leave you with an upgrade path
For general-purpose computing (and even for high-performance tasks such as gaming), there is no significant performance difference between cheaper and more expensive motherboards.
You don’t need to spend money on overclocking features, fancy lighting, or any of these decorative features. You can spend a little more to get a motherboard with a thicker PCB, solid capacitors, and more power phases. In general, however, any motherboard from a good manufacturer will do.
The CPU is the main brain of your computer and a key component of performance. Modern processors are multi-core, which means that they actually consist of multiple processors in one. Quad-core processors are now considered the main standard for general-purpose computing. You might even have a six or eight core processor in your budget. Especially if you’ve opted for the latest AMD Ryzen processors.
Clock speed (measured in GHz) is not that important these days, as even entry-level quad-core processors can dynamically increase their speed according to the task at hand. Just make sure you pick a CPU from the list of supported motherboards. Your processor should also come with a standard cooler that will fit most people.
The proposed processor is a quad-core AMD Ryzen 3 2200G.
RAM – RAM is the high-speed storage that your CPU accesses directly. Having a lot of RAM means the CPU doesn’t have to wait for slower storage to catch up. But how much should you have?
These days, the absolute minimum is 8GB of RAM. no matter what you use your computer for. It will be as small as you want to cut. However, 16GB is the principal to aim for. Modern operating systems make good use of idle memory to speed up the system, so you don’t waste it.
What kind of memory should you get when building a PC? If the price difference isn’t big, it’s worth buying the fastest memory that your chosen motherboard supports. Your motherboard will support a specific range of memory modules as well as have a fixed number of slots to accommodate them. Most motherboards use a “dual-channel” memory configuration, which means modules work in pairs to improve performance.
There are also three- and four-channel configurations in which you need to install memory modules of three and four, respectively. It is advisable that all your memory modules are of the same brand, capacity and model to ensure smooth operation. At least every agreed set of modules must be the same.
You can run one module on your computer to save money at the expense of some performance. This makes the most sense when you only have two slots on the motherboard, because later you can double the memory by adding another module to the open slot.
The memory offered is an 8GB dual channel Patriot Viper kit.
Internal storage describes the drives that store your operating system, applications, and frequently accessed data. The use of an SSD or solid state drive is the norm these days. They are much faster and more reliable than mechanical drives and give even modest computers huge performance gains.
They’re also pretty affordable now, so grab an SSD as your primary drive and, if you need storage, add a cheap mechanical drive as your secondary. For example, you can get a 500GB primary drive and then add a 4TB mechanical drive to get the best of both worlds.
For internal storage for this particular build, the TEAMGROUP GX2 512GB 2.5 ” SATA III Internal SSD is recommended.
A GPU is a special processor that processes the beautiful pictures you see on your screen. You can buy a CPU with an integrated GPU that also uses the same pool of RAM. If you don’t need to use apps that use detailed 3D graphics and you just want to do general work and maybe watch Netflix, the integrated GPUs you get these days are fine. Especially on AMD processors.
If you really need the power of a dedicated GPU card, check out our in-depth guide on the subject.
The last component you need to decide on is the power supply. Why? Because there must be enough energy in this part for everything to be safe and with sufficient overhead.
The easiest way to do this is to use a power supply calculator and then buy a quality power supply that meets or exceeds the recommended wattage level. Especially if you want to add components in the future without replacing the power supply.
Structure: Love it when a plan comes together
Now that we have all the pieces, here‘s how to put them together.
First, install the CPU and CPU cooler into your motherboard according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You should also install the RAM modules at this point. If your motherboard supports M.2 SSDs that also plug directly into the motherboard, you should also plug them in now, before the motherboard is placed in the case.
Install the power supply into the case, it only needs a few screws to secure it. That’s where the power supply goes.
You should now have a case and power supply on one side and a motherboard with its major components on the other.
Now that all these components are on the motherboard, you can put it in the case. First, screw the supplied motherboard stands to the corresponding holes on the motherboard.
Then all you have to do is install the I / O board that came with the motherboard into the case. Then align the I / O ports with it. Now line up the screw holes on the motherboard with the stands and secure the board.
Next, you need to connect the motherboard connectors to the case. This is where they should be:
Find them in your motherboard and case manual. Then plug in the USB enclosure, power switch, reset switch, LED indicators and additional audio jacks.
Now connect the power connectors from the PSU to the motherboard. It should consist of the main power connector, which is usually 24 pins. It also usually includes a 12-pin processor power connector. Here’s an example:
Finally, we need to install any drives, connect them to the motherboard, and also plug in their power connectors. If you also need to install a GPU card, head over to our in-depth guide here
It should be so! After connecting the display, mouse, keyboard, and power cable, the computer should boot up and be ready to install the operating system. If it doesn’t start, open it again and make sure everything is plugged in where it should be. When assembling a PC, it can be easy to skip one little cable that is critical to everything.