Build Your Own PC (Instructional)

Discussion in 'Technical' started by Brokor, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    How To Build Your Own PC
    (That's my own PC that I built for gaming)

    What type of personal computer are you hoping to build? There are two main categories.

    REGULAR USE: Web surfing, email, business, watching videos and movies, casual non-demanding gaming, etc.

    GAMING: The same as regular use, but also geared toward high end graphic rendering for gaming. The video card, memory, CPU and hard drive all come into play.

    Both types of computer builds can be easy and fun to do yourself, not to mention save you a lot of money, with a little instruction. For the regular build, you can scale down the memory (RAM) and not go with such a high-end graphics card and top of the line CPU. A strictly gaming PC will require the best of everything (that your budget will allow) because technology becomes outdated so quickly, if you do not purchase the latest equipment, you may find it difficult to acquire full support (compatibility) with the games you will be playing, and there may be driver issues, especially when we get into online gaming (MMORPG) which varies from developer to developer. Most of this only pertains to your video card, but your CPU and RAM also play a significant role, and to a lesser extent, so does your hard drive, now that solid-state drives are available (SSD's). A solid-state drive will improve your system's performance (if you install the game on the SSD) because it will read and write data far more efficiently. Even a regular use PC, used for work or casual use can benefit from a SSD versus a typical IDE hard drive.

    So, you know which type of system you want, where do you begin?

    It will help you if you first learn a few facts about each item you will be installing in your PC. I will briefly describe each component and link them for you in the title for every component. It will be based on current technology, for an average budget. I will not show an example of a "top of the line super duper awesome" build. The gamer build fits well with what I am going to list, and for the regular PC user, I recommend scaling down the video card and RAM to save money since you really do not need as much.

    The components of a PC build

    1. The Case (tower)
    81qQ8BpWGEL._SX450_. Thermaltake is a brand I trust and have used for custom builds, mostly because it's not expensive, but also due to the fact that they are made very well and are simple to use. They feature no-tool pop outs and are designed to permit maximum airflow. You want a case that will fit your motherboard -this is critically important. Read the description for your intended motherboard and be certain you know if it's an AT/ATX/Mini-ATX/LPX/BTX/Mini-ITX -and match your motherboard to your case. It's that simple.

    2. The Motherboard
    6921_big. Gigabyte is a popular and well respected design, and it's what I use in my current build. You have to decide at this point if you wish to go with an Intel computer or an AMD computer. For sake of keeping this simple, I will not expand upon this much, but it's generally more affordable to go with an AMD setup, not because "cheaper" means less quality, but because Intel is an over-priced producer and lacks imagination. I guess you can tell where my allegiance lies. Just remember, whatever you decide (Intel or AMD) you MUST match the motherboard to your CPU (which will be described next). Every single motherboard and CPU vendor will clearly explain the compatibility. For this build, we are going with an AMD (AM3+) motherboard and chip (CPU), with a compatible ATX tower (case). Now is also the time for you to consider your options. Do you want two graphics cards? You will need to check how many PCI slots your motherboard accommodates. A "PCIe" slot means PCI "express", and many video cards these days will utilize this type of slot. Another feature you will look for is cooling system compatibility. Your motherboard description should explain how many chassis and CPU fans it will hold. Also, USB ports, as well as any other features you may be interested in will be listed. Don't worry about HDMI for your television, that's going to be listed under your video card.

    3. The CPU
    UMD-102759615_gallery01_amz_gl_9494386. This is the main processing unit for your computer, and it's by far the first part of any computer build I take into consideration. I essentially build the entire PC from this component, choosing the best CPU and then its motherboard, followed by the case and finishing up with the RAM, hard drive(s), power supply, additional cooling units, and video card. The two most expensive components of a build will (and should) be your CPU and your video card, with few exceptions. Sometimes, if you catch the market at the right time, you can buy one-notch below the top tech items at very reduced prices. This is what I generally look for when I start a build. If you're not lucky, you can end up forking out more for a motherboard or RAM, especially on the cusp of new technology releases. It's all about the timing.

    Anyway, you will notice I linked an AMD AM3+ FX 8 core processor at 3.4GHz (that's 3.4GHz multiplied by 8). This CPU will go nicely with the Gigabyte AM3+ motherboard and Thermaltake ATX tower. If you are still in the stone ages, you won't understand why it's a bad idea to still use a 32 bit system, I challenge you to get into multi-core processors and upgrade to a 64 bit operating system. You're going to need to cool that CPU, and I would go with a very nicely priced liquid cooler: -LINK- just for this gaming build. For a standard build, I would go with this heat sink instead: -LINK-

    4. RAM (memory)
    QDA-102011021_vgallery01_ds_gl_8569727. Again, check your motherboard. Remember your specifications? Well, here are the motherboard specs for memory in case you didn't take a look: DDR3 2000 MHz (O.C.), 1866 MHz, 1600 MHz, 1333 MHz, 1066 MHz -so, we can use any of these types of memory with our AM3+ Gigabyte motherboard. Obviously, the 2000 MHz is the best, but this is an average build, so we are going with the 1600MHz RAM. Your motherboard specifications will also tell you how many SLOTS it has and the maximum RAM it can hold (in gigabytes). So, if we get 4 of these 8GB RAM, we will have 32GB of 1600MHz RAM, which is also the maximum supported by the motherboard. By no means do you have to buy the maximum amount of RAM. In fact, even for gaming, just 16GB will be more than sufficient.

    5. Video Card
    EVG-102846922_gallery01_cr_gl_9602479. This is the GEForce era, and gaming is predominantly supportive of Nvidia cards, over any other. You should not have an issue with video drivers, especially with the Nvidia control center (software) which is standard. The card I listed is pretty good, and it will play anything out there today, but you could buy a slightly newer and upgraded card for a great deal more, even though the market will change and every year a newer, better video card is made available. You can even attach 4 displays to this video card, which has 2GB DDR5 memory, HDMI and 128 bit memory interface. Since I haven't mentioned it, and we will be picking up the power supply next, be certain you check the wattage requirements for your video card and other components. I can help you and tell you you're already at about 500 watts required just for this card and the CPU. Now, if you are looking to cut down on wattage, you can go with a passive-cooled video card, but they are tougher to find sometimes. Just remember, if you do use a passive-cooled card, you must upgrade your cooling system to shed off some of that excess heat.

    6. Power Supply
    JHE-102014776_gallery01_ds_gl_8574116. Just like our case, the only brand I go to when looking for power supplies, is Thermaltake. Not only will you get more bang for your buck, you are guaranteed a streamlined unit because the wiring is neat in space-saving design. I also like these power supplies because they are quiet and energy efficient. Take special note, make sure it fits your case (ATX), and this unit does fit our build nicely. Also check your motherboard to verify it will work.

    7. Hard Drive
    GRU-102839224_gallery01_amz_gl_9590986. This is entirely an opinion piece, and it's up to you to buy a hard drive to suit your own needs. For this instruction, I am linking a solid state drive (SSD). I always try to buy Crucial SSD's, based on my own experience and personal favor for a great product. I went with a 250GB drive, which is about in between as far as available storage size goes, but also in pricing. This is a component which will serve most needs for less than $100, and if you need additional storage, you can always upgrade later or add more hard drives. In the past, some gamers went with an IDE drive with their operating system installed, and used the SSD just for installing games. This is still a perfectly acceptable option if you are on a budget, but I wouldn't ignore the low price of SSD's when a sale presents itself. I remember when SSD's were selling for about $1 per GB (and that wasn't too long ago).

    The rest is up to you! Buy your additional fans, monitors, DVD drives, mouse, keyboard, whatever -on your own. I can say that I did not go into great detail, and I wanted to keep it simple so most folks can understand and follow along. I am sure that building a PC on your own may seem to be a bit daunting, but if you just remember the basics I covered and get your hands "dirty" making a unit yourself, you may find out you like it. As for plugging all of this stuff in after you buy it and it arrives on your doorstep, just follow common sense. I will most likely post another "how to" with pictures showing step-by-step how to actually assemble your PC, but most of it really is self explanatory. All motherboards come with instructions and are clearly labelled.

    Now you have an AM3+ build which will pretty much do anything you need. Well, until it becomes outdated and then you can get started on building a new system all by yourself!

    My first PC build, all on my own, was a PIII 933MHz dual setup, and it cost me a lot of money, because at the time, all we could buy at the stores were garbage e-towers with Microsoft ME installed on them. BLAH! If you guys want a great operating system, and you're not a gamer, you should get into Linux. It's open source, free and secure. If you are a gamer, consider Linux anyway, and dual-boot your system. :)

    Just using Tiger Direct, prices are as follows:
    Regular build price as shown: about $742
    Gamer build price as shown: about $837 after rebates

    Regular build drops 2x8GB RAM and the liquid cooler, replaced with heat sink. You could build this for even less if you go with a Quad-core AMD AM3+ CPU and also get a decent GeForce video card for around $50, bringing the final price down to around $600.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  2. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I've built and modified a number of them in the past for my own use. Our choices pretty much align. AMD processor, separate graphics card Nvidia being the best choice it seems.

    I despise on-motherboard graphics with "shared" ram. It's practically unavoidable in laptops. Desktops there's no excuse unless bottom of the line is acceptable, and for some things it is.

    Don't game much any more. But still using the desktop build from 5 or 6 years ago and it does just fine. Paid $30 for the Mboard, plugged an AMD quad core Athlon II into it with Nvidia GEForce graphics card (forgot the model) been happy ever since.

    I three-way boot DOS v6.22 / Win 7 / Linux Mint 17. Have some old two-way radios that require native DOS to program so it's still around.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2015
  3. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Good info Brokor, thank you!!
    Ganado, UncleMorgan, Brokor and 2 others like this.
  4. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    The best thing is, you can buy a part or two every week or spread out the purchases monthly until you have it all. It would be kind of like a layaway plan, only not.

    And if you take the time to consider your build and go with a motherboard/CPU option which would most likely be around for some time (like the AM3+ build I used as an example) you can always upgrade the CPU and even the RAM at a later date, which would further extend the life of your PC. I have three years into this AM3+ system, and I can still upgrade further.
  5. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    My home-built is geared for complicated 3d rendering. I built it for about a third of what an off-the-shelf computer would have cost, and that's with all the bells and whistles I wanted, too.

    Unless I get techno-lust. it should be adequate for the next ten years.

    (DUDE! I didn't get a DELL!)
    Ganado and Brokor like this.
  6. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Intel buyers:

    If you wish to go with an Intel motherboard and CPU, try keep in mind the possibility that you won't be able to upgrade the same as you can with an AMD system. This is simply because of the manner in which Intel releases new technology; most chip sets released by Intel will require a new motherboard to fit the CPU. With an AMD build, the company tends to adapt new chip sets to current motherboard types far more frequently. This doesn't mean every AMD chip is going to fit all AMD motherboards -it's just that a certain type of chip (CPU) will likely be followed by improved versions as the technology becomes available. A great example of this would be the Intel i5 and i7 systems, which are not compatible. Yes, you can upgrade Intel systems in the same way you can an AMD system, but time has proven that Intel doesn't stick around too long with the same architecture, and will often radically alter design structure, most likely due to maintaining ordinary corporate profitability in an attempt to justify high pricing, but may also occur because of Intel's competitive design process itself. The Intel setup will function well, if you can afford it and are willing to risk not being able to upgrade at a later date. An AMD user may find more often than not, that the company will release a new CPU to remain competitive along the same structure, making it possible to only upgrade the CPU without upgrading the motherboard (and even the RAM). An exception for this would be large leaps in advances, such as single core to multi-core processors, or an entirely new architecture which would take advantage of newer RAM and data processing. In the event of these larger leaps, it is also best to wait a few months anyway, since breaking advancements tend to be very expensive and alternative options could present themselves, saving you a lot of money.

    It's up to you --if you have the money to burn and wish to buy the latest and greatest, or not.
    Ganado likes this.
  7. hitchcock4

    hitchcock4 Monkey++

    If you follow this approach, just be sure that you have the ability to test each item. I can test, but only because I have extra parts from older computers around.

    Here's my example: user decides to buy a case and power supply as well. They have done their research and decided that when they get a motherboard (and CPU) the motherboard will be ATX. So he/she purchases a mid-tower ATX case for $55 and a modular power supply for $65. He/she wants a 650 watt power supply and picks one with an EPS connector for the motherboard (many modern ones require EPS 4pin or 8pin).

    Items arrive. Puts the PS into the case, but there is no way to test the Power supply. Well, there is, read BUT BE CAREFUL if you try this as you could hurt yourself.
    So if you do the paperclip test you know that the PS will power on, but I like to test my power supply under about 50% load for 24 hours.

    So the user buys a motherboard, CPU and RAM to put it all together to test. [Some MB could be tested without RAM, but I haven't used any modern MBs that let you enter the BIOS without at least some RAM].

    Broker, I know you know this, and like me you probably have other parts from past computers and can thus test. I just wanted to warn those that could be building a computer for the first time that one cannot just buy 1 part and test it on it's own.

    Many places like or TigerDirect have great customer service and will replace a bad part if returned within 30 days. After that, deal with the manufacturer who will take longer to work with.

    Thanks. Anyone that has questions on above terminology, etc let me know, I just didn't want to make this too long.
    Brokor and Ganado like this.
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