How To Build A Pc – Step 2
Step 2: Choose and Buy Your Parts
Okay so now that you have a better understanding of what goes inside a Pc, it’ is now time to actually choose and purchase the components you will be using. In this step, we will show you how to most effectively choose your components.
Important Considerations for Each Component
Note that these descriptions are bound to become out-dated as time passes by, so in addition to reading the information below, have a look at some pre-built Pc systems similar to what you want to build. That will help you figure out the kind of processor applies to mid-range builds, how much RAM you would find in a high-end build, and so on. You should also consider the operating system you want to install, and the programs / software you will be installing, and check the recommended system requirements. Make sure you avoid bottlenecks, where one component cannot reach its full potential because another part is too slow.
The Processor (CPU)
Picking the processor is not as important as it once was, but you should still do research to ensure you do not end up wasting time and money. There are a few things to look at when purchasing a processor, but let’s start with the basics: clock speed and number of cores. A processor’s clock speed determines how many instructions one core can execute in one second. So higher clock speed means your Pc executes instructions faster, while more cores means it can carry out more sets of instructions at any one time. Some programs / software can utilize multiple cores at once, making them extremely efficient with multi-core CPU’s, but also multitask well since they can execute multiple sets of instructions simultaneously.
At the time of this writing, low-power machines probably only need dual-core processors, mid-range builds will probably want quad-core processors, and high-powered machines will definitely want quad-core or above.
For something like gaming, clock speed is more important than the number of cores, since most games are not designed to use more than one or two cores (although this is starting to change). Assuming you never do any CPU-intensive tasks, a quad-core is probably the highest you will require. If you are converting video, the program / software you use might support multiple cores, in which case a higher number of cores would be more important. Check with some of the programs / software you will use most often to see if they support multiple cores and which feature benefits you more.
These are the two main factors to consider, but they are not the only ones, and you do not want to rely on them alone. if you select a brand and a number of cores, you will end up with only a few processors to choose from, within which you can compare clock speeds since you are comparing to otherwise identical processors.
Be sure to look for other features you may need, too. If you are not gaming, you will want to make sure your CPU supports integrated graphics (so you don’t need a graphics card), and if you are going to be using virtual machines, make sure your CPU supports Intel’s VT -x or AMD-V.
Brands: AMD and Intel are the two main CPU heavyweights. Intel’s processors tend to perform better, while AMD’s processors are generally less expensive.
For motherboards, you will want to pay attention to a few things. Here are some of the more important:
Socket Type: The socket type (such as Intel’s “LGA 1150” socket or AMD’s “AM3” socket) determines which processors you can use with that particular motherboard. So if you have already narrowed down the kind of processor you require, this is a good first step to narrowing down your motherboard. Look for a model with a socket type that matches your processor to ensure that the two are compatible.
Size: Motherboards generally come in three sizes: Mini ITX, Micro ATX, and full size ATX. The more advanced features you need, the larger the motherboard will be, which will also determine the size of your Pc case. Generally the motherboard will be dependent on these other factors, but if you prefer a small machine, you will need to filter your choices to reflect this.
Number and Types of external Ports: ports available on the motherboard. Do you require a lot of USB ports? You will either want a motherboard that has them or enough PCI slots to support extra USB adapters. Do you require HDMI output? If you are not using a graphics card, make sure your motherboard has the right video output for your monitor. How many USB 3.0 ports do you require? Some have more than others. If you are set on a motherboard that doesn’t have a feature you need, you can add most with expansion cards.
Amount of supported RAM: If you plan on having a lot of RAM in your machine, you will require a motherboard that supports it. Look at how many slots your board has, and the maximum amount of RAM it can handle.
Integrated Graphics: If you are only using the Pc to browse the web, use Microsoft Office, and perform other simple tasks, you may be best choosing a motherboard with integrated graphics. You only require the extra cost of a separate graphics card if you are playing video games, and maybe if you are playing HD video. If you are getting a separate graphics card, it does not matter if your motherboard supports integrated graphics or not.
Number of SATA Ports: This determines how many internal hard drives and optical drives you can connect. For most Pc builds, this is really only a concern if you are planning on having a lot of drives in your Pc.
Number of PCI Slots: You can only have as many expansion cards as you have PCI slots, so if you want a dedicated video card (or two), extra USB ports, extra LAN ports, a Wi-Fi adapter, or other expansion cards, you will need to make sure your motherboard has enough of them.
Chipset: Your motherboard’s chipset determines a lot of the more advanced features. Some chipsets support overclocking and some do not. Others support SSD caching. Others are better for turning into Hackintoshes. If you didn’t understand any of the things I just said, you probably don’t need to pay too close attention to this, however if you require certain advanced features, chipset will narrow your selection considerably.
Brands: ASUS, GIGABYTE, and MSI are probably the biggest names in motherboards. However, ASRock and BIOSTAR are well known for good, reliably budget motherboards if you are watching the pennies
The Pc case may not seem like an important part of your build, but it is actually much more than looks. A good pc case will be easier to build in, last longer, and keep your Pc cool.
Size: Pc Cases come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the size of case you choose should match the kind of motherboard you are purchasing. If you chose a Mini-ITX motherboard, then a Mini-ITX Tower or Mini-ITX Desktop box is the correct choice for you. A Micro ATX mini tower is the size you will find in most pre-built Pcs, so know that mid and full towers are probably bigger than what you are used to. Unless you are going for a very high performance Pc with many drives, expansion cards, and water cooling, a full tower is probably overkill for most people.
Noise: While you want good airflow, some fans are particularly loud, which can be annoying to some people. If you the Pc to stay relatively quiet, check the user reviews and see what people say about the case’s loudness.
Number of Drive Slots: If you require more than just a hard drive an optical drive, count the number of drive bays in your pc case and make sure you have enough. Keep in mind other things, like card readers, will take up drive bays as well. Internal 3.5” drive bays are for hard drives, external 3.5” drive bays are for card readers, and external 5.25” drives are for optical drives. Note that you can also buy adapters that’ll fit 3.5” card readers in a 5.25” bay, if necessary.
Ports on the Front: Almost every pc case you choose will have a number of ports situated on the front, which will usually include USB ports, a headphone jack, and a microphone jack. If you require easy access to USB 3.0, for example, you’ll want to make sure it’s on the front of your pc case.
Cable Management: As you build, you will realise there are a lot of cables inside a Pc. Unfortunately, if you just leave them hanging about, they will block a lot of air from flowing correctly through the case, so you want to organise them as best you can. Some cases have built-in holes through which you can route cables.
Look: you will want to purchase a case that you think looks good. After all you are going to have to look at this thing for the next few years, so it’s worth getting one that is not an eyeshore. Want one with lots of lights?. Want one with a side panel window so you can see your handywork? Want a subtle black box that does not call attention to itself?.
Keep in mind that a pc case is something you can use for multiple builds, so it is okay to splash out a bit more money on it. You don’t need to buy a new case every time you build a Pc. Get a good quality one now and it should last you two or three Pcs into the future.
Brands: Corsair, NZXT, Antec, and Cooler Master both make some of the best cases on the market. Termaltake, Rosewill, BitFenix, Fractal Design, Silverstone, and Lian Li are also a well trusted manufacturers.
The Memory (RAM)
RAM seems simple, but you need to make sure it’s compatible with your motherboard. When looking at RAM consider:
Amount of RAM: At the time of this writing, 4-8GB seems to be the average for a normal Pc. If you are running virtual machines or using other RAM hungry software, you might want 8-16GB, but most Pc’s should be fine with around 4GB. Keep in mind that RAM is easy to upgrade, and if your motherboard has four slots, you can always get two sticks now and add two more sticks later.
Channels: Your motherboard will support either dual, triple, or quad channel RAM. This determines how many sticks of RAM you will require. If you have a dual channel motherboard, you’ll want to buy RAM in sets of two—for example, two 2GB sticks for a total of 4GB (or four 1GB sticks). Triple channel motherboards take RAM in sets of three, and quad channel is most optimal with a set of four or eight sticks.
Type: RAM nowadays is “DDR3”, though DDR4 is starting to pop up. You shouldn’t have to worry about this too much. Just check your motherboard’s spec list to find out what type of RAM it supports.
Speed: Your motherboard will support a number of different RAM speeds (e.g., “800/1066/1333”). When you buy your RAM, it will have one of these numbers attached to it. RAM speed traditionally does not make a big difference, but it’s starting to become more useful. Purchase what you can afford, and make sure your motherboard supports it.
Brands: Crucial, Corsair, Kingston, PNY, OCZ, G.Skill, Mushkin, and Patriot. Again, reading reviews of specific sticks of RAM can be very helpful.
The Graphics Card (GPU)
Choosing a dedicated graphics card, maybe one of the hardest parts of the selection process. If all you require is something that can play HD video, you do not need to go overboard find a well-reviewed card under £100 (or just go with integrated graphics. However if you are building gaming pc, you have a lot more to think about.
Brands: NVIDIA and AMD.
The Hard Drive(s)
Size: You want enough space on your hard drive to hold all your data, with room for expansion. Hard drives are pretty cheap and easy to upgrade, so you can always add more later if you are on a budget.
Speed: The faster the hard drive is, the faster your Pc will boot, launch programs, and open files. You will probably want to look for a 7200 RPM drive.
Solid State Drives: If you really want a fast drive, you can opt for a super-fast solid state drive, however these are more expensive but you will probably still require a regular hard drive in addition to the solid state one, since they tend to be quite small. That said, if you have a big enough budget, an SSD is one of the best upgrades you can make to a Pc, so we highly recommend them. If you choose to go SSD, try to get a motherboard that supports SATA 6Gb/s, which will take full advantage of those speeds.
Brands: Western Digital, Hitachi, Samsung, and Toshiba.
Solid state drives, most people recommend Samsung, Crucial, OCZ, Corsair, and Intel.
The Optical Drive
If you are fitting a CD or DVD drive, you probably won’t find a big difference between the different models. Most burn discs at around the same speeds. If you are looking at Blu-Ray drives and Blu-Ray burners, though, pay attention to the read and write speeds. The higher the read speeds, the faster you can rip a Blu-Ray disc, and the faster the write speed on a burner, the faster you can burn a Blu-Ray disc. Obviously you will have to pay more for higher speeds.
Brands: Lite-On, Samsung, Sony, and LG
The Power Supply Unit
The power supply unit (PSU) is actually one of the most important choices in your build. This is not an area you want to skimp.
Wattage: if you have a low performance Pc, you will require fewer watts to power it than you would a high performance Pc.
Efficiency: Most units will have a percentage value that denotes how efficient they are. For example, an “80 plus certified” 400W PSU will actually pull something like 500W from your wall. So look for something with a high efficiency, as they will run cooler.
Cable Types: Try to look for a “modular” power supply if you can. This means that the cables come detached from the power supply, so you can use only the ones you need and not have the others wasting space in your case. Also ensure it comes with long cables, since cables that are too short can make your life very difficult.
Noise: Like your case, your PSU is going to contribute a lot to the amount of noise your system makes. Efficiency will help bring it down, but it is also worth checking user reviews to see which PSUs tend to be quieter than others.
Brands: Corsair, Enermax, Enhance, Fortron/Sparkle/FSP Group, Hiper, PC Power & Cooling, Seasonic, SevenTeam, SilenX, XClio, and Zippy.
Note: Many pc cases actually come with power supply units, so if yours does, you don’t necessarily need to buy one separately. That said, the power supplies you buy separately are usually better than the ones that come with cases, but it is your choice.
Normally CPUs come with a heat sink and fan, which are necessary to keep your CPU from overheating. However many people advocate getting an aftermarket CPU cooler for better performance and lower noise. In addition if you purchase a processor labelled “OEM”, you’ll need a heat sink.
Before you run out and buy everything, it is important to have a few shopping strategies under your belt so you get the best parts for your Pc at the best price you can.
Where to purchase, you will find many of the components you require online such as Amazon, Ebay and a local one to us is CCL