Putting together your own PC is virtually the same as playing with lego these days. But choosing the correct bricks is something that requires you have at least a basic understanding of how computer hardware works, and up to date information on what is the most cost effective choice.
So you want to build a PC?
Awesome! Building your own PC offers a number of advantages over buying one ready built from a company such a Dell. Not only can you learn a new skill, but it can also be significantly cheaper to buy the parts individually.
There are two questions that you need to consider before laying an eye on any components or benchmarks:
- What is your budget?
- What are you going to use your machine for?
From the very beginning, you should have a clear idea of the budget that you have available to spend on your computer. There is no point in spending hundreds of pounds on a single component (such as the CPU), if your computer's overall performance is being bottlenecked by another component. From your initial budget, it should be possible to subdivide this further into the approximate amounts that should be spent on individual components; values which are naturally dependent on what you will use the computer for. Specifically, do you want to play games on it? Then you'll want to spend more money on a graphics card. Do lots of graphic design or CAD/CAM work? Then a fast processor and lots of RAM might be more up your alley.
The Basic Components
You need to select the key components of the system which are all required:
- Case (Not technically required, but you'd be a fool without one)
- Hard Disk
- Cooling (Again the processor will come with stock cooling which can be upgraded, some cases may come with pre-installed fans)
- Operating System
- Optical Drive (In most people cases this will be required to install the operating system, otherwise again not technically required)
Then there are a number of components which are likely to be integrated into any recent motherboard. You can alternatively buy components which can give you increased performance:
Then a number of other components which are optional:
- TV Card
- Physics Card
It's their run-down of the opinion of the ideal component spec. at various price points - really handy stuff for anyone building a PC, as it's basically condensing a ton of reviews down into one guide to parts (and bit-tech give fairly good advice, in general).
For more up-to-date specs, Bit-Tech do monthly updates to their spec. list, with configurations aimed mostly at gamers though useful for all:
At the time of writing, the price bands that they accommodate are:
- "Affordable All-rounder": Under £400
- "Enthusiast Overclocker": Under £750
- "Gaming Workhorse" Under £1000
- "Premium Player": Over £1000