Now that we have all of our tools needed, it is time to decide on which parts to buy for your build. This section will cover which parts you should buy, depending on the type of pc being built, and a brief description of each part. Lastly, we will go over choosing an operating system (OS). The following information will provide a general outline on choosing the right parts. If you are looking for a specific build for gaming, please refer to the gaming builds section.
The cpu is quite possibly the most important component of a computer system. It is the brains of a computer, and contains the circuitry that runs all the instructions of whatever software you are running. Your computer’s performance in running games and other applications will be directly related to the cpu.
Choosing the right cpu can seem a bit overwhelming with all the choices available. When deciding on a cpu, the first thing to consider is whether to go with AMD or Intel. These two companies are basically the only two players in the cpu market. AMD will generally be more economic, often times providing the same performance as Intel processors at a lower price, especially when building a budget to mid-range computer system. However, for those seeking maximum performance, Intel is the way to go. Intel’s top of the line processors are currently more powerful than those currently being offered by AMD. Ultimately, the choice is a matter of preference, as both companies deliver quality products.
One more thing to consider is how you are planning to cool your cpu. Retail versions of both AMD and Intel processors come with a fan/heatsink cooler included. These are usually adequate for budget to mid-range builds. For higher end builds, including gaming and media systems, I would recommend purchasing an aftermarket cooler. This is especially true if you plan to overclock your cpu, as higher speeds will generate more heat.
Although the cpu may be the brains of your new system, the motherboard will be the central hub of your new system. All the other core components will be connected through the motherboard, as it will relay information between all other internal components.
The first thing to consider when buying a motherboard is cpu compatibility. You want to be sure that the motherboard will support the cpu you have chosen. The packaging will clearly state which types of processors will be supported. If you are still unsure, you can always check on the manufacturer’s website.
Other features you should look for is the type of RAM supported, and the ports and slots available. I would recommend choosing a motherboard that supports the newest technology to allow for upgrades. Currently, DDR3 RAM is the fastest/newest form of RAM available. As far as port and slots are concerned, make sure to the motherboard you select has enough of these for your needs. USB, SATA ports and PCI, PCI-Express, and slots for RAM are the major ones to consider.
A few final features to consider are on-board graphics and sound. Generally, motherboards that provide on-board graphics and sound are not as proficient as a dedicated sound or video card. The average user may be more than happy with on-board graphics and sound. I would recommend choosing a motherboard which provides these for budget and mid-range computer systems. If the computer is going to be used for heavy gaming or as a media player, you will want to buy a dedicated sound and video card.
RAM, or random access memory, is the memory in your computer system that is used to store running programs. Generally the more RAM that you have, the faster your computer will run programs and multitask better. A computer’s RAM will have a great effect on the overall performance of your computer system.
Currently, DDR3 is the newest type of RAM that is available. I would recommend using DDR3 RAM in your system, as it is currently the best and most cost effective solution. In order to run Windows 7, at least 1 GB of RAM is required. However, I would recommend at least 4 GB of RAM in your system, as it will greatly increase speed and productivity. If you plan on using your computer for gaming or media, I would recommend at lest 4 GB – 8 GB. Just make sure that the RAM you purchase is compatible with the motherboard and cpu you have picked out. Again, to check for compatibility issues, simply check the manufacturer’s website.
The hard drive is basically where you will store all of your files, programs, and applications. I am a strong believer that you can never have too much hard drive space. The bigger the better, as a larger hard drive will not be much more expensive. I would recommend at least 1 TB in size, when selecting your hard drive. You can also have more than one hard drive, so if you are on a tight budget, you can always purchase an additional hard drive at a later time.
Two things to consider when choosing a hard drive are RPM and Cache. The RPM is basically how fast a hard drive disk will spin. The faster it is capable of spinning, the faster you can access and transfer data. Most newer hard drives will run at 5900 RPMs or more. I would recommend 5900 RPM for budget computers, and 7200 or faster for higher end builds. If you are looking for the ultimate performance, you may want to consider getting a SSD drive. Cache is the second factor to consider when it comes to hard drives. Cache is simply extra memory in the hard drive, which is used to load data faster. Generally, most drives will be 32 MB or 64 MB. Either one should suit your needs just fine, whether you are building a low or high end computer.
As far as a disk drive goes, it is one of the easiest components you will choose. Most CD and DVD drives use the IDE format, while BD drives use the SATA format. Even the cheapest of these drives will work very well, and be more than adequate for whatever your needs may be. I would recommend a DVD burner, unless you are looking to watch or burn bluray discs.
A computer case is generally chosen based on size and ventilation. Cases generally come in either mATX and ATX. These form factors refer to the form of the motherboard. I would recommend to go with an ATX case, as these can house mATX boards as well. Along with form factor, the three most common sizes are mini, mid and full tower. Larger cases tend to be more expensive, but a mid-tower should suit most of your needs. A few things to consider with case size are whether the case will be large enough to house all your drives, large video cards, and cpu cooler.
Ventilation is the other factor to consider. The better ventilation that a case provides, the cooler it will keep your internal components. Cooler temperatures are always a good thing.
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
The PSU is often overlooked, but it is definitely one component you do not want to skimp on. A cheap PSU can not only die on you in only a few months, it can very well fry your other components along with it. I would go with a PSU with ample watts and a high volt rating on the 12V rail, compatible with your other components. Go with a trusted brand like Antec, Corsair, or SeaSonic. If you are not sure on the reliability of a certain PSU, do some research and read some reviews. In my experience Antec PSUs provide great performance and have been very reliable. Choosing the right amount of wattage depends primarily on the number of components you are trying to power. You can easily search for a PSU wattage calculator on Google to tell you the recommended watts necessary.
OS (Operating System)
For the average user, choosing an operating system will be a fairly easy decision. Some version of Windows is your obvious choice. Windows 7 is what most users will be using, it is simply a matter of choosing the right version for your needs. The three consumer versions of Windows 7 include Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, and Windows 7 Ultimate. The version I would recommend depend on the type of machine you plan on building. Home Premium would be recommended for a budget build, Professional for a workstation, and Ultimate for a gaming or media PC.
Now that you have all your parts ready, it is time to begin assembly. Follow the link below for Installation.