Mobile, handheld devices have dominated the tech market in the past few years. But for serious gamers, designers, and programmers, nothing can replace the utility and practicality of a good personal computer. While you can always go for shelf-ready systems, the option of building your own custom personal computer is something worth exploring. But where do you start?
Depending on what kind of setup you’re going for, a custom-built PC can be cheaper than store-bought options are. Customizing your machine is also a good way to ramp up computer performance and add tailored features that are hard to come by with ready-made, mass-produced setups.
Whether you’re simply exploring the option of building your own PC, the following should be taken into consideration to ensure that you get your desired results.
1) The Basics
There are perhaps hundreds of DIY guides and videos online that will show you how the assembly gets done. However, each build is unique, and in the absence of suggested parts, you will have to read.
First things first: you need to figure out how you’re going to use your computer. If you’re going to do a lot of designing on your PC, key features to focus on include the speed of your processor, computer memory, screen resolution, and storage speed. If you’re a gamer, a good graphics card is arguably the most important part to consider, followed by CPU and RAM.
You also need to think about how much you’ll be willing to spend so you can filter your options and save time shopping.
Overclocking is a popular technique in PC building done to eke out better performance from a computer component that is more than what they’re manufactured to do. Because overclocking releases heat, it can wear down components faster. To help mitigate the damage caused by overclocking, you need to have a good cooling system to counter the heating.
Air and water cooling solutions are both available for your custom-built PCs. Air cooling is significantly cheaper and noisier than water cooling systems are. If you don’t plan to overclock, the cheaper option will do the job. You can forgo overclocking motherboards as well.
3) RAM Size
Your computer’s RAM, or random access memory, is the physical hardware in your PC that serves as its working memory. It stores data temporarily and allows the computer to work multiple tasks at the same time.
For graphic design and animation purposes, you’d want at least a minimum of 8 GB of RAM, but if you want your work to fly, 16 GB and 32 GB are always the better options. For gaming, a higher minimum of 16 GB is necessary for your PC to perform at its maximum. If you’re going to do intensive tasks, then a 32 GB RAM may be needed.
It’s important to note that your RAM comes in different types and must be purchased to match your motherboard’s requirements. The number of slots in your motherboard may also restrict the number of memory you can put.
All in all, it’s necessary to determine what you’re building for first and to determine the quantity and quality of your motherboard requirements.
4) Graphics Card Requirements
Any hardcore gamer’s most important PC acquisition is a dedicated graphics card that will render the highest frame rates for the ultimate gameplay. But if you’re not hot on gaming or only use your PC for more mundane tasks, you may forgo buying this often expensive piece of hardware. Many of today’s manufacturer-grade processors are already equipped with onboard graphics power that allows for smooth gaming at the minimum.
For doing more graphic demanding tasks like animation and heavy rendering, choose a video adapter that’s at least 2 GB or higher. Opt for dedicated rather than integrated as this means you’ll have enough power.
The performance of your computer’s storage devices is measured by their read/write speeds. You have two options for your computer storage: SSD and HDD. SSD, or solid state drives, have much faster read/write speeds than HDDs, or hard disk drives, do.
Today’s SSD options have a read speed of as much as 550 MB per second and a write speed of 520 MB per second, as compared to slower HDDs, which only have an average read speed of 128 MB per second and a write speed of 120 MB per second. Understandably, SSDs are more expensive.
To get the maximum performance out of your OS and other computer programs, the SSD is a much better option. You can use the cheaper HDD for everything else.
For animation and graphic design, you may be more meticulous in choosing a monitor that has a great color consistency for maximum design output. You may even think about getting a dual setup. Color calibration and reproduction must be at the core of your consideration when selecting the right monitor for the computer you are building.
Today, PC monitors with a 1920 × 1080 resolution are common, but if you want a more robust setup especially for gaming, 4k monitors (2560 × 1440 resolution) are the best you can find.
Perhaps the most important part of your PC builds, your motherboards are considered the backbone of your PC. A good motherboard helps your PC utilize its full potential through optimization. Some motherboards offer overclocking headroom to allow users to beef up their processors and ramp up their computer’s performance.
Here’s a practical investment advice: invest on a good motherboard. If your motherboard dies on you, chances are, you’re going to have to rebuild your PC, and that’s going to cost more money than directly investing on the best quality in the market—not to mention it saves you a lot of time.
Tech Radar lists the year’s best motherboard options in this post.
When choosing the best case for your PC, it’s important to consider not only its design but also its fit to your motherboard and power supply. Remember that you have to route your cables and install your components, so pick a case that’s simple and easy to work with.
Building a PC may involve plenty of research, but it’s a worthy challenge that affords maximum satisfaction upon completion. Regardless of whether you’re a designer, a gamer, or a casual computer user, knowing how all the right parts fit together is essential to building the PC that serves your need and your budget.