We all know that building a PC can be a daunting task. But does it have to be? Selecting the right components can be tricky, and making sure you have the right amount of power, the right socket type, or even knowing how many 4tb hard drives you can stuff into it can be a pain to keep track of. Fear not, I am here to help…
STEP 1: Know your budget
Most of us are experiencing a recession, that means that we don’t have as much money that we usually would have, others are out of work or low paid. Or students, because lets face it, most students are poor anyway. Some of us however, not me though, are absolutely loaded (I wish I was). So, the first major step is to either save up or spend as you can. Knowing what your limit is helps, and putting together a balanced rig is largely to do with the price of components.
STEP 2: Choosing a brand
For most of us, having little money means we have to go with the cheapest option, but that does not always have to mean sacrifices. AMD does a rather impressive range of processors starting with AMD Athlon quad cores for under 80 quid, up to 8 core AMD Piledriver FX-8350 processors with a meaty 4ghz out of the box. Overclocking is easy and installation is a dream. Good for beginners and pros alike. For those who do have a lot of money to throw at pure extreme performance, and don’t mind the fiddly and sometimes annoying installation, Intel is their best call. Their line of IvyBridge and SandyBridge I7 processors are the best out there (until Haswell comes out) and are unbeatable for gaming performance. They also make the best processors for media processing PC’s too, where many AMD processors might struggle. You will want to make sure that the socket type of the motherboard is the same as the processor. Most Intel I7 processors on the market now use the socket 1155 type, whilst most of the up to date AMD processors use the socket FM3+ with their 970 chipset. When it comes to graphics however, you will want to stick with AMD if you have their processor too, after all, they were built to run best with their own tech. However, again, dependant on what you want to spend, NVidia can be the best option. If you buy an intel after reading this, chances are you have that money to spend anyway, so go for a GTX 650TI… or two of them…
As for ram I have a little chart for that. As always, make sure to use motherboards that support 2 or more DDR3 sticks in dual or quad channels.
- 2.5ghz-3.1ghz – 4gb DDR3 RAM (2x2gb)
- 3.2-3.7ghz – 8gb DDR3 RAM (4x2gb/2x4gb)
- 3.8ghz or above – 16gb DDR3 (4x4gb) OR 32gb (4x8gb warning – this is very expensive)
STEP 3: Powering your rig
Now, you have a system where you have a powerful processor capable of running any game you throw at it no matter your budget. But that old power supply unit you had laying around just does not do the trick (300w is not enough). So, get yourself a power supply unit that matches your system. The more cores, the more power. the more processing power, the more… you get it now right? Ok, so best bet is to get a PSU in the range of 630-700w, or 750w if you bought the entire catalogue of scan… NEVER BUY CHEAP UNBRANDED PSU’S. THEY WILL DESTROY YOUR PC. Never spend less than 50 quid on one either. If you are short on cash, a 600w OCZ (Overclockers own brand) will do the trick, but you can get a lot of good PSU’s for around 50-60 quid. If you are on a high budget and have many large power demanding components, go for a gold rated PSU of 800w. Make sure to have cable ties ready, you don’t want a cable to go into a fan… oh that brings me to the next step…
STEP 4: Cooling your rig
You need fans. Not the people kind. The mechanical kind, piddly little fans you find for a fiver in a Maplins definitely wont do the trick. Nor will strapping an Argos room fan to the side. You want some nice big fans, cant recommend any brands, there is literally dozens of good reliable brands out there. Watercooling is a must if you have more than one graphics card, or if you have an overclocked processor or graphics card. In fact, you should have watercooling anyway if you are a gamer. And if you have lots of money, go for it anyway. Make sure your case supports watercooling, if not, scrap it. Also, a fan controller is a nice touch to bring user controlled fan speed outside of alt tabbing to desktop in order to increase cooling when needed.
STEP 5: Housing your rig
So you got all these nice components, or maybe you opted for a smaller system such as a micro ATX motherboard, or perhaps you went all out and got a bazzilion hard drives. There is a case for that. Thermaltake, in my opinion, makes the best cases for microATX and small form PC’s, but NZXT’s mid tower and full tower enthusiasts win it for me. If you went all out with massive amounts of hard drives and disks and all, and need a massive hulk to store it in, the Lian-Li PC-D8000B would suit you (please let us review it if you build something like that!).
STEP 6: Bringing it all together
So you can either build it all yourself, recommended if you know what you are doing, or you can get someone else to build it. Many smaller PC shops and PC builder companies will put it together for you, if you don’t want the risk. Or you can insure the parts so that if you cock it up, you wont loose it for good. Make sure for any build you have an at least decent screen, and a good gaming keyboard and mice to go with it. I recommend Razor mice and MSI keyboard for high end gamers, of for those on a budget, a Logitech keyboard with LED/LCD screen and a Logitech mouse would work well.
So, there we have it, your very own PC. No more HP, no more DELL. You built your own PC… or a shop did, if you were not so brave. But you still picked the parts, turned it on, installed Windows (please be windows 7 and not 8) and started to play your favourite games but with max graphics to be admired in their pristine and fast running beautifulness. Let us know how it got on via our twitter or FB page and share with other readers, or post into the comment section here. Have a fun time tinkering with your new PC, and make sure to use a decent anti virus.
Written by Steve.