How To Build Your Own Computer: Hardware Overview

Computers might seem complicated for average users. Opening up a case will reveal a plethora of cables of different sizes and shapes, components that go into other components, coolers and other parts that make it all seem very complicated. This inconvenient aspect forces simple users to shop for brand computers that come already assembled. Truth be told, with just a little bit of knowledge, building a computer is fun, easy and cheaper. The secret lies in the parts and the most important task is choosing the right ones.


computer hardware tower and monitorThe core of every computer and the bread and butter that will power the entire machine and determine its performance is the CPU. However, going for an expensive one is not always the best choice. A gamer will surely need something powerful with at least four physical cores. An average user that only focuses on productivity tools and web browsing will find that a modest dual core CPU can do the job just right.

The Motherboard

Motherboards will host all other components. In order to get it right it is highly important to match the motherboard’s socket to the CPU socket. This will ensure that the parts are compatible and unpleasant situations in which a product must be returned is avoided. In terms of performance, gaming motherboards tend to be more expensive. They usually go from $100 to $500 or more depending on chipset and features. The best ones feature SLI or Crossfire technologies which enables the user to mount two graphics cards to boost the performance of games.

For less resource hungry applications, a going for a motherboard priced at $50 to $90.

The HardDrive

Computers store data on Hard Drives or HDDs and the more space the better. Unfortunately, performance is expensive. Traditional HDDs tend to be slower but have a better price per gigabyte. Users interested in photo and video editing, gamers and hardcore coders might want to get an Solid State Drive or SSD for faster loading times. They do not improve the visual performance of games but the can reduce the loading times to 25%. Video and photo editors will notice the same kind of performance boost. Regular users that focus only on browsing and office applications should go for a HDD as it is much cheaper.

The Video Card

Unless the system is designed for a gamer or 3D graphic artist, the onboard Video Card or Graphics Card that is embedded in the CPU is enough. No money needs to be invested in this component. The ones that do want performance to play games should invest some money into one.

The RAM (Random Access Memory)

The only applications that can consume a lot of RAM are games and video/photo editing software. Everything else can work just fine with a single board of 4 GB(gigabytes). From a performance perspective, quantity matters. At least 8 GB are recommended for resource hungry games and programs. Brands are not important and compatibility is not an issue for this computer part.

The CPU Cooler

When purchasing a CPU, a cooler would be required to make sure that it does not overheat. Most vendors offer Box versions of processors that contain a cooler but for overclockers and gamers, an aftermarket cooling solution is highly recommended. For extreme performance tweaks and system stability, liquid cooling is the best option out there. The liquid user is completely safe and even if it is spilled on the components it will not damage them.

The Case

Computer cases have no restrictions or compatibility issues. It is all up to the user which case he likes and affords. Internal space might be a selection criteria for some. The bigger the case the more space the user will have for cable management and additional coolers. Users that want something fancy might want to check the ones that have a side window which makes it possible to see inside even when it is closed.

The Power Supply

The Power Supply or the PSU is the most disregarded component. It plays an important role and getting a cheap one can cause the system to be unstable. Users with no aspirations for high performance, multiple hard drives, two or more video cards and additional case coolers should get a 500 Watt PSU. For gaming systems, at least 600 Watts is required to avoid sudden computer power downs at high load.

The Sound Card

Even if it is not a vital component as all motherboards have a sound card embedded by default, some users might want to get a dedicated sound card for a better fidelity. The audio quality difference is notable but sometimes it is not worth spending the money.

Additional Accessories And Tuning

Just like a car, computers can be tuned and customized with various parts such as additional case fans with leds, RAM coolers, HDD coolers, aftermarket cooling solutions, dedicated sound card and so on.

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