finished this guide at 2pm eastern time 2/4/12. If you find any typos, bad images, or anything of that nature, let me know.
Also, if you have any suggestions about making it look
neater, let me know. I probably won't have the ambition to do any major editing to this for a few days though
My whole body is cramped.
As many of you already know, building your computers is a really good idea.
It: allows you to get EXACTLY what you want, build around your budget, gives you the satisfaction of knowing YOU did that, and gets you more for your money.
There really is no reason NOT to build your own desktop, especially with all of the help that is readily available on sites like this.
The first thing you need when building a computer is a place to order your parts.
I personally buy ALL of my parts from www.newegg.com
However, you could also buy from sites like www.amazon.com
Google is at your command
One thing I love about Newegg is the site navigation.
It's clean, efficient, and makes finding the parts you are looking for so much easier.
The next thing you are going to need is a plan.
If you start picking out parts before you plan everything out, it will get messy quick.
It's easy to spend thousands of dollars on a setup that you would just love to have, and if you're like me, you can't afford that.
How much money do you have to spend on your computer?
If you can't afford to go wild, give yourself a budget.
Obviously the more you spend, the nicer your computer will be. Unfortunately were not all Bill Gates and can't afford everything we want. That does not mean you can't get a nice computer however.
Most of us will NEVER need 16gb of ram and a 16 core processor; 4 to 8gb and 2 to 4 cores will do just fine.
So, figure out a budget and keep it in mind while you're putting together your list.
Keep in mind the average prices of stuff. The motherboard will cost more than the processor, the processor will cost more than the ram, etc.
Set your budget lower than it actually is. Ex: If you can spend $1000 on your computer, tell yourself you're only going to spend $900.
I've gone over my allocated amount more than once and it sucks having to decide what parts you want to downgrade.
Worst case you'll have to dip into the extra $100, and best case you have an extra $100 in your wallet.
Do You Have Parts?
While you might not want to take the ram from your old desktop, why not take the DVD drive? If you already have one that works fine, spending the money on a new one is just stupid.
There are a few other pieces that you could probably snag too. The power supply and network card for example. (Of course you are going to want to make sure the power supply has high enough wattage.)
Be smart about it. If your computer has 256mb of ram, don't take it, but if it has 8gb of ram, take it! You just saved yourself a lot of money.
If you are building on a budget and you need extra stuff like a monitor and some speakers, pick those out first.
There's nothing worse than putting together a computer you love, and then realizing you can't afford it because you need to spend $80 on a monitor.
One thing many people don't even think about is the operating system.
Any computer you've ever bought already had windows on it, so why shouldn't this, right?
A while back Microsoft made deals with all of the major computer manufacturers making them agree to only release computers with the Windows OS installed. A chunk of the price on that computer you were eying is actually for the operating system.
So are you going to need to spend $100 on that copy of Windows 7? Probably, yeah.
However, this is a great time to think about all of the other options out there.
Have you ever read about Linux and thought about trying it yourself? Now could be the PERFECT time.
If you end up liking it, you just saved yourself $100!
I personally highly suggest giving Linux a chance. There are so many misconceptions out there. People saying it's a "nerds operating system" or that "it will only work right if you're really good with computers and can fix all of the issues" are ones I've heard more than once. These rumors are completely false.
Linux is extremely user friendly; it's actually more user friendly than Windows! The issue people have is adjusting. They've been using Windows their whole life they can't be bothered to learn the little that there is to learn.
If you're open to new things, look into it!
Another plus about Linux is the virus factor
To say Linux doesn't get viruses would be foolish. Everything can get a virus, even your $20 prepaid phone from Wal-Mart.
However, the odds of getting a virus on Linux is EXTREMELY low. The operating itself is much more secure than Windows and if you manage to get a virus, it probably won't do any real damage.
Yet another plus is the software center
Nearly anything you could want is going to be in the software center. Photo editing software, video editing software, internet browsers, torrent programs, dvd authoring programs, dvd ripping programs, new fonts, etc.
This means you don't have to search through the web to find software, which also means less risk.
Just click install and wait; that's it. No rebooting, no nothing.
If there's any updates for anything you have on Linux, they all come up in one neat window. From there you can choose to deselect any updates you don't want to download and click the button. That's all you have to do to update all of your programs.
Now the fun begins.
Something to keep in mind is you will need:
Some RAM (Random Access Memory)/Memory
A Hard Drive
A Video Card
A Power Supply
A DVD/BluRay Drive
There's always other stuff you could add. If you find a part that you would like and can afford it, get it. Just make sure it's compatible with your setup. (More below.)
There are also things built into the motherboard. (Integrated sound and integrated video for example.)
Now, just because there's already a video output on your motherboard doesn't mean you don't need a video card. If you upgrade those items you will be getting a better quality, but it's not required.
Some motherboards have integrated video and some do not. Personally I never buy motherboards that have integrated video. However, if you purchase one with integrated video, don't leave it at that. Get a video card to go with it.
The video integrated in the motherboard is going to be very poor compared to any decent card you buy. The investment will be a wise one, and if you're a gamer, it's a necessary one.
Step 1 - Motherboard
The motherboard is the best thing to start with.
It's much better to find parts compatible with a motherboard than a motherboard compatible with parts.
and follow the images below to navigate to the motherboards.
Blue X = Hover
Red X = Click
Now you should be on a new page and you should see the following picture on the left:
Here you have to make a decision: AMD, or Intel.
In short, AMD is typically cheaper, and Intel packs more power.
I personally always get Intel over AMD because of AMD's lack of support when it comes to legacy hardware.
After you've made your selection (Intel in this case), you are going to want to narrow down your results.
To do that, select the options you want on the left.
After you've narrowed down your results, search through the motherboard and find one you want.
Hint: If something has a high number of ratings, there's a reason for it.
After carefully browsing (while constantly looking at reviews) I decided upon the "ASUS Sabertooth X58 LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard."
The thing that first drew me to it was the (as seen above) very good rating.
After I opened the page I clicked the details button and began to look everything over.
All in all it seemed to be a really good board.
1) It supported a Core i7 (LGA1366) CPU.
2-1) It supported up 24gb of RAM, with 6 240 pin slots.
2-2) Memory standard was DDR3 1866/1800/1600/1333/1066.
3) Had two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, each running at x16 mode.
4) Had two 6gb sata slots and six 3gb sata slots.
5) It had a 5 year limited warrenty on parts and labor.
Great! 1 step out of the way.
Step 2 - CPU/Processor
Next were going to navigate to the processors, just like we did to the motherboard.
Were then going to click "Processors - Desktops" and select our manufacturer.
Obviously, if you pick an AMD motherboard, choose an AMD processor. If you got an Intel motherboard, grab an Intel processor.
Next, we have to find a CPU that our motherboard supports.
To do this look at the section labeled "Supported CPU" on the motherboards page.
In this case, I'll start with the socket type. (LGA 1366)
I'll then select the CPU type. (i7)
After that it's just a matter of preference. I chose the "Intel Core i7-960 Bloomfield 3.2GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80601960."
I chose this processor because a few things jumped at me; namingly:
1) 3.2GHz operating frequency.
2) And the fact that it was quad core.
As I stated early, Intel processors pack more of a punch. A 3.3ghz Intel CPU will run faster than a 3.3ghz AMD CPU.
If you aren't going to be doing anything process heavy, you have no need for a powerful CPU or high amounts of RAM. As cool as they may sound, if you don't need them, don't get them. There really is no point in wasting your money.
Step 3 - RAM/Memory
Next were going to move onto the RAM.
Note: RAM can be found under "Memory" on Newegg.com.
Tip: If you're on the limb about how much RAM you should get, 8gb is usually pretty safe.
If you can't decide, check out this site: Computer memory requirements: How much memory do you need?
Looking back at the motherboard, we see that it supports 240 pin DDR3 RAM, so that's what I'll select.
Next I'm going to select the amount of memory I want.
For this build, I'm doing to pick 12gb.
Because the motherboard states that it is "Triple Channel" I'm going to get 3 matching sticks of RAM. If it's Dual Channel select two matching sticks.
So, instead of getting two 6gb sticks, I'll get three 4gb sticks.
Sorting by "Most Reviews" I decided upon the "G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9T-12GBRL."
These sticks of ram run at DDR3 1600, are Triple Channel, and have a lifetime warranty.
Looking back up, we're 3/8th of the way done.
Step 4 - Hard Drive
Ask yourself: how much Hard Drive space are you doing to need?
All of those movies, songs, and programs add up real quick.
Now days many people are going with 1tb drives, and there's no reason not to. (Except money.)
If you can afford it, by the terabyte. If you're on a tight budget and aren't going to use the space, you could go for a 500gb drive or a 750gb drive.
Personally, I want the TB.
For those who don't know:
1000kb = 1mb ** Kilobyte - Megabyte
1000mb = 1gb ** Megabyte - Gigabyte
1000gb = 1tb ** Gigabyte - Terabyte
After clicking that I'm going to look at my Motherboard page.
I see that I can install a 6gb/s or 3gb/s sata drive.
I'm going to look for a 6gb/s drive, for obvious reasons. (Preforms at twice the speed.)
And I want the drive to perform at 7200RPM.
From the drives left I'm going to pick one with a 64mb cache
and the highest rating.
I ended up with the "Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive."
Step 5 - Video Card
Click Here For A Short Guide On Choosing A Video Card *Optional*
If you're a gamer, getting a good video card is a must. However, if you're just using your computer to check email and update your blog, you can go with a lower end card.
Looking at the motherboard, I notice that I have two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, that's what I'm going to look for.
Note: Here's the wiki on PCI Express: PCI Express
After selecting "Desktop Graphics / Video Cards" I'm going to select "PCI Express 2.0 x16."
Now you're going to have to ask yourself, ATI, or nVidia.
This is a lot like asking yourself, Intel or AMD?
I always choose nVidia for a couple of reasons.
1) ATI is
2) From everything I've heard and seen, more people run into issues with their ATI cards than with nVidia cards. I have no studies or proofs to show you, but I recommend nVidia.
The consensus tends to lean towards nVidia cards as well, and that's what I'm going to chose.
From here you are going to pick a card based on your needs.
Here's another link you can look at: here.
You could also try Google, or you could ask one of your well informed Sythe members.
I personally just chose a 1gb memory size and searched by "Most Reviews."
After that I narrowed it down to the top two cards.
I chose the "EVGA 01G-P3-1556-KR GeForce GTX 550 Ti (Fermi) FPB 1GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card," because if you compare the two cards, I personally don't believe there is a $100 difference, and I would like that $100 to remain in my wallet.
There's a difference, yes; I just don't want to pay $100 for it.
Step 6 - Optical Disc Drive
Hint: This is found under "CD / DVD Burners & Media" on Newegg.com.
When selecting a drive, you have to ask yourself one question.
What am I going to do with it?
Most of us don't need to watch Blu-Ray movies, burn Blu-Ray movies, or rip any files near that large to a disc.
Any of your newer DVD drives are capable or reading and burning to Dual Layer (DL) Discs, andt hese hold up to 8.55gb and are larger than most people will need for a disc.
The difference between dvd-r and dvd+r is explained well here.
R vs RW
When writing to a -r or +r disc you can only write to it once.
When writing to a -rw or +rw disc you can write to it multiple times.
With all of that said, I'm going with a cheap DVD burned by Lite-On.
It has 5 stars with 1204 ratings, and it's only $18.
Step 7 - Power Supply
Time for the power supply; the bit the powers the whole thing, and yet another reason I shop newegg.
After you click on the power supply link, you should see another line that says "Power Supply Wattage Calculator." Click it.
Enter everything in and hit "calculate."
Note: There is no set definition of a high end motherboard. If you're unsure, just go with the high end.
About High End Motherboards
Also About High End Motherboards
After it's all entered it will calculate a suggested PSU Wattage. In this case it's 479 watts.
Now we're just going to click "Find PSUs."
"Please click “Find PSUs” button to find out the best results. -Newegg.com"
Now I'm going to go a little over the 479w that they suggested and get a 500w.
From here I'm going to sort by "Most Reviews" and pick the top one on the list.
It had a good price and it had 4 stars with 1180 ratings.
Step 8 - Case
Now onto the case. The piece that everyone
is going to see.
Tip: The more fans you have in your case, the cooler it will run. However, more fans also means more noise.
There is also water-cooling systems if you can afford them.
After clicking "Computer Cases" I am going to scroll down and click "More Options."
From here we can automatically set "With Power Supply:" to "No."
Another option I recommend selecting is "Side Air duct:" to "Yes."
This allows extra ventilation and will help cut down on overheating.
Note: Make sure you keep the duct clean and unclogged.
Note: When looking at cases you may see internal drive bays and external drive bays.
Internal drive bays are simply for stuff concealed inside the case. (Hard Drives)
External drive bays are for stuff that can get accessed from the outside of the computer. (Optical Disc Drives, Media Readers, etc.)
At this point you can select a case based on what you want.
Just try not to be completely persuaded by looks. While we all want our case to look nice, but we also don't want it to break and fall apart. Look at the ratings and see how many eggs a case has. If people don't seem to like it, there's a reason, so don't buy it.
I personally selected the "COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case."
The thing that really lured me to this case was the 5 star rating with 2628 reviews, and the affordable price.
That's it! Were done!
All of the pieces that I selected below cost me about $1035, and you better believe it will pack a punch.
Just order any monitors, keyboards, and mice you might need, and place your order!
The way everything comes now days, assembling a computer couldn't be easier.
Follow the instructions you are provided and you should be fine.
However: I will make a tutorial the next time I put together a computer; it may not be for a while though. (I'm pretty broke.)
Anything I Did Wrong
Odds are I made a number of mistakes.
I'm only one man and this guide took a LONG time to put together.
If you see any errors please either: PM me or post a comment below.
Let me know what you guys think.
What should I do differently for my next guides?
If you have any questions, feel free to ask them below or PM me. I'll do my best to answer them promptly.
Having Me Put Together A List
If you are wanting me to assemble a custom parts list for you I'd be more than happy too for a small fee.
Having Me Assemble Your Computer
Between the risk of sending that expensive of equipment to a strangers house really isn't a good idea. And the total cost to ship it wouldn't even be worth it.
My answer will have to be: no.
Any guides you want me to write? Let me know with a PM or a post.