If you’re in the market for a new computer, you may be a little taken aback by the costs. Some systems can cost you well over $1200, and may not be suited for what you need. There is an alternative. You could try building your own computer at home. While this may sound like a daunting task, it’s a lot easier than most people would imagine. Read on to find out how simple this can be.
First, you need to decide what you want the computer for. If you are only going to be using it for email or social media, then you will have a relatively straightforward build ahead of you. If you want it for more intensive activities, like gaming or video editing, then there are more factors to consider. Ultimately, the purpose of your computer will determine which components you need.
No matter what type of computer you are building, there are a few things you will need. These are:
- A motherboard – this is the part that links all the components together
- A CPU – this is essentially the “brain” of the computer and will determine how fast it calculates
- RAM – this is a memory your computer uses to keep track of running applications
- A hard drive – this is where your computer stores all of your saved information
- A power supply -this provides power to all your components
- A case – this is the physical box that holds all the components
Obviously, you will need things like a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, etc. but we are focusing only on the computer itself here. Those other components simply plug into the computer once built. As far as tools go, you’ll only need a screwdriver.
Starting with the case, you can often find one with a power supply already built-in. This will save you some hassle later on. Make sure that it fits the type of motherboard you pick (more on that later).. Some cases come with all sorts of bells and whistles (like LED lighting or tempered glass panels) but those are not necessary at all. Get something affordable that will fit your other components.
A note on power supplies, they mostly only vary in their wattage. A simple system for non-intensive use only needs around 300W of power. A gaming or video editing rig will require in excess of 500W. So choose based on what you want your system to be able to do.
The motherboard and CPU are typically selected together (as not all CPUs fit in all motherboards). What you should pick will be based on what you want to do with your computer. For basic use and LIGHT gaming, an AMD APU (like a Ryzen 3, 5 or 7) will do you just fine. They are pretty affordable and can be upgraded later on if desired.
The amount of RAM you buy would also be determined by the applications you want to run. You can get away with 4 GB for a light application, but 8 is recommended. For gaming or especially video editing, even more (16 GB or 32 GB) should be considered.
Lastly, the hard drive. You can get a traditional mechanical hard drive or a solid-state drive. Solid-state drives can read and write faster than mechanical once and have now come down in price, so this is what I would recommend.
Once you have all your components, it’s time to install everything. Components will only fit exactly where they are supposed to go, so be patient and gentle and you will do fine. See the included documentation of your components for detailed installation instructions.
Congratulations! You now own your own custom-built computer. You’ve saved some money and had a good learning experience in the process – read article on where to build computer.