Monday, 13 June 2011

How to build your own computer: Part 3

Right, we've covered how to decide what you need and the specifications you want but.. what do you actually buy? The market is huge and there is thousands of types of every part, so it can be very difficult to decide. So today I'll tell you how to understand all the specs and essentially equip you to go and decide for yourself what parts you want to buy.

First let's start off relatively simple with the processor. A processor has 3 main specs that we are probably going to be interested in. We have the amount of cores - this is literally the amount of processors on the chip. A 4 core processor is actually 4 processors bundled in to one, that all work concurrently. Next we have the speed. This is measured in GHz (the speed is how many actions are performed a second essentially - 1 GHz is equal to 1 billion actions a second). A good kind of speed is around 3 GHz, but take in to account cores when  choosing here. A 4 core 3GHz processor will be able to do 4 things at 3 GHz at the same time! And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we have the socket. This is literally the type of socket the processor has - think of it like electrical sockets between countries. Your motherboard must support the socket you choose.

Next we have RAM. Your RAM has a size, a speed and a module type. The size and speed are fairly easy to grasp - the speed is the same as with a processor and the size is just like a memory stick or a hard disk drive. The module type is what matters most here, though. Common types today are DDR2 and DDR3. Chances are you'll be getting DDR3, as it is falling in price and quickly becoming standard. Be careful when you choose this because your motherboard has to support the module type you buy.

A graphics card is easy as it is like a cross between a processor and RAM. Your graphics card is essenially a dedicated processor with it's own RAM that is used specifically for generating graphics. Again, it has a speed, a size and a socket and your motherboard must support the socket you choose (probably PCI-E at this time).

Simplest of all is the PSU (Power supply unit). All you need is to make sure it has a good enough wattage and you are ready to go! 600 watts is probably enough, but if you are being cautious then add up the power usage for your components to check.

The hard drive is also easy - there is very little to consider here, for most a hard drive is a hard drive. Just choose the correct size and you are done. However! If you are buying new and recent parts, you will probably not run in to any problems. But always make sure that everything you buy supports SATA and is not for the IDE hard drive standard, this matters mostly for your PSU and motherboard.

So, lastly, one of the most important parts of any computer - the motherboard. This is the part that links everything together. Because of it's importance, there is quite a lot of stuff to cover here. You also need to make sure your motherboard is compatible with every other component you have chosen, so you may need to swap around motherboards and components until you get a configuration that works. Just check, check and check again that everything will be compatible with the board and you will be fine.

That's all for today folks. Hopefully now you understand what parts do and what all the specs and tech jargon means. I hope what I've given here is enough for you to understand other things too, like sound cards and heat sinks. Tomorrow I'll be giving examples for working systems of different types to help you make these decisions better and to make totally sure you've got everything figured out. Till then!

25 comments:

  1. I'd totally like to hear your opinions on HDD versus SSD. It's an ongoing debate. Thanks for the guide, too, bro. Followed.

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  2. I learnt a little about processors today, thank you.

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  3. It's a lot cheaper to build your own pc than to buy one from a store.

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  4. Keep this coming. I've been wanting to build my own PC for a a game that;s going to be coming out(soon I hope). I don't really know much about putting the hardware in.

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  5. Do they even still sell the IDE HDDs? :P

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  6. How much a system like in this video would cost me?http://youtu.be/nyp5nP2QEII

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  7. Once I get the money I'll be throwing my machine together.

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  8. Definitely do something on SSDs in the future too, especially if you make another article on making a machine

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  9. Remember, CHEAP PSU's will normally blow and take a few other components with it.

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  10. yet again a small masterpiece haha :) And yea IDE still is used alot on budget pc's and such!

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  11. keep em coming man great guide =)

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  12. I think you should maybe write a little guide about the PSU. I don't exactly agree that it is the easiest component to choose. It can really be tricky. Very cheap PSUs are not to be recommended for long-term builds: if the PSU fails, it can take your entire system with it! I suggest you buy a good PSU right away, with more wattage than you actually need, so you will be able to use it on future builds as well!

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  13. PC construction process activated... (2 days in) I am the sole computer ruler of the world mwahhaha!

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  14. Bookmarked this for future reference, really informative

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  15. Where do you go when you want to buy parts? A store like Micro Center or Frye's or do you stick to newegg and tigetdirect?

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  16. I'm subscribing because I think your profile picture is cool.

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  17. Very enlightening, I might build a PC soon for when BF 3 comes out. This one I have right now won't cut it.

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  18. Thanks for these guides. I need to upgrade my old computer soon. i might just build my own now!

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  19. Thanks for clearing everything up. You did it in a good and easy way to understand!

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  20. I feel sorry for people who get ripped off by various companies instead of taking the time to read a great article like this!

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  21. thanks for this, i always got stuck on the RAM part, wasn't sure what type i needed !

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  22. with a spec like this I could finally play EVE!

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