Ever asked the question, how do I build by PC by myself? Ever wanted to build your own PC but don’t have a clue? If this is you, this guide is for you. Well, the PC is one sophisticated piece of electronic equipment. You don’t wanna mess around with it… Hey, I’m just kidding. Very often we’ve heard the question asked, “How do I build my PC by myself?”
We’ve put together this ultimate guide to help you. Perhaps you want to build a PC for graphic design or build the best rendering PC (if you are a digital artist), or you want to build a PC for CAD or Video Editing. Also, we have guides to help you build a PC for VR Gaming (Virtual Reality), for Streaming, or for Music Production.
All these are common examples of several reasons why you want to build a personal computer. Maybe you’ve not done this before, we are here to help. We provide all the answers to your questions. Follow us as we dissect this topic thoroughly in this ultimate guide.
Wait a minute, before we get ahead of ourselves, I’ll like to ask this question…
For what purpose do you want to build a PC?
To help you navigate and get specific advisory on the type of hardware you need to purchase,
I WANT TO BUILD A PC MAINLY FOR
- For what purpose do you want to build a PC?
- I WANT TO BUILD A PC MAINLY FOR
- THE PROCESSOR
- THE MOTHERBOARD
- THE MEMORY (RAM)
- THE GRAPHICS CARD
- THE HARD DISK
- THE CPU COOLER
- POWER SUPPLY UNIT
- THE OPTICAL DRIVE
- THE PC CASE
- THE MONITOR
- KEYBOARD AND MOUSE
- STATIC ELECTRICITY
- INSTALLING THE POWER SUPPLY
- STEPS TO INSTALL THE POWER SUPPLY
- INSTALLING THE PROCESSOR
- INSTALLING THE PROCESSOR COOLER
- INSTALLING THE RAM
- INSTALLING THE MOTHERBOARD
- INSTALLING THE STORAGE DRIVES
- INSTALLING THE OPTICAL DRIVES (Optional)
- INSTALLING THE GRAPHICS CARD
- CONNECTING ALL COMPONENTS
- CABLE MANAGEMENT
- FINISHING UP
In the following section, we will answer the most common questions you might have concerning this topic. This is not an exhaustive list; you are encouraged to drop your questions in the comment section on any aspect we did not cover.
So, let’s get to it.
Some components for building a desktop PC
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Can I build my PC?
Yes. You can. There was a time when computers were mysterious and only the nerds got to look inside. Not anymore these days. Building your own computer has become so easy that a 10-year-old can do it, and there are lots of reasons why you should build your own PC.
This is because computer components are much easier to install nowadays, thanks to better design standards. Also, there are guides readily available, such as the one you are reading now, that make it easier to follow step by step as you build your own PC.
The only thing that can stop you from building your own PC is you. Yes… If you decide you can’t, then you really can’t do it. It’s simply a matter of willpower, some guts, and patience, and you’re on your way to building your first rig.
You can continue reading or just jump to the step by step section on how to build a PC.
What do I need to build my PC by myself?
There are just 3 things you need to build a PC by yourself…
- The PC components
- Some basic tools
- Some determination and patience
Here we break down exactly what different components make up a PC. It’ll help you to get familiar with the parts of a PC. After all, you’re going to build one, so you might as well understand how the different parts of a PC work together to get things done.
Let’s start with the core components: The Processor, Motherboard or Mainboard, the RAM, the Graphics Card, the Hard Drive, the CPU Cooler, the Power Supply Unit, the Optical Drive, and the PC Case. The peripherals include the Monitor, Keyboard, and Mouse.
The processor, or Central Processing Unit (CPU), is the main processing unit of the computer, that coordinates all operations that take place inside the PC, such as input and output. The processing power is described in clocks, or clock speed, and is measured in Hertz.
A processor can perform complex mathematical calculations at a very fast rate, or frequency. A typical modern processor can perform millions of these operations per second and has clock speeds in the region of 1.5Gigahertz (1.5GHz) all the way to 5GHz.
CORES AND THREADS
CPUs usually have cores or processing units. This means a CPU can be multi-core or single-core. A dual-core CPU has two physical cores or processing units. A quad-core CPU is made up of one processor chip and four physical cores.
Another important feature of processors is threading, which essentially splits a core into two logical or virtual processing units. What this means is that a quad-core CPU with multi-threading will have 8 threads or processing units.
Not all processors support multi-threading, though. In most cases, the multi-threading feature is listed on the box.
Desktop processor showing the contact pins
Processors usually have what we call cache memory. This is a special type of ultra-fast memory for handling operations inside the CPU circuit.
Cache memory is designed to store program instructions and data that are being processed by the CPU, which the CPU is likely to need next. So, instead of having to retrieve this data from the system’s main memory or RAM, the processor quickly fetches it from cache memory.
This way, the efficiency and effectiveness of the computer are enhanced. Cache memory is usually in megabytes (MB). The larger the cache memory of a processor, the more powerful and faster it is.
Another factor you should know is the power rating of a CPU, or what we call Thermal Design Power (TDP). The TDP of a CPU goes a long way in determining the cooling options you should install. For example, a CPU with higher TDP will usually provide more in terms of raw performance, but will ultimately consume more electricity. Technically speaking, TDP is not a direct measure of how much power a component will draw, but it can be a good indicator.
A PC processor produces heat, mainly because of the calculations it crunches. This makes cooling inevitable, and you have two options; air cooling and liquid cooling. Air cooling is usually provided by fans mounted on the CPU, while liquid cooling depends on water in a closed system that actively cools the CPU.
There are two major CPU manufacturers, Intel and AMD. Intel processors used to be strong on single-core performance in terms of raw processing power. Their processors are generally more expensive than AMD’s. On the other hand, AMD processors are generally strong on multi-core performance, though with recent releases have actually overtaken Intel in terms of multi-core performance compared to price.
As is common with every electrical/electronic device, heat is produced as a by-product of power utilization. Processors generate lots of heat energy, that is, alongside their data-crunching role.
With respect to heat, previously, AMD processors were poor on power efficiency, due to the way they are engineered. However, in recent times, AMD processors have better-improved power efficiency, resulting in lower heat output.
When buying a processor, you should bear these things in mind, apart from the purpose for which you are building a PC.
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The motherboard, or mainboard of a PC, is the part that holds every other part together. There are several ports/sockets that allow you to plug in several components that enable the PC to function.
A motherboard is usually composed of the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) on which you have the complex electronic circuit and different sockets, switches, and ports for the different PC components. On the circuit board proper, you have the Northbridge and Southbridge chipsets, the cache memory, and also the BIOS chip and battery for regulating the system internal clock.
Motherboards are classified according to their form factor, known as ATX (Advanced Technology eXtended). For instance, there’s ATX, EATX, mini-ATX, micro-ATX, nano-ATX, etc.
Motherboards are also classified according to the CPU socket type. For instance, there’s LGA 775, LGA 1150, LGA 1155, LGA 2011, LGA 1200, etc. (LGA means Logical Grid Array). The number represents the number of contact points or pins on the processor socket.
A typical motherboard has a CPU (Central Processing Unit) socket for the processor, a RAM (Random Access Memory) slot for memory, IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) ports for connecting IDE devices, SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) ports for connecting SATA devices such as hard drives, DVD drives, and Solid State Drives.
There’re also USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports, PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) express ports for connecting graphics cards, M.2 ports for the latest class of storage devices, power connectors for the different devices, and audio in/out ports for audio devices.
A motherboard is really a complicated device that should be handled with extra care, especially during installation. Some major motherboard manufacturers include Gigabyte, ASUS, MSI, ASRock, Intel, Biostar, etc.
When buying a motherboard, note the form factor, the RAM type, and the CPU socket; those are the three most important factors, apart from the price. As a matter of fact, most of the motherboards in the market are designed especially for gaming, except for a few exceptions.
The motherboards designated as gaming motherboards are more rampant. This is because the gaming industry is huge, and has given rise to specialized hardware. You should understand that even though such motherboards are termed ‘gaming motherboard’, they are also useful for other applications like, say video editing. Always have these in mind.
If you are shopping for motherboards right now, here’s a great article on motherboards in the market for your system build.
THE MEMORY (RAM)
RAM is fast, temporary and volatile memory that the PC uses to store data being processed by the processor. RAM usually comes in modules or sticks. RAM sizes are usually a multiple of 2, i.e., 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, etc., though there are exceptions to this rule.
Data stored in RAM is lost if there is a power cut, that is why data needs to be transferred to permanent memory, in this case, the hard drive or external storage devices.
RAM types differ, but the most popular is DDR (Double Data Rate) Memory, which is numbered according to its generations, like DDR2, DDR3, DDR4, etc. Each iteration is faster, and feature higher frequencies and larger capacities than the previous generation.
If you are building your own PC, you need to buy matching RAM for the motherboard, because each motherboard is limited to a certain quantity of RAM and also the type of RAM, whether DDR3 or DDR4.
Some manufacturers of memory modules include Corsair, Kingston, G.Skill, OCZ, Hynix, Transcend, and Mushkin.
Additionally, you need a specific minimum size of RAM for the particular purpose of building a PC, such as for gaming, 3D rendering, Video Editing, etc. We’ll cover these aspects as we proceed.
THE GRAPHICS CARD
A desktop Graphics Card
Also known as the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), this is responsible for processing graphics and image data, and relaying the same to an output device, such as a monitor. The graphics card has become a specialized piece of equipment for the PC and has spawned a whole new industry that is a sub-set of the PC industry.
The memory on a graphics card is a special type of memory called GDDR RAM (Graphics Double Data Rate Random Access Memory), and it comes in various sizes. It is designed to handle graphics data being processed by the GPU processor. Just like PC RAM, it also comes in multiples of 2, e.g., 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, etc., though there are instances of exceptions in some brands.
Graphics RAM usually comes in generations like GDDR3, GDDR5, and GDDR6. As with PC RAM, each succeeding generation is much faster, with higher bandwidth and memory, than previous ones. Recently, HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) was launched, which featured cards with much higher bandwidth than GDDR5.
Graphics cards come in various sizes, brands, memory configurations, purposes, and price. Nowadays, we have specialized graphics cards for running heavy computations that a PC processor is not capable of running alone, such as simulations, image rendering and even Artificial Intelligence (AI) for self-driving cars.
The two major GPU giants are Nvidia and AMD, and their cards are marketed by brands such as EVGA, Gigabyte, XFX, ASUS, Zotac, PNY, MSI, Palit, and others. Lately, there have been rumors that Intel is launching into the GPU market, but time will tell if this is true.
When buying a graphics card, you must take into account your needs, such as the main purpose of the PC and your budget. You may not even need to buy a dedicated graphics card in some scenarios, which you’ll find out shortly. That means you can either rely on the integrated graphics on the processor or get one of the best budget graphics card.
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THE HARD DISK
Desktop Hard Drives
This is the main storage device of the PC. It features permanent, non-volatile memory. It’s not as fast as RAM, but it holds data permanently.
Hard drives are mechanical storage devices, unlike RAM, which manipulates data electronically. This is the main reason for RAM volatility. Mechanical hard drives are simply a collection of constantly spinning electromagnetic disks and platters which are used to access the stored data.
Hard drives or disks come in various sizes, which range from gigabytes to terabytes. A few years ago, hard drives used the IDE interface to connect to the motherboard using, but today, SATA is the preferred interface connector.
There are new technologies such as SSDs (Solid State Drives) and M.2 drives. Both utilize solid-state technology in storing and accessing the data. They are much faster and more reliable, consume less energy than traditional mechanical hard drives. The only downside is the cost, which is much higher (SSD prices have been on a downward spin in recent years).
An SSD Drive
An M.2 NVme drive
Ideally, it is advisable to use an SSD drive as the operating system drive (Boot Drive), which also holds your applications and a traditional mechanical hard drive as permanent storage for your files.
The major manufacturers of mechanical hard drives include Seagate, Western Digital, HSGT, and Toshiba. For SSDs, major brands among others include Samsung, Crucial, OCZ, Corsair, ADATA, Kingston, Silicon Power, Mushkin, and Western Digital.
My passion for PC hardware is my greatest motivation. I love technology and how it can make life easier and less complicated! When I’m not tinkering with hardware, I’m reading. I love to travel and I usually can’t wait to sit down on my PC to work.
I’m also a copywriter, designer, video editor, and writer. I also do some 3D with 3DS Max. Do you want to reach me? Use the Social Media buttons, or shoot me an email. I’ll be glad to hear from you!