Should I Build My Own PC?
Personal computers are complex machines. But they basically consist of modules that plug together. You don't need a soldering iron or a degree in electronics. So, should you build your own PC?
Just Bring Your Screwdriver!
Enthusiasts cite several reasons to build your own PC. You will learn a lot about the inner workings of a PC; what the components are, what they do, how they work together, their nitty-gritty performance specs, etc. You will end up with exactly the system that you want, not some vendor's idea of what you should buy.
You will feel a great sense of accomplishment when you flip that power switch and everything works! An added bonus -- warranties on separately purchased components run up to three years, versus a one-year warranty on many factory-built systems.
Whether you will save significant amounts of money by building your own PC depends on what kind of system you have in mind. Computer vendors have a huge advantage when it comes to making cheap, general purpose desktop computers. They buy components in enormous volumes and pay lower unit prices than an individual will ever see. But for high-performance gaming and specialty systems, building your own PC can cost a lot less than ordering a custom-built one-off system through a system integrator such as Alienware.
It takes a lot of time to build your own PC. Most of that time is spent learning what components are available and compatible with each other. There are numerous books on the subject of building your own PC, and many Web sites devoted to step-by-step guides. To get a good idea of what you need to learn, visit Kitchen Table Computers.
Mix and Match or Barebones Kit?
After compiling your parts list, you will need to research and source each component that will go into your computer: the case, motherboard, power supply, CPU, hard drive and other storage devices, memory, video card, monitor, network adapter, even the keyboard and mouse.
When selecting components, keep in mind that they must all be compatible. The motherboard must fit in the case. The CPU and RAM must be compatible with the motherboard. The power supply must be the right form factor, and provide adequate power for all the components. That can be a lot of work. On the other hand, you will be able to pick the best of everything that you can afford.
An alternative that makes the job somewhat easier is a barebones kit. These usually include the system unit case, motherboard, power supply, CPU, heatsink & fan, RAM memory, hard drive, and a CD/DVD drive. The big advantage here is that you know all the components are compatible. If your motherboard has the video and network adapters built-in, all you'll need is a monitor, keyboard and mouse to complete the package. Tiger Direct is one online vendor that sells a wide variety of barebones kits. If you're building your own system for the first time, I would definitely recommend using a barebones kit.
Oh, don't forget the operating system and application software that will not be bundled with your homemade PC. Most users will need Windows, an office suite, and security software. Check out my related articles on Free Word Processing Software and Free Anti-Virus Programs and you'll learn how to save a bundle on this essential software.
Also keep in mind that assembling your own computer could be your chance to try Linux and open source software, freeing yourself from the expensive Windows habit! See my article Which Linux Version Is Right For Me? for help getting started with Linux.
Building your own PC is a point of pride among hard-core geeks. Most regular users won't want to invest the time and effort necessary. Have you built your own PC, or are you thinking about it? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 22 Jul 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Should I Build My Own PC? (Posted: 22 Jul 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved