Ready to Build Your Own PC?
To many, personal computers seem like complex machines. But under the hood, they basically consist of modules that plug together. You CAN build your own computer without a soldering iron or a degree in electrical engineering. But should you build your own PC? Read on for my advice...
Just Bring Your Screwdriver!
Computer enthusiasts cite several reasons to build your own PC. In doing so, 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.
One thing is guaranteed -- you will feel a great sense of accomplishment when you flip that power switch, watch it boot up, and the operating system comes to life on your screen. An added bonus -- warranties on separately purchased components can run up to three years, versus a one-year warranty on many factory-built systems.
Will you save a significant amount of money by building your own PC? That depends on what kind of system you have in mind. Computer vendors have an advantage when it comes to making cheap, general purpose desktop computers. They buy components in large 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 system through a system integrator such as Digital Storm or Dell's Alienware line.
It can take 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 websites devoted to step-by-step build your own PC guides. Youtube is another source of help for PC builders.
If your teenager is interested in building a computer, encourage them to do so as a learning experience. The article So Your Kid Wants to Build a Computer is a guide for parents to help get their son or daughter started on that journey.
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. One website where you can buy parts and find advice for building is Newegg.
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. NewEgg 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, and 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 some other essential software. Check out my related articles Still Using Microsoft Office… Why? and Seven Free Software Downloads and you'll learn how to save a bundle on your software.
Another option for do-it-yourself PC builders is the Raspberry Pi -- a low cost, miniature computer that can be as small as a credit card. Just add a keyboard and mouse, then plug it into a computer monitor or TV, and you have a working desktop PC that's capable of word processing, games, and web browsing. It's a great option for kids to see how computers work, and learn to create software in popular coding languages like Scratch and Python.
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! Check out Peppermint Linux, which has an interface similar to Windows, and comes with an office suite, games, media player, calculator, and web browser. If you install it as a second operating system on a Windows computer, the file manager will allow you to easily access all the documents and photos on your Windows partition, making the transition easier.
Building your own PC is a point of pride among hard-core geeks. But for anyone who is willing to invest the time and effort necessary, but it can be fun and rewarding. 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 4 Aug 2023
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Ready to Build Your Own PC? (Posted: 4 Aug 2023)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved