Now that you have an Idea of what parts to buy for your computer, you are going to need to know what to look for in each part, right. Good because on this page I will walk you through each piece of hardware.
And I will be telling you what I look for when building a Basic Computer, or a Gaming PC, and a little of what a High-end PC would need.
So if you’re ready to let’s get started and look at just how easy it is to look for Computer Parts. I hope you’re as eager as I am to get started. 🙂
Where Should we Start:
Which part should we go looking for first, well there are a couple of ways, one would be the Motherboard first, then the CPU. The other way would be the CPU first, followed by the Motherboard?
Why the difference, well some people (not me) have a preference in CPU’s, either an Intel or an AMD. And just why does this matter, well because the motherboards support either an Intel CPU or an AMD.
Seeing that I don’t have a preference I start out with the motherboard, which won’t make too big of a deal for you, either way, all you have to do is read about both. and then you will have an idea of which way you want to go.
So with all that said let’s I’m going to start with the Motherboard.
There are four factors in which to consider when looking for the right Motherboard, they are the Form Factor, CPU socket, the Memory, and Expansion slots.
Form Factor: OK, the form factor is used to describe the size and shape of the motherboard, the most common ones are the Mini-ITX (5.9″ x 5.9″), the Micro ATX (9.6″ x 9.6″) and the Standard ATX (12″ x 9.6″) this will be a factor in determining the size of case you will want.
Now the Mini one will have the least expansion slots available, (these are the slots that a Graphics or Sound card plugs into). The Micro will have two or more, and the ATX will have up to six.
So if you are looking to build a Basic computer the Mini will do fine, but if you plan on adding a video or sound card you will want to look at the Micro or the Standard ATX, depending on how many boards you will be adding. And of course the Standard ATX for a High-End computer, pretty simple, 🙂
CPU socket: There are around 6 different socket sizes, four of which are for the AMD processor, (the AM3, AM3+, Fm2, and FM1). The last two are the LGA1155 and LGA2011 for the Intel processor. So if your preference of CPU’s is not a factor, just look for the one that fits your budget.
You will notice when shopping around that the Motherboards that hold an Intel socket we usually be a higher price than an AMD one. For the most part, Intel motherboards are usually more money, as are the Intel CPU’s.
Your next factor to take into consideration is going to be the Ram.
Random Access Memory Slots: The motherboards will come with 2 to 6 memory slots, one slot holds one memory stick, the slots are rated to hold either DDR3’s or DDR4’s.
The most common ones are the DDR3 1333 (speed) or the DDR3 1600 (speed), and the DDR4 are becoming more popular.
You will find that the memory sticks are rated from 2GB’s to 16GB’s. Now the motherboards are rated to handle anywhere from 8GB’s to 128GB’s. So if you’re a hardcore gamer you will want to look at ones that will support 64GB or higher and will work with the DDR4.
And you guessed it the higher the number the faster they run and the higher the cost, but check around you might find a good deal on one of the higher ones.
Expansion Slots: These are the slots that will hold your Graphics board, Sound Card and other items if you’re going the Basic route one slot will be all that you need, a Gaming machine you would want a minimum of two, a High-End look for eight or more.
Here is a short video on how to buy a Motherboard:
The Central Processing Unit: CPU
On what we discussed above, you will be looking for either an Intel or Amd Motherboard, they both come in a variety of socket designs. The socket design is going to determine what CPU’s you can look at.
So there are a couple of factors to take into consideration, first the number of cores, such as dual core, or quad core. The next is processor speed, which is measured in GHz, the higher the number the faster it will perform, and just like everything else the more there is, the more money it will cost.
Core size: The core size will determine just how well the CPU can process information and how well it can multi-task. The more cores there are, the better it will do in processing information at the same time (multi-tasking).
So for your Basic computer, you will do fine with at least a dual core, now for gaming, I wouldn’t go anything less that quad, and probably higher if you have the budget and for the high-end no lower than eight. They range in size from Dual all the way up to an amazing twelve core (wow!). 🙂 🙂
Operating Speed: Next the CPU ranges in speeds (GHz) from 1.65 GHz to 3.8 GHz. For the basic computer you could get by with a 1.65ghz dual core, but if you can afford it start at least 2.1ghz dual core and higher. Your gaming rig and high-end computer look for a minimum of 3.5 GHz and as many cores as your budget will support.
Random Access Memory:
This is relatively an easy one, refer to your motherboard and check the specs on what memory it will hold, it will have something like DDR3-1333Mhz, DDR3-1600Mhz, DDR4-2133Mhz, or DDR4-2400Mhz, and how much of Ram it supports, most motherboards will support up to 64GB of Ram. You can even find a motherboard that will support 128GB of Ram, which is what you would want for a High-End system, and of course, this would be more money.
So for your Basic computer look at getting 4GB, or 8GB, depending on your budget, for a Gaming rig start at 8GB and go up from there, and as I stated above for your High-End system I would go the 128GB.
Now that you have your motherboard and CPU picked out it’s time to look for a case to install them in.
There are three major sizes, The Full Tower (24” tall x 18” deep), the Mid Tower (18” tall x 19” deep), and the Micro Tower (14” tall x 15” deep) all of which range in a width size of about 7” to 8” wide.
So if you’re going with a Standard ATX motherboard, check on the dimension, it will determine if you can get by with a Mid Tower case, or not. A lot of the ATX motherboards out there will fit in the Mid Tower, so you won’t have to have such a large case around.
Now if you are going to build a Basic computer and you have limited space for the case, and don’t plan on any upgrades, you can get by with the Micro Tower cases. But if you do plan on any upgrades down the road look at the Mid Tower cases, just make sure the motherboard you want will fit in the size of the case that you are looking at.
Here are is something else I like to look for on the cases, and that is the front connection ports, such as USB ports and headphone jacks, I like to get as many USB ports as possible for all the gadgets I collect, so I’m not having to reach around to the back of the case to plug them in. (pretty lazy of me) 🙂
This hardware, like many others, range in speed, and also in storage capacity. The speeds range from a snail crawl (5400 rpm) to a speeding bullet (15000 rpm), and the storage space ranges from a small insufficient 200 GB all the way up to more than enough space 8TB(that’s Terabyte).
The most common speed is 7200 rpm and is great for everyday computing, but for hardcore gaming, you will want something faster, like 10000 rpm. You can find a 2TB drive for around one hundred dollars, and run at 7200 rpm which will work great for a Basic computer or a gaming computer.
Now if you’re really into gaming you might want to go the route of an SSD (solid state drive), why, well they process data far faster than the regular drives (HDD’s, hard disk drive) do.
These drives will give you better performance in playing your games and actually help the overall performance of your computer.
Now they run a lot higher in cost, for instance, a 240GB SSD will cost around ninety dollars compared to a 1TB HDD, for the same price.
So what many gamers do is they will buy a 1TB HDD for all other files and programs and a 240GB SSD to run their games off of. It’s all depending on your budget for which way to go; either way is great for any computer. With a 2TB drive, you can store a boatload of information.
Optical Drive (DVD, CD burners):
DVD and CD burners are one of the cheapest hardware components of the computer. When looking for one I would make sure it can burn CD’s and DVD’s (most of them do) for making music disks or video DVD, and for making backup copies of your documents and photos.
You will find that you can get one for less than $30.00 and if you want, you can find ones that are Blu-ray compatible. They range in prices from $40.00 on up to $70.00. So do a little window shopping and find the one that fits your needs. (This one was real simple,) 🙂
Case cooling fans come in a range of sizes (mm), colors, speed (rpm), noise levels (dBA), and the amount of air flow they handle (CMF- cubic feet per minute). You can also find some that are illuminating in different colors; we will start out by looking at their size’s first.
Fan size’s: The fans range in size from 60mm, up to 200mm. You find the 120mm are the most commonly used today; for they provide reasonable air supply at a low rpm speeds, and a reasonably low DBA reading. So the smaller the size of the fan will supply less air flow but will run quieter, the larger the size the more air flow, but more noise.
Speed: From as low as 750rpm to 1500rpm, usually the lower the rpm the lower the sound decibels.
Noise levels (dBA): Smaller fans will give you as low 15dba and the larger size range around 22 to 28dba, so if the noise of the fans is going to be a problem, you would then want to look at the smaller ones. All in all, the fans are really quiet no matter how large they are.
So the first thing you need to know is what size of fan does your computer case support, then are you installing a graphics card, (they produce a lot of heat) if so you might want to go with two fans.
For our basic computer one 140mm fan will do the job just fine, and if you’re using a Graphics card you might want to go with at least two fans and by monitoring your system’s heat (will talk about how to do that later) you can decide whether or not to add more fans later. Oh and the cost of these are really cheap, they go for around six dollars up to fifty.
Next up; The Sound Card and Graphics card:
The sound output from the motherboard will do just great with some quality speakers attached, even for gaming. And if later you find that you want a surround sound system then you can upgrade to a sound card.
Now if you’re building a top notch Gaming Computer I would look into purchasing a quality sound card one that will enhance your gaming experience. They range in prices anywhere from $30.00 on up to $250.00, but in my experience, I wouldn’t waste any of your time looking at ones that are less than $100.00.
As with anything else the cheaper the cost the cheaper the quality, so depending on your budget and your desire for quality sound, look at ones that are $100 or more, and by reading the reviews on them it will give you a better idea if there worth the cost.
You can find them that support 5.1 surrounds and 7.1 surrounds, also if you plan on using headphones you may want to look for ones that come with a built in amp for the headphones.
GPU (graphics processor unit). If you’re not happy with the video output from the motherboard you may want to look at getting a GPU card, and if you are planning on running games or high intense graphic programs you will defiantly want to check out the GPU cards.
Here are some things to consider when looking for one? The cost will be one, (there not cheap by no means), another will be the onboard memory, cooling ability, and the length size, (you want it to fit in your case).
The cost; they range for around $30.00 on up to $1,000.00 and higher, so if you just want to upgrade your video output to run two monitors then you can get a decent one for around $150.00. But if you’re looking for a great gaming experience then you will want to look at ones around $300.00 or more depending on your budget.
Again the higher the cost the better the performance within reason, anything over $500.00 and you’re looking at having the ultimate machine, where you have the top of the line hardware in your computer.
The memory; Look for 2GB or higher of onboard memory.
Cooling; For better cooling of the card I like to look for cards that have their own cooling fans, for they tend to keep the GPU cooler, and are quieter than having a bunch of case fans running to keep your unit cool.
Now the size; just make sure your case will accommodate the length of the card. So do some searching, and check out the reviews, reading them will give you a better understanding of what to expect from the cards.
First thing, look at Power Supplies from a reputable manufacturer like Antec, Corsair, Coolmaster, and Rosewill to name just a few.
Ratings: This will determine how efficient they operate; they rank at 80 Plus Bronze (Good), 80 Plus Gold (Better) and 80 Plus Platinum (Great). Just make sure it has one of these ratings and you will be set.
Wattage; the Power supply’s range from 200 watts on up to 1,000 or more for high-end computers. So let’s say you add up the total wattage requirement from all the hardware above and it comes to 340 watts, you would then want one that supplies at least 550 watts.
You can use this handy power calculator form Coolmaster (http://coolermaster.outervision.com/) to calculate your wattage usage. Say you come up with needing 300 watts, you would then want to look for a 400-watt power supply or higher. you won’t go wrong with getting more wattage than needed.
Power Plugs: You will want at least four, 4 pin peripheral plugs for the hard drives, and optical drives. and a 6 pin PCI express, 8 pin PCI express connectors for GPU cards.
Now you have an idea of how to buy computer parts:
When shopping online for your computer parts take your time and read the reviews. By doing that it will give you a better understanding and knowledge of the parts you are looking at, saving you headaches down the road from getting something you really didn’t want.
I’m glad you stopped by, and I hope you have found this beneficial in helping you in your quest to building your own custom computer, if you have any question or comments to share with us, please leave them in the comment section below.
If you are wondering for a good place to shop at online, you can check out my post on My Favorite Places to Buy Your Computer Hardware, where I will give you a short review on each one.
Have a wonderful day, and keep smiling. 🙂
If you’re up to a 15-minute video I found which covers everything above and a little more. He’s a fast talker so listen closely!