Choosing the right parts
How do you choose the right parts? Will everything be compatible? This is the hard bit right?
Correct. This is the hardest part about building a computer. Not because of the reasons you might first think, but for the sheer fact there is so much choice, it’s like being a kid in a sweet shop!
Firstly Intel or AMD, ATI or Nvidia, HDD or SSD (or Both!). Then on top of those choices, you’ve got brands, sizes, budgets. But don’t let this put you off! This really is the fun part. A lot of your choices will be dictated to you by your budget so it makes it much easier to choose.
My personal website of choice is www.ebuyer.co.uk they offer great value and reasonable postage but the main reason I use them is because of their great website layout and filters. I have tried several other companies and finding products using Ebuyer is 10x better.
First question you have to ask is what is your computer going to do? Games or Business? Second Question is what’s your budget?
For this I will assume that you are building for games as most businesses’ buy off the shelf and I will go with an average price of about £750 for a relatively affordable gaming rig. If you’re building it yourself don’t be surprised to save £150 – £250 from an off the shelf model so it’s well worth doing yourself.
For a £750 rig I personally would focus mainly on graphics, my graphics budget would be in the region of £250. I will also assume you have a monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers and a headset.
Power Supply £50
Optical Drive £15 (optional but necessary to install windows via a dvd – you can however have a usb optical drive or have windows setup files put on a USB stick).
Solid State Drive £65 (Optional but highly recommended)
Hard Drive £40
Processor (CPU) £150
Graphics Card £250
If you need a copy of Windows then to stick to the £750 budget something will have to give (Optical drive and SSD most likely).
That is usually what I do before every build. As soon as I know my budget, I prioritise the cash to each part and if I find a awesome part on offer thats more I will either stretch the budget to accommodate it or something else will suffer for the time. (Usually RAM as its easy to upgrade at a later date).
Now once you have got your prices in mind time to hit the shops! My personal recommendation is Intel. I have the Intel i5 2500k (sandybridge), a couple of generations old now but still an outstanding chip. Anything in the same bracket is good. If you want to overclock your new machine you will need a K series chip as non K series cannot be overclocked. Since sandy bridge there has been ivybridge and the latest release from Intel is the Haswell chip, offering lower power consumption and better onboard graphics, no major changes there! Something like a i5 4670k will currently cost about £180.00.
When choosing a CPU you need to ensure you buy the correct motherboard. This is easier than you think. Using Ebuyer you can filter your motherboard/cpu by compatibility. For example the Sandybridge uses a 1155 socket and so does Ivybridge but Haswell uses a 1150 socket. Xeon has its own socket and so does socket 2011.
When you have chosen your CPU just check which socket it requires (FM1, FM2, FM3 – AMD) (1155 or 1150 – Intel) and then select a motherboard with the same socket. My personal preference for motherboard is Gigabyte, they have dual bios, quality boards and I’ve used them in nearly every build I’ve ever done.
You will need to decide what size motherboard to get, ATX or mATX are the most common. I recommend ATX as it is larger and allows for more expansion. You will need to find a case that is ATX compatible (most of them are – only the small cases aren’t).
RAM – I would always stay with the big players here. There is no need to go to a strange brand as the big companies such as corsair offer a lifetime warranty and very competitive prices.
Cases and Power supplies – If you are lucky enough to find a case that comes with a good power supply you may save a fortune here. A while ago Coolermaster offered a Elite ATX case with a 500w coolermaster power supply for just £50 – such a good deal! My preference for both of these is Coolermaster but Antec or Corsair are also very good. If you want a power supply to last I would certainly recommend investing some money in a good one to begin with, I have had several power supplies fail and cause me major issues in the past because they were cheap. Around the 500w will power most gaming machines very happily. If you are in doubt there are power supply calculators available online. Just Google them.
Optical Drive – Anything will do as long as its SATA. If your going to game chances are you will be using steam or if you’re unlucky origin. The likelihood is you will rarely use your optical drive so don’t waste much on it.
Hard Drive – Definitely go for a SATA III model, they are much faster than anything else and new motherboards can take full advantage of the speed increase. Western Digital are good drives as are Samsung and Seagate. I would say for an average user 1TB (1000GB) is plenty, you can always add more in at a later date. Saying that, there are often very attractive deals for drives 1TB and above. Shop around.
Solid State Drive (Optional) – Although this isn’t necessary I recommend that everyone and their mothers has a solid state drive, improves boot times, load times, read and write times. Everything is better with a Solid state drive! (EVERYTHING)! – OCZ or Samsung for these. Make sure you get SATA III and that the read write speeds are 500MB/s +.
And Finally onto the best part. The Graphics card. The holy grail of every gaming rig. It will be what sets you apart from the XBOX or the Playstation wannabe gamers. Both ATI and Nvidia are at the top of their game at the moment (pardon the pun). So either mid range card is nothing to be sniffed at. The thing here is check the benchmarks, this is a big decision and the most expensive part of your rig. Read reviews, comparisons, and make sure you make the right choice. What ever that might be something like a NVidia GTX 660Ti or GTX 760 should be in your price range or an ATI 7870. What ever you choose do some research before.
That concludes the first step of building a PC in 3 Easy Steps. If you have any questions on parts to use, brands, or for our opinion please send us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
So all your parts have finally arrive and comes the time to carefully put it all together. It really is easier that you might think.
The first step is to open the new case and install the gold risers in the correct positions in the case. Do not put risers where they are not needed there is a small possibility this could be shorting something on your motherboard if you do this.
Now install the metal back plate for the motherboard slots (USB Ports, Sound, Video etc). It clicks into place easy enough, remember that the 6 holes for the audio jacks always go at the bottom.
Now its time to slot your motherboard into the case and screw it in. Make sure it lines up with all the screws and that everything is tight to the metal back plate to ensure a good fit first time. Now using the screws provided with your case put a screw into every available hole to give adequate support to the motherboard.
When you are happy that the motherboard is secure its time to install the CPU and Heatsink. There will be a lever on the motherboard where the CPU goes (usually top middle). Lift the lever and line the CPU up. Usually there is a gold corner on the CPU that lines up with a marked out triangle on the motherboard. OR there are notches in the cpu that line up with pins on the motherboard to ensure the CPU is fitted correctly. You will feel the CPU drop slightly into its slot, if you don’t feel it drop please ensure the CPU is in correctly as if you fit the heatsink and the CPU is not fitted correctly it could damage the CPU and the Motherboard. If you are happy that the CPU is fitted correctly pull down the lever back to the position it was in before the CPU was inserted onto the motherboard. With new CPUs the heatsink will already have thermal paste applied so you can go right ahead and line the heatsink up above the CPU and either using the click mechanism (Intel) – you basically just push the pins down until they click. Or the AMD method is usually another lever, put the metal clips over the plastic on the motherboard then turn the lever so that the heatsink is tight to the CPU.
Thats the hard part done!!
Now its the easy bit, installing the RAM, PCI Cards, Hard Drives and Power Supply.
I would now recommend installing the Hard Drives. Easy eno
ugh, slot them in, screw them in tight and connect the SATA cable from the motherboard to the Hard drive. Same applies for any optical drives.
RAM will click in, best to choose slot number 1 first (its numbered on the motherboard.) PCI cards/Graphics Cards next, slot the main card into the top PCI slot, tighten the screws and check it doesnt require any power from the power supply.
Now the slightly tricky part. Not installing the power supply thats easy, its making the cables look tidy that is the hardest part!! I recommend cable ties. Ensure all connections are tight and double check everything is plugged in before closing up the case and turning on your new PC.
I hope this guide helps, sorry if its a little vague towards the end but the last couple of things are so easy I didn’t want to waffle on!! Any questions please don’t hesitate to email me on email@example.com or leave a comment.