Building your own computer from scratch is a great way to learn the basics of how a computer runs. Most of the people we find building their own PCs, usually do so for gaming purposes. This gives them full control over the inside components and ultimately the PCs performance. It also gives them the freedom to choose specific upgrades for individual components in the future.
Don’t worry if you are a complete newbie, we are here to guide you and explain all the components needed, and their uses within the PC. Building a PC may sound intimidating and the works of a computer scientist, but in reality, all you need are the correct parts, a screwdriver and our easy to follow guide. So let’s start by listing the components that are needed within a PC build, and their uses.
In order to build a healthy, functioning computer, the following 9 components are needed for your PC build:
- Central Processing Unit (CPU)
- CPU Cooler (cooling fan)
- Motherboard (mainboard or logicboard)
- Power Supply Unit (PSU)
- Random Access Memory (RAM)
- Storage Hard Drive (HDD) or Solid State Drive (SSD)
- Graphic Processing Unit (GPU)
- Optical Drive (CD or DVD Drive)
- PC Tower (Case)
Understanding the components
Let’s take a look through each of the components in turn, starting with the processor.
The central processing unit or CPU, is often referred to as the brains of the computer, it is the piece of hardware that carries out the instructions from a computer programme, by performing the basic arithmetic, logical, control and input/output operations specified by the instructions. In simple terms, the CPU determines how many tasks can be completed at once and the speed at which these tasks take to complete.
To ensure your CPU doesn’t burn out, you will require a CPU Cooler. A lot of CPUs will come with a fan. But for those of you that will be overclocking an additional CPU Cooler will be essential to keeping the CPU from burning out.
The motherboard is one of the most important parts of your PC build. This is the component that will house all other components and help them communicate in order for them to be able to work together. Hence where the name ‘mother’ came from. Most computer builders agree that, all other things being equal, a motherboard has only a minimal effect on performance. However, upgrading a motherboard to support a faster CPU, more memory, or faster video card or disk interfaces can greatly improve performance given that you replace one or more of those items as well.
To give your PC life you will need a power supply (PSU) to bring electricity to the rest of your components. A power supply unit converts mains AC to low-voltage regulated DC power for the internal components of a computer.
Some power supplies have a manual switch for selecting input voltage, while others automatically adapt to the mains voltage. This is the one thing you don’t want to scrimp on. Having nice components but a poor power supply will result in you wasting your money, a decent power supply will ensure your components have the right amount of power to perform to their highest level.
Random Access Memory
The Random Access Memory or RAM, or just plain memory is what gives our computer its short term memory. While a lot of us may struggle to remember what we had for breakfast. We can rely on our computer’s RAM to access files quickly and to run multiple processes at once. The RAM memory doesn’t store permanently, it serves as a memory for the operating systems currently in use so they can be accessed quickly. When the power is cut, the short term memory is lost. You will want to buy a RAM with at least 4G of memory, any less than this, and some games will struggle to run. As a high limit, most gamer’s would recommend 16GB of RAM, this would be more than enough for gaming.
There are a few options when deciding on storage for your PC. You can choose between the smaller but much faster option with a solid state drive (SSD). Or the much larger storage capacity, but slower performance, with the Hard Drive (HDD) option. An SSD is upto 5 times faster than that of a HDD, this is due to its make up, there are no moving parts inside an SSD. All its information is stored on microchips. Whereas a HDD uses a mechanical arm, which is a bit like the arm on a record player, to read information. The mechanical arm has a read/write head to move around, and reads information from the right location on a storage platter.
It is these mechanical differences that determine the difference in each drives speed. Now you’re probably thinking, ‘What if I want the speed of an SSD, but the storage capacity of a HDD?’ Well, you have the option to have both should you really wish to have the ultimate PC, you can set up windows so that it knows what you want stored to where. For instance, if you had both Drives, you would store photos, music and movies for eg on the HDD. And use the SSD for speed.
Graphics Processing Unit
The Graphics processing unit (GPU) or graphics card as its more commonly known, is the processor specialized for your computer’s display functions. The GPU is primarily used to boost and improve performance for the PC’s images, animations and video for the computer’s screen. The GPU is designed to handle 3D and 2D graphics operations, this is especially important in video gaming. When purchasing your GPU, you must ensure you are purchasing a motherboard that will be compatible with the GPU you wish to have.
Optical Disc Drive
The Optical Disc Drive (ODD)
The PC Tower case is the enclosure that will house all your computer components, you will want to choose the size of case you want based on the components you require the tower to house. There are three main sizes for PC Towers, full tower, mid tower and mini tower.
The most common tower is the mid tower which sits at around 18 inches high. These towers have enough room to fit systems with a closed-loop CPU cooler, a couple of graphics cards, and a lot of storage.
There are so many choices available in terms of style and look for your tower, and choosing what’s right for you will come down to personal preference, you can choose from plain towers, to fancy towers with tempered glass panels and strip lighting to give your PC the ultimate gaming look.
Now we understand the parts required for our PC build, we can go ahead and put these parts together with the help of this brilliantly detailed youtube tutorial: