Closed

How To Build A PC: From Component Selection To Installation

Learn how to choose the right components for your first build, where to buy them, and the installation basics necessary to build a PC.

How To Build A PC: From Component Selection To Installation : Read more
34 answers Last reply
More about build component selection installation
  1. Can I once-again say a big "Thanks" to the Tom's team for writing a great article which will save me lots of time and hassle in explaining PC building and component selection to n00bs who ask me for help.

    Cheers!
  2. What about NUCs and cases alike? Yes, I realize those are too small for discrete GPU cards, but depending on your usage and space, it just might be what one needs.
  3. JOSHSKORN said:
    What about NUCs and cases alike? Yes, I realize those are too small for discrete GPU cards, but depending on your usage and space, it just might be what one needs.
    It's addressed in the last two sentences of page 1:
    Quote:
    Intel even jumped on the tiny bandwagon with its similar-appearing NUC (Next Unit [of] Computing) form factor. Most of these machines are available either as a barebones system (no drives or memory) or a complete PC, and all of them use external, notebook-style power adapters.
    There's really nothing more to say. You don't build these from separate components, you just finish them with a drive and memory as you would any of the other systems covered in this article.
    Anonymous said:
    Can I once-again say a big "Thanks" to the Tom's team for writing a great article which will save me lots of time and hassle in explaining PC building and component selection to n00bs who ask me for help.

    Cheers!
    You're welcome!
  4. Should put in a Cooler Master Elite 110 to showcase a mini-ITX instead of that huge Lian-Li.
  5. Guess most of the issues in the forums will be ironed out by this one simple post..
    Wonderful as usual toms.. Appreciate it..
    :D
  6. Most if not all issues brought up on the forums have answers in some or the other article on Tomshardware. This article compiles answers to build questions.
  7. This article is very good reference newbies asking how to build PC in toms forum.
  8. Long time reader of Tom's Hardware, even before I finally became a member. This has been a very helpful site to me and my friends over the years. In fact, this IS our go-to site for when we need to figure something out. I am always learning something new.

    Great article! No doubt this is going to help a lot of folks.

    Thanks, guys!
  9. Very good write up guys.

    I think you missed a section for "SLI - XFire", but it's great overall. Since its a guide for folks with little to no knowledge, I think it would help them to dispel myths and get some facts over XFire and SLI.

    Cheers!
  10. Good article with excellent info. I'm going to just add my 2 cents on how I like to do the actual assembly of the PC after receiving the parts.

    First I put the motherboard into the PC (not fastened) to see where the standoffs are going to be placed onto the case. Also I note what routes I'm going use for my cabling. Then I take the motherboard out and insert the standoffs and port plate into the case. Also I take my case cables (power sw, reset sw, USB, front audio and mic cables and put a twist tie around them all and place them near where they are to be plugged into the motherboard. These cables are easy to lose track of.

    Next I place the power supply, and "bay devices" (optical drives, non-removable storage, etc) into the case and have those cables attached and either hanging over the outside of the case or routed behind the motherboard tray. This obviously depends on how you determined the cables will be routed earlier.

    Then I take my motherboard, put the CPU, RAM, and cooling system on as much as I can. Then I place the whole thing into the case - usually at an angle at first, leading with the side with the RAM (which is normally going behind the case bays in smaller cases) in first.

    At this point it's just a matter of aligning the motherboard with the standoffs and port plate. Plug it all in (including the case plugs which are conveniently out of the way and together).

    Power it all on and volia!
  11. I would like to have seen the article begin well before case selection, with questions as to purpose for the build. Define the purpose, then you know what sort of parts you'll need for it. The case is often the last component I choose, and only once was the first, when the purpose was to build the smallest system possible that would meet my needs.
    Otherwise, it was a good article. People who are uncertain of building their own PCs can learn a lot from it.
  12. I'm a little confused with the section dealing with Choosing your Power Supply. If the power requirements of the components is 647 W as shown in the example, how could you use any power supply that isn't designed to higher wattage? Is it expected that only 85% of the design load will ever be used (i.e., that you wouln't be using the max energy requirements of all of your components at the same time)? Wouldn't it be better to have your power supply based upon the max usage of the components since this may occur (e.g., running a modern game at max settings that your computer can run)? Aren't Power supplies rated Bronze/Silver/Gold/Platnium at 80% of the Power Supplies capacity, so you'd want a PS that is would be running at 80%+ at max load (e.g., 647/.80 = 809 W or 647/.85 = 761W)?
  13. zelgar said:
    I'm a little confused with the section dealing with Choosing your Power Supply. If the power requirements of the components is 647 W as shown in the example, how could you use any power supply that isn't designed to higher wattage? Is it expected that only 85% of the design load will ever be used (i.e., that you wouln't be using the max energy requirements of all of your components at the same time)? Wouldn't it be better to have your power supply based upon the max usage of the components since this may occur (e.g., running a modern game at max settings that your computer can run)? Aren't Power supplies rated Bronze/Silver/Gold/Platnium at 80% of the Power Supplies capacity, so you'd want a PS that is would be running at 80%+ at max load (e.g., 647/.80 = 809 W or 647/.85 = 761W)?

    The 647W is measured at the wall socket, as the article mentions input power. After taking into account the 85% efficiency of their power supply in this example, the PSU is only outputting 549.95W to the PC components at max load. Adding some headroom they come to the 600W PSU recommendation.

    Personally I'd like a little more headroom, but the calculations in the article are correct.
  14. I think the article will confuse noobs of talking about the power measurement at the wall socket versus the power rating of the power supply. If the sum of the power requirements of the computer components is X, they need a power supply the provides more than X. Making them aware that the power supply will be using more energy than X at the wall is useful to know so that people don't buy a PSU that is too wasteful. Since undersizing a PSU is more catestropic than oversizing one (e.g., crashes/boot faiolures vs electricity costs) getting one that meets the needs of the components is the starting point of evaluating PSU.
  15. I usually buy my pc components from Amazon. #1 customer service. They dont give you any bs. Hell they even send you a pre-paid shipping label to ship the item back. I have never had they charge me a "re-stocking" fee on any item, even when I returned item because I did not like it.
  16. After all this time, why do I still get the most excited about the cases? Maybe cuz the components are logical forgone conclusions, but the case is the artistic, subjective bit? I don't know, years at this stuff and a sexy case still turns my head. The mobos are starting to look really sexy nowadays too.
  17. Great article! This is a wonderful overview, and should prompt most readers to research their more detailed questions on the forums.

    Building your own is great fun, and most serious users should probably give it a try at least once in their lives. Given that, I'd recommend an annual "refresh" of this article, with updated info and re-validated links to corresponding reference articles and resource forums.

    A great service to your readers!
  18. Excellent article with lots of interesting information.

    I wanted to comment on the power supply part of the article. One is the efficiency and the total cost to use versus the front end purchase cost. A less efficient system will obviously create more total heat as wasted energy. But aside from possibly making someones room rather uncomfortable, it also increases your airconditioning energy use. A good rule of thumb is that an AC system will use 50% of the heat energy. To add the total annual cost, multiply that times the percentage of the year that the AC is on. So your example of a 647W system with 85% PSU would give (550W used):

    647W - 550W = 93W at plug

    93W * 50% = 47W AC energy

    Total Energy (summertime) = 93W + 47W = 140W

    If the AC were on the while year and the PC were on continuously, this is about $140 annually, or almost $12 per month added electricity in the summer. If you did the same thing with a cheap 70% efficient system, you get $248 annual cost which is $20.63 per month summertime cost. At a difference of $8, it does not take many months (of continuous on!) to make the more efficient PSU make much more sense.

    The other topic I wanted to comment on is ESD. I am an engineer and work with ESD issues everyday. It is a very real an poorly understood issue by many because of the often hidden or delayed failures that it causes. ESD many time causes walking wounded damage without an immediate failure, which finally fails several months later. And if you look at websites sell PC parts, many people complain of DOAs. Many, many DOAs are caused by ESD. Memory, CPUs, motherboards, HDDs, and other sensitive systems are often returned as DOA, driving up the cost of the PC enthusiast market and adding frustration. In research texts, they estimate the global electronic failures due to ESD to be 40-60% of the total failures over product life.

    So that little $5 ESD wrist strap is money well spent. Buy one and reduce your heartburn.

    Charles
  19. chaz_music said:
    The other topic I wanted to comment on is ESD. I am an engineer and work with ESD issues everyday. It is a very real an poorly understood issue by many because of the often hidden or delayed failures that it causes. ESD many time causes walking wounded damage without an immediate failure, which finally fails several months later. And if you look at websites sell PC parts, many people complain of DOAs. Many, many DOAs are caused by ESD. Memory, CPUs, motherboards, HDDs, and other sensitive systems are often returned as DOA, driving up the cost of the PC enthusiast market and adding frustration. In research texts, they estimate the global electronic failures due to ESD to be 40-60% of the total failures over product life.

    So that little $5 ESD wrist strap is money well spent. Buy one and reduce your heartburn.

    Charles
    The vast majority of "DOA" returns are for undamaged products (simple things like having a standoff or cable in the wrong place that caused power fault/no boot/no damage are number 1, followed by fraudulent returns at Number 2). And the majority of damaged products have physical damage from the amateur technician cramming things together. I used to be in that business.

    The only problem with wrist straps is that most people don't want to be "tied" to anything. They're a great idea that's really rarely needed. Feel free to say otherwise if you live in the desert.
  20. Skimmed through it but didn't saw anything about tools required for assembly like what screwdriver etc
  21. cutiemech said:
    Skimmed through it but didn't saw anything about tools required for assembly like what screwdriver etc
    The article assumes basic competence with tools, but probably shouldn't. Most of the screws are #2 Phillips. In many builds, all of the screws are #2 Phillips.
  22. Quote:
    Skimmed through it but didn't saw anything about tools required for assembly like what screwdriver etc


    99% of the work can be done with a 5mm phillips head screwdriver... find one with a long shank that can fit between spaces easily, and preferably a magnetic tip to catch disorderly screws.

    very very rarely do I use other tools, but strong double sided tape and hex sets can be useful too. And if I really wanna get my nerd on, I strap on an anti-static wrist band.
  23. Good read for the non technical person who's interested in building their own computer for the first time. It has just enough techno babble to make it interesting, but also manages to explain it in a way that even the most computer illiterate person can understand. The task seemed very daunting my first build almost 20yrs ago, but the steps haven't changed in that amount of time, only the connections and technology have. I like to use pcpartpicker.com to look up my parts for builds, it gives you an estimated power usage that you can use when picking the PSU, and it does most of the price comparisons for you, it also has a handy check list for the parts so you don't miss anything. Only thing I would add is when doing the assembly pick your workspace wisely, you want plenty of room to have the parts set out, and try to keep it free from distraction as in children they love to touch everything and play with stuff. If you take a little extra time with the assembly things will go smoothly. The fun part comes when you route the cabling, some cases have very poor cable management inside, but have a good aesthetic look outside. But that's where the forums here come in handy.
  24. A normal Philips screwdriver should suffice.
    http://m4.sourcingmap.com/photo_new/20120920/g/ux_a12092000ux0423_ux_g03.jpg

    It depends on case as well. With my Antec P280, all I had to screw (haha) was the motherboard, PSU and non-stock CPU-cooler. For the rest there is thumbscrews.

    What I'd like to see is water-cooling tips. What kits are out there? How do they perform etc. Quiet systems are quiet and cosy =). I don't consider AIOs for watercooling a relevant avenue to go down.
  25. mamasan2000 said:
    A normal Philips screwdriver should suffice.
    I see normal? I see 5mm? I said #2 because that's how they're actually sized. Most desktop and compact desktop screws are #2. Rarely, a few are #1.
  26. "Grounded wrist straps are an over-the-top method of protection rarely used outside of production environments, yet the extra-cautious will attain peace of mind when wearing one."

    I use a static-discharging mat that attaches to both my wrist strap and the PC chassis.
  27. Nice guide, but about the memory (RAM) part, there was no mention about Haswell's ability to scale memory, once you enter the higher frequencies.

    In many cases, using 1600 is to the detriment of the system and 2400 is about the fastest you'll ever need to go for better performance. 2133, for Haswell is really the sweet spot.
  28. What's wrong, revanchrist? I didn't fully explain my thought or you're just happy to see me still around?

    Haswell's ability to memory scale has been duly noted. And it shouldn't be ignored that, even if you're not using the integrated graphics, you still gain in other areas, performance wise.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/memory-scaling-gaming-haswell-richland,3593-17.html
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7364/memory-scaling-on-haswell

    And if you can prove otherwise, please share.
  29. SessouXFX said:
    What's wrong, revanchrist? I didn't fully explain my thought or you're just happy to see me still around?

    Haswell's ability to memory scale has been duly noted. And it shouldn't be ignored that, even if you're not using the integrated graphics, you still gain in other areas, performance wise.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/memory-scaling-gaming-haswell-richland,3593-17.html
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7364/memory-scaling-on-haswell

    And if you can prove otherwise, please share.

    Maybe because you said the article didn't mention things that the article mentioned :) That is, unless you were specifically looking for the word "Haswell".
  30. SessouXFX said:
    What's wrong, revanchrist? I didn't fully explain my thought or you're just happy to see me still around?



    if you look at the other posts, revanchrist has down voted every post.
  31. Crashman said:
    SessouXFX said:
    What's wrong, revanchrist? I didn't fully explain my thought or you're just happy to see me still around?

    Haswell's ability to memory scale has been duly noted. And it shouldn't be ignored that, even if you're not using the integrated graphics, you still gain in other areas, performance wise.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/memory-scaling-gaming-haswell-richland,3593-17.html
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7364/memory-scaling-on-haswell

    And if you can prove otherwise, please share.

    Maybe because you said the article didn't mention things that the article mentioned :) That is, unless you were specifically looking for the word "Haswell".


    Oh, I stand corrected then. I know I read it a couple of times because I saw no mention of Haswell itself....
  32. SessouXFX said:
    Crashman said:
    SessouXFX said:
    What's wrong, revanchrist? I didn't fully explain my thought or you're just happy to see me still around?

    Haswell's ability to memory scale has been duly noted. And it shouldn't be ignored that, even if you're not using the integrated graphics, you still gain in other areas, performance wise.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/memory-scaling-gaming-haswell-richland,3593-17.html
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7364/memory-scaling-on-haswell

    And if you can prove otherwise, please share.

    Maybe because you said the article didn't mention things that the article mentioned :) That is, unless you were specifically looking for the word "Haswell".


    Oh, I stand corrected then. I know I read it a couple of times because I saw no mention of Haswell itself....
    Right, the articles were linked and the discussion was had, but the focus was not narrowed to the point of using the word "Haswell".
  33. I thought it was a great article. If beginners will read it, it should solve some of the most repetitive posts. I would have liked a more thorough discussion of the BIOS.
  34. Preparing a computer can be a productive experience in the life. 
    http://goo.gl/f9BdYL
Ask a new question

Read More

Build Your Own Do It Yourself