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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
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  1. "the power supply is actually one of the more important parts of a build"
    Thank you!!

    Or rather, let's do what the cool kids are doing and rather post a GIF:
    https://giphy.com/gifs/the-office-thank-you-michael-scott-1Z02vuppxP1Pa
  2. Great piece for a lot of first-time builders. This should have a sticky somewhere on the site so it doesn't get buried :-)
  3. Quote:
    "the power supply is actually one of the more important parts of a build"
    Thank you!!

    Or rather, let's do what the cool kids are doing and rather post a GIF:
    https://giphy.com/gifs/the-office-thank-you-michael-scott-1Z02vuppxP1Pa


    Seriously, not enough people realize how import a good PSU is. I am working with someone is heavily overclocking an i7 and two 970 in SLI as well as 4 SSD and a few hard drives, a bunch of fans, with a 750W PSU.
  4. Also... I am digging the age of some of these images.
  5. This article brings back embarrassing memories. https://giphy.com/gifs/the-office-thank-you-michael-scott-1Z02vuppxP1Pa
  6. Quote:
    Quote:
    "the power supply is actually one of the more important parts of a build"
    Thank you!!

    Or rather, let's do what the cool kids are doing and rather post a GIF:
    https://giphy.com/gifs/the-office-thank-you-michael-scott-1Z02vuppxP1Pa


    Seriously, not enough people realize how import a good PSU is. I am working with someone is heavily overclocking an i7 and two 970 in SLI as well as 4 SSD and a few hard drives, a bunch of fans, with a 750W PSU.


    unless i'm thinking wrong, isn't that within the power limits of a 750? im even assuming that each gpu is 300 watts and i know they shouldn't hit that even with the most aggressive of ocs

    granted there is a distinction between a good psu and a bad one, but im just assuming its a good one.
  7. Motherboard slots haven't evolved much. Wished every slot was like a USB slot
  8. jkhoward said:
    Seriously, not enough people realize how import a good PSU is. I am working with someone is heavily overclocking an i7 and two 970 in SLI as well as 4 SSD and a few hard drives, a bunch of fans, with a 750W PSU.


    Your point being... ?
  9. Steps 1 and 3 should be combined, and step 2 comes after 1 and 3. You better worry about the CPU and motherboard combo compatibility before you worry about a graphics card.
  10. Sorry, meant steps 2 and 4 before 3.
  11. I love when you see a $1500.00 build with top quality components and then they have a $40.00 PSU listed with it.
  12. IMO the very first component selection for a gaming build should always be the .... MONITOR.
    Decisions on where and how to spend the rest of the budget can only be made once you know the resolution , and whether its 60 Hz, 144 Hz or whatever else is available
  13. Gonna throw in my disagreement on the priority, mentioned nice and early in the article. The first thing you pick is never your case. There's 3 things you can decide to be your starting point when building a pc to make it a smooth ride; either, 1. Budget. 2. CPU 3. Graphics. By picking 1 of these 3 things as your starting point, you can have a very smooth build process. Does that mean you buy your case last? No, I've seen plenty of builds where the case arrives first as a way of storing the items, but when you want a solid build, your case is last priority, as it has no impact on your performance and restricts the size of your items.

    Even if you wanted to build an odd form factor, like an itx, you would still pick the cpu or the budget before the case.
  14. Thank you for explaining ESD correctly. I have been annoyed with articles over exaggerating about ESD a lot. So just touching something metal can help? Well, next time I think I'll set a PC on my wooden desk instead of the carpet.
  15. Quote:
    I love when you see a $1500.00 build with top quality components and then they have a $40.00 PSU listed with it.


    The XFX TS Bronze 550 comes down to $43 ish from time to time and that's a mighty fine PSU to power a single graphics card build.
  16. Quote:
    "the power supply is actually one of the more important parts of a build"
    Thank you!!

    While not unimportant, it gets far too much attention on the forum's here. PSU's are only relatively rarely the cause of issues, and I'll go out on a limb and say that virtually ANY modern 650W PSU (even ultra-cheap China garbage) will reliably power a single GPU and CPU, regardless of model or how much OCing you do to them.
  17. alidan said:
    Quote:
    I am working with someone is heavily overclocking an i7 and two 970 in SLI as well as 4 SSD and a few hard drives, a bunch of fans, with a 750W PSU.


    unless i'm thinking wrong, isn't that within the power limits of a 750? im even assuming that each gpu is 300 watts and i know they shouldn't hit that even with the most aggressive of ocs

    granted there is a distinction between a good psu and a bad one, but im just assuming its a good one.
    You're exactly right. We've been using high-quality power supplies in most of our System Builder Marathon machines, and dual 970s was in one of the builds. The super-high recommendations you see from other sites are a response to most builders using mediocre-quality units.
  18. MasterMace said:
    Gonna throw in my disagreement on the priority, mentioned nice and early in the article. The first thing you pick is never your case. There's 3 things you can decide to be your starting point when building a pc to make it a smooth ride; either, 1. Budget. 2. CPU 3. Graphics. By picking 1 of these 3 things as your starting point, you can have a very smooth build process. Does that mean you buy your case last? No, I've seen plenty of builds where the case arrives first as a way of storing the items, but when you want a solid build, your case is last priority, as it has no impact on your performance and restricts the size of your items.

    Even if you wanted to build an odd form factor, like an itx, you would still pick the cpu or the budget before the case.
    Exactly wrong. The first thing people do is say "I want a LAN box" or "I want a media player" or "I want a big gorgeous office PC". They're picking a case SIZE when they make those FIRST statements, so size comes first in the discussion.
  19. Quote:
    MasterMace said:
    Gonna throw in my disagreement on the priority, mentioned nice and early in the article. The first thing you pick is never your case. There's 3 things you can decide to be your starting point when building a pc to make it a smooth ride; either, 1. Budget. 2. CPU 3. Graphics. By picking 1 of these 3 things as your starting point, you can have a very smooth build process. Does that mean you buy your case last? No, I've seen plenty of builds where the case arrives first as a way of storing the items, but when you want a solid build, your case is last priority, as it has no impact on your performance and restricts the size of your items.

    Even if you wanted to build an odd form factor, like an itx, you would still pick the cpu or the budget before the case.
    Exactly wrong. The first thing people do is say "I want a LAN box" or "I want a media player" or "I want a big gorgeous office PC". They're picking a case SIZE when they make those FIRST statements, so size comes first in the discussion.


    I have to agree with you on this Crashman. Whenever I go to build a new system for friends or relatives I always ask what they're going for in terms of use. I like to go with the Form follows function principle which is that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose.
  20. Quote:
    Gonna throw in my disagreement on the priority, mentioned nice and early in the article. The first thing you pick is never your case. There's 3 things you can decide to be your starting point when building a pc to make it a smooth ride; either, 1. Budget. 2. CPU 3. Graphics. By picking 1 of these 3 things as your starting point, you can have a very smooth build process. Does that mean you buy your case last? No, I've seen plenty of builds where the case arrives first as a way of storing the items, but when you want a solid build, your case is last priority, as it has no impact on your performance and restricts the size of your items.

    Even if you wanted to build an odd form factor, like an itx, you would still pick the cpu or the budget before the case.

    Quote:
    Sorry, meant steps 2 and 4 before 3.

    It is same meaning as define a purpose and choose a case. When you buy a computer you must know what the purpose for first example for home/office, web browsing, gaming or multi-tasking. Budget also is depend to each person. So it is not CPU or GPU before case.
  21. I wish the pictures of PSU weren't just all Corsairs. That leads people to believe that all Corsair PSUs are "good" PSUs, when we know a vast majority aren't, and the ones a new builder are most likely to be definitely aren't.
  22. beoza said:
    I have to agree with you on this Crashman. Whenever I go to build a new system for friends or relatives I always ask what they're going for in terms of use. I like to go with the Form follows function principle which is that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose.

    It is same meaning as define a purpose and choose a case. When you buy a computer you must know what the purpose for first example for home/office, web browsing, gaming or multi-tasking. Budget also is depend to each person. So it is not CPU or GPU before case.
    Yeh, I should have just kept his last statement and deleted the rest before responding:
    MasterMace said:
    Even if you wanted to build an odd form factor, like an itx, you would still pick the cpu or the budget before the case.
    What he's saying is even if you choose a form factor first, you're still buying the other parts first. Which is a backwards way of saying that the order of the article, form factor first, makes sense...and he still wants to disagree...

    The problem is that one needs keep a general concept of the case in mind when picking the actual components. One can often pick the exact case to fit that concept at the end, but the "Define a purpose" leads immediately to form factor, and chopping the article off there only to come back to case selection doesn't really make sense.
  23. I miss one important piece of advice: do not install anyhting but your primary drive before installing Windows. I have recently gone through the nightmare of trying to aggregate Windows onto my primary drive when replacing my SSD for a bigger one. It seems that if you have multiple drives installed, windows will happily use all for various purposes. So feel free to install everything but please, before installing Windows, disconnect your secondary and other drives.
  24. Pretty solid walkthrough in my opinion. Plenty of info to help lost users who are unfamiliar with the build process and would likely make a good sticky. As far as what's important, there is no one hero of a pc in my opinion.

    What the person's needs are will definitely affect the choices but in general, just about any major component that's cheap/cruddy will have an impact. The pc works as a team, all components need reliable power. The motherboard is the foundation for the build and connectivity, the cpu/gpu/ram etc all are important so balance is key.

    Seems like so many people miss this and forget how important balance is. Not just in terms of specs but in terms of quality of the parts. IE using a $20 psu on a $1000 rig probably isn't the best idea.

    Cases are probably the easiest place to cut corners without sacrificing too much, assuming someone isn't in and out of their case very often. Which they shouldn't need to be so long as everything is working properly, other than to dust it out.
  25. Nice article, but I disagree with choosing the case first. I wouldn't want to have to compromise on the components that really affect performance. The only exception is something like an HTPC where the case is the primary consideration. I've always felt you should decide on the usage first. If for gaming, the monitor and games played will dictate the GPU, then you can choose the CPU, motherboard, RAM drives, etc.
  26. Quote:
    Nice article, but I disagree with choosing the case first. I wouldn't want to have to compromise on the components that really affect performance. The only exception is something like an HTPC where the case is the primary consideration. I've always felt you should decide on the usage first. If for gaming, the monitor and games played will dictate the GPU, then you can choose the CPU, motherboard, RAM drives, etc.


    Usage will inform the case, and it's easier, as mentioned in the article, to choose components that will fit a given case than a case that will fit a given subset of components. This guide is aimed at beginners; an experienced builder can start wherever he or she wants. A very small number of people will have to worry about whether 3 or 4 oversize GPUs and a huge PSU will fit in a case their first or second time around, or have a specific cooling setup in mind that needs adequate mounting points. I've seen plenty of PCPP builds where the builder had to go back and buy a different case because the guts were picked first, and the chosen enclosure wouldn't fit them all.
  27. Quote:
    Nice article, but I disagree with choosing the case first. I wouldn't want to have to compromise on the components that really affect performance. The only exception is something like an HTPC where the case is the primary consideration. I've always felt you should decide on the usage first. If for gaming, the monitor and games played will dictate the GPU, then you can choose the CPU, motherboard, RAM drives, etc.

    "I've always felt you should decide on the usage first"
    The article already stated that first step is define a purpose, it is same meaning. Then choose a case after that. For example I want buy a computer only for "browsing website". I did not playing game, multi-tasking or editing. So I will not buy GPU & CPU water cooling. A case with less expansion slots and few storage drive bays will be enough. So I will not buy full tower case which normally more expensive. That how it works.
  28. Nice article, but I would add to front panel the audio as well, as there are cases that sport such connections.
    Besides that, I think it would have been helpful to add the links between cpu and video (a slow cpu and a good videocard don't work that well together) and video and RAM memory.
    Also, a good choice would be to explain the link between SSD and virtual memory in the OS, bootup time, etc (but only for first timers, so they can decide why they would need an SSD, or a better motherboard with 4 slots of RAM and possibly a RAMdrive instead). Anyway, solid article, gratz.
  29. Regarding ESD, it's true it's often overstated but I think maybe you went a little too far the other way. A wrist strap is cheap and effective and hardly over the top, rather it's the simplest way to remove the concern completely. In the telecommunications industry they are considered mandatory for handling some equipment.

    In any case grounding yourself often and not grabbing the circuitry in you hands (use the edges, metal parts, or parts where there are no ICs) is probably good enough for most people but if you have a wrist strap handy, slap it on.

    I have a feeling that rather than fatally damaging components ESD is responsible for some of those systems with weird little stability issues you can never quite pin down that happen form time to time on some builds. Modern electronics is not as sensitive as it once was but it still pays to be careful.
  30. The first picture hurt my eyes. Even though I agree, that the ESD issue is overrated by some guides, the minimum should be to put the mainboard on top of the antistatic bag it comes in and not directly on a wooden surface. While ESD can cause instant death, there is also a risk of "slight" damage, something which can case a failure later on.
  31. Vdrummer said:
    The first picture hurt my eyes. Even though I agree, that the ESD issue is overrated by some guides, the minimum should be to put the mainboard on top of the antistatic bag it comes in and not directly on a wooden surface. While ESD can cause instant death, there is also a risk of "slight" damage, something which can case a failure later on.


    That's actual not great advice I see far too often even from "experts" Most antistatic bags have a conductive metallic coating designed to protect from static buildup on the inside of the bag. The outside offers no protection at all. They also don't work to well if open.
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