The power supply is the single most critical component in the entire system. A faulty unit can die a horrible death, taking out several key pieces of hardware in the process, while an underpowered part can cause crashes or even boot failure. Since low-quality parts often fail to live up to specifications, we'll start off with a link to our power supply reviews.
How large does a power supply typically need to be? Graphics cards are the most power-hungry components in gaming systems, but CPU power takes priority in integrated-graphics configurations. Several power supply calculators are available on the Web, though some are more up-to-date than others.
While simple power supply calculators will often do the job for simple systems, the highest-end graphics cards place higher load bias on 12V rails. ATI and Nvidia have taken this into account and published CrossFire-Certified and SLI-Certified power supply lists that are specific for each card.
A system is never complete without an optical drive, and recent updates to 24x DVD and 12x BD-R write speeds have brought forth a great number of new products. Even the most tight-fisted builder should be able to afford a DVD writer, with typical Web prices ranging from $20 to 40 on the latest models of many popular brands. Blu-ray writers remain an option for the wealthy, though those who desire this feature at reduced price will find slower models for as little as $150. Combo drives with Blu-ray read and DVD write capabilities cost around half as much as BD-R drives. Whatever drive type you choose, buying from a respected vendor will help you to avoid frustration should the new model turn out to be a dud.
A few system builders still prefer the lighter load and legacy compatibility of Windows XP, and those users will often find an $8 internal or $22 external floppy drive an excellent investment towards installing AHCI or RAID drivers. Others might prefer an upgraded sound card, legacy TV tuner for analog cable, digital TV tuner for over-the-air reception, additional storage controller, or other special-purpose component specific to their needs.
- Part 1: Component Selection
- Processor And Graphics Selection
- Motherboard Options
- Remember The Memory!
- Hard Drive Selection
- Power Supplies And Other Components
- Part 2: Choosing The Right Vendor
- Purchase Price
- Part 3: Putting It All Together
- Installing The CPU
- Installing The CPU Cooler
- Installing The Power Supply And Motherboard
- Installing Other Components
- Motherboard Cable Installation
- Device Cable Installation
- Final Words