Let’s Build a Desktop PC – Part 1: Introduction & Preparation

Last Edited: September 2, 2018 | Published: September 22, 2015 by


Part I – Introduction and Preparation

I was sitting here thinking about what I should write about here on DesktopNinja, but I was coming up empty.  If you have ever done any writing I’m sure you have run into this problem at one time or another.  Then, it hit me.  I looked up and swear I saw the light bulb going off above my head, then my head banged into it and it switched to birds, but I digress.

I decided that it would be fun to start a new series here about desktops, and more specifically about building a desktop.  Anyone who loves computers has thought about building a really kickass desktop at one time or another.  Some of you may really want to do it but don’t think you have the skill you need to do it.  But I’m here to tell you it is easier than you think.  With just a little effort, almost anyone can build their own desktop computer.

Just think of it like a puzzle that needs to be put together.  In most cases, the pieces fit together rather easily so almost anyone can do it.  Sure, there are a few technical issues and compatibility issues that you must deal with, but if it is something you really want to do, it is totally worth the effort.

Benefits of Building Your Own System

There are many benefits to building your own desktop instead of just buying a pre-built machine made from one of the major manufacturers.

  1. You can choose the parts. When you build your own computer, you can choose each and every component yourself.  This allows you to customize your desktop with the hardware that you want.
  2. It can be cheaper. When you are building a high end system for video editing or gaming, you will likely be able to save money when buying the individual parts versus picking up a pre-made system using high end components.
  3. The satisfaction. There is nothing better than building something yourself and then using it on a daily basis.  Impress your friends by showing them your cool build and enjoy the satisfaction of doing something with your own two hands.

Drawbacks to Be Aware Of

While I’m a big believer in building your own system, there are a few drawbacks you need to be aware of before you get started versus buying one of the best pre-built desktops.  When you build your own system, you will be responsible for all of the support on your computer.  Instead of going through a manufacturer, you will have to contact each hardware manufacturer for each component after spending time troubleshooting the problem yourself.  Your warranty also may not be as good, as you will only have access to the manufacturers’ warranties for each component you install in your system.


Let’s Build a Desktop PC

If you weigh the benefits and drawbacks and still feel like building a machine is right for you, then let’s get started.  Before we begin, there are a few options that you must consider before you even order your first part.

  1. Decide on an Operating System – First, decide if you want to run Linux, Windows or Mac OS X. If you want a Mac, then a custom build isn’t right for you, as you cannot install Mac OS X on a machine you have built – legally anyway.  But if you want Windows or Linux, then you are able to build a machine with relative ease.
  2. Collect Your Tools – You will need a few tools for the build of a new computer, although the tool requirements are minimal. Basically, you will need a few Philips screwdrivers of different sizes ranging from very small to medium sized.  Some of the screws on the parts are very small while others a little bulkier, so make sure you have the right size.
  3. Intel or AMD – The next thing you must consider is if you want to build a computer based on Intel processors or AMD processors. This decision will guide what type of processor you buy as well as the motherboard and sometimes the video card as well.  It will also impact your costs, as Intel is traditionally more expensive compared to AMD, although they do tend to be the faster and most energy efficient choices.
  4. Examine Your Location – Decide where you plan on putting your new desktop. If it is a small space, you may want to consider building a smaller desktop versus one of those large imposing towers that can run everything you could ever imagine.
  5. Think About Your Usage – Sit down and think about how you use your computer on a daily basis. If you like to game, for example, you may need a more powerful video card.  But if all you do is send emails, you may be able to settle for onboard video that comes with the motherboard.  Decide what you want to do with it so you can customize your parts list based on this use.
  6. Set Your Budget – Sometimes, it all comes down to money. So before you begin, set a budget and use it to guide you through your purchasing decision.  If you don’t, you could find yourself going crazy with the parts you are ordering and creating a machine that is crazy expensive in the process.

Make Your Parts List

Once you have made your decision about the type of processors you want and where you want to put it, it is time to start making your list of the parts you will need to buy.

  • Motherboard
  • Processor
  • RAM
  • Hard Drive
  • Optical Drive
  • Video Card
  • Power Supply
  • Case
  • Other Hardware

Remember, this is just a basic checklist of what you will need, if you have something specific in mind you will need to add it to your list and make sure your computer can power it.

Final Thoughts

Now that we have been through all you need to do to get ready, we are now ready to begin ordering the parts for your new computer.  We will begin first with the motherboard and processor, which is the heart and soul of your computer.  But that is a discussion for another week.  Tune in next week for Part II of our Let’s Build a Desktop Series – Motherboards and Processors.

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