Lifehack: Build Your Own Computer

Posted: April 9, 2014 in DIY, Internet, Science
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hey readers sorry for my extended hiatus. I had to have surgery on my broken wrist, which failed to heal right in the cast, which took some time. Then I transferred jobs to a new location, closer to home. But mostly I have been busy writing in my novel and building my own computer. This is my first time ever building a computer myself and it was a real learning experience, one I am ever grateful to my friends for. It is only thanks to the good graces of my housemate that I figured it all out and put it all together.

If you are like most people, including me, the idea of building your own computer seems daunting. For me the biggest issue was I had no clue what hardware actually was required for a computer, and as a kicker the hardware has changed since I last fuxed with upgrading hardware in my old desktop 8 years ago. You are looking at a man who has been using the same laptop with Windows Vista since before Obama was president. This upgrade has been long overdue.

So what are the core components of a computer that you will need for it to run? There are between eight to ten parts, depending on what you view as necessary.

1. Case – You need something to put all that expensive hardware in.

2. Motherboard – This is what everything in the computer attaches to, it IS the computer, for lack of better words.

3. Power Supply – This part converts the power from your wall socket into power usable by your computer.

4. Central processing unit (CPU) – This is the heart and brain of your computer.

5. Random-access memory (RAM) – RAM is short term memory used for processes, as opposed to longterm memory used for storage.

6. Drives – There are two main categories of drives, Disc Drives and Storage Drives. Disc drives hold CDs, DVDs, Blurays and other media to access the data on those discs. Storage drives provide longterm data storage to hold files on your computer.

7. Graphics Card – While you do not NEED a graphics card if you want to play any sort of video games or use adobe photoshop, or really do much more than word processing and surf the web then you want a graphics card. Motherboards come with a built in graphics card but they pale in the comparison to having an add-on graphics card.

8. Cooling Device – Computers get very hot and they do not like that. Heat will damage your parts and you should strive to keep your PC as cool as possible.

9. PERIPHERALS | Monitor, Mouse, Keyboard – The monitor is what you are currently using to read this text (textception…) I typed this on a keyboard and clicked post with my mouse. None of this would have been possible without peripherals, which is anything that lets you interact with the computer. It is possible to have a computer that runs without any of this, like a server.

10. OPTIONAL | Sound cards, wireless cards, more fans – While you can get a sound card to attach to your motherboard, like a video card, they are utterly superlative and not worth the money. Wireless cards are nice but I prefer to be hardwired into my Internet to avoid disconnects while gaming. I’m not using either of these parts in my build. I am waiting for 3 more LED blue glowing case fans while will both keep my computer cool and keep my computer cool.

 

Now, that doesn’t look so daunting does it? Just nine things really, and some are obvious things like a case, mouse, monitor, etc. You may even have some parts you can reuse from your old computer (monitors, extra hard drives for storage). The next major question is how do I pick the right parts? I used two main websites to figure this out, reddit/buildapc and Tom’s Hardware. These same sites conveniently have links to where you can buy parts. Once I found these sites it became a matter of figuring out my budget and the best configuration of parts I could afford.

Once all your parts arrive it is time to build that computer. I advise buying all your parts on the same day so they arrive around the same time, this will maximize the amount of time you have to trouble shoot and possibly return parts. I had to wait on a second motherboard because I bought an AMD motherboard for my Intel CPU, a totally avoidable newbie mistake that you can prevent by making sure your motherboard is compatible with your CPU. Most returns will be with a refund unless you manage to damage the part; I got a full refund and didn’t even have to pay to ship it back.

Before you build your computer, perhaps even before buying your parts I would recommend watching two videos produced by Newegg. These videos on how to choose your parts and then build your computer are very informative and accessible, as long as you can get past the smug looking tech douchebag with a soul patch. There is a third part on how to install Windows but I am doing my best to remain neutral regarding the OS since there are many valid options. Sure there is Windows and Mac, but there is also Ubuntu, Linux, and Linux’s grandaddy Unix. While Windows kind of dominates the gaming market you can always just run a Windows partition on an Ubuntu or Linux machine.

And that’s how you build a computer.

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